Music Reviews

Locust: After The Rain

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 15 2015
Artist: Locust
Title: After The Rain
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
Not to be confused with the San Diego-based bluntly grindcore band, Mark Van Hoen's Locust comes back on the high-quality catalogue of Editions Mego! Even if I didn't speak about it, "You'll Be Safe Forever", the album by which they landed on Peter Rehberg's label a couple of years ago, didn't manage to intrigue me like "After The Rain". Besides the presence of authentic masterpieces like "Fall From Me", "Just Want You", "Do Not Fear" or the dark catharsis of "Corporal Genesis" - the moment when traces of Mark's glorious past as a member of Mark Clifford's Seefeel more clearly resurfaced -, the former album included so many hints to 90ies golden age of electronic music that listeners could feel it lacked in homogeneity in a certain sense. Even if many moments of "After The Rain" sound like a memorabilia from past listenings and although that emotional substrate where nostalgia turns into sweetest melancholy and vice versa doesn't really differs from "You'll Be Safe Forever", these aspects don't tarnish its intrinsic consistency. Well-learned listeners could match some tracks to the symphonic breathes of Tangerine Dream, the youngest releases by In The Nursery (particularly on "Under Still Waters", which features spoken voice by Julie Manescau), the languorous rapture of some synthetic digressions by Harold Budd or even some similarities to Archive's stuff ("Downlands", "To Lonely Shores"), but the stream of consciousness that Locust manages to inspire into listeners since the opening "Snowblind" - thanks to the precious support of Louis Sherman, whose sound machines often revive European 70's electronic music, Mark's formative influences according to his own words, and the seraphic and deeply heart-rending vocals by Celeste Griffin and Candace Miller - and the reduction of the specific gravity of programming, due to the fact it was entirely live recorded, are just some elements of this work of art. Your headphones are going to disclose the other ones.

Gabriel Saloman: Movement Building Vol. 1

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 13 2015
Artist: Gabriel Saloman (@)
Title: Movement Building Vol. 1
Format: 12"
Label: Shelter Press (@)
Rated: *****
His previous album "Soldier's Requiem" on Erik Skodvin'd Miasmah deeply captured my imagination as well as the imagination of many listeners a couple of years ago and I think that this new release by Vancouver-based guitarist Gabriel Saloman, one of the former wings of Yellow Swans alongside Pete Swanson. As many listeners already knowws, Gabriel followed completely different explorative paths to the ones that his former partner-in-art, who kept on diving into sonic explorations over rougher water, has beaten, but the choice of more etheric sonorities should stand for happy-making perceptions: the two-tone waves and the gradual implantation of other faint whispers over a background noise in between the noise of distant traffic and stormy waters has a somehow sinister nuances; the sprays of snare drums and other resonances sound like a dampened incitement to react against an oppressive flatness, even if this dynamic element paradoxically seems to amplify the creeeping friction of the sound, also when it sound like flowing on the second half of "The Disciplined Body". The cracks of the first that he opened on the first part seem to get filled by antacid, but still anxious, sonorities of the second part on the flipside, which almost renders the somehow tragic increased awareness that follows the tempered enthusiasm of a nascent state as well as a drifting heart-rending return to life.

Kevin Drumm: Trouble

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 09 2015
Artist: Kevin Drumm
Title: Trouble
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
Besides his "Necro Acoustics" series, the pencil-sketched draw, which resembles the typical iconography of death pointing his bony finger at an undefined disk, on a page of a notebook, as well as the sneaking strategy that the very subtle sound of this 54-minutes lasting one track album by Chiacago-based experimental musician Kevin Drumm reminded me of my recent readings, in particular a moment of the very interesting monologue of the prince of Saurau in Thomas Bernhard's masterpiece "Gargoyles" where this mysterious character says that the world is the school of death after a bitter reflection on society. Besides any possible interconnections, this release, which cannot be properly filed under neither ambient nor drone, deeply sneaks into listener's mind by means of distant whisper-like evanescence and occasional menacing low frequencies which rise from the entrancing sub-etheric waves like an ephemeral blast of warm in the freezing embrace of the silence. Just like a troubling thought that silently permeates consciousness, the thin ghostly microwaves, which feature the entire length of this eerie sonic output, keep on resounding in listener's mind even when it temporarily stop in the middle of the recording.

Akira Kosemura: Embers OST

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 08 2015
Artist: Akira Kosemura (@)
Title: Embers OST
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
I honestly didn't see "Saigo no inochi", the movie that young Japanese director Junpei Matsumoto made from the novel by the Akutagawa Prize awarded Fuminori Nakamura. Its plot focuses on Keito (Yuya Yagira) and Yuichi (Masato Yano), two friends who got emotionally traumatised after watching a gang rape by chance and met again when they became adult as well as on the investigation about a dead female acquaintance of Keito, which fosters suspects against Yuichi. When Matsumoto hired Akira Kosemura to care its soundtrack, he hinted to Tokyo-based composer and sound producer "to be affirmative", so that Akira decided to work on one of his spontaneous piano melody, whose simplicity manages to sound likewise beautiful like swarming photons in the obscurity in order to express boith the emotions and the feelings of the main character Keito and the other ones who unroll the plot. Some tracks could sound quite repetitive, due to the fact that the main theme, the one you could hear on the "Opening Title" track, got often reprised, even if attentive ears can perceive some changes and variations of the mood, but the most otuching moments of this soundtrack occurs when Akira got wisely supported by an ensemble of string players - Sakuri Yano (first violin), Tomoko Joho (second violin), Shiori Tanaka (viola) and Masutami Endo (cello) - such as on "Embrace", "Truth" and "Implore" as well as on some specific moments of both the soundtrack and the movie ("Madness", "Chaos", "Root Of Evil"). I don't know if this soundtrack is the first one for Akira, but he glibly adapted the grace of his style to the seventh art.

Alphaxone: Altered Dimensions

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 07 2015
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Artist: Alphaxone
Title: Altered Dimensions
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Alphaxone is presented as based on 'smooth frequency manipulation fitting for exploring the concept of altered dimensions'. This statement really means than it's something closer to a single track in eight movement rather than a collection of loosely related tunes. The most evident quality of this release is the constant development of subtle resonances that implies a rigorous listening to fully enjoy the work depicted in his development.
The detailed soundscape of 'Distances' opens this release and develops in an unpredictable manner when an almost dance beat emerges from the background. 'Human Frequencies' is, instead, a track based on the juxtaposition of various drones slowly drowning in the underlying soundscape. 'Passing Through' is based on small noises and a slowly developing drone and 'Midnight Waves' focuses on a drone that slowly develops to resonate with some elements of the previous tracks. 'Aftermath' explores the most subtle and dark aspects of this formula while
'Equilibrium' deals with microscopic, but constant, development of the base drone and so is 'Encounters'. 'From the Passages' closes this release in a bright way as it's founded on an higher frequencies' resonances.
Even if it's not formally ground-breaking, it's an amazing work of audio sculpting enhanced by the usually unexceptionable mastering by Simon Heath. Perhaps one of the best Cryo Chamber's releases.

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