Music Reviews

Simon Scott: Insomni

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 26 2016
Artist: Simon Scott (@)
Title: Insomni
Format: CD
Label: Ash International
Rated: *****
British multi-instrumentalist and sound ecologist Simon Scott, whose name is well-known to many Slowdive fans as he's been the drummer of the recently regrouped shoegaze band since 1991, mainly focuses on awesome tonal studios on his solo workouts. In spite of some connections to the sound and the concept of his recent output "Below Sea Level" for Wozencroft's label Touch - many tracks of this output, such as "Holme Posts" or "Fen Drove", features environmental sounds that he supposedly grabbed in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, where there's the lowest point in Great Britain (if I remember well around 3 metres below sea level) -, "Insomni" is an output on Touch sister-label Ash International which has not a proper conceptual framework, even if someone could confuse the fact it was made during a sleepless night as a concept. The way by which Simon combines effected guitars, electronics, digital signal processing, field recordings - lovely the above-mentioned ones that he grabbed in Home Fen Posts - as well as the sounds he made from a series of found objects (including the humming of his fridge mirror, the hissing of a DVD player, a broken laptop and other domestic resounding entities, which have been some of the sparkles for Simon's creativity) could let you imagine he tried to mic any air flow between his sensorial sphere and the environment blowing into his personal circadian pinwheel: I particularly enjoyed the moments where some lucid dreams seem to gush out of majestic artifacts of a masterful dronegazer like Simon such as the opening "An Angel From The Sea Kissed Me" or the likewise catchy "Confusion In Her Eyes", as the transitions between almost ecstatic sound-sets towards saturations and distortions, where the seemingly peaceful doldrums of the opening waves turn into stormy waters, are a remarkable aural pleasure, well as the moments where the interferences of "concrete" sounds and circling reverie result into a sort of dirty ecstasy as it happens on "Oaks Grow Stronger". In the second part of "Insomni", Simon focuses on the sound of acoustic guitar in a way that could let you think that the first lights of dawn gradually manage to brighten up the sound by means of a sort of catharsis, which vanishes the disturbances which previously harnessed the rendering of the emotional carousel by means of really lovely tracks like "Far From The Tree", "Nettle Bed", "Ternal" and the sweet lulling of the final "Swanbark".

Zenial: Minotaur

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 22 2016
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Artist: Zenial (@)
Title: Minotaur
Format: 12" vinyl + DVD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
This new release from Zenial is an LP supported by a DVD where most of his composition were portrayed by WÅadysÅaw Szulc and Marian Kraczkowski. As almost all composition were recorded in a residency in the Stockholm EMS studio, the musical output is vaguely reminiscent of the old days of electronic music where all sound were mainly generated by oscillators and so they deserved a particular tones, something which today sounds old and new. As a mirror to this approach the visual part were shot in 16mm so it has the same visual style of the post war's avant-garde.
The synths of "Minotaur" open this release balancing noise and atmosphere while "Lament of Ghoul" is focused on loop and rhythm. "Hades" moves even if it seems to be a static track. "Soul Check" closes the first side of this release showing a clear vision of the sound palette to use.
The B side is open by "Serapeum" a cinematic track using foley sound to enhance his evocative premise and "Gorgona" follow further in this part as, while a loop is in the foreground, the background is based on a richly detailed soundscape. "Live in Braunschweig: psychopomp" closes this release presenting the more noise oriented side of this artist which relies on musical impact.
"Minotaur/Chimera" is a DVD which gives this release a visual part so "Serapeum", directed by WÅadysÅaw Szulc and Marian Kraczkowski, creates abstract figure from fluids while "Minotaur" features geometrical figures. "Lament of Ghoul" depicts a view of a sort of monk in a sort of cemetery while in "Gorgona" he's working in his cell. "Hades" returns to abstract geometrical figures. The three remaining tracks are from the previous release "Chimera" and are based on different visual concepts: "Chimera" is a street movie shot in a place, "Rosora 28" is based on light procedures synchronized with the rhythmic sine wave and "Rosora 28 : Wymiar 4/5" closes this DVD juxtaposing the two approaches.
Even if the musical output is based on a codified form is so focused on carefully developed form that is charming in his details, the DVD included in some copies of the LP shows the talent of WÅadysÅaw Szulc and Marian Kraczkowski of creating abstract images with analogue means. It's so enrolled with the nostalgia of a time where artist creates something with nothing that it's really worth a reverent listening.

Miguel Frasconi: Standing Breakage (for Stan Brakhage)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 21 2016
Artist: Miguel Frasconi (@)
Title: Standing Breakage (for Stan Brakhage)
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: clang (@)
Rated: *****
It's a known fact that many interesting and sometimes really important discoveries are purely accidental. It's what occurred to American composer Miguel Frasconi on the occasion of the first "score" of this composition, as while he was working on sounds he keeps on making from glass instruments or objects - he was one of the founders of The Glass Orchestra in late 70ies and some of his sonic findings were borrowed to well-known composers, musicians and sound artists such as John Cage, Jon Hassell and Morton Subotnick -, a quartz crystal glass bowl got damaged, but instead of replacing it, he decided to check how it could sound and this aspect if the first relevant one of this output; according to his own words, "almost all the sound in this particular piece come from one quartz crystal glass bowl which had been struck a bit too forcefully during a rehearsal a few months before. The instrument was still whole but there was a clean fracture from its rim to its base. Right away I knew I needed to record the attempts to complete the breakage.". The second relevant and somehow surprising element of "Standing Breakage" is what happened after this discovery: "I was curious to hear which new pitches would result from splitting apart the original pitch of G#. But once again glass proved to be unpredictable, this time in its refusal to break further. As hard as I tried throughout the recordings for this project, the bowl would not continue to crack. Many wonderful sounds were coaxed from this one object in its unusual state, particularly the vibrations resulting from rubbing and striking near the fissure". The manipulation and the alteration of these sounds provided new stuff for this 20-minutes lasting suite, whose title is a play on words and an appropriate dedication to the late experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, who occasionally filmed breaking glass objects for some of his outputs.

Rougge: Monochrome

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 21 2016
Artist: Rougge (@)
Title: Monochrome
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The resemblance between French chantler and composer Rougge and Radiohead's voice Thom Yorke is not only limited to their voice and their stroke on piano keys (listen to "Fragment 13" for instance in order to find similarities), but also facial... Rougge's obscure sensitivity brings the listener close to the melancholic raptures of Anthony and The Johnsons, who are musically mirrored on the uproaring grace of Fragment 47, and his howling glossolalia to Jonsi Birgisson (the voice of Sigur Ros), but besides possible matching, its second album "Monochrome" emphasizes the beauty of his ethereal darkness and is other than lamentably lacklustre. The most heart-rending moments evoked by his highest peaks could let you imagine that some prankster or Rougge himself his some pointed thorns under the black faux leather of his piano stool, but I'm pretty sure many listeners will get immediately captivated by the dialogue between his voice and his piano, which didn't get disfigured by Melanie Pernet's violin, Anais Jansen's violin and Stephanie Bertrand's cello on the bonus track "Fragment 22", particularly when they both sound like bleeding honey.

Queensway: East West

 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 19 2016
Artist: Queensway
Title: East West
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Syncopix Records (@)
Rated: *****
A clip for a track, which came out on Blu Mar Ten Music three or four years ago, looking like a sort of advertisement for cheap garment, accessories or costume jewellery, persuaded me to ignore the stuff by the Ukrainian producer Nikolay Shvets aka Queensway and the circumstance that his new album came out on the self-named label by Syncopix, the moniker of Roland Boghdan - another producer who seems too obsessively focused on jingles than tunes - almost persuaded to do the same for his recent outputs. I decided to set aside some reservations about music makers, who sold their talent to marketing, and pressed play to listen to its recent album "East West". I have to admit this guy is a really talented producer and even if some tracks keep on sounding so loungy that the above-described first impression got somehow validated - I could mention "A'l Cappuccino", which could perfectly work as a musical background in a beauty center for fashionistas, or "Generation", which makes me imagine a finger food course unmeaningful (but nonsensically chic) meal -, Queensway's skills in forging soulfully lukewarm moments, particularly those ones when he seems to reprise 90ies chill dub or electronic downbeat of the following decade such as "The Untitled", "Airsand" or the title-track "East West" as well as something up-tempo like "To The Stars" or "Cym", manage to mitigate and tone down my opinion on excessively stereotyped sonic casting.

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