Music Reviews



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Artist: Jamka
Title: Inter Alia
Format: LP
Label: Urbsounds Collective (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this London-based duo of Monika Subrtova and Daniel Kordik, but the label calls this album “the latest evidence of their patient, intimate relationship with their analogue machines. From the start there’s a sense of event – we encounter clear, interlaced electronic textures, powerful analogue drones and well-placed beats.” From the opening track, you get the sense that this is not your typical dancy techno. There is a beat, and the music is quite well put together, but this is not music for the club. At least not any club that you want to be at after dark. There is a feeling of unease underlying these tracks that goes against the technological optimism of a lot of electronic music. “Anazmo,” for example, has a kind of minimalism that makes the repetitive beat seem oppressive (and I mean this in a good way) rather than something that gets you onto the dance floor. For the most part, this is instrumental, with the exception of “Eskulap,” which has some distorted, unintelligible vocals. If you like your techno with the bleakness and darkness of old Front 242, with a touch of minimalism thrown in for good measure, this is worth picking up. Pressed on white vinyl.
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Artist: Bass Communion
Title: Sisters Oregon
Format: 10"
Label: Substantia Innominata (@)
Rated: *****
I was already familiar with various projects of Steven Wilson, including Bass Communion, Continuum and Porcupine Tree, but I was interested to see what he would bring to the Drone Records sublabel Substantia Innominata. As one might expect, for those familiar with Drone Records, this is a lovely slab of slowly evolving and shifting drone that one would sink into much as they would a warm bath. The occasional piano stab in Part III and the sound of seraphic voices through Part IV give this a kind of feel that goes far beyond the “someone put a brick on a synth key” style of drone. This is well crafted and quite lovely. Well worth checking out if you enjoy droning ambient music. This album is limited to 500 copies.
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Artist: Felipe Araya (@)
Title: Punata
Format: Tape
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
We start off with “Punata,” a 26-minute track that, according to the liner notes, was recorded to mobile phone in Bolivia. From the very beginning, there is a rawness to the piece, as you hear conversations taking place in the street, and snippets of music. Suddenly, there is hardly any sound, with bits of wind noise the only clue that the tape has not stopped. There are sparse sounds of the cajon, Araya’s signature instrument, and other bits of noise. Everything is quiet, until a parade blasts through your speakers. The parade ends, to be replaced by quiet scraping and clinking metal and a slight rumble. One can view this as the juxtaposition of quiet moments of reflection and experimentation with the vibrant noise of the street. Back and forth, never staying with one side for very long. Turning over the tape, we are greeted with a peaceful flute followed by low beating on the cajon and clinking metal. Gone are the field recordings and loops. For a while, it has the feel of incidental music, but as the track goes on, it is dominated more and more by the cajon, with a heavy bass presence. This becomes increasingly animated as Araya scrapes and vigorously pounds on the cajon. With both tracks there is a good use of quiet passages to draw attention to the rest of the composition. If you enjoy field recordings, Punata will be up your alley, and percussion aficionados will enjoy a track featuring an instrument that is not often seen in experimental music.
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Artist: L. Eugene Methe and Megan Siebe
Title: Revisited, Revisited, ‎Revisited
Format: Tape
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
There is no track listing, and the entire album consists of variations on “Brideshead Revisited (main theme)” by Geoffrey Burgon. OK. I was unfamiliar with Methe, Siebe, and Burgon’s work, so let’s just get right into this. This is pretty string-based music that avoids becoming typical orchestral works by tweaking the compositions ever so slightly. A bit of reverb here, some echo there, gives this a dreamlike quality. The composition ends, and the rest of the side of the tape is mastered so low that you have to crank up the sound to even hear anything. Maybe this is by design, but the liner notes provide no information and I kept worrying that there would suddenly be a blast of sound that would wake my neighbors and blow my speakers. Perhaps it’s just bleed through from the other side. Speaking of the other side, we have more of the dreamlike, processed strings, but this time with considerably more processing. Where Side A could be seen as playing the song straight, Side B is where they get a bit more experimental. Even so, the devotion to one specific theme becomes somewhat repetitive over time. It was pleasant enough, but didn’t really push the envelope enough for my tastes.
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Artist: Noisepoetnobody
Title: Fissure
Format: Tape
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed Noisepoetnobody’s work with Vance Galloway, titled “Uranium 238,” which I enjoyed for its “subdued experimentalism,” so I was interested to see how this would be different from that collaboration. In the liner notes, we see the following credits:

Eveline Müller: bowls, bows, blades, metal objects.
Noisepoetnobody: springs, strings, boards, e-bow, looper.

This gives some sense of what we are in for, and the music does not disappoint. This consists of two tracks, one per side, titled “Part 1” and “Part 2.” On first glance, “Part 1” seems somewhat chaotic, but as you continue to listen to the compositions, one can begin to see the structure of the tracks coming together. Crashing noise, bits of pounding percussion, gonglike bowls, and just a touch of feedback thrown into the heavily processed sounds make for an interesting listen. But this is not just something that you can put on and then read. Their use of silence and quiet passages continually pull you back in, demanding your attention. “Part 2” opens much more aggressively, leaving you to think that this is going to be a relentless wall of noise, but then suddenly pulls back. The rest proceeds much like Part 1, with a lot of clanging and more resonating of the singing bowls. Overall, this was a good time and would appeal to people who like it noisy, but not to the point of harsh noise.
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