Music Reviews



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Artist: Kasper van Hoek (@)
Title: De Valse Wolfskwint En Andere Fabeldieren
Format: CD
Label: HeilsKabaal Records (@)
Distributor: HeilsKabaal Records
Rated: *****
For those who aren't familiar with the artist, Kasper van Hoek from Groningen, the Netherlands, began his musical activities in 2003 making heavily processed field recordings. Over the course of some 25+ releases and 60+ performances featuring looped electronic music, noise, musique concrete and ambient he now creates his own blend of improvised electronic music played on his own custom-built string instruments. 'De Valse Wolfskwint En Andere Fabeldieren' is a compilation of tracks previously released on the CDr series "Frank 1" to "Frank 5". This album consists of tracks recorded during his time at the Frank Mohr Institute. The album includes studio recordings and cut-up field recordings but most tracks were recorded using his newly developed string instruments.

My initial impressions of this album were quite different than on the second listening. At first I found it uncomfortably noisy and quite abrasive...somewhat like being trapped in some insane machine shop. The second time around, it was a bit easier to digest, a fair portion of it anyway. The first track, 'Oldenburg,' is a difficult image to shake; a cacophony of industrial sounds that give the impression of an automated factory gone haywire. Things calm down considerably on 'Ook Alleen,' which is basically a rather placid drone piece with an ominous undercurrent. There are even parts where is sounds a little like a tambura, giving it a near meditative quality. 'Met Jan' is the longest piece on the album at 13:19 and it is a rather strange piece. It is mostly low-key drone, and somewhat subtle with a kind of moaning squeal and other incidental sonics of unknown origin; murky, surreal, melancholic. It merges nicely into 'Ode Aan Oscar Vanille' which continues the low-key atmos but grows in intensity and malevolence until explodes in a crescendo of panic which is sustained nearly til the end in its fearsome aftermath. 'Spoleto' gives the impression of a bizarre street scene on some dark wet night then takes the listener into very strange places that are just too difficult to describe. '.' (The track title is just a dot, or period) balances a droney looped noise with a few notes of plucked strings repeated in a pattern until another instrument sounding like (but probably not) a saxophone blows a sustained note in a similar tone. It sounds a bit mournful. This piece is rather quiet too, and other incidental instrumental elements also enter the picture. Seemed a bit too 'noodling' for my taste. Last track, 'Cinema Soluble' is a lot of string-scraping and squeals, and guitar-like dissonance. There is other clatter and uncomfortable sonic effluvia, and then a voice begins some kind of raving rant, drums begin a halting rhythm (sounding rather haphazard) and it just sounds'¦awful. I saw no point in this track at all. Merde!

There were some interesting things on 'De Valse Wolfskwint En Andere Fabeldieren' but overall, unless you really like avant-garde noise, you may be put off. Kasper's homemade electronic string instruments lend some depth and an arcane feel to his compositions, but I can't say I'm on board with it all.
Nov 17 2011
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anymore
Artist: GENDROID
Title: Back To The Past EP
Format: CD
Label: Sauroid
Distributor: Juno Download
Rated: *****
Hena Prikhodko is a producer from Ukraine and he's been picked up by Sauroid for their seventh release. With BACK TO THE PAST it's electro time again, baby, and Gendroid is traveling back in time to late 70s early 80s taking as influence the first wave of electro funk. Africa Bambaataa, Newcleus, Egyptian Lover or Grandmaster Flash have been few of the bands that heaten up those years with their beats and that were living down in the streets when it was really dangerous as they had to face gangs and cops. Many of them were black people and music saved their lives. Nowadays I think that only the scenario changed but music is still capable to save our lives and souls and Hena knows that. BACK TO THE PAST has a minimal approach to sound, usually with a rich rhythm section, we find a bouncing bass line and a couple of leads but this isn't a problem as the whole EP has a nice retro atmosphere which doesn't sound old. Most of the tracks are kinda instrumentals only on "Spider Crew", "Humanvox", "Streetdancer" and "Let's Get It On" we have vocoder filtered vocal inserts. With seven original tracks we can find also a cool Downrocks remix of "Streetdancer" where Kapi gives his version of the track using powerful beats, nice synths and ton of energy, as his usual. As usual you can check all the tracks at the label's website and you'll appreciate for sure Gendroid's love and passion for electro funk!
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anymore
Artist: Saltillo
Title: Ganglion
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Artoffact Records (@)
Rated: *****
Artoffact release this reissue of the 1995 album of the project led by Menton J. Matthews III and this mark a strange milestone in their catalogue. This album is a really strange blend of ethereal and hip-hop, capturing the listener with his personal direction.
"002 F#m" opens this release with a sort of piano sonata while "A Necessary End" seems a mash-up of the Balanescu Quartet and Dj Shadow. "Giving In" a sort of trip-hop vaguely reminiscent of Portished. "Remember Me" is a pop rock song above an hip hop rhythm. "A Simple Test" mix vocals with spoken word and is constructed above a solid hip hop break. "A Hair On The Head Of John The Baptist" is slow interlude releasing the tension accumulated in the first side of this album. "Blood and Milk" seems an outtake of a '90 trip hop dj album. With "The Opening" return the violin depicted in this album artwork and this is the element that give the original direction of Ganglion. "Backyard Pong" is a drill and bass exercise while "Grafting" reveals an oriental influence while "Praise" is an almost conventional hip-hop track. "I'm On the Wrong Side" is slow ballad originally ending the album. The bonus track "Denim" is an outtake mixing most of the elements already saw along this release.
This is an album revealing most of this musical influence while searching a personal direction, widely better than most of the releases of this genre. Even if it's not a masterpiece, is recommended for all the fans of Dj Shadow and Portished. Really nice.
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Artist: Vitor Joaquim (@)
Title: Filament
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Both astrophiles' and philosophers' imagination could be immediately spurred by this release signed by the talented Portuguese composer Vitor Joaquim and issued by Kvitnu, an Ukranian label, which has recently focused on the Portuguese electronics.Vitor's not really a newcomer as he performs since the late 80ies, an experience confirmed by a weighty curriculum, full of important collaborations such as the ones with Scanner, Colleen, Phil Niblock, o.blaat, Ran Slavin and many others, and releases such as Flow, considered as one of the best electronic record of 2006, and Tales from Chaos under the moniker Free Field, whose musical stature deserved the inclusin amidst the ten best record of the Portuguese electronic music scene. As a matter of fact the first two tracks, "Filaments and Void" and "Filaments and Walls", could refer to some "spiritual" nourishments for many astronomers and not only for their titles - voids are those empty spaces between filaments, arguably formed by baryon acoustic oscillations (it's undeniable the fascination surrounding the idea of a sonic wave on the basis of the creation!), while wall is a different way of naming galaxy filaments, the largest known structures in the universe -, but also for their sound, where some sound tricks close to the improvisational scene such as the usage of connections in order to "burn" frequencies intertwined with cinematic transitional effects (such as over-delayed subtones, explosions and hypnotical drones) are going to launch the listener into sidereal spaces. To be honest, the conceptual framework implied by Vitor's reasoning in order to decipher this release seems more referred to cognitive sciences as filament sounds like artist's answer informational voids, created by a plenty of fast, short and shallow messages filling our daily lives, where such a lack in consistency seems to suck away and soak up all the real contents of life's moments, an emotionless uniformity reducing everything to a task or to an act of devotion to the cold perfection of formal logic. The third track, Filament, could be thought as the gradual strengthening of that silent scream against what Vitor describes as "a massacre of intensity and constant pulse coming from out of us", "an answer that is not linear, not sharp, not fast, not easy", a sort of rocketship which he makes travel to explore conformity and devotion in the fourth (such a lovely piece of minimal dark ambient close to some electronic buzzing by Benge or Monoceros) and fifth (my favorite one whereas such an SOS distress signal seems to get gradually more and more concrete) track. Really seducing stuff!
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Artist: Vresnit, Kskatriy, Neznamo, Hattifnatter, Lunar Abyss Deus Organum (@)
Title: Sonastroika
Format: CD
Label: Vetvei (@)
Distributor: Vetvei
Rated: *****
A collective performance recording with Vresnit, Kskatriy, Neznamo, Hattifnatter, Lunar Abyss Deus Organum, with the assistance of VJ Yury Elika from November, 4th, 2010 at the ESG-21 club, St.-Petersburg. There were no separate performances of projects that evening, the participants were entirely collaborative. Field recordings, voices, guitars, synthesizers, wind instruments and extensive electronic devices were used to create this awesome ambient soundscape. This work is nearly impossible to describe. I believe I have reviewed about four other Vetvei releases, and so far, this one has been the most daunting. On this recording over half of the Vetvei roster of artists are acting together to bring to fruition something more or less spontaneously improvised and the results are mind-blowing.

The CD consists of six tracks ranging from a little over 4 minutes to a little over 16 minutes for a total of nearly 49 ½ minutes but the music tends to flow seamlessly, so you may not notice a whole lot of difference from track to track. This is a more 'active' kind of ambient than passive, where things and events happen, and believe me, there is a whole lot happening. Considering that there are least 5 (or possibly six or more) people involved, it is amazing that they didn't step all over each other. It certainly doesn't sound like they did. There is a high psychedelic factor to this performance, much of it dense and intense, although it is episodic in a certain sense too, as it ebbs and flows. In general, 'Sonastroika' has a dark feel to it; ominous, foreboding, sometimes cosmic, sometimes jarring, even terrifying. I suppose it depends on your mood. It is not what I would call meditative, although there are some relatively calm passages. These could be construed as alien landscapes from some distant galaxy; sonic constructs that go way beyond the pale of human experience. Yet, some familiarity creeps in, a barking dog and whispered voices beneath the moaning of unearthly voices..the distant strains of some classical music'¦but these are atypical elements. Drones are omnipresent, and washes of noise ranging from small waves to huge slabs make their appearance. Lots of echo, echo, echo, echo'¦the occasional repeated whistling sample, bass rumblings and bell tones'¦combined ity all sounds so'¦vast. If anything, you will get more than you bargained for with 'Sonastroika'. As per usual, the CD comes in a colorful 6-panel folder by Vresnit.
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