Music Reviews



Baron Oufo: Dar al-Hikma

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 18 2015
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Artist: Baron Oufo
Title: Dar al-Hikma
Format: CD
Label: Quadrilab
Rated: *****
The buzzing sound of a sort of engine, which got combined by low frequency tones from a somehow menacing synth-brass, of the opening track "Depth of the Prophecy" - some pitched sounds could let some attentive listeners surmise such a title could be a reference to well-known Korg monophonic synthesizer more than to mysticism or religion - are the substratum of the first of four really immersive and atmospheric drones, whose inspirational transcendent forces got enforced by Dar al-Hikma, the place where Jerome Alban (member of Metronome Charisma and Year of No Light) and Eddie Ladoire - the Frenchmen behind Baron Oufo moniker - conceived this album, named after this fascinating place in Egyptian capital city Cairo, the ancient university of the Fatimid Caliphate, whose huge library was considered as a sort of proper wonder. A distinct metallic clangourous noise marks the ignition of the above-sketched drone, as it it mirrored the breaking of an ancient lock that seals some mysterious ancient knowledge, which sounds like being celebrated by the thick obscure aural mist, which got injected by Baron Oufo over the listening experience they managed to create. The fade out at the end of the above-mentioned opening track could let you think the typical clips of some sci-fi movies, where a ginormous shiny space cruiser or some unknown planet cause temporary eclipses, while the following "Dhikr", named after an ancient mystical rite of traditional Islamic Sufism, better evokes the halo of the whole release by means of the insertion of some trance-inducing percussions and the chirping birds, which precedes "Is a God to live in a dog?", the darkest transition of the release, which land on the over-stretched slighly lighter tones of the 20-minutes lasting "Blessing and Worship to the Prophet of the Lovely Star".

Erik Honoré: Heliographs

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 15 2015
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Artist: Erik Honoré
Title: Heliographs
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
Listeners can sense the great aesthetic sensitivity of Erik Honore', another "man behind the curtains" of contemporary Norwegian music scene, who signed his self-signed release for the excellent label Hubro, since the opening "Navigators", where the distinctively chirping uvula by Sidsel Enderson and the narcotic electronic mists by Erik's long-lasting friend and collaborator Jan Bang give the power to the rudder together with the instrumental entities by Erik, which sound like light-signalling devices for skippers who lost direction after a seastorm. In spite of the clear similarities to the sound of Jon Hassell (particularly the daydreaming evanescent sonorities of stuff like "Last Night The Moon Came"), Harold Budd and David Sylvian, who has been explicitly thanked in the sleeve notes, Erik's "Heliographs" sounds more like a soundtrack for a somewhat adventorous journey within his musical universe, which partially shies away from the route that the above-mentioned Norwegian scene is ascending by a really interesting revamping of folk elements by means of jazz, which often results into enjoyable electroacoustic probing. The intermezzo "Halfway House", which sound like musical sketches of old movies, enhanced by field recordings grabbed midway upon the journey, precedes "Sanctuary", one of the most blissful moment of the album, where the sonic glimmering by Erik and the lovely voice by Sidsel got enhanced by the entrance of delicate percussions by Ingar Zach, and "Pioneer Trail", the most groovy moment of "Heliographs", where a gentle muffled technoid movement sounds like propelling the train of listener's thoughts or reverie over samples by Nils Petter Molvaer and a wisely programmed rhythm by Jan Bang. The break on "Red Cafe'", where Erik lets listener glimpse pure and somehow lazy delight in between the heart-rending violin by Jeffrey Bruinema, and "Last Chance Gas & Water", which sounds like the boring tasks before a journey, where the tedium for the arrangements is not so ginding as it sounds tempered by a mild excitement which permeates the track, as well as the temporary disruption on "Strife" and the reprise of "Sanctuary" on "Sanctuary Revisited". the last request to God before departure, are the final preparations before the lovely nocturnal of "Departed", where the hand by Elvind Aarset is more clearly recognisable. Many other musicians (mainly from PUNKT ensemble) decorated this output by Erik, but they didn't eclipse his sonic hallmark.

Deison / Mingle: Weak Life

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 12 2015
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Artist: Deison / Mingle
Title: Weak Life
Format: CD
Label: Aagoo
Rated: *****
Deison is active since early 90s and started his musical activities with Meathead (band where also Mauro Teho Teardo played) and since then he started experimenting with tape collages, turntables and objects mainly in the field of noise and power-electronics. He founded the label Loud! and started to collaborate with artist such as Lasse Marhaug, KK Null, Shee Retina Stimulants, etc. From sound collages, he started to be interested into electroacoustic music, ambient minimal electronic, sampling and field recordings and this made him change his sound a bit. Mingle is the moniker of Andrea Gastaldello who under that name is composing music for documentaries. His tracks are focused on minimal structures, rich textured melodies and rhythms. Their collaborative album "Weak Life" is a mix of their styles where we can find deep minimal atmospheres, treated noises and paced drum machine rhythms. The whole effect is really cinematic and convincing. The duo succeeds into creating a varied album where ambient drones, melody and noise are enriched by rich rhythmical patterns. There's also a surprise: after some minutes of silence, on the last track "Weak Life", you can find a great cover of Godflesh's "Circle of Shit", where the duo give to it a dark minimal industrial treatment.

Christian Wallumrød: Pianokammer

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 08 2015
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Artist: Christian Wallumrød (@)
Title: Pianokammer
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
If you had the possibility to listen to something by Norwegian pianist and composer Christian Wallumrod - one of the most appreciated musician of contemporary music scene from Norway -, you'll find this interesting release - his first solo album, as he got mainly engaged with different ensembles - slightly different from his usual path as some similarities could be find with a performance he used to play some years ago, which got inspired to neo-dadaist Fluxus movement. "Pianokammer" includes six pieces, which got recorded on many different grand pianos and in different venues between the end of 2013 and the first half of 2014 and shows the most experimental side of this talented pianist, who gets closer to isolationist ambient on the opening track, the first "Fahrkunst", where a sort of ghastly tonal undertow and a wavering tremolo feeds a drone that seems to render the absorption of a piano tone by surrounding objects in slow motion. The following "Hoksang" would have been labelled as a concise piano exercise without the amazing tonal decay and "mistakes" at the end of each melodic phrase, while the vaguely disquieting "Second Fahrkunst" could let you imagine that the above-mentioned absorption woke up sleeping ghosts, who devour the graceful composure of the previous "Hoksang" till the moment it totally fades out. The most fascinating aspect of the following track "Boyd 1970" is the fact that sounds played by a pianist, who repeats a lesson about rhythmic cadences, walking bass line or simple stride to a mediocre trainee by an exhausted and bored to tears teacher, while the resounding chords in the beginning of "School of Ecofisk" seem to drown in the arthritic tonal knots that strangle melody over the track, whose schizophrenic nuance partially affects the feebly classy tone, which opens the amazing nine minutes of the final "Lassome", before the piece slips down a sheer hole.

Igor: Fast & Slow

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 06 2015
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Artist: Igor
Title: Fast & Slow
Format: 12"
Label: Lamour (@)
Rated: *****
Many famous quotations by likewise famous people match art to pain or bad experiences and in the basis of such an assumption, I've heard many esthetes, who had no shames in exhibiting a certain sadism in refusing the labelling of art to anything which didn't got inspired by any kind of suffering. In spite of the beauty of his musical artifact, I wouldn't wish on Igor, the moniker of Swedish polyhedral musician Mikael Stromberg, to live the same experience that inspired this lovely release: even if he considers "Fast and Slow" as an important part of his healing process after having suffered from the sudden complete rupture of the aorta while he was cooking (the diagnosis says it was an acute aortic dissection), I really hope he's in good health in order to dedicate himself to his arts - he's also an artist in text-sound-picture context since the early 80ies -. I guess the title of this release could refer both to the irregular heartbeat during his convalescence and the distinguishing feature of each track, that he named after painkillers and other medicinal products, where the above-mentioned irregularity got reflected by sudden acceleration or decelerations, apopleptic strokes, muffled thuds and other sonic or compositional stains that seem to disturb already fragile balances.The references to some icons of 70ies ambient school as wel as proper classics such Brian Eno, John Cage and Erik Satie are guessed: the mysterious and somewhat melancholic nuance of Satie's composition could often comes to mind while listening to piano phrasing by Igor, who often transforms its sound by techniques for prepared piano, which are not so different from the ones by John Cage, or by celestial reverberations that recurs on very first ambient acts by Brian Eno, or itnegrate it with toy piano or brilliantly shaped electronic analog sounds. Even if the listening of this album could hit listener's heart, it has no side effects!


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