Music Reviews



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Artist: Rafał Kołacki
Title: Ninkyo Dantai
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This release is presented as 'the first full solo album by RafaÅ KoÅacki' but, in fact is the first with a reasonable distribution (Panoptikon was reviewed by myself some time ago and is a Zoharum merit) and a marketing effort. This new release was 'created mainly on the basis of field recordings' but it's not a soundscape album as the mix is so dense or processed to develop a personal musical language.
Oddly enough, in the cd edition, the tracks have no title so I will treat this a release as a long composition in six movement (the digital edition has track title but they are greek letters so it's not something adding a reading path to the album) as this makes sense. The first movement is an introduction based on a drone and some sparse metallic notes. The spoken words of the second movement introduces the listener in a soundscape where layers of drones try to induce a sense of calm and tension to the listener. This structural elements are repeated in the third movement but in a noisier way as the musical journey is from a quieter landscape to a more menacing one. The fourth movement is the longest and the most contradictory one as it's an hypnotic one but seems too static and based on a single loop. The fifth movement returns to depict brighter images and the last one is a stunning exercise in the development of resonances.
This release is not simple to listen and enjoy but it's an example that, even in a field that could seem decoded, there's some paths that have to be discovered. Another good release from this artist.
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Artist: Digital
Title: Shaka Zulu/Archive
Format: 12"
Label: Ingredients (@)
Rated: *****
Formerly Ipswich-based producer Steve "Digital" Carr doesn't really need no introduction as he durably entrenched into the hearts and the eardrums of many lovers of more "dubbed" declensions of drum'n'bass by means of a plethora of tip-top banging tracks which have been scattered in many eminent catalogues such as the ones of Metalheadz, Renegade Hardware, Reinforced, Timeless and 31 Records. He comes back on Clive's Ingredients with a couple of master strokes: "Shaka Zulu" sounds like an invitation to join some circle of fire with its malicious distorted brass, clappy whiplashes, blowing barrages, tribal ornaments and frightful dub-like synths, while Digital sounds like having picked some bleeping bass bumps, cherubic choirs, charming claps, kick drums and Tramen break from his sound bank for "Archive", the "vintaged" track on the flipside for listener's pleasure!
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Artist: Fragment King
Title: Angel Position
Format: CD
Label: MHz (@)
Distributor: ant-zen
Rated: *****
It's the first time I personally listened to a full-length by Fragment King, the harsh brainchild by Mark Kammerbauer, out of his personal imprint Nexialist, and even if some features of his style, which combines ferociously hammered breakcore patterns with armour-piercing dark-industrial sonorities and some listenable sludge-metal and power electronics marks as well as sensibly vitriolic lyrics, is somehow recognasible, the sonic architecture sounds less naff than some past releases. Both its musical language and lyrics are definitively more focused on a precise target, which could be indolence, lassitude and defective human nature: you could almost imagine that an unsually bloody furious Metatron and some other cherubic mouthpiece, as this well-done release has been titled "Angel Position" I cannot but take an angel to discuss about it, came into possession of some electrically overcharged engine in order to remostrate against its half-assed user and enduring human pusillanimity, where roaring clanks and sometimes martial drumming seem to channel such a biomechanical clear-cut fury. Some songs ("Constellations", "Nullifier" or "Greater Than Man") sounds like absorbed by the same coruscating bruised frequency, while other ones ("Nullifier", "Statute" or "The squealing of the pigs") shows terser sonorities before Fragment King (or the above-mentioned Metatron) begins to kindle and melt the sonic blocks by meaningful lyrics and while the temperature inside FK's combustion chambers reaches its bursting point, the record sounds like blossoming on the final tracks ("Angel Position" and the entrancing "Kingdom") as if the seemingly exterminating angel wants to foster, all things considered, benevolent purposes. The cherry on top is the final "warhead Remix" of "Nullifier" by headbanging hardcore and d'n'b German producer Ralf "Bazooka" Ferley, who hijacked the original track towards contaminated neurotek and dubstep territories.
Jun 01 2014
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Artist: Mikkel Meyer (@)
Title: Jolly
Format: 12"
Label: Rump Recordings (@)
This EP consists largely of bright acid dance productions, with all but the remix utilising consistently similar instrument patches. The music is openly influenced by the untroubled summers of Meyer's youth in the 1980s, in particular the halcyon beach settings depicted in the marketing of the Jolly cola brand (whence the title). However, while it's his chief point of reference Meyer isn't altogether reproducing the music of that era. The overall tone and production are contemporary. The acid bass is controlled and innocuous, but certainly more sophisticated than most of what was being made at the time. Melodic influences also range from outside the 80s, incorporating progressions found in the work of "various new/freak/lo-fi/indie folk artists" (press release). Altogether, the result is a tasteful mixture of styles, with the stated subject matter coming across as increasingly textual.

In fact, the only track that I think directly and unequivocally evokes the 80s/Jolly topic is the Beastie Respond remix. In particular, the bass regresses unapologetically from deft acid to sheer synthetic slap. Further cementing the theme are the likes of canned chanting, sampled police siren and a lush, studied synth bell melody. Though less adventurous, this is the catchiest and most floor-friendly number on offer here. It seems to represent and anchor the original reference point, tapping straight into those Jolly beaches and gaudy nightclubs. We are then in no doubt as to where Meyer has come from and how he has combined this particular influence with others.

The first two Meyer originals ('Oh, Jolly Good', 'John Wayne') are gentle plodders, rather slow for the floor, mainly built around gradually shifting bass envelopes. Both are warm and elegant, particularly the latter. To boot, it has an impressively restrained video, panning close-up across the circuitry and control surfaces of analogue equipment. The two remaining originals ('Rosie', 'Clap Your Hands') bump up the pace and introduce wordless, mostly textural vocals. 'Clap Your Hands' is the more successful of these two, with a low pass on the giddy bass that suggests the haze of intoxication, or approaching exhaustion.
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Artist: Cyril Bondi, D'incise, Ernesto Rodrigues, Guilherme Rodrigues, Lisa Ullén
Title: Lisboa
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
After we introduced "Seattle" which collected a couple of intriguing improvisations that Ernesto Rodrigues, Jonathan Sielaff, Vic Rawlings, Leif Sundstrom, Gust Burns and Manuel Mota made in 2006, the second release, whose title was taken from well-known towns where the involved musicians grouped together to record their improvisations, brings us in the capital city of the home country of the label, the fascinating Lisbon. Named after five differnet districts (Alcantara, Alfama, Graca, Lapa and Bairro Alto), the five tracks that this quintet, made up of Portuguese native musicians Ernesto Rodrigues (viola) and Guilherme Rodrigues (cello), noise artist Laurent "D'incise" Peter and drummer Cyril Bondi from Switzerland and Swedish pianist Lisa Ullen, recorded in a small recording studio in July 2012 could render very complex emotional medley where Ullen's piano often sound like drops of glum tears into a cauldron where resounding poltergeists from found objects filter through screeching strings, pricking frequencies, paroxysmal rubbing and menacing shrieks as if they render repressed emotional bursts, which just occasionally (in the middle of the third track "Alcantara") inundate the sonic sphere when they don't get barely quelled by occluding electronic frequencies (as it happens on the awesome tracks "Graca" and "Barrio Alto") or menacingly cavernous knells (on the final "Lapa"). The umpteenth showpiece of (truly) improvisational music by this metastatic label.
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