Music Reviews



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Artist: RM74 (@)
Title: Two Angles of a Triangle
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Utech Records (@)
Rated: *****
After the convincing release "Ride Out The Waves" by his side project Sum of R, the underestimated prolific Swiss electro-acoustic and electronic artist Reto Madler aka RM74 manages to renew his sound and reach another remarkable expressive peak by this impressively introspective/introjective release (on double cd...supposedly corresponding to the two angles mentioned on the title...), where he seems to scheme sonic strategies in order to fill his typically awfully somber atmospheres by means of different transcendental conjugations of his style as well as an intimately narrative flow. Recorded between Bern and Milwaukee, on the first of two angles Reto immediately applies a slight pressure on headphones so that he seems to evoke a descent into inner realms before reaching the cliff edge where an aural effected guitar loom on dull hits and creaks on the initial "Betwixt", which starts an intense journey whose steps are going to speak to listeners with no words: the sorrowful thuds of piano on metallic groans of "Spineless", the tiring but behooved dragging of resounding chains on the lulling "Between and Forever", the obliquely premonitory aura of "Orkas Dream", the flickering light from guitar strokes and expanding pads where the sound of chains have been turned into rattles on "A Shimmer OF Bronce", the temporary blissful levity of "May 30 2012" and the will-o-the-wisp and the cyclic melancholy of the final "Bees and Ghosts". The introduction of the second angle evokes the precipice and the vertigo before another inner exploration again, but after the initial absorbing noisy flux turns into an imaginary cusp by means of a piano-generated earworm, which acquaints listeners with the other six different stages, whose most interesting moments are the meek and somehow insane joyfulness of "We Run In Vicious Circles", the ominously sinister reminiscence of the sepulchral "Because Of The Slow Shutter Speed", the mesmerizing tension of "Laid Open" and the placidly abstract feeling of possesson of the final "Show Me The Shadow Of The Sun". I wonder if a third angle will be sketched by Reto or by some listener, who could finish the triangulation by means of an imaginative soul...
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Artist: Heterotic
Title: Love & Devotion
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
Mike Paradinas smoothes the roughest edges of his sound off on the occasion of this lovely collaborative project with his partner-in-life and partner-in-art Lara Rix-Martin and he seems to power this belt sander on since the preamble of this debut release under the guise of Heterotic, "Bliss", which starts on pretty heavenly organs and go on by sliding on sonic elements, which resembles past techno-ambient acts such as Jeczalik's Art of Silence, Oliver Lieb's Paragliders or Humate as well as some garage-house stuff, which unambigously spurts on the following "Blue Lights" together with grated 80ies electronic pop and flickering neon tubes, which highlights the shutter curtain of doped melancholy, evoked by great vocal interpretation by talented folk singer Gravenhurst aka Nick Talbot from Warp's stable, who superbly renders a feeling of intimate distance across feeble gummy heartbeat-like bumps, sizzling beams and slow smackers of claps on "Wartime". The sci-fi symphony on "Robo Corp" fluctuates between mementoes from Blade Runner or Philip K.Dick's novels and echoes of Depeche Mode before the freezing chorus of baby drudges and precedes a couple of proper highlights of the entire album, "Devotion", where Gravenhurst enhances the ventricular fibrillation inspired by flowing sounds, electronic gamelan, heavenly choirs and lukewarm basslines, which could resemble some stuff by Royksopp, and the emotionally intense "Knell", where a bright piano gently overlies on knells of a clock and an artifical respirator, which seem to siphon lukeworm blood into a dying body. Sticky bleeping gavels beats the rhythm of a sort of slow ghostly waltzer on the dozily charming "Slumber", where Gravenhurst's singing vaguely resembles Tor Lundvall's one. The limping "Fanfare" and its dark and gloomy whispering ends this litmus test of tastefulness and style by this great "hermaphrodite" project, which I cannot but recommend.
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Artist: Haq (@)
Title: Nocturnals
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Bearsuit Records (@)
Rated: *****
On this gorgeous debut of the collaborative album Haq between Tokyo-based dynamic duo N-qia by adorable singer Nozomi and programmer Takma and Edinburgh-based multifarious musician Harold Nono (guitars, keyboard and programming), who previously signed an interesting collaborative project Taub with renowned Berlin sound-artist Me Raabenstein (Nonine), it seems the involved artist play an infinite air-jockey match with a remarkably wide set of samples. Each sample could be imagined as a puck that changes of pace, tone and color every time it gets shooted by mallets of opposite players against the sides of the table: percussive skips and popping slide on electrically excited pad-puffed sonic surfaces together with electro-folk, J-pop, glitch, ambient and dubstep sonorities, while Nozomi's graceful bel canto, which sometimes resembles infant wailing and utterly sleepy daydreaming murmurs, creep into the sonic tangle Takama and Harold Nono make during continuous passes of percussions and sounds, whose heterogeneity is so evident that it's not easy to make full-scale comparisons with similar artists. I can grossly envisage their heavily layered music by a succulent meat pie of well-selected cattle from the most exquisite electronic music and IDM pasturage, sometimes mottled by exotic spices and amazing fancies: I could mention Nobukazu Takemura (particularly for tracks such as the digitally jagged childish refrain of "That's Just Like The Same" or the naive trepidation of "Learning How To Fall", even if its audio montage could resemble many other musicians), Cibo Matto, Venetian Snares, Mike Paradinas, Squarepusher, Apparat (echoing together with some stuff by Four Tet on a couple of my favorite tracks, "Are You The Elephant Factory?" and "Jikan Ga Nai"), Jaga Jazzist (listener can enjoy a jazzy declension of their sound in some of their most refined tracks such as "Lifted", "Retrospect" or "Sleeper", maybe their master stroke amidst these "nocturnals"), Sketch Show and other freaks by Haruomi Hosono, Arovane or Yasume, but the way they stir broken melodies, sampledelia, electronic doodads, toytronics and splashing rhythmical patterns, is somehow original and highly enjoable. Have a listen!
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Artist: Betacicadae
Title: Mouna
Format: 12"
Label: Elegua Records (@)
Rated: *****
A piercing sine wave tunes listener's mind on the charming listening experience offered by multi-instrumentalist and photographer Kevin Scott Davis aka Betacicadae, who squeezes a couple of years of spiritual vicissitudes and rebirth as well as some field recordings he grabbed in a rainforest in Hawaii (the initial track "Pahoa" seems to be a reference to this location), in a farm in Sheridan, Oregon, and in other urban centers before they got layered with an remarkably wide array of acoustic and electronic sounds coming from guitars, harp, violin, vibraphone, percussion, wood flute, effects pedals, synthesizers and digital processing, on his debut release "Mouna" (a spiritual practice whose name derives from Sanskrit word "mun", meaning "measure" or "silence"). Its pace sometimes resembles some affiliations between exotic ambient, therapeutic music and post-rock due to the occasional grafts of some instrumental jets, eruptions and strokes, but in spite of the abrupt interruptions of each track which sometimes occur when they begin to emit dreamlike scents, the narrative trend "Mouna" manages to render into headphones makes it really engaging without recurring to hypnagogic evennness of drone-ambient or other unuseful melodic-related gimmicks and curlicues. After the above-mentioned tuning sine wave, nocturnal insects and other field recordings, almost imperceptibly trembling hi-hats spout on a luminescent choral orchestra, which surrounds listener by an entrancing dead calm mayhem, on "Pahoa", one of the most catchiest track of the entire album, which precedes the cameo "Small Interlude", a sort a nap, as suggested by the initial snoring, where wind chimes, radio waves, interferences and other voices sound like transient interceptions of dreamer's mental activity, which goes ahead over cosmic fugues on the following "Seti", where delicate jazzy tolls on vibraphone and cymbal glisten with chirping birds, who greet listener on the mellow web of radio frequencies, lethargic guitars and languid static noises of the enthralling "Gold Country". The last track of A side, "Jjjjj", is another highlight of the album: the eerie introduction by a soft buzzing drone, waterfalls and opaque tuning of an electric guitar gets flattened by a deeply lukewarm organ, which is going to leave a sediment on listener's soul. The opening track of B side, "Pirene", crawls towards New Age sonorities: gurgling waters and distant frogs open the gate of dreams, which sound less veiled on the following "Creakaboo" and the beautiful 12-minutes lasting final soundscape "Telerehabilitation", where somehow colliding sonic elements gradually erect an altar for voice of Helen Funston, who gracefully towers over thin layers of jitters, muffled guitars, hissing church organs.
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Artist: Diaframma
Title: Demos 1982 / Live 1983
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows Records
Rated: *****
November 1982, on that year Diaframma released their first single for Italian Records and they were rehearsing for their first MLP that they released the year after for Firenze's main indipendent record label, Contempo. That time in studio they recorded the session and now, thanks to Synthetic Shadows Records, we are able to listen to those versions of their early songs. None of the nine songs are totally unreleased: "Xaviera Hollander", "Pop Art", "Effetto Notte" and "Altrove" have been originally released on the "Altrove" MLP, "Pioggia" and "Illusione Ottica" on their first 7", "Circuito Chiuso" on a 7" released along with the magazine Free on December 1982 and "In Una Finestra Nera" plus "Sdoppiamento", even if haven't been released on albums or singles, have been included on the compilation "Live And Unreleased". This demo session offers to the fans of early post punk and Diaframma the chance to check, in a better way, the primitive urge of expression the quartet had (don't forget that later Federico published "Neogrigio", a collection of his poetry) . Nicola Vannini, Federico Fiumani, Leandro and Gianni Cicchi play their instruments like in trance, sometimes they have some uncertainty but perfection isn't the aim of this release. You can listen to those tracks like you see a man naked to the bone: they are essential and true. There aren't double bass lines, choruses or else. The same goes for the second Diaframma record Synthetic Shadows Records released. This one contains two concerts the band did back in mid 1983 in Rimini and Bologna. Ten songs performed by the original line up and we have Nicola singing two songs he didn't recorded in studio as Miro Sassolini took his place and sung "Neogrigio" and "Specchi d'Acqua" on their first album "Siberia". The quality of the recording is really good, basically I think they've been recorded from the mixing desk. The closing track isn't from a concert, is titled "Federico's Dream" and it's a sort of arpeggio note for a possible track. Nice releases that aren't for fans only.
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