Music Reviews



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Artist: Luxury Mollusc / Ontervjabbit / Animal Machine (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: [&] (@)
Rated: *****
I was not familiar with any of these bands before getting this, but looking at the cover and the lo-fi presentation (artwork is a creepy drawing on pen and paper, blank CDR), I kind of expected some noise here (especially since it came in the same package as Sist En 343, which was some great noise). So I was a bit surprised when I put on the disc. First up, we have Luxury Mollusc with 'Fishing For Chalk Lung Breathing Is A Chore Wax Tundra.' This is gritty and a bit noisy, but not really noise. Imagine a post apocalyptic landscape where the machines are still running simply because there is no one left to shut them off. As you can expect, the machines have become a bit rusted and parts have started to fall off of them, but they keep grinding away. This is the feel that we begin with. Lots of reverb gives it a cavernous feel, and it gets progressively noisy as it goes along. The machines are starting to break down and it's beginning to show. Nicely done. Next up, Ontervjabbit comes in with all guns firing with 'Disruption Slot' This is a slab of heavy, feedback laden noise that crushes everything in its path. There are recurring themes throughout, but this is surprisingly good if you like rumbling, grinding noise. As such, it manages to keep the nonstop intensity going while still being engaging. It ends with an ear piercing squeal of feedback, just as I thought it would. Well done. If you were looking for some kind of aural respite after Ontervjabbit's assault, you will find none in Animal Machine's 'Live at the Rehearsal 14.10.12.' But while Ontervjabbit functioned mostly in the lower end of the spectrum, Animal Machine aims for the treble side with lots of white noise before heading into a segment of rumbling bass and feedback about halfway through. So much feedback. If you like harsh noise, this will definitely be up your alley. Overall, don't let the cover fool you ' this is well worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 66 minutes.

Leykam - Mark - Meyer: HEX

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 04 2015
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Artist: Leykam - Mark - Meyer
Title: HEX
Format: CD
Label: Frank Mark Arts (@)
Rated: *****
The mark on the cover artwork of this release by long lasting collaborators Frank Mark(samples, programming), Roman Leykam (electric guitars, guitar treatments, guitar synths and guitar drum loops) and Frank Meyer (synths, sound collages, electric guitars, electric bass) was not taken from some ancient book of witchcraft - hex was traditionally a sign to keep evil spirits from houses or places -, but comes from the "magical" naivety 6 years old Joshua Leykam and such a sense of innocent and powerfully magical naivety and child-like way of discerning nature permeate the music that this trio wisely craft. With the exception of some moments, most of tracks on "HEX" are quite simple from the compositional or melodic viewpoint, but the strong point of the explorations by this trio, which orbits around a mixture of cosmic Schultze-like sonorities, ethnic nuances, diluted Pink Floyd-ian space-rock, jazzy inserts and new age sonic entities - including voices of cetaceans -, is the panache of the sounds they melt as well as the refinement of many arabesques, which fully counterbalance some excessively static or predictable stuff ("Place of Refuge", "The Invisible Bound") and provides some good moments for angry eardrums such as the wisely titled "Figments of the Imagination", "Fen Fires" and "Transient World", whose simple looped melodies and general atmosphere reminded to me some stuff by first Zero 7's outputs besides above-mentioned similarities. Will it be enough to keep evil spirits away?

OZmotic / Fennesz: AirEffect

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 04 2015
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Artist: OZmotic / Fennesz (@)
Title: AirEffect
Format: CD
Label: Folk Wisdom/SObject
Rated: *****
Before the first listening of this awesome collaborative project by Christian Fennesz - he doesn't really need any introduction - and OZmotic, the Turin-based electronic and instrumental duo by percussionist, composer, performer and sound designer SmZ and saxophone player and phycisist (specializing in tonal analysis and architectural and environmental acustics) Stanislao Lesnoj, whose scientific approach to sound as well as his jazz studies resound from his declension of music, I haven't read anything about its concept and my mind was broght into a sort of interstitial limbo, where a bunch of snippets from real worlds running in parallel to electronic pricks whirled around a saxophone, whose phrasing lied in between meditation and sullenness and could let you think of yourself as a sort of invisible observer into the fold and the wrinkles of mankind and occasional escapes towards sheltering metaphysical gardens, even if I can't find a position or a specific role to that kind of mocking walrus that can be heard on "Anthropocene". Such an "illusion" could be somehow fostered by the interesting strategies by which OZmotic grabbed sounds in their hometown Turin: contact and hydrophonic miks got placed in unusual places in order to grab the unperceivable vibrations or even the "perception" of thins like the riverbed of Po, the stone of a bridge or the wire of a tram. All these sounds they grabbed got inserted into their sonic bleeding, where jazzy elements got integrated to electronic textures, effected guitar-driven and electronic soundscapes, hypnotical dub movements and deranged detournament, that dramatically renders the conditions of post-modern mankind which has not find the right balance between nature and technology yet. The way they imagined and rendered the content of a black box from the so-called Anthropocene (a term which got widely used by essaysts like ecologist Stoermer and atmospheric chemist Crutzen to refer to a supposed epoch when the impact on our planet's ecosystems was widely influenced by human activities), where the disquieting collage of a grazed herd of goats (or humans?), voices from adverts, a yelling merchant and answering machines on "LiquidMrkt" or the feeling of asphyxia and confused turmoil that most moments seem to mirror ("Clone 15.26", "Run To Ruin") could be congruent with such a metaphysical journey which is other than transient. The final "Epilogo" sounds like the rising vision of that forthcoming moment when all those entities in the previous stages of the journey become parts of an hidden message of hope and atonement...

Suspicion Breeds Confidence: Tand

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 04 2015
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Artist: Suspicion Breeds Confidence (@)
Title: Tand
Format: CD
Label: Attenuation Circuit (@)
Rated: *****
Named after one of the bizarre slogan of the likewise bizarre dictatorship in Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil - inspired by Orwell's "1984" -, Suspicion Breeds Confidence is the alias that Frankfurt-based sound artist Tobias Schmitt gave to his electronic artifacts. Its title "Tand", an obsolete German word to mean little nice but useless objects (generally referred to basic toys for children or junk jewelry), as well as the sarcastic titles of its tracks could be both deceiptful and meaningful, if you carefully listen to the flotsam and jetsam that he let float in his sonic pond: my favorite titles are "Although His Leadership Was Brutal His Death Was Deeply Mourned" that he gave to a track where he matched the session of an hypnotist to singed interferences, corrugated metallic sounds, which reminds the act of descaling a toilet tank -!- and one of those fluffy carpet-like pad-synth that your eardrum could meet in those therapy music gimcrack cd in the office of an osteopath or in a massage parlour before the whole track become more and more "claustrophobic", "The Rather Surprising Dishonesty of The Opium Mining Company", the abstract collage of ghostly whispering, soughing background noises, metallic hits that could surmise the noises from the water pipes - it makes sense if you saw the above-mentioned movie Brazil -, or "The Gentrification Of Babylon", the title he matched to one of the spookiest moment of this album, where a set of vanishing voices resurfaces from an expanding foggy sound as if they are clues of stifling or confused memories that some advertiser inoculated into subconscious world in order to generate shell-shocks. Likewise Gilliam, it will sound clear while listening to the sonic stuff that poured into "Tand" that Tobias seems to have penchant for grotesque deformation and a certain surreal hypertrophy of his sonic collages could sound more "extant" than any other unmeaningful info-particles that chaotically float around and flood our senses.

Melanchoholics: Solar Cafe

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 27 2015
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Artist: Melanchoholics (@)
Title: Solar Cafe
Format: CD
Label: Eibon Records (@)
Rated: *****
Melanchoholics was a trio from Dusseldorf, Germany consisting of minimal guitars, low-end bass and lo-fi electronica. Their goal was to create slow, impressive soundscapes. They began in 2001, releasing a couple of CDs, an EP and some soundtracks over their course of existence. Unfortunately, guitarist Benedikt died not long after the completion of the recording of this album, so 'Solar Cafe' is their swan song as Philip (bass) and Lutz (electronics) have chosen to carry on making music under the name Minus1One. This is the first recording I've heard from Melanchoholics, so my review is untainted by any prior exposure.

At the outset on "Rotten City Radio" you can tell it's going to be an experimental sort of thing. Some slidey, descending guitar loop, soft, reverberating explosive sounds, a sporadic dialogue sample, electronics, and stray, struck guitar notes all combine to form some kind of amorphous industrial atmosphere. "Adam Dunkel" begins as a low drone four-note piece before noisier elements creep in making for a lethargic industrial soundscape. "Paranoia Lodge" is another crawling ambient piece featuring vocals (the spoken kind) by Arthur Walser Rosar and Miss Ada. It is predominantly placid, interspersed with laconic guitar chords. Vocals are creepy and dreamy, giving the track a semi-nightmarish quality. "Hiring Beared Women" (ever heard of a more peculiar name for track?) is low rumbling ambience over which electronically processed guitar intermittently improvises. It has a slight shoegazer quality to it. Title track "Solar Cafe" sounds like it could be the opening to a Pink Floyd album that was never released...just a kind of ambience, no rock. "Presence of Absence" has the heartbeat of some primordial monster, wind, and some gentle ethereal guitar improvisation. It must have been the combination of the wind and guitar that reminded me a bit of the beginning of Pink Floyd's "One of These Days". "The End Belongs to the World" is an ambient drone piece that gets noisy for a spell a couple of times, also with some malevolent whispers. Nuclear Welfare" continues the trend of ambient-industrial soundscape interspersed with noisy elements and sparse guitar improvisation. Final track, "Minus1One", another industrial drone piece, has much more of Benedikt's guitar in it than I expected; a somewhat melodic melancholy outro with more conventional musicality on the guitar's part.

Melanchoholics have come up with a really unusual album in 'Solar Cafe', and one worth a listen or three. Minimal, yet they manage to pack a lot into it. Obviously they will not be the same without Benedikt, but it should be interesting to hear what Philip and Lutz come up with as Minus1One. Available on CD or 12" vinyl.


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