Music Reviews



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Artist: Bit-Tuner
Title: Passage / Irisia
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: -OUS
At two tracks and almost seven minutes, Bit-Tuner’s “Passage / Irisia” single passed under my radar when it was released in November, but it came around again and has piqued my interest as a sampler for Bit-Tuner’s forthcoming seventh album, out in January.

The main track passage is a cinematic bit of electronica built from expressive analogue synths and pads, mostly walking a steady and slow four-note rhythm that somehow feels more like an ending than a beginning, Found sounds such as industrial drills that have been softened and bathed in reverb to take the harsh edges away. The melodic pattern remains the same but different-sounding instrumentation gradually wanders into and out of aubibility, which is where the progression comes from- sometimes bell sounds, sometimes guitar-like noise, the change happens under your nose. Got some broody sci-fi end credits that need emoting over? Check this out.

B-side “Irisia” is only two minutes long and fades right in the middle of a change- a blatant and almost cheeky tease for the album I think. The melodic approach is not dissimilar but there’s a much greater rumbling bass here, a sinister tectonic grumbling that feels like a dramatic opener, making the two-track digital release feel slightly back-to-front.

I may be a tease but it’s certainly notable enough to put January’s album release onto my ‘items to check out’ list.
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Artist: Anma
Title: Batch 0012
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: SM-LL
The bold branding- if you can call it branding- of the SM-LL label is getting progressively more homogeneous as it evolves. Already establishing a rule where all the artwork is plain black (yes that’s not a technical error in the thumbnail above), and with releases that are numbered rather than named, their press releases now consist solely of alphabetised hashtags. They’ve also announced that from next year, they will no longer even be including artist names on their releases- the entire thing will be anonymous, unless an artist breaks ranks and takes credit for any of it.

At times it feels like this affords the artists freedom, to experiment or express sonics without any word association or accompanying imagery. At other times it feels like a disservice, robbing each release from grabbing your attention or drawing you in with its own identity.

So in the third paragraph I finally get to talk about the music. This is a series of eight (or just six if you buy the vinyl) out-of-sequence-numbered layered sets of analogue oscillation and arpeggiation meanders. Bubbly bleeps and off-count repeating patterns are the order of the day. Around this, higher pitched atmospherics and electronic glitter provide a gentle, less-is-more approach to decoration. Curt sub-bass thrubs and throbs sometimes gently imitate techno kicks without ever pushing into that genre. It’s rough-hewn at times, littered with clicks, but this seems to add to the warmth.

“Harm Osc 5” is an example of one of the steadier tracks, a gentle walking pace number whose flatness is its virtue, while “Harm Osc 6” is an example of one of the more off-kilter, time-unpredictable arrangements that keeps things firmly cerebral rather than foot-tapping.

Favourites for me included the slightly more uptempo alt-techno of “Harm Osc 8”, and the gloriously awkward “Harm Osc 9” with its counting-challenge pulsing and tinnitus squeal. The soft, theremin-like melodic expression that crops up in final track “Harm Osc 2” is a curious sonic salve and an endearing way to wrap up.

This is a form of analogue proto-techno that goes simple and goes deep, very deep indeed. But if you’re prepared for a deep dive into a thinking person’s bass noise, turn this up loud.
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Artist: Project:Void (@)
Title: Morgue Of Broken Souls
Format: CD + Download
Label: Bugs Crawling out of People (@)
Rated: *****

Well, here we are in power electronics/noise-world again boys and girls, and this time it's the brand new release by Corvus Rex's solo project, Project:Void titled 'Morgue of Broken Souls'. Gee, I thought morgues were supposed to be quiet, but this one has some lively (broken) souls who just aren't resting easily on their slabs. I have no prior experience with Corvus Rex or Project:Void so I can't really give any background on this, but I can start by letting you know this album is 13 track over 69 minutes which should be sufficient for most noise enthusiasts. Oddly, the album begins with a few normal piano chords (a touch of the neoclassical?) before the staticky noise creeps in. It's certainly an interesting way of easing the listener into the acid bath of what follows. All at once it stops dead and you are thrust into the "Hole," a hellish intense noise atmosphere with scratchy distorted vocals. Forget trying to decipher any words/lyrics here; it sounds like Gollum being tortured by the minions of Sauron deep in the recesses of Mount Doom. Back with some more neoclassical (cello, this time) at the opening of "Blood of Despair" which carries on longer than expected before the industrial sturm und drang takes over with more screechy-scratchy vocals.

Stylistically a little different but no less noisy is "From The Ashes." A third of the way in there is a feedback interlude providing a little respite from the wall of distortion, but it doesn't last long before you're thrust back into the maelstrom again. A few piano notes prefaces "Demons" prior to the distorto-voice/electronic noise tempest but a little further down the line the piece is punctuated by brief staccato noise bursts followed by echoed effects trails before the mania begins again. "Attrition" begins as a slightly calmer piece but you may just be in the eye of the hurricane. There is still industrial noise swirling about but also a sense of distance. I don't know if the effects on the voice are wearing off or the drugs are kicking in, but it seems as though I can distinguish a word here or there- "a secret...of the people...dignity...still the...grinding...continues... “ It might have been helpful to have provided a lyric sheet, but I guess that was too much to ask. "Hate Mask" is in your face from the git-go, with no punches pulled, only thrown harder. This is a track for our times, full of vituperation and intolerance. A relentless assault on the eardrums. If you live in a city, play this full blast out your apartment window and the cops will be there within five minutes, guaranteed.

There actually is a track titled "Acid Attack" on this album, and after the woman's scream, I don't think Corvus Rex is talking about LSD. This is actually a vocal-heavy track, and I'm sort of glad I can't make out the words. (Personally, I find nothing more heinous than throwing acid in someone's face, except maybe setting a person on fire). The tone is a little different on "Drown" but basic effect is the same; distorted vocals and feedback with an undercurrent of malevolent industrial strength noise. Breaks and pauses accent the miasma of death odors giving false hope to the doomed. I like the opening industrial machine-loop rhythm of "Blood Visions" but I think the scream and change into mayhem came much too soon. (It would have helped to build some dramatic tension.) The somewhat spooky "Coma" does a much better job of allowing the atmosphere to permeate the piece without getting caught up in a shitstorm of noise. I've never been a fan of the single high-pitched piercing tone, but that's what opens "End Game". Fortunately it doesn't last long before being drown in noise squalls. Later in the piece it's like you're in the video game arcade from hell; by the time you figured out how to play, it's GAME OVER and you're dead. We end this excursion into the 'Morgue of Broken Souls' (one the sort-of title track "Morgue") with some squiggly circuit-bending, and a sombre recitation by The Crow Bride. In a way, this almost seems like the most creative track on the album and a very good closer.

It's a given that this won't appeal to everyone, and even some noise enthusiasts might fault the album for not having enough this or that, or too much of the other, but I think Project:Void has contributed a solid entry into the genre with enough distinguishing features to make it a worthwhile purchase for power electronics/noise addicts.
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Artist: Soft As Snow
Title: Take Your Honey
Format: Tape
Label: Mansions and Millions
‘Soft’, ‘snow’, ‘honey’... gentle smooth ambient right? Wrong. Very wrong.

“Take Your Honey” is a single 22-minute live jam recording of voice and electronics from the Berlin-based duo. It’s a thorough and harsh disassembly of what might once have been a song- where the sparse lyrics come from. It’s now buried in distortion, grit, reverb, noise, sometimes anger, and vocal anguish (“I know it hurts” over, and over…). It sits somewhere between industrial electronica and pure noise.

It’s not constantly aggressive, thankfully. There are dips in energy, for example around the 10 minute mark, when things get a bit dubbier and more introspective, and that’s when some of the more interesting textures pop up. Some of the live ping-pong looping, pitch-shifting and repetition is genuinely clever stuff when you focus on some of the details.

Overall though this is raw and thoroughly emotive material that was probably absolutely captivating if you could have been there for the live performance. In a recording though there’s something a little alienating about it, a sense of being cut out of this expression, an antagonistic sonic cliqueyness that left me feeling slightly cold.
Dec 08 2019
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Artist: Dibu-Z
Title: Junk DNA
Format: CD
Label: Dominance Electricity
Rated: *****
Active since the early '00s, Christian Odlozinski released different 12"s and EPs as Dibu-Z for labels such as Mutter, Klangnet, Antikonsum, Klangnet, Robodisco and Heraldic.SPb. "Junk DNA" is his first album and Dominance Electricity is proudly releasing it on CD and 2 LPs. This isn't the first time that the label is releasing Dibu-Z's music, as his track "Remote View" has been included in the "Global Surveyor Phase 4" compilation the last year. "Junk DNA" is a multifaceted album where Christian is mixing different electronic styles successfully: if the opening "Where It All Ends" has classic electronic music references of the likes of Vangelis' "Blade Runner" soundtrack (like the closing arpeggios of the closing "The Future In Your Eyes"), "Breakaway Civilization" steers the wheel mixing space ambiance with acid TB-303 sequences and TR-808 beats (thing that also Cignol experimented lately). "Metamaterial" and "Gnarly" change the game again by bringing in electro melodies and i.d.m. intuitions with sound manipulations. The twelve tracks of the album have no vocals and succeed into giving to the electro lovers good music with robotic rhythm patterns, paranoid atmospheres and nice tiny melodies. It not easy to sum up the last twenty years of electronic music but Dibu-Z somehow did it. Prepare yourself to check a sort of Drexciya on acid or a sort of black hole that sucked in hours of good music and now it's ready to puke it out! A special note to the cover made by the American 3D graphic artist Beeple. Check it here https://soundcloud.com/dominance-electricity/de029
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