Music Reviews



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Artist: Lost in the Woods (@)
Title: The Meadowland Suite
Format: CD
Label: Hulterstad Sound
Rated: *****
Lost in the Woods is the work of Lars Tängmark and Johan Levin. Levin has also performed under the moniker Desiderii Marginis and Tängmark has his hand in many different endeavors, including running Hulterstad Sound and playing guitar with Viking-metal band King of Asgard among other things. Both are also in goth band The Wounded Meadow. I was unfamiliar with all of these projects, so this was a blank slate for me. With a title like 'The Meadowland Suite' one may expect something along the lines of Handel's Water Music. But despite the appearances and the title, this is not something out of the Narada new age catalog. Low drones hum ominously, punctuated at times with subdued noises and subterranean rumbles. This is not a peaceful, pastoral meadowland, but an open space where you suddenly realize that there is absolutely nowhere to hide. And something doesn't quite seem right. It isn't until the last few minutes that there is some sense of peace. After listening to the disc, I read the press sheet and found that this was by design: 'I mean standing in the far corner of a field, where the smell of rapeseed gets too much and the insects start to bite. The sun is setting. Cold mists rising. . . . There is nothing pretty about this, but it is something that I love from the bottom of my heart.' Well, they nailed it. This is well done dark soundscape that brings an oppressive feeling without resorting to cheesy horror movie samples or tipping its hand too forcefully. Worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 49 minutes and is limited to 200 copies.
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Artist: ujif_notfound (@)
Title: aneuch
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Electroton (@)
Rated: *****
ujif_notfound is the work of Ukrainian artist Gregoriy Potopalski. According to the press sheet, Potopalski is 'a media artist engaged in the construction of algorithmic interpretation systems by means of programming languages.' His website clarifies this somethat by stating that 'performances are based on the generation of audio and visual streams in real time. By controlling the prewritten programs (patches ) Ujif_notfound, with each new startup creates an unique audio -visual space, which exists only during the performance , and repeat which is exactly impossible.' The concept is interesting, so let's go to the music. First off, this is mastered really low ' I had to crank it to hear it. Like labelmate Cernlab, this is glitchy stuff, but where Cernlab found a steady rhythm, this is a bit more random. There is some internal consistency of course, but if you're looking for something with a beat on 2 and 4, you'll be disappointed. The best comparison I could come up with is 'Worship the Glitch' from ELpH vs. Coil, which actually shares some commonalty with the production process. Overall this is interesting digital experimental music. It comes nicely packaged in a simple translucent case and weighs in at around 21 minutes. Limited to 100 copies.
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Artist: Cernlab (@)
Title: Atomherz
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Electroton (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Cernlab, but this is the work of Germany-based Marek Slipek. The label describes the release as 'crystalline sounds and clicks are crunching and cracking on the search for clear forms and structures.' Sounds good. Once the music starts, you realize that it's time to get your glitch on. There is a rhythm here, but it really isn't something that you're going to dance to (unless you're a robot). Not really minimalist, but really stripped down. The closest comparison that I can come up with is Autechre's 'Tri Repetae.' Lots of bleeps, blips, and digital sounds. The music is simple, but interesting. Music like this has the potential to get really boring, but Atomherz never fell into that trap. Well done. This album comes nicely packaged in a simple translucent case and weighs in at around 22 minutes. Limited to 100 copies.
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Artist: Dog Hallucination (@)
Title: Serving Two Masters
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Intangible Cat (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this artist, but this is the work of D. Petri, and the label describes the release as 'a eulogy and remembrance as well as a rumination on elusive and omnipresent aspects of human living.' First off, we need to talk about the packaging. This is hardcore DIY art packaging, with beet leaf-dyed fabric & pressed sage leaf from D. Petri's garden in a folded package. You get the sense that if he spends half the effort on the music as he does on the packaging, it will be amazing. We begin with what sounds like a hypnotist providing instructions, and what follows is truly hypnotic. For example, imagine that someone stole the guitar tracks from The Durutti Column and layered them with peaceful ambient music, and you have a good idea if what is happening on tracks 2 and 3 (there are no track names). Track 4 is an exercise in rhythmic repetition that draws you in as it slowly evolves and gains in intensity. On track 5, we have what sounds to be a letter on tape from one Betty Scott, who describes her experience at the Embassy building in Washington D.C. and Alexander Pope's quote about vice, mixed with more dreamlike atmosphere. Everything here is guitar with everything washed over with a thick layer of reverb. There are many who try to do surreal by going dark. Dog Hallucination do so from the space of pleasant dreams and happy memories. The word I would use to describe this disc is 'sentimental.' This is really nice, pleasant music that evokes thoughts of friends and loved ones who are far away. Well done. This album weighs in at around 24 minutes.
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Artist: Abstractive Noise (@)
Title: Of the Adder’s Bite
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this artist, but I recognized the label that he ran, Impulsive Art. This is the work of Greek artist Panagiotis Pagonis, and the name of the project is a bit deceiving. I opened the case and saw liner notes from one of my favorite passages of Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, describing Zarathustra's interaction with the adder who bit him. As such, I settled in for a nice round of noise. But that is not what you get here. This is a concept album of sorts; according to the press sheet, 'the main 'character' who is a male in his normal form is trapped in a gigantic machine-world that is revealed as a woman (or a woman in the form of a machine). . . . The first chapter is the awakening and the realization of the machine's existence. The second chapter is the struggle for escape and the last is the understanding that there is no way of doing so.' OK. So there is no real way I would have gotten this out of the music, but it is enjoyable listening in its own right. We open with some dark neoclassical with strings and a slow moving rhythm. Some of the standout pieces include 'Machine (phase 1),' which brings in rhythms made with chains on floors, a violin in staccato, and the soundtrack to all of those nights that you stayed up too late watching the scary movie on TV after you should have gone to bed. Remember those times? This is what you were hearing. 'Trap' is a nice aggressive number, like the soundtrack to a chase scene in your dreams. Cello and bass lay down a punchy staccato line that provides a good counterpoint to the languid violins. 'Of the Adder's Bite (1st Movement)' is a piano and strings piece reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Overall, this is nice cinematic music. If you like the 'Optical Music' series by In The Nursery, this would be one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 47 minutes.
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