Music Reviews



Jake Bell: Awake in my flying dream

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 08 2015
cover
Artist: Jake Bell (@)
Title: Awake in my flying dream
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I have to say I love stories like this- those that turn up familiar bands and musicians thought forgotten long ago, uncover obscure psychedelia, and discover new and/or recent releases that grew out of musicians connected with the most creative musically fertile period of time in the 20th century. Connecticut guitarist Jake Bell has a long musical history stretching all the way back to the mid-1960's. He was an original member of a group called The Random Concept, formed in Connecticut but part of the Greenwich Village music scene. At the time Simeon (shortly thereafter to form the Silver Apples, the first real electronic band with Danny Taylor on drums) was also in the group, with some form of electronic instruments. Random Concept apparently never got a recording contact, and band members including Simeon, Bell and a guitarist named Gary Higgins split from the group. Higgins formed an acoustic band called The Wooden Wheel with Bell, cellist Maureen Wells, and multi-instrumentalist Paul Tierney. The group played locally, but when Higgins was nabbed in a drug bust, that kind of put the nail in the coffin. Fortunately, before Higgins was sent up the river he high-tailed it into a studio with members of members of Random Concept and The Wooden Wheel (Jake Bell included) for a series of round-the-clock recording sessions. The result was eleven songs of free-flowing, meditative bucolic folk and gentle psychedelia, the album titled "Red Hash". It became a cult classic, much later (2005) reissued on CD. Afterwards Jake became a wandering minstrel with Robert Force and Albert D'Ossche traveling up and down the west coast. After that Bell seemed to disappear from the music scene entirely. Eventually back on the east coast he hooked up with Simeon again and then released his first solo recording on the Silver Apples' label, Whirlybird Records titled 'Synjase' with several other musicians, including the aforementioned Gary Higgins in 2000. Okay, so that was all then, welcome to NOW.

'Awake in my flying dream' is a most pleasant low-key dream-like psychedelic ambient trip. It is some of the best space ambient music I've heard in a long while. There is a wonderful gentle flow to it; the album is rich and multifaceted, complex yet fairly light. This is space ambient music that goes down easy. If you never knew about Jake's background you would hardly think that a guitarist would put this out as synths and electronics abound. There is a lengthy concept behind it all that has to do with the Great Awakening of New Earth, the 12/21/12 Mayan Calendar and the Zero Point Timeline Shift but you can investigate that on your own time. All I can say for sure is that 'Awake in my flying dream' is wonderful stuff, 75 minutes of pure bliss, and there's more to come (his followup 'Zero Point 21/12' album is already out) from Jake Bell. Available on CD or Digital Download. The CD comes with some colorful artwork by Jake too. Recommended.

Thomas Köner : La Barca - complete edition

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 04 2015
cover
Artist: Thomas Köner
Title: La Barca - complete edition
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
This must-listen release for all ambient lovers directly comes from German media artist Thomas Koner, who decided to reissue a complete edition of "La Barca" whose first edition in 2009 got sold out. Beyond the audio tracks of the first edition, where your mind will be placidly brought over the twelve places (Tokyo, Nice, Cairo, Rome, Manhattan, Damascus, Paris, Spitsbergen, Jerusalem, Venice, Montenegro, Barcelona which got identified by geographical coordinates on the original version) by means of a cinematic dream-like amalgamations of field recordings, fluctuating harmonies, static sounds, silence and other aural hints, this FLAC digital version includes the five bonus tracks of the extended double LP and five previously unreleased tracks as well as a video of the visuals of the Tokyo part that he originally presented at the Nam June Paik Award 2012 exhibition at Art Museum in Bochum, Germany. Even if the title of this release could let some Italian or Spanish readers think about a reference to the hallucinogenic psychonavigation that Thomas' sonic art could inspire as it means "the boat" in both languages, according to his own words "La Barca" refers to "the solar barque, or sun boat, which passes through the realms of the underworld (Duat according to Egyptian mythology) each night to reappear in the east every morning" even if he explains that he experienced a sort of "feeling of displacement" when he describes the above-mentioned Tokyo part ("It appeared to me as if the railway car moved like a slow boat, and the announcements at the stations sounded like invocations. I realized: 'In a barque she sails across the high lands of the past. The barque heads shimmer and glow at stern and bow, and that lights her unseeable passage. She calls to the spirits of this hour, and that is how we come to even hear her voice.'"), so that this sonic cartography that Thomas collected while globetrotting in a couple of years could inspire mental journeys where the etheric body of the listener stroll down those places without being seen.

Oren Ambarchi: Quixotism

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 03 2015
cover
Artist: Oren Ambarchi
Title: Quixotism
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
A persistent, relentless and other than obtrusive pulsation, which could remind the clatter of a diesel engine, opens the first part of this lovely workout by Australian multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi and its hiccuping that gradually let resurface melodic traces or single eveanescent tones from John Tilbury's piano, Eyvind Kang's strings and Iceland Symphony Orchestra under the wise conduction by Ilan Volkov as an upwelling from the sea bed, might listener fantasize about the sudden onset of a hunch during an unexpected eureka moment. This tapping pulsation, that permeates this return to minimalism by Oren Ambarchi, comes from Thomas Brinkmann whose electronic drums has been wisely linked to an application to Hilbert's Entscheidungsproblem (German for "decision problem") that should well-known by mathematicians and computer scientists and sounds like a mighty fancy clockwork whose form got altered on the following four parts of "Quixotism", which could be perceived more as an assay of musical mechanics than just a minimal composition even if it stains different stylistical shores - smooth jazz ones on Matt Chamberlain's drums driven Part 2, progressive techno-dub on Part 3, abstract electronics on Part 4 and pure synth music on the final wonderful fifth part (featuring U-zhaan on tabla and Jim O'Rourke on synths) -. Beyond more or less poetical interpretations, this rarefied amalgamation of computational time processing, minimal flaws and phantasmagoric melodic entities provides a sort of guideline to the aesthatics of this brilliantly imaginative composer.

Edvard Graham Lewis: All Under

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 30 2014
cover
Artist: Edvard Graham Lewis
Title: All Under
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
Even though the two concomitant albums by Wire bassist Edvard Graham Lewis got released in summer by Editions Mego, European winter or colder temperatures sound the best environmental setting in order to appreciate them and particularly "All Under", the most experimental one. The two long-lasting title-tracks, which have been composed as a score for the meaningful namesake short-film by Gunilla Leander, are as immersive as that movie where six naked bodies (4 men and 2 women) fight underwater: the most astonishing aspect of both "All Under (Film Score)" and "All Under (Installation Loop)" is the fact that he just winged the entrancing gurgles of the first and the glacial out-of-time drone and the icy sonic transmissions of the latter, which let you surmise an indepth panache and an almost maniacal research on sounds, in real time by means of a sampler and FX processing. While the following "The Eel Wheeled", where the grime voice by Lewis spout one of his obscure Florida-inspired spy story that could resemble radiophonic tales, dusts a certain industrial aesthetics off, the final 18-minutes lasting "No Show Godot" reprises the cinematic hook of "All Under" as it was composed as the delusional soundtrack for an imaginary sci-fi movie that got suggested by the typical noise of the film rolling inside old projectors, which feeds the entrancing ambient introduction of the track before it get blunter and blunter till wisely altered rhythmical patterns unexpectedly rise.

Oelki: Roadrunning

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 28 2014
cover
Artist: Oelki
Title: Roadrunning
Format: CD
Label: Uncoiled Loops (@)
Rated: *****
Some weeks ago I received a selection of very good releases from Uncoiled Loops, a small label which gained some visibility for its wide stylistical range in electronic music on some specialised forums on Internet, and even if most of them date back to 2013, their quality deserves attention. I'm not a great fan of progressive house, psytrance or tech-house, but the sound that Munich-based producer Oelki leaks on this release is so fetching and heady that I can overlook my personal scale of preference. The opening "Silver Lane" is my least favorite track as the influence of hackneyed sonic strategies that featured techno-trance and comparable styles is too emphasised, while the unpredictable change on the following "Roadrunning", whose initial playful pops slips on a diluted synth-organ which adds an ethereal charm to the track, reroutes Oelki's craft towards more interesting shores. The concise micro-tech intro of "Experimental No.1" could let listener imagine the umpteenth derivation of Detroit micro-house before he wisely inoculates other sonic elements such a wrapping padded clap and an alien tweeting that makes it more attractive, while the lubricated grooves of "Phase 320 (V2)", the precise clip-marks of "Pluto (2nd Edit)" and the numb nimbleness of the final "Quantensprung" could be the perfect soundtrack for an extra stage of some racing videogame set in an imaginary planet. In spite of its title, Oelki suggests to not listen to "Roadrunning" while driving as its hypnotic sound could let you forget how you reached the destination you could be when cd-player stops.


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