Music Reviews



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Artist: MUfi.re (@)
Title: These Walls Resemble Absence
Format: CD
Label: 3LEAVES (@)
Rated: *****
Once upon a time nearby Guimaraes on the banks of Vizela river in Northern Portugal, the textile factory of the Earl of Vizela was the flagship of the lively industrial district surrouding that beautiful Portuguese city and more than 4000 workers got hired in the 50ies when the sector experienced the period of highest development. After the growing competition by Chinese factories, the Vizela factory was compelled to close between 2001 and 2002 and both industrial premises and building became one of the typical decaying carcass of contemporary globalized economical system. The sonic journey that Rui Almeida released on Hungarian label 3Leaves by collaging a series of mainly untreated field recordings, found objects and hits on supposedly rusty machinery inside the abandoned factory and the surrounding natural environment manages to render both the state of deterioration of the factory and the strange contrast between the harmony of nature and the chaotic decay of human traces on the territory, where unexpected crescendo and dumb and somehow sinister tolling seems to come from the very last rattling of a dying giant, whose previous life left indelible traces on the landscape and the collective memory of the community, which already got focused by other reminiscences in different artistic fields - photographic exhibitions and movies such as "Centro Historico", related to Guimaraes city, which was premiered on the occasion of International Rome Film Festival 2012 and shown in many festivals with contributions by Victor Erice (the one focused on the Vizela factory), Pedro Costa, 104-years old Manoel de Oliveira and Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki -.
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Artist: Ryoji Ikeda
Title: Supercodex
Format: CD
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
Someone could say that there are less and less sound artist in that narrow field of the so-called abstract techno or that many of them are migrating to the neighboaring grounds of ambient or rhythmic noise, but giving it as a pretext to gather that there's nothing new to add to the scene could be quite irksome and "Supercodex", the album that ideally closes the trilogy, which started off with "Dataplex", the majestic sonic essay on data-within-sound, and carried on with "Test Pattern", a merely conceptual output where data became generators of sound, adduces evidence that something has been left undone yet and Ryoji Ikeda, one of the greatest ace of that scene, did it by following a staggering strategy. He doesn't add anything to his tested sonic soup, but he preferred to subtract indeed! With the exception of some occasional glomerules such as "Supercodex 14" and "Supercodex 15", where I heard a sort of suffocated barking (maybe an aural hallucination?) in the deluge of piercing pulses, or occasional outbursts ("Supercodex 17"), Ikeda trimmed sound particles by extremely scrupulous crumbling. Such an extreme pulverization of sound could be considered a proper quantum jump of Ikeda's investigations, which don't disappoint expectation at all by a somewhat quicksilver choice. Hats off!
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Artist: Mirrorman & India Czajkowska
Title: Secretia
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This new Zoharum release could be seen as the follow-up of the remarkable "in the fog" previous album of Mirrorman. In this release the vocals of She.Exist are replaced by the contribution of India Czajkowska. However if that album was inspired by, and is in support of, the situation of the children in Chernobyl and, so, was an almost sad album, this one is clearer as, even if the base is a mix of trip-hop rhythms and ethereal vocals, the soundscape behind aims to depict a pastoral landscape rather than a desert one.
The trip-hop beats and the oriental mood of "Slavery" opens this release while "Distant Lights" deals with more meditative moods. The first part of "At The Gates Of Silence" is almost ethereal while the second return to a chill athmosphere and the same structure is repeated in "Kingdom Of Calmness". The soundscape of "Hidden" is colored by the voice of India Czajkowska while "Eleven More Days" returns to the trip-hop athmosphere of the beginning of the album. "The Unknown" returns instead to the meditative mood as "Ashes" is an ethereal track. "The Prophecy" closes this release as a blend of all the paths followed in this album.
Perhaps a little bit derivative in his development, but, the result is so enjoyable and crafted that worths a listen to a wide spectrum of listener: to the chill-out fans to the dark one. Almost recommended.
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Artist: Aloa
Title: Aloa
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records
Rated: *****
Originally issued in 1982 the self titled album by Aloa has been a particular one which, at that time, the press and radio stations didn't appreciate fully. Formed by Al Kanz and Matthias Brendel, two guys born in Kassel, Germany, Aloa released only that album and the fourteen songs contained on that vinyl issued by Offers Musik Produktion 'are the only stuff left to testimony their innovative style. Using Roland 606 and 808 drum machines plus a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synthesizer, they composed tracks that were in balance from krautrock and robotic electronic music. Some tracks like the opening "Weisser Wal", "Deutsche Begegnung" and "Tramfrau" recall the evolution DAF did from their early experimental phase of "Produkt Der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft '" to the first core of their sound already present in "Die Kleinen Und Die Bosen". Both the bands were part of the Neue Deutsche Welle movement but Aloa were more focused on their personal version of synthpop where melodies, dark atmospheres and extravagant vocals were mixed just to form a fresh and dadaist paint. "Babane Zitrone" is a great dark pop song with catchy melodies, while the following "Madchen Von Gegenuber" sounds just crazy, like a party held at a clowns conference. Also the following song "Du Machst Es Mir Schwer" is a weird one, as it sounds like a folk song sung by a drunk who fell in love with a certain girl called Martina. This album is a multifaceted one which contains many ideas and it will take time to be fully appreciated but compared to thirty years ago, you'll be able to catch at a early listening its real value. This reissue was a must due and it has been restored and mastered from the original master tapes by Klearlight Studios. Presented on high-quality 180gram heavyweight green vinyl. Features bonus LP insert with liner notes by Dave Segal. Check it here http://medicalrecords.bandcamp.com/album/aloa-mr-029
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Artist: Stephen Vitiello + Molly Berg (@)
Title: Between You And The Shapes You Take
Format: CD
Label: 12K (@)
Rated: *****
An anonymous listener of the inital demo recording of the second collaborative album by Richmond based musicians and sound artists Stephen Vitiello and Molly Berg said: "I've fallen face first into a machine that erases the memories of an ended relationship as if it were a sound instead of a real life that fell in love with the girl again in the end". I'm pretty sure that these words managed to get a few smiles out of the authors of this sonic gem, which tunefully overlapped the gentle vocals of Molly Berg, who often adds clarinet and thin percussions as well, and (acoustic and baritone) guitar, modular synthesizer, loops and measured processing by Stephen Vitiello, whose work - named after a verse of the 32nd stanza of Wallace Stevens' poem "The Man with the Blue Guitar" (in turn partially inspired by Picasso's "The Old Guitarist") - could persuade Micheal O.Stagman to update his essay "Checklist of Musical Compositions Relating to Stevens" by means of an afterword. Unlike their previous collaborative release "the Gorilla Variations" which was recorded in Vitiello's office at school, "Between You And The Shapes You Take" was recorded in a proper studio; each recording session is the result of edited improvisations, which according to Stephen's words came without any proper score: "Things tend to go best when Molly and I don't speak beforehand or plan anything for the recording beyond a time to meet and to begin. We'll play for as long as we can and generally find that the beginnings and endings are implied in the performance.". Even if this album could sound vaguely melancholic, the main features of their music consists of a sensuous binding between idyllic suggestions, imaginative exfoliations and wobbling ethereal morphing so that listener's imagination could produce figments which are other than eraser machines. For instance, Molly's angelic hums over stretched and reversed tones, whistles and noises which are similar to the noise a bark makes when it got stripped off on the initial "From Here", which sound reprised later on "Recap" where the violin by Hahn Rowe - former member of Hugo Largo - is more clearly audible, could make you envisage a wood-nymph while getting out of the tree she was resting in, while the sweeet tonal paste which got blended by Molly's warbling (almost an all in one with her whistles and gentle guitar plucking while rendering a sort of a gradual swooming) on the following "Back Again" will make you imagine saccharine resins getting out of the tree while that nymph finishes her meioisis. Each element of this "orchestra" sounds somehow spotlighted in many moments of the album: for instance Molly's astonishing voice reaches the most entrancing pinnacles on tracks like "Voice Loopsize", processed guitar prevails on other elements on the heady liquefaction of "Easy Travel" or the effulgent "Five Was 5" and clarinet (together with a set of impressive noises which could remind the noise of rubbing on wet gum or the popping of electric flyswatter) shines by shaded nuances on "Clarinet Assembly", while Stephen's baritone guitar stands out on "Baritone Final" when Molly just emits feeble lulling hums. It's going to make you lapse into lovely daydreaming.
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