Music Reviews



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Artist: Morgan Zarate
Title: Taker EP
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub (@)
Rated: *****
Mostly known as the drummer of Spacek, Morgan Zarate delivers the third stylistical master stroke on Kode 9's label Hyperdub by fading the boundaries between genres like r'n'b, hip hop, trap, grime and dub by means of accentuated futuristic brushstrokes. The two less martial track have been sweetened by two superb female voices: the most "stardusted" track cannot be sung by impressive singer from West London and former Gorillaz collaborator Roses Gabor, who seems to dive and snorkel into the ocean of radiant padded synth and over-reverberated claps of "Pusher Taker", while the bittersweet words by another skilled singer, Tawiah, who seems to froths honey and poison at the mouth, perfectly adhere to cleaving claps, heated funky drops and rushing synths on "Far Too Late". Even if I cannot imagine the so-called katsu, the shout a Zen-master should utter to let Zen apprentices taste enlightenment experience could sound like the vocal sample that Kendrick Lamar recorded to ignite "Backseat Freestyle", "Katsu" is an impressive trap experiment built on very deep resounding bass tone, military snares and menacing delayed chords, while the final "Tayco" entrap eardrums by seemingly acoustic drums, dry hits on trunks, vitreous industrial sounds and other bumps, which soncially renders what you could imagine "future primitive grime" could sound like. The digital available bonus tracks "This" sounds like a quite hard-fought ping-pong match inside a tron-like dimension.
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Artist: Käehne
Title: Remembering EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: CPH Undersound Records
Rated: *****
Even if talented Danish dj and producer Kaehne has more than one leg to stand on a nostalgic perception of his glorious past - besides being resident to the legendary Copenhagen club "Krasnapolsky", he organized Rave Parade, the biggest techno party ever in Denmark, which was partially inspired by German Love Parade -, "Remembering" cannot be considered a sort of devotional tribute to nostalgia from the personal viewpoint at least, but it doesn't mean there are some hooks to some old techno and IDM entries. The lulling low tones which accompanies the listener from the beginning to the end of this mental journey could surmise a similar sound which marked Underworld's notorious hit "Cowgirl", but there are other hooks to techno-trance and techno-ambient of the second half of 90ies, including the screeching noise of sliding metals, the dub-techno inputs on the amazingly crackling grid of percussions and the aerostatic melodic flow, which partially got eclipsed on the first of the three remixes which have been included in the release, where Reggy Van Oers from Affin label derived a likewise hypnotical but definitively darker tune by atomizing most sonic inputs from the original version and letting the kick drum perform phagocytosis on the above-mentioned lulling sound. Whereas Copenhagen-based techno producer and dj Audiolog (one leg of the underground duo Von Loops) squeezed a possible implementation for some old-fashioned sci-fi OST by adding that kind of shrilling synth-brass which could let you think about Blade Runner-like settings and sizzling everything into a steaming tech-house groove, Hannover-based producer I Am A Robot But That's Ok seems to have wrapped original version into film pack before rubbing it onto wet perspex.
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Artist: Erik Friedlander
Title: Claws & Wings
Format: CD
Label: Skipstone Records
Rated: *****
It's really rare that I run into an album that has a strong emotional effect on me the first time I hear it - maybe once every couple of years. Often it's a case of hearing the right piece of music at the right time, but sometimes the music just plugs directly into my brain in some intangible way. Erik Friedlander's new release, "Claws & Wings," is one of those. I listened to it for the first time on a five-hour bus journey (surely not the perfect time to hear anything!) and I repeated it three times in a row before I could convince myself to switch to one of the other new albums I'd brought along for the ride.

There are few albums I own that convey the composer's message so precisely and so clearly - with just three instruments and some brief track titles, the listener is guided through forty-five minutes of beauty, loneliness, loss, warmth, worry, dreaminess, hope, and hesitation. The more I listen to it, the more I realize how much care and thought went into the recording. One of the things I love about it is the incredible amount of space - the emptiness between the notes somehow emphasizes the loneliness and loss inherent in the music. There are also a few outright gorgeous passages, rich and full, without that sense of emptiness - like the middle section of "Swim with Me" and "Cheek to Cheek." I also love "Frail as a Breeze," with its simultaneous delicacy and urgency. It's a recording that rewards repeated listens and close attention.

Mr. Friedlander plays his cello as evocatively as ever - alternating between using a bow and pizzicato techniques, sometimes layering both on top of each other. Accompanying him are Sylvie Courvoisier on piano (and occasionally spinet) and Ikue Mori on electronics. The piano and cello take turns providing both melody and atmosphere. The electronics add a dreamy, almost underwater feel at times - but occasionally they contribute a certain amount of noise or an unsettlingly "wrong" feeling when some imbalance or anxiety is needed in the piece. It's a perfect trio to perform this music with the right amount of delicacy and empathy.

Highly recommended listening for an introspective evening.
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Artist: Rafal Kolacki
Title: Panoptikon
Format: CD
Label: Mikrowsparcie (@)
Rated: *****
This solo release from Rafal Kolacki is made from tracks composed for a movie, called Panoptikon, influenced by M. Foucault's theory of permanent surveillance. Almost all tracks feature various guest artists so it aims to be varied.
"Wiedza Okrutna" opens this release with an oriental and hypnotic setting while "Obkakany w Zielniku" is a small interlude to "Jesyk Bez Konca" takes the listener to dark ambient territories of undoubtable charm. "Cialo Skazanca" is a noisy soundscape above a sad synth line while "Znaki I Przypadki" is a gentle track featuring even some sample of birds (or so it seems). "Widzialne Niewidzialne" is based on drone colored by some small noises and "Zywoty Ludzi Niegodziwych" is a marvelous track with small notes of piano that reverb in an open space. "Black Kazni" returns to darker territories with layers of violins. "Zamknieta Pokrywa Slonca" features a flute that dialogues with the soundscape. "Panoptyzm" is a drone track while "Plaga Goraczek" is a dark ambient one. "Wielkie Zamkniecie" close this release returning to small notes of piano dealing with a line of synth that seems to try to overwhelm it.
This is an album where the artistic personality of Kolacki is able to catch the boundaries of the genres crossed in the development of the musical path. It really worths a listen.
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Artist: Ryuichi Sakamoto + Taylor Deupree (@)
Title: Disappearance
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
The sonic research of the legendary Japanese electronic composer and pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto and 12k label owner Taylor Deupree already intersected in the past since when Deupree was asked to remix a song from Sakamoto's notorious album Chasm and later on the occasion of the collaborative and collagist project Chain Music and KizunaWorld together with Stephen Vitiello. The common place of residence, New York, cemented this artistic collaboration so that it was presumably clear a collaborative album was not to be late. The seeds of "Disappearance" got sown on the occasion of their live performance at John Zorn's club The Stone in April 2012 as they started to record the first tracks for this album at Sakamoto's studio while they were rehearsing that concert. The slowly sliding of piano feeble melodies, underground rivers of low frequencies, crepuscolar flaring tones and unexpected sonic extrusions over recordings grabbed from the room, which include breathes, shuffling on chairs, metallic tinkling and other found objects of the initial "Jyaku", a Japanese word which could be translated as "weak", perfectly begin this sonic idyll which focuses on themes like isolation, solitude and contemplation about the fragility of nature and life. Similar reticulum on the following tracks, which becomes slightly hypnotic and soothingly hibernated on "Frozen Fountain", dully eerie and ghastly withered on the entrancing "Ghost Road", before the daydreaming sedation, which seems to seesawing between lucid dreams and nostalgic nodules on "This Window", where time seems to get marked in a slow mental rhythm by inner journeys and a sneaking unsettled state. "Curl To Me", the beautiful final act of this inspiring sonic incantation, where the imaginary vanishing protagonist could be discerned beyond a mirror, could echo the ultimate atonement of a sensorial process, which ends with the perception of the breathe, the heartbeat and the voice of talented Japanese singer Ichiko Aoba, former collaborator of both Ryuichi and Taylor, who anoint "Disappearance" by an evoking and meaningful biological junction to life before its fade-out.
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