Music Reviews

woriedaboutsatan: Crystalline

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 29 2020
Artist: woriedaboutsatan (@)
Title: Crystalline
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence (@)
Rated: *****
worriedaboutsatan is basically Gavin Miller (ambient electronics, guitar), from Yorkshire, UK, with a little vocal help from Sophie Green on this album, which is worriedaboutsatan's sixth, I believe. Over the years, worriedaboutsatan has shared stages on tours and supports with a diverse array of musicians, such as Underworld, Ólafur Arnalds, Clark, DÄlek, 65daysofstatic, Tim Hecker, Pantha du Prince, Braids, HEALTH, Kiasmos, Pye Corner Audio and many more. They've also played a number of music festivals between 2016-2018.

Can't say I've heard any worriedaboutsatan previously, but on 'Crystalline' Gavin doesn't seem particularly worried about Satan to me; in fact, the music doesn't indicate he's worried about anything. Not to say this is all happy-go-lucky; it's more ambient minimalism along the lines of Brian Eno, It's not drone, but more atmosphere with somewhat minimal light guitar phrases, and gentle bass, maybe some cello (sound) here and there. Sophie Green's ethereal vocal are wordless and swathed in reverb as if they're part of the atmosphere. Of course, there's an aura of melancholy throughout the 8 pieces on the album totaling a mere 35 minutes. Percussion/rhythm is used sparingly, and the pacing is predictably slow. Repetition is a formularized factor as you might expect, and also might give the (false) impression that this kind of composition is easy to do. The way worriedaboutsatan orchestrates the music is everything though, and not just anyone can do that well and make it sound anything but dull.

While not omnipresent, Miller's ambient guitar adds a uniqueness that transcends typical ambient minimalism. He hits all the right notes when they need to be hit, and never does more than necessary to get the (atmospheric) point across. I also find it interesting that Miller looks a bit like a young Robert Fripp in pictures I've seen of him, although he'd probably be the first one to deny the resemblance. There are tracks on 'Crystalline' that sound like an actual band, maybe the lighter side of the Cocteau Twins without Liz Fraser. For what does not apparently seem to be a wide variety of sounds, worriedaboutsatan does manage to pull together a wide variety of compositions that never seem to wear out their welcome, as long as you're in the mood for them. Numbered and limited in the traditional Sound In Silence format to a mere 200 CD-r copies, or digital download if you'd rather go that route.

Andrea Laudante: Banat banat ban jai

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 29 2020
Artist: Andrea Laudante
Title: Banat banat ban jai
Format: CD
Label: KysaliSound (@)
Rated: *****
One of the most interesting output on Francis M.Gri's label KrysaliSound, that was kindly offered to the avid ears of more demanding listeners see the signature of the young Italian composer Andrea Laudante. In spite of the fact he keeps on study composition and electro acoustic music when this album was released, Andrea shows certain maturity in the definition of his stylistic pathway as well as an interesting approach to composition. The influence of the aesthetic outlook by John Cage becomes manifest since the very first moments of the opening "Southern Lights", which besides some echoes of Brian Eno's "By This River" in the melodic line, the amalgamation of piano and surrounding environment sounds like a clear reference to Cage's pianism, the aesthatetic framework of his 4'33" including its intimate connection to Rauschenberg's "White Paintings" that Cage himself defined as "airports for the lights, shadows, and [dust] particles" to underlines the unusual role of art against the moment and the place where art is and as an invitation to feel the surrounding universe. Such an invitation in the sound art of John Cage - whose notorious "In A Landscape" sounds explicitly quoted in the awesome suite "In A Scapeland" - got accepted by Andrea, and such a fact sounds evident when he describes his album 'Banat banat ban jai' as a diary of a journey through sound and listening, as a form of meditation: "Listening carefully to every kind of sounds in different places and with several methods gave me a new perception of the world around and inside me. [...] There is no difference between the sound that comes from a guitar and the sound that comes from wind blowing through leaves, if we know how to listen". Cage's pianism is not the only entity you'll meet during the listening of this album, which is going to sound a search for interesting hybrids as its listening will progress. For instance "Maheshwara" (one of the names of Shiva, that becomes somehow famous for a devotional song of the mystical stage of Nina Hagen) sounds like combining bell-driven meditation sessions and some of the more extreme electroacoustic experiments by Pierre Schaeffer, the awesome "Between Us", where it seems the listener breathing cycle get mirrored by cycles of inhalations and exhalation between the concrete sound and some field recordings of a seaside environment and the emotional ones rendered by daydreaming melodic gushes, reminding the exoticism of some contemporary minimalist composers, or the intersections between swirling cacophonies, disquieted piano chords and natural and urban field recordings in "Yugen" are just some samples of the cross-breeding techniques by this composer. Deserves a check.

Endless Melancholy: A Perception Of Everything

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 27 2020
Artist: Endless Melancholy
Title: A Perception Of Everything
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence
If you like your calm, melodic ambiences with a bit of a twist, here’s something interesting for you. On the surface, “A Perception Of Everything” is a familiar array of warm, expansive waves of chords, slow arpeggios and sonic velvety flatness. Rustling about under the surface are the details that give it a little more character.

“Letting The Old Dreams Die” has just a little glitchiness about it, a little edge that undercuts the slightly mis-named unbroken simplicity of opening track “Damaged”. There’s a slightly flangey wobbliness, almost a drunkenness at times, both on that track and in the ambling piano sounds of “Arrivals and Departures”.

The three-chord loop of “Immersion” is nicely mesmerising and relaxing, with not a shade of doubt. But an artist using the name ‘Endless Melancholy’ is surely obliged to offer up some more melancholic tracks, and they arrive in forms like “Across The Barren Land” which just oozes loneliness.

Crackling sounds, slight dischords, and other very gentle shades by which elements of reality creep into the abstraction. Short interlude piece “Cabo Da Roca”, with its turbulent and oddly lo-fi wave noises, that roll into and contrast against the synth-choir sounds in following track “The Edge”, hint at what might have happened if these atmospherics were explored more prominently.

Given the current global circumstances, a final track called “As The World Quietly Ends” might seem a bit of a touchy subject to some, but don’t worry- this release wraps up with a soothing, comforting glow and some sonic reassurance. If we are going out, we’re going out peacefully, according to this release.

Sound In Silence put out a high standard of ambient and related music and this is no exception. Definitely something to chill your boots to.

Cucina Povera: Tyyni

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 26 2020
Artist: Cucina Povera
Title: Tyyni
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Night School Records
On the second Cucina Povera album, the Finnish-born sound artist also known as Maria Rossi showcases her plaintive, richly textured, partially-fragile vocal performance. Supremely slow, lullaby-like lyrical melodies play out at a sometimes glacial pace, as calm, expansive and beautiful as Finnish snow.

But what makes this release much more interesting is the framing of that steady vocal in a decidedly variable electronic environment which, across the eight tracks, expresses a variety of dynamics ranging from complimentary calm through to sharp tension and disorientation. Opener “Salvia Salvatrix” begins with a (slightly misleading) brooding electronica build that’s rough and earthy, and this relentless distorted line aggressively competes for space in the foreground of the track. “Polyton Nurkka” runs along a slightly guitar-like distorted synth pattern that feels like an echo of post-rock, while “Jolkottelureitti” paints slowly over a rising synth arpeggio that seems to have been orphaned from some synthwave.

It’s not all drama though. The subtle layering in “Varjokuvatanssi” forms a ballad that’s pure of heart and of tone, a sorrowful stretch of a yoik tradition across a picturesque sonic landscape. The juxtaposition are sometimes odd, and not conflict-driven- such as the curious play of crashing wave sounds with 90’s Trance Europe Express-era high electronica squeaks that end up sounding like robot seagulls.

“Anarkian Kuvajainen” pulls off the notable trick of using what sounds like mobile phone interference as an element. A sound which for a generation of people means “your audio cable is unshielded and your mobile’s about to ring” is repurposed as a very loose rhythm pattern, to interesting effect.

To return to the snow metaphor, this is a musical work of art that some may find cold or empty, but which is crisp, diverse and complex when you really start diving into it.

Maike Zazie: Seismopsychollage

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 20 2020
Artist: Maike Zazie
Title: Seismopsychollage
Format: CD + Download
Label: 7K!
The title of pianist Maike Zazie’s album might imply earth-shaking (seismo) or mental anguish (psycho, depending on your interpretation), but neither would really be accurate. What this album offers is a form of musical intimacy that’s thoughtful and largely quite romantic. Gentle ballad songs and casual, almost-ambient tinkling is supplemented by a combination of singing, softly-spoken-word poetry (spanning German, French and some English), and a handful of atmospheric sounds.

Although described as ‘minimal’, much of the piano work is not what I’d describe as such. The rich and firmly padded chords of “Sehnsucht” fill the room. There’s a boldness and drama to “Erdbeben”, with its crashes and hammered low notes, that ensures that this album is far from flat. But it also certainly has its fair share of straight-laced romance works- most obviously the very on-the-nose “Lieben”. There’s even a handful of pieces that could legitimately be called songs- “Kind” being one.

The result is a set of portraits that fits perfectly with the illustrative style of Giulia Pex seen in the artwork and throughout the accompanying booklet. It’s the musical equivalent of soft pastel work, mild and introspective, thoughtful and largely non-confrontational, aware of the darkness but moving around it rather than through it.

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