Music Reviews



Erland Dahlen: Blossom Bells

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 10 2016
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Artist: Erland Dahlen
Title: Blossom Bells
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
The definition that a reviewer on Uncut zine gave about the surprising Norwegian drummer Erland Dahlen - a "one-man band-in-a-box sounds fuller and imaginative than many 'post-rock' quartets" - seems to be confirmed by his second solo output. Named after a set of bells engineered by the legendary instrument-maker Pete Engelhart, that Erland plays in many moments of this album together with traditional and less conventional instruments - including a set of cake moulds and springs built by Hallvard W.Hagen (one leg of Xploding Plastix), a sort of "percussion bass" by Harald Hougaardand and a wind up wood with elastic band built by Kenny Wollesen -, "Blossom Bells" rekindles the flame of the acknowledged oestrus of this musician, who manages to combine a penchant for new sound and a remarkable way of shuffling different styles. The way by which he sprays his drumming sessions by means of krautrock, ambient music, contemporary music, soundtrack-like music and drones into a blend of dark-spotted rock-inspired energy is so catchy that he wouldn't really need a so meticulous focus on sound, which is a detail that doesn't corrupt the genuine hooks and the pizzazz of his meaningful pastiche. Likewise his previous solo album "Rolling Bomber", "Blossom Bells" got exclusively played by Erland, but on this occasion he involved both Johnny Skalleberg, who partially recorded the album at Oslo Klang, as well as his long-lasting mates Xploding Plastix - Jens Petter Nilsen and Hallvard Wennersberg Hagen...besides the borrowing of the above-mentioned bizarre set of percussions, there are some similarities with their sound in tracks like "Pipe" -, who recorded the other half of the album at Coffee Fabric. Masterfully mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab, this musical pearl is a must-have.

Erik Nyström: Morphogenèse

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 10 2016
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Artist: Erik Nyström (@)
Title: Morphogenèse
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes (@)
Rated: *****
British computer composer Erik Nystrom seems to focus more on the process of making a shape than the shape itself in the explorations that got collected in "Morphogenese"; the explanation of a process could be more or less an easy task, but rendering it by means of sounds is much more engaging and troublesome, but Erik managed to walk over this arduous and somehow trackless path by means of riveting sonic strategies, that he developed within pertaining conceptual field. A sort of elastic noise is the sparkle of the opening "Catabolisms", whose thrilling sequence of aggregating and disgregating textures really mirrors the description of catabolic processes by German art theorist and perceptual psychologist Rudolf Arnheim in his essay "Entropy and Art" ("all sorts of agents and events that act in an unpredictable, disorderly fashion and have in common the fact that they all grind things into pieces."), referred in the introduction of the track, which gradually reaches a sort of point of no return, where the breaking of all chemical bonding and the bursts of energy that followed each step of these catabolic processes pushes listener close to a sort of nowhere; similarly, a sonic sparkle - the elongation of a pure frequency of a sort of diapason - ignites the following "Latitudes", a track which manages to evoke a generative process of gradual expansion that begins with a compressed sonic corpuscle. "Lucent Voids", the longest composition of this collection, sounds like an unpredictable game, whose aim is the modelling and the thinning of the diaphragm between time and space, while Erik seems to add film and sheers to pure sounds on the track "Cataract" in order to render the analogy with the medical condition of the eye lens as well as the Greek etymology of the term "acousmatic" - its origin can be traced back to Pythagoras and should derive from the term akousmatikoi, the outer circle of the disciples of the Greek philosopher who could hear the lessons of their teacher, who spoke from behind a veil so that his presence could not distract them from the content of his lessons -. These four pieces are stereo versions (for home listening) of pieces that were originally conceived for 8-channel concert projections, while "Far-from-equilibrium" - an impressive electroacoustic translation of almost randomly self-generating entropic sonic entities and textures - comes from a stereo tape. A pair of really good headphones is highly recommended.

Dronny Darko: Neuroplasticity

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 06 2016
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Artist: Dronny Darko (@)
Title: Neuroplasticity
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
The follow-up of Outer Tehom, his first full length album on Cryo Chamber, is described as "an introverted journey through the psyche of the listener" and is a release that seems inspired by the neurological process which are activate in the comprehension of music. From a structural perspective is a rather canonical dark ambient release but it shows also some influence from what is called "sound design", so it's not only a matter of drone but there's the use of noises that are related to almost recognizable sounds.
Small rhythmic sounds floating in space open "Mirror Neurons" and prepare the way for an immersive second part where this sounds are reverberated to create the space for a drone creating a sense of void where also some sample are barely audible in the background; a noisy interlude marks the beginning of the final part of the track based on a slowly changing drone and sample that seems the sounds of the beginning time stretched to be shorter. "Circuits" starts quietly and adds layers of sound until, at his climax, it starts to subtract them. "Plazma Lake" is a long track divided in two parts: the first is based on a small noise which gradually evolves while the second on a drone slowly evolving into silence. The initial background noise of "Electrical Membrane" starts an almost noise track where all sound are placed in a cinematic way so they start abruptly as a menacing drone starts to finish the track. "Ion Voltage" juxtaposes noises and drone to generate an impressive sense of movement.
The focus of the musical development is truly based on details rather than on structure so it's a sometime predictable record however it shows an impressive technique on sonic manipulation which blurs some barrier between noise and drone so this release really sounds good. Recommended for fans of the genre and to be heard preferably on headphone to enjoy a bunch of sonic details for the curious ear.

Krojc / Fischerle: John, Betty & Stella

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 29 2016
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Artist: Krojc / Fischerle (@)
Title: John, Betty & Stella
Format: 12"
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
One of the most original releases that recently met my eardrums is this bizarre sonic collage that Polish musicians and producers Jakub Pokorski and Mateusz Wysocki, who amalgamated a series of fragments they took from one of those cassette-based educational English lessons for beginners that were quite popular in the 80ies. The source of these fragments is "Listen and learn" (authors: J. Smalska, J. Rusiecki, B. Krasnodebska - issued by Muza Polskie Nagrania) and it was quite bizarre to discover that this collection of innocent English lessons got mentioned in an academic study around the more or less subliminal role of media in the gender-specific division of roles and functions. The way they re-arranged different fragments are really funny as they built a proper and somehow thrilling plot, that got enhanced by a sort of audio commentary, which explores many different areas of electronic music on the basis of the textual content. For instance, the somehow disquieting hyper-reverberated orchestral mayhem after a voice announces a lesson about modern art perfectly renders John's inability to understand or empathize with modern painting unlike Stella in "Figure Behind You", the smokey techno movement they inoculated while Stella blames John for smoking too many cigarettes in the same track, the obsessive and piercing musical dramatization of John's headache and the psychotic slowed movement for a discussion about the recipes of porridge between John and Betty. The acme got reached on the final track "A Musical Evening" (Section 52 of the course!), where the authors build an amazing electronic movement in between Felix Kubin-like dadaism and sci-fi lounge music, that gradually interrupts as if the tape got more and more jammed, demagnetized or overwritten. A nice way to improve your English!

Rob Sparx: Dreamin' EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 29 2016
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Artist: Rob Sparx (@)
Title: Dreamin' EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: NexGen Music (@)
Rated: *****
The intro of the first song of this new EP by Rob Sparx that played in my headphones could be fitted to a remake of Dr.Strangelove for cosmic age, but a string sample, which could resemble the one that Roni Size used on his well-known tune "Dirty Beats", ignites bouncy groove and such an uplifting combination could be vaguely matched to some past entries by Omni Trio in order to give an idea of what you could expect. By the way, Leicester-born producer, who is known for his multifaceted approach and extremely versatility, saves his good reputation over the other three tracks of this tidbit: "Navigator"'s chopping on drums and sonorities which are closer to sci-fi soundtracks could let you imagine Rob managed to launch some junglist in orbit and memories of ragga-spotted jungle resurface in "Jah", whose occasional digital spins on vocal elements and flanger-like rotations can suit a junglist camouflage of Johnny Mnemonic! The highest peak of this EP got reached on the title track "Dreamin'", where Rob made a soulful tune, which could be matched to some glorious moments of the past with the connivance of the lovely voice by Dee Ellington, singing over a typically jungle bassline and the awesome drumming by Felix Weldon, whose amalgamation could resemble some outputs on Earth, the "organic" division of LTJ Bukem's Good Looking Records.


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