Music Reviews



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Artist: Heathered Pearls
Title: Loyal
Format: 12"
Label: Ghostly (@)
Rated: *****
Ghostly Intl. managed to pull one of the most delicate release on the rut of psychedelic melancholia and cryptomnesiac stuff out of its holed sheets I've recently listened to by means of this album signed by Polish-born Jakub Alexander, A&R for the label as well as founder of Moodgadget label, music selector for art and lifestyle blog ISO50 of the notorious graphic artist Scott Hansen aka Tycho and dj and producer under many various pseudonyms. It's quite clear that this antsy guy - he described his album "as a mental break from my personal anxieties" - knows many ruses to add a certain dynamics to ambient or low-level music, as he personally prefers to name it, so that his soap sonic bubbles are even going to grab the attention of those listeners who are not really accustomed to the genre. The feathered whispering of a sort of electronic flute or ocarina on the initial "The Worship Bell" will immediately let the listener dive into the blue depths of the Coral Sea, while the following muscle relaxants and restorative syrup for memory and imagination, the lulling and breezing loops of "Beach Shelter", the sparkling synth of "Lower Dome", which seems to echo mid-summer nights on the beach between starry skies and skylarking insects, the dazed radiance of "Left Climber", the slowed reversed advance of mental train on "Steady Veil" will make the listener feel inside an old photographic set of past summer holidays and carefree childhood or teenage years, whose reminiscence could be even more vivid while listening the following tracks: the sweet opiate micro-variations on "Raising Our Ashes", the absorbing trilling resonances of the decreased version of "Ringing Temple", the rising sonic space filler of "Precious Dive" and the endearing epilogue of "Docile Touch" enhance this throwback by means of more mothernal and placental sonorities. The connection with author's past years seems to be confirmed by his dedication of the album, which sometimes sounds close to the style by Loscil, Bola or even Tim Hecker, to his mother and aunt, who have been both featured on the cover artwork, as it seems they introduced ambient music to Alexander when he was younger.
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Artist: Tardive Dyskinesia
Title: The Letter
Format: CD
Label: Audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with Tardive Dyskinesia, but the name is drawn from a neurological disorder that makes the patient twitch and move involuntarily. There is something to be said about the connection between the name and the music, as there is at times a kind of glitchy disjointedness to the compositions. Overall this has a soundtrack feel to it, which is by design. The label describes the album thus: 'Seeing the Russian cinematic classic 'Dead Man's Letters' for the first time as a 13 year old in the then still socialistic eastern part of Germany was a significant influence for Ronny Herling (Tardive Dyskinesia): While creating an oppressive and dark world, this cineastic masterpiece manages to create a glimpse of hope nonetheless. With those impressions in mind, 'The Letter' approaches to transform everyday scenes and experiences into a musical score. The result of this transformation are nine pieces of nightmarish soundscapes.' I don't know if I would go completely along with 'nightmarish,' but there is an ominous feel to the album. The disc opens with a child's spoken word over music, but it is difficult to make out what is being said. It seems to function more as another part of the atmosphere. Mostly it is instrumental, but 'Ganymed' focuses a bit too much on samples which become repetitive and a bit annoying. The album closes with some quiet, minimalist soundscape interrupted with short blasts of noise. Overall this is OK ' not the best thing that Audiophob has put out, but not bad either. This album weighs in at around 57 minutes.
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Artist: Sphäre Sechs (@)
Title: Tiefschlaf
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Whenever I see something in the mail from Malignant Records, I know that at least one of the albums I review will be good. This one delivers on that belief. Sphäre Sechs is a collaboration between Martin Stürtzer (Phelios) and Christian Stritzel, who (if Discogs.com is to be believed) has previously collaborated with Phelios. The label describes the album thus: 'gorgeous passages of sweeping, cosmic drones and textural ripples that fan out over a vast, luminous landscape, the amorphous tones and glassy, serene ambience melding together in pristine, meditative washes of sound. This is some of the purest ambience you'll find and the perfect atmosphere for drifting off into a seemingly endless dream state.' In one word, I would describe this as 'peaceful.' This album was recorded live during a 'sleep-concert' in Germany and the content shows. This is considerably different from the last Phelios album I reviewed (Astral Unity), which featured heavy pounding percussion and an ominous feel, so I can attribute this shift to the influence of Stritzel. Think of some of Troum's more sedate works and you're heading in the right direction. When you want dark ambient without all of the darkness, this is one to reach for. Nothing but soft, shimmering drone to lull you to another place. Highly recommended and limited to 500 copies, so you'll want to snag a copy of this before it is gone like the dream you had this morning. This album weighs in at around 55 minutes.
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Artist: Shhh… (@)
Title: Low Lights
Format: CD
Label: Thisco (@)
Rated: *****
The first thing you notice about the album is the cover itself. More specifically, you feel the cover, as it is red sandpaper on the digipack with 'shhh'¦' stamped on it in gold and black lettering. And yes, you are in for something a bit gritty. One could see parts of this at home on the Ant-Zen label with its distorted beats and almost minimalist compositions. Not quite as in your face as Converter or Noisex, but still in the same arena. At other times, it is reminiscent of old school electro-industrial a la Mentallo and the Fixer, as in the track '67 000 mph.' but the beat is the important thing here. Atmosphere is present, but unlike the other album I reviewed from them (self-titled), it seems to take a backseat to the beats. 'Parasite Device,' for example, combines a nice ominous atmosphere with heavy beats. But shh... does make good use of silence on this album to help draw in the listener. This album weighs in at around 42 minutes.
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Artist: Shhh… (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Thisco (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of the band Shhh'¦., but it's at least an interesting name. Evidently this is the work of one Rui Bentes, but the website for the artist tells little in the bio. Thankfully, the music speaks for itself. The album starts out by telling us that 'This is going to be a wild ride ' Don't panic' (it seems to be a sample from Existenz by David Cronenberg). Trashy beats kick in and we're off. Think Sonar, only less repetitive. But then it all slows down and eventually takes a more minimalist turn as we are dropped into an ominous soundscape. The album then careens between these two extremes with noisy beats and atmosphere. This is a bit more varied in style than the other album that came in the package (Low Lights), which seems to give it a bit more of a sense of balance. Overall this is a pretty fun ride. This album weighs in at around 45 minutes.
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