Music Reviews

Artist: Gultskra Artikler
Title: Abtu Anet
Format: 12"
Label: Miasmah (@)
Distributor: Morr Music Distribution
Rated: *****
Gultskra Artikler is the electro-acoustic endeavor of Alexey Devjatin, currently residing in Moscow. Abtu Anet is his third release for the exquisite Miasmah Recordings, and it compiles two previously available EPs, Abtu and Anet, and gives them the loving devotion they deserve.

Listening to Abtu Anet is like visiting a phantom Ukrainian village, of an indeterminate era, and then diving into the hidden desires and R.E.M. sleep of its inhabitants. Starting off on a tuneful note with 'Berezka', a ringing folk melody on an acoustic guitar with a pagan undercurrent of distant horns and temple bells, the record quickly takes a turn for the fucked up with 'In The Middle of the Sixteenth Century,' a musique concrete piece of parlor piano and toppling percussion that sounds like rattling air ducts, that will make you feel like yr plasma has been replaced with Knox Gelatin.

The song/noise/song/noise template is adhered to, giving the sensation of drifting in and out of a reverie, but even the 'songs' are skewed: tape warped, embellished with static, zithers and bells, before settling into 'Pirat', probably the prettiest piece of the whole bunch - a dark walnut baby grand rings out a dusty Ravel dirge, with sonar bleeps from the very deep, providing a soothing bass rumble dissonance. There is no bedrock, here, nothing solid to build upon. This village flickers like static.

The noise takes over from this point forward, probably where the Anet EP takes over; at times it is nearly incomprehensible! Detuned harmonicas ebb and flow, vinyl ghosts whisper in archaic dialects (i wish i knew what they were saying), frequencies and fuzz percussion vie for attention, in yr ear ducts. It takes a special brand of cosmonaut to withstand such lunacy, but those that persevere will be rewarding with sensual, surreal images.

Much post-criticism will probably be heaped upon this record, seeking a coherent thread to help navigate Abtu Anet's convoluted labyrinth, but i feel like Alexey Devjatin's struggling with the same question the avant-garde has been wrestling with for 100 years: how best to combine recordings, machine noises, acoustic instruments, composition and improvisation into a tenable, viable whole. Looking for mastery, finding mystery. Alexey Devjatin proves himself to have a deft hand and ear, composerly instincts, but i feel like if he had a clearer notion of what he was driving at, to begin with, at least an outline if not a script, his records might be more coherent and palatable to a wider populace. Still, i listened to Abtu Anet at least a dozen times while putting these words together, and had unique revelations and experiences each time. This record is a must for noise fiends and experimental hounds, a perfect late-night brain burner! But if you are looking for familiar footholds like 'melody', 'lyrics', 'structure,' if you like yr music to go POP! then you better look elsewhere. Abtu Anet will give you bad dreams.
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Artist: Peter Bjärgö
Title: The Architecture of Melancholy
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
This is the second album from an known for his past works with projects like ARCANA and SOPHIA, so this is an album more concerned with limited formal experimentation within the form of song rather than limitless experimentation free form. And, when there's a solid understanding of the process of the construction if a release and clear writing intention, this even be a merit when it worth the formal quality of a release rather than his artistic novelty.
"The architecture of melancholy", the first track of this release, is a solemn opening where the incredibly sad lyrics set the mood and the attention. "Bittersque" is a classically slow track close to the atmosphere of some old gothic record. "The hidden compass" is based upon a pale blue line of guitar and an effected line of vocal. "Apathy" is hypnotic with his medio-oriental influence while "A wheel of thoughts" is reminiscent of the gothic influence of this author with his slow development. "The death of our sun" tries to clear the overall depressive mood of this record with a brighter atmosphere while "Sleep dep.loop1" is an almost basinski-like miniature for loop and soundscape that close this album in an ecstatic mood.
This is an album where experimental traits and classic songwriting are juxtaposed with a cristalline equilibrium and one of the record of the year. Recommended.
Artist: Anthony Pateras (@)
Title: Errors of the Human Body OST
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego
Rated: *****
In spite of the fact that music for movies is an element of utmost importance, now more than ever, the silver screen doesn't normally become a launching ramp for soundtrack composers even if it gets into a blockbuster, but on this occasion Australian director and screenwriter Eron Sheean rendered honours to the excellent work by his collaborator Anthony Pateras (maybe some reader knows him as a member of Candlesnuffer) for scoring of "Errors of the Human Body", an interesting psychological drama/thriller, set in Dresden, co-produced by Instinctive Film and High5films, whose plot mainly takes place amidst pipettes, centrifuges, burettes, microscopes of a medical laboratory where Dr.Geoffrey Burton (played by Michael Eklund) relocates in a research institute in Dresden (the scenery is the one given by the notorious Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics) in order to concur to the most important project led by its teamwork - a human regeneration gene -, which could solve its personal tragedy. Anthony manages to evoke such a scenery from the emotional viewpoint: besides crazy piano tuning, suspensive plonks and electronic morphing on sounds generated with the help of a specimen of the legendary ARP2600, there are many moments which are supposedly thought in order to emphasize the most dramatic moment of Burton's tragedy running in parallel with the typically equivocal fret and the anxious desire for a "miracolous" discovery belonging to the stereotyped behaviour for a scientist such as "Automatic 4", "Burton's Lullaby" or "River Elbe" (my favorite track of the whole album for the incredible state of suspense it can evoke together with "Infectious", whose grave movement renders the scrupolous activity of a researcher in an aseptic genetics lab) as well as really amazing stuff such as the viral groove of "XIJ" - the only danceable track -, more clinical and disquieting tracks such as "Burton's Syndrome", "Cellular Cloud 2" or delayed pulses of "Milk & Mice".
Artist: The Dwindlers (@)
Title: Allegories
Format: CD
Label: Heart and Soul (@)
Rated: *****
What these Dwindlers seem to made thinner are the boundaries between music and poetry, as the aspect which shines through listening this interesting release is the balanced cohesiveness between spoken words by the poetress Michelle Seaman and skillful bassist and composer Benjamin Dauer, who manages to emphasize bittersweet recitations by her partner-in-art with breezy jazz-spotted ambient suites and lulling smooth slap on upright bass, notoriously an unobtrusive presence in many ensembles. Although allegory is a device which could normally be associated to literature and figurative arts by means of symbolic representation, "Allegories" is a title in accordance with their opus, based as it is on lyrics which sometimes require a psychological interpretation of evoked images, which look like frozen by the perfect and somewhat seducing vocal interpretation by Michelle, whose suggestion everted on the listener has been propelled by interesting tricks by Dauer, who no wonder gained a certain notoriety in the ambient music scene. The wordiest track of the album is the initial one, titled "The Pelican and The Girl", a sort of portrait who Michelle manages to describe with immediate brushstrokes, a graceful sketch of a character whose frail balance look like misplaced with fear and its own harmony and has been matched with a pelican, a bird which has normally been associated to self-abnegation and extreme parental love. There's a sense of halcyon coyness even in those poems where ego-narrator evokes that kind of distant beauty, such as in the lovely "How The Ostrich Became A Girl and Her Bicycle" (a track which recalled to me - it could sound strange, but try to make a comparison... - "Releaase To The System" by Mark Franklin, maybe for the way Michelle pronounces words such as "beautiful around and around..." recorded in order to give the illusion they come from different directions and for that lulling crystalline wisely reverbered melody Benjamin created in order to highlight the mood of icy equilibrium and lonely "sanctity"), followed by a superb ambient track, "Pickering's Hyla", juxtaposed in the middle of the album in order to amplify pathos and drop anchor on the calm sonic bay the listener has gradually been led. Other relevant moments of the album are the second track, "Monkey", the most "upbeat" one, "Widow, Daddy And The Wolf", whose dynamics could remind some recent issues by Bonobo and The Cinematic Orchestra, "Peacock and The Kitty", where Benjamin seems to rarefy the sound and bring listener's head over fancy clouds while Michelle hulls meaningful seals, and the final track, Dolphin (the only bilingual poem with background voice of Esteli Caleca, echoing Michelle's voice in Spanish), where the original goal of this project ("an effort to change stories of pain and fear into stories of grace") appears brought to completion with a lovely track, dedicated to Anne Sexton and Peter Gabriel, whose song "Mercy Street" could be considered the starting line of "Dolphin". A very good release. Definitively beyond my expectations.
Artist: Larsen
Title: Uncool cruel mouth
Format: 10"
Label: Zos Kia Sounds (@)
Rated: *****
Larsen is one of those bands Italy can be proud of. I discovered them in 1999 with their split 7" Ep with Mr. Bread on Bar La Muerte (Bruno Dorella's of Ovo/Ronin fame label), and since then they have managed to work with artists like Michael Gira, Jarboe, Nurse With Wound, David Tibet and more. A nice curriculum but not only mere name-dropping because Larsen have substance. This new work goes along 2011 "Cool cruel mouth", a kind of Extended Play, and still features the addition of Baby Dee on piano and Annie Anxiety on vocals. One long track divided in two, a long rarefied journey, a sort of atmospheric soundtrack starting with some drones and reaching the best moments on Annie's vocals, I'd dare a comparison with the mildest Swans, but luckily Larsen have an identity of their own. Since I'm reviewing just the mp3's, I'm wondering how 25 minutes of music will sound on a picture 10" though, a pretty long run for that format to keep the sound good. Anyway, to be released May 2012.
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