Music Reviews



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Artist: Burkhard Stangl (@)
Title: Unfinished. For William Turner, painter.
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
A very interesting linkage between music and painting comes from Austrian jazz guitarist Burkhard Stangl, who rendered a sort of synaesthetic translation of wonderful works (particularly his last ones Burkhard admired at Tate Gallery in London) by Joseph Mallord William Turner, a water colourist and landscape painter, whose particular technique focuses on an astonishing use of light so that many critics considered him as the Romantic forerunner of Impressionism, even if his late works such as "Sunrise with Sea Monsters" or "Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway" are closer to abstract and surreal art. According to his biography, Turner's famous last words, which got quoted by Burkhard 's introduction to this release, were "the sun is God", but I'd rather say that the musician developed a sort of worship of Turner's evanescent light which managed to hide objects or other elements of the landscape under its layer, even when he painted darker scenes, as his musical and sonic translation manages to evoke both Turner's style and the charm, or I'd better call it the spell, of what has left seemingly undone as it occurs since the initial "Mellow", the first of three movements of "Unfinished 1", where gently strummed guitar and its radiant contrails completely mask a scene, which sounds like just sketched by very silenced field recordings, or the preps of the following second part "Waiting" for the pulverization of guitar (or maybe its sublimation) which semms to be turned into a recipe of the protective solution of the painting in the third part "Longing". Turner's paintings like "Dutch Boats in a Gale" or "Fishermen at Sea" as well as an adumbrated estrangement got inevitably evoked by the gradual rarefaction and the aural fade-out of "Unfinished 2 - Sailing" before the surprisingly brief "Unfinished 3 - Ending".
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Artist: Alteranima
Title: Stereograms
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Raumklang Music (@)
Rated: *****
After an appearance on "Silent Reflections", the debut release by German musician Kai Christian Hahnewald's side-project Talvekoidik, where she dropped some piano lines into a couple of tracks, and a number of collaborations, classical trained but electronics-struck Italian dj, musician and graphic designer Elda Di Matteo starts her personal project Alteranima up by means of a very good album whose title sets a spot-on reference to those seemingly confused images based on stereopsis for binocular vision, known as stereograms or SIRDS, which offer the possibility to experience the perception of depth on bimensional drawing by changing the focal point, which sometimes required the crossing of eyes and some frustration to those observers who didn't manage to see anything. The connection with that technique is quite clear while listening her music, which covers a wide range of emotional states by inoculating piano melodies, bleeping crumbs or puffed pad-synths into cleverly fractured electronic rhythms, which somewhow renders the above-mentioned drawings where evocative soundscapes seem to got extruded from overlapping grids of electronic pinpricks, excoriated metallic thuds and laminar cuts. In order to have a rough idea of what you're going to listen, you can imagine a crossbreed between Gridlock, Proem or Beefcake sonic architectures and some progressive ambient-trance acts such as Aes Dana, Carbon Based Lifeform or Hol Baumann where Elda embellished a winsome electronic syntax by means of sonic propellants and tempered tunes, which often sound like tickling clouds by electromechanical tentacles. I particularly enjoyed tracks like "Open Wide", Expanding Mind", "Pixelechoes" or "Lucid Dream", where the second reagent got highlighted. The release includes a couple of remixes of "Expanding Mind" - while Stendeck seems to have dehydrated rhythmical pattern by cushioned hits, Autoclav1.1 shrines inner melody of the original version towards empyrean pinnacles and extracts an unexpected cosmic-rock ride -, the heady sequence of inoculated precise cuts and vitreous blistering by Rob Lioy aka Access To Arasaka on his remix of "Inner Silence" and the magnetic blurring of "Lucid Dream" by Talvekoidik.
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Artist: Ernesto Diaz-Infante / Lisa Cameron / Lee Dockery
Title: Live At the KSE 6th Anniversary Concert
Format: CD
Label: Kendra Steiner Editions
Rated: *****
After his already reviewed release 'A Hallowed Shell of Ash and Rust' this composer returns with a new release from this artist that is a live recording documenting a concert where he searched a sort of dual view of his his instrument: the rhetoric potential as a solo instrument and the dialectical potential as a concert instrument.
The first track 'Emilio Live' is track in solitary based upon the exploration of the expressivity potential of the instrument so quick scales and quiet resonances constructs a long and varied musical journey without exhibiting the void of virtuosity. The second track, 'Resonance' features the participation of Lisa Cameron and Lee Dockery so it features more evocative territories and the guitar (a bajo sexto) set a more humble path trying to give spaces to his parters to fill in. The result is even better as is able to create a sort of poly semantic musical space where every player can follow his own path so every instrument has a narrow window to express his view.
The overall result is a document that states that the search of his personal voice is not ended in a classic form but continues to evolve. A recommended release.
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Artist: Mothers of the Third Reich
Title: Butterfly
Format: Tape
Label: Ambient-Noise Session (@)
Rated: *****
Mothers of the Third Reich are the duo of Johannah Henderson and Jason Williams playing guitar, sax and drums. They play a sort of jazz noise improvisation in the vague spirit of the weirdest path of krautrock (think about Floh de Cologne or Amon Dull) rather than the classic path of English improv scene (as AMM or the Incus circle) that created a decodable form.
An old recording sample introduce the listener to 'In Alive and out' a track where quieter and noisier moments follows without any discernible plan. 'Liminal defusion' is a long dialogue between instruments until screams above some samples introduce the listener to 'Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk christian' that seems almost a distorted version of a pop songs in the first part until a silence marks the second part of the track that is more meditative and psychedelic. 'Pet Snake Soup' starts quietly and is constructed upon a guitar feedback upon and arhythmic beat. 'Roman light' instead is a weird concert for electronic noise and noise generated with instruments. A silence and sparse word opens 'Schmetterling' a track that evolve, with his sax, in a jazz improvisation and close this release leaving the listener with an hat full of questions.
Even if it's enjoyable, this is one of the more demanding release of the year so it's not for everyone for the fans of improvisation trying to follow the new path of this musical journey.
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Artist: CMKK
Title: Gau
Format: CD
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
Gau (or Gauw) is a small rural village in Friesland, Netherlands, where Will Long aka Celer and Dutch musicians Machinefabriek together with Jan and Romke Kleefstra met in spring 2012 on the occasion of a tour between Netherlands and Belgium together with Anne-Chris Bakker and video artist Marco Douma. The thunder which opens this recording could let you guess it was a rainy day and the electricity in the surrounding air, which almost compelled this quartet within a recording studio where they recorded a four hours lasting session, which became the raw material for this 47-minutes extract that Polish label Monotype consecrated on the altar of avid eardrums of its followers. The immersive listening experience CMKK (the initials of their authors) spilled out sounds like a sonic painting of the surrounding landscape where over-stretched tones, which wavers between dullness, blissful isolation and ascetic estrangement, could somehow mirror the landscape, which got "interrupted" by field recordings, grazed strings, external interferences and occasional poetic secretion by Jan Kleefstra (unfortunately I don't understand Frisian, so that they sound as shrouded in mistery to me...), who towers above gusts of winds, plastic peeps, atonal frequencies, smidgens of sub-tonal mists, distant chirping birds, padded rotors, growing dissonances, which gradually abate and deaden till the moment when the absorption of the ego by surronding space or maybe by Celer's ambient dilutions, which preponderate over other sonic inputs, seems to have been accomplished over the final lulling guitar plunks... thrill-seeking stuff!
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