Music Reviews

Islaja: SUU

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 20 2014
Artist: Islaja
Title: SUU
Format: CD
Label: Monika Enterprise (@)
Rated: *****
All those ones who know Finnish musician Merja Kokkonen aka Islaja for her foggy ethereal folk songs won't easily recognise her new musical skin or I'd rather call it her spacesuit for leisure time as you could have the impression that she collected many space-disco debris in order to make sonic collages between bewiching concision and limp roaming, whose osseous structures together with the alternance of lukewarm simple syth-driven melodies and frigid fixity fit with Gurun Gut's label Monika Enterprise aesthaetics as well as the iridescent temperament that Islaja shows on her songs where she sometimes disguise as a protective tiger, a predatory nocturnal wild beast or a poetess who doesn't need to be understood. Both under the musical and lyrical viewpoints, her songs have a tendency to wander off in daydreams or mantain a suitable distance with human emotions or listening gatecrashers in her personal world, that she lets just half-view. Some moments could surmise some stuff by The Knife, Nico, the above-mentioned Gudrun Gut or even some glossy artifacts from the 80ies, but there are many original clues that could let you think that Islaja just hangs off her own SUU's (Finnish word for mouth) words.

Fatima Al Qadiri: Asiatisch

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 18 2014
Artist: Fatima Al Qadiri (@)
Title: Asiatisch
Format: CD
Label: Hyperdub (@)
Rated: *****
The choice of opening her debut album by "Shanzai" - a word which refers to the Chinese counterfeiting of Western brands and goods, even if the original meaning of the term refers to an out-of-control territory ruled by bandits... -, a nonsensical Mandarin cover of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares To U", whose inspirational romanticism could turn a daydreaming song into a sort of nightmare where that song could be considered the musical emblem of a cultural transplantation (or I'd rather call it a proper inoculation) of Western cultural memes into Chinese chaotic declension of consumerism's seeds which goes over a simple act of counterfeiting, the conceptual framework of this great release by brilliant conceptual artist Fatima Al Qadiri, has been labelled as "brave" whereas I think it's a remarkable brainwave and a wise hatchway to give listeners access on unstable stiletto to this meaningful stylistical mashup, which overarches Western cliches about such a cultural amalgamation. While O Connor's dinner in a fancy restaurant could be replaced by a sad chuanr of starfish over a foggy street in Shangai or by a bowl of tear-flavored mala beef daoxiaomein, the following tracks manage to recall modern China and possible visions of a futuristic evolution by robot-like Chinese vocal samples andtrapping chorals, entrnacing flutes, delicate synth-driven melodies, steel drums and other elements, which could let you think of a possible attempt of forgery of Western synth-music tradition as the last stage and marking of an imaginary challenge to step a fake up. In spite of its connection with so-called "sinogrime", a branch of grime that got developed in South London between 2002 and 2005 where exotic elements from Eastern sonorities got integrated into grime patterns, Fatima's debut release is one of the smartest hybridization I've ever heard.

Lufth: Distanz Und Nähe

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 17 2014
Artist: Lufth (@)
Title: Distanz Und Nähe
Format: CD
Label: Oktaf (@)
Distributor: Kompakt
Rated: *****
The first time I listened to some sonic stuff from the underrated Dortmund-based electronic musician Joerg Schuster occured many years ago when he signed some releases for appreciated net-label Thinner in the guise of Digitalverein during the golden age of deep-techno sonorities. Those fluffy and often pad-driven sonorities keep on hovering in the intriguing sound that Joerg shaped for Lufth, his new musical skin, which debuts on the label of his long-lasting friend Martin Juhls. The entrancing spleen of abstract dub infusions on the opening "Democracy is dead like printed matters" could let you imagine the liquefaction of metallic parts of a mechanical automaton of Icarus during his flight towards the sun; its nostalgic nuances got poured into the following "Methan On Mars", whose dubbed clicks, delayed muffled kicks and combusted electronic refractions precede "Duisburg links", one of the tracks together with the slow dub globs of "Rotes Dortmund" and the charming airy melodies of "Motion-Emotion", following the track where the gears of Lutfh clock sound like running faster on the title-track, where the inklings of the above-mentioned previous skin are more clearly audible. My favorite moments of the album, that got inspired by native German previous industrial region of Ruhr, come on the second half where dynamics sound like having been perfectly melted with melody ("Nicht ohne dich" - previously released on Thinner -, "Ebbe und Flut") whose acme got reached on the 10-minutes lasting "Zwischen uns der Mund", where the power of sonic suggestion by Lufth got enhanced by meticolously built geometries.

Juan Blanco: Nuestro Tiempo

 Posted by Duff Harris   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 16 2014
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Artist: Juan Blanco
Title: Nuestro Tiempo
Format: CD
Label: Innova
Rated: *****
I apologize in advance for smashing idols here (although I'm not all that sorry). What seems to be presented here is a compilation of early techniques that may be interesting to someone for whom the history of audiology is fascinating. There are synthesizers and tape effects dating from the 1960s through the 90s here - although without knowing the dates of each piece one might fail to differentiate as one track seems to blend into the next. This "timelessness" is not intended as a compliment and it is not presented in a beautiful and seamless way like a pastoral symphony but more like a grey gruel and grey latex paint.

Perhaps I am merely a neophyte when it comes to the whole electronic/ambient/ethereal/dub/soundscapes/abstract scene but when I hear "Nuestro Tiempo" ("Our Time") I am ultimately left waiting for some sort of payoff. I would consider myself someone patient enough to sit through the entirety of the Ring Cycle - so when a sixty-four minute CD leaves me feeling restless and bored it is hard to find a redeeming feature somewhere within.

I am told Juan Blanco is quite a "pioneer" of electronic music however - and that may be well and true - but just the same, Jane Austen may have been ambitious as an early female novelist of social commentary I find her personally dreadful and tedious.

Cold Body Radiation: A Clear Path

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 15 2014
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Artist: Cold Body Radiation
Title: A Clear Path
Format: CD
Label: Dusktone (@)
Rated: *****
The label presents this release as 'a deeply personal work of loss, honesty and hope' featuring a 'new focus on songs structure and personal lyrics'. However, this album sound as a single track in nine movements as the basic formula, an almost inaudible voice buried upon layers of guitar and synth, is repeated in all track but, instead of being static or repetitive, develops his ideas in a remarkable clear way resulting in one of the most enjoyable listening of the year, even if is a demanding one.
The tracks, without a title, reveals a structure of mesmerizing beauty: from the first track, where the almost inaudible voice upon the dreamy lines of synth and the guitar mass set the scene into a menacing but bucolic soundscape to the last one, where the guitars flows between the overtones and the melodic path. In between sounds, there's quieter tracks like the second and the fifth, that seems almost an instrumental pop track, and noisier one, like the sixth and the seventh, where the synth and the distortions of the guitar set the musical palette.
This release isn't exactly a ground-breaking one as his musical form is well routed into his influences but the quality of the musical writing is of first class. Every fan will enjoy this release in an endless loop. Recommended.

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