Music Reviews



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Artist: Bobun (@)
Title: Suite pour machines a meche
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
In addition to their passion for genetical engineering and defiling of respective musical instruments, viola and cello, as well as a decade of duetting, French-Japanese violist Frantz Loriot, whom I already introduced on the occasion of a review of his collaborative project Viola Two Viola with Cyprien Busolini, and French cellist Hugues Vincent have in common the teachings by Joelle Leandre, one of the most renowned improvisational master. Her Cage-inspired approach to composition, her precepts about the importance of solid classical compositional prep even for the most ungodly improviser who wants to build a bridge between improvisation and composition seem to resound in this "Suite pour machines a meche" (translatable as "Suite for drill machines"). The introductive tuning of "Immersion" with their two instruments which seem to follow opposite directions on musical scale - viola (getting more and more piercing) towards higher pitches and cello, which looks like an emulation of binaural tones of a brain machine, towards very low ones - and the final "Emersion", a sort of ballad where a certain declension of harmonics unexpectedly features in a lead role, could mean to suggest there have been some intent of describing a sort of journey into the abyss of respective performative language with some topical phases such the total approach on the threshold of silence on "Shizuka na yume", whose woody stripping of bark and gunky sliding on strings are maybe the most bizarre moments of the release, the mechanical assemblage, testing, timing and calibration on "La Machine", the neurasthenic and enervating scraping on the eruptive "Un certain agacement se faisait sentir parfois" (transl."A certain irritation sometimes makes itself perceivable") and the minimalistic harmonic germ of "Nitescence". This release by Bobun packs so many sonic hints that it easily manages to attract listener's ear.
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Artist: Lynx (@)
Title: Balloons/Passing Time ft.Hellrazor
Format: 12"
Label: Soul:r
Distributor: S.T. Holdings Ltd.
Rated: *****
Another drum'n'bass doozy from Marcus Intalex's imprint Soul:r has been marked by the signature of one producer in top shape, Portsmouth-born Steve Nobes aka Lynx. On A side, he provides a sample of compositional playfulness by means of "Balloons" where it seems he staged a sort of imaginary game room with coloured balloons, whose systematic inflation sounds like having been rendered on this funny clapping track, which prompts a certain sense of hebephrenic infantile regression in the listener. After such a return to innocence, Lynx gives voice to the melancholic feeling wich sometimes catches somewhat grown up old lions who seemingly lost their sheen on "Passing Time" - co-signed by skilled producer Rich Scott aka Hellrazor - by means of an uplifting rhythmical liquid phunk pattern which allays the nostalgia, evoked by some moody sonic hints - particularly some chorused grand piano and a pipe organ, whose phrasing seems to hang in the balance and get gradually banished by accelerating ticking hats - and assuages the blues by paddling beats. Lynx managed to see through walls and underground by pushing his powerful sight on human emotional flights and its temporary tailspins again.
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Artist: cdatakill (@)
Title: Battleworn
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
Denver-based musician Zak Roberts is cdatakill, active since the mid-90's under names such as ak-47 and dj rabies where he was more into speedcore and hardcore. This is quite a change from those genres, although as cdatakill Roberts makes good use of what he's learned along the way. 'Battleworn' marks the fifth release as cdatakill, the first on Hymen Records, the others being released on Ad Noiseam. I haven't heard any of Roberts' previous releases, so I'm going into this with 'virgin ears' so to speak. I must have had this CD confused with something else in the review hopper, as I put off reviewing it for so long likely because of the aggressive-looking cover, I mistook it for a noise project, which it assuredly isn't.

There is a lot going on on 'Battleworn,' maybe too much at times but don't let that put you off. As cdatakill Zak isn't adverse to mixing genres, often within the same track. At times you get jungle, dubstep, hardcore, IDM, breakcore, doom metal, country-western (I kid you not, it's the samples!), techno, and likely a dozen others I haven't thought of. Remember when FSOL was considered innovative? Well, this sort of makes me think of them then, although cdatakill bears not a whole lot of resemblance to cdatakill. The first thing that stood out to these ears is Zak's excellent drum and percussion programming skills. Always engaging, and often rhythmically inventive. It's not overkill either; there is plenty of space for interesting atmos and ambience. I like his use of vocal samples too, often not much more than a processed snippet or phrase, but actually enhancing the music rather than detracting from it. The electronics are inspired and resourceful. From track to track there is a good amount of variety, yet a cohesiveness that won't give you the impression you're listening to a V/A compilation. There is a dark moodiness to 'Battlworn' but it never gets morose. Sometimes I was reminded of the best of Scorn, but with a less heavy-handed approach. At others, Access to Araska, or similar artists. The two remixes on the album ('Battleworn' by Nest, and 'I Swear' by Sense) sounded completely different from the originals, and not bad at that, so you're not just getting rehashes.

Summing up, I was fairly impressed by cdatakill's 'Battleworn'. It's an album that seems to have a good replayabilty factor, somewhat psychedelic and mind expansive, and you can really get immersed in it. The recording and production are very good too. It's hard to imagine where cdatakill will go next, but count me in for a copy of the next release. I'm game.
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Artist: Ben Lukas Boysen (@)
Title: Restive (OST)
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Rated: *****
'Restive' is an original motion picture soundtrack by Ben Lukas Boysen to an Independent film by the same name written and directed by Jeremiah Jones. Briefly, the film is a suspense thriller, a dark and hopeless exploration of domestic violence, about a woman trying to escape the emotional abuse and tyranny of her husband. After years of this, the wife decides she isn't going to take it anymore and stands up to bully-dad. 'Mr. Big Stuff' enlists the aid of a couple of his sadistic pals to take the wife (Jeva) and her young son out to the woods to 'let the pain flow through'. Somehow Jeva and son manage to escape the clutches of their captors and become the hunted. I haven't seen the film but I can't imagine it ending well. However, this review is about the soundtrack, not the movie.

Ben Lukas Boysen might be better known as Hecq, an IDM/ambient project with nearly a dozen releases and also remixes - Architect, Borealis, In Strict Confidence and Snog being among them. Boysen has also done soundtrack work for several other films as well as commercial sound design. To say his soundtrack for 'Restive' is dark and moody is an understatement. He excels here in creating a depressingly oppressive atmosphere that evokes the kind of melancholia reserved for life's unsweetest moments. Long passages of sustained strings, sparse, sad piano with lots of reverb (an oft used technique in movies and TV dramas), subtle noise/synth ambience and grating high pitched drone are just some of the tools in this composer's box. I suppose you could call it cinematic dark ambience as it has many of the elements of minimal dark ambient music, and holds its own with some of the best I've heard. It isn't until track seven, 'Junkyard' that percussion enters the picture, deep, plodding, and relentless. The atmospheric sonics that accompany the track are perfect. Boysen's use of sophisticated textures and sound sculpting throughout this work are admirable, and even when it gets noisy, as it occasionally does, it is still highly listenable. Throughout the album, the atmospheres build in intensity with some respite here and there. It is a psychological intensity, not necessarily a dynamic one, likely in keeping with the film. I should mention that the last track, 'Closing Credits' is by Nils Frahm, but being mostly sparse and melancholy piano does not detract from Boysen's compositions at all.

Altogether excellent, and even if I never see the film (which I probably won't), Ben Lukas Boysen's 'Restive' soundtrack is a remarkable achievement.
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Artist: PascAli (@)
Title: Suspicious Activity
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
The cover artwork of this funny release by PascAli, collaborative project of Sean Ali and Pascal Niggenkemper, seems to suggest the source of raw materials for the preparation of their enhanced double-basses, which lie in respective cases on a wheelie bin! Even if they avoid any kind of processing, effects and electronics, they manages to keep their sound genuinely acoustic and impressively descriptive, so that you don't really need a review to understand what you're going to listen to! You just have to read the titles, even if some allusions are just ironic, provocative or jeering ("Britpop", "Perpetua", "Pavarotties"). The mere listening of a CD could deprive the listener of the pleasure of their bizarre ways for the transfiguration of double-bass, as I'm pretty sure you'll wonder about the techniques and objects they used to turn their musical instruments into squawking chickens ("Chicken Talk"), shredders ("How Long Does It Take Styrofoam To Become Earth Again?"), power saws ("Sawing Logs"), angry dogs ("Dog Bite"), beloved fetishes ("Kissing F-holes"), resounding behives ("Buzzing Bees"), innuendos ("Serene Moment", "Bonanza's Nuts", "Witch Tricks") or authentic sonic set designer ("Highway To Hell", "Industrial Romance"). I've just listed a part of the wide sonic mimicry this creative couple of musicians collected in 22 wacky sketches. I'll leave you the pleasure to explore the remaining sketches of pure sonic camouflage.
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