Music Reviews



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Artist: Dahlia's Tear (@)
Title: Through the Nightfall Grandeur
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
After a long silence, Dahlia's Tear returns with a new release presented as a concept album based around a spiritual awakening during a search for meaning. As usual, his music uses elements from religious music, mostly voices and cymbals, as a counterweight to the sometimes abstract musical nature of drone and this creates a sort of emotive link with the listener.
The first track, "Encroaching Shadows Beckon to Chase the Fleeing Light", introduces the listener into a dark ambient form based on a long loop, rather than on a drone, with the addition of other sound elements like samples and voices creating something which is simple and complex at the same time. "The Keeper of Broken Dreams and Tattered Spirits" uses instead a drone crescendo as a backbone of the track while using voices to create a meditative atmosphere. "Forlorn Whispers on a Moonlit Path" uses a piano loop and an impressive barrage of samples and effects. After a quiet first part, "The Frozen Echoes of the Endless Moor" uses the samples to create a rhythmic structure for the samples. "Bitter Silence of Desolate Steps" is developed upon a drone and a variation of the piano of the third track giving the impression of an overall design behind the whole release. The stacking of sound masses of "Drowning in Delusions of Grandeur" is overwhelming and "Lamenting Memories Long Past in the Remnants of Darkness" continues instead with a crescendo which has the same means. "Drifting into the Void Grasping at Fading Starlight" is a suspended track with long tones and short loops. "Lost in the Crystalline Enigma" closes this release with wide spectrum drones which underlines the sparse cymbals.
This is one of the few release in this genre which shows a musical personality which uses a particular musical framework instead of repeating the canonical formula working only in the sound effects. Highly recommended.
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Artist: Compactor (@)
Title: Technology Worship
Format: CD
Label: Oppressive Resistance Recordings
Rated: *****
Who is Compactor? The website explains that “Compactor is an interconnected set of machinery that is manipulated by an anonymous figure known as The Worker under orders from faceless corporation Waste MGT. Industrial, Noise, Techno, and other related sonics are crushed into something else. The project uses mostly obsolete equipment, which is set up, broken down and maintained by System Administrator Derek Rush.” Yes, that Derek Rush, of Chthonic Streams, Dream Into Dust, and for those on Facebook, the man behind the hilarious HNW Memes group. This should give you some insight into what you’re in for. First off, let’s get this out of the way. Buy this album. If you like noise, you need to just get this. I have been recording and listening to noise music for two decades now, and there are very few albums that blew me away like this one. This was not just enjoyable listening, but also inspiring to me as a musician. The rest of this review will just be more about why you need this album. First off, the liner notes frame this work with “Terms of Service” like “Long Distance Rage: Thou shalt cultivate greater irrational anger towards thy neighbors whom thou never see’est in the flesh (Externals 20.2).” In much of this, Rush seems to be channeling the eminent media theorist and critic Neil Postman, with his skepticism of technological advancement. Now on to the music. “Ease Of Use” kicks it off with heavy plodding beats and digital noise. This is pure industrial; factory music for the digital age. “Autonomous” is what you hear when the machines are no longer in spec. Grinding noise over the chugging sound of a gas-powered generator. “Cellular Degradation” is a nice mix of high-end crackling and low rumbling bass, as the sound of bottle rockets and analog sweeps blast through. In “Timeloss,” a relentless beat scrapes over a low-pitched static tone, as a variety of noise blasts enter the scene, only to leave as quickly as they entered. Just when you think it is over, it rattles your speakers with bass and piercing analog sweeps. “Interconnected-Isolated” starts off with dial-up modem noise before hammering you with overdriven bass as the modem continues to peek through. It all dissolves into an almost subdued throbbing bass tone. “Long Distance Rage” is pure, grinding, staticy noise, once again giving us a good mix of high and low range. “Vaporware” is more subdued and atmospheric. This is the point in the soundtrack where the protagonist discovers the robot uprising plot, building until the climactic moment when the protagonist is suddenly discovered. “Unclean Power” is pulsing waves of noise that has an almost hypnotic quality. This also collapses in on itself with harsh noise squalls and rumbling bass. “Screen Hypnosis” is a short track of subdued crackling sound, which is almost peaceful by comparison. Finally, “Church Of Virtual Reality” illustrates how what is not done can sometimes be more important than having a overwhelming wall of noise. There is a good use of dynamics and silence here, with bubbling noise that is punctuated by pounding thuds. Overall, the compositions are wonderfully complex, with a clear attention to detail. This is well worth getting for noise fans. This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.
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Artist: Daimon (@)
Title: Dust
Format: CD
Label: Silentes Minimal Editions (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this band, but their Facebook page describes Daimon as “Obscure deep drone audio-visual project run by Paolo Monti (The Star Pillow), Nicola Quiriconi (Vipcancro, Lisca Records), Simon Balestrazzi (T.A.C., Dream Weapon Ritual, Candor Chasma, AZOTH, etc)." As an aside, I was interested to see that this label came out of the ashes of Amplexus, which used to put out gorgeous releases back in the day. Now on to the music itself. The band In The Nursery had a series called “Optical Music.” I always liked what that term evokes – what Aristotle would call “bringing before the eyes.” It is this sense of bringing an image to mind that Daimon excels at. The music is cinematic, evoking different emotions as it evolves and shifts over time. The album opens with “All the Dead Dreamers” (a nod to H.P. Lovecraft, perhaps), which begins as a quiet droning number, but slowly shifts over time, increasing in dissonance and overall noisiness. If this were a movie scene, this would the point where the protagonists realized that the water on the lake had become far too still and the birds have vanished, just before a creature broke the surface of the water and bit someone in half. “So High So Close” dials it back a bit, with vibraphone breaking through the drone. The overall feeling here is a long journey, leaving home for an uncertain destination. The piece builds on itself, over and over, as time and the miles stretch out before you. “Leonard” brings the dissonance to front stage, opening with bits of metallic tapping and percussion, but getting more and more harsh. It never becomes harsh noise, but the overall feel is that of pressure, grinding away at you. If there is a story to tell, it is that not all battles are outside of one’s mind. Finally, “Awash” closes the album with dissonance in full effect in their droning wall of sound. Bits of clanking metal and horn squawks peek through, broken up by a brief spoken word passage before ending with what sounds like overdriven woodwinds. Overall, this is nicely done and does an excellent job of evoking a sense of imagery to go along with the sound. Well worth checking out for fans of noisy dronescapes. This album weighs in at around 44 minutes.
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Artist: Christoph Lammers, Andreas Usenbenz
Title: Drawing In Sound
Format: LP
Label: Klanggold
This is an improvised musical collaboration, not beti chrween two musicians as you might expect from the accreditation, but between a musician and a visual artist who, after some correspondence and preparation, performed a live work consisting of Usenbenz performing improvised soundscapes while Lammers drew using charcoal, ink, brushes and his bare hands on a 7 by 4 metre canvas. On a limited edition vinyl, one side is etched with the 24-minute musical content, while the other has a screen-printed image of part of Lammers’ finished artwork.

It was performed in spring 2018 as an opener for an exhibition named “Wiese” (“Meadow”) although musically it’s not as organic as that may imply. Usenbenz uses a soft and long electronic drone with a slight texture of guitar tonality as a base, over which are sparingly layered field recordings and tape loops that have meadow elements- rustling hay, birdsong etc.- to extend the sonic picture. As it develops it becomes a little windier, perhaps more autumnal, and the guitar plucking becomes slightly more distinct, before an extremely long fade into low tones, ambience and nothingness.

I’m not a visual art critic so I won’t make any comment on the artwork, except to say that it feels like a reasonably appropriate fit for the sonics on the other side. The inclusion of sharp-edged lettering is perhaps a little misleading, perhaps suggesting the music has more attitude than it really has, or indeed suggesting that there’s any vocal or lyrical content at all which there isn’t.

It’s a succinct and successful little sound-and-pictures collaboration and while the theme and the sonic layout used are not especially ambitious, it’s certainly a high quality and engaging listen.
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Artist: XAH (@)
Title: North Road
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I could not find much on this artist, but the email address on the liner notes is the same as the one for ShchYL-Records, a label out of Ukraine which has also released several XAH albums, so I suspect that they are the same person. Now on to the music. This disc consists of one track that comes out of the gate swinging. Screeching noise heavy on the high end of the spectrum is quickly joined by a nice balance of low-end rumble. There is a good mix of things happening that keep this from getting too dull, but not enough to sound disjointed. This is enjoyable, chaotic noise that has the feel of listening to a tape on fast-forward in a wind tunnel. Great feedbacked ending. If this sounds like the kind of thing you like, this is one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 17 minutes and is limited to 42 copies.
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