Music Reviews

Kajsa Lindgren: Womb

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 10 2018
Artist: Kajsa Lindgren
Title: Womb
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Hyperdelia
It’s obvious to hear why the name “Womb” seemed appropriate for this 7-track collection of pressured gloopy atmospheres of deep thrums and heartbeat-like pulses, but there’s more to it than that, as a procession of other elements arrive in various combinations to decorate the warm internalised drone base.

Some are intriguing- for example the electronic glitches and noise sparkles on tracks like opener “Cocoon” that give proceedings a slightly more alien flavour, while the slowly rising and falling vocal-like melodic wind noises and faintly whalesong-like calls on “The Garden” meld together into something more complex that plays well against vinyl-like crackle sounds.

Others feel a little more obvious and ‘done’. The distant unintelligible speech on “The Inanimate World” and the overt heartbeat sounds of “All The Other Children” feel quite conventional as elements of an almost theatrical sonic impression of existence in the womb, and by the time we get to birdsong on “Far (To Reach Me)” and what I think is the sound of a crackling wood fire in “The Forest” it does feel like we’re running through a list of stalwart ambient sounds. The Terence McKenna-esque rambling spoken-word element in final track “The Inanimate World” will be particularly divisive- personally I found it too prescriptive and consequently unwelcome.

It’s a rich and quite uniform bit of ambient work, certainly mellowing and sonically oppressive yet in a way that’s somehow quite comforting, but it perhaps needed to show a greater breadth and diversity and steer away from some of ambient’s more well-established clichés if it were really going to stand out.

Anders Brørby: Traumas

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 08 2018
Artist: Anders Brørby (@)
Title: Traumas
Format: CD
Label: Forwind Press (@)
Rated: *****
According to the liner notes, this release aims to explore feelings of ’fear, isolation and trauma’ and it's by an artist, Anders Brørby, not overtly known even he has a considerable discography. The premises of this release are rendered with a relatively canonical ambient form, sometimes blended with some noise or house influence which results in a pseudo-personal form which gives a convincing sense of easy listening to the whole.
"Hatred to all Living Things" opens this release with an atmospheric track based around a drone which is underlined by inserts of acoustic and electric guitar and samples with the result of a sort of crescendo ending in the final voice speaking about consolation. "Body Love" is instead a catchy track based on a dancey beat and dreaming synth. "In My Dreams My Teeth Fell Out" is a short and static, but noisy, interlude to "Various Positions, According to the Gospel" an eventful track based on rhythmic cages for samples and synth. "Trauma" is almost a proper IDM track based on a clear melody and complex beats. "Cruel Morning Orgasm" is an ambient track based on droning crescendo ending in a quiet noise. "Depression Puzzle" oscillates between quiet moments and noisy ones in a climate of suspension. "Describing Beauty" is a rarified and ephemeral track based on a delicate drone. "I Won't Be around When You Really Need Me" is a short track in two parts: the first one is a form of static crescendo where a drone is juxtaposed to an accelerating beat while the second one is a static soundscape ending with radio noises. "Dogma" is an almost new age quiet track which ends this release.
This is a multifaceted release clearly written without abstruse experimentation so, even if someone could have a form of déjà-vu during hearing, it's an enjoyable release for a reasonably wide audience. It's really worth a listen.

Small Life Form: Fragments

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 07 2018
Artist: Small Life Form
Title: Fragments
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Media
Although it collects together studio recordings from 2012-2014, “Fragments” from Small Life Form stands as a consistent piece of dark doom-drone in its own right and can absolutely be regarded as equivalent to a new full-length album.

Two of the tracks run for over twenty minutes each, which I’d describe as a little more than a “fragment”! Opener “Something Organic To Service The Machine” is on the mellower side of drone, and sets the tone with electric hums and waves that lull you into a confident, almost comforting yet alien environment which you don’t realise has crept up on you until the abrupt harsh-edged noise effects of the ironically-named “Slow Silence” cut right through it.

The other long work, the nearly 29-minute-long “Forgotten Summer”, is a harsher affair, with rough-hewn textures and drones that sound at times like absurdly-sustained ship horns passing in the night, preluding a glacially slow building wind tone that really gets into your head before it opens up into an unusual accordion-esque bright section (that Summer remembered, perhaps).

The rest of the album is made up of shorter pieces, ranging from nine minutes of hollow alien atmospherics in “A Night Like This” down to little interludes like the 29-second electric arcing sound effect of “Buzz”. The acoustic devolvement into noise in “So Sincere” plays nicely against the electric driven-guitar-style distortions of “Hero Reborn”.

It’s a coherent, captivating and mindset-changing long gathering of drone work with a strong cathartic effect, and rather than being regarded as leftovers, I’d have to describe this as one of the most interesting drone releases I’ve heard in quite a while.

The Star Pillow: Symphony For An Intergalactic Brotherhood

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 04 2018
Artist: The Star Pillow
Title: Symphony For An Intergalactic Brotherhood
Format: CD + Download
Label: Boring Machines
The Star Pillow is the established drone-ambient monicker used by the prolific Paolo Monti and it gets another outing here for three lengthy improvised works of slow evolving sonic envelopes, pure-sounding and rich melodic textures and subtle atmospherics. Rising and falling tones form very loose repeating patterns that form part of the gradual tectonic shift of the sound as it develops.

First track “My Dear Elohim” draws out the string tones to give quite a cinematic and tense flavour. Relatively short piece “An Interstellar Handshake” has a distinct extra wobble to it that leaves you with an almost drunken feeling, while “From Dust To Stars” makes interstellar space sound like a harmonious and quite densely-packed place to live, with a surprisingly abrupt and arguably lazy ending.

It’s relatively simple and earnestly transcendental soundscaping that occupies its own space. It certainly doesn’t push any of the boundaries of originality or provide much challenge, but as an immersive 38-minute collection of fairly sci-fi sombre atmospherics, this is certainly safe ground.

Ozmotic: Elusive Balance

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 02 2018
Artist: Ozmotic
Title: Elusive Balance
Format: CD + Download
Label: Touch
The balance of “Elusive Balance” lies in blending bold, slow soprano sax playing and some percussive elements against rapid electronic glitches, cold sci-fi synth atmospherics and drone pads in a way that works and doesn’t just sound like two styles of music trying to occupy a single space. And by and large, it’s a balance well struck.

At times, it’s very familiar synth-ambient material. “Hum”, with its cool choral-vocal ahhh sounds, muted melodic strings, and digital clicks like distant radio signals in deep space, is well-worn territory, but handled very smoothly. “Pulsing” has shades of moody sci-fi gameplay soundtrack, especially when the subbass pulsing in question comes in after three minutes and adds an irregular-heartbeat-ish sense of mild tension. “Lymph” adopts a warmer mellower ambient flavour which then throws the spontaneous drum hits of its second half into a different style of relief.

Final two tracks “Being” and “Insecting” are both strong track and slight anachronisms, driven by some more rapid pulsing that catches you unawares just as you’ve begun to think of this as a going-to-sleep listen, as though creeping- slightly- towards the finale of a sci-fi horror affair- bht the dramatic denouement isn’t included here.

It’s a nicely packaged short album of sci-fi, soundtrack-y electronica with a great deal of polish and atmosphere. It maybe likes the unique elements (or the game tie-in licensing deal) that would bring it a great deal of attention, but nevertheless it’s very strong.

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