Music Reviews

Mike Cooper: Reluctant Swimmer / Virtual Surfer

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
 Edit (9693)
Mar 25 2017
Artist: Mike Cooper
Title: Reluctant Swimmer / Virtual Surfer
Format: LP
Label: Discrepant (@)
Rated: *****
Saluted as 'the icon of post-everything' according to Lawrence English's words, Mike Cooper returns on excellent Discrepant catalogue by a sort of aural documentary, collecting the recording of a live set this creative artist made at the Controindicazioni Festival of Improvised Music in Rome in October 2003. Ideally divided into four movements, which can be considered as two as it seems that Mike (now living his sixties) slowly prepared the sonic soil in the first half of each set for the cover song he performed in the second one, they belong to a moment where the seed of that agonizing and reckless exoticism sometimes evoked by his recent experiments on lap steel guitar were still audible. It's pretty amazing to notice that some sonic strategies in the slowly processed movements could vaguely resemble the ones that contemporary artists like Fennesz are spreading in our days; such an approach, combining electric scorch marks on guitar-driven melodies, diluted frequencies that could be matched to the scientific tracking of the dream activity of a drunkard who fell asleep on yellow fluffy pillows, field recordings that sound like coming from "yellowing" printed pictures and other sonic freaks appearing like ghosts here and there over an impressive combination of real-time sampling, digitally processed sounds and minimal guitar loops, is particularly evident in "Virtual Surfer", gently merged with the endearing dejected hug of the lyrics of 60s folk singer Fred Neil's "The Dolphins", looking like an interplay due to the way the slightly changed medley ("I’ve been searching/For the dolphins in the sea/And sometimes I wonder/Do THEY ever think of me") fades into a feast that could be matched to the imitation of some more or less telepathic chat between the smart mammals quoted by the song. In order to give you an idea of what you could listen to "Reluctant Swimmer", the other half of this release, you could imagine an American-folk song inadvertently performed by a medieval automata or by clocks in the lab of a clockmaker, occasionally oiled by flanger effects and wooshing sounds, before the track fades out in the cover of the raconteurish caress of the ode "Movies is Magic" by Van Dyke Parks. The cover I'm using here refers to "Reluctant Swimmer" comes from the mind of collage artist by Evan Crankshaw, but the one related to "Virtual Surfer" is likewise beautiful.

Zeitkratzer: Performs Songs From The Albums "Kraftwerk" And "Kraftwerk 2"

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
 Edit (9690)
Mar 23 2017
Artist: Zeitkratzer
Title: Performs Songs From The Albums "Kraftwerk" And "Kraftwerk 2"
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Karlrecords (@)
The music of Kraftwerk needs less introduction than almost any other, and has been reinterpreted in dozens of different ways by everyone from Rammstein to Fatboy Slim to the Cardigans- and more than a few classical and avantgarde reinterpretations as well. Does this release stand out as bringing something new? Not really. Is it good fun and surprisingly successful? Yes it is.

Focussing only on the earlier Kraftwerk albums which had a thinner and arguably more abrasive tone, the ensemble of woodwind, strings, a couple of brass instruments, piano and drums faithfully recreates the barren soundscape that was originally electronic, in an almost exclusively acoustic way. It’s admirable for its attention to detail and an excellent tribute.

In the parts with steady drumbeats, particularly the opener “Ruckzuck”, the tone overall is reminiscent of Jeremy Deller’s “Acid Brass” in some ways; live performance trying to emulate extremely quantized electronic patterns in a way that doesn’t kill off the energy required for expression. If this takes the ensemble out of their comfort zone, then for the rest of the first side of the LP- “Spule 4”, “Strom” and “Atem”- they are clearly on more comfortable ground with the sparse and experimental, occasionally concrète ambiences.

“Klingklang” is a highlight, becoming a jazz number at points with some lovely double bass and flute work. Final track “Megaherz” has utterly beautiful clarinet tones (I’m a sucker for a sad clarinet) over a distant bowed mood and is rather lush too.

While reworking Kraftwerk in a new context is certainly not a new idea, the very successful and faithful, restrained approach throughout “Performs…” makes it a welcome arrival and certainly worth hearing. Apparently a second tranche of reworked early Kraftwerk songs is imminent and will form a second volume to this work, and I’ll certainly want to listen to it.

Olivier Alary: Fiction / Non-Fiction

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
 Edit (9680)
Mar 17 2017
Artist: Olivier Alary
Title: Fiction / Non-Fiction
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: 130701
“Fiction / Non-Fiction” is selected highlights from Olivier’s film score work over the last decade, since hanging up the boots of his Ensemble alias that had released work on Rephlex and Alias.

Detached from any mention of the films or scenes to which these scores apply, what’s left is a collection of seventeen short atmospheric pieces that blend lush, slow and soft orchestral sounds with extremely sparing and sympathetic use of electronics, effects, and gentle drones. These are moods, that do not appear from what I can hear to be tied, either slavishly or loosely, to on-screen cues like you would find in many scores.

Two different film orchestras, a choir, a string quartet and guest appearances from pianists on “Arrivée” and “Dancing Bottle” and a saxophonist on “Yu Shui” and “Flooding” give things an incredibly rich and beautiful tone. Technically this may not be a debut album, but few debut albums can live up to the production quality- and probably the budget- of this.

Despite being a compilation, there’s a consistency here so strong that you could believe this was all score from a single movie- albeit a movie with a near-constant sense of melancholy and very few jokes in it. The artwork, a broad, tree-lined and deeply grey implication of endless journeying, is very apt.

Highlights include the suspense of “Juanicas”, the traditional but still powerful sorrow-strings of “Flooding”, and the faint echoes of Philip Glass in “Pulses”.

It’s a stunning collection, if slightly lacking in emotional diversity, and when I become a hotshot film director making a tear-jerking film about beautiful emptiness, I now know who to turn to for the score.

Simon Kölle: Ave Mater (OST)

 Posted by Ivan Racheck (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
 Edit (9678)
Mar 15 2017
Artist: Simon Kölle (@)
Title: Ave Mater (OST)
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: MovieScore Media (@)
Distributor: MovieScore Media
Rated: *****
There is magic to be heard in Simon Kölle's score for Ave Mater (Vilsen), with individual moments of beauty that make the album worth every penny. Released on the highly-touted soundtrack label MovieScore Media and already award winning on several international festivals.

This album is pure suspense with liturgical moments from the choir which makes me think of the classical soundtrack of "Omen".
It's dark, satanic and beautiful!

The highlights of the score for Ave Mater are the themes and the mix of choir, electronics and orchestral elements. It's a highly original score at times working its way towards the cue "Lost in the Dark and Final Confrontation".

The cues I love the most on this masterpiece are in the beginning and in the end. The absolute favorite for me is "Lost in the Dark and Final Confrontation" because everything comes together in that 7-minute-long track.

In terms of compositional structure, this album is very good. We know Simon from his early years but see him now becoming a fantastic film composer.

Outside of the thematic cues, Ave Mater contains several standout tracks of symphonic and choral beauty.

We can now only hope that MovieScore Media also release this album as a CD but until then it can be found on ITunes, Amazon and Spotify.

P.O.P. (Psychology Of Perception): Ikebana

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
 Edit (9676)
Mar 15 2017
Artist: P.O.P. (Psychology Of Perception)
Title: Ikebana
Format: CD + Download
Label: FMR
Distributor: Newnote
Ikebana is the Japanese word for flower arranging, but in that minimal tradition. No Western bloom explosions here, just beautiful organic elements manipulated and shaped with great attention to detail, into art. Think bonsai, squared. And that’s the concept behind “Ikebana”, as four-piece P.O.P. blend violincello, electric bass, french horn, voice and piano into largely minimal and fairly sharp arrangements. But, like the scope of flower arranging itself, across the space of an hour this album has a surprisingly broad range of styles.

Opener “Shoka” is quite electronics-heavy and slightly misrepresents the overall work, suggesting something that will be heavily digitally sourced, with real instruments only making fleeting guest appearances. This is corrected on “Rikka”, a slow procession of fragile piano and strings that seems to represent life itself growing slowly outwards.

Longest track “Nageira” is a shift again; here’s a battle between the soft instruments heard previously, and metallic shakes and electronics that do not seem to welcome them. It’s the most tense and disquieting thing that’s ever been labelled as ‘flower arranging’! And with “Chabana”, we head in a different direction once more- a sad, hollow drone, a constant electronic hum, and an extremely plaintive wailing sound (possibly a french horn but I’m not absolutely sure) moaning like an animal trapped in a zoo giving up its expectations of escape.

The second half loops around and begins to echo some of the tones of the first. With “Shimentei” we return to the rattling sinister rumbles of the opening track. “Morimono” is another hum with metallic scrapes and what sounds like violin strings snapping. “Jikuka” has a purring bass tone with further metallic twisting and awkwardness (possibly piano string being abused?) and an increased sense of percussive dynamic that takes it well into ‘avantgarde horror movie’ territory. In closer “Moribana” the hum evaporates leaving a barren space almost exclusively populated by strained metal string tones.

This is an accomplished collection of dark and unsettling performance, with a surprising emphasis on horror and dischord (the publicity photo of the band on a sunny day make them look like such friendly people!). It’s badly represented by the cover art, which is not only too floral but also in my opinion too poorly designed, but the audio itself is a high class work.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11...20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31...40]

Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

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