Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Italian Resonances | Dronegazers?
Format: CD
Label: Oak Editions (@)
Rated: *****
This release is a project by Fabrizio Garau, the mind behind "the New Noise" webzine, aiming to create a guide to italian drone music. However, this term is to be intended loosely, as this release, fortunately, is focused on path closer to experimental and electroacoustic paths than classic ones.
The quiet soundscape of "Descending", a track by Enrico Coniglio, opens this release suddenly developing with sustained guitar notes and resonances. The next track, from Alberto Boccardi, "Far Light", starts with approximately thirty seconds of silence until a small noise enters and the track unfolds with layers of small noisy loops and, in the last parts, they fades in favour of a quiet drone. The next artists are Easychord with "Fear Of Tunnels", an almost canonical dark ambient track, and Attilio Novellino, with "Litost", with a track closer to "Descending", as it's focused on guitar lines, but quieter and with a subtler sense for nuances. Cristiano Deison, with "No One Will Listen, But You'¦", orchestrates a colourful track that uses a wider sound spectrum. "On", a Giulio Aldinucci's track, is based upon a drone juxtaposed upon a sort of field recording and ends with an almost religious organ tune. "Pilgrim", by Francesco Giannico, is perhaps the most gentle and layered track of this relase. All this artists, under the name Dronegazers collective, close this with "Anner II" an evocative dark ambient track where the resonances constructing the drone evolve until the inevitable fading.
Perhaps this release is less wide than conceived but could be a good introduction to this scene and is a statement that it deserves more press coverage that it has. It's worth a listen.
Aug 18 2014
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Artist: Iko
Title: '83
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records (@)
Rated: *****
After being bootlegged several times in the past years, first on CDR and then on LP, the first and only album of Canadian's band Iko is about to be reissued officially by Medical Records. "83" has been released officially by the label Manhattan - Formula back in 1982 and had eight electronic tracks in balance from post punk and pop. Songs like "Communication Off" or "Jungle City" (available on this reissue for the first time) contained elements of post punk roughness (check the vocals and the noise effects) as well as a robotic approach to sounds and rhythms. Other tunes like the French sung "Gonadotropic Synthesis" or "Elevator" show synthpop influences of bands of the likes of Telex thanks to that particular melodic catchy tunes mixed to dry synth sounds and upbeat tempos. This reissue contains the aforementioned unreleased track"Jungle City" on the vinyl version and the digital version, which can be purchased separately, has four bonus tracks (these tracks can be downloaded using the coupon available in the LP): "Military Service", "Surrender To The Dream", "Army Service" (song that isn't available on the bootlegs) and a live instrumental version of "Surrender To The Dream" (which sounds more experimental compared to the studio version). "Surrender To The Dream" offer a view of how would have turned Iko's sound, because they sound a bit more wave with lushy atmospheres with slapped bass lines and few guitar inserts. Mastered and equalised from the original master analog tapes, "83" is available on high-quality 180gram heavyweight half and half yellow and black vinyl and has also a bonus insert with interview and retrospective by Dave Segal. This reissue will be available on late September 2014.
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Artist: Lucky Bone
Title: Borderline (In Four Parts)
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore (@)
Rated: *****
Lucky Bone is the work of experimental filmmaker Neil Gravander, who hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I could find very little about this project, but he is a graduate student at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee who has exhibited his work at various shows. The liner notes are cryptic, but for this album it doesn't really seem to matter. For example, 'Part one is pre-summer something needle with recordings from the thieving boyfriends girlfriends fathers house also BPWS live on the NYC boardwalk, n' LB is Borderline and sad, and home-alone too: spiritual.' If this doesn't seem to make much sense, remember: it probably doesn't matter either way. Sonically, this album is all over the map, but remains firmly in the constellation of heavily treated sound source. Imagine taking a radio and then cycling through the stations, recording it as you go along. Now run it all through some heavy distortion and the occasional pitch bending. This gives you a taste of what you are in for. At some points the loops can get a bit repetitive, but this album moves on from place to place, like a shark that must constantly remain in motion or it will die. For example, at 10 minutes in we are treated to processed catcalls of 'Come on, girl!' followed by a truly terrible karaoke rendition of Madonna's 'Borderline.' It was funny, but got a bit dull by the end. Later, at 25 minutes in, he seems to be introducing his project by discussing the fact that he just got back from touring which then slips into voice samples that get tweaked beyond belief. At 52 minutes in, we take a trip down the radio dial over and over again, with slight variations on the theme. At 56 minutes in, we are told that this song is 'the story of how I broke my shoulder,' which then takes feedback, hum, and what may be synth and runs with it. Overall, this is noisy experimentation that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. This last part may be its saving grace; the humorous undertone allows us to be much more forgiving. If you like lo-fi experimentation, this is one to check out. Think of this as a cross between Hafler Trio, Bob Ostertag, and anything that has come out on Breathmint Records. This album weighs in at around 76 minutes.
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Artist: Building Instrument (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
When Building Instrument was born in 2008, the former intent of this band was the exploration and enhancement of Norwegian rich tradition of folk music by means of just electronic devices. After six years of dwelling on their sound Accordingly to the commitments of each member of the band - Ãsmund Weltzien (synthesizer, electronics and melodica), Oyvind Hegg-Lunde (drums and percussion) and the award-winning singer and musician Mari Kvien Brunvoll (vocals, zither, percussion, kazoo), a rising star of the scene after her first solo-album, which got produced by Bugge Wesseltoft, who described her as "a exceptional talent", was nominated for a Spellemannspris in the open category, and an inspired remix by Ricardo Villalobos of her song "Everything You Go" grabbed the eardrums of a wider audience -, it seems that they back-tracked their initial project as a distinguishing element of the charm of traditional music lies in the acoustic instruments, but such a realization has not been a limit to their flair. Besides some interesting "exotic" elements such as Mari's singing of Molde dialect, one of the oddest in Norway together with the dialects of Bergen area, in some tracks, and the recognisable presence of harpeleik, the refreshing element of Norwegian folk tradition lies in the lively and dreamy way they improvise that is clear since the succession of peppy hops and daydreaming intervals on the opening "Historia" and their possible organic sequel "Alt e Bra", where Mari's wildly delicate voice stands out against tintinnabulations and breezy sounds, as well as some amazing stylistical crossbreeding. After the winking at French chansons on the beautiful song "Kanskje", the crackling prettiness of "Bli Med" and the pop parenthesis of 'Klokka Sju', the lo-fi blissful medley of "Mellomtida" prepares the ground for the final "Sprak", where Building Instrument reaches the stylistical acme by means of a nice mixture of dada naivety, joyful rhythmical pattern (not so different from the ones that became fashioned with the recent backfiring of Ethipian jazz and West African sonorities) and rock amalgamation.
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Artist: Elisabeth Harnik & Udo Schindler (@)
Title: Empty Pigeonhole
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Schindler's list of appreciated musicians from international improv scene gets longer and longer. I'm not referring to Oskar Schindler, the notorious German businessman who saved a lot of Polish-Jewish peolple, whose biography became the plot for a likewise notorious Spielberg's movie, but to Udo Schindler, a sort of contemporary patron who hosts concerts in his own house in Krailling, a small town just outside Munich, together with talented musicians and composers of mainly free-jazz and improvisational scene every now and then that he titled Salon fur Klang + Kunst. "Empty Pigeonhole" is the first of a planned series of releases, where he recorded a live performance where he demonstrates his ability and versatility with different wind instruments (soprano saxophone, bass and contrabass clarinet, cornet) together with brilliant Austrian pianist and composer Elisabeth Harnik on a Pleyel piano. The most remarkable aspect of the two long sessions is the reciprocal understanding of the two musicians, but whereas Harnik's piano haul Udo's winds in the first piece by means of wonderful harmonic mutation where a Chopin-like melody could suddenly turn into a tangle of seemingly dissonant chords and winds splendidly echo and comply with whims on Pleyet with the nervous musical squabble between piano and cornet in the final minutes, the second track opens with flickering sonic objects and piano stings and proceeds over a sort of battle between clarinet and piano in order to lead the session, where the initial supremacy of clarinet got overwhelmed by crazy phrasing from Elizabeth's Pleyel which manages to downgrade clarinet to a dead beat breathe.
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