Music Reviews



Jun 04 2012
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Artist: Richard Francis & Bruce Russell (@)
Title: Garage Music
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Alone at Last (@)
Distributor: Alone at Last
Rated: *****
The independent russian label 'Alone at Last' despite its name certainly does not leave us alone. This label announced his birth until march of this year and has already released three excellent works simultaneously. One of these discs are the "Celtichants" by Maurizio Bianchi. I have already talked about here on Chain DLK.
And I also said about the painstaking care with which, our friend Dimitry (the eclectic producer of Alone At Last) realizes his records. A treatment that makes all limited edition copies as little gems contained into a package similar to an origami paper, with color and graphics intriguing and different.

The content of this review is one of this origami work, produced by a duo of great New-Zealand's noise- musicians. One of them is certainly more well known also here in Italy, a country from which I write. It is the volcanic Bruce Russell. And i hope most of you remember him thanks to its "free-noise manifesto".
Bruce is also the musician who has created (with Michael Morley) a very important band like the DEAD C (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dead_C). The Dead C is considered by many people to be a real cult formation that invented the 'New Zealand-Noise'.
Bruce Russell in the eighties, also founded an independent label named 'XpressWay Records' (the one that produced works of other noise artists such as Dadamah, Pin Group and Terminals) and after XpressWay experience Bruce created also another label, the Corpus Hermeticum, which published the works of his most recent project "A Handful Of Dust" (with the violinist Alastair Galbraith). For all of those reasons I think Bruce Russel is certainly a big name in the noise musical scene.

The other musician who played with Bruce in this "Garage Music" is Richard Francis. (http://www.richardfrancis.net.nz/ )
I don't know Richard before this work, but i've found many materials on the web and about it. And i think it is another interesting musician with different important works and many collaborations between New Zealand and Japan, also thanks to his project called Eso Steel. And here, into this work with Bruce, Richard proves certainly lives up to comparisons with the another great noise-designer.

We come finally to talk about this record of our two "noisers". It is a disc which contains 3 short tracks about 5 minutes each entitled at the same mode: Garage 1, 2 and 3. And contain also two beautiful and long suites of sound, of 13 and 17 minutes.
The resulting product is a big example of industrial minimalism and noise ambient based on drones, with analog sounds, guitars and other synthesis music. But I want to tell about this work not only for the beautiful substance of his sound but also for the very particular form in which it was created and registered.

The two musicians have in fact cooperated at a distance. Initially only by exchanging mail, one with each other, between 2007 and 2009. In this way recorded all traces of guitar, played by Bruce, and synthesizers and computers, manipulated by Richard and finally assembly into these 3 short tracks i talk before, with the same title "Garage" . But also the two long suites are the result of a different and strange mix of live recordings in part sincronous and part a-sincronous.

One of those two long suites is titled "Undead" and is a strange marriage between two different recordings of a solo-set performed by authors. The gigs are recorded separately but are performed on the same day.
The resulting fusion is really intense and highly processed.
This long track is titled "Undead" and is certainly the best piece of the whole work. A carpet of sound industrial smoke and whirring motors that rotate and beat synchronously in-phase or anti-phase. Also in this track sound manipulation and real-time computer and synthesizers owned by Richard and cords and ribbons clavioline played by Bruce, create a dough environmental dense and liquid from which it emerges hypnotic listening to fatigue. Really a great job.

For me Undead is very beautiful, alienating and also personally upsetting for the kind of ambient noise-that in some instances is created. With drones sounds and cyclic sinusoidal rhythms. All of these drones going to overlap, defeating and counter-beating, to meet at the end, even if quite by chance, on the same rhythmic pulse.

The fifth and last track of this album, also long, is titled simply "Live" and was recording during a live real-time concert. This concert happens in February 2009 and in the same place as other live tracks. And finally he sees, for the first time in this work, the two musicians play together your noise and industrial music. Live is a great final noise gig for all of us. To leave us "Not alone at last..!"

I close here my review. But I will tell you that, even if our Bruce and Richard are surely accustomed to frequent the lands and seas far away from our Europe, as I listened to their record I imagined the ideal backdrop to their live set with sounds of this type.
I hope these two noise-surfers will forgive me if I don't imagine them lying on the sands under their New-Zealand's sun but I see them play their industrial musics in a nocturnal gig set, amid the ruins of a factory and near the cold seas of north Europe. I imagine also, behind them and their musics, only the dark blue color of sky and the grey of clouds moving slowly over the Finns seawaves.
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Artist: Richard Pinhas & Merzbow (@)
Title: Rhizome
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
Another release by Cuneiform landed on my deck with a certain delay is this astonishing collaboration by French trail-blazing guitarist Richard Pinhas and Japanese noisy sorcerer Merzbow. I already appreciated their sonic mongrel on the occasion of the issue of Keio Line, which occurred four years ago. The amalgamation between these the sonic elements sounds even more disorienting than its predecessor as there are many moments of the listening experience where it's quite difficult to discriminate between laptop and guitar, due to wise DSP by Merzbow who recorded in real time some harmonics by Richard while flooding sonic space by ceaseless billows of hisses, frizzling pulses, hypnotic fibrillation, wobbles, screeches and binaural beats interbreeding with performative technique by Pinhas, based on an overlayered and heavy orchestration of guitar loops, even if in some moments of the performance it seems exploring those reverb-driven primitive forms, which are going to be appreciated by Pink Floyd or Fripp's fans. In order to have a visualization of their sound, you could get the inspiration by its nice cover artwork, whereas a gentle geisha girl looks like threatened by a demonic freak of a piggy bear, arguably a metaphorical translation of the seemingly dissonant siege of harmony by noise, but I assigned different parts to playing elements while listening to their aural soundscapes: it seems to me that in the first moments of their performance (Rhizome comes as a recording of their live show at La Maison Francaise in Washington D.C. on 24th Septemeber 2010) Merzbow laser guns and other sonic weaponry have been set to remove any possible fastener or tier of the listener, which could thwart Pinhas'propulsion for listener's mental flights , and step by step they melt together in unison by emphasizing a sort of involving chorale. The listening experience has not weighed down with unuseful preciosities, as some tricks and the whirling assortment of sonic tricks make it everything but boring all over the four rhizomes and the additional one - the one I prefer -, which look like the highest level the gradual ascension their sound could reach. In spite of the delay, I think some copies are still available. They include a DVD, recorded live during the above-mentioned performance, a document which gives the possibility to have a visual approach to these surprising music minds.

Severe Illusion: No More Alive Than You Deserve

 Posted by Marc Tater   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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May 17 2012
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Artist: Severe Illusion (@)
Title: No More Alive Than You Deserve
Format: CD
Label: Complete Control Productions (@)
Distributor: Sound Pollutions Distribution
Rated: *****
Swedish finest Lo-fi/Chaostronica-EBM project returns with an all new album, now signed to the new label Complete Control Productions. And the featured quality of their latest recordings for this album reaches the level of their finest works, since it has been a bit silent during the last three years around them. Fredrik and Ulf are performing with the same harsh rage combined with their ongoing fine nose for the Experimental side to be installed into their sound environment, so that most contributors of the Harsh-EBM/Hellectro camp are standing in a poor light. There isn't magic included behind their synth-arrangements, they rather play with already known and often minimal constructed sound-patterns. But nevertheless you'll get another boosting Severe Illusion release filled with authenticity. After the rather on their side-projects Instans reminding opening track 'Mockingbird', they return into their classic style known from their state-of-art-albums 'Discipline Is Reward Enough' or 'Accomplishments Of Leopold II' with the top-notch tunes 'Try Harder' and 'Clear Head (Album Version)'. Fredrik offers again his 'monstrous' vocal fx-processing, as well as the tracks itself stealing the show with a monotonous bass-line programming resulting in a hypnotic expression. The integration of some Powernoise-like elements also receives an expected revival at latest with the bizarre sound-excesses of 'Rotating Knives, Yes'. All in all, you'll get another plus-good album of this Swedish duo, which comes out a bit like a long missed friend. Severe Illusion stands for a nice, but rather expected addition to the Swedish CCP-label.

Subterraneanact: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 16 2012
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Artist: Subterraneanact (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Z6 (@)
Rated: *****
It's really difficult to recognize the points of departure of this collaborative project by Henk Bakker aka HEK (former member of Dull Schicksal with Lukas Simonis, Hajo Doom an Colin Mclure and one leg of Static Tics) and Jelmer Cnossen aka Malorix, but I think the drawn analogy between the computer (or ableton) assisted way they dissected, miniaturized, crumbled, aggregated and treated inputs from respective instruments - bass clarinet and drums - in order to discover their hidden and more extreme sonic potential and excavation, digging or any other possible activities concerning underground passages or tunnel (as well as any related biological reaction such as the stuffy feeling related to the rarefaction of air) is proper with their sound. You could feeling like some worker in the bowels of the earth for extraction of minerals or for the drilling of the rocks in order to create tunnels for underground trains while listening heavy matsuri-like bumps or hammering, saw-like cacophonic noises, sinister echoes, disturbing explosions and other sonic sketches with many somewhat imaginative episodes - my favorite ones are Specon 9 (where it seems there are sudden gusts from dark underground zones, mixing with clanking rods), Conlet (it seems that the track echoes the devastating whirling of a drilling blading while severing electric wires during its rotation, inspiring some dizzy feeling), Exart (during its listening I imagined some mad miner, who decided to kill a big community of underground bugs or rats with a plenty of sticks of dynamite...), Fiek and the final S-Scape (you could imagine the above-mentioned miner, who frantically looks for a way of escape after realizing that he destroyed its torch together with a plenty of rats!)-. This impacting Dutch project offers a little bit uncanny but very immersive listening experience.

Fertanish: Zero Zero Three

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
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Apr 29 2012
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Artist: Fertanish (@)
Title: Zero Zero Three
Format: CD
Label: Plus Noise Records (@)
Rated: *****
Fertanish is an experimental noise project by Bill Murphy from Washington, DC. On this full length debut outing of 12 tracks Fertanish ensures that the listener will be jarred out of complacency and exposed to some highly toxic sonic environments. The cover of this slick CD digipack (a mantis munching on a fly) is perhaps more symbolic than literal, as this isn't a field recording soundtrack for a Discovery Channel show on entomology. Well, there are places that have some of those elements, albeit sounding like they were run through a woodchipper, but more on that later.

'Practitioner' opens with a manic barrage of percussion and effluvia of noise that's akin to what Amon Tobin might sound like if he tried his hand in the noise genre. It morphs into this bouncy little Morse code rhythm for a bit and then the noise changes shape, size and dimension, spiraling ever upward. Fascinating. 'Mud' has a burbling, liquidy quality to it with heavy percussion loops and pounding drums. It moves faster than its title would indicate, but it does have a certain sludgy quality to it. 'Cockroach' makes use of sporadic gated percussion interjected with screeches until a torrent of noise overwhelms everything. Random sample & hold synth melody, chirping birds, other field recordings (then later some simplistic melodic synth) is a weird contrast to the shrieking cacophony that permeates this piece.

'Jetha' starts out with programmed rhythm on cymbals before the grating 'fingernails-on-a-chalkboard' noise takes over. Noise and field recording loops abound interspersed with burst rounds of kick-drum. 'We Wished for an Explosion' is heavy drum pattern and loops of other-worldly noise sonics, gated, backwards, over-under-sideway down. 'Airspace' takes field recordings of nature and environmental sounds and puts them in a blender of sonic distress. Is that jet overhead obliterating everything in its path? 'Grace,' the shortest piece on the album at a little under minute has a barely discernable melody in the background of this steadily harsh noise environment; you can hear a few tweets too, not of the Twitter variety.

'Lamb's Confusion' is more playful in the rhythm aspect, but no less heavy than what's gone on before. Storm giants dance a lumbering jig pummeling each other while gnomes laugh. 'Terminelegy' is ominous dark ambient with processed spoken vocals. 'Tired' has crunchy noise looping and a cuckoo sound descending synth sequence, and the sound of a billion birds gone wild. (The Hitchcock film has nothing on these avians.) Things get even wilder with bits of cleverly employed voice samples and a hundred elements I can't describe adding to the controlled chaos. Final track, 'The World Has Ended and We Have All Passed On' is an epic 14 ½ minute piece that seems to sum up everything that's gone on before it.

For noise enthusiasts, 'Zero Zero Three' is a veritable smorgasbord of turbulent pandemonium, and Fertanish shapes this sound sculpture like a true artist. You can tell a lot has gone into this work. I don't know the artist's vision for the future, but I'd like to hear Fertanish try something that tempers the abrasive side with less harsh sonic environments utilizing the sample and looping techniques that the artist has obviously mastered. (A little noise goes a long way in my world.) The CD seems to be widely available - Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby, etc., etc., so if you're a noise enthusiast, I suggest you pick up a copy as it is quite an engaging listen.


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