Music Reviews



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.

Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo: Doropea

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 27 2015
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Artist: Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo (@)
Title: Doropea
Format: Tape
Label: Old Bicycle Records (@)
Rated: *****
The shining glitter that have been melt in the transparent plastic of the cassette coul vaguely resemble those souvenirs, where an iconic monument of a place (the Mole Antonelliana in this case!) was put inside a sphere, which was typically filled with a liquid solution and some glitters in order to simulate the snow, and such a connection makes sense for this sonic dedication that Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo, former member of Larsen and Almagest! and collaborator of well-known musical acts like Xiu Xiu, Swans leader Michael Gira and Carla R.Bozulich as wel as one of the more original sonic artist of Italian underground scene, made for his hometown Turin. The somehow melancholic halo of the two fiftenn minutes lasting pieces, one for each side, got emphasized by the hissing of the tape describe the city at two different levels: a more ethereal and almost idealized one comes from the first one, where an upright piano, whose tones are sometimes lopsided or discordant, act like the above-described glitters into a floating and sometimes hypnotical droning stream, whose entrancing trascendence sprinkle on listener from buzzing tones from a synth, a processed guitar, an electric viola and an electric organ, which little by little wrap listeners into an icy and lukewarm hug at the same time, which I could match to the sunny days in late autumn, whose cold temperature got tempered by terse shining air. The second part of Doropea opens on the heavy snoring of someone, who maybe got asleep in a car just before a downpour, filtered by microphones and mechanical windscreen wipers, broke his sleep and could let you think that Palumbo's "description" descended to ground level, before his sounds keeps on spread over the listening space like an electrically excited gas and the gradual depletion of leakage currents after a somehow obsessive tonal crescendo that seems to have been evoked by the man who obsessively sounds like repeating, jabbering and leaisurely singing the word "tone", before his speaking got absorbed by the sonic magnetic field to the point it could resemble the way how more or less ghostly inhabitants of Twin Peaks' Black Lodge spoke in the famous final scene.

Christopher Hipgrave: No Greater Hero than the Least Plant that Grows

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 25 2015
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Artist: Christopher Hipgrave
Title: No Greater Hero than the Least Plant that Grows
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
Six years after his first input on Ian Hawgood's imprint, the critical acclaimed album "Day", and after a series of relevant contributions to the universe of sonic arts including his standalone "AMBIENT" software, which generates amazing textures from wav or aiff audio files (available here: http://www.audiobulb.com/create/Ambient/AB-Ambient.htm ) and his precious support to the super-group 'Tiny Isles', a collaborative project by Chris, Ian,Jason Corder aka offthesky, Rie Mitsutake aka Miko, Ben Chatwin aka Talvihirros, Erik Schoster aka He Can Jog and Antony Harrison aka Konntinente and Paco Sala, whose lovely debut release "The Seasoned Sleep" is going to be re-released at the end of the year, Christopher Hipgrave came back on Home Normal. The content he poured into "No Greater Hero than the Least Plant that Grows" mainly focuses on that kind of ambient, which could let you float in the mental universe of a quantum physician with a relevant difference: instead of accelerating particles, he prefers to reduce the speed of sound particles he wisely inoculate in order to let listener perceive their inner beauty and ideally follow their routes in the vacuum. Some tracks such as "Glittering Flecks Scattered", "More Beautifully etc." - it's really entrancing the way he reversed some sonic beams he inoculated on previous tracks over a sort of vinyl hissing on this track - as well as some bright moments of the album such as "The Quality of Not Being Explicable" or the entrancing "All The Things We Practiced" could sound a little bit lulling, but if you try to listen them carefully, you'll almost perceive the descriptive visualization of Hipgrave's sound on the cover artwork, where the chaotic flow of a cloud of resounding photons sounds like having been harmonised inside invisible wave-like pipes in the darkness.


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