Music Reviews



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Artist: Roman
Title: Roman
Format: CD
Label: Karaoke Kalk
The newest Roman self named album is his third and contains ten new tracks which show really well his multifaceted musical soul. Pop is the core and the key of his work and each track has a different arrangements where you can find rich orchestral sounds, folk instruments, electronic (check the dance sound of "Traffic" and the particular effect of the spoken word), jazz, 80s indie pop (check "Despair when young" for this) and more. Roman histrionic approach to vocals make me think of him like an actor who choose music instead of theater. Now happy and then melancholic (like on the closing "Shoot" where piano and strings make of it a touching song), Roman made an inspired album that you'll dig if you want to spice up your pop music collection.
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Artist: Venetian Snares
Title: My So Called Life
Format: CD
Label: Timesig Records
Rated: *****
Timesig Records is the new personal label of Aaron Funk a.k.a. Venetian Snares and the first release is, obviously, a new record by Venetian Snares. MY SO-CALLED LIFE contains ten new tracks where Aaron, as usual, free his musical craziness giving life to chaotic rhythmic collages where vocal samples, chunk of orchestral camera samples and the usual fast like hell dubstep/breakbeat, i.d.m. style give their best to create tornadoes of sound. The main title closes the album and along with tracks like "Goodbye9/Hello10" made my evening, thanks to a good blend of crazy rhythms, melody and dramatic atmospheres (check how the violins along with the breakbeat rhythms are able to create something innovative and tragic at the same time). Each track has been created into two days of work and Aaron structured this album like it was a record of those days using irony (I laugh out loud listening to "Aaron 2" where medieval like trumpets were introducing Aaron, whose heart was filled with hatred) and great sounds like a sword.
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Artist: Lugano Fell
Title: Slice Repair
Format: CD
Label: Baskaru
Member of the house tech duo Swayzak, James Taylor after twelve years spent with that project, wanted to try something totally different, quieter and more detail-focused. Lugano Fell born for this reason and SLICE REPAIR is their first official release. Divided into ten movements the album passes from wall of sounds to layers of tiny ambient samples mixed with noises and rhythms. Minimal but never sparse the sound palette create a cycling effect like a colored top that hits instruments that James put on the floor. Well, that could be a nice image but the sound is a little more structured than that: you can find alternance of fast forwarded tape sounds, treated samples and also some acoustic instrument creating a surreal soundtrack which time to time could also sound psychedelic. You'll find the sum of it all is the closing fourteen minutes of "Two hundred clocks and a metre", track that sounds like an acoustic version of Glenn Branca guitar orchestrations created with slices of acoustic guitar samples, mixed with concrete noises.
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Artist: Valery Siver & Kirill Trepakov
Title: Music From The Russian Pages
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock Records (@)
Distributor: DWM Music Company
Rated: *****
Valery Siver and Kirill Trepakov are both Russians musicians from St. Petersburg and Moscow respectively. Although they both have backgrounds in classical guitar, the music on this album is much further afield from their traditional beginnings. Among other projects and releases, Siver might be best known for the melodic trance mix of Russian trance artist PPK's 'Love Unlimited'. Both Siver and Trepakov also have other releases including collaborations. 'Music From the Russian Pages' is actually their third collaboration together. Conceptually, tracks from this album are inspired by literary works from prominent Russian writers ' Gogol, Gorky, Nabokov, Pushkin, Pasternak, and others. I admit my knowledge of Russian literature and authors if fleeting and cursory at best, so I can only comment on the music as it sounds.

Initially, the album is reminiscent of what it might sound like if you mixed Durutti Column with a restrained Pat Metheney and let Seefeel co-produced it with Brian Eno. It has a definite ambient atmosphere with occasional touches of the cinematic. The moods are varied yet generally on the light side. Although there is guitar in the music, it is not dominant throughout the album. On 'The Fetters of Reality' (based on motives of Pasternak's 'Dr. Zhivago') for example, classical style piano plays over a background of radio static and wave oscillation. No genre is dominant though as the musical formats shift from classical to light jazz, to experimental pop to nearly pure ambient, usually with some melodic content.

'Russian Troyka' (Part II), based on Nikolai Gogol's poem, The Dead Souls' reminds me most of Durutti Column with its shimmering tremolo guitar, with a chorus of voices echoing in the background. Yet the beat and the lead guitar has a smooth jazzy feel Metheny would feel comfortable working in. And then the next track, 'Synesthesia' sounds like it could have been inspired by one of Vivaldi's Bassoon Concertos. Following that is 'Fairy Tale' with a lot of electronic keyboard work and vocoder. Here it's a pop fantasia highlighted by chimes, and bits of bells and celeste. The album as a whole is a potpourri of gentle eclecticism that crosses many different musical forms, yet remains true its ambient leanings. There is a good deal more musicality and musicianship on 'Music From the Russian Pages' than you will find in most ambient music. Yet the dreamlike quality shines through. Often a real delight, and something worth seeking out.

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Artist: Delicate Noise (@)
Title: Filmezza Remixes
Format: CD EP
Label: LENS Records (@)
Distributor: LENS Records
Rated: *****
A while back I did a review of Delicate Noise's 2009 'Filmezza' album. At the time, I seemed to like the packaging better than the musical content. For me, it was a mixed bag; it took a very Boards of Canada approach without adding anything new. Also, there were just too many children's' voice in the mix for me. I like good ambient music (even the beat-propelled kind, which this often is, when it has something different to offer, but I didn't get that from the first 'Filmezza' album. The 'Filmezza Remixes' sounds like a whole different animal. First, it takes only six tracks from the seventeen track 'Filmezza' album - 'Butterfly Envy,' 'Pheromone,' 'Pheromones' (2 versions), 'Lush and Coated with Words and Birds,' 'Beware of Digital Children,' and 'Astronaut in Training," and they all sound considerably different. This seems to have been a smart move. At 38 ½ minutes, it's a somewhere between an EP and full album, maybe a Maxi-EP would be the best way of describing it.

The 'Butterfly Envy' remix is done by France's Jauzas the Shining. He adds some welcome bass and better synth sounds than the original, processes the children's voices so they don't sound like kids, replaces the original percussion with something far better (no hokey handclaps), darkens it up a bit and gives it a Kraftwerkian feel. Way cool! It sounds so much better this way. The first 'Pheromones' remix is done by Knowing Looks from Canada. The original is a bit of a diverse mess with sampled voices (yes, including those obnoxious children) that's pretty light until the heavy synth bass comes in. In the remix, the percussion is a bit more steady, and the synths minimal, mostly atmos with accents. It's sparse with a slightly dark tone throughout. Sounds nothing like the original, which is a good thing. 'Pheromone' which follows is remixed by Sunao Inami (Japan, where else would you expect?). He fixes up the percussion so it sounds less pattern-oriented, removes the sampled voices, adds some low ambient undercurrent and makes it sound more dreamlike.

The second 'Pheromones' remix is done by Document One of Iceland. Vocal samples are still there but pushed in the background with reverb. He only brings in percussion midway though the track, and then it's a crunchy trip hop beat. The remix is clean where the original was a mess with that synth-bass overriding a cacophony of sounds. In this remix the bass is subdued and enhances the ambience rather than competes with it. Its more minimal, but it works just fine. Heinrich Dressel (Italy) takes 'Lush and Coated with Words' and adds a pulsing synth bass (in place of the percussion) to the repetitive five-chord progression of the original, while embellishing somewhat on the synth melody and adding another synth sequence to go along with the bass. He also eliminates the vocals. Maybe this song wasn't the best choice for a remix; there is only so much you can do with those five repetitive chords.

10-20 (UK) tackles the remix for 'Beware of Digital Children,' the track I liked least on the original Filmezza album due to sampled children's voices. If it wasn't for them, the track would have been pretty good, but it ruined it for me. 10-20 replaces the draggy percussion of the original with something far more interesting. The kids voices are pushed so far back in the mix, you'd swear they were blocks away. I can handle that. Other than that, it's fairly minimal. On the original album, 'Astronaut in Training' is only a minute and a half of ambience with sampled NASA-type scratchy communication dialogue over it. Tension Co.'s (Spain) remix manages to stretch it to an incredible 7:38, the longest track on the CD. It's now a very cool piece of beatless spacey ambience and no 'ground control to Major Tom' samples.

Overall, I found the 'Filmezza Remixes' to be a much more enjoyable and listenable experience than the 'Filmezza' album. Sometimes, less is more, in both time and treatment. This is the way I like my ambient music. Kudos to the remixers!
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