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Artist: Andrea Senatore
Title: Vulkan
Format: CD
Label: Minus Habens
Rated: *****
Active as composer, musician with a background as piano player, Andrea Senatore started to deal with electronic music in the nineties as well he ended his studies in harmony. In 2006 he started Scientist & Cynic and the year after released their debut album "Primatoid". Out of that album the track "Soundsation" found a success on its own and ended getting air played for a whole year by the main Italian national radio station. On the same year Andrea started a collaboration with the cello player Giovanni Sollima. After releasing an EP for Recycle Records and one for Miraloop Hearts, he took care of the "Pompeii city ''to discover" documentary soundtrack. In 2012 Recycle Limited released the single "Polar" and on the same year he joined Minus Habens Records which released his "De/Nucleo" album, born from the collaboration with Sollima. The last year he collaborated to edit the electronic parts for the worldwide famous Notte della Taranta festival, event which was broadcasted live on Sky TV and on Radio Rai 3. This year, Minus Habens just released his first album as Andrea Senatore, an album titled "Vulkan". The album contains eight new tracks where we can find as collaborators: Nabil Bey of Radiodervish (Arab and English vocals "Clouds"), Carmen Buss (German vocals on "Vulkan"), Mitsuko Morita (Japanese vocals on "Shiro-ko" and "Dromo"), Giorgio Distante (trumpet on "Noom" and "T-bana"), Simone Quarta (synthesizer and drum machine in "Monochrome") and Elisa Nitti (backing vocals on "Monochrome") and Ernesto Galicia for the visual part (the cover is one of his art pieces, called "The Power of White"). The tracks show a multi-faceted side of Andrea, as if on tracks like "T-Bana", "Sistor" or "Noom" a certain nightly atmosphere prevail (thanks to the trumpet and piano solo, the ambient electronic parts and the dilated sounds), on tracks like the main one we have a colder approach with squared rhythms. Things change radically on "Clouds" or the following "Monochrome" as the synthpop approach to melody and the upbeat rhythms open up the atmosphere of the tracks making them sound bright and catchy. On "Vulkan" we can catch i.d.m. influences, pop, ambient, techno and jazz in a fresh blend that I enjoyed a lot. You can check a video with sound excerpt on Andrea's website.
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Artist: Bardoseneticcube (@)
Title: Game Over?
Format: CD
Label: Deserted Factory
Rated: *****
On his website, Bardoseneticcube declares, 'The project members professionally and with dilettantish persistence extract sounds from everything that can sound: computers and contact mics, ethnic instruments and electronic processing, water and field recordings, all this happens during conducting pseudo-magickal rituals and materializes in surreal sonic pictures which don't have any relation to music, both in ordinary and "not ordinary" meaning of this term. Or maybe they are just pulling your legs...' This is considerably different, stylistically, from the other album that I received in the same package (Ambiwax). Where 'Ambiwax' was a bit more noisy, experimental, and playful, 'Game Over?' is more foreboding and well within the tradition of Russian dark ambient. We open with spoken word that I can't understand (not sure what the language is) which is slowly joined with some droning background music. This formula of spoken word and heavy, dark drone will persist throughout the album to excellent effect. Sometimes it doesn't work as well, however. Much of track 4, for example, becomes an oppressive experiment in repetition. But when it's good it's very good. Track 5, for example, is a great example of slow moving drone with just a hint of voices that continues to shift and change over time, giving it a dreamlike quality. Track 7 features snippets of cut up backward speech and Gregorian chanting over a slowly pounding bass drum and drone. This is the soundtrack to the ritual scene before everything goes crazy. Overall this is well done dark ambient soundscape. Well worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.
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Artist: Bardoseneticcube (@)
Title: Ambiwax
Format: CD
Label: Senile Dementia Production
Rated: *****
Bardoseneticcube is the brainchild of Russian artist Igor Bardo. I first heard Bardoseneticcube when I was putting together the Zaftig Research Christmas compilation 'Season of Snow and Ice.' He sent an amazing track called 'Toyzmass,' which was a fun, playful collage of sound, like a toy store running amok. On 'Ambiwax,' he displays this playful side of his work for an entire album. If you are looking for ambient music that is soothing, this is not the disc that you are looking for. This is ambient music reflected in a funhouse mirror where everything is oddly familiar, but still disconcertingly twisted and reconfigured. Drones and pulsating bass blend in with alarm bells and random clangs, squalls, and distorted voices as you are transported through dreamlike soundscapes. This is well done and engaging material. Plus, if you want to check it out, the price is right ' you can download it for free at the label's website. I would highly recommend doing so. This album weighs in at around 60 minutes.
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Artist: Chester Hawkins (@)
Title: Semisolids
Format: CD
Label: Intangible Arts
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed some of Chester Hawkins' work under the moniker Blue Sausage Infant ('Manitou' and 'Negative Space') and enjoyed his work. Evidently, he has retired that project to record under his own name. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, his website describes it thus: 'Using an arsenal of electronics, tapes, acoustics, handmade objects, and modified instruments, the goal has always been to create deep and elegant trance states with a glaze of paranoid tension.' Sounds about right. Let's see what happens when the names change but the players remain the same. 'Iodine' kicks it off with some noisy experimental ' well within the BSI constellation of music. Then 'Nematodes' drops us down the rabbit hole of repetition by degrees, which yields a hypnotic effect. 'Malattia del Sonno' keeps the repetition theme going but has a weird vibe to it that is powerful. Every so often a song kind of burrows into your soul; this is one of those songs. Haunting, dark, and beautiful. By the time we get to 'Plasmid,' it is clear to see that the entire album is an exercise in repetition, but not the stock ABABAB kind of repetition. Rather, this is the kind of repetition that folds in on itself in incrementally changing degrees, shifting ever so slightly on each pass. Sometimes this repetition is comforting because it provides grounding and a sense of direction ('Isle of Dogs'). Other times, this repetition is claustrophobic and disorienting, making you wonder where, exactly, it all went so horribly wrong ('The Brood,' 'Proximity Fuze'). Overall, this is well crafted and engaging. Finally, the review would not be complete without at least a mention of the liner notes. The text makes little sense combined, but has sentences like 'Mad eunuch choirs gone feral in the orchestra pit wielding the dead as bludgeons against the living. Molten sinewaves keeping bacteria down a massive Iron Age trachea, blurting out gospels like blood in the water to summon the final lizards pilot pilot pilot he's not responding pilot pilot something moved behind the eyelids I swear it....' These are not lyrics, but it gives you some sense of what you're in for. A solid offering from this prolific artist. This album weighs in at around 67 minutes.
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Artist: Paulo J Ferreira Lopes
Title: Feeze
Format: CD
Label: atrito-afeito (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this Montreal-based Portuguese artist, but he has worked with a host of choreographers, multimedia artists, filmmakers, sound and visual artists, vocalists, and musicians. The label, which is run by Lopes and longtime collaborator pianist Karoline Leblanc, had little commentary on this disc, so let's dive in to the music. This is some interesting electronic music that is difficult to classify. At times it is noisy ('Recept', Destino'), other times it relies on heavy, pulsating drone ('Eventualidade', 'Norte'), and still other times it has a kind of glitchiness that is endearing ('Premonition', 'Capsule', 'Post'). However, at other times it just went on a bit too long without really going anywhere ('Transeunt'). Still, if you like your music with a lot of noisy electronic blips and bleeps, this is made just for you. I didn't find this album to be something that would be too far out there for more mainstream listeners who are just getting into edgier music. It's challenging, of course, but this isn't an Ant-Zen release from Merzbow. Not a bad introduction to the artist or the label. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes and limited to 150 copies.
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