Music Reviews

Fallen: Secrets of the Moon

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 21 2015
Artist: Fallen (@)
Title: Secrets of the Moon
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Psychonavigation Records
Distributor: Darla Records
Since my childhood, music remains the admission cost to the theater of the mind. My parents, teachers and friends played instrumental music as a way to evoke and inspire imagination and Secrets of the Moon is one of those currencies. Secrets... is minted in musical memory fragments whose oboe conjure The Dream Academy, ethno-percussive bits, the ether of Muslimgauze and synthesizer tones and melodies hint at Dead Can Dance, among other pop retro fragments that are molten in a kind of nostalgic foundry.

It seems Fallen's goal is to channel experience and personal narrative into a kind of soundtrack, and Secrets of the Moon largely succeeds. The album and track titles themselves suggest storybook tales to enthrall young and old alike. The title track opens dramatically enough, with simulated gusts of wind that might pass as moans from a chorus of spirits while resonating drones intone and reverberate as if along massive canyons followed by ethno-percussion fragments and gusts of wheezing wind. A third of the way through the title track, an oboe melody materializes and hovers like a friendly guiding spirit light in these darkened canyons. 'Golden Dust (the Vanishing)' holds more dramatic tension, melodies crafted from santoor and synthesizers, accented with rock guitars that seem to narrate the plot line of the story. 'Ravenhand' moves the narrative along, accompanied by our friendly oboe, again with santoor and percussion'ambushed by drone midway, but melody returns and prevails to the end of this piece. 'Of Dreams (and Wounds)' is the more magical (and dreamlike) piece whose reverberating synthesis evoke 80's Philip Glass pop compositions that has both a brooding and mysterious quality. For this listener, moments of nostalgia are experienced, particularly when the saturated guitar power chords waft from the ether near the end. 'Cosmos' is darker, whose wind instrument melody reminds of Angelo Badalamenti's more dramatic scores. Secrets of the Moon is book-ended with 'At the End of the World', a lovely downtempo synth-pop-esque piece with gusts of ambient drone and restrained hand-percussion and electric guitar accents that concludes our story on a calmer note. Perfect music for closing film credits, actually.

Secrets is of the Moon is what you play to a writing class, in a darkened room to give inspiration before the creative ideas flow. It is both evocative and dramatic in a wistful way that just fits the traditional storybook mood. One gets the feeling that no matter how dark Fallen's narrative gets, all will be well by the end of the album. These are the sounds of enchantment, wonderment and fantasy with enough drama to keep the listener engaged.

Embrace of Hedera: The castle on the rolling hills

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 19 2015
Artist: Embrace of Hedera (@)
Title: The castle on the rolling hills
Format: CD
Label: Black Metal Cult Records (@)
Distributor: Depressive Illusions
Rated: *****
The linear notes of this release present Embrace of Hedera as a Female Musician from Ukraine and this EP as "dedicated to Nature and our fallen Heroes". The result is a album of Neo Folk / Ethereal and so it's something on the path of tradition rather than experiments.
The guitar arpeggio of "The Vampire Song" opens this release and takes the listener into a world of histories. The poor recording quality of "Beyond This World" doesn't owe justice to a good song. The melodic line of "The Abyss of Dreams" is charming while "My Dead Friend" sounds as recorded during a summer day on the beach. The evoking synth of "The Castle on the Rolling Hills" closes this release posing a question on how could be a full length release.
Apart from some naif production elements, caused by the spartan recording, the writing quality and the musical interpretation states this project as enjoyable and full of promises. Recommended for fans.

Andrea Belfi: Natura Morta

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 19 2015
Artist: Andrea Belfi (@)
Title: Natura Morta
Format: CD
Label: Miasmah Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
A meeting beween music making and pictorial technique is a somewhat rare event, but this output by brilliant drummer Andrea Belfi, which belongs to one of those release which got temporarily forgotten by heavy piles of earlier releases, is one the most interesting matching point. His electroacoustic exploration seems to render "Nature Morta" id est dead nature or still life, that technique which was heavily developed during Renaissance, whose success depended on the ability of the artists in grabbing every detail of an object and the surrounding light of the portrayed object. The sonic translation of such an approach comes out of an astonishing study of details by means of two long-lasting explorations over six tracks /three tracks for each study) in between ambient, electroacoustic, minimal kraut and shoegazing post-rock tricks, where gentle synth draughts and wavering noises constantly intertwines by percussive brushworks on drums and rhythmical patchworks that could inspire daydreaming. Each group of tracks seems to follow opposite direction: the first tryptich ("Oggetti Creano Forme", "Nel Vuoto" and "Roteano"...titles that could be translated as "Objects Create Shapes", "In The Void", "They spin") focuses on a crescendo or a saturation of the sonic sphere, while the second tryptich ("Forme Creano Oggetti", "Su Linee Rette", "Immobili", that is "Shapes Create Objects", "On Straight Lines", "Standing Still") follows the reversal process by a gradual frozening of the initially erupting percussive elements. If you missed this brilliant conceptual release, you're just in time to delight your eardrums by means of this visionary output on the excellent Erik Skodvin's imprint Miasmah!

Pines: The Field Journal

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 19 2015
Artist: Pines
Title: The Field Journal
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
The memories that could be activated from the vision of a smoldering stump of an old tree you considered a friend when you was a child or the singed ear of a corn from a burnt field where you took pices of straws you liked to put in your teeth. This 18-minutes lasting release by North Carolina-based musician Zachary Corsa aka Pines smells like it: the opening "Wolf Teeth Revisited", whose reversed charred melodies could resemble those nostalgic intro of some Boards Of Canada's albums that seem to come from miraculously regenerated neurons where those memories were stocked, suddenly evoke such a nostalgic setting as well as that vague sense of gone harmony and heartedness, which got perfectly rendered by the slightly anxious arpeggio of "To And Fro, To And Fro" and the iridiscent stifled screams on the following "Years In The Faded Light", smelling like some stuff by Labradford, Stars Of The Lid or Boduf Songs. Those memories seem to stream into an atraumatic canula that got introduced in the ear channel on 'Hidden Hill By Night-Hour', whose anesthetic drugs activate bucolic and somehow elegiac images on the following 'Like Felled Ghosts Beneath Depthless Grey Skies' as well as more foggy nuanced templates on the final 'We Found A Star Decaying In A Meadow'æ', the moment when a sort of (even aural) redemption occurs. Some copies of the limited edition, which got housed in a vintage, 4' square zip disc case, including an 8 panel, accordion style fold out hand-typed by an old typewriter print, each panel of which is hand colored with dirt, grass and flowers and pencil, covered inside and out with unique, antique pastoral snapshots, are still available. Concisely inspiring.

Niton: Tiresias

 Posted by Pierre Parenteau   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2015
Artist: Niton
Title: Tiresias
Format: CD
Label: Pulver & Ache Records
Rated: *****
Niton's music is engaging experimental music at its best. I have to say that I have a soft spot for music based on analogue synthesizers, and Niton's latest album, 'Tiresias', offers just that and more, adding mystic pipes, various objects that produce sounds, a six strings banjo and a cello to the mix. On their second album, the trio created what could easily be the soundtrack of an apocalyptic movie: dark tones abounds, strange noises unfolds sparingly and the musician's playing is tense. Niton's equipment list consist of various legendary vintage synthesizers, among them the Roland SH-101, the Memorymoog, the Korg MS-20 and the frail Korg Poly 800. While the gear is vintage, the music on Tiresias is timeless. However, the opposite could have been true due to the vintage nature of the gear (for instance, an analog sequencer from the seventies is used), but the sound production is both modern and flawless. Everything sound bold and deep giving the album a very contemporary sound. Xelius, one of the band's member, did a great job mastering the album and his experience as a sound technician certainly helped a lot on that aspect. Conceptually, the band's approach was to make different sound sources collide into a continuous flow of live electronic. Hence the classical strings 'conversing' with the analogue synthesizers and noise objects (a heater, some springs and a fan). Most of the tracks on the album evolve into a very pleasurable cathartic ending. It really shows that it took fifteen months of work to compose and record the album. Each piece is well thought out and develop in a natural way. What we have here is a rich in tones and atmosphere album, easy to listen to and superbly produced.

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