Music Reviews



Chra: Empty Airport

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 10 2015
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Artist: Chra (@)
Title: Empty Airport
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego
Rated: *****
The origin of ambient music was merely functional as you can easily verify by checking the various pristine releases with unambiguous titles such as "Music for Waiting Rooms", "Music for Elevators" and so on. The most famous one - many reviewers consider it as the very first ambient album - was Brian Eno's notorious "Music For Airports", which is also the departure point of this interesting album by Wien-based electronic musician Christina Nemec aka Chra - founder of Comfortzone label and member of Shampoo Boy (together with Peter Rehberg and Christian Schachinger -, who lands on Editions Mego platform by an isolationist revision of that functionality. Ambient music is no more a sort of more or less neutral piece of furniture, but stick to the cognitive process of feedforwarding and backpropagation of the user, where sounds portray a sort of heterotopia. Noises and sounds that could come from an empty terminal got juxtaposed to inners spaces, dimensions and mutations, so that they seem to render what an unlucky traveller experiences when he/she had to wait for a connecting flight, which departs early in the morning: tiredness and drowsiness alter perception until any external sonic stimulations deposit on the wall of consciousness and manage to render imaginary dimensions, where even empty spaces could be like the displays of a living entity - tracks such as "Fits Of Asthma", "The Story Of" or "Landmine" sound like turning noises into biological functions, while other ones such as the title-track "Empty Airport", "Soca Valley" or "Contaminated Landscapes" evoke hallucinatory dimensions -. Very interesting sonic output.

Monty Adkins: Unfurling Streams

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 09 2015
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Artist: Monty Adkins
Title: Unfurling Streams
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
"For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) /its always ourselves we find in the sea". These well-known lines that close E.E.Cummings's poem "maggy an milly and molly and may" already inspired many artists with a love for one of the most beautiful nature's contribution to our planet that the American poet described as "marvelous from god's/hands which sent her forth/to sleep upon the world" in another famous poem. Professor Monty Adkins seems to join this crew by this placid release, whose title "Unfurling Streams" describe both the sonorities you're going to listen and its concept: the entrancing frequencies that Monty unstringed from instruments by a wise sound processing, the undertow of reversed recording of some of them, the bubbling percussions he made together with Jonny Axelsson that got inserted in the textures of the six untitled streams as well as some organic entities that resurfaces from the depths of these streams render both the cleansing effect of the vision onthe edge of the sea and the matching between underwater and marine streams and inner flows, where doldrums and storms, quiet and disquieting moments, coming up and sedations of memories flip between the streaming of slipped sounds, where streams, according to the words which introduce the release, reflect "life - something continually flowing, evolving, and changing. Eddies, currents, pools and spray also are suggestive of ways in which the stream makes its way through the landscape and are clearly reflected in the images and sounds created for this project". Some moments of the album are so peaceful that unattentive listeners cannot catch some hidden trasures, as there are just some moments (the fifth and the third streams) where music imposes itself to listener's attention. The limited edition box set included a set of images by Stephen Harvey, whose connection with Monty Adkins' release got explained as follows: "In Unfurling Streams I have created a set of images that respond to the concept and essence of the music. The openness of this approach, and a deep mutual appreciation of each others' work, allowed me the latitude to develop a unique creative situation where internal, fragmented visual concepts and external situations or circumstances converged. The images produced for this project would not have been made without that influence... to investigate detail and particularity and make it the essence of the work.".

Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld: Never Were the Way She Was

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 06 2015
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Artist: Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld (@)
Title: Never Were the Way She Was
Format: CD
Label: Constellation Records (@)
Rated: *****
One of my favorite musical artists, Canadian multi reed and wind-strumentalist Colin Stetson, and his partner in crime and in life, Sarah Neufeld (great violinist and understated singer, also a member of Arcade Fire) finally joined forces and made a record together.

If you don't know Mr. Stetson, start by listening to his amazing trilogy of albums entitled "New History Warfare" (which came out between 2007 and 2013) and then, if you can, try to wrap your head around the fact that everything you are hearing is played live, without loops or overdubs!!! On every track you will hear what sounds like multiple voices and voicings, distant muffled echoes of whales and ogres (from the contact microphones on Mr. Stetson's throat and chest), multiple melody lines and usually a very defined melodic and rhythmic bass line made up of notes, clicks and clunks (from the saxophone's keys) that pedals throughout each piece. All of those, and more, are played live, on the spot, with extended micing and performance techniques of the instrument (usually tenor or bass saxophone) and a mind-boggling command of circular breathing, concentration and transcendence that is usually the stuff of legends, or very advanced yogi's!

On their first released musical effort as a couple, the two add even more to the table: Mr. Stetson plays the contrabass clarinet on some of the tunes (which is just an incredible sounding instrument, with a possibly even wider range than the bass saxophone, or at least extending further downward in the scale).
Mrs. Neufeld's laying is fluid and entrancing and perfectly complements the nature of what is going on. When she adds some nice long reverberated vocal notes into the mix, the whole thing gets even more eerie and chilling, relaxing and all encompassing, like a fog or a wave that takes over the space in which you are enjoying this music.

I recently went to see them play live at Bowery Ballroom in NYC (talented drummer Ryan Sawyer was opening for them) and it was just a reminder (not that I needed one) and a reinforcement of why I like Colin's playing so much. Seeing them play together, seeing the interaction and the obviously intense and intimate connection that they have, augments the listening experience even more and takes their performance to a level that traditional ensembles can rarely achieve.

Now that the two of them play together the result is exponentially more interesting, as in the result is greater than the sum of all parts!

Sun Color: Parallel Tracks

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 06 2015
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Artist: Sun Color (@)
Title: Parallel Tracks
Format: 12"
Label: S.C.A.P. Records
Rated: *****
I'm not sure the idea behind SCAP Records(according to label's introduction, "to publish in vinyl a series of volumes, each as an autonomous art project and indipendent document in which various concepts and sound explortions are investigated"), the home of Sun Color, the prismatic flip-type mirror by which Barcelona-based Venezuelan Julio Cesar Palacio displays his wide spectrum of electronic and electroacoustic sonic research (manipulation of magnetic tape cassettes, field recordings, feedback morphing, reel to reel and modular synthhesizer covering a wide stylistical range in between acousmatic and GRM-like musique concrete), followed up on its very first issue, whose extremely limited edition (just 30 numbered units) was announced in the end of last year, but this amalgamation of by-products of Sun Color's sound processing that he recorded during many studio sessions are so interesting that it deserves some attention and possibly a follow-up. Named after the parallel bars of multitrack mixer, "Parallel Tracks" consists of two 15-minutes lasting clusters of sounds that Sun Color purposely made or made by chance in amazing moments of serendipity within his recording studio that he tried to organize, even if a certain lack of cohesion could make it just a divertssment for audiophiles.

Gabriel Ledoux: Le Vide Parfait

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 05 2015
cover
Artist: Gabriel Ledoux
Title: Le Vide Parfait
Format: CD
Label: Acte (@)
Rated: *****
Ideated during the Quebec student strike of 2012, the meaning of this interesting release where Gabriel Ledoux tries "prettifying evil", according to the words of an established composer asked to comment his work and quoted by Symon Henry's attached words (one of the six interesting comments, that include Ledoux's reflections about his "immoral art"), got explained by a set of comments, but above all by his own music, a psychedelic amalgamation of contemporary classical, electronic and free jazz music, where he manages to render a sense of upcoming or vivid tragedy where the main statement of free art can sometimes go beyond the limitations of worst sides of reality. "I want to pay tribute to the victims of Charles Manson and Jim Jones, of the Columbine shooting and of the Waco siege. I have tried my best to be respectful to the victims of these tragic events in creating Le vide parfait, but the economic liberalism plaguing us forces me to sell these pieces to eventually benefit from these tragedies.". This is his own introduction when he tried to explain it during his own master's final dissertation at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal, whose examining commission considered the use of recorded vocals by members of the sadly notorious People's Temple cult who declared "I'm a violent revolutionary", 911 calls during the Waco siege and the Columbine shooting, as "immoral" and while praising his examination specified that his source of inspiration was "a questionable choice"... One of the judge of "Rouge des crepuscoles" labelled it as "pornophonic"! I agree with what the above-mentioned Symon Henry says at the end of his comment by far, where he wisely quoted Nina Simone's shouted words "The whole damn world's made me lose my rest" on "Mississippi Goddam" as well: "Le vide parfait is about to get its foot in the viscous mannerism door of a music of its time (experimental as well as popular), comfortably looking for a living room idea debate, forgetting the concreteness of daily tragedies. Revolution, then and now, is defined by head-on actions as well as the subversion of cultural and social codes. By releasing this album, in full consciousness of the impact of his art, I have the impression Gabriel is paving part of the way for this revolution I strongly and urgently wish for us.". Check it out and "Don't return fire".


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