Music Reviews



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Artist: Manuella Blackburn (@)
Title: Formes Audibles
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes (@)
Rated: *****
A breath of fresh air over electroacoustic and acousmatic scene wafts from renowned Canadian label emprintes DIGITALes, which recently released the very first album by young English sound-artist Manuella Blackburn, whose remarkable curriculum isn't frankly the one you could expect from a newcomer: she completed her musical studies at the University of Manchester with a Master's Degree in Electroacoustic Composition with composer and director of Manchester Theatre in Sound (MANTIS) David Berezan and a Philosophiae Doctor with Ricardo Climent, her music has been performed all over the world (Brazil, Canada, Italy, Cuba, France, Germany, USA, Canada, Sweden, Portugal, Costa Rica, Japan, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and so on) at concerts, conferences, gallery exhibitions and festivals and won many international awards and prizes such as Grand Prize in the Digital Art Awards in Fujisawa, Japan, in 2007, two first prizes at Concurso Internacional de Composicao Electroacustica Musica Viva in Lisbon (Portugal) and many more. The feature which makes Manuella's sonic emissions so interesting is the bizarre blitzes of tonal music in the midst of electroacoustic lumps, particularly in the first two tracks of this album, "Vista Points", built on different interactions between electric guitar sounds and processed material, and "Switched On", which sounds focused on chimes, laminar flows, switches and mechanical devices, where bubbles of tonal music seem to emerge from the depths of deep ponds. Another distinguishing feature of her sonic organisational set-up is the alternation of moments of intense activity and breaks or temporary inactivity, so that it seems that dynamics follows an inner respiratory drive as if each sonic entity is somewhat alive. In addition to the above-mentioned recordings, this feature is clear in the following ones: the engaging automaton of "Japanese" sounds in "Karita Oto", the amazing flatware and kitchenware powered "Kitchen Alchemy", the following "Cajon!", which combines the timbre of the Cajon, a Peruvian percussion instrument, "palmas" claps (a clapping technique of flamenco) and other percussive material and the spellbinding gargles of microsounds and onsets of "Spectral Spaces".
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Artist: Three Winters
Title: The Atrocities EP
Format: Tape
Label: Belaten
Rated: *****
While I'm waiting for the Blitzkried Baby answers to my interview, I received from Belaten this tape by Three Winters, band where Kim Solve (Blitzkrieg Baby/K100/Kim and Trine Design Studio) is involved along with Anders B (Babyflesh/Mind & Flesh) and Lars Fredrik Froislie (Wobbler/White Willow). This seven tracks tape is the band's debut and contains three songs from their forthcoming album plus four remixes. "Atrocities" opens the tape and is a mid tempo instrumental track based on synth pads, pulsing deep bass lines and catchy melodical leads. "At The Center Of Dystopia" is another mid tempo tune which recalls me in a way the John Carpenter soundtracks thanks to its epic atmospheres and melodies. "Aeon Surveillance" is a short instrumental which sounds like a "Atrocities" reprise. These sounds recall me nowadays projects like Umberto, Antony Maiovvi or Xander Harris thanks to the overall horror/thriller atmospheres. Talking about the remixes, we have "At The Centre Of Dystopia" remixed by Pseen (I liked their version which sounds minimal but energetic and inspired as takes only the melodical idea of the original tune making a different one) and "Atrocities" remixed by Aymeric Thomas (this one sounds like inspired by Bach thanks to the synth sounding like an harpsichord but it lost the cinematic atmosphere), Mister (this one sounds like an electronic 8bit version with guitars and metal percussions. Nice but something is missing) and Th. Tot (this version, as the first two, doesn't add that much to the original track, as melody and rhythms are quite similar. Only sounds have been changed). Remixed are nice, the original tracks are good... at this point, I'm curious to check the album when it will be out! A usual, you can check the tracks. Here's where http://belaten.bandcamp.com/album/the-atrocities-ep
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anymore
Artist: Cryme
Title: Mekonium
Format: Tape
Label: Belaten
Rated: *****
Formed by Daniel Fagerstrom (Skull Defekts/Optic Nest/Et al) and Mattias Gustafsson (Altar of Flies/Jam Session/Et al), Cryme are a duo coming from Sweden and "Mekonium" is their latest and second tape. Released about a week ago by Belaten, "Mekonium" finds the duo dealing with analog synthesizers, drum computers and reel-to-reel tapes to perform seven obessive industrial electronic tracks where echoes of the 80s industrial music pioneers find their way through the duo's analong synth whistles and noises. Helped on vocals by Sara Andersson and Josefine Fagerstrom, Daniel and Mattias recorded twenty minutes of musical illness where basic melodies and rhythms enrich the complex web of sound they create. Even if the final effect is disturbing, the music has some catchy elements which are well exploited to keep the listener's attention alive. Subtle sounds and filtered vocals sneaks out from the multitude of metallic percussions and like Cabaret Voltaire on acid, tracks like "Blaze The World", if speeded up a bit, could be turned into an alternative dance hit even if I don't really think that Cryme born under that flag. "Mekonium" sounds distorted, filtered and ideally make me think to a beast on chains who, thirsty and starving, tries to reach you! Preview all the tracks here: http://belaten.bandcamp.com/album/mekonium
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Artist: Ghost Time (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Hinterzimmer Records (@)
Rated: *****
Listeners get immediately absorbed in an other-worldly magnetic field since the very first moments of the initial track "Pastly" by the widely reverberated and somewhat claustrophobic rasps, withering flurries and suffocated shrieks and the phantasmagorical listening experience keeps on draining away without any break over the lond-lasting four tracks as if it's a sort of sonic translation of an attempt to recover after the hallucinogenic fever dream caused by an alkaloid poisoned philter, which culminates in the frightening screams of the ghost of some harridan and the intoxicating fumigations of "Faint" and the oblong and almost unreal pocket trumpet on the final "Glimpse". This haunted declension of avantagarde-jazz and post-industrial research has almost become a cubbyhole, but this uncommon trio, made up of English pocket trumpeter Andy Knight and a couple of outstanding personalisties of the experimental scene, American renowned performative artists and noise percussionist Z'ev and Scottish jazz-fusion drummer and percussionist Ken Hyder, tried to fertilize this stylistical ground by bizarre instrumental parts, performative techniques and references to centuries-old traditions: all bass lines have been taken from the Ceol Mor, the ancient tradition of Scottish Pibroch, the so-called music of laments; Z'ev and Ken generates overtones by using alto, tenor and baritone rolmos, which are Tibetan ritual cymbals; the vocals combine elemnts of Canntaireachd, a vocalisation of bagpipe playing, and Khoomei, a Siberian and Mongolian traditional form of throat singing which Ken learnt when he was in Tuva, a Russian region in Southern Siberia. Beyond this musical "syncretism", another relevant aspect of Ghost Time is the fact it was entirely recorded live in one take, even if someone could think that its overtones could have been electronically modified.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 2011/2012 Media Sampler
Format: CD
Label: Alrealon (@)
Rated: *****
Compilations can be difficult to review because they are such a mixed bag and a label sampler can be particularly daunting. So let's just walk through the album as it goes, shall we? FluiD kicks us off with some Muslimgauze inspired chanting and electronics. Not bad. PAS keeps the beat moving along with ethereal singing that would be at home on old Projekt records material. Kind of similar thematically to the point where you would not be surprised to find that this is not a compilation. JOHN 3:16 slows our roll a bit with a interesting melodic track with a slow plodding beat that gets more and more aggressive as it proceeds. Interesting stuff ' makes me interested to hear more, which is the whole point of these compilations. Philippe Petit & Friends keeps the dark cinematic feel going but this then shifts into violin with warbling electronics. A bit more complex and challenging than the first three, but not as smooth. Good though. Now we reach the obligatory phase of the compilation where we shift gears without a clutch. Black Saturn throws down a kind of rap with a heavy beat that just doesn't quite work in the context of the compilation. I know some of Black Saturn's other work, so I was kind of surprised at this track although I have to admit that the track kind of grows on you. X:Naviet brings it back to soundscape with some shimmering drone. Glacial shifts and dissonance. FluiD is back and keeping it dark. Once again we have the cinematic vibe. I'd be interested to check out more from this act. Philippe Petit comes in with a bit more noisy work, although still with a heavy bass drone presence. Not noise by any stretch, but compared to the previous tracks a bit more of an edge with a few percussive outbursts. ARU meets FluiD gets some beat and a bass line going, but not in the Middle Eastern sort of way of the first track. It's OK, but not as good as the previous tracks. PAS/HATI gives us an interesting track with a lot of rhythm, but not like a beat. It's like turning loose a bunch of children on a lot of toy percussion instruments in a store. There is a logic to it, but it has a whimsical feel to it. This is pretty cool. ARU meets FluiD is back again with a similar track. I think I like FluiD better on their own. JOHN 3:16 brings us the gospel in the form of a track that keeps building on itself until it seems that it will collapse under its own weight. Think guitar work along the lines of some Fear Falls Burning. Zilmrah brings back the rhythm, but it kind of gets repetitive, even though the underlying improvisation is cool. So who would I want to check out after hearing this compilation? FluiD and JOHN 3:16 would be my picks. This disc weighs in at around 64 minutes.
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