Music Reviews

Northcape: Glasshouse

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 03 2015
Artist: Northcape (@)
Title: Glasshouse
Format: CD
Label: Sun Sea Sky Productions (@)
Rated: *****
'Glasshouse' is Northcape's followup to the previous release 'Exploration and Ascent' that I reviewed back in 2013 here. And of course, Northcape is the project name of Alastair Brown from Warwickshire, England. For the unfamiliar, Northcape works in the melodic ambient-esque with a rhythmic impulse. It's all gentle, relaxing stuff, and I think I'm going to coin a new term here, "melambient", which definitely fits Northcape. While 'Exploration and Ascent' explored the higher regions, 'Glasshouse' takes a more down to earth approach in the environment of a tropical greenhouse. Right from the start on "Capillary Action" there is a deeper, more earthy vibe, but still with the aura of shimmering sunlight from above. Sounds merge together more fully on title track "Glasshouse" as Northcape hits its stride. A very spacey melodic atmosphere punctuated by a confident rhythm, and thematically solid. "Eukaryote" makes me think of gentle rain on a Spring day. "Skyward" has this wonderful understated melody over a muted, sustained chordal progression with a simple rhythm track to carry it along; great music for cloud watching. On "Raytracing" I can feel the gentle breeze as synth sequences weave through the atmosphere and spiral upward. About halfway through a thicker chordal melody is introduced floating right along with the rest of it. "Green Wave" is devoid of percussion, with sustained chordal synth resonance and occasional bell tones, giving an impression of the divine. 'Glasshouse' is a brief album at only 29 minutes but certainly an enjoyable one. While perhaps not as varied as 'Exploration and Ascent', the atmosphere seems to be richer and fuller. Another worthy effort from Northcape.

P.E.A.R.L.: Four Cardinal

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 30 2015
Artist: P.E.A.R.L.
Title: Four Cardinal
Format: 12"
Label: Falling Ethics (@)
Distributor: Triplevision
Rated: *****
The hinges of the sound by young Berlin-based Spanish dj and producer P.E.A.R.L. and former leg of the techno project Agony Forces together with Marcos "Coushin" Leiras, are not so different from the ones of his two previous releases that he already launched on his own imprint Falling Ethics on an annual basis: the four cardinals of IVC could be approximately a strong influence of British industrial declension of techno, a powerfully mental sound that often borders on hypnosis, precise cuts of raw percussive elements on the contrails of French 90ies techno and strong dynamics. The first of the two tracks is my favorite one as the subtle metallic hum and the rhytmic bleep could surmise some good "atmospheric" stuff that came from the glorious Nova Zembla (Brain Pilot, Paranonia) in the first half of 90ies, while the dark interrupted frequencies and the obsessive clicks of the second part sounds just like a stomping nubbin. As he did on his previous release "The Fall Of Because" when he let remix "All Gods Of Man" to OScar Mulero and The Transhumans, P.E.A.R.L. has been a fine picker-outer on this occasion as well to the point that I'd rather say that the remix by Semantica label owner Enrique Mena aka Svreca is the best moment of this technoid drop.

The Pitch: Xenon & Argon

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 30 2015
Artist: The Pitch (@)
Title: Xenon & Argon
Format: 12"
Label: Gaffer Records (@)
Rated: *****
The Pitch is the guessed name that the fourtet by Morten Olsen (vibraphone), Koen Nutters (bass), Boris Baltschun (reed organ) and Michael Thielke (clarinet) have chosen for their band, whose sound is free from the rules of composition as well as from a certain promiscuity of improvisations by focusing on abstract tonal twines and the voice of their own instruments over a number of different superimposition and durations sets. The reference to xenon and argon, two chemical elements which belongs to the group of noble gases, is likewise guessed as each instrument sound like volatilizing without establishing any chemical bonding with other ones on the two long-lasting tracks of this release, so that listeners can only but appreciating the intrinsic characteristics of their sound - "the exaltation of a clarinet, the bruteness of a pump organ, the lushness of a vibraphone and the profoundness of a double bass" are considered as proper "navigational tools" in The Pitch's sonic streams in the introduction of the label - as well as their infusions within tonal clouds that sound risingly obsessive and vaguely entrancing on "Xenon" and deeply hypnotical on "Argon" - the tonal atomizer I prefer -, where the above-mentioned features got highlighted by a constant trembling of Baltschun's reed organ which will delight more demanding sonic brains.

Mako, Villem & Mcleod: Inner Revolution/Borrowed Love

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 28 2015
Artist: Mako, Villem & Mcleod
Title: Inner Revolution/Borrowed Love
Format: 12"
Label: Utopia Music (@)
Rated: *****
Utopia Music big old milkwood tree keeps on germinate in wintertime as well as these small new juicy buds have blossomed from the machines of an excellent tryptich of brilliant Bristol-based dnb brains: Stephen "Mako" Redmore, Andrew "Villem" Wilson and McLeod let sunlight shine in listener's eardrum by wrapping frenzied rolling kicks and claps into fluffy chimes, pillowy pads, sonic dandelions and gentle piano touches that are going tickle your imagination and lead you into a sweet dream state. After they uplifted listers as if they got invited for a ride on a winged Pegasus, Villem and McLeod allows listener to keep on floating by a lovely half tempo track, "Borrowed Love", where soothing chilled sounds, metronomic keys and a resounding female voice are going to foray your dream states. It seems that dnb followers' expectation can not be disappointed by evergreen Utopia big tree's buds!

Dronny Darko: Outer Tehom

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 27 2015
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Artist: Dronny Darko
Title: Outer Tehom
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This album is described as a 'drone album of darkest black, every track a perfect 13 minute summoning of elder gods forgotten in time'. Without any info this release could be described as a release as carefully constructed as void of any other goal that being a milestone in form construction.
The heavy and atmospheric drone of 'Black Arts' opens this release and is based upon his opposition to almost pure silence and isolated sounds and samples. The same musical development is the foundation of 'Mortal Skin' where the variations are so subtle but so constant that could be ignored by distracted ears. 'Snake Hole' depicts a soundscape of frightening beauty while 'Arcane Shrine' returns to more canonic dark ambient resonances well described with the statue depicted in the album cover.
This release is hard to rate as it's as beautifully sounding as admonishing to be a pure exercise of form. However, how could art be afraid of beauty? This release will be truly appreciated by fans of this genre.

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