Music Reviews



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Artist: Dirk Serries (@)
Title: Microphonics XXI-XXV
Format: CD
Label: Tonefloat (@)
Rated: *****
After the recent collaborative work with Jon Atwood and the "concluding album statement" of the side-project Fear Falls Burning, Belgian musician Dirk Serries aka VidnaObmana, who doesn't really need any introduction due to his astonishing long-lasting sonic research and his monumental discography, comes back on Dutch label Tonefloat with the second volume of Microphonics, last act of his orbits around minimalism. This elegant chiseler forges four masterpieces which are built on a frame of a limited number of guitar chords or tones, which emit intensively emotional contrails and heady harmonics: the seemingly perpetual crumbling of the creaking guitar in the initial "Mounting Among The Waves" let leak a sort of myelin sheath around the electric sinew which moves and indents strings, while the following "There's A Light In Vein" is even more dazzling by means of its sweet and plain arpeggio and a bewitching deep low sound which gradually rises and floods in any hidden burrow of listener's soul. The finicky distortion on guitars on "The Burden Of Hope" never bothers listener; they rather weave an engaging twine with surfacing warm bass tone and melodic scrapes which reroutes the mental sailing towards an unpredictable and indefinitely limbo, whose pervading vibrations could even inspire an emotional reaction to a marble. The catharsis looks like an accomplished mission, which just needs some celebration on the final dazzling lullaby-like drone of "Thousands of Rivers", which ends this heartbreaking release with a psychedelic and cooling bang.
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Artist: Front Line Assembly
Title: AirMech
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Announced in September 2012 and released in the end of 2012, this astonishing studio album by notorious Canadian industrial band Front Line Assembly, born as a sountrack for fre-to-play war strategy game AirMech developed by Seattle-based indipendent company Carbon Games, shows the impressive versatility and adaptability of Bill Leeb's band as well as an interesting update of their sound by means of the integration of sonic hooks from dubstep and electronic sounds for videogames (laser guns, shots, explosions, silicon hisses, robotic belches, cyber farts and so on). Even if there are no lyrics, FLA fans will easily recognize the surgical operation they made on their very first abrasive and essential sound, the one they proudly flaunted before following insertions of stereotyped apocalyptic choirs or conventional guitar riffs, which sounded like a wink at market's tendencies according to many listeners. Someone could argue the incorporation of dubstep elements could be considered the same, but FLA carefully dosed them as Hecq considerably did and authentic sonic pearls like the flaring stepping of "Arise", the amazing metallic crisps of "Pulse Charge" (the closest to Hecq's abrasive dubby concoctions), the translucent industrial rock "Mech Killer", the computational beams of "Everything That Was Before", the bleeding industrial afflatus of the brilliant "Lose", the grim atmospheres of "Stealth Mech" and many other stylistical preciosities will extinguish any doubts about the remarkable quality of this release.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Mollono.Bass Remix - Collection
Format: CD
Label: 3000° (@)
Distributor: Kompakt Distribution
Rated: *****
Hi-hats that resemble clippers or knitting needles, highly stressed and somewhat dry bass drums, crunchy claps, pot-bellied gabbling synth-brasses and other percussive tricks, mainly ensued from tech-house engines, and above all arrangements based on nice insertions of classical music, whistles or other traditional instruments are the main features of remix art German dj and producer Ronny Mollenhauer aka Mollono.Bass (Acker Records), which tries to balance off-beat rhythimcal patterns without breaking chemical bonds of sustaining melodies of original tracks, which are barely enhanced by means of electronic blurs if at all, so that the pursuit of the so-called "danceability" doesn't adulterate melodic frameworks. To be honest, some remixes don't really meet my tastes, but I think it could be related by the circumstance that this is a collection which embraces many different declensions and stylistical crops. For some mysterious reasons, the imprint of Mollono.Bass worth is more appreciable when he processes some glamouresque vocal (sometimes added by Mollono.Bass himself) and "antiqued" tracks: his remixes of Douglas Greed's "Shiva" (Delhia de France on mic), Wolfgang Lohr's "Sunbelt Regret" (featuring Miss NatNat), "Ici" by Pupkulies & Rebecca, Peng Peng's "Here We Go Again" are some of the most remarkable highlights of this collection. He shows a palatable complementarity with ethnic-oriented stuff as you can immediately notice on remixes of Moneky Safari's "Sirens" or "Dole & Kom's "Quetschkommode", but the most striking stylistical adherence has been reached on the make-up of a couple of tracks by Be Svendsen - "On the hill" and "The Elephants Cage" -, where he managed to temper his popping grooves by squeezing their inner cinematic and kinematic viscosity.
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Artist: Simon Whetham (@)
Title: Never So Alone
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
I'm pretty sure that the great majority of people, who experienced jams when the soot from the notorious elfin barbecue inside Icelandic volcano with unpronounceable name Eyjafjallajökull in February and March 2010, countered with a fine selection of cuss words and complaints against powerless air company's ground crews and imaginary underground deities or devils, who caused the closing of European airspace. The skittish English sound-artist Simon Whetham, compelled to outstay his stay in Lisbon for the above-mentioned occurence, preferred to explore the fascinating Portuguese capital city and surrounding countryside in order to grab sounds and match them with his own feelings by his paraphernalia of microphones he kept in his luggage together with razors, deodorant, socks and underwear, so that he started to collect sound material by means of a Sennheiser shotgun microphone, a pair of Tram lavalier mics, contact microphones, hydrophones, an electromagnetic coil transducer and a radio receiver. Simon's decision to turn hassles into a creative opportunity generated this interesting album where the reference to experienced loneliness in the title "Never So Alone" should not be interpreted as a negative factor, but as an essential condision for the creation of this work: the electric flurries on creaks, tweets, trampling and crumpling sounds of the initial track "Inertia, Rising" immediately imbibes the sonic space by evoking a certain sense of isolated dismay of the receiver, whose amplified perception acts like an imaginary sentient marble which rolls on metallic smooth surfaces by creating occasional dissonances and blurring with other external resonances on "A Metallic Aftertaste" before the first interlude "The Suspension of Time", where a web of tintinnabulations gets gradually overshadowed by rasps, amplified sinister echoes and plastic rubbing from recesses of material world. The regular stepping on planking level and trickles over flowing streams of spooky interferences on the following "Shifting" is almost cathartic, while the membrane between inner and outer world seems to thin and disappear in the following "A little Faith", where any stimulations from the surrounding environment look like moving inside streams of bodily fluids. Whereas the second interlude, "Lifesigns/Ashcloud", refracts urban traffic, the high-spirited chit chat of a Portuguese woman, distant playing kids and other resonating plaster casts from lively settings, immersed in a volatile sonic wave, look like unexpected appearances on a scuba mask on the final "Accentuate the Positive".
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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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