Music Reviews



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Artist: Rarefaction (@)
Title: ...The Dancer, The Dance...
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Music is best when it evokes images or feelings. And it's even better when it's done through instrumental music. '...The Dancer, The Dance...' is an Ep with three, bass-driven, instrumental pieces that evoke imagery with every track. These three songs sound as though they were lifted from a movie soundtrack.

The 4/4 quarter note strum of acoustic guitars on 'Slow Fall' open the Ep. The acoustics are slowly overtaken by bass and synth pads which might underscore a scene of deep thought and reflection, or a slow-motion heroine trip. 'For Ophelia And The Silent Sea,' seems a variation of 'Slow Fall' with its similar sounding dark synths, echoes and delays, but with more momentum. This one depicts a drive on a long stretch of road on an overcast, misty New England day. The Ep finishes on a more hopeful note with the Joy Division/New Order sounding bass guitar piece, 'Happy Endings? (In The Stairwell Everything Was Better...)'

Rarefaction is the Brooklyn-based musician Jerold H., who performed all the music on '...The Dancer, The Dance...'. On his website he says, 'Rarefaction is a reference to sparseness & minimalism. It is the space in-between.' Sparse and minimal is a good way to describe the music and this Ep.
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Artist: Steve Morell & Monica Pokorna
Title: Lady Pheres
Format: 12"
Label: Pale Music
Rated: *****
I reviewed Steve Morell's latest single two years ago and I was thinking that the album was going to be released anytime soon. After twentyfour months, it seems that now "The Life And Death Of Jimmy Pheres And His Rise From The Underworld" release is really near. To get acquainted with its atmosphere, Steve Morell and his partner Monica Pokorna, bring to their audience four new tracks of which the title track is "Lady Pheres". The main track is a strong ballad characterised by the alternation of Steve Morell and Monica Pokorna who start to tell the story of Jimmy, the character of the album and his love relation with Lady Pheres, the one that will ease him from his pain ("I am the one; I am your princess, come closer / And you can smell my love and feel my holiness"). One this one acoustic guitars, strings, xylophone and drums initially plays softly, like they don't want to disturb that magic feeling but then, in a crescendo, they underline the atmosphere. The second new track is "It's Been So Long" and it will be included on the album. This one is a bit more melancholic and with slow rhythm. I don't know if this one tells of the death of Lady Pheres, but an excerpt of the lyrics tell: "Here I am on my own, alone, again / Lonely thoughts creating shivering pain / Death is shining on your ring / Slowly I'm facing the sin / All I see is black and white there's no one else to hold me tight / I pull on my finger, I'm crawling like a clown". "Confusion" is a short intermezzo made of metallic percussions, vocals and brushed acoustic strings. "Holding On" is a song which is exclusive to the 12" and it's a good ballad with paced rhythms and post punk atmospheres (the distorted guitar inserts and the tribal rhythms make a nice effect). These are the original tunes and I liked them and they make me think that the album will be a good one. Now, we can talk about the remixes. On the vinyl we have one remix "Lady Pheres (DJ Vela's The Lady Smiles Vocal Remix)". Of the original tune it keeps the strings parts, some guitars, some vocals and the xylophone. It adds a bouncing retro drum machine sound and nice effects on vocals. It isn't a proper dance version but it sounds nice. On the digital version of the release, we have three other remixes of the track. "The Handclap Situation... Remix" is a minimal ambient one with strings, choruses which turns into a dub/drum and bass one after a while. The "Electrosexual Remix" is a sensual electro mid tempo where the main melodic parts (instruments and vocals) are used and alternated with the add of 4/4 hard beats. The last track is "DJ Vela The Lady Smiles Instrumental Remix". This is a good EP which sees Ragnar, EF Kriete (Goldfish), Andrew Unruh (Einsturzende Neubauten), Carolin Werren, Kevin Mooney (Adam & The Ants), Karen Weber and Valerie Renay (Noblesse Oblige) collaborating with the couple.
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Artist: PBK & Zanstones (@)
Title: Mantis Fog Desert
Format: CD
Label: Monochrome Vision (@)
Distributor: Monochrome Vision
Rated: *****
This russian label Monochrome Vision (www.monochromevision.ru) represent for me a beautiful reality into the independent musical scene of Eastern Europe. This scene is becoming during those years more interesting and rich. The Monochrome Vision offer a number of interesting works. I invite you to visit his web site where, in addition to a catalog, you will find a very nice interface that stands out, among many different labels of the electronic/gray area, for it rigorous and geometrical graphic approach, full of shiny white color and total black.

This kind of black & white "esplendor geometric " becomes also a graphic choice even revived on the covers of his albums. And I imagine also this choice want to emphasize the care and rigor of the label into his selection of their authors and materials. So I would talk to you today just one of those works produced by the strict Monochrome Vision. An album that is titled "Mantis Fog Desert" and is signed by the double name PBK & Zanstones.

I must confess that before listening to this album, I enjoyed the presentation in the notes written inside the cover where one of the two authors describe the other as an insomniac because of his need to experiment and continuously produce electronic music. For this reason I went around the web to learn more. And I saw that PBK stands for Phillip B. Klinger and Zanstones is one of the many pseudonyms of an old acquaintance of electronic experimentation, which is called Zan Hoffman.

Of PBK/Phillip Klinger and his works , unfortunately, I have not any direct knowledge. So I prefer to trust the words of Don Campau published on his "Living Archive of Electronic Music" (http://livingarchive.doncampau.com). Is an interesting website which I highly recommend especially to all those of you who loves the roughness and the analog low-fi music of "cassette-culture" and the experimental manipulation based on audio tapes. Into his Living Archive website Campau (who is surely an expert) describes for us, in excited way, the musician Phillip B. Klinger and also which tells of his sound experimentation as the fruit of long experience in fact started in the mid 80's. So I think we can trust to PBK. I report here for you, in a few lines, a little part of that presentation:

< ... I always admired , respected and enjoyed the work I had heard by PBK over the years. For the first few years I didn't even know his real name although it was embedded, but shrouded in his releases. To me there was a type of mystery in what he did because the sounds were so far out, alien like and strange. However, Phillip B. Klinger is not only an intelligent, articulate and eloquent spokesman for his art but is inclusive and a genuinely nice and engaging fellow. He has also made some of the most outstanding and creative work in the experimental, home recording field...>

In addition to the words of Campau then add the fact that, together with a musician like Phillip B. Klinger joins, into this album Mantis Desert Fog which I am presenting, another important name as Zan Hoffman/ Zanstones, who is not only a good electronic musician, but is also the founder of the label ZH27 (http://zh27.blogspot.it).
If you've never heard of ZH27, even in this case I think it is enough to visit the web area contains the catalog of this label and many works of Zan Hoffman, to get an idea of who I'm talking about. You'll find that the production of audio ZH27 and Zan Hoffman is nothing short of immense and continues without interruption for over 25 years.

It's hundreds and hundreds of albums. I thought that the union of these two authors, on the same musical work, was so sure index of quality music. And after listening to me has fully confirmed the initial supposition. Mantis Fog Desert proved to be fact, since first hearing, a long and beautiful series of 8 musical suites, consisting of a successful amalgam of electronic and noise, perfectly mixed and enjoyed listening to both, some peoples devotee of this musical genre or any neophyte that attracted for the first time from this type of sound.

This album, after repeated and careful listening, reveals a hot core of instinctive conceptual substance enclosed in a casing that is its musical form more aesthetic and technologically sophisticated. The album have 8 tracks. Half of these tracks is to last more than 8 minutes each. And the other half has a duration on average about 5 minutes. But only first 5 track are realized by all two musicians.
Into the next 2 track Zanstones works alone (titled are 'The Jor Bangla Effect' and 'Disentangling Bilot Kaf'), and also PBK plays alone into the last very long track (over 10 minutes) titled 'Paranoia Corridor'.

Their instinctive but concrete musical concept of working realize a sort of small, intense symphony for electronic and musical waves and noise, condensed into these 8 tracks. And it's amazing how, who can play either solo or in pairs, they create a dense sound and very intense. A sound with a great aesthetic appeal but also imbued with an air of conceptual and strange psychedelic substance intended for inner reflection. In this record there are no short tracks or fast rhythm, but only long musical carpets where every sound listening requires to find the correct time for a proper breath. All tracks are beautiful and elaborate, and build a labyrinth of sound around the listener. Labyrinth into which entry is easy but the output is difficult to find.

Each of these track reveal in fact a prelude sound and a sinuous development, with no clear conclusion, in the most positive sense of the term. Nothing is permanently closed into the infinite pathway of music by this strange and alien 'Mantis' who wanders through the mists of the desert. Nothing is developed to an end and nothing is locked between a beginning and another ending that are signs for a set a definitive cycle. On this journey through the desert, which is musical and conceptual, each cycle repeated and becomes theoretically infinite. They are cycles of day and night, light and dark, black and white.

Each piece of Mantis Fog Desert is thus resulting in a loop, and one being related. Loop for himself and about himself but also with the song that precedes and follows it. This disc may be the first chapter of a suite that becomes infinite. And you could become its slaves from the first listen. Because it is easy to get pleasantly lost in the dawn mists of this desert in the pitch dark religious listening of this mantis. Even happened to me to hear this record, several times in succession without having decided. It happened to me last night, while surfing the net and writing, for Chain DLK, this review.

It's been like if I lose on the way, listening to this album and thanks its sounds intriguing and fascinating, in a night journey made light of dawn blue leds in my monitor whit the many colors of the net. And I'm unaware of the lapse of several hours. When I stopped listening to this work was done daily. And the fog, with many mists of the dark night are gone. But the taste of dawn remained, as happens after any nice journey through the night.

I wish you a pleasant journey to you and I recommend listening to this Mantis Fog Desert. Enjoy your trip through the mists of night in the desert. I'm sure, the good electronic music of PBK & Zanstones that will accompany you until the next sunrise.
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Artist: Senking
Title: Dazed
Format: 12"
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
I'm not sure if these sonic pills by Senking, one artistic alias of Jens Massel, could be considered the completion or just an extension of his previous full-length album on Raster-Noton, titled "Pong", just like its predecessor "Tweek" due to the similarities of its shell as well as the sonic breeze coming from inside of it, but what really matters is the fact the musical treasures Jens extracts while diving towards the depths of human psychic abyss shore to our eardrums. This sort of mini-EP just includes two 7-minutes lasting tracks: the first one, "The Dance Hall Walk", immediately harpoons listener's mind with dark atmospheres, choking amalgamations of dub and downbeat, twitchy sonic strains propped with dubstep pickets and bevelled with an hypnotic melody, according to the tasty recipe which could be similar to the ones by recent acts such as Plaster on Kvitnu or less recent ones such as Sofa Surfers, Markus Kienzl and some releases by The Bug or Terranova. Sonic diving on B-side sounds more unruffled and fluffy and beyond the female counter this German sound sculptor could have kidnapped from Boards of Canada studios, the most immediate musical link of "Closing Eyes" is with eco-friendly mystical techno-ambient digression by Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere (it's quite nice the flukey anagraphical similarities as well), in particular with his debut-release Microgravity (chimes of "Cloudwalker II" come to mind while listening to "Closing Eyes"). By the way, avoid listening Dazed by means of low-fi laptop speakers...it would be an authentic heresy!
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Artist: Tiziano Milani (@)
Title: Touch
Format: CD
Label: Setola di Maiale (@)
Rated: *****
The focus of this release is the role of the electro-acoustics musician as an editor of other people way of playing. Tiziano Milani has constructed his work patiently editing the invited musician's recordings to adapt them to his musical vision and, instead of relying on the model of the most known pioneer of this process (Phill Niblock), he tries to develop a personal sound.
"Love Touch", the longest track of this records are positioned in the extremes, opens quietly with some sparse sounds of violin and piano add colors to the underlying texture. "Zen and the Art of Piano" features extended cuts from the piano sessions to constructs a dialectics between electronics, field recordings and samples. "In the Silence of a Vain Wait" is almost entirely constructed on resonances and filteres samples to create a meditative soundscape. "Primary Structures", the shortest track of this record, is based on small samples juxtaposed in a quiet oriental, meaning "in a slowly", way while "Dark, Dark my Light (16.1.8)", the longest track, close this record with a quiet and zen intro that remain impassible when the drony soundscape slowly gain volume and presence and guide the listener to a close dialog between the concrete recordings and the contrabass.
Quite personal in his development of a personal language based on the fondamental process of electroacoustic music, it's non an experiment to search new way but the statement of a form to develop (the only truly incomprehensible thing is the presence of the transistor symbol in the cover). Not only for fans of truly experimental music.
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