Music Reviews



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Artist: Ben Fleury-Steiner (@)
Title: Clearings
Format: CD
Label: Rural Colours (@)
Rated: *****
This new hue on the paletter of Hibernate auxiliary label Rural Colours has been added by Delaware-based producer and owner of lòabel Gears of Sand, Ben Fleury-Steiner aka Paradin and Light of Shipwreck, who has already been mentioned on some past reviews on this space for a release on small Belgian label Mistery Sea. On "Clearings", Ben seems to trace a sort of gradual transition from organic to more ethereal sounds over the three long-lasting tracks of the release, so that you could imagine it as a step-by-step catharsis by means of silent hints from natural environment, wide apart from disorienting urban settings. The carrier waves on first phase of this process of refining, "Wind Up Bird's Lament", have more surfs and they follows one another in a loop built on twitters, distant croaks and dripping on backwater, vaguely on the doldrums, the second and central phase "Glade", the one I like more, combines aural melodic aureoles and organic sounds by evoking variable weather conditions from a shelter nearby a watercoarse and a more enraptured ecstatic mood, while the waves of the final radial "Parallax" sound more stretched where some faint metallic interferences and cavernours echoes still bob on the almost unruffled waterline, whose swells are close to some similar stuff by Steve Roach. If you focuses on details, you'll easily notice that even the rare "flattest" moments conceal an eager strain on texturing.
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Artist: Julian & Der Fux
Title: Michwald Kapitel Eins
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Jruza Records
Rated: *****
Released by J.Hruza Records, Julian Hruza's own label, "Mischwald Kapitel Eins" is the newest release by the Wien duo Julian & Der Fux. Containing twelve tracks, the release isn't properly their first album, because it contains remixes of the four tracks they released on the two singles out the last year: "Speckbrot" plus "Der Letzte Tanz" on "Speckbrot" and "Altes Ego" and "Axt & Beil" on "Altes Ego". The original tunes were sounding like a sort of electro dance with dreamy atmospheres with spoken word parts and jazzy, funk, house intuitions. For the remixes the duo picked up the best of the Austrian dance scene: Valesta, Burnin Tears, Ken Hayakawa, Denis Yashin, Smacs & Patrick Kong, Komaton, Moodlab, Austrop0p, Bentron, Ken Hayakawa, Jakobin & Domino and B. Fleischmann. All the remixers succeeded into giving new life to the original tracks adding energetic rhythm layers and new synth sounds. Now most of them lose the dreamy atmosphere but that sort of overall melancholy is still present and this creates an interesting effect along with the new bouncy dance attitude. Take for example Burnin Tears remix of "Altes Ego": it still sounds suspended and mysterious but they added that spicy rhythmic touch along with nice arpeggios that really helps. I also noticed that all the remixers kept the song structure and they didn't go for the usual sounds mishmash which after a while is a bit annoying. If you'd like to go for the vinyl, sorry to tell you that it's a four track EP containing "Altes Ego (Burnin Tears Remix)", "Speckbrot (Ken Hayakawa Remix)", "Axt & Beil (Denis Yashin Remix)" and "Speckbrot (Smacs & Patrick Kong Remix)".
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Artist: Xiu
Title: Possession
Format: Tape
Label: Belaten
Rated: *****
Oksana Rodionova started dealing with music when she was living in Estonia and at young age she started playing piano and singing in choruses. Now she lives in Milan, Italy and in the last years she collaborated on vocals with Nicolas Estany, Newclear Waves and lately with Frederick Barbe's Cold Colors (their four tracks tape "Loneliness" will be released soon by Vocoder Tapes). "Possession" is her second release, if we don't count the demo CDr "Dancing Voodoo", released four months after her self titled tape for Aufnahme + Wiedergabe. The new twenty six minutes tape released by Belaten contains six new tracks where Oksana shows her love for analog synth sounds: inside the cover we read that she used the Juno-60, the SH-101, the SP-404SX, the TR-808, the Poly-800, the Microkorg (which isn't really analog), the Electribe M, the Soundmaster SR-88 and the Boss DR-110. Musically she creates minimal synth songs where bass line arpeggios are mixed to dreamy pads and leads. Ideally try to imagine the darkwave sound of 80s French/Belgian bands transposed to an electronic sound palette. She tends to mix vocals and sounds creating a dreamy atmosphere that sometimes turns obsessive (like on "Au Noir"). Lyrics aren't that intelligible, they sound like brushes on her sound canvas and if you like old 4AD sound and modern minimal wave, I think you might dig Xiu. Anyway, you can check the release here http://belaten.bandcamp.com/album/possession-ep
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Artist: Ev Of Isis
Title: Dark Ambition
Format: Tape
Label: Belaten
Rated: *****
I don't have many information about Ev of Isis, I only know that it is a collaboration between Stockholm's Josefin Hinders (drummer in Forest) and San Diego's Amanda Schoepflin (Cathedral X). "Dark Ambition" is their first release and it's a seventeen minutes tape released by Belaten. The six tracks sound like a nightmarish dream where reversed sounds are mixed to filtered screams, dark ambient bass drones and hisses. Vocals are reversed, slowed down and treated, just to make them sound like regurgitated from hell. Sometimes the tracks sound like a sort of mix of the 80s 4AD sound and the early Cold Meat Industry sound: something that has some melodies, some catchy insert but also a level of illness which could you make remind of Aghast. Maybe they used a little too much the reversed drums sound which after a while is like sucking everything else, but the overall effect is good. Check it here http://belaten.bandcamp.com/album/dark-ambition
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Artist: Arkane (@)
Title: Mesmeric Masquerade Seduction
Format: CD
Label: Twilight Records
Rated: *****
Produced by Twilight Records and The Fossil Dungeon, "Mesmeric Masquerade Seduction" is the third Arkane album. Composed by seven movements, the new album is a concept based on Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" movie ritual scene. Arkane wanted to explore the ritualistic eroticism under the mysticism of the mask. As you can read doing a research on the net, on that scene there are numerous allusions to the CIA's Mk- Ultra mind control experiments (occurred during the 50s/60s period) and Monarch sex slave programming (there have been stories of dozens of men and women who claim to have been forced into sexual slavery for the wealthy and powerful by none other than our own Central Intelligence Agency, through an offshoot of the MK-ULTRA mind control program known as Project Monarch such as the Gary Condit's 'sex slaves' case). With this in mind, you'll approach the album ready to go with the flow of the female vocal trying to enchant you, the male recitative vocal (performed by Stephen Svanholm of Sibelian) naming the ritual like a mantra and the cyclic orchestral writing scores. No rhythms have been used on this album and I think that the reason is that Arkane wanted to enhance the hypnotic effect of the music. "Mesmeric Masquerade Seduction", "Mesmersed Seductrise", "Mesmerising Masquerade", "Masqueara Mesmerised", "Mesmerism Seductiva", "Mascarada Sedition" and "La Masquerada Mystique" will succeed into arouse your senses with their sound? Check the album cover and answer yourselves...
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