Music Reviews

Teruyuki Nobuchika: Still Air

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 21 2016
Artist: Teruyuki Nobuchika
Title: Still Air
Format: CD + Download
Label: Oktaf
“Still Air” is a mellow and relatively modest 27 minute collection of gentle electronic ambience with a familiar construction- melodic drones, long reverberant bell-like sounds, quiet glitchy white-noise-sourced light rhythm patterns, sparse far-away piano notes, occasional sustained plaintive string sounds, and natural-world found sound for ambiences. It leaves you with the feeling that either you’ve heard it before, or you’ve heard something very similar to it before.

But while it might not be a deeply original recipe, it’s still a lush end product. The elements work together well, and there’s a steady progression between the tracks. It’s beautiful, but it’s somewhat curtailed. “Le Reve”, for example, under three minutes long, should have been allowed to go on its own journey, extrapolated out to eight minutes or more to explore what would have been possible by wallowing in the atmosphere for longer. As it is, on tracks such as “Into The Silence”, it feels more like a sampler disc. I had to check online to make sure I wasn’t reviewing a “radio edit” version of the album.

A highlight for me would be “Erosion”, one of the more tense pieces, with its muted distant orchestral build, repeatedly arriving and dropping into nothingness.

If the pieces on this album had been allowed to breathe and evolve into an hour-long work or more, it would have made for a luxurious, immersive listen. At under half an hour, there’s a slightly under-baked feel to it.

Leighton Craig: Green Coronet

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 20 2016
Artist: Leighton Craig
Title: Green Coronet
Format: Tape
Label: A Guide To Saints (@)
Rated: *****
Eight years after "11 Easy Pieces", his debut album on Room40, Brisbane-based sound artist Leighton Craig comes back on A Guide To Saints, subsidiary magnetic tape-focused label of Room40 itself, by an album that got named after the Phase 2 amplifier by the Australian company Coronet, whose fuzzy tones got used during Craig's home studio recording. The four long suites he recorded features are just apparently narcotic, as listeners will soon understand that he lets collide and merge the gently melodic lullabies with the field recordings he grabbed by means of microphone who stole mostly natural (but also "artificial") sounds in the places where Leighton recorded them (Kindling House, Brisbane, Australia, in August 2015 and Taupo Bay, Aotearoa, in January 2015). This process of amalgamation gradually bring to a sort of contamination of the unnatural narcosis, induced by the aquatic loop of the opening "Green Shroud", the hypnotical almost flat tones of a kind of synth-organ and a line that resembles something in between a clarinet and an ocarina of "Drowned World", the caressing touch of the ethereal loops of "Arc The Solar Causeways" (whose quiet sonorities seems to get gradually polarized) and the bizarre dizziness of the final "Divided by Zero", the track where the contrast between a kind of unreal subtropical laziness and a disturbing scream-like noise escalates. I could describe the idea that such a listening could inspire by portraying a guy, who leads a life of so clouding bliss in his own tropical isle, that he doesn't consciously care if the poison of a scorpion could paralyze his body, the jaws of a shark could tear it to pieces or a forest fire reducing it to ashes, even while one of these tragic happenings will occur.

Will Samson: Lua

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 20 2016
Artist: Will Samson (@)
Title: Lua
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: 12K (@)
Rated: *****
I have never experienced a general anesthetic. Fortunately. The people who tried such an experience described the awakening after that induced sleep as a state of mind between a vague sense of shock and an ecstatic feeble-mindedness, where the surrounding entities seems like coming from a kind of muffled wonderland, where nurses could look like smiling seraphic beings, and the surgeon takes the semblance of a gingerbread man. I recalled the seemingly enjoyable pleasures of numbing anesthetic, as the sparkle for this release by Will Samson (British composer and singer, known for a style combining lovely simple melodies, folk-like ballads and a way of singing that could resemble what a friend of mine labels as "post-castration style" such as the one by Bon Iver or Sigur Ros' Jonsi) was an accident occurring while he was relocating from the UK to Portugal, a traumatic injury to his mouth and teeth that forced him to drop the use of voice. I'm not sure he needed general anesthetic but I guess that during what he defined as "the surreal 48 hours in a Portuguese hospital bed" following that injury, some pitiful nurse should have given him some strong painkillers and they could have inspired the compositional process that let the sound flow like a leather in the air. According to Samson own words: “The whole process was about being open and allowing the music to flow out naturally, without letting my analytical mind become involved. To just press record on my tape machines and see what happens. This experiment allowed me to produce some honest documents of how I was really feeling at the time with all that was going on in my life. “Père” was recorded the day after returning home from hospital, with my friend Beatrijs De Klerck adding her violin parts a week or so later.”. Besides the track mentioned by the author's memories, this brief release includes other four tracks: the opening "Antepassado" activated an old musical memory for some strange reason ("Tundra", a track signed by Patternclear, a relatively old tricephalic project by Kim Cascone, Don Falcone and Paul Neyrinck), while "You Are An Ocean", the lovely track that got co-signed by Benoit Pioulard, evoked the impressive clip for Samson's "Sanctuary". The delicate crystalline bells of "Electric Parade" and the gently burnt granules over a bright symphony, fed by strings and pad, of "Lua," perfectly render that blissful dazedness I described at the beginning of this introduction. The delicacy of this digital release could easily explain the reason why some cartoons feature flying and tweeting orbiting birds after a character experience a thunderous blow to the head!

Platform: Folded Horizon EP

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 18 2016
Artist: Platform
Title: Folded Horizon EP
Format: CD
Label: Minimal Resource Manipulation
Rated: *****
Platform is the work of Matthew Atkins, who is also the force behind the label Minimal Resource Manipulation. This, along with Geometric Decay, another disc by Matthew Atkins, was my introduction to the label and his work. According to the label, “Platform’s new EP, ‘Folded Horizon’, is a beat driven suite of six tracks of experimental electronica. Each track has a unique atmosphere and together, they work to make a cohesive whole. From proto-junglist rumblings, Aphexy techno, scattershot drum programming and maths related vocal samples, this EP is bit of a treasure trove of contemporary electronics.” Sounds good; let’s see if the description holds up. If I had to describe this album in one word, that word would be repetition. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes repetition can be good. For example, the opening track, “Sudden Vista,” feels like it is channeling Plastikman with minimal repetitive beats, analogue synth, and a lot of staticy background elements. Others, like “Proun,” remind me somewhat of Autechre’s more minimal works. Other times, however, the repetition falls flat, as in the case of “Fifteen Fields,” with its repetitive female vocal samples that don’t really seem to add much to the track. Perhaps the best track on the disc is “Skeleton of Sticks,” with its complex, aggressive beats. Overall, this was a pleasant listen, but nothing that really blew me away. It is well done, but too minimalist and repetitive for my tastes. This album weighs in at around 24 minutes.

Galati: Gletscher

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 18 2016
Artist: Galati (@)
Title: Gletscher
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Psychonavigation Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed Galati’s last album, “Mother,” for Chain DLK and enjoyed it, so I was interested to see how this compared. The label has not so much a description of the album, but a statement: “In search of silence. Among the great glaciers of Pakistan, Tibet and Greenland. Opalescent, vibrant, white, mottled ice. Ice in the soul, searing. Thundering, unfathomable, eternal, velvety, vital silence. The body ceases to be confined in an immobile identity and becomes stone, water; it becomes animal or light, it becomes space, and it extends to the limits of the spectacle of nature. Consciousness is diluted in the great whole, the process of identification with the world is accelerated. That is the experience of pantheism, as the first men have experienced it.” OK – so this is heavy stuff - let’s put it on and see if it lives up to the image. “Qualerallit” kicks us off with a 14 minute slab of heavy drone. This has a lot going on, it’s reminiscent of Troum in the way that they use slight dissonance in the track while still keeping it pleasant. “Hopar” keeps this going with a lot of motion throughout the track. This is drone, but it is constantly shifting, like sand under your feet at the beach. “Gharesa” is harsh, grinding, dissonant, noisy drone. This has a lot going on – layers within layers. This is not peaceful listening, but it has its own kind of beauty. Very well done. “Siachen I” keeps the same noisy dissonance of “Gharesa,” but adds an electric guitar component that would not seem out of place in a prog rock solo. “Kiattuut” blends seamlessly from Siachen I to the point where it seems almost like the same song, although the guitar has become just one more part of the drone by this point. “Qooqqup” shifts gears somewhat with a shuffling beat holding it all together as the drone continues its relentless effort to fill every part of the spectrum with itself. “Rongbuk” is like being in a wind tunnel as someone plays old school video games. Sirens and wails are buried in the maelstrom. Disc 2 lays down more of the dissonant soundscapes from the first disc until we hit “Shelkar Chorten,” a 19 minute composition that ends the disc on a more peaceful note. This album is, overall, quite pleasant listening. Despite the tinges of harshness that are woven throughout the album, this does not really come off as noisy. If you like your ambiance with a bit of an edge, then this is certainly worth picking up. Disc 1 weighs in at around 57 minutes and disc 2 weighs in at around 42 minutes.

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