Music Reviews



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Artist: Survive
Title: Survive LP
Format: 12"
Label: Mannequin Records (@)
Distributor: bandcamp
Rated: *****
It is always so refreshing to the soul, when one is presented with music so pure and real that transcends genre boundaries and limitations. A fine example is the 'SURVIVE LP' by the Austin,TX based full - analogue - synth quartet S U R V I V E (out now on vinyl via Mannequin records). Of course, the use of analogue synthesizers is obvious throughout and essential to the overall character of the sound. The nine tracks of the album managed to captivate me and lift me up into a floating state, and i would say the album is better experienced through headphones.
Starting off with 'Deserted Skies', a heavy weight synth introduction that sets the pace for what follows. 'Floating Cube' comes in with a driving bass and gradually builds up with beautiful pads leading to the third track 'To Light Alone I Bow' which is a mellow synth interval. 'Hourglass' is the first highlight of the album with a heavy dark dreamwave vibe with 80s drums and atmosphere that heightens the feeling even more when 'Omniverse' kicks in. Beautiful little sequences drive the track, building up with arpeggiators and lush pads into an almost epic fade out of SIDE A.
Moving on, SIDE B, opens with the stunning 'Black Mollies' and drives the listener down a deep 'dark italo' path that marks the second 'highlight track' of the album, with beautiful synth sequences and lush pads as it goes along. it is followed by 'Scalar Wave' a dreamy creamy 'synth wave' of a track that carries the listener along, enhances and underlines the impact of 'Black Mollies'. 'Shunting Yard', come in next which feels like a minimal synth introduction to 'Dirge', the last track of SIDE B, a reverb - drenched synth epic that seems like a perfect way to finish the album. The lo-fi feel of the whole production and the 80s vibes that flow throughout, make it a timeless piece of work with references to the past and the future. It feels like floating in space on your own... lonely but wonderful.
After playing the album many times, i would say that it is an elegant work of art, that leaves the listener wanting more.
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Artist: Axel Doerner, Urs Leimgruber, Robert Landfermann, Christian Lillinger
Title: Dorner Leimgruber Landfermann Lillinger
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
On a dreary day in October 2008 in Cologne, a group of talented musicians edged everything about their day (traffic, bad weather, any acrimony or disappointing chats with ignorant and casual interlocutor about crisis, politics or whatever...you could imagine such a preface) and decided to meet in a loft in order to exorcize reality for a while and looking for freedom in music at least. Similar attempt to kill boredom could be quite common, you could argue, but it's less common that four important representatives of the improvisational and free jazz scene - Axel Doerner (trumpet, electronics), Urs Leimgruber (saxophone), Robert Landfermann (double bass) and Christian Lillinger (drums) - meet together in a place and the result of such a rendez-vous could not be but surprising. The first tracks sound like a sort of warm-up so that no instrument gets drowned by other ones, some nice performing experiments (particularly on winds) can be easily distinguished, but the ultralow bass tone, which ends the second track, "ammmmmmmmm" (the only difference between the titles is the number of "m"s following the "a"...), seems to overheat the atmosphere and even if the third track starts with a not so different cue, based on cheeping saxophone, trumpet hiccuping, close mic recording of puffs, the sound progressively becomes more and more bombastic with the "awakening" of drums, heavier panting and more nervous plucking on the bass strings before the first spluttering sparkles of the fourth track, "ammmmmmmmmmmmm", where both the bass and the trumpet sound like hinting at some jazz standard phrasing. Henceforward a gradual crescendo will overwhelm the listener through involving free jazz explosions, which show the command of different musicians with very complex rhythmical structures, whirling in infections drumming fury, which sounds like strangling winds, whose sonic grand mal could remind the desperate convulsions of someone fighting against a straightjacket!
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anymore
Artist: Aidan Casserly & Pawel Lopatka
Title: That Man from Berlin
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: House Of Analogue
Rated: *****
Aidan Casserly is always keeping himself busy making new music. It could be with his main band Empire State Human, with The Wazp (his new dark synth solo project) or with different collaborations. This time, for the third House Of Analogue release, he made a three tracks digital download single in collaboration with Pawel Lopatka, a Polish-born translator and songwriter who has written the Polish translations of books by Mary Shelley, Paul Theroux, Nick Hornby, David Mitchell, John Boyne, Armistead Maupin, to name few. For "That Man From Berlin", Aidan wrote the music and Pawel, the lyrics. Try to imagine a spy story picturing a foggy club where instead of having Greta Garbo (Mata Hari) or Rita Hayworth (Gilda) we have Aidan (well, try to focus on the vocals and not on other stuff, this time) passionately singing on a jazzy based music that on the main title is mixing a sensual sax melody with a contrabass. "Just This Once" recall me the Sade atmospheres thanks to the sax echoes and to those sparse piano chords. The closing track "Aura", melodically recalls me Ultravox's "The Voice", but Aidan's vocal melody is different. On this one we have only piano and vocals with the add of light synth strings building a dreamy melancholic atmosphere.
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Artist: Christopher Willits & Ryuichi Sakamoto (@)
Title: Ancient Future
Format: CD
Label: Ghostly
Rated: *****
After their first collaborative release "Ocean Fire", the spiritual heat which sparkled from the musical meeting between Ryuichi Sakamoto and talented Californian musician Christopher Willits (many consider him a true pioneer of many methodologies for digital signal processing as well as for the redifinition of guitar within contemporary digital music) sounds unaltered on the occasion of their second (totally instrumental) one "Ancient Future", an album based on a series of piano pieces the Japanese maestro sent to Willits just after their first collaboration and focused on different phases of the turbulent inner journey in search of the meaning of existence most of people experience during their life and sometimes lasting a whole life. The delicate sonic undulations by Christopher, which sound completely carried by the tides generated by Ryuichi's piano strokes (try to follow the ultra-low bass line as well the intangible guitar tonal stream in the initial tracks "Reticent Reminiscence" and "Abondoned Silence"), before opposing some resistance against the rarefied melodies on "I Don't Want To Understand", a track whose almost inaudible noise of a train running over rail tracks could evoke an escape from any attempt of disentangling a gordian knot, and through the glacial dissociation of "Levitation", gradually cling tightly to musical shapes by Sakamoto with warm arpeggios before the melancholic tranquillity of final resolution evoked by "Completion", whereas any troublesome stinker which followed the multidirectional movement of many curls of smoke, soaked in some glass or convulsively imitated the chaotic route of any particle in the universe disappears within self-knowledge. Younger listeners maybe will not understand the enchanting and somewhat controversial balance between musical elements as well as the sonic inner metalanguage of "Ancient Future" where the whirring of the machines blurs into a human breath, but many adult listeners will appreciate this workout on the membrane between will and fate, which cannot but come from two really mature (both artistic and just human) personalities.
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Artist: Alexander Elgier, Victor Grinenco, Samuel Sahlieh
Title: Veiled
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Sinister tolls, electronic buzzes and distant spourts, sudden puffs and suppurations, piercing synthesizer shrieking, metallic hits, screaming tones of violin and hardingfele (a sort of Scandinavian fiddle), obsessive pulses and sting sonic wedges thiken the pitch dark where obscure piano fragments difficultly try to draw melodic lines over this 29-minutes lasting one track album, wisely titled "Veiled", by this unknown Argentinian trio made up of Alexander Elgier (piano), Victor Grinenco (violin, hardingfele, objects and electronics) and Samuel Sahlieh (synthesizer, electric bass guitar and tapes). It's difficult to say if such a title refers to the fact they were performing different scores which tried to reciprocally mask through mutual interaction, even if you could think about some Morton Feldman piece (for some strange reason, my listening memory focused on "For Bunita Marcus" while listening to the occasional piano sprays by Elgier) randomly mixed with some noisy stuff by John Cage after electrolysis, but the path till the final highly nervous saturation point is so catchy that any attempt of association with other stuff is going to appear an unuseful waste of time.
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