Music Reviews

Artist: Heldentod (@)
Title: The Ghost Machine
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Stylistical roots of Heldentod can be traced back to the so-called death-industrial, a sub-genre which has never pierced mainstream in spite of many sarcastic observers could recognize that contemporary cultural debates often turn into a focus on macabre and grisly themes or funeral commemorations. Those listeners who have a certain familiarity with early expressions of this branch are going to notice the fact Heldentod mantains continuity with some past acts such as Brighter Death Now, Atrax Morgue, The Grey Wolves or Anenzphalia from the conceptual viewpoint at least but at the same time, their sound morph sounds original enough. The initial title-track of "The Ghost Machine" immediately sets the scene with the frightened description by a female voice of the emotional dynamics in detail during a scary appearance, emphasized by spooky sounds and an appropriate vocal treatment (...and manipulation of vocals is one of the strongest point of this project..), before the sinister thunder announcing the materialising of this ghost while the lady keeps on repeating that "his touch annihilates". Then many phantoms could come one after the other while listening through stifling atmospheres, grim sonic clashes, heavy treads - such as in the gloomy marches of "Kindermoerderin" (a reference to the so-called phenomenon of radiant boys, ghots of naked or white-dressed little boys, whose appearance foreshadows forthcoming bereavements according to related legends) or "The Sentient Darkness" -, bloodcurdling inhuman yelling and screams - some of them suddenly shatter in a so unexpected manner that they could make your flesh creep such as in "Encystment Process" or "Revenant" -, ectoplasmic drones and clips from Geiger counters while detecting strange anomalies. The style is quite homogenous with the only exception of "Betrayal", whoch sounds more power-electronics oriented. If you're not too suggestible and daredevil enough, try this record while sleeping in a dark room...better if alone or your chattering teeth could wake up your partner if overpowered by some funk!
Artist: Harley Gaber
Title: In Memoriam 2010
Format: CD
Label: innova Recordings (@)
Distributor: Naxos of America, Inc
Rated: *****
Many of you may not be familiar with American minimalist composer, visual artist, photographer and film maker Harley Gaber (1943-2011), and until receiving this, his final release (as far as I know), neither was I, although his name has surfaced here and there on the Chain D.L.K. website from time to time. Gaber studied music with Horace Reisberg, Darius Milhaud, Lejaren Hiller, Aldo Clementi, Franco Evangelisti, Giacinto Scelsi, Giulio Rotoli, William Sydeman, and Kenneth Gaburo. Gaber's handful of releases goes back as far as 1972, but his body of work seems to be larger than that. He quit composing in 1978 to devote himself to tennis, but did manage to return to music for 3 final albums beginning in 2009. Harley Gaber committed suicide on June 16, 2011 in Gallup, New Mexico after putting his affairs in order and paying for his website domain name 10 years into the future. (Odd, in my opinion, for someone not planning to be around very long.) The reasons for his suicide are complicated, but could be attributed to a deteriorating physical and mental condition. This work, 'In Memoriam 2010' was commissioned by Dan J. Epstein of for his mother Nancy Epstein (1920-2010), the widow of Chicago real estate financier Julius Epstein who passed away in 1968. Nancy and Julius started the Stephen David Epstein Foundation, which provided financing to hundreds of underprivileged children in the fine arts, hence the connection with music and this commissioned work.

The raison d'etre for this work is not as important though as the work itself, or as Gaber's swan song to the world. The track titles of this nearly 64 minute piece in six parts have an apocalyptic overtone, while the sound of the album is rather a dichotomy; a blend of the tranquil yet distressing, perhaps a metaphoric death, and surrender to the void. Not having any basis of comparison to Gaber's other works, I can only evaluate 'In Memoriam 2010' on its own. Frankly, when I first listened to the CD (with no knowledge whatsoever of its background or intent) I found it'¦difficult, and somewhat distressing, especially in the beginning. The track that opens the work- 'cataclysm and threnody' is akin to being jettisoned into space via Star Trek transporter, destination unknown. Actually, it's more like being stuck in the transporter with no hope of ever rematerializing. The sustained higher frequency ringing tones make for uneasy listing to say the least, and that this track goes on for 16 minutes is indeed and exercise in fortitude. There is a mix of other modulated noise, cosmic winds perhaps, giving the impression of motion through some kind of tunnel or wormhole. Imagine an interstellar subway, the express train. It's a rough ride on a smooth vehicle, an unlike anything I've ever heard before. The piece glides into 'threnody and prayer' with only subtle variations and a lessening of the peripheral noise elements. Fortunately, the piece turns down the dynamics but the high frequency drone is still the major element.

The tone and timber shifts dramatically in 'ground of the great sympathy:aftermath' with low frequency drone and the higher whistling drones set in the background. There is eeriness to this track as other subtle sonic elements come into play that are very dark ambient-ish- alien angelic voices, echoed noise, etc. For me, there is where things started getting really interesting. Categorizing it as 'cosmic dark ambient' would not be off the mark. The piece transits seamlessly into 'in-formation,' where there seems to be an uneasy yet peaceful atmosphere. The tonalities Gaber employs here are tenuous and ethereal, and you'd barely know they're there without turning up the volume, but I wouldn't recommend it. While 'coalescing' may seem like a hardly noticeable transition again, there are sonic differences in this section that could be indicative of discovering life'¦out there'¦just not the kind of life you're familiar with. There is this sound I can only describe as 'cosmic crickets' that accompanies much of the track which feels like space travel. Perhaps it's inner space though; it's all a matter of perspective. Finally 'with completion' seems to give birth to new lifeforms taking shape and swirling in the void, growing and expanding.

I suppose the album could be considered a metaphor for death transiting into new life, and in that regard it succeeds. Yet, as with concepts of life and death it is oblique and unfathomable, at least on this mortal coil. There is a chance that Harley Garber may have been unknowingly channeling the God-force in this work, and perhaps an equal chance that the artist knew exactly what he was doing, opting out after finishing this because in this space and time and life, there was nothing more that could be said or done that could have gone beyond what he envisioned. In any case, this is a deep and profound listening experience that may be best digested in time after multiple listenings.
Artist: VV.AA./Athana (@)
Title: Athana Remixed 2012 NO:US
Format: CD
Label: West Audio Productions (@)
Rated: *****
Although I didn't it, this Norwegian project, named after initials of its main mind Alf Terje Hana, has already been introduced on these pages and looks like based on the extravasation of guitars in a sonic blender whose blades have been turned rust-proof by the involving dynamics of drum'n'bass and its possible crossbreeds, so that by Athana's admission the concrete turning point as well as a source of inspiration (or even enlightenment) for his approach to composition came after seeing a TV broadcast by Roni Size in the golden era of drum'n'bass. Such an interest for new musical language pays off and after four years from its last appreciated collection of remixes - Athana Remixed 05-08 -, Alf decided to build a bridge between his home country, Norway, and USA taking the wraps off two of his songs ("Picazzo" from "Corridor" album and "I.O. Roni" taken from "Beats & Pieces", the one inspired by that inspiring perfomance on BBC's Jools Holland show) to a couple of Norwegian remixers and a couple of American ones. Those ones who remixed "I.O. Roni" are almost unknown to me, but they exhibit an interesting sonic weaponry. I've heard just a couple of releases (with Dialect Recordings and Crosstown Rebel imprints) by Ost & Kjex, but it seems they are so notorious in their country that they gained a nomination in the Norwegian Grammy 2010 and on this occasion they assemble a nice electronic/house movement, whose main elements (reverberations on claps, diluted synth bells, a certain funky gear combined with relaxed mood and a sound close to a mobile's dial tone acting as a metronome) recalls that style which radiated from some Scandinavian clubs (think about Plej, Hird or Ben Horn to name a few). In spite of his remarkable number releases, the name of California-based project Uberzone aka Timothy Wiles is totally new to me: his treatment of "I.O. Roni" blends together electro and breakbeat sensations, nice tablas, bleeping sizzles (turning into an 8-bit melody in the end of the track) and those centrifugated swirls which are normally used during dnb dj sets, which are going to delight ears of breakbeat and dubstep addicts as well. I'm more familiar with name and sounds by NY-based producer Dennis De Santis (his name gained some visibility for being involved in the astonishing Aphex Twin acoustic project "Alarm Will Sound"), who proposes a very catchy set of breaks & brakes flavored with sonic recipes such as guitar chords, synth brass gabbles, treated vocal slices, and by Mungolian Jetset, a nice Norwegian duo, which often build moody and daydreaming grooves with a sort of prog-rock approach, which seems to have been preferred on this occasion with the precious support by Emil Nikolaisen, whose additional guitar acts as an enzyme for dream processing.
Artist: K.
Title: There's a Devil Waiting Outside your Door
Format: CD
Label: Ur Muzik (@)
Rated: *****
I'm pretty sure after reading the title of this release by the mysterious Polish producer K., who puts in an appearance on a number of different compilations and on the occasion of the issue of a mini CD on a Chinese label, most of readers who have some confidence with Nick Cave's songs could have striken up by murmuring "How much longer?" according to the notorious lyrics of "Loverman". There could be some conceptual link with that song, but K.'s music is remarkably different and somewhat more visionary. In the attempt of making any filing easier, Ur Muzik mentions Bohren und der Club of Gore and Heroin and Your Veins (even if I think a comparison with Janne Perttula's project sounds more reasonable than the one with that German band), but while listening the 11 untitled tracks (maybe to give the freedom of choicing titles to the listeners on the basis of their mental movie), other cells of the musical memory could be activated since its beginning, whose first moments could recall the mood of some jazzy contemporary stuff such Ian Simmonds, Xploding Plastix, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation or Angelo Badalamenti's scoring for Twin Peaks even if K. avoids overloading any tune with too many frills or preciosities, so that its sound results somewhat austere and pithy, but sonically impressive and magnetic. You could experience the feeling of having a thoughtful cigarette with Sam Spade or other tobacco-addicted Bogie's character during a break from investigations (particularly on 7th track which starts with the sound of someone who strikes a match), breathing heavy fug in a labyrinth of muddy streets of some ill-famed district in search of clues related to an unsolved homicide case, walking arm in arm with a femme fatale who whispers her plan to kill her rich husband in your ear or snapping your fingers white getting entartained by a swinging dwarf getting out of some red silk curtain adorning the walls of some lodge. K.'s music so seducing that listener cannot make devil wait outside door for a long time. Be polite!
with image
Artist: Noise Nazi Featuring Bagman (@)
Title: Mind Altar
Format: CD
Label: Medical Malfunctions Records (@)
Rated: *****
Noise Nazi is the enigmatic and often offensive harsh noise project of Matthew Bonk of Wisconsin. Noise Nazi boasts an intimidating catalog of over 100 albums, EPs, and split releases in a variety of formats. Bagman is a power electronics noise project from the United Kingdom. I have had limited exposure to Bagman's work, but he appears to have released almost 30 albums, EPs and splits since 2008.

Mind Altar is a CD-r released by Medical Malfunctions Records in a plastic sleeve, which is pretty standard for this genre. The album consists of 4 tracks ranging between 6 and 10 minutes each. The sounds presented in Mind Altar are dense and old-school: gritty, harsh, and dominating. This release captures Noise Nazi doing what he does best, creating a world of his own, tempting the listener to play Mind Altar loudly, but leaving the listener in fear of severe hearing loss. Bagman provides a vocal compromise to the noise that manages to perfectly match the intensity--sometimes yelling, sometimes talking, never decipherable--but ultimately becoming a source of comfort amidst the aggression.

Mind Altar album would fit nicely into any noise collection, reminiscent of Massonna or Merzbow, but with less churning and more cohesion. By the end of Mind Altar I actually have the impression the artists have reached into my brain and are massaging it for me with their violently soothing work. Certainly now that the album is over there is a numb feeling where my brain is supposed to be.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11...20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51...60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111...120] [121...130] [131...140] [141...150] [151...160] [161...170] [171...180] [181...190] [191...200] [201...210] [211...220] [221...230] [231...240] [241...250] [251...260] [261...270] [271...280] [281...290] [291...300] [301...310] [311...320] [321...330] [331...340] [341...350] [351...360] [361...370] [371...380] [381...390] [391...400] [401...410] [411...420] [421...430] [431...440] [441...450] [451...460] [461...470] [471...480] [481...490] [491...500] [501...510] [511...520] [521...530] [531...540] [541...550] [551...560] [561...570] [571...580] [581...590] [591...600] [601...610] [611...620] [621...630] [631...640] [641...650] [651...660] [661...670] [671...680] [681...690] [691...700] [701...710] [711...720] [721...730] [731...740] [741...750] [751...760] [761...770] [771] [772] [773] [774] [775] [776] [777] [778] [779] [780] [781...790] [791...800] [801...810] [811...820] [821...830] [831...840] [841...850] [851...860] [861...870] [871...880] [881...890] [891...900] [901...910] [911...920] [921...930] [931...940] [941...950] [951...960] [961...970] [971...980] [981...990] [991...1000] [1001...1010] [1011...1020] [1021...1030] [1031...1040] [1041...1050] [1051...1060] [1061...1070] [1071...1080] [1081...1090] [1091...1100] [1101...1110] [1111...1120] [1121...1130] [1131...1140] [1141...1150] [1151...1160] [1161...1170] [1171...1180] [1181...1190] [1191...1200] [1201...1210] [1211...1220] [1221...1230] [1231...1240] [1241...1250] [1251...1260] [1261...1270] [1271...1280] [1281...1290] [1291...1300] [1301...1310] [1311...1320] [1321...1330] [1331...1340] [1341...1350] [1351...1360] [1361...1370] [1371...1380] [1381...1390] [1391...1400] [1401...1410] [1411...1420] [1421...1430] [1431...1440] [1441...1450] [1451...1460] [1461...1470] [1471...1480] [1481...1490] [1491...1500] [1501...1510] [1511...1520] [1521...1530] [1531...1540] [1541...1550] [1551...1560] [1561...1570] [1571...1580] [1581...1590] [1591...1600] [1601...1610] [1611...1620] [1621...1630] [1631...1640] [1641...1650] [1651...1660] [1661...1670] [1671...1680] [1681...1690] [1691...1700] [1701...1710] [1711...1720] [1721...1730] [1731...1740] [1741...1750] [1751...1760] [1761...1770] [1771...1780] [1781...1790] [1791...1800] [1801...1810] [1811...1820] [1821...1830] [1831...1840] [1841...1850] [1851...1860] [1861...1870] [1871...1880] [1881...1890] [1891...1900] [1901...1910] [1911...1920] [1921...1930] [1931...1940] [1941...1950] [1951...1960] [1961...1970] [1971...1980] [1981...1990] [1991...2000] [2001...2010] [2011...2020] [2021...2030] [2031...2040] [2041...2050] [2051...2060] [2061...2070]

Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha