Music Reviews



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Artist: Shohei Amimori
Title: PataMusic
Format: CD + Download
Label: Noble
Tokyo-based Shohei Amimori’s “PataMusic” is a bright and often bonkers hour of twisted, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink weird-pop. It channels all sorts of influences, from the energy of J-pop, the quirky Matthew Herbert or Art Of Noise-esque joys of found sound as instrumentation, and the glitchy and unpredictable experimental edges of- well, it’s hard to say where they’re from.

At times, it feels like we’re enjoying regularly structured synthpop, with the intro to “Now Forever” sounding initially like straight-laced lounge music that gradually gets more manic. “Fence Of Bats” has some English-language lyrics, but I still won’t pretend to have the vaguest clue what it’s about.

It’s not all crazy. Amimori’s academic compositional background is on display in the cultured small string ensemble piece “ReCircle” and the quirky, almost rom-com waltz of “ajabollamente”, which serve as a real palette-shifting mood changer after the album’s initial energetic flurry.

But once you’ve settled into expectations of traditional form and structure, along comes tracks like “Climb Downhill 2”, a weird acid squelch workout and an unfiltered revelry in squeaky sonics to shake everything back up again. “Washer” is also notable for its experimental electronics, the love of gradual pitch change that’s exhibited on several tracks playing out nicely here.

The album proceeds in this manner throughout, always throwing curveballs to keep you on your toes, clearly enjoying the capability of its own breadth and diversity- yet thankfully, as most of the tracks are above five minutes, it’s rather satisfying too, with most of the ideas explored up to the right length for their natural conclusion.

It’s odd, and arguably a little bit like showing off at times, but it’s also rather endearing and works well as an off-kilter and idiosyncratic offering from the very edge of what could be called pop.
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Artist: Benjamin Finger (@)
Title: Into Light
Format: 12"
Label: Forwind Press (@)
Rated: *****
This release from Benjamin Finger is presented in the liner notes, and it definitely is, something at the crossroad between electro-acoustic and modern classical; this, in theory, could be a little problem as this two genres are among the more bothered by clichés. However the key to avoid the pit is to blend the genres rather than juxtapose them i.e., use electro-acoustic to remove the romantic element of modern classical rather than blur it.
The two sides of this 12" are exactly symmetric a short first track and a longer second one. The A side is opened by "A Glimpse" which has more movement in three minutes than a whole ambient record: it has samples, drones, a little bit of noise and juxtaposes this elements with a speed that let breathless. "Gravity's Jest" is instead a track based around a melody of cello which slowly evolves upon noises and samples which quietly but implacably emerge from the background until the second part of the track is introduced by a female voices accompanied by cold synths. the B side is opened by "Into Light" an instrumental synth pop track whose quiet melody is remarkable. The voice of Inga-Lill Farstad returns at the begin of "Paradox Route" and is the center of a track whose synthetic sound gravitates in silence until the arrival of traditional string instruments in the second part creates a continuous and suggestive musical canvas.
The short duration of this release is used to remove all elements of rhetoric and lengthiness that could plague a musical form so relying in catchy romantic melodies and ethereal atmosphere as it also uses some unconventional techniques borrowed from electro-acoustic music. A truly enjoyable release for almost anyone.
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Artist: The Vegetable Orchestra
Title: Green Album
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Transacoustic Research
The novelty value on this release is clearly strong on this one, and despite being established for almost twenty years and this being their fourth album, the ensemble will still command plenty of online column inches for the sheer quirkiness of ‘vegetable sound’ and the ten-piece’s ability to perform complex instrumental works solely out of instruments made out of vegetables.

But beyond that, is this a release that you’d willingly listen to for more than just novelty value? Yes, it is. Compositionally it’s not ground-breaking but across 14 tracks and 48 minutes there’s plenty to enjoy even if you ignore the music’s vegetable roots (that’s the only intentional pun I’m doing).

While some pieces, like “Perfect Match” and the decidedly Clangers-esque “Carrot Pano Drama”, are slightly cheesy and squelchy, with recorder-style squeaky veggie woodwind and more processed-sounding sounds playing up the novelty value, the majority of the pieces here are genuine and worthwhile experimental composition works that stand out because if you didn’t know how the sounds were being produced, you might think it was some strange hybridisation of organic instrument and synthesis. “In V” riffs off the concept of Terry Riley’s “In C” but instead of a comedy version or pastiche, what you get is a rich composition in its own right, with its own distinctive texture.

“Hyperroots” is a highlight and also a strong potential crossover track, being quite poppy in structure and bizarrely almost club-friendly. The rhythmic progress and relentlessness of “Beet-L” spans to span both 60’s electronic experimentation and proto-techno while the curt percussive layering of “Internal Crisis” initially suggests what Art Of Noise’s “Daft” may have sounded like if they’d limited themselves solely to the local farmers’ market for inspiration before devolving into more panicking and theatrical territory.

Playful at times, and not shying away from the sheer silliness of what they’re doing, nevertheless underneath the novelty the Vegetable Orchestra is a musically valid and interesting listen.
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Artist: Common Eider, King Eider
Title: A Wound Of Body
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
Common Eider, King Eider returns with a new release that change a little bit their musical style as it starts to be personal. While their previous release were well written but showing their influence, "A Wound Of Body" is centered upon two elements: wide reverberating drones and silence. Nowadays dark ambient is a synonym of sharp drones and foley to create realistic soundscapes which surround the listener while this is a release that almost asks the listener's attention to catch the nuances of the sound as it often tries to hidden itself in the environment.
The first track, "Remembrance A Threnody", opens this release showing the particular idea of dark ambient that is the base of this project: instead of being based on drones, the track start with isolated noises and long tones at relatively low volume and immersed in silence; only at the middle of the track, a slowly developing melody appears but it's just an interlude for the return of isolated and atmospheric drones with distant cymbals in the background. "Sinew Stretched Over Crumbling Bones" is instead more cinematic as it starts with a drone which it's slowly evolved by accumulation so it has a far richer spectrum and surrounds the listener in the final moments of the track. "We Sing Over These Bones So That They May Rise Up And Run Away Into The Night" is the shorter track of this release and it's centered upon a slow violin line underlined by sparse insertions of atmospheric drones. A wide spectrum drone is the core of the first part of "Helene" while the second one is based upon sections separate by a couple of seconds of silence. "River Of Blood" closes this release with a quiet atmospheric drone which is the background for a violin melody which starts as a drone underlining the background and evolves in the final part of the track in a sort of accompaniment for filtered voices.
With this release, the project show an almost developed personality which is the center of a release that sounds as something really different from the rest of the scene. Highly recommended for fans of dark ambient.
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Artist: Monty Adkins
Title: Empire
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Line
Andy Warhol’s 1985 “Empire” is an eight hour forerunner of slow TV, filming the Empire State Building from dusk to the following dawn, and any attempt to create a new soundtrack to the film must also enter that slow mindspace and wallow in it. And that’s what Adkins does here- though the recorded product available to buy is only 50 minutes long, so we get selected highlights (if ‘highlights’ is an appropriate word) from across the reels, rather than the full-length experience.

Taking the idea of the building as a bell tower, and leading that into the idea of a nine-bell ringing sequence in which the pattern constantly changes and never repeats, has led Adkins into creating a nine-chord harmonic sequence built from piano- and Rhodes-style melodic notes and pads blended with ambient sounds recorded in other large spaces, with the latter elements fading away as it progresses as though to reflect the stillness descending (theoretically) on the city.

The result is beautifully mellow, calm and soporific and has gone straight onto my sleep playlist. It’s relaxing, and wallpaper-like if you want it to be, but with just enough detail and variation to keep it interesting. There’s a lush warm quality to it that can only be liked as an experience, far more perhaps than New York City itself.
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