Music Reviews



Cluster Lizard: Prophecy

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 17 2019
cover
Artist: Cluster Lizard (@)
Title: Prophecy
Format: CD
Label: Prostir
Rated: *****
The focus on the fact that Cluster Lizard, the bicephalous project by Kvitnu boss and skilled sound forger Dmytro Fedorenko and the brilliant audio and visual artist Kateryna Zavoloka (the mind between the cover artworks of Kvitnu releases and author of the simple, but elegant one for this output in the guise of Cluster Lizard), haven't released anything under Kvitnu, as their debut came under the mark of French label Le Cabanon Records and this second album is the release number one for a newly founded imprint, they called Prostir, isn't a really relevant aspect of this ... I think that the fact it has the same name of the national electronic payment system, developed by Central Bank in Ukraine in 2016, their native land, is not a casual choice. Similarly, the choice of the title for their album, "Prophecy", is not casual at all. Would it refer to a prophecy for their country or something that could be spread to all our planet? Maybe the answer is in the middle, due to the choice of the quoted lines in the title of each track, grouping different examples of visionary and somehow prophetic writers, poets (including Lesya Ukrainka, one of the key figure of modern Ukrainian history - besides her fascinating poems, she became known for getting arrested by zarists due to its strong activism in the Marxist movement... hers is the first Ukrainian translation of Communist Manifesto) and even sci-fi movie makers (the title for the third track is nothing but an English transcription of the Brunnen-G fight chant, taken from Lexx, a Canadian-German sci-fi series, also known as Tales from a Parallel Universe). The conceptual framework is surely interesting, but it wouldn't eclipse the skills of these guys in translating into sounds and masterfully grasped noises of the ideas and images they arise with their prophetic visions, as it's clear since the very first track. Quoting a line by Blake, that the visionary English poet himself used for the frontispiece of a print on the origins of man, the ambivalence within a line like "The Sun's Light When He Unfolds It Depends On The Organ That he Beholds It" gets fully mirrored by the sounds of Cluster Lizard, where the same sound evokes different images on the basis of the organ sound by which they wrap it! The other tracks follow similar strategies and paths, along which this consolidated duo fills those lines by electro-industrial gizmos, awesome sonic engraving and wise usage of filters, that reaches really high peaks (not so far from the art of masters like Autechre) on "Come From Forever, And You Will Go Everywhere" (quoting Rimbaud) and the last "This Happened Before and It Will Happen Again".

Sturqen: Survivalismo

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 03 2019
cover
Artist: Sturqen (@)
Title: Survivalismo
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Under the genuinely sonic aspect, this new album by Portuguese duo Sturqen (real names David Arantes and Cesar Rodrigues, from Oporto) for the knowingly excellent label Kvitnu, which cab be reasonably considered a milestone for lovers of power electronics, industrial techno, rhythmic noise and acid sonorities, maybe cannot be considered a fully fledged turning point, if you know the approach they followed on their previous outputs. In the first part, it's reminiscent, rather, of the acid stage of so-called elektro of the late 90ies (a branch of techno, siphoning elements of acid trance, who got packed into disorienting hyper-compressed epileptic rhythmical patterns), by following a pattern followed by many contemporary techno producers, who are massively reprising those sounds. Besides the (valuable) exercise in style (tracks like "Nervos", the stifling "Nuz" or "Novag" - the moment where these folk gets closer to some of the highest points reached in that niche by artists of labels like Rephlex, UR or Tresor -), the concept of this album could explain its structure: the first confusing and somehow unpleasant tracks, departing by the intro "Aranha" (Portuguese for 'spider') and the nervously acid glue of the already quoted "Nervos", seems to translate into sound the likewise confusing and disorienting world, where we live, whose timely traps and cages, where metal bars have been replaced by likewise unbending illusions. The following tracks seem to render a gradual awareness of such a concrete dystopia, a sort of carnival mirroring that cyclicality (as suggested by the strangling progression of "Hegel") of a history that becomes more and more smothering. The last (and the longest) track, titled "Energia", seems to cement both Sturqen's conceptual framework and the previous aural clues by a viscous electric storm, that sounds like a distorted declension of some obscure stuff by Gwenn Tremorin (Flint Glass).

Mei Zhiyong and Dave Phillips: MeiZhiyong Dave Phillips

 Posted by eskaton   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Feb 28 2019
cover
Artist: Mei Zhiyong and Dave Phillips
Title: MeiZhiyong Dave Phillips
Format: LP
Label: Urbsounds Collective (@)
Rated: *****
This album grew out of a European tour that Dave Phillips put together for Mei Zhiyong in reciprocation for a Chinese tour that Mei Zhiyong had helped orchestrate for Dave Phillips. Despite not speaking each other’s language, they decided to work together through music. I was unfamiliar with either artist, and had only just reviewed Jamka’s minimalist techno album on the same label, so I had no idea what I was in for. Thankfully, I really enjoy harsh noise, because that is what blasted out of my speakers when I dropped the needle on this record. Looking at Dave Phillips’ discography this makes sense, as he has worked with such luminaries as Masonna and Mei Zhiyong has worked with such artists as Macronympha (but sounding like neither of those two). This is my kind of noise – everything including the kitchen sink gets sampled and then thrown into the mix. This is not a complete wall of sound though. They manage to break it up with less aggressive passages before turning around and unloading with both barrels again. The other side is a bit more cut-up noise, but still interesting. Overall, to picture this, imagine the aggressiveness of your favorite harsh noise artist combined with the attention to detail of, say, Hafler Trio. This album is limited to 300 copies, so if this sounds up your alley, you’ll want to pick this up while you can.

Institution D.O.L.: Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World

 Posted by Emanuele Ratti (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Feb 15 2019
Artist: Institution D.O.L.
Title: Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World
Format: CD
Label: TORM Ent
Rated: *****
Institution D.O.L. are back. If you love power electronics/death industrial and all that, you know what I’m talking about. Institution D.O.L. is the project of Barbie B. & Meta Dolor. The album is called “Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World” and it is definitely an album that will become very important - eventually a classic - in extreme music. Institution D.O.L. look as passionate as musicians exploring a new type of music, but they have also 20 years of experience, so the result is just perfect - experience and passion. The album has been recorded in 3 different countries over 3 years, so you may get also an understanding of the character traits of the musicians involved - patience is what can transform good music into great music.
The tracks are elegant and, from a point of view, simple. I do not mean simple as simplistic, but simple in the sense that Institution D.O.L. does not just put together as many sounds as possible just to create unbearable noise - they are no noise tourists.
A few songs are more ‘traditional’ in the sense of power electronics typical of Genocide Organ, Grey Wolves, or similar acts. I have in mind songs such as “We are the black ones”, which is a noise wall standing in the background and generated with samples but also expert use of synthesizers, complemented with a voice shifting between spoken words and screams. Another example is “You are all lost”, which plays smartly with synths parameters to create a feeling of discomfort - the excellent vocal performance completes the song (sometimes screaming, sometimes growling, sometimes talking). “In dust and death” is a little bit different - a very acid synth create a sort of martial rhythm complemented by a very angry voice - noise and sounds of a crowd in the background.
But other songs are different - “Invocation”, Abschlachtung”, and the closing song are what Institution D.O.L. define a sort of ‘deathscape’. They have elements of the other songs, but they also create a dark and dense atmosphere by adding laments, pianos, nice and elegant pads, organs. The last song is particularly cool. The beginning is a walk towards the perfection of death industrial, but suddenly, an elegant pad enters softening the tense (and dense) atmosphere. A delicate melody is complemented by an angry and distorted voice. But it’s not over, since in the middle of this very long song (12 minutes or so), there is also space for a delicate piano, playing a melody that, after you have experienced the entire album, is really an invitation to vanish and die.
The choice of the order of the songs is also smart - you do not have the power electronics first, and then the more ‘relaxed’ songs (or viceversa). You have a mix. By listening to this album, you shift between states of fear, fury, and mystery. And that is exactly what you should expect from genuine extreme music.
To sum up, the year 2019 has started in the right way for the fans of extreme industrial music.
Artist: VV.AA (@)
Title: Merry And Bright
Format: CD
Label: Zaftig Research (@)
Rated: *****
For a while, ever year Brett Lunceford would release a Christmas compilation on his label Zaftig Research. I believe the last one for a while was in 2008 then it came back in 2017 and now we have the 2018 version to review. I am not usually very good about reviewing compilations because it is tough to break down every single track but I wrote a short little blurb here about each one as I went through them, some two times to get it all in.

Conure: The Return of Ralphie is more sapling from A Christmas Story layered and chopped into an ever-growing noisy nightmare, excellent as expected from Conure!

Darmkwadraat: Electric Snow is a digital soup of synthesizer bleeps and bloops with a noisy edge on top. Great stuff from a pretty new act who as far as I can tell only has one release on Lage Landen Lawaai, which puts out super limited tapes. Lots of fun!

Dead Shall Not Have Died In Vain: Jingle Construct is the track I provided for this compilation, so I will not be reviewing it here ;-)

Goose: Sugarplum Dreams contains a beautiful winter landscape of drones and bells, you can hear the wind in the background and some bells jingling nearby, excellent mood music. A brief version of Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy shows up at the end.

Praying For Oblivion + Skullwall: Stockholm Syndrome brings together two harsh noise masters with a track of layered chaos. Both projects released a collaboration at the end of 2017 and much like this split they bring in the sound from each project and mix together very well.

Jan-M. Iversen: Christmas Morn brings a beautiful drone piece that is so intricately layered and musical. If you know how prolific Jan-Morten Iversen is you will not be shocked by the talent behind all of his music.

Orange: No Presents For Christmas is another one of Brett's projects, this time though he brings in the Power Electronics to punish our ears, good old school dirty vibes.

Narishkeit: The Ant Eater. Narishkeit appeared on last years Christmas compilation and they also have a release on Inner Demons. This project from the Netherlands has not been super productive but what they are putting out there is pretty great. The project has some mystery behind it but hopefully, we will hear more from them in the future.

Phog Masheeen: It Will Be Christmas In Hell is a weird loungy track with spoken/sung "lyrics" on top of it. I have not heard any of their other work to know if it is like this but it is odd and I'm not sure if I like it.

Weeping Wall: Five Minutes With A Ten Dollah Ho Ho Ho brings a "noise" track that I wouldn't call harsh at all, it is like a broken digital sounding wash of static. Not many changes in the track but I dig it. I can't find much about this project out there, hopefully, more will turn up soon!

Survey Control: Salamajarvi National Park is an excellent stark track that sounds like someone floating through space attempting to make radio contact with someone out there. Gorgeous outer space drones! Sounds a bit like Bad Sector maybe?

Stolen Light: Boxing Day where Brett brings in the layering of noise and recordings from home maybe? Layered professionally and masterfully.

Bardoseneticcube: Ambioz is another classic ambient sci-fi sounding track as would be expected from this project. Never disappoints!

C/A/T: A Letter To Santa sounds like what we have come to expect from Ben Arp after all these years, classic Rhythmic Noise, I am happy to see that Ben is working on new material again!

Collapse: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Revisited, the first part of that track name "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is a John Lennon song but I am not sure if that was the inspiration for the title. Collapsist is a project that I believe uses modular synths. Excellent repetitious waves of synthesizer sounds!

Overall this is an excellent compilation from Zaftig Research, I know Brett has more planned for the label which is very exciting for myself being a fan for years.


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