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Artist: Machinefabriek (@)
Title: Dubbeltjes
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This album from Machinefabriek is a collection of tracks released in small editions or in compilations so they were, in some sense, collector's items. As he write in the press notes the "short playing time formats [...] are great to work with" as he can "experiment with and to create really focused, cristalised pieces". In fact, rather to be a classic compilation, full 3-inch cdr or 7" are entirely included as they are constructed as a single piece developed in movements; however they are not constructed with a complex structure but with an almost ascetic economy of means so they sound like complex pop songs.
The gentle guitar notes of "Huiswerk1" introduce the listener in a sonic world where electronic is not a synonym for coldness while "Huiswerk2" is subtler in his use of sparse noises. "Hilary" and "Jeffery" are focused on the manipulation of trombone's recordings but, while the first is more drone oriented, the second depicts a quiet soundscape. "Ontrafelde Tonen 1", "Ontrafelde Tonen 2" and "Ontrafelde Tonen 3" are mainly focused on voice and field recordings and they reveals a parallel between tones of the voices and the resonances of the recordings. "My Funny Valentine" and "Oh Doctor Jesus" are reinterpretation of jazz classic done with an almost romantic mood. "Ax" and "Eeuw" are soundscapes developed from loops and sparse notes. "Danse Des Loops" closes this release, as the title suggests, with rhythmic knits constructed by the loops and colored by samples.
An adjective as romantic is not usual to apply to work of this genre but one of the peculiar quality of Rutger Zuydervelt is to write abstract pieces that almost sound like songs. An enjoyable record for everyone.
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Artist: Anne Chris Bakker (@)
Title: Tussenlicht
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Somehow Recordings
Rated: *****
Released in September 2013 Tussenlicht is Anne Chris Bakker's second solo recording (Weerzien, 2012), which I haven't heard so judging progression of sound or technique is not possible. Let me say first off that I was surprised that this CD played on what seemed to be the label side of the disk. It's just a black surface on one side and the silver surface on the other. Logic would demand playing the silver side but actually you play the black side. Freaky! Anyway, as far as the music is concerned this is an enjoyable example of Brian Eno inspired minimalistic ambience (even if she doesn't think she's copying him. These complicated webs of influence happen all the time in music). Music in a dream-state, consonant tones playing over a sound bed of droney electronic (I'm guessing here) loops. But this isn't as static in tonality as Eno's stuff is. There's the added dimension of location recordings to put the music in the real world, giving it a sense that there's a living, breathing person behind it all. If the music had been in a minor key it would have been sad and creepy, but it isn't. Just a bit of "slice of life," like staring out your window while the music is playing in the room behind you, the sounds of the neighborhood and the music reaching the ears at the same time. Something to listen to at the end of a long day to wind down, or on a quiet Sunday afternoon, sitting in a comfortable chair with your eyes closed. Nothing earth-shatteringly new (is that even possible anymore?) but I liked it.
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Artist: Nicolas Bernier
Title: frequencies (a / fragments)
Format: CD
Label: Line (@)
Rated: *****
Those strange objects on the cover artwork are not an artistic installation of spigots for an imaginary starship, even though they look like spigots, but those mysterious things spill frequencies. It's a sound generating system where a series of tuning forks got activated by computer-controlled solenoids that inventive Canadian sound-artist Nicolas Bernier built for a performance of sounds and lights which was awarded the 2013 Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Digital Music and Sound Art. The entrancing audible part of this installation, which could be considered as a bridge between science and electronic music as well as between primeordial stage of musique concrete and contemporary electronics, is the sonic pasture for this release. The initial likeness with faucets is not apocryphal as you'll have the impression that Bernier let drip frequencies on the first minutes of this 34-minutes lasting recording before the rivulets of pure musical tones which come from those two-pronged U-shaped forks sprinkle and drown the entire sonic sphere by a series of variations, dilutions and swelling, which gradually drives filaments of icy electron beams towards the lukewarm thermal state of a genuinely embryonic melody.
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Artist: ARK (@)
Title: Verwandlung
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
"Verwandlung", that is "transformation", is the first release on Creative Sources by ARK, an awesome collaborative distaff project by Swiss musicians Coralie Lonfat, whose classical and jazz studies got integrated by an educational path within electronic and experimental woods with good guides such as laptop virtuosos Dafna Naphtali and Ikue Mori, and Nathalie Huber, who focused on sound design, field recordings and experimental music after studying piano at the Academy of Fribourg with Veronique Piller and graduating in Composition and Arrangment at the School of Jazz in Lausanne. These skilled girls go through many interesting sonic strategies in order to let their delicate hybridizations infiltrate beyond listener's sensibility and render their own continual musical metamorphosis - from noise to harmony, from single tone to melodies, from resounding objects to meaning, from inorganic to organic - since the opening track "Trajectoire", where the crystalline delicacy of the first moments got stinged by piano tonal twangs, which add plumbean shades to ARK's vibe. A sequence of spectral sonic apparitions, pealing fissures, anxious melodic flashes, wind-up hatchets and cleaving noisy entities on three untitled tracks plow the soil for the tonal cloudiness of "Contrepoint", the icily mesmerizing sonic chrysalis of "Arctiidae", while the electroacoustic crackling discharges of the seventh untitled track sound like having been canalized in the beautiful "Conductivite'". They allow a break for knitting on "Socken stricken mit silberner Wolle" (German for "Socks knit with silver wool") before the quick-frozen electroacoustic assay of "Vereiste Gluhbirne", whose brilliance seems to reverberate on the delicately spellbinding stroking of the eleventh closing untitled track.
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Artist: Stine Janvin Motland
Title: OK, Wow
Format: CD
Label: +3db (@)
Distributor: Musikkoperatørene
Rated: *****
The very first time I listened this amazing Norwegian vocal performer occurred almost by accident as while I was looking something odd in a small music shop in Berlin, I wrongly thought "VC/DC", a release she made with other three outlandish musicians from her hometown Stavanger, was a sort of a "thrash" parody of something that could be somehow considered as "thrash" as well. I could consider it as a proper lucky mistake, which makes me savour this solo release by vocalist Stine Janvin Motland, who recorded this funny realease in a couple of days in a wooden church outside Bergen. The most interesting aspect of her vocal performances is the way she manages to combine an impressive range of vocal techniques and a certain sense of humour, which shines through many tracks of this recording: for instance, the initial one clearly refers to Mongolian throating that she seems to adapt in a funnily histrionic manner by a sort of suffocated sinewy syllabication, sudden neighs and possible vocal emulations of Mongolian instruments, the high pitched scream on "Herz", which could smash glasses to smithereens, the gradual burn-out of "Alt det overflodige renner ut" (Norwegian for "all the excess runs out"), the meaningful alternation of afflicted weeping and stillness on "Fanfare", the transfiguration on "Monk", where you can sometimes imagine a Buddhist monk in the act of learning Tyrolese yodel (!). You can imagine that Kroken could be some back-country village nearby polar circle where you could die for frostbite while taking a nap after listening to the congealing snore by Motland or have pity on anyone who could experience Motland's disdain after undeservedly claiming to be a talented soprano while listening to the final "Nicht Jeder Kann Ein Dramatischer Koloratursopran Sein" or you could repeat the album title "Ok, wow" while commenting upon deeply emotional moments like "I" or "II".
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