Music Reviews

Jul 27 2016
Artist: Simon Balestrazzi
Title: Asymmetric Warfare
Format: CD
Label: Azoth
Rated: *****
Some months ago, the inventive Italian producer Simon Balestrazzi (most of our readers should know he was the mind behind the electronic curtains of T.A.C. and more recently in the likewise exciting projects Candor Chasma and Dream Weapon Ritual) decided to pour his visionary and genuinely cinematic approach to electronic composition into a personal label, Azoth, and the first ring of this hopefully long chain of releases was this astonishing release that displays his strong focus on cultural, political and social themes. This output is a sonic rendering of the somehow thoughts and worries of the whole worldwide community, which are gradually turning into a sort of perpetual state of mind for many people and are deeply marking this somehow unencryptable phase of human history. The title is also the conceptual framework of Simon's release: "Asymmetric Warfare" - defined in the inlay as that "warfare in which opposing groups or nations have unequal military resources, and the weaker opponent uses unconventional weapons and tactics, as terrorism, to exploit the vulnerabilities of the enemy" - is an interesting interbreeding, where what gradually became a sort of existential dimension, fed by media and the obscure threatening shadow of Daesh/Isis, whose origin are so obscure that attentive people and analysts have more than one doubt regarding the typically rendered iconography of the people behind it, intersected the unconventional sonic weapons in Simon's lab. The intersection of a series of audio recordings related to Middle East conflicts he grabbed from the web and the sounds and sometimes disturbing noises he created an impressive set of effects, mics, synths and objects (including EHX ring modulator, crystal earpieces, a Doepfer analog synthesizer, piezo pickups, contact mics, tapes, a vintage magnetophone microphone, mallets, bows, small electric motors and so on) built a set of abstract and concrete at the same time narrations, where disturbed broadcasting, noisy rogue agents, cryptic noises and subtly disquieting sonic collages. All these significant elements that seem to have been squeezed by the above-sketched elements of our age seem to flow into a dark pool of drones and magmatic fluid that could be considered as the indelible ink by which an obscure essayist is writing contemporary humanity's history.

B.YHZZ: Contra EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (9263)
Jul 14 2016
Artist: B.YHZZ
Title: Contra EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Infinite Machine (@)
With its car-locking beeps and door slam hits, I think there's a sense of fun lurking underneath the surface of lead track "HOL". Not that this isn't music that takes itself seriously, it's definitely earnest in its ambition to blend the deep recesses of dark gothic punk attitude and the pounding jackhammer beats of straight-up techno into one attention-grabbing, conversation-shattering attack. It's bold, in a way very simple, and pretty effective. Structurally, it's ideal for just one thing- playing on headphones after you've had a really crap day. I can't see how it would creep out to a public audience, but as a private catharsis, it's got strength.

The other tracks "AGES" and "REDU" are mild by comparison- experimental noise workouts that you might have heard from French avantgarde musique concrete pioneers if they'd been born as millennials and brought up on a rich techno diet. It's artful, and it's danceable in an awkward, "f*** you" way.

At twelve minutes, this is a succinct but rich EP that doesn't outstay its welcome. The promo blurb puts great stock in the "counter-cultural energy" that fuelled this release and while I wouldn't over-state the political credentials, it's a fine bit of extremely dark beatwork.

DMT: Ultimatum

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (9238)
Jun 27 2016
Artist: DMT
Title: Ultimatum
Format: CD
Label: KultFront/Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
DMT's 'Ultimatum' is the second album in "Die Zeichen" series run by kultFRONT and ZHELEZOBETON labels. The first part was released in 2013 - Sal Solaris "Die Scherben 2004-2010". The new album is a tribute to Dmitriy Tolmatskiy who unexpectedly passed away in 2009. Dmitriy was one of the few journalists who popularized the alternative culture in Russia. In late 90's he created the web portal RWCDAX and his famous "Industrial Culture Extended FAQ" which unveiled previously unknown layers of post-industrial art for many Russians. The album mainly consists of compositions never officially released before, taken from CDRs which Dmitriy gave to his friends. There are also a few tracks from the compilations he had time to participate. The album provides a glimpse into various periods of DMT's sonic experiments from 1999 to 2008. It also features fragments of a live performance together with Alexei Borisov in St. Petersburg in December 2005.

As you might expect, this is a very mixed bag of compositions, and as such, cannot be expected to have much in the way of thematic, or musical unity. The first couple of tracks- "Funeral" and "Helter Skelter[Passage 1]" are very much industrial noise pieces, the first with a somewhat slow-paced drum track, the second with monstrous industrial percussion. (The latter is a fragment from a live performance at the Thalamus III festival from 2005 in St. Peterburg.) Both are very heavy on noise chaotics, but somehow there is still a degree of control. I initially listened to these tracks before knowing anything about the CD, and feared this was going to just be a juggernaut of constant noise. Fortunately, such was not the case. "Cambodia" is a bit more ambient, with moody industrial electronic background and and gnashing metallic sounds before some thick ominous chordal pads herald in a freight train of pounding percussion which soon passes. Eventually a less obstreporous industrial rhythm is settled on with menacing electronics over the top. "Waiting for the Rest" offers a kind of industrial ambience with a somewhat martial beat. "Think About It" has some echoed electronic sounds playing over an industrial beat, and the voice sample ("think about it") is repeated often. The next four tracks - "DA 8," "The Call," "Ultimatum," and "My God" are all previously unreleased. "DA 8" has a nice strong industrial rhythm component; "The Call" begins in a kind of orderly fashion with a rhythm track akin to a certain type of pressurized lawn sprinkler, and then is overtaken by hyperactive snare shooting off into oblivion. Title track "Ultimatum" sounds old-school all the way, from the programmed drums to the synths, and even the spoken-word lyrics (in Russian of course). "My God" struck me as a bit ridiculous with an ever more frantic voice babbling away in Russian over an increasingly noisy industrial music background. Disaster? Calamity? Probably, but perhaps not the kind the artist had in mind. "Helter Skelter [Passage II]" also from the Thalamus III festival begins with a sample of the chorus from the original Beatles song, but is soon drown in a miasma of electronics, noise and vocal moaning. "Are You Ready to Die" copiously samples Timothy Leary's dialogue with Ralph Metzner from his 'Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out' album over DMT's electronic psychedelic ambience. A bit rough, but still interesting. "Happines in Pride" is one of the earliest (1999) and also one of the weirdest tracks on this compilation. Its main component is an ascending LFO pitched noise sequence over early Scorn-like percussion. It's repeated nearly over the entire track, and has the effect of being deviously hallucinatory. "Main Stream" is a cacophony of radio voices(at first) and noises, then settles down to a minor roar of industrial and electronic drones and noise. "Lynch," appropriately dedicated to David Lynch is an unsettling but low-key piece of pulsing dark ambient electronica that's relatively easy to digest. "Desert Noise" is black industrial dark ambient reminscent of Lustmord. Final track, "Escape" is the calmest piece on the album, but in its own way, perhaps the eeriest. A nice way to end it.

As I said in the beginning, 'Ultimatum' is a mixed bag, but a good chunk of it will appeal to noise enthusiasts, while industrial and experimental electronica fans should also check it out. It's a shame that Dmitriy had to shuffle off this mortal coil. Who knows what DMT might have been capable of, but at least this as a kind of memento mori. Limited to 300 copies.
Artist: Adam Gołębiewski (@)
Title: Pool North
Format: CD
Label: Latarnia (@)
Rated: *****
The first question I asked myself when I received this record was quite obviously related to those unidentified tools on the cover artwork. What are thy? A full torture equipment of mad dentist? Primitive fireplace pokers? Mysterious tools for the cleaning of furnaces? Whatever they are, they supposedly landed on the table of the Poznan-based musicologist, sociologist and experimental drummer Adam Gobiewski, who wisely used them to forge one of the most extraordinary sets of really experimental percussive tracks that recently titillated my eardrums. Even though listeners, who cannot really understand this extreme experiments, could tag "Pool North" as the artifact of a sadistic sound artist, this output by Adam, which can not be considered a rhythmical exercise at all, is the exploration of a huge pack of remarkable percussive effects that quickly reaches the threshold of pure disturbances. In the seven tracks of the album, Adam melts over-amplified noises, somehow cacophonous drones, violent scrapes and other bizarre resounding strategies to squeeze intense listen experiences, that unavoidably stimulates the imagination. You could imagine the crazy attempt to hybridize a snare drum, a triangle, a trumpet, a doorbell and who knows what else on the clashing "Decay" or you could experience what a woodworm could feel when his humble abode got turned into toothpicks on the ironically titled track "Ellington Tradition" or you could even think that a hellish monster looking like an elephant seal is trying to enter in your house by forcing an old door and its rusty hinges, while listening to the scary "Manner and Timbre". Some ears could bleed, but it'll be worth.

Wilt: From Depths Profound and Inconceivable

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
 Edit (9199)
May 31 2016
Artist: Wilt (@)
Title: From Depths Profound and Inconceivable
Format: CD
Label: Fall of Nature Records (@)
Rated: *****
Wilt is James P. Keeler: synths, bass, vocals and electronics; and Dan Hall: baritone electric guitar, acoustic guitar and electronics, from Chicago, Illinois I believe. They've been around since 1998 and have an abundant amount of releases, so many that I'm not even going to bother to count them. This is another case of "why haven't I heard these guys before?" I'm sort of the "dark ambient guy" here at Chain D.L.K., and I'm surprised that in all this time I've never gotten one of their CDs to review. I know they've been mentioned on the site, but I don't know as if they've ever gotten a full album review. So with that in mind, here it goes.

Having such a prolific discography, I could spend months wandering through their back catalog for comparisons with previous works, but that's way too much work for me. In a nutshell, 'From Depths Profound and Inconceivable' is a combination of dark ambient and power electronics/noise. This isn't always my favorite combo; for me it can be like putting hot sauce on chocolate pudding. Sometimes though, it kind of works, and on 'FDP&I' it works pretty well. With 14 tracks to this album it seems pointless to try and describe each one, although I may try to describe some of them. 'FDP&I'is one of a two part series dedicated to and inspired by the work of H.P Lovecraft. (Is there any dark ambient artist who hasn't been enfatuated with Lovecraft?) On the opening, "Buried Temple of Belial," you get low electronic drone puncuated by crunchy, distorted guitat strikes, kind of minimal but effective for setting a creepy mood. A lot more low distorted electronic noise follows in the next track, and a dense dark ambient mood with steamy noise follows after. I really like the transient piece, "Passage," with it's subliminal guitar loop, ambient dark noises, and tremelo dirty guitar strikes. Not really noisy but definitely foreboding. After that comes a lot of low, rumbling power noise that sounds like icebergs disintegrating into the ocean. "Mysterium Of Supreme Knowledge" has a certain mystique to it with a repetitious echoey guitar phrase over low drone and other dark ambient sonic effluvia. So far, this is the real grabber of the album. I could listen to just this for...well, a good long time. The next couple of tracks are a deluge of noisy blackened and blasted offerings, and if you make it through that, you will come across the spooky "Moonlit Towers of Ruined Castles." Here, a demonic organ holds sway over souls trapped from eons ago. More virulent, dense noise follows until you get to the somewhat calm "Les Fleurs du Mal," a melancholy drone dirge. Lots of low rumbling "From The Charnel Bowels Of A Putrescent Earth" which continues on with "The Pale Watching Moon," albeit a little more intensely. "Desolate Mountains" seems as though it might continue along these lines, and to a degree it does, but with some moody, sparse, low-string guitar. That's it.

In conclusion, 'From Depths Profound and Inconceivable' seems to be a worthy addition to Wilt's ouevre, and when I have time I will likely check out some of their previous releases. If you don't like noise with your dark ambient, this might not be for you, but the whole thing is very well crafted and shouldn't be dismissed just because it will rattle a pair of woofers now and then. Limited to 100 copies.
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