Music Reviews



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Artist: King Gong (@)
Title: Voices
Format: 12"
Label: Discrepant (@)
Rated: *****
Poncey exoticism has never attracted my attention, particularly when it's clear that the more or less noticeable insertion of etnhic elements get justified by no particular reason that an inappropriate titivation, but I cannot say the sonic researches by French sound-artist Laurent Jeanneau, one of the most activ contributor of Sublime Frequencies, which recently released a collection of sonic documents of unknown indigenous music from ethnic minority groups of Southern China, prolific producer of ethnographic field recordings and tireless wayfarer, belongs to that kind of sonic fetishism. On "Voices" as in Jeanneau's previous collages, the concept could be vaguely close to Freform's Audiotourism, but in spite of the computer aided editing which is not invasive at all, there's no particulr stylistical imprint and the process of coalescence between recorded voices, field recordings and textures of traditional (mainly percussive) instruments doesn't taint the authenticity of the source. It rather highlights the immersive listening experience that Laurent evokes. As you can easily imagine, "Voices" focuses on vocal excerpts he recorded in the southern regions of Yunnan and Guizhou, China, in Sapa, Northern Vietnam and phongsaly, Northern Laos, which are often embellished by means of intriguing instrumental twines: the overlapping of entrancing vocals on the initial "Baozoo Khen", the lopsided string striations on the absorbing "Sixian Miao Choir", the ritual scent and the odd howling of the speaking woman on "Cym Wu Khmu" are the most impressive moments of a record, which is going to steep listener's mind into the remote corners of the planet Laurent genuinely documented.
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Artist: Giulio Aldinucci (@)
Title: Tarsia
Format: CD
Label: Nomadic Kids Republic
Distributor: Experimedia
Rated: *****
In an interview with the website Fluid Radio (fluidradio.co.uk) Italian composer described the origins of the title Tarsia, his first release under his own name.

"The term Tarsia (or Intarsia) denotes an ancient technique of wood inlaying. The first examples of this practice date back to the XIV century and come from the Siena region. I have chosen this title because I consider this technique similar to the that of a lot of contemporary electro-acoustic music. To make these wood inlays they used rare and carefully selected natural elements, which were then treated, and sometimes individually coloured, and subsequently placed next to each other in order to create complex patterns, which is what many musicians within this field tend to do."

It seems like the terms 'field recordings', 'modern classical', and 'soundscapes' could be interchangeable, so often are they found in the same sentence. It seems like every time an artist lays a cello or a piano to tape, it is accompanied by handheld tape recordings, the sounds of rippling brooks, and the ringing of churchbells. It is hard to stand out in this saturated field, but Giulio Aldinucci achieves this rare balance, by creating whole compositions, that don't merely sound like 'classical lite' with some voicemail pasted on top.

The composer achieves this effect by carefully mixng and balancing the sounds, creating a delicate interplay that suggests technical mastery and a sensitive ear. Most of the sounds are synthetic in nature, overlaid with pristine soundscapes: crystal running rivers, dogs barking, snippets of conversation. It seems like a memory of wandering the Italian countryside. Aldinucci's music may have originated in a soundcard or a circuit board, but they beautifully complement the acoustic recordings with masterful mixing, making a cohesive whole, like the wooden boxes Tarsia is named after.

Once upon a time, a record like this would be merely considered 'new age' and left at that, mainly due to the soothing synth ambiance that makes up most of this record. However, with synthesizer opuses making a heavy comeback for the last 10 years or so, perhaps we are ready to consider these electronic instruments on their own terms. I would like to amend the newage tag with 'heavenly' or dare i even say it, 'beautiful'.


Giulio Aldinucci, and the Nomadic Kids Republic that released this, are ones to watch out for, seemingly creating reams of gorgeous modern classicism. Physical copies of Tarsia are long gone, but you can stream or download copies from the label's bandcamp site.

Lovely stuff! Recommended.
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Artist: Charlemagne Palestine + Z'EV (@)
Title: Rubhitbangklanghear | Rubhitbangklangear
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
The very first moments of this interesting collaborative recording by two of the most interesting contemporary musicians with the penchant for extreme experimentation, the master of minimalism Charles Martin, commonly known as Charlemagne Palestine, and protean American percussionist and sound artist Stefan Joel Weisser aka Z'EV, resembled the Italian version of a notorious French nursery rhyme "Frere Jacques" (the English version is known as "Brother John" or "Are You Sleeping?"), which sings about a certain friar named Martin, who plays bells. Joking aside, this sonic document whose title "Rubhitbangklanghear | Rubhitbangklangear" could vaguely summarize some "concrete" aspects of this musical performance. Its gestational times are almost mythological, as these renowned sound artists needed more than 20 years to channel their performative arts into a release: Charlemagne Palestine and Z'EV met in Amsterdam in the eighties, but they performed together just in 2007 (at Lem, Barcelona), but their first studio recording occurred in 2010 and it started after zoning out while seeing and listening to the carillon that Charles held in his studio in Brussels. After 3 days of recordings, this album is what they squeezed: highly hypnotical bells reel in sonic space while they twine on mesmerizing dull thuds, choking metallic hits, dazzling strokes, loosing acousmatic sounds Z'EV manages to squeeze. There are two avalable version of the release, but I warmly recommend the double CD one as you will find the complete recordings, both the collaborative versions (marked by a CZ, abbreviation of Charlemagne and Z'EV) and solo ones (marked by the initial letter of each performer). If solo performances sound unbelievably entrancing and magnetic, you can barely imagine how they could sound when they join respective flows...
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anymore
Artist: Mantra
Title: Many Worlds (The Crystal Issue Cycle 3)
Format: 12"
Label: The Crystal Issue
Rated: *****
Solar One Music is an hectic label that is producing quality music and is always in evolution. With The Crystal Issue sub-label, they deliver music focused on Acid/Chicago/Detroit/Techno/House, genres which deeply influenced Robert and Nico, the two label's bosses. The releases will be issued only on one sided colored 12" in limited run'¦ no digital files available. The first release of the series is by Mantra, project of a guy called Craig Stainton, who is also active with the Acid Phreex, Craig Stainton, Monofonix, Myriadd monikers. He has at his active an LP ("After Dark") and three EPs on Bunker Records as well as another EP released the last year on Abstract Acid. Mantra's is pure acid techno with tiny house influences where the classic TB-303 and TR-606/808/909 sounds are used to create a hypnotic loop where sampled vocals, sparse deep bass lines and some synth effects. On this first release presented on orange vinyl as opening track we find "Beat That House", a tune characterized by an house bass line that is joined by TB-303 on the pauses, just to start again with the "mantra". "Many Worlds" follows and this is focused on TB-303 sounds, drum machine blasts, tiny distorted synth reverbs and vocal samples scratches. Trancey, obsessive and dancey, these tunes are two of the best produced by Mantra. If you are into acid or techno, check this out!
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Artist: Atiq & EnK
Title: Fear Of The Unknown
Format: CD
Label: Mindtrick Records/Tympanik Audio (@)
Rated: *****
"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown", said the legendary American writer H.P.Lovecraft and this fresh and somehow unknown twosome by Guido Van Den Brink aka Atiq, founder of Mindtrick Records and known in Rotterdam for its intense activity as a promoter of many notorious parties such as "Jungle Soundclash" and "Rave!!!", and Pim Arnoldus aka EnK, music producer and guitar player in the Dutch nu-metal band Brainshake, trace the ancestral sense of the above-mentioned definition and above all the strength of its semantic and spiritual payload by means this remarkable debut album, which encapsulate many acts of IDM and electronic hybrids as well as the most interesting declension of heavy dubstep - I could namedrop Hecq, Venetian Snares, Burial or even some oldest acts such as Beefcake, Flint Glass, Elixir (a project by Martin Stovey, Steve Jones and Richard Pushong, which dropped some interesting stuff on Quatermass, sub-label of SubRosa) or Bill Leeb's Synaesthesia - with a deep penchant for psychedelic orchestral inserts. In reality they don't depart from Lovecraft's quote, but these skilled guys cite some words by Dr.Wayne Dyer they sampled in the initial track "Stay With The Familiar" ("Fear of the Unknown...They are afraid of New Ideas...They're loaded with Prejudices, not based upon anything in reality, but based on if something is new, I reject it immediately; because it is Frightening to Me. What they do instead, is just Stay with the Familiar. You know, to me, The Most Beautiful things in all the Universe, are The Most Mysterious"...a very meaningful message for our troubled planet), which perfectly sets listener's mood for the whole album, whose main quality lays in its intimate narrative structure. There are many stylistical peaks all over the release: the cathartic suspense, which have been enhanced by entrancing female vocals, of "Moonlit Tea Party", the heavy lock step, the suffocated melodies and the sinisterly silvery atmosphere of "My Obligation", the somber crystalline music box on "The Glass Kingdom", the cinematic Gregorian chant-driven mesmerizing dubstep of 'Like an Angel's Feather' - absolutely my favorite track! -, the meteor craters of the mercurial dub on "Sim One" (nice track with samples of Orson Welles' narration of "Future Shock", a documentary by visionary American writer Alvin Toffler) and "Three Minutes", the bites of dubstep on a Jarre-like synth-driven melodic sequence on "Shards Of Brilliance", which precedes the final resolution "The Moment Of Truth", which got spelled by Mike Redman's rapping. Fear of the unknown must be beaten and these guys proposed their amazing sonic strategy.
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