Music Reviews



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Artist: Neznamo (@)
Title: Seme>Zemlya
Format: CD EP
Label: Moonsun Productions (@)
Distributor: Drone Records
Rated: *****
'Seme>Zemlya' is Russian esoteric experimental ambient music artist Nezamo's release from 2009 and was likely sent along by Vresnit at Vetvei (Russian experimental ambient label) with the copious package of other Vetvei releases, figuring the Western market hadn't encountered this release previously. Vresnit was right (at least for this reviewer), as the only prior experience with Neznamo was on the (recently reviewed here) 'Sonastroika' album whose participants included Lunar Abyss Deus Organum* + Hattifnatter & Neznamo & Kshatriy & Vresnit. Telling who did what on that album though would be next to impossible (unless you happened to be there) but it is at least some frame of reference for the music genre.


Founded in 1996 by Dmitry N. Shilov under the name Unknown, the main goal of the project was the exploration of human's "true ego", using sound/melodic patterns as the way to immerse into the Unconscious. During 1996-2002 the project released a few versatile drone / ambient / minimalism / neoclassical works. In the second half of 2006 the project has continued its explorations under the present name of Neznamo.

'Seme>Zemlya' is two tracks (one per name in the title, but reversed in order) of 9:30 and 10:14 in length which I suppose qualifies this release as an EP. The work is undoubtedly minimal, with the first piece 'Zemlya' utilizing a rapidly modulated noise sound alternating with a lower frequency hollow drone (with much slower modulation) with intermittent light washes of noise. Other subtle sounds can be detected (such as a sort of gentle rhythmic echoed tapping) as the piece progresses, but it never really strays from its basic concept, only expands a bit. It gives the impression of mystical but natural environment, a bit reminiscent of Alio Die at its most minimal. 'Seme' is a more overtly ambient drone piece with somewhat of a cosmic aural bent. A ways into the piece an undercurrent of thunder can be detected giving a sensation of disruption to the calming 'Om' that was set in motion from the beginning. It is an interesting contradiction and subtly played. For those that enjoy minimal ambient, this might be worth seeking out, although less than 20 minutes of play might have some feeling that it's skimpy in the 'bang for the buck' factor.
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Artist: Aspec(t) (@)
Title: Waspnest
Format: 12"
Label: Fratto9 Under The Sky Records (@)
Rated: *****
Aspec(t) are SEC_ and Mario Gabola from Naples, Italy. SEC_ plays electronics through laptop, processed tapes, and analog synthesizer. Mario plays saxophone and feedbacks through a system of resonant drums and small speakers. Their music shares the timbrical research and the execution control typical of some radical improv music (Pateras/Baxter/Brown, John Butcher, Jim Denley, Bruce Russell,..), but meets the visceral intensity and the obscure poetic of the new aktionsm and of noise music (Rudolf Eb.er, Dave Phillips, Joke Lanz) as well as the research on analog devices and concrete sound materials of the sonic poetry (Lionel Marchetti, Jerome Noetinger). The result is a fascinating and inextricable forest of sounds: frenetic structures, noise explosions, ancestral cries, an unceasing perversion of the soundscape and the time stream.

The preceding was pretty much copied from the Fratto9 Under The Sky Records website so I didn't have to explain the background of this project in my own words. (Lazy, I know, but still effective.) To some extent, the label's description is accurate, although I might disagree with the word 'fascinating' and substitute 'inexorable' for 'inextricable'. All of the 11 tracks on 'Waspnest'; are mercifully brief; the longest at 4:09 and shortest at 45 seconds. I still suppose it qualifies as a full album even though it is a total of just under 27 minutes in length as it has been released as a 12' LP with 6 tracks per side. (My copy is a CDr, but you can't get that.) Every track is an episodic excursion into sound collage and you really have to love uncomfortable noise and abrupt sonic disturbances to get into this record. There also seems to a fair amount of (wordless) vocal utterances, from grunts and gasps to burblings and ululations interlaced in the sonic current. Thinks are crackling and squeaking one moment, then squealing and squalling the next. It's not something one can even try and make sense of. As experimental avant-garde music goes, this is pretty much the fringe, and those who enjoy a walk on the wild side of this genre are bound to be impressed. Sometimes minimal and sometimes full-throttle, 'Waspnest' is bound to shock you out of musical complacency, and it could be the tonic you need. Just keep in mind, some kinds of medicine can be a bitter pill to swallow.
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Artist: Retina.it (@)
Title: Randomicon
Format: CD
Label: Flatmate Music (@)
Rated: *****
According to the label, 'Randomicon is the result of experimental sessions using modular synths, most of them constructed by Nicolo Buono. The casual approach of the timbre selection has opened new possibilities, pushing the italian duo sound to other boundaries that had characterised until today the project of Lino Monaco and Nicola Buono. The title 'Randomicon' wants to be a tribute to the 'randomness' that has determined the origin of the universe.' You definitely get the sense of analogue minimalism here. It's full of bleeps and bloops and glitchy goodness. Perhaps the best comparisons are Rothkamm and old Autechre, which to me is a good thing. However, at times it does all begin to sound pretty similar ' I recognize that it isn't, but still. This album weighs in at around 49 minutes.
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Artist: Bloater (@)
Title: Radiac
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Bloater is the project of Steve Smith on guitar and Ken B. on electronics. From the liner notes, Radiac seems to be a nuclear and hazardous waste containment site, which places the song titles into a different light. It seems that their practice spaces were near Radiac and then Newtown Creek, one of the most polluted sites in the US. As they say in the press release, 'We are not environmental activists, but 'toxic Brooklyn' was a frequent topic of conversation while recording these tracks.' Evidently, this was created with no overdubs. Right off the bat, the listener is assaulted by the guitar squall and feedback of 'Theme from Radiac.' Likewise, 'Flatlands,' can best be described as pulsing and punishing. If you like crunchy, heavy, guitar based noise, you have a new group to check out. But it is not completely aggressive. 'Waste Management' reminds me, at times, of Lustmord's Monstrous Soul if it included guitar and feedback into the mix. 'Jettison' mixes the two approaches, creating an interesting soundscape. Overall, this was a pretty interesting album. If you like it noisy, but prefer to avoid an all out assault on the ears, this is a good one to check out. This album weighs in at around 46 minutes.
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Artist: Bruno de Angelis
Title: The Box
Format: CD
Label: XBDA (@)
Rated: *****
Bruno de Angelis also records under the name Mana ERG, which I also reviewed in this batch. Where ManaERG was pretty standard electronica mixed with samples, it seems that this is his more experimental project. This album seems to focus solely on the music without resorting to the use of samples. It is well compose but not overbearing, fading into the background without becoming dull. I could imagine this album in good company with the stuff that was coming out on Instinct Records back in the early 1990s. This is nice, peaceful, electronic ambient. Given the choice between the two projects, I would definitely side with this one. This album weighs in at around 41 minutes.
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