Music Reviews



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Artist: Necrophorus (@)
Title: Underneath the Spirit of Tranquility - Redux
Format: CD
Label: Wrotycz (@)
Rated: *****
I have several of Peter Andersson's albums as raison d'être and Stratvm Terror, but this is my first exposure to Necrophorus. The label describes the album as 'a painted story canvas for the otherwise unreachable astral world. Adorned with esoteric ambiences, one feels as though embarking on a path of inner ascension while breathing the immaterial tranquilities.' Evidently this is a remix of an album originally released in 1996 with two additional tracks. I think of this album as two separate sections, and although neither of them is raison d'être, they each share elements of that project. The first half of the album is ambience bordering on new age music. It's not quite to the point of being on a Narada sampler, but it seems to lack the dark and ethereal feel of raison d'être. The second half gets a bit noisier and more experimental, although nowhere near the noise of Stratvm Terror. Throughout there are the characteristic chants and distorted voices that mark Andersson's work. Maybe it's a matter of taste, but I prefer his work as raison d'être partly because it seems so otherworldly. However, this was a pleasant listen and would definitely be one to give someone who was just starting to check out dark ambient stuff.
It is also beautifully packaged, reminiscent of the old Amplexus releases. The artwork is quite nice, consisting of a folding cover with postcards of drawings by Elinros Henriksdotter that are connected to the tracks. This album weighs in at 74.59.
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Artist: Skin Area (@)
Title: Rothko Feild
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this project, but evidently it is mainly the work of Martin Bladh, who is best know for IRM. According to the label, 'Rothko Field is a highly charged and visceral auditory experience...mind bending and turbulent sonic explorations that are grainy and tense, where uneasy frequencies intersect with caustic drones, infected, insectile buzz, swelling drifts, and intense, slow motion percussion driven sludgery. Further comparison reveals Rothko Field to be less schizophrenic, less challenging, and more structured than in the past, coming off as both spacious and yet suffocatingly claustrophobic (and ultimately closer in style to IRM), suggestive of a spiral downwards into mental decay and degradation, and further enhanced by Martin's uniquely distressed and provocative vocalizations.' How's that for two really long sentences? On to the music itself. From the very beginning you know that this is going to be an odd listen as the singer(s?) shout out a litany of potential behavioral problems that may befall a young person. What makes it all the more powerful is the staccato vocals and the fact that you can actually understand them. Overall, this album is much more varied than the typical power electronics release though. For example, 'Hypnagoga' is calming spoken word over a peaceful melody and the sound of cats meowing. 'In the Skin,' reminds me of some pretty dark PE stuff ' think some of Navicon Torture Technologies' older stuff on Malignant. 'Void' is supposed to function as the 'mirror' of the two parts, according to the label, and this is interesting ambience and dissonance. At his point the album titles become backward as well, and there is a kind of stylistic similarity between the forward and 'backward' tracks, especially with 'dlohserhT.' 'dleiF okhtoR' is the longest track on the album at 17:11 and consists of some punishing, slow grinding guitars and percussion. It seemed to go on a little long, but if the intent is to wear you down, it certainly does the trick. Overall, this is one of those albums that defy a neat categorization, which is nice for a change. But it is definitely noisy and heavy. This album weighs in at around 57 minutes.
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Artist: Wold (@)
Title: Badb
Format: CD
Label: Crucial Blast (@)
The last thing I reviewed from Crucial Blast was the amazing Theologian CD, so I was interested to see what this one would be like. The label describes it thus in one incredibly long sentence: 'The nine tracks featured here revolve around the mythology of the war goddess, the spectre of doom that lurks at the edge of the battlefield, and begins at the heart of a roiling black blizzard and proceeds through a charred nightmare soundscape of icy corroded black metal riffs, fractured blasting, melancholic melodies blurred and smeared into malevolent new shapes, and scathing distorted witch-screams ripping through the blackness, all doused and drowned in Merzbowian levels of feedback and distortion abuse.' This is some heavily distorted screamo metal. I'm not sure how the vocalist can even speak now. Keep in mind that I also listen to noise and some Power Electronics stuff, so it's not like screaming and distortion are foreign to me. The grinding guitars are pretty good and there are some decent noisy soundscapes interspersed, but this was really not my cup of tea. However, since there is no accounting for taste, I gave it to one of my graduate students who plays bass in a metal band for a second opinion to see what he thought. He also wasn't too into it, so maybe it isn't just me. Your mileage may vary. This album weighs in at around 29 minutes.
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Artist: Yannick Franck (@)
Title: Memorabilia
Format: CD
Label: Silken Tofu (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Yannick Franck and there did not seem to be any information accompanying the disc, so I was left with only two things ' the music and the label. Silken Tofu had put out such luminaries as Anemone Tube, so it was a good gamble. As for the music itself, this is pretty interesting soundscape. There is a lot of heavy droning and noises built into the music, but it shifts a lot and makes use of a considerable amount of silence to break things up. Plus, Franck mixes it up a bit with sound source. For example, 'Helsingin Subterranean' sounds like there are birdsongs incorporated into the music. 'Self Loading Defeat' features some spoken word layered over the drone. The artwork is nice, but only 6 of the 7 tracks are mentioned by name in the liner notes. Overall, this is a pretty pleasant listen. The disc is limited to 500 copies, so if this all sounds good, you'll want to pick this up. This album weighs in at around 38 minutes.
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Artist: M. Todd & L. Kerr (@)
Title: Beyond the Threshold
Format: CD
Label: No Visible Scars (@)
Rated: *****
M. Todd is Transcendent Device and L. Kerr is better known as the force behind Steel Hook Prosthesis. Kerr is the only one I was familiar with, but it provided some street cred when the press sheet compared the music to Yen Pox, older Lustmord, and Archon Satani. For once, the press sheet was right. This is really good dark ambient that builds a heavy atmosphere without being too oppressive. They aren't trying to be 'evil' like some in the genre. There are sampled voices and what sound like radio transmissions, but thankfully these are used more as atmosphere than the standard cheesy horror movie samples. Also, they mix it up and keep it interesting and engaging, rather than keeping the same drone for the whole disc. This is great for putting on and getting into a good book, preferably something along the lines of H.P. Lovecraft or Thomas Ligotti. If you like good dark ambient, this is certainly one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 35 minutes.
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