Music Reviews



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Artist: Francisco Lopez (@)
Title: Untitled (2009)
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Baskaru (@)
Rated: *****
Most known for his sound and silence sculptures and for his appreciable minimal electroacoustic escapes, where he often manages to play with the sense of time perception of the listener, the fecund sound forger Francisco Lopez, one of those mad scientists of the sound my ears like to approach with, often scatters sonic seeds in different catalogues. This collection of untitled stuff featuring 14 compositions coated on two cds is his second signature for the little but industrious French label Baskaru, having been the first one an eccentric collaboration with Lawrence English titled HB. Untitled (2009) mainly deals with psychoacoustics and field recordings, but can be thought as a set of sound spells, so that the listener's ear can be easily cheated as Lopez skills in manipulating sounds can achieve the goal of a perfect devilish maquillage of some frequencies in a way they could acquire a semblace of something concrete or different. Massmediologists and semioticians can experience multiple extatic raptures in front of releases like this one, where the liminal point between artificial and real looks like blurred by the possibilities of realistic reproducibility given by musical technology, but I don't suggest such an intellectual and snobbish way of approaching to this kind of works, even if there are many appetizers for speculative minds. You could ask yourself if there's some hidden message or just an echological way for freezing some personal experiences of the author behind some tracks since the very first seconds of the listening, as the biographical note related to Francisco describing him as a genuine globetrotter could persuade some listener to argue that the orchestral and somewhat disquieting snoring you could hear in the first part of "Untitled #220" - including sonic sketches grabbed between 1996 and 2009 in eight different places of the world (San Josè, Koln, Montreal, Riga, Brazilian Amazon, Calakmul in Yucatan, Namtib and Cape Cross in Namibia) and reprised for the first track of the second part, "Untitled #239" (whose sinister pulsations could evoke some scary digital beasts by Scanner or David Toop), are reports of sleepless nights in the noisy dormitory of some hostel where Lopez casually rested located in some remote part of the planet.The above-mentioned blurring effect between what is real, seemingly real and totally artificial is going to be the leitmotiv (or even the pangs) of the whole state of possession the listener is going to experience even when the sonic enviroment sounds more "natural" such as during the listening of "untitled #233" or "untitled #232", whose sonic material has been grabbed at Mamori Lake in the Brazilian Amazon. I personally enjoyed those moments out of a specific context or a geographic localization, when sonic treatments are combined with seemingly static dynamics, attack and decay games, subtonal low frequencies mumbling and compressed overtone effects, where seraphic choirs could sound frightening ("Untitled #221") or short-circuited buzzes or industrial mumbling could sound crystalline or even relaxing (such as in "Untitled #234" or "untitled #222") as well as the relevant 20-minutes lasting track ("Untitled @231") derived from raw material by Phill Niblock, forerunner of psychoacoustics and arguable a miliar stone for Lopez's aural aesthetics. Categories of true, false and verisimilar get mixed up with the controversial effects on listener's senses in a whirling dance where ambiguity turns into something seducing.
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Artist: Kutulu
Title: Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn
Format: CD
Label: Steelkraft Manufactory (@)
Rated: *****
I am a huge Lovecraft fan. I have read his complete works. So I was interested to see how this would turn out. You see, one of the things I love about Lovecraft is not what he wrote, but the things he left out of what he wrote. It is the sense of the supernatural that hovers just above the text itself. Horror today seems to have forgotten that, going for explicit rather than implicit terror. Let's see which direction Kutulu goes in. The label explains the album thus: 'Featuring members of Westwind, ][|][ and Rotule, this 4 track record is a soundtrack to the rise of the Great Chtulhu, where deep drones meet orgasmatic ritual drums, organs cross with shrieking guitars and mad flutes, all toward the klimax where the Great One himself finally takes us to a reign of chaos and madness.' This is pretty good ritualistic dark ambient, with heavy pounding percussion. All of this builds into a noisy, oppressive cacophony that does a good job of evoking cyclopean horrors in a place where the geometry is all wrong. Thankfully Kutulu avoided the pitfalls so many others have fallen into ' cheesy screaming and bad horror movie samples. They did Lovecraft proud. Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn! This album weighs in at around 43 minutes.
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Artist: Vresnit & Kshatriy
Title: TaeT
Format: CD
Label: Vetvei (@)
Rated: *****
I went to the website and couldn't find anything on this release, so I'm only going with the album itself. The first thing to mention is that my disc was damaged in the shipping. That probably has more to do with the machinery of the mail system between here and Russia. Say what you will about jewel cases, but they do offer some protection in the mail. This disc is also nicely packaged in an oversize foldout that makes it look more like a 7' record. I am reminded of the old Amplexus releases that were also beautifully packaged. I will have to assume that some of the glitches in the music are a result of the damage to the disc, but I can't be sure. The music itself is one long track of deep bass drone and heavy noisy reverb that gives you the feeling of listening to the din of a factory while underwater. It's pleasant and interesting stuff with a good variety in the mix that keeps it from getting too repetitive. This would be right at home on the Cyclic Law roster, so make your decision accordingly. Nicely done. This album weighs in at 48.40.
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Artist: Hikikomori
Title: Far From The World
Format: CD
Label: Steelkraft Manufactory (@)
Rated: *****
Evidently, Hikikomori translates to 'pulling away, being confined,' a term coined to describe social recluses. As such, the title of the album seems fitting. More importantly, the music fits with the title and band name. The label describes this album thus: 'To make it short and simple, this is a dark ambient/noise gem.' The packaging is minimal and the album consists of nine unnamed tracks. Hikikomori walks us through a dark industrial wasteland of disconcerting soundscapes. Track 1 is solid dark ambient, but then we quickly move into noisier realms. Track 3 sounds like we are tromping along with the artist through a factory. At times it gets a bit more quiet, only to bring you back into the noise. On track 6 we get an interesting mix of low wailing, digital noises that sound somewhat like a large flock of chirping birds, all crushed beneath a series of drones reminiscent of Lustmord's 'Paradise Disowned.' At times it seems to get a bit repetitive though, as on track 8. However, overall this is solid noisy dark ambient.
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Artist: ][|][
Title: Iter
Format: CD
Label: Steelkraft Manufactory (@)
Rated: *****
As with the other discs in this package, I had not heard of this band and was somewhat at a loss as to what it even was called. The label explains that 'L'Idiot Du Village now becomes ][|][, and releases its first album under this name, based on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project. His heavy ambient static noise creates a perfect soundtrack where colliding neutrons take you into the hypnotic loop of a tokamak until the world's collapse.' I must say that this disc was not quite up to the level of the others in the package. Although it was interesting drone, the shifts were a bit too subtle for my tastes, seeming like a series of unrelated tonal experiments in which the drones remained somewhat static. Tracks ended abruptly, adding to the feeling of discrete tracks with little to hold them together. It wasn't that bad, but it wasn't nearly as interesting as some of the other recent releases by Steelkraft Manufactory. The album weighs in at around 44 minutes.
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