Music Reviews



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Artist: Mikael Lind (@)
Title: Unsettled Beings
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
The avalanche of releases, that ordinarily got downloaded on my hard disk or delivered by that burdened postman who serves my area, was on the edge of burying this dainty release by Swedish musician Mikael Lind, who accidentally grouped a number of expat musicians - Paul Evans from Greenhouse Studios who added the enchanting mantles of violin and mixed the whole album, Ryan Karazija (member of Iceland-based band Low Roar), who lent his mellifluous voice to four tracks, and Alex Somers (from Riceboy Sleeps), who already produced a number of important musical acts in that enchanted land - in Iceland, where he used to live before moving to Edinburgh. They managed to highlight the fascination of that place, where elemental forces seem to have met together for a date, in that dreamy way that an external fascinated observer can often express: childplay-like immaculate piano melodies got often blanketed by violin, which sometimes showered each song with harmonic fluctuations, evocative elfin vocals and crystal-clear percussions, which sometimes unexpectedly culminates by means of sonic turgid puffiness ("Refuge Of The Rats", "Old Tales OF Folly"), engaging rhythmical cracks ("Choleric Witch Doctor", which almost sounds like an icy tango, or the melodic intermittences of "Mumblings of a Soothsayer") and fragile sonic wavelet ("The Hermit's Fly Trap", "There Are More Things"). The spiritual bond with Iceland has been mirrored by the artwork of the release (or at least of its deluxe edition), which includes a 10 pages book of photographs bound in an antique book cover, whose "unsettled beings" characters have been drawn by wekk known Icelandic ilustrator Sigga Bjorg Sigurdardottir - he recently drew all the interior artwork for the new Sigur Ros release - and one page has been fingerprinted with ash from the volcano Hekla. Moreover the deluxe edition there's an original polaroid print by Mikael taken in Iceland, a translucent envelope with dried Icelandic leaves and flowers), antique Icelandic stamps and a small strung hourglass vial full of Icelandic poppy seeds.
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Artist: Tetuzi Akiyama/Tom Carter/Christian Kiefer
Title: The Darkened Mirror
Format: 12"
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
The fresh-baked vinyls by Polish label Monotype are going to delight the eardrums of acoustic purists as well by means of this intriguing release by three virtuosos of guitar, whose heterogeneous artistic routes and different training path spring into a stylistical miscellany which shines through a form with no fripperies or gewgaws, whose conceptual framework seems to focus on psychomanteum or catoptromancy as well as spectrophobia as some references, which are often connected to folklore legends ("Bloody Mary", "The Duendes"), old tales and popular culture, such as the urban legend of vanishing hitchhikers on the same titled track, and literature (for instance the possible references to David Drake's "The Sea Hag") , let imagine. This musical threesome comprises of Japanese guitar. viola, electronics and self-made instrument player Tetuzi Akiyama, whose strong background within improvisation and classical music fields sometimes oddly contaminates his bizarre declension of blues, Texas-based master of psychedelic folk Tom Carter, mostly known as one of the founding member of avant garde group Charalambides, which endures thanks to the support of his former wife Christina Carter, and Christian Kiefer, whose studies of the American West as a native with a critical thinking and the retelling of the Western myth have an influence on his music, resurfacing here and there over the album and particularly on tracks like "Express Train To Hell". The framework justifies the building of thin and sometimes vanishing melodic trestles, where in spite of the lack of fast-finger tapping, which many lovers of guitar consider as the main proof of talent on the instrument, a certain stylistical heterogeneousness got attractively grafted into those cozy atmospheres that a wrinkled old sailor and talnted story-teller could evoke while sipping a whisky and having a drag of a wet cigarette.
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Artist: Arturas Bumšteinas (@)
Title: Meubles
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
Although it's quite rare that each instrument of Works'n'Days, a nice international ensemble of many improvisers - covering a wide range of instruments such as guitars, violins, saxophones, electric organs, flute, piano, cello, percussions and sampler -, which has been grouped together by young and inventive Lithuanian composer Arturas Bumsteinas, manages to conclude a musical phrase by itself before another musical voice bursts on the scene, they chorally succeeds in evoking hearth and home as if the whole furnishings and househols effects got turned into a resounding orchestra by some sorcery. Named after the didactic poem by ancient Greek poet Hesiod in the form of a farmer's almanac, which is probably better known for some notorious stories about human condition such as the ones of Pandora and Prometheus, this debut release, which seems to quote Erik Satie's furniture music (musique d'ameublement), tracks an original domestic arrangement down for a genre like improvisational music that some listeners erroneously keep on consider as an snobbishly intellectual enjoyment. Unlike Satie's furniture music, as we cited it, or similar more or less theoretical models, the lukeworm long-lasting three suites of "Meubles" cannot be filed under background music as some instruments find the way to stand it out by sudden rashes or by pleasant phrases (or paraphrases) and this aspect is clear both in the initial "Hszcz", where the parts of each instrument are more fragmentary, and in the following "Llull" and the alluring "David", where some motifs sounds more vaguely agglutinating. You can try this at home!
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Artist: iVardensphere (@)
Title: Cycle Of The Sun: Remixes Vol.1
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Following the enhanced third version of their bone-breaking debut album "Scatterface", Metropolis records decided to prepare the ground for iVardensphere's brand new album "The Methuselah Tree" by the re-release of "Remixes Vol.1", which got dropped by Synthetic Sounds three years ago in the wake of the positive response received by above-mentioned album, by this Canadian tribal industrial-techno act as well. That EP included a plenty of stuff that many gas-masked and plastic-wearing wild dancers might be glad in order to electrically shock their bodies such as the heavy hammer blow on electromechanical worms by Komor Kommando on "Sentient Wave Form", the smashed beats and the nervously crazy joyride by Memmaker, another artistic alter-ego of iVardensphere member Yann Fassurier, on "Virus", the overpressured glop by Katastroslavia on "Bonedance", the obscure puffed excoriations of the re-calibration of "Calibrating The God Machine" by Virtual Terrorist and the fossilized abrasions of tempered cyberpunk inflections of the same track by Left Spine Down or the slamming fluctuations of Iszoloscope - the project Yann runs together with Guillaume Nadon - on "Jigsaw".
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Artist: Håkon Stene (@)
Title: Bone Alphabet
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Ahornfelder (@)
Rated: *****
This tidbit by Norwegian "post-percussionist" Hakon Stone, which has been simultaneously released with the album "Etude Begone Badum" by German label Ahornfelder which has been reprised by cover artwork where that ball has been purple-colored (I don't think the choice of colour is casual as it could refer to the meaning of purple in English and Northern theatre where it refers to solitude or loneliness), focuses on Stene's percussive science. He decided to record his own interpretation of "Bone Alphabet", a very difficult score - both for the notation and the use of extremily tangled rhythmical tuplets - by the main figure of the so-called New Complexity movement Brian John Peter Ferneyhough, that Stene decodes by means of dry swats and properly bony hits. The dub-scented remix of that recording by Sir Duperman, who seems to emphasize the possible connection between contemporary "percussionism" and avantgarde noise by funneling original inputs into an imaginary resounding plumbing with loss of electronic drops, is somehwhat intruiguing even if some listeners could expect more touches of originality due to queerness of the inputs.
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