Music Reviews



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Artist: Slow Listener (@)
Title: The Long Rain
Format: Tape
Label: Exotic Pylon Records (@)
Rated: *****
An unaccostumed declension of darkest ambient comes from Robin Dickinson under his moniker Slow Listener on Exotic Pylon, the appreciated and quite eccentric label by Jonny Mugwump, whose unconvenionality for contemporary times is clear since its format: "The Long Rain" has not only been recorded entirely on tape, but the sound is so dirty and crackling that you could surmise the tape he used was overdubbed many times before getting so murky and was found in the forgotten archives of some abandoned loony bin. Sinister squeaks, pitched drones of claustrophobic extended bells, occasional field recordings, a disquieting mechanical meddling with metallic utensils on a sobbing engine and a job lot of other sonic incrustations playing over the somewhat obscure and periodic repetition of the expression "the light" (or was he meant to say "delight"?) by a male of voice before the deep breath of a sleeper on the first suite "And Nor Was He Mistaken" and the more abrasive and scraped drones, the "constipated" corrosions, the recording of a rain shower and unremittingly lo-fi loops and layering before the bizarre monologue on the second part of "Ondras Rising" depict a certain feeling of "enlighted" seclusion and alienation, which partially remind those cut-up stuff by various "esoteric" and majick-oriented industrial transmissions such as Coil's "How To Destroy Angels", Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady" or more recent dark ritual-ambient Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia's "Dust (At The Crossroads)". The association between the sound of "The Long Rain" and the weird atmospheres of William Hope Hodgson's "The Night Land" - a classic novel which traces the existence of survivors on a dystopian Planet Earth, living inside a huge metal pyramid after the Sun powered off and the only lights on Earth got produced by the glow of some active volcanoes - is quite guessed.
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Artist: Raime
Title: Quarter Turns Over A Living Line
Format: CD
Label: Blackest Ever Black (@)
Rated: *****
Imagine rain-slicked back alleys; haunted warehouses; a wooded clearing at night. These are some of the locales that Tom Halstead and Joe Andrews, collectively known as Raime, will guide you through, when immersing yrself in the blasted, decayed landscape of 'Quarter Turns Over A Living Line.'

Where lesser producers and weak imitators are content to pretend that the history of dance music is a logical, linear progression and work to perfect the perfect sugar-tweaked bass wobble, Raime draw lateral assocations across three decades of steely electronics, downtuned guitars, and horror-movie scores to create an inner nighttime world that is both menacing and optimistic. Owing as much to Earth and Sunn O)) as Regis and Burial, Raime (as one of the flagship bands of the impressive Blackest Ever Black label) have extracted viral DNA from a number of obscure sub-genres, such as Drone Metal and Doom Jazz, and combined them with the receptive and adaptable Industrial and Drum 'n Bass genes to form a dusty, lurching Golem of stately Techno. What could have ended up as another genre-splicing mishmash mess has ended up, instead, as an innovative album, full of impressive sound-design, finesse, and even some slow grooves.

'Passed Over Trails' kicks things off with some growling bass textures, before coalescing into a jazz-noir opium revery; it is plain from the start that this is not just another 'bass music' record. The closest corollary is Bong-Ra's amazing Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation project, that sounds like being followed down a lonely sidestreet by a car with tinted windows. Recognizable elements gradually dissolve, like reflections on oily water, to be replaced by the mummified Drum 'n Bass of 'The Last Foundry,' which wouldn't sound out of place in an afterhours set at a club, and the leaden bassdrop is one of 2012's finest moments on record. 'Soil And Colts' is a lumbering Techno track, crawling along at half-speed. Like some iron giant, complete with creaks, groans, and ominous shrieks, with an aurora of beauty surrounding and containing the scene; then seamlessly connecting with 'Exist In The Repeat Of Practice,' more skeletal d'n'b and '80s plasticine horror synth. By the time 'The Walker In Blast And Bottle' arrives, a model is nearly in place: start off with a minimal beat, then creep in ambiance and subtle sound design, which is like watching an image solidifying the air around you. Raime make mental movies, sure, but not the kind you'd see on a screen. 'Quarter Turn Over A Living Line' is more like a dreamstate that you get to explore for an hour, a direct connection to the superconscious of a couple of Scottish blokes.

The devil is in the details, when it comes to Raime. They're certainly not the first to make slow, crawling techno with surreal flourishes (again Regis, Monolake) but the way that they combine their post-Industrial electronica with doom metal, jazz, and other acoustic sounds, point a way forward for themselves, as well as the totality of dance music. With the machines that are at our fingers, we have control of songs and sounds to the almost molecular level, and we are beginning to see a race of sonic wizards that are constructing basalt mountain ranges of sound, out of thin air, just to see what they'd look and sound like. The way that Raime fills out their sound with the thickest, darkest dub echoes, like on 'Passed Over Trails' reveal 4 well-tuned ears, as well as some of the finest production and mastering money can buy. Everything is in place, and they never mis-step, 'QTOALL' gets more engrossing with each listen. This is Raime's first full-length, as well as the first LP of original material for Blackest Ever Black, so it should be interesting to see what this assemblage shall come up with in time, provided we're not all sucked into some galactic whirlpool, first.
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Artist: FORMA (@)
Title: OFF/ON
Format: CD
Label: Spectrum Spools/Mego (@)
Rated: *****
That lava flow on the cover artwork of the second release by this Brooklyn-based trio of young cosmic couriers, made up of Mark Dwinell, Sophie Lam and George Bennett, didn't make me thought about geophysics, volcanology, hot gullies, after my eardrums got pleasefully stimulated by OFF/ON, their second release which follows the critically acclaimed self-named debut. Although their sound could be easily associated to some eruptions or outcrops from buried electronic music styles, their sound could be associated to another lava-related iconic object, the legendary decorative lamp, produced by Mathmos and developed by Edward-Craven Walker, as its blobs of coloured wax could be considered as one of the most representative emblem of retrofuturism (!), the concrete simulacrum of some relic, which could be linked to a somewhat kitsch and fetish idea of future in the teeth of its belonging to the past, whose symbolic meaning never fades, just like an aged record you enjoyed or a chocolate candy with oxidized surface which still tastes delicious! After such a premise, looking through their equipment - Moog Prodigy, Roland SH-1000, Yamaha CS-15, Korg Lambda, DSI Mopho, Roland TR-707 and TR-606. Oberheim SEM, Akai AX73, Roland RS-09 (the relatively cheapest device to play Jarre's "Oxygene"...) and more - could let you surmise they retraced the glorious pathway of some legendary knights such as the above-mentioned Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream or Vangelis and by their own admission, they deconstructed the Motorik, a slang term coined by some older colleagues to describe the typical 4/4 ostinato rhythm by many krautrockers such as Neu! or Kraftwerk, but it's clear since the initial "OFF" dynamics behind their majestic cosmic rides, twisted sequences and flowing arpeggiations are not a simple homage to those sonorities, but often show an impressive homogeneity, an attention to detail and computational splashes, which sound like fitted to a refurbished enthusiasm for an upcoming space age, for a primordial return to synth-music source or maybe for a conscious and sage return to innocence!
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Artist: Magda Mayas & Christine Abdelnour (@)
Title: Myriad
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
Do you have any doubts about massive popularity of birds yet? Besides the recent haven of the Pope on Twitter - an authentic slog for moderators to restrain ironic anathemas he's receiving... -, many musicians and sound artists look like very interested in their language, which could boast about many attempts of emulation. Such a tendency in contemporary music seems to be poured into the gorgeous sonic explorations by Berlin-based pianist Magda Mayas, who wisely replaced piano tonal extent with the width of expressive possibilities deriving from the consideration of that instrument as a sonorous tangle of wood and wire, and French-Lebanese alto-saxophonist Christine Abdelnour, whose interesting and somewhat offbeat extended techniques and intricate tonal patterns, focused on high-pitched tones and microtonal properties of her instrument, have already been commended on this zine. Recorded live by Radio France on the occasion of Meteo Festival in Mulhouse, "Myriad" starts with a sort of tuning phase where Magda pluck and stretch piano strings and Christine rises nervous strain with puffs and trembling of lips which could let you think about whir of a bird, before their adventurous sonic birdcage begins to animate amidst buzzes, tolls, sonic warbles, squeaks, rusty playstands and broken ladders and swing on the first long-lasting (almost half an hour of mood swings and funny resounding tricks) track "Hybrid". The sudden plucking which starts "Cyanide" could let you imagine the impulsive breaking of that birdcage's bars, the flight of its inhabitants, which keep on tweet at a short distance while the instruments, which used to echo and mimic their song, get gradually poisoned...
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Artist: Machinist (@)
Title: Convergence
Format: CD
Label: Narrominded (@)
Rated: *****
Machinist is the alias of Zeno van den Broek, an artist working both in the field of the audio and the visual field. The challenge of this kind of art is the convergence of distinct field as the spatial one (visual) and the temporal one (audio) in a quiet coherent vision. The path chosen is an audio construction that resemble the open, and dark, spaces created in his visual output.
This piece start with a quiet drone, created with piano recordings, that lasts until the modulated waves begin to create a dreamy atmosphere that last until the pure sine waves set the canvas for the return of the piano and the introduction of the field recordings that lasts until a piano, or quiet sinewaves, gently take the listener to the end of the piece.
This release is an enjoyable one and is truly recommanded to all fans of adventurous music.
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