Music Reviews

Artist: Yair Elazar Glotman
Title: Northern Gulfs
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from this label is presented as 'a journey through the arctic gulfs in the north seas' and his composer is focused 'on experimental electroacoustic composition'. However, from my reviewing perspective, Yair Elazar Glotman is well into the current trend of electroacoustic music so it's something not literally 'experimental' (in fact, it's a form of music with an established form) but it's something challenging for someone that is not a fan of this genre. This is the kind of album that has to be listened with a curious ear to discover the small compositional choices used.
The noisy field recordings of 'Sunken Anchor' gently opens this release with a quiet drone slowly developing the track until a guitar arpeggio and a cello closes the track. 'Khaypudyr Bay' is a track focused on small sounds juxtaposed and carefully posed in the sound space. 'High Tide' and 'Low Tide' are, as the titles suggest, two related track focused on small and evocative field recordings samples but developed in opposite way as, when the first track is a brighter one, the second is a more meditative one. 'Kara Sea' is almost melancholic in the development of the drones used a building block. 'Home Port' closes this release with a track constructed upon a small drone used as a loop and another used to develop the track in a evocative soundscape.
Honestly speaking, this album is not a ground-breaking one but is something so carefully constructed and space oriented that is better enjoyed in a quiet environment using headphone to enjoy his textures. It's a pleasure to hear it.
Artist: Ernesto Rodrigues/Jonathan Sielaff/Vic Rawlings/Leif Sundstrom/Gust Burns/Manuel Mota
Title: Seattle
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Portuguese label Creative Sources picked a couple of old recordings of two interesting performances held in February 2006 at Gallary 1412, a performative space in Seattle's Central District, from its huge archive. Even though six musicians have been involved, it's not a sextet, but two fourtets, whose steady elements are Ernesto Rodrigues on viola and Jonathan Sielaff on bass clarinet. The most relevant aspect of these recordings is the fact that these inventive musicians were already testing sonorities in between electroacoustic and improv music that someone would name New Music today in a period when such a kind of stylistical digressions were not so popular. This release consists of two long-lasting sessions, the first of which features electronics, while the latter is just instrumental: the glueing element of the first session is the alternation of two very low frequencies from Vic Rawlings' cello and Leif Sundstrom's electronics, which sometimes thicken and overflow their banks so that listener could easily sense the intriguing and somehow mesmerizing dynamics by which they let seep or drawn other sonic entities with a thrilling sequence of out-of-sync moments and menacingly magmatic stillness. There are no proper driving forces or glueing elements on the second session, even if the air that Sielaff blew inside his bass clarinet could sound like an ersatz of the above-mentioned low frequencies or vice-versa, but after a sort tuning prelude, the short but trenchant phrases from Manuel Mota's electric guitar and Gust Burns' piano come to light as if they were frozening wisecracks in the middle of many different conversations.
Artist: Aborym (@)
Title: Dirty Remix
Format: CD
Label: Stridulation Records (@)
Rated: *****
Aborym is an Italian industrial black metal (well, sort of but in no way typical) band from Taranto, Apulia (heel of the boot) who have been around since about 1993, and have six studio albums to their credit, not counting this one. Seems as though the only constant member is Malfeitor Fabban (bass, synths, vocals) who was a member of Chain D.L.K.'s Marc Urselli's M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab way back in the early days. Marc was also involved with the sound production on Aborym's last two albums, 'Psychogrotesque' (2010), and double album 'Dirty' (2013) from which these tracks were sourced on the remix. On those albums the band consisted of Fabban (vocals, synths, bass); Paolo "Hell:IO:Kabbalus" Pieri (guitar, synth, backing vocals); and BÃ¥rd G. "Faust" Eithun (drums). I think Marc's main contribution to the 'Dirty Remix' album was mastering it.

Usually, I don't care much for remix albums, but this one is different, really different. The remix crew here consists of Mortiis, Throne of Molok, Kingdom, XP8, Red Sector A, Emiliano Natali and Narchost, but only seven of the nine track on the album are remixes. One of the others is a previously unreleased track, and the remaining one is a reworking of a previously released track. Sweetening the pot, the first 150 copies of the CD come with hand-made artwork featuring 3 antique and original rusty nails from the early 1800s glued onto an aluminum box. (Get 'em while you can, kids, they're sure to become collector's items.)

Not being familiar with Aborym before this review, it was important to check out the original tracks from 'Dirty'. The album won a bunch of Metal awards from various places, but I also dug deeper into reviews and found that some critics really liked it, while others hated it. I guess that's what happens when you step out of the genre some people have grown to expect, and Aborym has definitely moved a lot closer to electro-industrial with 'Dirty'. Maybe not close enough though, for Fabban would never have sanctioned this if he wasn't considering moving away from typical black, death metal into more electro-industrial terrain.

So here's a track-by-track breakdown of what you can expect.

1. "A.T.W.A" (All the way alive)

Sequenced electronics, keyboards and drums, instrumental with a mish-mash of spoken word samples. Nothing groundbreaking but sets a mood. More of an intro than anything else. Something completely different for Aborym. Very electro-industrial. Nothing black metal at all, so it's doubtful any metal fans will dig it.

2. "Does Not Compute 1.2" ("Captain Morgan" version)

Heavy on the industrial and breakbeats, completely chaotic and frenzied, like a dozen things going on at once. Once again, very electro-industrial, heavy on the electronics, no vocals. Towards the end a sinister melodic theme develops through a standard 4-chord minor progression you've undoubtedly heard before. Pretty experimental stuff, but no metal fan would like this in the least, which is fine by me.

3. "Helter Skelter Youth" ("Nihilistic Bastard remix by Mortiis)

I'm not sure what the hell Mortiis has turned this into...sounds a lot like Ministry. Only bits and pieces of the original have been used. Intense, atmospheric electro-industrial. Heavy, heavy, heavy. I think I like it better than the original though. Clever guitar manipulation.

4. "Helter Skelter Youth" ("Pervy" remix by Kaoma Mega, Throne of Molok)

Once again you'll be hard-pressed to discern much of the original in this remix. Unlike Mortiis' remix of this track, Kaoma Mega has chosen to keep the loopy quarter-note bellish synth sequence (something I found curiously incongruous in the original) but it sounds a little sped up. Starting the track with an industrial stomper rhythm, the track shows promise until the one minute mark when it breaks for Fabban's "everything is gonna burn" vocal sample, after which the pace slows to half-speed and never recovers. All manner of industrial noise and electronics are thrown together in a confusing wall of sound. This one didn't work for me.

5. "Irreversible Crisis" ("Tanz mit Aborym" remix by Kingdom)

This remix sounds like it could have been done by Covenant, VNV, Apoptygma Berserk or similar dark dance floor staples. It retains the vocal samples from the original but not much else. A totally radical departure. Every goth-industrial dj needs this one in their collection.

6. "Dirty" ("Hellektro Apocalypse" remix by XP8)

XP8's remix of "Dirty" picks up the pace of this song to a breakneck 150 BPM. All that seems to be retained from the original is (selections from) Fabban's vocals. Very ravey...I can see the glow-sticks waving in the crowd.

7. "Helter Skelter Youth" (Stigmata" remix by Biomechanical Christ, Red Sector A)

Red Sector A's remix of this track strips out the electronics, leaving guitar, bass and drums, and also Fabban's vocals, which you can actually hear and understand. A competent exercise in speed metal with the halting and stuttering of the original smoothed over. I think I actually like this better than the original. Metalheads may too.

8. "I Don't Know" ("The Blackbirds II" remix by Emiliano Natali.

Well, Natali certainly knows his way around Aborym's oeuvre having been the sound engineer for the 'Dirty' album, and the previous 'Psychogrotesque' album. Consequently, his remix of this track may be the most brilliant remix on the album for fusing Aborym's type of metal with a new electro-industrial dirtection. It's not that much has been changed here, but all the right elements have been cleaned up and pumped up. I think you can actually hear what the band was striving for compared to the original. In fact, just junk the original and substitute this remix; it's better by far.

9. "Irreversible Crisis" ("Rotten Core remix by RG Narchost)

R.G. Narchost (Stormcrow, Demon's Shade and Drowning Ashes) is the guy who created The Spiral Shaped Chamber custom sounds' library for Aborym. He also is responsible for the weirdest remix on the album. (There always has to be one, doesn't there?) You won't recognize much from the original, except the sampled title lyrics "Irreversible Crisis". The entire track sounds as if it has been submerged under heavy liquid, except for the closed hat ticks keeping the beat. An absolutely creepy, atmospheric vibe in minimal industrial ambience. Great way to close out the album.

Overall, I liked most of these tracks better than the originals from 'Dirty'. Expect it will alienate a lot of Aborym's metal fans, but (hopefully) will gain them new ones from the electro-industrial sector. Question is, does this remix album signal a definite new direction for Aborym, or was it just an experiment? I'd like to think the former. Now with Ministry out of commission, somebody has to fill that gap. Could it be Aborym?
Artist: Illuha (@)
Title: Akari
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
Since the moment when Taylor Deupree's 12K seems to have walk out on the end to itself of merely abstract ambient in order to make waves in this stylistical pool by means of organic and narrative hooks, this label is managing to dope many music lovers with authentic masterpieces and this third album by Illuha, the suprising collaborative project by Tomoyoshi Date and Corey Fuller, could reasonably belong to such a category. "Akari" could be considered the third evolutive step of these Tokyo-based musicians as "Shizuku", their first release, was mainly recorded in the US with final intergrations which got separately added by each musician, the second stunning release - "Interstices" - got recorded during live sessions, while this record has finally been recorded in a studio recording in Japan, where these guys had a wider sonic equipment at their disposal in the bargain. In accordance with the title of the album - "Akari" is the Japanese word for "light" as well as the name of JAXA infrared satellite -, you could almost feel that each track unfold gradual permutations from darker sonorities to cathartic expansions, but they follow such an ascensional curve by means of delicate interplays between acoustic and electronic instruments, which brings ambient closer to the boundless electroacoustic field. The scientific connection of the titles of each track let foretaste the essence of each suite, which almost seems to the intellectual delight of discovery and knowledge where any single sonic element sounds like interconnected with other ones before it reaches its emotional acme. Winsome sonic entities got psyched out by delicate piano strikes on the initial "Diagrams of the Physical Interpretation of Resonance" before they fade out over a sort of cosmic breeze, a certain inquietude got rendered by the solitary contemplation which occasionally seems to transmute into a deep mental absorption by surrounding natural elements on the following "Vertical Staves of Line Drawings and Pointillism", it smells like a gradual renaissance on the breathtaking daintiness of "The Relationship of Gravity to the Persistence of Sound", which reaches the highest level of purity on "Structures Based on the Plasticity of Sphere Surface Tension" before percolating with reinvigorated strenght over seemingly flat land on the final "Relative Hyperbolas of Amplified and Decaying Waveform"...
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Artist: Egida Aurea
Title: Live A Parigi
Format: CD
Label: SPQR (@)
Rated: *****
Recorded in Paris on February 2013, "Live In Paris" is the latest album by Egida Aurea. The last time I wrote about them was for reviewing their 2012 album "Derive" and in the meanwhile, Diego Banchero collaborated or recorded with several bands such as Ballo Delle Castagne, Il Segno Del Comando and Lupi Gladius. The album contains nine tracks coming from the two band's albums and their EP "Storia Di Una Rondine" (with predominance of tracks coming from "La Mia Piccola Guerra" and only two from the remaining ones). I saw them live some years ago and I realized that their tracks worked great also live with simpler arrangements: their energy and attitude is alive and kicking and since from the opening track "La Mia Piccola Guerra", you can realize it. Playing accordion, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drums and electric guitar, Diego, Carolina, Fernando, Roberto and Marina give to the tracks a new dimension which sounds honest and direct. Mixing folk, rock and bit of prog, the band give their best and are able to create an intimate atmosphere which this CD is able to capture. With "La Mia Piccola Guerra", "Praepotens Genuensium Praesidium", "Russian Medley", "Egida Aurea", "Epifania Di Una Chimera", "Memorie Di Gesta", "Il Passo Dell'Esule", "Il Congedo" and "Storia Di Una Rondine" the band found the right way to propose their songs, too bad they didn't include my preferred one "Il Giorno Delle Chimiche Brume". You can check "Memorie Di Gesta" and "Russian Medley" at the label's Soundcloud page
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