Music Reviews



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Artist: MRKVA/BOLKA (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: LOM (@)
Rated: *****
I've already spoken about the creative explosion related to electronic music (and not only that) in many Eastern European countries, which sometimes experience some troubles in getting visible in the cluttered music scene, at some other time so that the venture by LOM, a small group of people which is trying to help unknown or forgotten deserving experimental artists from that geographical area (particularly from Slovakia for "logistical" reasons) to gain some visibility is praiseworthy. This first physical release is a split mini-album, co-signed by a couple of talented Slovakian sound artists, Jonas Gruska aka MRKVA and Matus Kolka aka BOLKA: the first one is a performer, sound artist and electronic instrument engineer, also known for his project Binmatu, who attended the prestigious Institute of Sonology in The Hague (Netherlands) and Music Academy in Krakow (Poland), where he studied composition and electroacoustic music, while Matus is a rising star of Bratislava experimental scene with a mania for building his own software instruments. On this release, they focused on the sonic representation of a dystopian (but not so far from forthcoming technological mischiefs) future when we will deal with swarms of nanotech insects. They both render them by means of sizzling electric sounds, but while MRKVA prefers to focus on electroacoustic devices and tricks with a huge quantity of gurgles, creased radio frequencies, warped cries, fragmented voices and other corrosive sonic secretions, which sometimes could remind the noise of ear drops for softening wax in the event of otitis, BOLKA builds glitch soundscapes by inserting sonic layers and more structured cluster of noises, temporary magmatic spills and efferent sonic "mistakes" (MRKVA seems to buil a linkage with this compositional approach in his last track "Anders"). Interesting offbeat stuff for tuned-in listeners.
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Artist: Quarz (@)
Title: Five Years On Cold Asphalt
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
Slithering low frequencies, oxidised sounds, dull tumbles, subdued shouts and a general feeling of decay impregnate the first part of this one track album by Quarz, a Wien-based collective project assembled by versatile musician Alexandr Vatagin, member of Tupolev and Port-Royal and label boss of Valeot Records, who involved many musicians of the lively artistic entourage of the Austrian capital, such as Stefan Meneth (Radian, Lokai), Alexander Schubert (Sinebag), Nicolas Bernier, Martin Siewert (Trapist, Heaven And) together with two guests, Bernhard Breuer (young drummer of Elektro Guzzi and Metalycee) and David Schweighart, Tupolev co-airman, who gave same field recordings on the occasion of "Five Years on Cold Asphalt". Then the sound perks up before alternates ups and downs, so that it could surmised a sort of underlying narrative intent about the facts of life, where temporary relief gets followed depressive moments in an erratic way. Such an epic odissey conveys the musical path by each contributor and even if there are some occasional hesitancies, this hybridization together with a certain shoegaze-like approach succeed in avoiding that high-falutin drift, which is quite common for similar bands. Quarz sometimes lacks in that completeness which has been reached by other ensembles, but they're coming closer and closer to it.
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Artist: Mikal (@)
Title: Spiritual/The Chant (Rido Remix)
Format: 12"
Label: Utopia Music (@)
Rated: *****
Utopia Music label head Stephen Redmore aka Mako already mouthwatered all those who appreciated the gorgeous stuff by talented Swedish London-based dj and producer Mikael Willett aka Mikal by anticipating this release. On "Spiritual", Mikal's sound still has a strong connection with heavy stomper of his first years on the glorious imprint by Goldie and Kemistry&Storm, Metalheadz, but put the mallet he hit on red-hot iron on his previous "Headbanger" in order to temper the pitting with more pad-driven fluctuations so that getting closer to the sonorities of some previous tracks such as "Lifts Me Up" or "Distance", even if as it happened on thoe tunes, he doesn't opt some mind-blurring dirty spots and drilling metallic purulences out of his sound. A similar operation of chamferring has been made on "The Chant" by Czech producer and dj Pavel Ridosko aka Rido, who seems to apply some dynamics of the original track to the unhuman moan, which marked it, and lean towards more crackles and bumps instead of the "slide" of percussive elements on the grunt of low frequencies by Mikal. Two excellent assays of atmospheric ruggedness.
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Artist: Poena
Title: Likboden
Format: Tape
Label: Belaten
Rated: *****
Recorded in the old morgue of the Sidsjon mental hospital in Sundsvall, "Likboden" is the first album by Poena, project of Poena Kristian Olsson (Survival Unit/Alfarmania) and Christian Godin. Poena is the spirit of punishment and the one side 60 minutes tape released by Belaten, contains a thirty minutes long suite which is taking inspiration from early industrial/ritual music of the likes of Zero Kama, LAShTAL, early Ain Soph, etc. The suite alternates tense moments where sounds recalling Tibetan human tight bones, chain rattles, buzzing guitar noises create something that sound almost alive... a sort of crawling monster. Time to time the atmosphere get noisier and reverb is used to spread the sound like a drone. If you like harsh sounds, dark atmospheres and early 80s industrialism, this is for you! Check it here http://belaten.bandcamp.com/album/likboden
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Artist: Bungle (@)
Title: Astral Travel/Aura
Format: 12"
Label: Soul:R
Rated: *****
Another breach in the wall of hearts of drum'n'bass followers from Markus Intalex's Soul:R bears the name of the talented Brazilian musician Andre' Olivera Sobota, better known as Bungle, who doesn't goof up the beat on this lovely release in spite of his moniker. Mr.Intalex already played some stuff by Bungle on the occasion of some dj sets, but he preferred to use the utmost discretion about the author till now and he already announced a series of releases on his label by Andre'. The first track "Astral Travel" is pure bliss for lovers of airglowing stuff: after 40 seconds of routine maintenance of rocket engines, the listener gets pushed upwards by gild synths and aerostatic tunes, whose last descending triplet adds a certain sense of melancholy as well. During this ascension, which seems to be propelled by feverish tickling of astronomical clocks, just don't look down! The second track "Aura" sounds equally uplifting and breezy, but the feathered progression of rhythmical pattern with a stress on the eighth step could remind his Brazilian masters - he got ideally initiated to drum'n'bass by Dj Patife and he sometimes coupled the somewhat legendary Dj Marky -. A really good way to start 2013 for Soul:R.
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