Music Reviews

Feb 10 2016
Artist: Konstantin Sukhan/Yury Favorin/Alexey Sysoev
Title: It Don't Mean a Thing
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
The mixing board of Alexey Sysoev has no input, but its hissing white noise sounds like a fog which gradually submerge the hits on piano's strings and board by Yury Favorin and the strangled sound that got emitted by Konstantin Sukhan's trumpet, two instruments which are closer to somehow phantasmagorical entities in the rising magnetic saturation of seemingly empty noises or I could rather match them to dangerously radioactive objects, whose radioactivity got measured by the noises coming from the mixer in the first part of this release. The second part got ignited by the ringing noise of a sort of broken intercom, where this skilled sound artists implanted a set of almost disturbing interferences, a sort of metallic chewing and locking that got supposedly derived from piano elements, a wheezing tone of trumpet and occasional hits on piano keys by rendering an electrically charged cloud, which gets more and more evanescent, but the peak of compression got reached on the third and last part of this output, where the three sonic entities seem to mirror the noises of invisible bugs in a nocturnal urban scape. Anyway don't try to look for a meaning of what these guys made while Maxim Khaikin recorded their sessions in Moscow (it dates back the 1st of July 2014), as It Do(es)n't Mean a Thing and this kind of intellectual honesty can only be appreciated.

Rapoon: Blue Days

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 07 2016
Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Blue Days
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
The new release from Robin Storey's project is a return to a more concise form while his previous releases of new material were based on long composition mostly based on drones or on sonic research. "Blue Days" is a partial return to his classic style with great emphasis on the rhythmic element and the meditative use of oriental wind instrument, however in this release there's a research for a defined sound spectrum that was absent in those releases that were mainly based on the hypnotic effect.
The metallic beats of "winters chime deep" introduce the listener into a sonic field vaguely reminiscent of the past of this artist but with an better attention to details. "On frozen air" is an hypnotic track based on a sound texture and a fistful of samples. The synth line of "no one came" gives an undoubtable charm to the track while "in black" is characterized by the oriental beats typical of his classic pages. "Long time ago now" is one of the few track featuring a proper vocal track while "the angels called" recalls the ability of Robin Storey to develops tracks using almost only percussions as elements. "In golden church" is an ethereal track based on drones while "with dance of trees" is based on loops of flutes. "Air gliden" is based on a soundscape obtained by filtered samples to expand their resonances and echoes. "Black shadows" features his known structure for flute and percussions. "In static bursts" is a small noise interlude while "small light" is another interlude for bells. "Endless" is a meditative track for voice and synth and "blue days" uses an hypnotic beat and slowed down samples and the voice closes this release singing the album's title.
Obviously far enough for any important deviation from a form which has influenced many artists, it's a release that confirms the Rapoon's ability to evolve his language neither overturning it nor being trivial. It's really worth a listen.

Ivan Iusco: Transients

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 04 2016
Artist: Ivan Iusco
Title: Transients
Format: CD
Label: Minus Habens (@)
Distributor: Family Affair Distributions srl
Rated: *****
I've been familiar with Iusco's name since the early '90es as the founder of Minus Habens, one of Italy's most prominent electronic music labels (which released things by Angelo Badalamenti, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode and a number of Italian artists). I was less familiar with Iusco as a composer, but it turns out he's moved operations to Los Angeles and has been working hard as a film composer scoring mostly Italian movies for the better part of the last 15 years.

"Transients" is his second album and showcases his evolution from electronic music tinkerer to full blown orchestral composer. The cover art work of the digi pack looks like a blurred version of a dutch masters painting or a Rembrant portrait but it's actually by the internationally-acclaimed artists Miaz Brothers.

The album starts off with tracks that are very cinematic (as is most of the record, really) and more orchestral. Layers of more than 20 real world wind, brass, string instruments and atmospheres that range from mysterious and melancholic to grand and majestic... When there is a real violin (like on track "Mobilis in Mobili", played by Pantaleo Gadaleta, who also played with the great Morricone and Antony and the Johnsons) you can really hear how the track is lifted to a whole other level, proof of what true musicianship can contribute to any computer generate music project! Then from the fifth track on Iusco pulls out his nails and teeth out and sinks them into the largely unprepared listener with some great mean-ass IDM/industrial/electronic sounds... Two tracks later the album takes another sudden turn and becomes a more vintage sounding, dare I say, almost nostalgic old-school electronica record (echoes of Clock DVA, maybe even Tangerine Dream...). On the eight track ("Circuitless") a female vocalist is introduced (it's Tying Tiffany, who's been featured on CSI, The Hunger Games)... Then Ivan dips back into ethereal ambient soundscapism that almost leaves you with a sense of uneasiness and peace at the same time. But obviously, he prefers to pick things up again and go out in a blaze of glory because the closing "Unconquered" track is what you'd expect from the end scene of some epic battle movie or even a spaceship battle sci-fi film: it's as victorious, dazzling and magnum opus-like as you'd imagine it, the perfect end credit music for this album, even though it almost ends too soon and abruptly...

If you are into soundtracks and epic movie music that is a mixture of electronica and classical music, or any of those genres taken on their own for that matter, I'd recommend you give this a spin, or at least preview it on iTunes. There's some really good stuff in there!

God Body Disconnect: Dredge Portals

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 24 2016
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Artist: God Body Disconnect
Title: Dredge Portals
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Cryo Chamber is presented in their usual austere way as "an emotional roller coaster" with "a strong narrative of storytelling" and this way of describe the records lets the listener free to hear the album with a clear mind. "Dredge Portals" sounds as a concept album centered on a lonely man which is the narrator of his thought about living in a world where there's, apparently, no one else and this story is described with field recording and foley sounds rather than drones that act as mere support of the landscape evoked by the sounds.
The narrator of "Rise of the Dormant Host" opens this release with a pistol shot and introduces the listener into a story of, perhaps, zombie and it starts on almost canonical track of evocative drone but resolved with a synth melody. The sound of rain opens "The Reflection Tower" whose drone crescendo is juxtaposed to traffic sound to enhance his emotive character. "Descend with Demons" uses drones to create a sense of tension exalted by the use of sudden noises. This sense of danger is partly resolved by the crescendo of "Heart of the Mirror's Abyss" and its samples of a running man. The return of the narrator in "Lost in the Astral World" starts the second half of this release and it's another ambient track focused on crescendo while "Perpetually Devoured" is closer to the canonical dark ambient format. "Dreaming of Glaciers" closes this release with a dreamy drone and some gentle piano notes that introduces the return of the narrator.
While the second part is more orthodox in his declination of the genre, in the first part it's evident the search for storytelling in this release which is obtained mostly with the use of field recording closer to musique concrète rather than dark ambient and result the real focus of the musical writing. It's true cinema for the ears.

Chihei Hatakeyama & Dirk Serries: The Storm of Silence

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 20 2016
Artist: Chihei Hatakeyama & Dirk Serries (@)
Title: The Storm of Silence
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Glacial Movements features one of the historical names in ambient music as Dirk Serries, a.k.a. Vidna Obmana, has released some of the key album in this field and one of the names, Chihei Hatakeyama, less known mainly for the increasingly descending longing to known new names and music rather to hear a bunch of classic seen as the cornerstone of music. This release is presented as based on the moment in winter "when nature becomes almost super linear, less expressive in color but with equal strength and severity" which is one of the key concept of ambient music: let tones resonate until they achieve a sort of independent nature as timbre.
The quiet drone of "Kulde" opens this release and introduces the listener into a landscape made out of open spaces and absent clouds. "Uvaer" is based on a drone that acts a canvas for other drones and sounds until all element gently fades into the final silence. "Fryst" seems based on the same format, however the foreground drone slowly evolves generating the evocative cover with his immersive blue. "Hvit" closes this release depicting the sense of a music working with detail instead of a form.
This is a release based on a well known form, whose however Dirk Serries is one of his builders, but reminds of how this music is based on subtle nuances rather on sonic impact and reveals how the careful choice of tones is fundamental so it has to heard with a proper equipment instead of pc speakers. It's worth a listen perhaps for everyone.

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