Music Reviews

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Artist: Maurizio Bianchi
Title: CeltiChants
Format: CD
Label: Alone at Last records (@)
Distributor: Alone at Last records
Rated: *****
I think the name of Maurizio Bianchi / MB did not need any introduction here. He is simply one of the great fathers of electronic music in Italy and Europe and is long been considered a cult musician, recognized and enshrined in all our musical environment.
MB is an excellent artist and musician and tight end capable of producing, in over thirty years of activity, real masterpieces of music and ranging experiments at the boundaries between electronic and noise. Many of his records have become genuine landmarks of this genre.
In recent years, Maurizio has also become a point of reference and a friend for the work individual and collective for many of us. Always willing to work with many other artists in the electronic scene, he has managed to create a kind of permanent musical laboratory around them.

Into this second "sonic youth" the great MB gave us a wide range of excellent discs created by several people. And even when such collaborations have not reached the levels of the highest quality of all his previous solo work is still important and valid evidence of the symbiosis possible between his music and the artists who have collaborated with him. This MB work, however, is not in collaboration with others artistis. Maurizio plays alone (at last) and present to us a long and unique suite of sound entitled "Celtichants" that lasts just one hour. But, if you listen this suite, you feel like you take a few moments and you will do everything to try and play it back in the hour immediately following. Even'll be the last hour of your life. Because this "Celtichants" is a very beautiful work. Work i believe is also very, very important. For two different reasons.
The first reason is that, unlike other works of MB more extreme and perhaps less accessible, this work revealed from the beginning in all its splendor. Celtichants represents, for me, really "a new form of beauty" because it not only keeps intact the quality and the best creativity and artistic research of MB's music, that we always used to, but exceeds them instinctively and from the first listen. A real seminal work of which he felt the need after so much noise.
Listen to him with respectful silence then this beautiful "Celtic Songs" by MB! But do not expect human voices or ethnic harmony of the Celtic tradition. Because these Celtic songs come from a sound dreamy and unknown elsewhere and bring us up to the sound of his ethereal and stellar wind. These are our songs of Maldoror for a "fifth dimension", evidence of distant and remote place that belongs to us but in the depths of our being. A place where the spirit of Isidore Ducasse hovers behind every breath of cosmic wind that carries them. I will not say more words on the beauty of this work by Maurizio Bianchi to invite you to buy and listen to this record. But, if the first reason is not enough for a new disk of MB, I will give you a second reason why it fascinates me and I think this album is a masterpiece not to be missed. For fans of the genre but also for the neophyte listen to electronic or industrial music for the first time.
This record I came to me, last week, directly from Moscow. Together with other work which I will label the same way of speaking. The work of MB is the third title included in the catalog of a small fledgling independent label that was for me a revelation.
This label is Russian and is called "Alone at Last" and was born in march this year. On his website ( looks like a label focused on the realization of very limited editions of artists known and recognized in the electronic scene. It 's also the reason for not accepting demos.
If you visit his site you will sense the line and the painstaking care with which the "Alone at Last" creates their own records.
Rarely in the independent and industrial scene, I got to see this level of packaging. Each disk has a cardboard box, carved on many layers of different dominant color, each designed so as to be then folded by hand on the other in sequence. Each disc is a small gem of paper, carefully close like an ancient Japanese Origami around the jewel it contains. And the first 50 copies of each limited edition is also signed by the artist.
A few meager liner notes accompanying the content. No self-celebration of the label or artist. What is said is used as a theme track for the imaginary linked to each work. And the imagery of this is a poetic song. A deluge text composed by the terms of our technological imaginary. A poem dedicated, as all the work, to Ducasse, Comte de Lautreamont. Each disc also contains within it also precious polychrome photographic prints, based on the work of several photographers. In particular, the three prints that accompany Celtichants, are photographs taken by Siegmar Fricke in the Canary Islands over some beautiful basalt stones of Miocene epoch.
I believe I have nothing more to add. I want to give a final friendly advice: GET FAST THIS WORK by Maurizio Bianchi for Alone at Last Records. You will not regret.
Artist: Ergo (@)
Title: If Not Inertia
Format: CD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
Even if Ergo sounds deeply rooted in jazz, the comparisons of their release "Multitude, Solitude" with sonic germs which have nothing to share with jazz such as Autechre, Sigur Ros, Steve Reich or Radiohead (some occasional listeners travelling in my car while "If not Inertia" was playing from hi-fi system detected even some similaratis with Colleen, Murcof, Efterklang, Sun Ra Arkestra - the most fitted touchstone in my opinion - or Kammerflimmer Kollektief) don't appear so orthogonal to me after the listening of this great album, the most recent act by this combo, founded by trombonist (as well as laptop musician) Brett Sroka, who decided to push his musical boundaries beyond jazz after some training years at Manhattan School of Music by embracing the wide range of compositional possibilities, offered by electronic devices and prompted by many improv and free jazz refluxes. It happened by chance that Ergo's music sublimed my reading of a passage from "Notes from Underground" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky during a dreary afternoon and you could imagine how I wondered when discovering they mentioned that great Russian storyteller (together with Charles Baudelaire, William Bulter Yeats, Joseph Campbell and Mark Gonzales - ! -) amidst their sources of inspiration. Metronome's sob in the initial "Sorrows Of The Moon", followed by wise piano strokes by Sam Harris, sets the mood with a sort of an anguished ballad, where Shawn Baltazor's drumming and Mary Halvorsen's guitar sounds like the adhesive tapes or the musical pebbles thrown into the mental pond where all tormented thoughts by some hard thinker gradually debouch. The sweet melody of a prepared piano sounding like a toy instrument and the ligneous creaks placidly carry the framework of the following track "Two For Joy", a sort of roving digression of melancholic brightening before the imaginary storyteller behind this musical tale starts twirling in the smoke again in the lovely solipsistic hyperboles of "Little Shadow" where trombone's convolutions ascends on steep and crumbly walls, whose bricks look like pressed by drums and piano, till the moment when in the moving title track, "If Not Inertia", those smoke rings seems to turn into something palpable and concrete, whose melodic piano dragging blurs with the lonely whistling, a background silent moan of the wind. The title-track acts as watershed of the album, as the second part better highlights the remarkable inputs given by two guest guitar-player: the talented above-mentioned Mar Halvorsen adds a certain obliqueness on the snare augmented by an electronic pulsation in "The Widening Gyre" and duels with the sliding trombone by Sroka just like they were cool-headed gun fighters in some desert place of the glorious Far West while Sebastian Kruger's acoustic guitar took part in the choral breezy melody of the final "Let's". The release also includes a film by Donya Ravasani on its "making of". I warmly reccomend a listening of this nice musical work out by Ergo.
Artist: Marek X.Marchoff & MJ Caroline Rider (@)
Title: Voxfields
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
The fifth chapter of Zoharum's ongoing IYHHH (anagram of Into Your Hands Hearts Hallucinations) series coincides with the first album by Different State's head Marek Xavier Marchoff, entirely based on field recordings, taken from the east and west bunkers area of Fort Tilden, an abandoned army base, built together with Fort Totten in order to defend NYC from airstrike attacks, whose vestiges are hidden by pines, coastal overgrowth and wonderful dunes, so that it's a sort of surreal paradise nearby New York, where old wartime structures (barracks, nuclear missile silos, underground artillery shelters, observatory outposts and so on) jars on natural coastal set, different from common muddy beaches and murky waters of other American beaches on Atlantic Ocean. Marek and Mj Caroline Rider proposes an immersive guided tour of this strange place just some miles out of the chaotic Big Apple, whose emotional hooks and power of suggestion have been amplified by some inserts, which look like a projection of authors' feelings since the beginning, where an obsessive clinical pulse together with a kind of keen electric buzz and air raid warnings highlight mental images while these sonic grabbers walk at a rattling. Listeners are going to keep on strolling over claustrophobic clashes, chirping birds, seagulls and insects (sometimes getting quite unnatural), rusty tanks, sinister trills, bare echoes, heavy footsteps, rustle of dropped leaves, disquieting gurgling and even human clamours - appearing on stage just in the final track, which features interesting manipulations of them - and other elements, which have been "organized" by Marek and MJ Caroline in a "musical" way, just like notes on a pentagram. Very atmospheric exemplar of sonic psychogeography!
Artist: Ab Intra
Title: Supremus
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This new release coming from the esteemed Polish label Zoharum, signed by Radoslaw Kaminski aka Ab Intra (Latin for "From Within") is going to tickle tympanic palates of drone and dark-ambient follower. The first sandpapering of the record could vaguely recall more "mystical" branch of ambient-chill such as Asura or other stuff on Ultimae and similar labels, due to some sonic clues such as seraphic choirs, distant thundering and absydal electric storms, then his silent gales migrate towards ritual-ambient fields, recalling some sonic episodes by Kammerheit or Runes Order (particularly in "Supremus IV" and "Supremus II") with distended whistling blows, moving inside electric clouds, sinister bolts and subtle sub-bass tones, whereas it seems that previous dust begins to amalgamate in majestic or epic mirages. You could have the impression that Ab Intra's sound got miniaturizes into many particles in order to pass over any pellicle or membrane before breaking the banks and flood into the sensorial ground in the final moments of the album, in order to share or just inspire great visions in listener's mind by creeping into it throughout ears, so that I could say "Supremus" sounds like a very attractive mind-tuning opera. Have a listen.
Artist: Noise Under Dreaming (@)
Title: In mIne
Format: CD
Label: Red Birds Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Some people say that many regressive processes could have been explained by a troublesome approach to difficult times (so troublesome that it could flow into its refusal), so that it's no coincidence that nowadays many fields of music and art in general are getting sprinkled with references to childish feelings, as the result of the communication between the artist and a sort of uncorrupted inner voice, subliminally forcing imagination and sensitivity to interposing in between any cognitive moments through intuition. This new album by Noise Under Dreaming, a project from Milan-based musicians Michele Ricciardi and Matteo Chiamenti looks like springing from this feeling or I'd rather call it a kind of prophylaxis, strictly filtered by memory's meshes, a kind of return to intimate innocence and a claim of a certain candour. It's therefore that some sonic choices such as some toy electronics which look like coming from cheap synths, the recording of some sessions with external microphones (so that it seems instruments are part of a field recording), plain melodies and basic rhythmic patterns make sense. In spite of the interesting conceptual premises, the first part of the record could induce some yawns: with the exception of the nice acapella dadaism of "Lullaby For Lovers" and the good vocal performace in "Noise Under My Wish", where the singer perfectly renders the idea of an ignored word to the wise, most of songs look like bad copies of music, which could be vaguely associated with theabove-mentioned kind of poetics such as Sigur Ros ("For Nothing") or even some teeny pop wails like Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You", whose melodic line seems to have been quoted in "Placebo". On the other hand, the second part of "In Mine" shows more appreciable stuff even if the band doesn't move away from the same skinny compositional approach since the three graceful and airy movements of "Sinfonia Per Menti Distratte" (meaning "symphony for careless minds"): there are some catchy tracks such as "In Deep", whose sonic clues with sounds from MSN's chat reminds it could refer to some intense "contemporary" love affair, "Better Story" - emphazised by the lovely insert of violin by Sara Primiterra - and the sluice gate of "Monochroma".
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