Music Reviews

Artist: Lunar Abyss Deus Organum (@)
Title: Tryakusta
Format: CD
Label: Vetvei (@)
Distributor: Vetvei
Rated: *****
Lunar Abyss Deus Organum is a shamanistic ethno-ambient project from Russian composer Evgeny Savenko, also with releases under the name Lunar Abyss and Lunar Abyss Quartet. Since 2000, 'Tryakusta' is about the 25th release from Savenko under various monikers, and it's really quite a good one. 'Tryakusta' consists of a single track 42 minutes and 27 seconds in length that is the result of mixing together the recordings of three live concerts that took place on separate occasions in July of 2010. It's an interesting hodge-podge of field recordings, drones, and miscellaneous random elements and electronics that somehow coalesce into a unified work. There is a LOT going on here, as if one stumbled into some very active primeval jungle; chattering, chittering jibbering, whisting bird calls, buzzing and burbling, voices, and a multilayered wall of ambient drone. The amount of content is awesome, maybe even too much, but it all seems to fit together. There is a point around the 27 minute mark where it threatens to become overwhelming, but this passes and gradually subsides. 'Tryakusta' is quite an intense listening experience, extremely psychedelic and full of a wide variety of sonic expressions.

Possibly a reason why it sounds so good is due to the participation of Kshatriy (Sergey Uak-Kib) in the mastering of the album. As per usual with Vetvei releases, the CD comes in six panel folder with colorfully gorgeous artwork by Vresnit. If you're looking for something experimentally adventurous, LADO's 'Tryakusta' could be just what you need.
Artist: Rasalhague
Title: Rage Inside the Window
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Distributor: Malignant Records
Rated: *****
Rasalhague is the Dark Ambient/Industrial project by Kerry Braud of Indiana, and 'Rage Inside the Window' is Rasalhague's first full-length release, on Malignant Records no less. For the curious, the name Rasalhague comes from the name of the brightest (yet dying) star in the constellation of Ophiuchus (47 light years from earth), and originally comes from the Arabic phrase meaning "the Head of the Serpent Collector." It's been awhile since I've heard anything new from the Malignant label (not that they haven't been putting stuff out) but Malignant has always been known for quality Dark Ambient music in my book. What put me off from listening to this disc sooner is what it is thematically based on- the true story of little Danielle Crockett (aka, 'The Girl in the Window') from Plant City, Florida, who was kept isolated in squalor in a closet-sized room of a filthy house for years by her mother, Michelle. The details of the case are truly too disgustingly wretched to go into in any detail; you can look it up on web if you're curious. My preconceived notion of what might transpire on this CD envisioned screams, cries, weeping and all sorts of horrific exclamations and outbursts woven into the fabric of the music. Fortunately (and to my great relief), such was not the case for the most part.

On 'Rage Inside the Window' Rasalhague cooks up some of the best creepy Dark Ambient music I have heard in a long while. It really sounds like music of the abyss, perhaps the abyss of the mind. The atmosphere is low, slow and sludgy with occasional higher timbre drones and sounds slicing through the thick, oppressive murk. Rasalhague has obviously been well-schooled in the genre's predecessors, and know what works in this kind of atmosphere and what doesn't. Comparisons to projects such as Raison d'être, Lustmord, Desiderii Marginis and a host of Cold Meat Industry bands are inevitable, although there is some amount of difference in Rasalhague's execution. The sound is large, often huge and full without being cluttered, yet subdued in a sense, even when great slabs of muffled noise crash like waves of lava on the shore of Hades. The atmosphere Rasalhague creates on and 'Rage Inside the Window' is oppressive without being overbearing, a feat in itself. While no track in particular stands out on its own, the work stands out as solid, classic Dark Ambient, a tenebrious delight from start to finish.

Last Halloween I went to Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, an event where they set up a number haunted/spook/horror houses at Universal Studios. This CD would be perfect as background music for one of their horror attractions. It would even be great to play in the background while handing out candy to costumed trick-or-treaters on Halloween. (The little urchins might think twice about gaming the system and returning for a second handout in the same night.) If you're a Dark Ambient fan, this CD is a MUST HAVE. The CD comes in a very cool oversize six-panel digipak too, with suitably macabre artwork too. Well done!
Artist: JeFF (@)
Title: Torment
Format: CD
Label: Altsphere Production (@)
Distributor: Altsphere Production
Rated: *****
Maybe I've mentioned this before, but one of the most annoying tasks about doing reviews for Chain D. L. K. is gathering the essential info on the artist and label of the work I have to review. Some are very good about this, and others'¦pffft. It's usually the artists' email address that's a problem. They often leave it off the one-sheet, and sites like MySpace, Reverb Nation and Facebook are tricky about contact; you have to jump through membership hoops. Labels aren't any help either. Are artists so reclusive they don't want any contact with fans or the press? I didn't think so. Just put your damn email address on the CD or one-sheet. 'Nuff said on that.

According to the one-sheet, JeFF (from France) has more than 50 demos, remixes and collaborations since 2003. 'Torment' is JeFF's first full album release. On my first listen to this disc, it seemed plagued by a propensity for too much repetition on the main theme of each composition. The repetition comes in the form a bass line and synth counter melodies (Candlemass,' 'Funeral Day,); and chordal piano progression with some countermelody ('An Insect in the Head,' 'Psychocircle'). Over the course of time on these extended tracks ranging from over six to over 10 minutes, the CD lives up to its title- 'Torment''¦for the listener that is.

To be fair though, there are some positive aspects. 'Candlemass' has a dubby bassline with crunchy percussion with oddly intriguing synth counter-melody sounds over manipulated chanting monks and noise background. 'An Insect in the Head,' uses cymbal-heavy percussion and a cricket-synth counter melody and other more intricate synth lines as well as sax-like sounds, and moaning strings. There are breaks, but that repeated and unchanging piano note-chord progression just goes on, and on and on. 'Funeral Day' begins with some cool psych-ambience before the dubby bass appears. For those who like dub, you'll probably love this track. For me, it was kind of like later period Scorn with a more playful attitude. 'Psycedestreet' has a march cadence with a simple couple repeated notes of piano and an upward scale string progression. Even though there is plenty of repetition here, the arrangement and building is good and give a nice dramatic flair to the piece, and another string-synth counter-melody enriches it further. There is even a break with a reedy synth melody and demented piano-like countermelody where the beat changes into something I could hear Van Der Graaf Generator doing. There's more to it than that, but it seemed the most ambitious track thus far.

'Psychocircle' uses a minimal piano progression (repeated of course) and sing-song counter-melody and an adventurous drum track with some guy speaking in French intermittently. (All I could make out was when he mentioned the name John Wayne Gacy, so I guess you get the drift.) This struck me as a rather insanity-inducing piece. Last track, 'Housefly' offers a lot of heavy distortion punctuated by clashing cymbals and continues on that way for the first six minutes until a minimal mellotron string melody and minimal drums takes over for awhile. Then it's back to the distortion with some ring-mod synth and organ with drums. Eventually the distortion fades away leaving the rest with some electronic sonic effluvia. The second half of the piece wasn't bad, but the first half was a bit much to wade through.

I should mention that all tracks are rather slow-paced, giving them a labored feel. I should also mention that these pieces are SUPPOSED TO BE psychotic psychedelic instrumentals, and to that end JeFF succeeds in his intentions. However, the atmosphere JeFF is attempting to create is at the expense of the buyer/listener, and few may have the patience, fortitude and frame of mind to wade through these murky waters more than once.
Artist: Hypnoz (@)
Title: A Score for Iron Blues
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Distributor: Zhelezobeton
Rated: *****
Instead of going outside on this sunny, crisp autumn day to work on clearing fallen leaves from my yard, I'm inside trying to tackle the backlog of reviews I have yet to do. My goal today is an ambitious one for me- five reviews, beginning with this one. Hypnoz is the project of Moscow suburbanite Dmitriy Zubov, and this is my first experience with it. Upon the initial listening to 'A Score for Iron Blues,' I was not left with an overwhelming positive reaction. Hypnoz uses a lot of distorted and feedback guitar as a main component to its compositions, and this just struck me as mediocre noise for the most part. I didn't find the playing all that inventive. Yeah, there are other elements ' ghostly voices on 'Believe'; drones and a protracted, distant sampled monologue on 'Good Angels'; liquidy lapping-water on 'Ut-Rest Ravens'; echoed looping and guitar-string scraping on 'Stone Ring'; and more echo looping with scratchy static sounds on 'The Black Windmill (Outro)' but the main component, the distorto-guitar improv just didn't do it for me.

Rather than concentrate on what I didn't like though, I'll speak to what I did like- 'Night On Earth' with it's modern beat poetry set over a subtle gloomy, creepy background ambience. (The best track on the album.) The recitation was provided by Jim 'Foetus' Thirwell, another reason the track was so good. 'Charms Water,' using a tremolo guitar and guitar drone (with other effects) and an electronically manipulated female vocal sample. 'Boat In A Fog,' a track that has this looped rhythm made from a note with echo tapped on a guitar string and some droning, and also 'To The Aid,' a track that comes the closest to anything conventional, with a repeated chordal guitar arpeggio progression and some droning noise.

Overall, what I liked was not enough to offset what I didn't much care for. However, if you're beatless industrial noise guitar, you'll probably end up liking the things I didn't, and visa versa. Maybe if Dmitriy decides to explore other terrain for his next Hypnoz release I'd be interested, but with only one excellent track on an album, I'll pass for now.
Artist: eLan
Title: Next 2 Last
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Monkeytown Records
Rated: *****
Elan Stouffer is a guy living in San Diego who's also member of the WEDIDIT collective alongside Shlohmo, Groundislava, Juj & Jonwayne. Since the last year he had some EPs out on Fifty Weapons and Monkeytown Records. The latter is now releasing his first album which gathers different versions of his tracks already released on three Monkeytown Records EPs plus a second CD containing thirteen remixes made by Mindesign, HeRobust, Mike Gao, Byetone, Modeselektor, etc. On his tracks, Elan, is like redefining the style of his tracks looking for the right beat. Mixing samples, digital bleeps and minimal melodies, he created a sort of futuristic lounge music which passes from moments of tension (like on "Bleep Bloop Brrrrmmp" or "Dry Lemons", which is the one I prefer) to experimentations with house music. Often eLan music offer good moments where melody and rhythm look for each other without sounding pretentious or too experimental but his music isn't for an immediate fruition even if at first, because he focuses his tunes on few elements, it could seem so. Under the hood there's so much going on. Don't think only about the movement, there's a whole engine that has been tuned to achieve this result. It is also true that NEXT 2 LAST would need some track with a rhythm change, because almost all the tracks are mid tempos. About the mixes, to me the best ones are "Bleep Bloop Brrrrmmp (Lazer Sword Remix)" because it has a nice atmosphere that mixes techno tension and break beat influences plus "Saccharin On Top (Anstam Remix)" for the way it mixes dub and minimal techno intuitions.
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