Music Reviews



cover
Artist: Maleem Mahmoud Ghania with Pharoah Sanders
Title: The Trance Of Seven Colors
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Zehra
This is a re-release of an album first put out on 1994 on Bill Laswell’s Axiom label, and never previously available on vinyl. It’s described as Gnawa trance, heavily percussion led and deliberately repetitive, music tightly tailored to either transcendence or dancing or both.

Laswell went to Morocco and recorded himself collaborating with large family ensembles of musicians, with Laswell contributing his famous tenor saxophone elements. From back in the days when world music still involved adventure and discovery and wasn’t all just immediately available with a Spotify search, there’s an energy in exploration across the nine tracks that has, so far, not dated at all.

The captivating rolling bassline and mantras of opening track of “La Allah Daymin Moulenah” quickly win you over, setting a groove that genuinely has the feel-good funk. This positive vibe also infuses the call-and-response-based “Salat Anbi”, or final track “Mahraba” which ends the release with a smile. In the meantime, other tracks offer up a variety of alternative rhythms and tones, from the more tribal gradual speed-up of “Hamdouchi” with its intimidatingly angry conclusion, to the deep jazz dive and more complex time signatures of longest track “Boulandi Samawi”.

Laswell’s sax work is notably modest at times- this isn’t a Bill Laswell solo album in disguise, not in the least. On tracks like “Bala Moussaka” he doesn’t feel the need to join in at all, and rightly so. However when he does contribute, it’s done in an admirably sympathetic and complimentary way that really works. “Peace In Essaouira” is an exception that proves the rule.

Despite being recorded over twenty years ago on mobile recording equipment, the sound quality is excellent, and almost without exception sounds as though it could have been recorded in an expensive Real World-style studio. Everything sounds close, but not claustrophobic, and it’s nicely balanced in that way.

It’s a welcome re-issue of a really strong album that still sounds fresh twenty-five years on, a must-check-out item for lovers of organic rhythmic trance sounds.
cover
Artist: Franz Kirmann
Title: Madrapour
Format: Tape
Label: Bytes
After getting tied up with soundtrack work alongside his music partner Tom Hodge and other collaborators, Franz Kirmann describes himself as having had writers’ block, unsure which direction to go in for his solo works. He broke out of his computer- and soundbank-centric funk by buying himself a modular system, the Make Noise Shared System, and training himself on it whilst experimenting. “Madrapour” is the result, but rather than sounding like a man experimenting with new instruments, it comes across as confident and assured.

It’s an eleven-pack of gentle instrumental electronica with soft rhythms and a fairly cinematic vision. Acoustic-sounding percussion elements generally keep a steady sense of time, while melodic pads and drones gently roll and fall above. Tenser pulses and grumbles in tracks like “A Vision” contrast with lighter and more laidback tracks like the playful counter-rhythms of “Angled”, or the soft ambient “Battersea” (reminiscent of some of The Orb’s more recent minimal Kompakt offerings, not least because of the Battersea connection). “Rave Ikon”, whilst misleadingly titled, is a strong example of the glitchier elements at play, while “Mysted” is a more lackadaisical bit of melodic meandering.

Highlights include the nicely unfolding and oddly signatured “Salem”, which at different times sounds vaguely trip-hoppy but then strongly Tangerine Dream-esque. “Slow Snow” has gentle shades of synthwave about it. The sporadic and emotive plucked sounds in “Distant” are engagingly expressive.

Coming across as a soundtrack to a non-existent experimental film, this is an interesting series of cinematic soundscaping and noodling that isn’t imbued with a strong sense of direction, yet is pleasantly consistent. Brooding electronica for the win.
Sep 30 2019
cover
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Filigran X
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Filigran
“X” is a compilation to mark Filigran’s tenth anniversary as a label, offering up twelve new tracks from the label’s artist roster and reasonably well representing the label’s fairly open-minded approach to mostly-instrumental electronica, house, and the lighter side of techno and music for dancing.

4/4 beats are the order of the day, naturally. Diaspora Unit’s groove “Apollo” epitomises the steady groove, a bouncy electro bass running cheerily under bleepy arpeggios in an assured and feel-good manner. Highlights include the bright, filtered deep house of “Composure” from Lionne, which feels reliable and just the right amount of 90’s retro flavour, mainly thanks to the catchy “I wrote to you a Dear John letter” vocal sample that feels like it might get heard on dancefloors a fair bit.

Sonic diversity comes in the form of more curious tracks like “Acid Lee Hooker” from Mara, a truly atmospheric bit of cinematic Americana revolving around endearing guitar which transforms in front of your eyes, the drum sounds gradually structuring and layering up, adding Gene Krupa style more urgent rhythms until it’s almost entirely changed tone. A definite highlight. The quirky clockwork groove and thick vocal pad sounds of Oaks’ “Astera” and a juxtaposition of pulse-driven rhythm and jazzy keys in Philipp Stoya’s “Nastifui” are also notable.

However, some tracks are maybe a little lacking in energy for their own good. Filterwolf’s “Flash” feels like library or underscore music, on the borderline between chilled out and just a little lazy, while Mellowfelx’s “Goias” does at one point start sounding like deep house by numbers. Pixel82’s “Untitled Love” feels a bit flat structurally, but is rescued by some delicious synth and brass stab sounds.

It’s a strong compilation that sets out Filigran’s stall very nicely, and offers up over an hour’s worth of subdued and interesting beats.
cover
Artist: Adrian Løseth Waade
Title: Kitchen Music
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Nakama Records
After contributing his violin work to a wide range of other Norwegian artist’s albums, this is Adrian Løseth Waade’s first album in his own name. He’s invited three of his friends along to contribute guitar, double bass and drums, but generally allows his violin to take centre stage, as the melodic source, the equivalent of the lead singer in this small ensemble.

The result is an intimate and homely set of folky experimental instrumental music that’s pleasant and largely unchallenging- exemplified by the title track which sounds like lounge music, in the sense of ‘lounge’ as in ‘living room’, cosy and relaxing. “Morning Routine” feels, as the title suggests, like a musical illustration of breakfast and teeth brushing, but without the angst of work pressure, and final track “Indoor Life” rolls along in a somewhat glib way that evokes thoughts of the end-of-day routine, an appropriate bookend. Inbetween, “Fuglens Cabaret” is a jollier number representing musicians enjoying themselves and each other’s comfort zones- a lazy day out.

“Hvitt Som Kokosnøttens Kjerne” stands out as an exception, a more sombre affair at first that curiously transforms into a leisurely park walk worthy of a black-and-white French film and which is the violin’s opportunity to show its more emotional side. This nine-minute track offers the breadth of tone that rounds the album out.

It’s a relatively modest release in its sound, letting four musicians play to their strengths to give a result that’s casual, in some ways unremarkable, but still a sure-fire win for lovers of the marginally more experimental side of instrumental folk.
cover
Artist: Bawrut
Title: Pronto Arpeggio
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Ransom Note
Bawrut’s latest EP introduces itself (literally, in the press release) by saying “Summer’s in the air”, but with a September release date it feels like it might be just a little late. Fittingly though, underneath the soft top end of these tracks is driving, purposeful synth-house music perfectly suited to colder climes as well as warmer ones. Three long and deep original tracks are complimented by a couple of shorter remixes that bring the breadth.

The title track does exactly what its title suggests, a steady groove of extremely bright-sounding synth arpeggios over a steady tapping groove. After four minutes there’s a very confident tempo drop and extended breakdown, with the synths continuing to shift tempo even after the kick’s come back in- essentially a break-and-build lasting three minutes, which possibly pushes its luck too far on some dancefloors I would expect, but curious for home listening, and satisfying when the original groove finally re-establishes itself. KiNK’s remix simplifies things, avoiding the more complex elements and keeping things pulsing more conventionally, but still successfully.

“Shooree” is a clap-driven groove built around a familiar 3-into-4 pattern that proceeds with a simple relentlessness and slightly tribal vibe, pushed along by vocal noises. “Atchu” takes this a couple of steps further, sampling a rap mantra that sounds somehow both playground and hip-hop over a more acid-infused layout, with some lovely distorted rumble-punches for good measure. Sadly “Atchu” doesn’t get a remix, which is a shame as it might be the most interesting and distinctive track in the pack. On “Shooree”, again the remix has a rationalising effect, with the Ruf Dug remix keeping things simple and pushing the synthpoppy melodies forward in a cheery and inoffensive way, that’s a modern twist on the old balearic vibe, in a way.

Always reliable stuff from Ransom Note Records.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [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...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] [2071...2080] [2081...2090] [2091...2100]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

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