Music Reviews



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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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anymore
Artist: Distel
Title: Ultra 2012
Format: Tape
Label: Belaten (@)
Rated: *****
I already had the chance to talk about Distel when the last year they released their debut album on Enfant Terrible. They for sure are inspired by early electronic industrial music but they have their peculiar way to deal with synth noises and stuff which make of them kinda unique. This tape released by Belaten, see the Dutch duo coming back with five interpretations of Mekanik Kommando's songs (Mekanik Kommando was a New Wave band from Nijmegen, Netherlands. It was founded in 1980 by two members of Zelek. After their third album which was released by EMI, they started their own record label: Rosebud Records. In 1988 the band split up due to musical differences. Some of the members started Guler and later on Ulanbator. The others went on as The Use Of Ashes) and one new track. This is the story: they got contacted for the first of four Ultra2012 events held across four Dutch cities in 2012. Performers were asked to in some way pay homage to the original Ultra movement of the late 70's and early 80's and Distel choose to do so by covering five songs from Mekanik Kommando's debut LP "It Would Be Quiet In The Woods If Only A Few Birds Sing" from 1981. The Mekanik Kommando's tracks in the hands of Distel have been turned from experimental minimal synth tunes into evil invocations with noisy drones layers on the background with pulsating electronic analog drumming and filtered cold vocals. The result is fascinating and disturbing and once again they have confirmed themselves a great discover. The closing original track "Onde" has been used as a sort of theme song for their performance at the event in Nijmegen and is a short melodic industrial track that catch the attention for its horror atmospheres.
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anymore
Artist: Athana / Stavanger Symphonic Orchestra / Stewart Copeland (@)
Title: Athana Symphonic Experience
Format: CD + DVD
Label: SSO
Rated: *****
As I wrote on the review of the latest Athana's album "Paviljon", the last year on March, they played live with Stewart Copeland (yes, him!), as the Athana Symphonic Experience. Now, we have a Blu-ray/CD release that document that experience but let's start from the beginning. Back on 2008, the Norwegian city of Stavenger was along with Liverpool, the Cultural cities of Europe. That, made available a certain amount of money to use for cultural events. Athana thought that it would be a great thing to play with the local symphonic orchestra and they had a connection, since their bass player Oyvind Grong also plays the tuba with them. Since the company Electrocompaniet added some other funds, they thought that they would have make the event even bigger, so when they got hold of Stewart Copeland's e-mail, they tried to check with the man to see if he was interested into a collaboration. Fortunately, he accepted and on March 2013 the 3rd they made a gig at the Stavanger's concert hall Zetlitz. With the help of Helge Sunde and Reid Gilje who took care of the orchestral arrangements, the trio played seven particular versions of Athana's tracks. In my previous Athana's reviews I already pointed out how they are able to create a convincing mix of jazz, ambient and experimental music. Well, the Athana Symphonic Experience, thanks to the orchestra, takes that experience to a new level as the strings and the blows enhance that cosmic effect created by the band's suites. This is concerning the sound's structure and the atmosphere created. Apart from this, we should talk about the apport that Copeland gave to the whole sound. He's one of my favorite rock drummers. I like the way he hits the cymbals and the drums by creating hundreds of little sounds creating colors by using sounds. This release is a pleasure to listen to and to watch (at the end of the performance the "gang" is joined by two modern dancers) and the way it has been directed is making you enjoy the experience as it's balanced, offering details of Alf Terje Hana guitarism, Copeland's drumming, orchestra elements as well as the whole stage.
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