Music Reviews



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Artist: Yuya Ota
Title: Arctic April Mother
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements
Rated: *****
Yuya Ota is a composer and sound artist clearly influenced by artists like Nobukazu Takemura as he is trying to create a balance between pop clarity of musical development and avantgarde research in the musical texture.
"Knife" opens this album with gentle notes of piano above some field recordings of a rainy day. "Silver Rain" is instead based on bright juxtaposed drones while "Lágrima" on darker ones. "Maria" is almost a pop song with his soundscape and romantic notes of piano. "Seven Sisters Cliff" is a quiet track based on noises and drones while "Parfum" feature sparse and gentle notes of guitar above a gentle texture and remind to some pages by groups like Fonica and Minamo. "DispÄrsus" is a gentle track for piano and noises. "Tokyo" is a gentle ambient track based upon acoustic and electric guitar. "Viento" is a quiet optimistic soundscape that closes this release.
Even if he's clearly in debt with his musical influences Yuya Ota delivers an album that is enjoyable not only for fans of this kind of music but almost for everyone. It really worth a listen.
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Artist: Neizvestija
Title: Majak
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This new release by Cryo Chamber is made by Swedish producer Daniel Wiklander and inspired by the radioactive zones of Chelyabinsk. According from the linear notes this zone are pastoral landscape but are extremely toxic because water were used to cool nuclear reactors. This theme is depicted using a classic dark ambient musical development that takes advantage from the clear mastering from Simon Heath.
"55º44'² N 60º54'² E" opens this release almost quietly and slowly developing an evocative soundscape. "Muslyumovo" continues in the portrait of a lost and abandoned land. "Kyshtym" relies on samples of spoken words and acts as an interlude to "Techa" that is a long drone above some sparse noises. "Metlino" is another track based upon the same structure of the previous one while "Ozersk" is a carefully constructed dark ambient tune and "Karachay" closes this album with a clear drone that is colored by the noises of the final part of this tune.
This is an enjoyable release by all fans of this genre that will appreciate the clarity of the musical development. Really nice.
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Artist: Biblo
Title: Moved
Format: 12"
Label: Aentitainment
Rated: *****
According to the linear notes this release is filled with "minimalistic segments culminating in a rich and deep ['¦] composition". Biblo develops a musical style that is a blend of pop and trip hop with the contemporary taste for glitchy and noisy textures.
"Floater" opens this album with a glitchy dub beat and some noises and colored samples of voices. "Mind you" is noisier track based upon the same elements while "Some soil" closes the first side of this EP with a gentle guitar and a female vocals depicting an hypnotic track that ends with an hypnotic beat and samples. "Burnt offering" opens the b side (this is a vinyl release) with some reminiscence of trip hop but an almost industrial attitude with the search of a more abrasive sound. "For no one" is a more dancey track while "Infatuation", with the guitar line, returns to a quieter mood with the use of the female voices. "Losing Light" is a track completely based on vocal lines with only small lines of synth creating a canvas for the musical texture.
This EP is an interesting release that worth a listen from all fans of indie music. It could be enjoyable even a full length album. Nice.
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Artist: Contrastate (@)
Title: A Breeding Ground for Flies
Format: CD
Label: Dirter (@)
Rated: *****
Contrastate is back after a lengthy hiatus with 'A Breeding Ground for Flies'. Contrastate is one of those projects which I've heard of and read about, but never actually heard. The group, from the U. K. consists of Jonathan Grieve, Stephen J. Pomeroy and Stephen Meixner. Everything I've heard about Contrastate's music was pretty weird, and this album doesn't dispel that notion. There is a dark undercurrent running throughout 'A Breeding Ground for Flies' but it's not entirely dark. Where it isn't dark, it is still pretty weird. 'Son of Sam' has ominous drone and electronics, a creepy spoken recitation about the resurrection of the Son of Sam, sampled lecture speech of an anti-war activist, and some electronic effluvia and sequenced looping and wafts of noise. Sets a mood I suppose. 'Tripoli Calling' is comprised of subtle dark electronic ambience and an intermittent buzzy drone, a few stray slow electric guitar riffs, then voice mutterings, the sound of a helicopter overhead, sparse snippets of noise, church bell, a backwards music loop, high-hat tapping and a bit of snare drum. Weirdly atmospheric. 'Operation Infinite Truth' begins with more dark ambient electronics that keep building until George W. Bush breaks in with his infamous Iraq War and Weapons of Mass Destruction speech. The really weird thing though is that he seems to be backed here by a neofolk combo complete with vocals, guitar and bass, ending with an abbreviated mangled excerpt of an orchestral 'Star Spangled Banner' and a child's recitation of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. Strange, just strange. More miasmic dark ambience sets the tone for 'Abuse Your Illusions' giving way to a pulsing monotone synth sequence and some slidey guitar notes. Spoken poetry in cadence possibly made up of newspaper headlines strung together completes this track. 'Against The Sky' has sustained synth chords and voices and a squeaky metal loop with an intermittent spoken 'against the sky loop'. All that fades, then backwards voices, sustained string drone in the background, wafts of white noise, other processed voice loops and tinkling tidbits, a flute or recorder with a plaintive melody, more processed voice loops, a nice oboe melody loop backed by swelling strings and phased choir, until the 'against sky' sample and squeaky metal loop returns. It ends with a full band vocal and instrumental song rendition with the lyrics 'Find a black spot on the sun, thickening hatred shall descend'. One of the members actually tells what it's all about- 'This is about the death of America' he says. Well, all-righty then.

I could point out a dozen things I didn't like about 'A Breeding Ground for Flies' (having to hear Bush's speech again was certainly one of them) but I could just as easily point out a dozen things I DID like about it. If I were giving points for creatively strange and weird alone, I guess it would be 4.5 out of 5. However, that's not quite enough. There is a lot of creativity here but some of it just seems misguided. If this were Contrastate's first effort, I'd be willing to cut them a bit more slack; however these guys have been around the block more than a few times and I sense some rustiness in this endeavor. Still, if you're just looking for something kind of dark and plenty strange, you might want to check it out. I don't know any other project that's doing anything quite like they are. CD is limited to 500 copies, comes in a long sliding slipcase with 8-page booklet.

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Artist: Xiphoid Dementia (@)
Title: Secular Hymns
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Xiphoid Dementia is the noise/power electronic project of Egan Budd from Boston who has been at this since 1999, and 'Secular Hymns' is approximately his tenth or so release. Apparently Malignant Records found it interesting enough to release on their label. Never heard any of his stuff before, so once again, another 'blind' review. 'Secular Hymns' begins with the 14 minute 40 second 'Abortion Rites' which seems to have little to do with abortions. It is more akin to being strapped to the outside of a rocket and launched into space. It starts with a tiny laser pinpoint of noise that grows and swells from multi-timbral noise drone, goes through some power electronics changes where you encounter a bawling electronic monster (courtesy of lots of distorted vocal processing) hell-bent on the destruction of, well'¦everything in the audio spectrum. Played loud this is sure to shred your speakers, or under headphones, your eardrums.

'My Time Will Never Come' begins with a clicking-ticking and electronic drone, ratcheting, then some dumpster drums and maybe sawing through same dumpster. A chiming clock emerges briefly, ceases, then returns later. Very industrial. Midway the loops stop and there is some metalish banging around, then the rhythm of a single church bell begins. Playing off this slow rhythm a buzzy synth bass plays a dirgy melody. Other higher frequency synths melodically embellish this funerary march taking it out to the end. Kind of crude, but quite unexpected in the context of industrial noise/power electronics. 'What You Believe' begins kind of low key with industrial machinery in a factory environment with various types of industrial noise and drones, and eventually electronics. It takes a while to build up steam and get into the big noise and electronic squalls, but rest assured, they do come. A buzzy electronic sample and hold loop becomes the backdrop for crushing explosive sounds, and eventually higher frequency electronic sounds enter the mix. A sampled voice rant (only barley intelligible) enters the mix (something about a mental patient complaining to his doctor about whippings and medication) and this goes on for a while. The track culminates in a barrage of noise until the end.

'Breathe' may be the spookiest track on the album, with the sound of breathing and ominous low-key punctuations of bass electronics, eventually giving way to a rising tone-drone that keenly slices through the gloomy ambience. Further down the line a slow and steady percussive pounding and snippets of echoed electronics and noises inject infernal aural madness into the mix becoming more prevalent and less incidental until it all dies away in a single tone.

No doubt 'Secular Hymns' is a multi-faceted noise/power electronics album with a good amount of diversity and quite a lot put into it. It may not sit well with noise purists, but who cares? I found it interesting enough, though not all quite to my liking as power noise isn't really my thing. There are sections I would have like to have heard expanded (the beginning of 'What You Believe' for one) and other sections I could have done without (the sampled complaining mental patient) but you can't always get what you want. I should make mention of the bizarre artwork on this 6-panel digipak which I won't even try to describe; it's just really, really weird. If you're tired of the same-old same-old in the harsh noise genre, give Xiphoid Dementia a shot.
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