Music Reviews

Artist: Claude Speeed
Title: Infinity Ultra
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Planet Mu Records
“Infinity Ultra” is like a disassembly of rave and electronica, exploring and meshing with its constituent parts and rebuilding it into something that still retains the structure and the sounds, but which has been pulled completely out of clubland and into a different space. The kicks and crashes are all gone, leaving tracks that at times sound like lightweight synthwave, and at other times like stems ripe for remixing rather than complete tracks. However there are also some deeper and edgier pieces to mix it up a bit.

There are fifteen tracks here, someone of them very succinct and with a slightly raw, unpolished edge. Highlights include “Ambien Rave”, the frantic chiptune-esque stylings of “Entering The Zone” and the odd yet powerful looped vocal patterns of final track “DreamDream”.

Kuedo’s guest appearance on “Alternate Histories” gives things a darker flavour, based around a rhythmic deep pulse and spaced-out curt string noises. Other more atmospheric pieces include “Moonchord Supermagic”- surely a calling card for soundtrack work- and the relentless lo-fi gutpunchers of “Super 800 NYC”.

It’s a release that’s very typical of the Planet Mu label, in a good way- it’s electronica, but not like anybody else does. It’s atmospheric, irreverent, and high quality in a weirdly deceptive way.
Artist: Annette Vande Gorne (Werner Lambersy)
Title: Yawar Fiesta
Format: Blu Ray disc (BD)
Label: empreintes DIGITALes
Though I’m reviewing it in old-fashioned stereo, “Yawar Fiesta” is a 7.1 surround sound extravaganza. ChainDLK doesn’t currently have an entry for “Blu-ray Audio” as a known format, so I’ve had to pick “Laser Disc” as a cludge, but please be assured this is Blu-ray.

Unconfined by the duration limitations of vinyl or CD, this is a work just shy of 90 minutes dominated by operatic vocal snippets, long drones and hums, and waves of both distant and close percussive vocal noises that attack and decay in a way that’s leisurely at times, but never comfortable. Sourcing the majority of the sonic ingredients from the voice- with a particular favouring of masculine bass operatic tones and throat singing, but not without feminine and spoken word moments too- but without actually using a singer, brings us frequently into bizarre arrangements akin to choral arrangements gone wrong- at times quite Lygeti-like. Much of the time the elements are multi-layered, keeping everything hectic and relentless throughout. Electronic glitches, tape-style effects, pitch shifts and flangey panning (isn’t that a type of cake?) are thoroughly modern and digital and give the work an extra twist.

The work is ostensibly an opera- the press release describes a piece in multiple acts that’s a hybrid of actual storytelling and the name-dropping of broad themes into something that’s frankly very difficult to follow. But the result definitely has distinct scenes, and when holding your attention, is like listening to the most off-the-wall opera re-work you’ve ever heard.

After the bewildering 44-minute journey of “Condor (Le Veillee)”, second track “Taureau (Le Defi)” doesn’t perhaps represent enough of a shift. The addition of traffic noises and horns gives the sonics a different hint, as does the heavier use of discernible French language sources, but the core arrangement is essentially half an hour more of the same experimental opera.

“Monologue final” is also consistent rather than contrasting, but with fewer operatic elements and more emphasis on digital processing such as layering offset copies of the same sample at different speeds, and with sound effects akin to alien rocket launches and monstrous whispers tilting it more in the direction of sci-fi. The sound of rolling stock evokes the spirit of the KLF towards the very end.

It’s an unusual buffet, sometimes reminiscent of 60’s avantgarde choral works, sometimes the spacier sound of 90’s ambient house, sometimes very contemporary and sharp-sounding digital electronic frippery. It’s got a unique quality to it that demands attention, even though at 87 minutes long it perhaps can’t hold that attention throughout.
Artist: Caustic Reverie (@)
Title: Here and Away
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Sound engineer, composer, and author Bryn Schurman presents "Here and Away," his 20th offering under the moniker Caustic Reverie. The album contains Schurman’s full soundtrack for the eponymous 10-minute film by Abby Sirwatka, along with newer material. Combining synthesizers and guitar elements, the music proceeds at a metaphysical level, jumping from soul to soul across poetic space.

“Night Trip” sets a tone of contradictory nostalgia, as alluring as it is frightening. Imagine a recurring nightmare you haven’t had since you were a child yet which now pricks at your desire to see it with waking eyes. This is the ouroboros whose songs are documented herein. “Ordered and Filed,” on the other hand, is cloaked in a honeycombed past. With the post-apocalyptic contours of a Tarkovsky wasteland, Schurman manifests the body’s internal mechanisms as destitutions made anthemic by the caress of a distant sun. Titles such as this and “Composition Book” hint at an underlying philosophy of memory, through which re-creation serves as clearest discourse. Every new turn lances awareness with wasted actions, culminating in the blind spot that is “Family Gathering” before the “End Credits” recede in farewell.

Despite a certain visceral punch, however, the abruptness with which these tracks end is a minor flaw. “Composition Book” and “Family Gathering” particularly suffer from this jarring effect, snapping our ears from the spell of their galactic challenges to fate. This may be a consequence of the film itself, however, given the more patient mixing of Schurman’s seven titled “Reconstructions” that flesh out this album’s bulk. In these he reveals deeper relationships between characters whose names are unknown to us. Drawn-out sighs, distorted chords, and stretches of abandoned houses share cavernous fellowship. Blushes of choir in “Reconstruction 4” even point to quasi-spiritual conflicts, even if the central mood is agnostic at best, while “Reconstruction 6” confronts the horrors of domesticity until once-unresolvable feelings become weightless.

In light of these darknesses, it may come as no surprise that the source film tells of two siblings whose lives are changed when they uncover a secret hidden by their parents. With or without such knowledge, the experience will be familiar to fans of The Caretaker, for one likewise emerges from its silvery dip with something forgotten in hand, amplified until it screams.
Jul 11 2017
Artist: Quarta330
Title: Pixelated EP
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
Quarta330’s “Pixelated” EP, now admittedly a few months old, is a frantic set of 4 instrumentals where rapid-fire effects, low bitrate synths and a healthy dose of possibly tongue-in-cheek fun are all chucked into the mix.

Opener “Resonate 3” begins as though it’s going to be a flat grime instrumental, before a chiptune-style melody cuts through that turns the track into a bizarre digital-soul number, like Barry White music for robots over frantically gated drums.

“The Fairies’ Homecoming” has a similarly 8-bit-ish flute melody meandering over a glitch rhythm that sounds like a fight between reggae and drum’n’bass- one of those tunes where if you watch the crowd, half of them are nodding fast, the other half are nodding slow.

“Yatagarasu” is the most conventionally melodic piece, with further flute-like synths and chords playing a strong and vaguely Eastern-ish melody over a stepping rhythm that pushes the lo-fi filter even further. Closer “Digital Lotus Flower” is along similar lines, with a more broken beat and subtle, smooth bassline.

I’ve struggled to think of valid musical comparisons. I could mention Venetian Snares (the less angry stuff) or Bassnectar, but it wouldn’t be wholly accurate. The “Pixelated” EP ploughs its own slightly bizarre path, one that fans of glitch or anything 8-bit will definitely enjoy.
Artist: Lingua Ignota
Title: All Bitches Die
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Lingua Ignota (“Unknown language” in Latin) is a project from Rhode Island by Kristin Hayter. As her website says, Kristin is an interdisciplinary artist. In other words, we should expect her music to be inextricably connected with her (visual) arts. I’m no expert of visual arts, so I’ll only judge her music.
“All Bitches Die” is a very ambitious album combining neoclassical music, power electronics and death industrial. To give you an idea of how ambitious this is, I think that the project may be conceived as Roger Karmanik that meets Diamond Galas. And yes, it is amazing as it sounds. However, there are few things that can be improved. Let me explain a little bit.
The four songs included in this album try to merge noise walls and disturbing creaking with elegant neoclassical melodies performed with piano and organ. Kristin’s vocals shift from sacred and liturgical melodies to furious and desperate screams. I hasten to add that Kristin is a classically trained performer, so when I say that there are neoclassical melodies I mean that there is professionalism here, and not just the use of vocal samples or very basic melodies. The result is impressive. Especially “Woe to all” and “All bitches die” are desperately passionate, Kristin’s voice drags the listener into an ocean of despair, but at the same time the neoclassical background makes such desperation something magnificent. Her music is literally apocalyptic, because when I listen to her music I can only think about apocalypse. In other words, the neoclassical part of this album is absolutely amazing, and just for this, one should buy the album via bandcamp.
If the album is so amazing, why only 4 stars rather than 5? Because there are things that can be improved. It’s no big deal at this early stage of Lingua Ignota’s career, but still I should mention some things that other reviews tend to ignore. Something more should be done when it comes to the power electronics part. One may think that power electronics or (since I mentioned Brighter Death Now) death industrial is something easy to do: you just need to make as much noise as you can. This is clearly false. Kristin creates very basic noise walls sometimes enriched with creaks of different sort. However, there is no control ("For I am the light" is a example). Transitions (with the exception of the ones in the song “All bitches die”) may be improved. Creaks seem to be very basic samples (but I might be wrong) and my impression is that they are not processed in the way a noise artist would do. Processing, connecting, uniting and other dozens of things that you can do with samples are, in my opinion, essential in extreme industrial music. Lingua Ignota makes use of power electronics and death industrial resources, but without developing them in a personal way. I notice this especially because in these very days I’m listening to a recent album of a very famous power electronics act (Institution D.O.L.), which is very sophisticated from this point of view. I want to stress that THIS IS NOT a rejection, but a plea for working more on the integration of the two styles, because Lingua Ignota is a project that can become potentially one of the most important act of the scene (whatever the ‘scene’ is).
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