Music Reviews

Artist: Stefano Guzzetti (@)
Title: At Home - Piano Book (Volume One)
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
The increasingly thready light texture and the abating intensity on "To Sleep For A New Day", the opening track of this balletic piano-driven release by Sardinia-based composer and sound designer Stefano Guzzetti made me think about a pianist who got whacked by his own reverie, the sudden thud at the end of the track almost validated my vision and such a vision got perpetuated by the rhythmical slackening at the end of each melodic phrase of the following "The Road To You", but on "Harvest", the third daydreaming movement, listeners are almost unwittingly absorbed by the graceful and often intensely melancholic weave by this musician. The following tracks follow a similar pattern where vivace inception fade out into lullaby-like movement where even the acutest pangs vanish. Both the most sullen moments and the most serene ones such the graceful "Little Dreams" and the sweeten harmony of "Haiku" seem to vividly arouse what titles evoke by means of essential digression on ivories whose stylistical mold sounds like a balanced crossbreed between the melodic pointillism by French impressionists and some Italian contemporary minimalist pianists such as Arturo Stalteri and Ludovico Einaudi. Maybe this release won't topple any conventional scheme, but its stripped-down form gathers substance correctly.
Artist: Advance (@)
Title: Deus Ex Machina
Format: CD
Label: AnalogueTrash Records (@)
Distributor: Trashdigital / Bandcamp
Rated: *****
We welcome the new UK-based label AnalogueTrash in the worldwide playground of Electro/Industrial music and they like to introduce us their work with their first release, the debut of Tom Perrett a.k.a. Advance. This Scottish project can look back on some high-prolific gigs and has opened for prominent projects like Assemblage, Surgyn, Modulate, or Icon Of Coil. When it comes to describe Advance's music, it seems that Code 64 and/or Tom Shear's renowned A 23 project has left a huge impact on Mr. Perrett. Advance are without doubts counting to the Synth-/Futurepop-genre with the typical programming abilities, the lighter synth- and percussion-work, catchy melodies for the choruses and a capable, crystal-clear vocal performance. Indeed, Tom's well-sounding timbre is generally based in higher than usual slot, a bit comparable to Bjorn Marius Borg (Code 64). Lyrically you'll get a harder cake to bite: themes of a post-apocalyptic, not-so-distant future are the things which seem to surround Tom's compositions ' it needs to be admitted, that the music outfit based in a relative smooth Synth-/Futurepop style may doesn't fit to transport the engaged message here and there ' while this lays in the eye of the beholder. But asides of this his music deserves praise, because it delivers a flawless, near-to-perfection sounding synth- and rhythm work which will surely satisfy all friends and supporters of this music genre. Even if I find some of integrated Techno-/House-fanfares in tracks like 'Dead Technology', 'New Objective' and mostly in the unnecessary Tekkno-like instrumental 'Divine Machine' too repetitive and sinewy, there's actually not too much to complain. Some of his tracks surprise with abruptly installed breaks to slow down the complete sound environment, until the tracks restart but mostly in a faster speed than before ('Fractured Existence', 'Enter The Wasteland'). Well done produced Futurepop-music for a debut, it only needs a bit more personality installed into the music. It surely cannot be said, that Tom invents anything new. We had this kind of music often before, but if he can manage here and there to find a key to a musically more authentic outfit based on his brilliant timbre, the future seems to be bright for this project.
Artist: Janek Schaefer (@)
Title: Lay-by Lullaby
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
J.G.Ballard's bounteous literature and visionary creativity have often been a source of inspiration for UK sound artist Janek Schaefer, who after 20 years of acknowledged activity and an impressive number of releases and sound installations for many labels and institutions signed his first release for Taylor Deupree's label at last. The nocturnal field recordings of "Lay-By Lullaby", which took place above M3 motorway, whose building and proximity to Ballard's house as well as to Schaefer's recording studio heavily influenced proper masterpieces about spiritually noxious effects of so-called progress and technology on human life by this sci-fi novelist. The ready-references of this album are the narrative setting of those novels where car culture and motorways had a meaningful and emblematic role such as "Crash!" and "Concrete Island", where Ballard splendidly shows sensorial and spatial cracks on some of the most typical badges of modernity by bringing characters out of that idea of chimerical order whose structure rests on pervading conceptions of organization, efficiency and urbanization, acting like addicting drugs on minds and souls. You could imagine Janek Schaefer in the guise of Robert Maitland, whose "accident" reactivates memories, feelings, thoughts and reveries that burst into consciousness over the hypnotical streaming aural code of a motorway where gusts of wind and barreling wheeled cells constantly weave a trapping web. The sonic strategy by which Janek renders such an abstract sequence of "enlightenments", which sound like unpredictable radio interferences, is simply stunning and deeply emotional and seems toi come from phantasmagorical entities which invite listeners to take a rest, come out of this suffocating stream and lapse into daydreaming in a whisper. "Lay-by Lullaby" is undoubtedly one of the best "environ/mental" ambient release of the year.
Artist: Christos Fanaras (@)
Title: Impermanence
Format: CD
Label: Adaadat (@)
Adaadat, the London-based independent recording label, has recently released Impermanence, a new CD of ambient music by Christos Fanaras. Recording under the name of Jack Shirt, he has recorded and released seven previous CDR albums and is currently a member of Moon Ra and Masters. Christos has also played bass guitar in the group Agaskodo Teliverek, drums for Temper Temper and has a long list of associations with contemporary musicians and bands. Impermanence is a solo effort and consists of six sections connected into a single track that runs for 44 minutes. Each of the sections has an individual character but there is an overall pattern that emerges as the piece unfolds. The piece begins with a low hum and a soft, funerary organ melody. The volume builds and the feeling is solemn, brooding and mysterious. The low tones dominate as the higher notes in the melody become shorter and transient until they become overtaken by the drone below. The loudness ultimately subsides allowing the second section to begin with the soft sound of rainfall and a clear declarative guitar line that brings some forward movement. Now the organ arcs above this with a quiet, uncertain feel that builds in volume as the section progresses. The purposeful guitar eventually becomes buried by a swirling organ accompanied by loud, unsettling propeller sounds that end the section abruptly. Impermanence proceeds in this fashion, each section beginning with a comfortable flow and feel that is quietly familiar, but eventually becoming submerged in louder and more chaotic textures. Section 3 has a beautiful organ line that has a church-like, medieval sound, and this is eventually intruded upon and consumed by a distorted guitar. Section 5 features an optimistic dance-like melody that generates an exotic, optimistic feel that is slowly engulfed in a low rumbling sound. This pattern of the familiar being overwhelmed by the alien is repeated throughout the different sections and effectively makes the artistic statement of Impermanence. The final minutes have a futuristic feel and a sense of inevitability that point to coming change. If you take your ambient music straight up and with a definite point of view, Impermanence will be worth a listen.
Artist: Deadburger Factory (@)
Title: la fisica della nuvole
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Snowdonia/Goodfellas (@)
Rated: *****
First I should say that I probably shouldn't have been the one to review this, not because I can't grok the music (most of it anyway) but because Italian is a language I have no proficiency in, and to fully appreciate this, it's likely essential. (I know we have some paisanos here at Chain D.L.K.; Marc, Mario, Vito.) Be that as it may, Deadburger Factory is actually Italian avant-rock band Deadburger, with some help from their friends on this triple-disc deluxe box set, hence the 'factory' added to the name, as a musical experimental laboratory of sorts. When I say deluxe, I definitely mean deluxe- a neat gray-lavender box with artwork by cartoonist Paul Bacilieri (also different works by him on the individual CDs), a 64 page booklet with lyrics (in Italian of course), color photos of the band, more Bacilieri artwork, and other odd and interesting stuff, plus a foldout mini-poster of Bacilieri's cartoon art from the three individual CDs assembled for continuity. This must have cost a fistful of Euros to put together, and having no idea what it retails for, nor how big a following the band has in Italy, I don't know if they'll ever recoup their investment, but for some, it's sure to become one of those 'must haves'. Even the one-sheet accompanying this is in Italian, so I had to go elsewhere (several elsewheres) searching for information to be able to convey to you, the potential listener.

The title ' 'la fisica della nuvole' translated means 'The Physics of Clouds'. Each of the three CDs also has its own title CD1- 'Puro Nylon 100%' (sort of self-explanatory); CD2- 'Microonde/Vibroplettri' (Microwave/Vibrating Plectrums); CD3- 'la fisica della nuvole' (The Phyics of Clouds'), all representing different aspects of this work. CD1 is easily the most diverse of the three. It combines elements of rock, classical, jazz, electronic, spoken word (most in Italian), avant-garde, downtempo trip hop, and probably a few I missed. Not all at the same time mind you, but sometimes. Comprised of 8 tracks composed by Vittorio Nistri, Allessandro Casini and Tony Vivona, there is a wide variety of moods, and sonics explored here, so it almost seems cinematic. One minute you're listening to a nifty distorted guitar riff (joined by violin, ala King Crimson) with heavy acoustic rock drums, the next, some gentle electronics and a string sextet, interrupted by some dissonant processed electronics. Some of the tracks on this CD are their own variations on Erik Satie's 'Socrates'. Although I found it a bit uneven, there were enough highlights to warrant multiple replays.

CD2- 'Microonde/Vibroplettri' is something completely different. The most experimental CD of the three, it is split between Vittorio Nisti's sonic microwave experiments (using a microwave oven as the primary sound source) and Alessandro Casini's vibrating plectrum experiments (using vibrating sex toys to motivate his guitar). Each of them has four tracks on this CD. First track, 'My Life Inside the Microwave' begins with some high frequency drones and not long turns into a squalling assault of noise. 'Strategy of the Rat' is an intriguing rhythmic piece; a bit of hypnotic electronica with a low voiced melody and an arrhythmic scraping sound. Noise surfaces as element as well, along with an occasional dinging bell. This is way cool! How all this was generated from a microwave, is beyond me, but the creativity here is simply astounding. 'Magnetron' is a short electronic piece employing reverse-attack technique (backwards samples) with other rapid little electronic rhythms, seeming transitional. 'Micronauta' is strange psychedelic ambience, just too hard to describe; quite multifaceted and intriguing. It ends with the dinging of a bell, quite possibly signifying the rat it the microwave'¦is done. 'The Dentist of Tangier' is an odd Middle Eastern flavored piece with a quirky rhythm and eccentric guitar. 'Heart of Rana' is a weird noise-rock piece that shows you just how bizarre things can get when sex toys are applied to the guitar. With dildo-neck slide guitar, this style of delta blues would have Elmore James turning over in his grave. Beefheart might dig it though. 'Dr. Quartermass, I Presume' features an undercurrent of quirky electronic rhythm with abstract noisy electric guitar on top. Concluding with 'Plowing the Fields of Glass', a repetitive guitar melody forms the pedal off which other guitar sounds (sustained low notes, tremolo, squealing sustained lead) play. It comes off as the least experimental and least rewarding track on this CD.

CD3- 'The Physics of Clouds' is yet again something completely different. This is where Deadburger comes together as a band, with a more cohesive sound, if such a thing is possible for them. At this time the band lineup should be introduced ' Simone Tilli ' trumpet, lead vocals (Simone is a guy by the way, think of him as Simon); Alessandro Casini ' guitar (acoustic guitar on this disc, although I swear some of it sounds electric); Carlo Sciannameo ' fretless bass; Giula Nuti- viola; Irene Orrigo ' flute, vocals; Pino Gulli ' drums; Massimo Giannini ' percussion, vocals; Vittorio Nistri ' keyboards, loops. There are a couple of other musicians involved, but let's not get carried away in the credits. This is supposed to be the 'organic' CD and for the most part it is, but electronics do creep into the sound processing, and electric bass and keyboards (unless you're strictly playing acoustic piano, which Nistri isn't) are electronic. Be that as it may, this CD has more of a band sound with continuity throughout. The opening track begins with spoken word (in Italian, of course) and melancholy strings with a little flute, clarinet and bass, followed by guitar and viola carrying the melody. It's a bit reminiscent of In The Nursery. A little rattling percussion then the band launches into a semi-psychedelic modal trip that reminds me of Gong, sans Daevid Allen's Flying Teapots and Pothead Pixies, perhaps with a touch of Jade Warrior.
Most all of the lyrics to the songs are actually sung (rather than spoken as on the first CD), once again in Italian, getting a bit closer to mainstream. 'Amber' is an exotic superb piece that could have gone for twice its length and I'd have been very happy. Jazzy, trippy, exotic, a wonderful blending of so many cool elements. The band rocks out on the next number ' 'Bruciando il Piccolo Padre' (By the Burning Little Father ?) with some very frenetic vocals by Tilli, and bodacious drumming by Pino Gulli. 'Cose Che Rompono' is a bouncy number and the closest thing to a traditional song so far. After the mostly placid 'Wormhole', the band heads off into Legendary Pink Dots territory with 'Il Mare E' Scomparso'. The downtempo 'Deposito 423' features some very rich musical interplay between all the musicians, and very memorable vocal line. I don't know exactly why, but this track made me think of Zappa. The finale, 'C'E' Ancora Vita Su Marte' ('There is Still Life on Mars') gives some of the lead vocal over to Giulia Sarno and it's nice to hear an upfront female voice for a change. The final few lines ' 'There is Still Life on Mars' are the only lyrics sung in English. Maybe if there had been more, I would had have liked it better, but overall, this CD was very enjoyable.

In conclusion, this is music for the adventurous, those seeking something beyond the boundaries of the conventional, and genres be damned. This boxed set is a very mixed bag; there were parts I didn't much care for, parts I absolutely loved, and also some that I merely though was okay. Europeans will probably dig this more than Americans in general, partly because of the language thing, and partly because Americans tend to get confused, disoriented, and disaffected when presented with so much diversity. But- if you think you really have eclectic tastes, you should give Deadburger Factory a shot. Your biggest challenge may be actually acquiring it.
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