Music Reviews



VV.AA./Athana: Athana Remixed 2012 NO:US

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 14 2012
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Artist: VV.AA./Athana (@)
Title: Athana Remixed 2012 NO:US
Format: CD
Label: West Audio Productions (@)
Rated: *****
Although I didn't it, this Norwegian project, named after initials of its main mind Alf Terje Hana, has already been introduced on these pages and looks like based on the extravasation of guitars in a sonic blender whose blades have been turned rust-proof by the involving dynamics of drum'n'bass and its possible crossbreeds, so that by Athana's admission the concrete turning point as well as a source of inspiration (or even enlightenment) for his approach to composition came after seeing a TV broadcast by Roni Size in the golden era of drum'n'bass. Such an interest for new musical language pays off and after four years from its last appreciated collection of remixes - Athana Remixed 05-08 -, Alf decided to build a bridge between his home country, Norway, and USA taking the wraps off two of his songs ("Picazzo" from "Corridor" album and "I.O. Roni" taken from "Beats & Pieces", the one inspired by that inspiring perfomance on BBC's Jools Holland show) to a couple of Norwegian remixers and a couple of American ones. Those ones who remixed "I.O. Roni" are almost unknown to me, but they exhibit an interesting sonic weaponry. I've heard just a couple of releases (with Dialect Recordings and Crosstown Rebel imprints) by Ost & Kjex, but it seems they are so notorious in their country that they gained a nomination in the Norwegian Grammy 2010 and on this occasion they assemble a nice electronic/house movement, whose main elements (reverberations on claps, diluted synth bells, a certain funky gear combined with relaxed mood and a sound close to a mobile's dial tone acting as a metronome) recalls that style which radiated from some Scandinavian clubs (think about Plej, Hird or Ben Horn to name a few). In spite of his remarkable number releases, the name of California-based project Uberzone aka Timothy Wiles is totally new to me: his treatment of "I.O. Roni" blends together electro and breakbeat sensations, nice tablas, bleeping sizzles (turning into an 8-bit melody in the end of the track) and those centrifugated swirls which are normally used during dnb dj sets, which are going to delight ears of breakbeat and dubstep addicts as well. I'm more familiar with name and sounds by NY-based producer Dennis De Santis (his name gained some visibility for being involved in the astonishing Aphex Twin acoustic project "Alarm Will Sound"), who proposes a very catchy set of breaks & brakes flavored with sonic recipes such as guitar chords, synth brass gabbles, treated vocal slices, and by Mungolian Jetset, a nice Norwegian duo, which often build moody and daydreaming grooves with a sort of prog-rock approach, which seems to have been preferred on this occasion with the precious support by Emil Nikolaisen, whose additional guitar acts as an enzyme for dream processing.

SND/NHK: Split

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Apr 12 2012
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Artist: SND/NHK (@)
Title: Split
Format: 12"
Label: PAN (@)
Rated: *****
Another interesting release by PAN, whose juicy catalogue fattens up with this split 12" on white vynil by two couples whose moniker is a three-letter one. The first side has been signed by SND aka Blir, a Sheffield-based duo made up of Mat Steel and Mark Fell, who gained a remarkable respect for their sonic artefacts on Mille Plateaux, which managed to influence the so-called "clink'n'cut" scene even if they don't assimilate to it, and a number of smashing live performance, sound installations, events and tours (including the European touring with Autechre as support performers and sound design for The Designers Republic). SND fills it with "15/16", an hypnotic stuttering loop based on nice cuts on claps, gamelan, swooshes, bumps and hats who recalled to my mind "Chinese Flow" by D'Arcangelo Bros'project Monomorph (without those chirping crickets...maybe as a dire consequence of pollution they died...). The second couple of sound-shapers is NHK by Japanese producer Kouhei Matsunaga and Toshio Munehiro, who assembled four jerking engines for the occasion: the deviant ticking of a mechanical clock whose movement appears stopped by means of metal melting acid in "fu2", soaking overcompressed buzz which sounds suffocating a sort of ska-punk rhythm in "111230_2ndhalf", the disturbing drilling of "Hydra_a" (I imagined an attempt of pollination by a confused bee with metal powder or digestive troubles by some bug created by David Thrussel) and the funny electromechanical jumps and hiccups over an assembly line in "stomp1_s".
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Robot Elephant vs Tundra Dubs
Format: CD
Label: Robot Elephant Records (@)
Rated: *****
This bridge built between two labels on the opposite sides of Atlantic ocean (Sebastian's London-based Robot Elephant and Ben's Oakland-based Tundra Dubs), which shares similar policies and do-it-yourself ethics, seems to rest on that phenomenon known as "witch house" or "drag", a bizarre name coined by Pictureplane referred to a sort of homemade music with references to occultism, whose main influences are a number of industrial and goth bands, but which is normally intertwined with a plenty of styles. This compilation has been splitted in two and includes many interesting declensions of "witch house": the most interesting stuff of the first half, the one which has been filled with Robot Elephant's trumpets, are related to forthcoming releases of the label, in particular Romanian HipDieBattery's "Bones", which sounds recorded during a Sabbath whose partakers put good dub and techno recipes together with dragon's claws and dwarf's guts in the cauldron, and Ourobonic Plague's "The Outer Alphabet", whose obscure nuances and ill-hop phat bumping could let imagine some devilish creature's foghorn possessed a mic to climb hip-hop charts, but also The Church of Synth's "Geh Ins Licht" dubstep imbued with Eurotrance typical trumpets is quite nice, while the most remarkable episodes on the second half are the ones by Funerals, a husband/wife duo from Columbus (Ohio), whose gloomy atmospheres could recall some shadowy trip-hop songs and the anxiety of musical acts such as Tricky's "Pre-Millenium Tension", Mascara's assemblage on "Sonnambula", which looks like a melting pot of elements taken from Sabres Of Paradise, Militia and G.O.L. and sticky minimal dubtech in "Korby Bryers" by Grimm Soundsystem, a freak by Tundra Dubs' owner itself.

NHK'KoyxeN: Dance Classics Vol.I

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 06 2012
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Artist: NHK'KoyxeN (@)
Title: Dance Classics Vol.I
Format: 12"
Label: PAN (@)
Distributor: Boomkat
Rated: *****
Many slices of the best IDM and techno, spread since the second half of 90ies and its intimate connection with those magical boxes full of coloured wires, leds and knobs, known as modular synthesizers (those machines which keep on inducing that kind of astounded wonder which let some musicians exclaim "what the f**k! How's possible these machines made this?!?!?!) are going to resurface from dusty mnemonical hold by means of this release by this fuzzy and very prolific Japanese musician (NHK'KoyxeN is just a rewrite of the name of Kouhei Matsunaga, half of Japanese minimal techno duo NHK and collaborator of renowned musicians such as Autechre's Sean Booth, Asmus Tietchens, Merzbow, Rudolf Eb.er, Jungle Brothers's Sensational, Conrad Schnitzler, Anti Pop Consortium's High Priest and many others, with Cyrillic alphabet script), who enslaves his sound machines to the noble undertaking of dance without any other hidden purpose and a special care for "vintage" analog electronic sounds. There're not only chopped bass, pulsations of polyphonic rhythms or diamond drills over the record, but also many interesting diversions such as entrancing lullabies, bare ill-hop masterpieces, crispy claps, viscous bubbling and many other sonic gem, which properly fit to dancefloors as well as solipsistic reflection under altered states, which could activate mnemonic cells where most trained listener store emulsions by AFX, Model 500, Joey Beltram, Solvent and many other legendary knights of that scene. Have a taste of this sonic gourmet meal!

N.E.O.: Sindustrial

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
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Mar 30 2012
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Artist: N.E.O. (@)
Title: Sindustrial
Format: CD
Label: Koerperschall Records/Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
"Welcome to the industrial paradise...welcome to the underground...welcome to... industrial". This is the way N.E.O. (acronym for New Electronic Order), a duo made up of Arne Gutowski aka Tandrin (some acolytes of electro-industrial scene might remember him for being the voice of Mechanical Moth as well as for his very long blonde dreadlocks, which let someone argue he could have a steel-plated scalp!) and Disdain greats the listener with a cold female voice, whose articulating looks like she would announce some train delay in Hell-o. This Sindustrial (nice word trick!) offers quite good stomper with many interesting vocal samples, distorted guiras, mechanical noises and drum machine's rumbling, which are going to make the wearing of gas masks compulsary for the big amount of sweat they can produce in proper settings (amongst others, tracks I reccomend are "Irre Explodieren Nicht", "War Of Fidelity", "Enjoy My Sickness" and the interesting final march of "Hoffnung" - maybe the best one - for some interesting sonic make-up), but the clutter of references could appear a little bit cliched even though it pretend to be "unconventional" or referred to underground culture. The risk a good product could sink in listener's opinion just for looking so stereotyped to be associated with an exergame by Konami or with the nihilist kinks of some omnidirectional teeny-geeky anger (as the declaration of intents in the booklet in tune with those resounding proclamation made by groups of angry nerds speaking about a revolution against "all these downpressed beats, limited to their death" whereas other kinds of revolutions could be more meaningful...) is high, but this is just their debut and I'm pretty sure it will have good response (and just some cramps in legs) in more frenzied cyber or industrial-goth appealed parties.


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