Music Reviews



Hanetration: Gavia EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 18 2017
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Artist: Hanetration
Title: Gavia EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
The “Gavia EP” is a mixed bag collection of four solemn, short, downtempo bits of experimental electronica that stick together slow, organic rhythm patterns with sparse synthetic organ notes, drones, grumbles, and found sounds. Each track has its own character which is either diverse or inconsistent depending on what you’re looking for.

First track “Ponta” is quite lightweight and has a lot of wobble and warp on it that makes it feel strangely drunk. It’s followed by “Cygni”, a much darker piece with a deep and heavily distorted drone and a steady, slightly limp kick drum that feels like a particularly unpleasant hangover.

“Zorile” lightens the tone again, removing the drone and adding ethnically flavoured woodwind of some kind (I’m afraid I don’t recognise the instrument, I probably should) into something that feels almost like journeyman folk. Final track “Kofuor” switches to a tense, rapidly wobbling drone over an unsettling ambience with some alienating spoken word elements.

Currently available as a free download, without even the option of paying for it and therefore guilt-free as you don’t even have to enter “$0”, there’s no reason not to check this EP out. It feels a little like a sampler rather than a coherent EP, but as a sampler it’s very strong.

Dino Spiluttini: To Be A Beast

 Posted by Levi Jacob Bailey (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2017
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Artist: Dino Spiluttini (@)
Title: To Be A Beast
Format: LP
Label: Cut Surface (@)
Thumbs up for these to-the-point presentations of hazy, damaged synth recordings. Heavy compression, tape hiss, and airy pads that remind me of cues from Drive or a barely-functioning This Mortal Coil cassette. The feature I appreciate the most is the tasteful restraint shown in the brief run-times. Many artists tackling this sort of material usually find it necessary to build on an idea for an irritatingly long time, only to repeat the core concept into obsolescence, until I'm relieved to hear it end. Spiluttini knows that attention-spans have been thoroughly dismantled in our culture, and takes the listener promptly in and out of each environment. Even with noticeable gaps between these tracks, there remains a sense of smooth transition that tempers the brevity, with an admirable sense of flow and continuity. Not interested in lulling the listener into a nap or disinterest, though, Spiluttini offers startling bits on the second side, trading in the dreamy flow for moments of harsh noise; white washes, screeching highs, and crunchy disintegration, even deciding to end the release with a squeal instead of a breath. Over-compression and tape damaged loops like these have been thoroughly explored on releases from labels like Tri Angle, but when it's handled this well, it can feel like new ground again.. These are expertly delivered sonic landscapes by an artist who has obviously done his homework in the genre while giving important consideration to our modern, overexposed ears. The press sheets included with this release dared to namedrop Basinski as a comparison, but Spiluttini does not disappoint. I would only note that I have, on occasion, found Basinski to be a bit long-winded for my tastes, whereas "To Be A Beast" was an effortless, rewarding experience. I look forward to exploring more of Spiluttini's discography.

Caustic Reverie: Here and Away

 Posted by Tyran Grillo (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 11 2017
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Artist: Caustic Reverie (@)
Title: Here and Away
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Sound engineer, composer, and author Bryn Schurman presents "Here and Away," his 20th offering under the moniker Caustic Reverie. The album contains Schurman’s full soundtrack for the eponymous 10-minute film by Abby Sirwatka, along with newer material. Combining synthesizers and guitar elements, the music proceeds at a metaphysical level, jumping from soul to soul across poetic space.

“Night Trip” sets a tone of contradictory nostalgia, as alluring as it is frightening. Imagine a recurring nightmare you haven’t had since you were a child yet which now pricks at your desire to see it with waking eyes. This is the ouroboros whose songs are documented herein. “Ordered and Filed,” on the other hand, is cloaked in a honeycombed past. With the post-apocalyptic contours of a Tarkovsky wasteland, Schurman manifests the body’s internal mechanisms as destitutions made anthemic by the caress of a distant sun. Titles such as this and “Composition Book” hint at an underlying philosophy of memory, through which re-creation serves as clearest discourse. Every new turn lances awareness with wasted actions, culminating in the blind spot that is “Family Gathering” before the “End Credits” recede in farewell.

Despite a certain visceral punch, however, the abruptness with which these tracks end is a minor flaw. “Composition Book” and “Family Gathering” particularly suffer from this jarring effect, snapping our ears from the spell of their galactic challenges to fate. This may be a consequence of the film itself, however, given the more patient mixing of Schurman’s seven titled “Reconstructions” that flesh out this album’s bulk. In these he reveals deeper relationships between characters whose names are unknown to us. Drawn-out sighs, distorted chords, and stretches of abandoned houses share cavernous fellowship. Blushes of choir in “Reconstruction 4” even point to quasi-spiritual conflicts, even if the central mood is agnostic at best, while “Reconstruction 6” confronts the horrors of domesticity until once-unresolvable feelings become weightless.

In light of these darknesses, it may come as no surprise that the source film tells of two siblings whose lives are changed when they uncover a secret hidden by their parents. With or without such knowledge, the experience will be familiar to fans of The Caretaker, for one likewise emerges from its silvery dip with something forgotten in hand, amplified until it screams.

Lars Lundehave Hansen: Terminal Velocity

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 09 2017
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Artist: Lars Lundehave Hansen (@)
Title: Terminal Velocity
Format: LP + Download
Label: Tonometer (@)
Rated: *****
Lars Lundehave Hansen has for many years has distinguished himself as one of the most visionary Danish sound artists. He has been a key figure on the Danish scene of noise and drone as part of Noisejihad and as part of the duo Waldchengarten. He has had numerous solo releases and sound installations both in Denmark and internationally. 'Terminal Velocity' is a set of 21 noise drone pieces, all under three minutes that showcase Lars's ability to build sonic spaces which are both dreamy and physical. From track to track there is an incredible amount of diversity and variety in these mini soundscapes. Sometimes the titles are quite descriptive of the track's overall sound, such as "Brittle Forces," "Muted Enthusiasm," "Improving Gravitational Resistance," "Weightless," and "Chinese Sleeping Pills, among others. Sometimes the titles are a lot more open to interpretation, and maybe even suggestion such as "Reluctant Occupant," "Black Beaches," "From the Lesser End," and "Not Everything is Going to Be Alright." Usually drone artists compose pieces that are lengthy and slowly evolve over time. Here the listener is forced to quickly acclimate their perception of what the artist is trying to convey before moving on to the next one. It's almost like a sampler album- nearly any of these pieces could have been expanded to seven or eight minutes at least and still would have been interesting. In a weird way I'm reminded of the Residents 'Commercial Album,' although this music bears no similarity. Most of the Residents works were lengthy tracks. The 'Commercial Album was comprised of 40 tracks only a little over a minute's length each. Extreme, but that's the Residents for you. They seemed to be more song ideas than anything else. And so Hansen's tracks on 'Terminal Velocity' tend to come off as soundscape ideas rather than anything you could really get lost in. The upside though is that those with ADHD won't find themselves fidgeting. As stated previously, there is an incredible amount of variety from track to track. Some of these atmospheres are abrasive, some are soothing, some enigmatic, others ominously disturbing, some hint at melody while others are more sculpted noise and feedback. You will never be bored, and the replay factor is excellent. This comes as a limited edition (300 only) pressed on 180 gram blue vinyl + digital download. Well worth it.

Acclimate: Dreams Of A Mad Titan

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 07 2017
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Artist: Acclimate
Title: Dreams Of A Mad Titan
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
“Dreams Of A Mad Titan” is a gentle 43-minute dark ambient journey of synthesized washes, softly looping electronic bleeps and patterns, growls and sci-fi noises, crisp cold bell-like tones and a general feeling of expansive, empty interplanetary space. Tonally it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but it’s assembled with a simplicity, depth and sincerity that makes it all work.

After the relative purity of opener “Infinity”, second track “Warlock” brings forth a slightly more gravelly texture that is reminiscent of Pete Namlook’s “Escape” project. Towards the end of this and into third piece “Oblivion” we encounter slightly more sci-fi, alien-sounding and sinister notes, with just a hint of crisp distortion. This darkening of mood continues into “Annihilus” with its backwards, soft industrial noise rhythm. Things get glitchier for “The World Eater” before, in final piece “Mistress Death”, we circle back round to a simpler soundscape of dark drones and space winds.

With an 11-page accompanying booklet that couples blurry-but-beautiful genuine black-and-white space photography with some of the worst typography I’ve seen in a long time, this release is currently ‘pay what you want’ on Bandcamp (at time of writing)- and it’s certainly worth a few quid if sci-fi ambient floats your spaceship.


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