Music Reviews



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Artist: Divus
Title: Divus 2
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Boring Machines
Divus is the combined work of Luciano Lamanna (of LSWHR), providing the electronics and techno elements, and Luca T. Mai (of ZU) providing the saxophone across 7 tracks, given ID’s like “C2” and “D3” rather than names.

More often than not the saxophone sits relatively centre-stage, generally given free reign and treated with respect, gently effected and distorted but not heavily deconstructed. The expressiveness and melancholy can shine through in pieces like “C4”. At times it certainly feels like the sax came first and has been sampled rather than cross-composed, particularly on “D1” or on the opener “C1” which, despite being an entirely different genre, somehow brings up strong memories of Deadly Avenger’s “We Took Pelham”.

Around the sax are placed a range of electronica elements, textured drones and pads, all of which is generally on the harsher and more sandpaper-like side, pulling the traditionally super-smooth sound of a sax deliberately away from its velvet natural environment. This ranges from some more familiar-sounding techno-industrial noises, such as those in “D2”, to more experimental, atmosphere-laden and ambient works like the album’s only really expansive piece “D3”.

There are exceptions. “C3” is much more aggressive, twisting the acoustic sounds into a hard noise wall that sits very curiously over an industrial kick drum that sounds techno yet beats out a form of tango. It’s very inventive and feels interesting as a form of anti-dance music aligned to anti-pop. On the whole the pieces are too slow to qualify as dance music in the conventional sense.

It’s an unexpected blend that offers up more variety than you might imagine in a relatively small (27 minute) package, and a well above average example of how to bring two musical backgrounds together and mix it up into something original.
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Artist: Viv Corringham (@)
Title: On The Hour In The Woods
Format: CD
Label: Farpoint Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
British-born U.S.-based singer Viv Corringham has been cutting her own distinctive path as a singer and vocalist ranging across free improvisation, Greek Rembetika, Turkish folk and other styles of music, often combined with environmental field recordings made during solo walks. Her work includes concerts, soundwalks, radio works and multi-channel installations. 'On The Hour In The Woods' was created at Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, New York. As Viv put it, "That summer I stayed in a cabin in the woods. Every day, at a different hour, I went outside to record and sing with the sounds I heard there. After 24 days I had covered every hour of the day and night and so I stopped."

So what we have are 24 tracks, one for each hour of the day, all individually less than three minutes in duration. All are different, and all feature whatever environmental sounds were occurring at the time (birds, animals, insects, planes flying overhead, etc.) and Viv's vocalizing. That vocalizing ranges from heavy breathing to various vocal calisthenics, to abstract scatting, growls, grunts, chirps, whines, screeches, ululations, whispers, bird and animal imitations, etc. One of my favorite segments (track 10, 4pm) was Viv's duet with a barking dog. I think she egged the pup on to be even more vociferous than it would have been if she weren't there. In the end the barking contest seemed like a toss-up. I also liked the owl (track 18, 12am). As interesting as it initially was, I think you'd have to be a real connoisseur of the vocally strange to make it all the way through the 48 minute runtime of this album. Not for everyone, but captivating for those who might enjoy spending some time with a vocally eccentric lady and her woodland creatures.
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Artist: Paul Hegarty and Mick O'Shea (@)
Title: Easy Perfection Salad
Format: CD
Label: Farpoint Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Continuing on with releases from the Irish independent label Farpoint Recordings, we have Paul Hegarty and Mick O'Shea's 'Easy Perfection Salad' which was recorded live at The Cork Artists Collective, Sherkin Island and The Guesthouse, Cork, Ireland. The visual essay for this CD, in an A5 color 16" x 23" foldout is by Irene Murphy, Doreen Kennedy and Anthony Kelly. Paul Hegarty is a member of SAFE with Brian O'Shaughnessy. His books include 'Noise/Music: A History' and 'Rumour and Radiation.' He has written for Wire Magazine and runs the dotdotdotmusic label. Mick O'Shea is a member of the Quiet Club with Danny McCarthy. He is also a member of Strange Attractor with Irene Murphy, Danny McCarthy, David Stalling and Anthony Kelly.

'Easy Perfection Salad,' which sounds more like a recipe than an album title, is comprised of five tracks (VEGETABLES 1; VEGETABLES 2; MEAT trimmings; MEAT render; THE SHED) running in length from a little over six minutes to well over twenty-one minutes. The music is executed with found and prepared materials, some of which can be seen in the foldout poster. There also seems to be some electronics involved which is not obviously evident in the poster. The opening track features a multi-timbral harmonic drone and vocal delivery in the style of a magickal incantation, but from what I can make out of the words, seems to be more or less commentary on vegetables. Maybe it's a paean to the Green Man; it certainly has that ritualistic quality about it. The rest of the tracks are markedly different than the first, but generally similar to each other. "VEGETABLES 2" seems to be the one that employs the most overt electronics, with synthesized drones and oscillations in the forefront. Other found objects provide the rest of the sound, in a cornucopia of onomatopoeic expression- scrapes, clatter, clicks, clanks, ticks, clunks, buzzes, rips, thuds, bonks, squeaks, squelches, etc., etc. Definitely plenty of activity is occurring, but to what end we can only speculate. If you listen carefully some sonic patterns emerge giving these pieces some cohesion. Electronics are present throughout the other pieces, sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. Also, it seems as if certain sounds were looped, as some of the repetition would indicate. There is an atmosphere of starkness as well with much being left up to the listener to interpret. 'Easy Perfection Salad' is as much a field recording interlaced with abstract electronics as it is an ambient work, and invites the listener to pay as little or as much attention as he or she chooses. Intriguing, if one takes the time to delve into it. Limited to 500 copies in the First Edition.
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Artist: Julis Aglinskas
Title: Daydreamer
Format: CD + Download
Label: MIC Lithuania
MIC Lithuania has been responsible for some of the most intriguing, eye-opening and experimental modern classical works I’ve heard in recent years. “Daydreamer”, composed by Julius Aglinskas and performed by Apartment House, is therefore surprising in that it’s perhaps the *least* experimental work I’ve heard in quite some time- though this, in itself, is certainly not a fault.

Across twelve numbered pieces that (almost always) segue seamlessly together into an indulgent 74-minute running time, “Daydreamer” offers up gentle sustained piano chords and soft plaintive melodies, supplemented by equally soft and sustained string beds thoroughly washed in reverb, with just the faintest smattering of other atmospherics as a garnish.

Without breaks or much diversity between tracks, it seems like a work that intentionally eschews the option of offering you favourite parts, and it all generally flows into one. The individual track notes I made were fleeting. The tinkling of piece 4 feels somewhat like a metal wind chime singing gently in the wind, while piece 5’s melody has a shade of the pop ballad about it somehow and is just a touch more ‘singable’. Pieces 7 and 10 emphasise the strings, giving the piano a break, to strong effect in a piece that feels quite cinematic, with an ‘after the war’ feel to both.

It’s expressive, and moody, and offers up a gentle and just slightly melancholic way to relax, and potentially to fall asleep. I don’t agreed with its pitch as a particularly individualistic composition though. The pictures it paints are pretty, but do seem rather familiar, and rather black-and-white.
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Artist: Halo Manash
Title: Unetar
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
Almost concomitant with the re-issue of the series of private sessions of "Underworld Transmission", Aural Hypnox re-issued another sold out release, previously edited in a strictly limited 40-minutes lasting cassette in 2016 (40 copies for the standard edition and 40 copies for the box set), a recording that Halo Manash made by collecting audio material during a private ritual theyh name "Tulitania", held in the wood of Northern Ostrobothnia - close to the Oulu-based lodge of Aural Hypnox in Finland - on December 2006, and to the evocation of Unetar that Anti Ittnaa H., one member of Halo Manash, in Katajan Kaiku studio between January and March 2016. That studio has been described as 'somniferous' in the linear notes, which also mentioned the participation of JVK (moniker of Jaakko Vanhala) for the forging of the obscure and likewise somniferous hymn to Unetar, that gives the title to this output. The description doesn't belong to the creativity of some fan of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, but it seems to refer to an entity described as the bringer of sleep, that maybe belongs to some old Finnish legends. As evidence of this origin, Unetar got also quoted by Leevi Madetoja, another composer based in Oulu a couple of centuries ago, who wrote a composition for male choir for this entity. The sinister trembling of bows and the electronic yells that could come by some wraith of The Witcher video game on the long hymn that Halo Manash made to evoke this entity highlights both the ritual aspect and the supposed role of Unetar, while "Valveesta", the second hymn, shows a different mixture of elements and even if it sounds ever darker than "Unetar", its radial frequencies and the gloomy vocals and breathes on the back layer of the sonic sphere makes it somehow more entrancing. Halo Manash also attached a 9 minutes lasting track, named after the above-mentioned ritual "Tulitania", which sets a heavily catchy crescendo stroke after stroke.
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