Music Reviews



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Artist: Ian Hawgood and Friends
Title: Wolven (A Modern Interpretation)
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
British label Hibernate, a proper rising star of ambient music scene, dedicates this release to the sparkle of its rich catalogue, the ultra-limited album "Wolfskin" by English musician Ian Hawgood, one of the most refined and sophisticated soother, who manages to mix somewhat contrasting emotional polarities by means of the unifying power of his beautiful sound he spread through his labels Home Normal, Nomadic Kids Republic, Tokyo Droming and Koen Music aka KOMU, which co-produced "Wolven (A Modern Interpretation)". This release doesn't just canonize Ian's ability to shape that matter dreams are made from, but also his tendency to share such a vocation with other sound artists. On the first disc's cakewalk, a lot of musicians grappled with the lovely cathartic tracks Ian squeezed from the recollection of his own childish dreams and nightmares in a masterly manner: some of the most mindblowing moments come from the collaboration with the inspiring cellist Aaron Martin, who almost renders the scene of a mother in the act of assuaging her baby after he got suddenly awaken by a disqueting nightmare on "The New World", lets listener flow over emotional polar lights on the initial "The Dance", honeys further the delicate tapping by Ian on "Blue Type I", "Shallow Break", harmonizes the sleep spindles on "The Headless Sleep", but the other guests let their light shine as well. Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper TX) weaves a net of fading filaments which awakes an encircling warm tone and gradually trigger an engaging emotional blast on the beautiful "Blue Type III", Charles Sage aka y0t0 splendidly boosts the same track by dilating chimes, Ian Hawgood allows himself a quick dip into his own mental pools on "Wolven I" before siphoning those lukeworm waters into Spheruleus' vaporizing alembics ("Wolven II"), Pillowdriver's darkening pipes ("Wolven IV") and Hakobune's treatment ("Wolven III"), which turns it into a plasma soup which saturates the substantia nigra. If you enjoyed the first disc, you'll get totally enraptured by the enchanting reinterpretation of the entire album by electronic dub-ambient sorcerer Brock Van Wey aka bvdub on the second disc, who made a sort of derivative album-within-album, based on three angelical diluition of three tracks ("All These Memories Are Blue Type", "Wolfskin" and "Red Rugs Of Infinite Grass") of the original album, who got turned into exstatic suites.
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Artist: Christiaan Virant (@)
Title: Fistful of Buddha
Format: CD
Label: CVMK
Rated: *****
Buddha Machine's 9 loops maybe didn't bring the Enlightenement to its fetishistic owners, but I'm pretty sure that many fans of that nice coloured plastic music-box mulishly tried to find their way to some Nirvana by it and some of them poured those entrancing or relaxing tunes into more or less personal ambient-oriented tracks in order to share their toytronic-driven Samadhi. Drawing on that fad, some devotee could have surmise one of its inventor, the imaginative Hong Kong-born musician Christiaan Virant, who developed that nice loop device together with his music partner Zhang Jian in 2005 and tried for an encore by an industrial version - the Gristleism loop device! - together with Throbbing Gristle in 2009 found a job as a road worker for the maintenance of the noble eightfold path. The reputation he gained for that somehow bizarre object might eclipse Virant's musical skills and creativity, so that this self-released album, wisely titled "Fistful of Buddha", has been supposedly intended for giving evidence of them. Even if the general sound has a strong influence of those Zen jujus, the classical training and the connection with "western" musical aspects such as some transitional procedures, the outline of a structure and a predominant sense of drama by Mister Virant astonishingly filters through the nine tracks (I think the number of tracks is not casual at all...) of this album, which shows a remarkable variety. Besides ruminative low-paced and beatless tracks such as "Monkey Mind", "Crickets" or "Grey Zone", the highest stylistical peaks have been reached when Christiaan intentionally amalgamates Western and Eastern traditions: you could think about a Vietnamese declension of some icy gothic-ambient stuff when listening to "River Pearl", two vivid slanting eyes behind Venetian masks on "Metropolis Waltz", a special concentrate of Klaus Schulze's stuff and 70ies sequencers for the mp3 players of levitating gurus on the initial "Title Sequence" or on the title-track, which vaguely resembles some stuff by Ron Rothfield's The Infinity Project, or hypertechnological ashram while listening to the final breathing track "Yuan Yi". Spellbinding sonic juice.
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Artist: Kantyze (@)
Title: Fish Eye EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: m-Atome (@)
Rated: *****
Kantyze is maybe one of the fiercest dnb duo, consisting of Frederic Bauffe (Feubo) and Igor Denat (Knockoutz), who gave many innovative shakes to French dnb scene by adding to dnb typical doodads a weaponry of dark-techno-oriented primers. On this excellent digital EP, which will be officially released on 10th June, they strenghten their sound by enhancing both dynamics of rhythmical patterns and and grip of sounds. It's possible you will associate their combination of dark shading and hyper-hectic swirls to the sound of other projects such as Cern, The Upbeats, The Sect, Subtone, Stalker, Proktah and similar projects, but one of the distinguishing aspect of Kantyze sound is the fiendish focus on the insertion of psychotropic samples, futuristic roller and sometimes militant beats within their computational reticula. You will find four wicked tunes on this EP, which comes on their own m-Atome imprint, who all have the above-mentioned elements, even if according to my ear and neural response, the abysmal pits and the nervously stretched drum rolling of "Factory Slum" as well as the squishy bouncy "Fish Eye" deserve the purchase of this release by themselves.
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anymore
Artist: Maciek Szymczuk
Title: Clouds
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Maciek Szymczuk could represent a classic Zoharum release but, because is filled with guest appearances, the music is changeable and seems a sort of pop-dark ambient. Just to be clear, pop is not a synonymfor commercial but a way to express the fact the key point of this album is the merge of a song structure in a dark ambient sound context.
The voice of Joanna Kunstwan-Szymczuk, with the words of Percy Shelley, clear the sound palette of "Cumulus Congestus (Fresh Showers)", the first track of this album that acts as a sort of intro to the remarkable variety of the sound solutions and the second track, "Cirrus Uncinus (To Watch The Clouds)", is a more refined version of this form. "Altocumulus Floccus" is an atmospherical introduction to "Altostratus" where an almost epic synth are juxtaposed to african beats while "Nimbostratus (ObÅok różany)" is completely centered upon the voice of Maciej Mehring interpreting the words of Tadeusz Micinski. "Cirrocumulus Undulatus" is an etherial song as "Stratocumulus Duplicatus" while "Cumulus Mediocris (SÅoÅce za chmurÄ)" returns to a more solemn form with Mauriusz,Oziu' Orzechowski chanting his own words. "Cumulonimbus Capillatus (Clouds)" is the proper title track of this album as it embodies the principal qualities of this release. "Cumulus Lacunosus" seems a quite chill-out (or idm) track reminiscent of some old records while "Stratus Undulatus (Srebrne chmury)" is open by the spoken words, written by Tadeusz Micinski, of Maciej Mehring introducing the etherial soundscape evoked by the author. "Cirrostratus Fibratus" is a small introduction to "Cumulus Humilis (White Sheep)" where small noises acts as an intro to the voice of Joanna Kunstwan-Szymczuk until a gentle coda ends the track and "Cirrus Vertebratus (Sunny Again)" close this release with the words of Alan Benjamin.
This release has one of the aspects that I consider most in a release: the personality of the musical output as, instead of being a typical release of this label, is one of the most enjoyable albums. Recommanded.
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anymore
Artist: A New Life (@)
Title: Fright Treasures
Format: Tape
Label: Other Voices Records
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
The truth is, that i have been eagerly waiting for the release of FRIGHT TREASURES, the first 'full length' album by A NEW LIFE. It is finally out! A limited edition release on tape (along with the digital release, of course), on OTHER VOICES records. The fact that it is available on tape, as well, makes the album even more special and highly collectible.
All the songs on the album have been composed, performed and recorded by Maurizio Pustianaz (the mastermind behind A NEW LIFE) between September 2011 / September 2012, and as the title - and the striking cover artwork (by Oleg Galay) - suggest, we're in for a deep, dark, often emotional journey.
Right fro the start, it becomes clear that the artist, has no intention of jumping on any bandwagons or following 'trends'. After playing the album many times i get the feeling that the music making approach and the song constructing process can be described as pure and sincere and the sound ideas, the arrangements of the songs, the vocal performances, are all expertly combined and produced, bringing a sense of sonic unity and a final solid vision of the album, as a whole piece of art.
A NEW LIFE, prefers analogue drums and synthesizers to bring all those dark moments and moods to life, and manages to build up a melancholic vibe that runs through the album. Early 80s synth influences are evident and ever-present on all of the songs, and that only manages to enhance the allure of the album, which by all accounts has a strong sound identity, and an undeniable quality and only leaves the listener wanting more.
For me, FRIGHT TREASURES is one of the best releases of the year.
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