Music Reviews



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Artist: Dónis
Title: Bars bars
Format: CD
Label: Dangus (@)
Rated: *****
Evidently this is the 10th album by this Lithuanian composer, but I was previously unfamiliar with this project. The label describes it as 'Surprisingly fresh, warm and nostalgic neofolk,' which is 'based on lyricism of traditional songs and magic symbols of birds.' Sounds promising, but when the opening track, "Mergyte mano mylima," kicked in, I thought that I was in for the worst of 1980's new age music. My brother came in and asked if I was listening to Yanni or something like that. Thankfully it gets a little better. For example, "MoÄiute, Å¡irdele" has a nice rhythm to it that becomes almost hypnotic and "Sulijo..." is a nice instrumental piece. Still, I'm a fan of neo-folk, but this doesn't quite work for me. If you're looking for a Lithuanian version of Current 93's "Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre," this probably isn't going to be it. This album weighs in at around 43 minutes.
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Artist: German Army
Title: Burushaski
Format: Tape
Label: Beläten (@)
Rated: *****
German Army is not German, nor are they an army. They hail from Los Angeles and, according to the label, engage in 'Cabaret Voltairesque post-punk deliciously mixed with outright disturbing tape experiments.' Here's how the label describes this album: 'It echoes of dead languages and archaic tribal rituals, but all filtered through an array of analogue synthesizers, drum computers and lo-fi samplers, further compressed by a 25 year old VHS tape.' I agree that this album hearkens back to old school experimental and early industrial. This is some interesting stuff. If you find things to be too cleanly processed today, this will be a refreshing breath of fresh air. Imagine old Hafler Trio with vocals reminiscent at times of Clock DVA with a fair amount of tape experimentation and a bit of noise thrown in for good measure. If this sounds good, this will be up your alley. Quite enjoyable. This album weighs in at 29 minutes.
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Artist: Sujo + Sun Hammer (@)
Title: Fistula
Format: CD
Label: Inam Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sujo is the work of Ryan Huber, who is also Olekranon, part of 303 Committee, and the man behind Inam Records. Sun Hammer is the work of Portland-based Jay Bodley. The way this went down was Sujo started the process and then sent them on to Sun Hammer for processing and arrangement. The label describes the album as 'noisy drone, with heavy elements of doom and black metal, and glitch-laden DSP work.' OK, I'm not sure that I see the doom and black metal elements, but the noisy drone descriptor fits quite well. This is not really standard dark ambient, but rather what some (including such luminaries as Wilt) may call 'dark noise.' It's gritty and noisy, but not really noise. There is a lot of drone going on here and it is definitely a good listen. A lot of intensity without actually relying on getting loud. Good use of dynamics throughout. Well worth a listen. This album weighs in at around 40 minutes.
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Artist: Component #4
Title: Barbed Wire Sunday
Format: 12"
Label: Wayside and Woodland (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with Component#4, which is the work of Mike Rowley, who has previously the drummer for The Arm and has collaborated with both epic45 and My Autumn Empire. The label describes Rowley's music as 'drawing on the decaying factories, vandalised bus shelters and litter-strewn canals which formed the landscape of his childhood. Barbed Wire Sunday was 'inspired by two recent trips to the German capital, where the juxtaposition of crumbling ruins and pristine new developments inspired Rowley to create new soundscapes. Degraded post-dubstep rhythms and bass contrast with clean, melodic synths and drum pads, capturing the contradictory, restless nature of the built environment.' As I listened to this, the closest comparison I could come up with was Kodomo. A lot of this is instrumental, but 'Goodbye to Berlin' has some vocals and a more traditional song structure. In this regard, it also reminded me of Ovo Nooven at times. Others didn't seem to work as well; 'Some (w)hole,' for example, has a kind of staccato delivery of lyrics that are difficult to understand and sounds almost like a rap. Overall, this is a pleasant listen. File under mellow soundscapes. This album weighs in at around 20 minutes.
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Artist: Archon Orchestra (@)
Title: Cenotaph
Format: CD
Label: Muzyka Voln (@)
Rated: *****
I've been enjoying the material coming out of Muzyka Voln, so I was interested to see this installment. I was not familiar with Archon Orchestra, but the cover reminded me of Theatrum Chemicum's releases. The label describes the album as 'the sounds of a church organ harmoniously intertwine with delicate, subtle electronics while piano and strings mysteriously 'float' under the arches of a gothic cathedral immersing the listener in light melancholia.' Archon Orchestra serves up some good electronic neo-classical which reminds me of Theatrum Chemicum or Autopsia. Somber and heavy. The only downside on this album was 'Time {extra},' which was an upbeat number that didn't seem to work. Kind of like when Autopsia has a somber track that all of a sudden kicks into techno for a while. However, this is pretty good overall. This album weighs in at around 44 minutes.
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