Music Reviews



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Artist: J.C. Combs (@)
Title: Every Junkie is a Recording
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
J.C. Combs is a Seattle-based composer and sound artist whose work has been heard previously on Electroshock Records and the Spectropol Record labels .Every Junkie is a Recording is a 33 minute, single-track offering that enables the listener to explore a landscape of the imagination, convincingly conjured from electronic and hybrid sonic materials. Full disclosure ' J.C. and I have worked together at the Sound-In.org website that he founded five years ago. Every Junkie is a Recording is a good example of what is possible using sounds and tones artfully constructed as a descriptive vocabulary.

The beginning minutes of this piece are a series of deliberately steady staccato electronic notes ' like footsteps - often with sforzando accents. These are accompanied by stronger, more singular, reverberant tones pitched somewhat higher and spaced out among the beats. The tempo and feel is andante in the literal sense ' we are strolling down a familiar street at night, perhaps in the fog, the lights from the lamp posts providing little pools of welcome illumination. The texture, however, morphs into a less distinct rhythm as the opening section progresses, and a more alien, metallic feel creeps into the tones of the upper registers. Now little gusts of wind are heard - the landscape has changed to the less familiar, even as we continue walking tentatively forward.

After the 8 minute mark, the footsteps fall away and we are immersed in a series of warm metallic humming sounds of various pitches with the sense of no longer walking but floating. The wind gusts return, but are now more menacing and the enveloping tones have turned lower and darker. It is as if we have entered into an unfamiliar neighborhood that imparts a vague sense of unease. The pace slows considerably evoking an almost dream-like state, with an underlying current of faint dread. At 17:00 this feeling is expanded by a soft, but steadily increasing roar that flows underneath a series of bell-like tones, as if sounding from some ghostly clock tower. Soon a more regular ringing sound is heard accompanied by the opening andante theme ' perhaps we are walking past a railroad crossing gate. This fades into the distance and is replaced by a low ragged roar; perhaps we are passing some industrial process close by.

By 25:00 the roar has increased markedly, and there are no other sounds. After of few minutes the metallic humming returns, faintly heard at first but becoming steadily louder, then fading again. We seem to be getting steadily closer to the source of all these sounds. In the closing minute, a ticking sound is added - like an alarm clock only faster ' and this evokes a feeling of timed tension. The roaring suddenly stops, and for the last minute of the piece just the ticking is heard until it too, abruptly ceases.

As the liner notes accurately state, this is ' a piece which travels in and around ambient, drone, accidental sounds, mystery synthesis and melodic noise.' Every Junkie is a Recording is a persuasive and engaging sonic journey carefully crafted from unusual materials.
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Artist: Cadlag
Title: Cadlag Live Tape
Format: Tape
Label: Pharmafabrik
Rated: *****
Available on tape, VHS and 5" tape reel, "Cadlag Live Tape" is the second album by Cadlag which is released after a three track album available digitally and several compilation tracks. Recorded live, as the title states, in 2013 at Ljubljana Noise Festival and at the Trbovlje New Media Festival, "Cadlag Live Tape" brings to the lovers of industrial noise, two intense performances. Formed by members of PureH, Dodecahedragraph, TGWFYTD, Extreme Smoke 57 and Earslaughter, Cadlag on the seventeen minutes of "Infundibulum" composed a suite that starts with ambient drones just to reach its climax after the fifth minute. Here we have a mix of controlled feedbacks, electronic noises and hisses. Just when you thought the noise was at the maximum, Cadlag rise the level adding more drones and noises with treated guitar sounds. At this point we have a sort of magma which almost reaches the pink noise level. At minute 12, the effect disappears like fog and leaves a pulsating noisy drone with small distant noises that come and go. This is the part I prefer as there's a lot going on between the apparent calm. The track get noisier again just to end soon after. "Speculum" is the second track and it starts like a sort of early Lustmord tune: tense and menacing but kinda calm. This state ends soon as after three minutes Cadlag open the gates of hell by adding noisy drones. The effect isn't much cacophonic as on the previous track, probably because of the frequencies used. Based always on live manipulations and noise eruptions, "Speculum" seems a dying snake which rattles with spasms. This is stuff to be handled with care. You can check the tracks here http://cadlag.bandcamp.com/ and you can watch the performances on the Cadlag's Youtube channel here http://www.youtube.com/user/cadlagTV
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Artist: Jason Van Gulick (@)
Title: Entelechy
Format: CD
Label: Idiosyncratics (@)
Rated: *****
The almost instantaneous match of the experimental drumming that Jason Van Gulick explores could be made with Z'EV, but a release like "Entelechy" could be useful to pinpoint some differences. Both of them seem to have a mania for "spacialized" resonances (particularly from tapped or scrubbed cymbals), which lends a more hypnotical nuance to each drumming session, but if you chiefly consider latest solo and collaborative workouts by renowned American percussionist, you'll easily perceive that Jason focuses on more traditional drumming techniques: you'll have the somewhat alienating impression of getting rolled over the metallic surface of an obscure watertight chamber - and I can just imagine that live performances by this skilled drummer, who carefully chooses locations on the basis of their acoustic specifities, cannot help but amplify such a suggestion - while listening this release, which has been entirely recorded in resonant spaces in Brussels such as RTT squat and new underground concert venue HS63, but Jason's sessions are shorter and less "ritualistic" than Z'EV's ones. Moreover they seem to be focused on the grafts of assays of drumming techniques that Jason masterfully inserts into his electroacoustic logs by kneading a limited number of percussive raw material. I particularly enjoed those tracks - the second and the firth entelechies! - where he worns his wrists out by very fast thrilling tapping, but lovers of electroacoustic suggestions are going to be captivated by other-wordly resonances which this performer, who already shared the stage with meaningful people of the contemporary less conventional music scene such as Chris Corsano, Stephen O'Malley (Sunn O)))), DEGA!, Carla Bozulich/Evangelista, Y.E.R.M.O., N.U.Unruh (Einsturzende Neubaten), extracts from cymbals on tracks like the fourth or the sixth entelechies.
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Artist: Postmarks
Title: National Parks
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
Guided trips through ruins or a visit to Thor's hammer at sunset point or some paradise in the pines...! That's not the beginning of a raving review, but I'm just quoting some bizarre slogans to advert some U.S. national parks between 30ies and 40ies by drawings and images, which sometimes seems to have been designed by cartoonist, who were fully aware about the importance of images after the Great Depression. This specific branch of advertising poster art, which got unavoidably influenced by rather conservative arts whose "cultural" role was the amalgamation of conservative feelings under the delicate historical period of the New Deal and its external anti-capitalist "turbulences", has been the bizarre inspirational forage for Postmarks, an interesting improv/avant-jazz duo, whose capricious legs - the Chicago-based American pianist D.Bayne and Austrian saxophonist Boris Hauf contrived a way to translate those iconic posters into a style, which sometimes seems to reprise single clauses of old jazz tunes (even if the main jazz icon who comes to mind are mainly Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy) as well as the tuxedoed "feel" of those strange years in-between two world wars. Hauf's saxophone jumps over reminiscent motifs and moody ditties (cult bluesy jazz followers will recognize many topical melodies in tracks like the nice "Hubbell Trading Post at Dawn", "Gila Cliff Dwellings" or the stunning final track "Capitol Reef at Dawn", the one I like more) where Bayne's piano seems to loom over it by strokes, which interchange oppressive, wiry, somber or histerically lightweight moments. Occasional anomalies such as puffs, electric squeaks, almost stressful or ominous tonal stretches, melodic burns by screeched guitar strings and other sonic obliquities pleat the musical stream by turning the listening experience that Postmarks and guitar-experimentalist Martin Siewert (Trapist, Efzeg, The Year Of), who took part to recording sessions in Wien as a precious accomplice, offered somehow adventurous and noir-spotted!
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Artist: Blastromen
Title: Reality Opens
Format: CD
Label: Dominance Electricity
Rated: *****
Available on 2x12" vinyl edition (transparent red with a super size poster or black), digipack CD and digitally at the major stores, "Reality Opens" is the second album by the Finnish electro duo Balstromen. They released their previous album in 2010 always on Dominance Electricity and with this new one, they continue where "Human Beyond" left off. The theme of this album deals with the interaction between human beings and computers, thing which allows us to spread our physical world blending it with computer controlled content. The eight tracks album opens with the short main title introduction. It sounds epic and you can already feel what is about to come as arpeggios, pads and lead solos are there to warm the atmospheres. If you already know the Blastromen, you already know their massive use of vocoder filtered vocals and on the following track, "Vision Control", they are ready to give to the listener their vision of the next to be reality. Augmented reality, software integration, digital manipulated visual perception, everything is part of their lyrics and the track sounds powerful and cinematic. "Infiltrator Unit", sounds menacing and mysterious. Powerful drum beats, many arpeggio layers and syth stubs help into keeping the sound catchy and dancey. The following "Sidtroen" has a spacey feeling thanks to reverbered pads and leads. There's also a chirpy solo, which is really nice. "Sense Of Ears" is really influenced by later Kraftwerk, is less focused on blasting drums and it's really well balanced. With "Glacier Planet" we have a sort of hybrid between 80s and 00s electro with stops and go where the atmosphere is dilated and then, all of a sudden, the beat rules again. "Transportation Nonstop" brings you to a sidereal ride made of hard beats and pads backgrounds. The closing, "Lost Dissent", is fast, breathtaking and precise like a laser cut. All the album contains tons of melodic arpeggios, paced rhythms and cool sounds and if you loved the Blastromen's previous releases, you won't be disappointed. Check here the album's teaser http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OghgtqUpVMY.
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