Music Reviews



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Artist: Zeitkratzer (@)
Title: [old school] Alvin Lucier
Format: CD
Label: Zeitkratzer Records (@)
Distributor: Forced Exposure
Rated: *****
The first two releases of the series [old school], dedicated to the musical studies of some milestones of contemporary experimentation and composition, have been tributed to John Cage and James Tenney and have been considerably acclaimed by the growing public feeding their curiosity about the basic principles of avant-garde music and this third one, tributed to Alvin Lucier, known for being one of the founder of Sonic Arts Union in 1966 as well as for introducing new paradigms to the so-called concrete music througout out-of-ordinary scores and somewhat bizarre and "scientific" explorations of the acoustic properties of objects, organisms (one of his most interesting "score", Music For Solo Performer, was obtained by the recording of the constantly changing brain activity of the performer, whose alpha waves were amplified throughout a machine able to record the electrical activity of his brain, while another famous "composition", Clocker, was entirely obtained from the recording by a galvanic skin sensor!) and envinronment (maybe Lucier's most relevant and inspiring experiment related to envinronment is I Am Sitting In A Room, an intriguing experiment based on the cycled recording of performer's voice for a plenty of times in different environments whose noises were gradually amplified since the point they becomes the main voice of the performance, an experiment whose principles had some influences on the birth of experimental videomaking as well...).

Even if from one side some classical puritans still mutter when they've been asked to voice their opinion about these composers and from the other some pop addicts' stomachs can't take this kind of musical food lacking of the consumeristic "value" (or dis-value) of accessibility to the general public, Zeitkratzer is going to bring the listeners in the wonderful world of Mr Lucier, after the zeutkrazters met this creative sound physician in Dijon, France, and decided to perform some pieces of his rich and intriguing repertory at The Philarmonie in Luxembourg, the ideal place for such a performance, including two compositions, the opening Fideliotrio - a somewhat confusing piece for viola, cello and piano, where a single piano tone is played in two different dynamics while the parts for viola and cello plays a sort of glissando going in opposite directions, so that the resulting antagonistic tension induces some confusion in the listener, whose ears presumably are going to lose directions of sound, disquiting in the intertwining of mutual interferences....very funny! - and Violynn - the piece I enjoyed more based on a similar game of Fideliotrio, whereas the violin player perform between two speakers by which he could listen his own recording without perceiving his own intonation, but only the recorded-on-tape one, so that he experiences a sort of diembodiment! Really interesting experiment! -, Opera With Objects - a sort of exercise Alvin Lucier uses for didactic purposes in which his students at Wesleyan College, where Alvin teaches electronic music (even if he refuses such a definition for his sound researches...), tap on different objects that they find, exploring the timbre resonance of those objects, where the interpreter seems to be totally depersonalised in order to act as a sort of entranced medium for the playset arranged by objects during a kind of exploration of their intimate properties...-, Silver Streetcar For The Orchestra - featuring interesting experiments on amplified triangles! - and Music For Piano With Magnetic Strings - a piece where the piano plays by itself after it's "prepared" with EBows, small electromagnets previously used for electric guitars, placed on its strings so that what results is a somewhat-hypnotic series of stranded sound layers varying in density and texture as well, showing another feature of this outstanding composer, whose scores look more like to user's guidelines! -.

After enjoying these perfomances by Zeitkrazter's musicians, I'm sure you will not consider them just as a scientifc study on sound phenomenology, but as music as well!
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Artist: Zeitkratzer (@)
Title: WHITEHOUSE electronics
Format: CD
Label: Zeitkratzer Records
Distributor: Forced Exposure
Rated: *****
The seventh stroke of the pointed Zeitkratzer lash has been added by William Bennet, one of the most inspiring pioneer of the so-called power electronics and industrial music throughout his provocatory project Whitehouse, whose name for all hungry listeners who are not so learned about the origin of this sonic species was taken from one of most notorious pornographic English zine as well as from the surname of Mary Whitehouse, one of the fighting Christian activist, which gained some notoriety for her puritan campaigns since the 70ies and so an easy target for Bennett & C., whose music could be considered as a sort of stage and "speaking" corner for his anti-toadyism and anti-moralist agreeably harangues standing upon his intent to forge what he defined "the most extreme music ever made", which was going to be earsplitting and violent either in its form and in its content.

Even if there's no use of strictly electronic devices, I'm sure Mr Bennett had appreciated both the extrapolation from his rich repertoire and the "orchestral" version by Zeitkratzer's musicians directed by the pianist Reinhold Friedl who have been able to preserve the surgical harshness as well as the powerful emotional impact of the original compositions and their ability in melting them throughout the aid of zeitkratzers' deep knowledge of amplification and microphone techniques which is evident since the opening piece Munkisi Munkondi (many pieces by Bennet's are entitled with African names as his fascination for African and Haitian music and culture had been attested by his attempts of integrating some sounds form that imaginary, particularly percussions, in its brutal assemblages ), taken from Bird Seed (an album recorded in 2003) and referring to the ritual sculpturing of wooden representations of local gods or protecters obtained from the painful scratches of each villager on primordial trunk, whereas amidst the clashing orchestral magma some ascending sounds reminding the typical screeching of whizzing cars are intertwined with amplified wind instruments looking like the harrowing moos of cows condemned to slaughtering or the frightened squawking of ducks before turning into fois-de-gras.

The opening sinister shrill sound of Nzambi la Lufua of the colliding hight-pitches, which gradually descends, of a trumpet and a trombone could remind the anguishing scenario of an agonizing farmyard before the moment of absolute silence (Bennett prefers to speak about "short moments of reflection"), detaching this track from the following one, Scapegoat, a magistral drone-like piece where dilated instruments seems to be scorched by tremolo and vibrato effects. The tremendous and devastating corporeity of Bennett's music has been highlighted by the following track, Faiground Muscle Twitcher, a sort of noisy representation of the spasm of a muscle just before an unavoidable pain whose ritualistic side hides in some hidden chidplays easily suffocated by distorted and high-pitched string sounds, whose abruptive end sounds like those reassuring words a nurse normall says to a fearful child after injection. But the most ritualistic moment of this performance, live recorded in Marseille in 2009, is Bia Mintatu, whose vortical ascension of asymmetrical loops, sinister noises and paralysing glissandi refers to a particular tribal African invocation in the form of litany, intended to propitiate the destruction of any potential enemy. The obscure and noisy lameness of the frozening final track, The Avalanche, is the perfect way to finish this immersive sample of orchastrated noise. Brilliant!
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anymore
Artist: BACHI DA PIETRA
Title: Quarzo
Format: CD
Label: Wallace Recprds (@)
Rated: *****
Not so long ago we've reviewed their live vinyl + dvd, it was nothing but a morsel of a forthcoming banquet and here is the new full-length, it's the last episode of what so far can be defined as a lucky career. They've always had beautiful recordings but this time the production is incredible, so tip of hat for the sound engineer has shaped this diamond so brilliantly, it's impressing since every frequency is so boombastic you can't even believe the band is just a drum and voice/guitar duo, at the same time it's not too loud but just crystalline. The fact is that after a series of incredible releases this' just good, or at least I think despite some killing tracks this time the whole product is a little bit less ass kicking than the last two records. For those who still don't know the band we're talking about a duo mixing heavy depressive blues, Nick Cave, post-rock, some alternative noise rock influences from the nineties and influences from the best italian songwriters from the past. Maybe it's just a suggestion or just the inflection of the singer's accent, but for the first time I notice some similarities with Paolo Conte (by the way, they're coming from the same area), sure here the lyrics are more cynical, more bohemienne, but the sour/bitter view of the world is quite similar they just like of Conte's irony. Despite my comment on the fact this' just a bit less brilliant then the last two records, it features some incredible songs like in the case of 6, 2, 5 and it shows how writing simple tracks with just two basic instrument and a voice can be a display of talent for a craftsman and that's the case. Just a couple of piano notes added for the arrangements, and some additional feedbacks to complete the recipe. As I've said I prefer their previous materials but still a great band.
Nov 25 2010
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anymore
Artist: SERO
Title: Interception System
Format: 12"
Label: X0X Records (@)
Rated: *****
After two years of silence (their previous release was Blastromen's "Blasteroid" EP), X0X Records is back with a new solo release by Sero, member of Sektoid. INTERCEPTION SYSTEM EP contains two versions of the original tune and three remixes done by Dj Overdose (he did two of them) and Morphology. The original track is an upbeat new electro tune with space atmosphere inserts that couple dark lead synths and vocals, creating, in this way, a mysterious atmosphere while syncopated 808 beats make no prisoners. Synth layers alternation, great sounds and fast rhythms will make fall in love the electro audience. "S.I.S." Dj Overdose remix, focus the sound on the a new rhythmic pattern (which recalls the original one), adding a mid tempo bass line and melodic synth lines. I liked the contrast created by the fast drum beats and the synth pads. The second remix by Dj Overdose is the "Poser remix". On this one we have an upbeat syncopated drum coupled to menacing lead breaks and few melodic parts. Mophology, for their remix, decided to go straight to the bone of the original tune and reworked it totally, keeping the vocals (that have been filtered) and adding a nice dry bass line (almost funky) and a new rhythm (it is always upbeat but it sounds more classic electro). After a while, pads and lead solo phrases enrich this cool mix. The closing track is a 2' short one and resume the original tune. I really liked the release, so I give my welcome back to X0X Records!
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Artist: CAPACOCHA
Title: Follow Me Remixes
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk (@)
Rated: *****
As the title suggests, FOLLOW ME REMIXES is a collection of remixes of Capacocha's "Follow me" song. On this release we have 13 version of the track and the peculiarity is that each remixer worked on the track of the previous one. I'll try to describe them. Ricky y Rulo made a great mix of electro and dance with stop and go. Petr Passive, did a mid tempo retro gaming version with distorted synth lines and filtered robotic vocals, focusing on melody and 4/4 rhythms. Rawfare, made a distorted syncopated dance track with raw vocals. Ray, focused on clean vocals (that recalled me LCD Soundsystem), upbeat dance rhythms and distorted bass lines. Sjammie the Money, after an intro made of synth chords and 80s dance atmospheres, turned the song into a nightmarish electro dance song just to switch between the two. Cepi, de-structured the song and made two different parts (the first almost techno with repeated vocal samples and the second a sort of grime techno mix). Fantastadon, remixed the tune making it turn into a great cinematic mix of ambient dub and grime. Ikki, focused their mix on an hypochondriac blend of synth wave and techno. Bronstibock, chose 4/4 distortions alternating grime, techno and dance. Aux Raus, mix sounds like a upbeat blend of gabber and synth wave. Jack Lomo, did a seducing mix using dance syncopated atmospheres and distorted bass lines with the original vocals on evidence. De Grote Vinnie, Donnie En Sjakie Show remixed the track keeping the essential and adding distorted filtered synth leads. Rufus Baxendale, kept the original vocals adding sweeping synths, distorted 8 bit bass lines and upbeat dry drum beats. Nice release!
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