Music Reviews



Halo Manash: Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 29 2014
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Artist: Halo Manash (@)
Title: Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
Aural Hypnox decided to give birth to a new re-release series, Stellar Mansion, by refiling a really immersive listening experience that Halo Manash, an audiovisual, multi-medial-sound and performance group from Northern Finland which considers itself as a vehicle and a bridge between the world of being and non-being we spoke about on the occasion of the release of their intriguing album "Wesieni Wainajat", recorded in September 2008. In spite of the fact they have not used any electronic camouflage or overdubs, but just acoustic instruments, Halo Manash provides a remarkable assay of ritual music, which immediately let listener steep into a sort of gradual transubstantiation with the natural forces that could be evoked and aroused by the rebalancing contemplation of the somewhat surreal sylvian calmness of polar woodland while circling polar flares surround the icy land (September is one of the period of the year when it's easier to admire the breathtaking show of northern lights). The sonic vehicle for this entrancing experience is the measured tolling on bells and other widely reverbered percussive instruments as well as by other sonic entities and forgotten calls which resurface from caches of the sonic flow in the wake of toll's contrails and sound like whispering guides over the introspective journey that "Caickuwi Cauwas Walkeus" inspire. These "voices" reach the acme of magnetism by degrees over otherwordly gongs, strange cracklings, frozening flute whistles and other obscure poltergeists where the evoked ancestral boreal entities that quickly cross listener's minds in the previous steps of this rite seem to got fully rendered on the eeriely suggestive final "Pimeys On Ninquin Walkeus/Puuxi Tullut".

Christian Vialard: Neukalm

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 28 2014
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Artist: Christian Vialard
Title: Neukalm
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Grautag (@)
Rated: *****
This new brainchild by self-taught sound artist Christian Vialard, who recorded Neukalm with Fred Bigot in Berlin suburbs of Neukolin and on the shores of French Riviera, certainly melted many different sonorities and stylistical hooks to dark-wave, 80ies new wave, industrial, synth-driven electronic rides and even some ambient techno and IDM acts of the 90ies (B12, Richard H. Kirk, Link, The Higher Intelligence Agency...and you could even have the impression to listen an imaginary remix of Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" by Neu! on the amazing "Lidel2"!), but this is not the most relevant aspect of this sonic creature. Besides the pun of the title, "Neukalm" could be considered as the sonic translation of the same drug before, during and after its effect in eight different modifications within a distressing and alienating urban environment. Each track sounds like departing from the fatalistic contemplation of self within such an ordinary condition before the magic pill alters perception, boost sociability or even unleashes feelings of somewhat tropical bliss. When this temporary fugue from "reality" vanishes, even its ephemeral remembrance got absorbed by initial statements as if each track is a trompe l'oeil on the wall of an urban building which renders a temporary illusion of open space without demolishing it, which fades away as you turn the corner. "Neukalm" acts as a sedation or a strategy for escapism while being aware that such a getaway is hopelessly fleeting...

Faures: Continental Drift

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 27 2014
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Artist: Faures (@)
Title: Continental Drift
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
I remember that when peer-to-peer became popular, it inspired an impressive number of electronic music projects based on the reciprocal exchange of sound files over Internet. Faures slightly changed this scheme by involving three musicians from three different places of our spinning sphere: Rene' Margraff aka Pillodriver from Germanu, Samuel Landry aka La Berger from Canada and Singapore-based Fuzz Lee aka elintseeker, who has sparkled the idea for this release from his belief that both personality and character of a person got heavily influenced by its environment so that he tried to test the combination of three different ambient musicians from three different continents. The analogy between this sonic drift and the notorious theory of continental drift has been sealed by the semantic transposition of a quote by structural geologist Hans Cloos, whose descrption of the geological matter could provide a comprehensive description of Faures style: "It let them float and drift, break apart and converge, Where they broke away, cracks, rifts, trenches remain; where they collided, ranges of folded mountains appear". Some atmospheres - particularly the ones of the three parts "Asthenospheric Movement" - are closer to past stuff from Machinefabriek and Olan Mill, while some in-between delicate sonic popovers brought me back to some "ecologist" phases of 90ies ambient music such as Solar Quest's "Orgship" which came to my mind while listening the inflations of sonic spheres on "Orogenic Uplift" or the plucked guitars sliding over the placid convections of "Isostatic Uplift", which recurs on that stage, while the masterly work of filtering sounds reaches its acme on the spellbinding anti-gravitational forces of the final "Magnetic Striping".

Thomas Ankersmit: Figueroa Terrace

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 26 2014
cover
Artist: Thomas Ankersmit (@)
Title: Figueroa Terrace
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
I've seen and listened many good sound artists and musicians playing on the legendary Serge MMS, the analogue modular synthesizer system that its inventor, the brilliant French-born (from Russian composer Aleksandr Nikolayevich Tcherepnin as a father and Chinese pianist Lee Hsen Ming as a mother...what a wonderful blood and cultural mix!!!) composer and electronic-instrument builder Serge Alexandrovich Tcherepnin, developed almost for educational purposes in 1974 at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), but I rarely spotted the impressive versatility that Dutch electronic performer Thomas Ankersmit shows on this release. Mainly known for some collaborations with important musicians such as minimalist mastermind Phil Niblock, Chicago-based notorious improv musician Kevin Drumm or Irish-American producer Jim O'Rourke, Thomas seems to play hide-and-seek with Black Serge, a recently restored customized variation of Serge Modular, that CalArts made available to his skills in the winter between 2011 and 2012 as listeners could think that "Figueroa Terrace" is just an ostentation of the remarkably wide sonic power of synthesis of this machine while listening the first three minutes of this long-lasting suite, where Thomas moulds many different "real" sounds from a cloud of sonic particles. The quick succession of sonic rendering suddenly turns into leftovers of resounding electrons, which are just the starting line of a really adventurous journey towards a pure waveform by means of awesome oscillations, otoacoustic-like emissions, sudden decays and interruptions, otherworldly sonic entities, fast transitions, piercing frequencies which border on upper and lower thresholds of audibility and other hocus-pocuses. Without a doubt, this is one of the best electronic release that reached my headphones and loudspeakers this year!

Kosuke Anamizo: Ghost Story

 Posted by Paul Muhller   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 26 2014
cover
Artist: Kosuke Anamizo (@)
Title: Ghost Story
Format: CD
Label: n5MD (@)
'Ghost Story' is the latest CD of ambient music by Kosuke Anamizo, released on the n5md Music label in November of 2013. Tokyo-based Anamizo has also recorded under the name Moshimoss and according to the liner notes '...this new project focuses on larger scale atmosphere which is met with hypnotically twisted dub techno beat work, hazy guitars and looped, yet sullen vocals...' 'Ghost Story' is definitely showcase for the ability of Anamizo to create an effective ambient atmosphere. These are variously fashioned from voices, as in 'Snow Leopard' and 'Alter Ego' or from the hazy guitar sounds of 'Departures' and also from keyboard as in 'Predawn'. Most of these pieces follow a similar pattern: an ambient wash is built up from voices, guitars or keyboards, typically with a low roar underneath. About halfway in, a strong percussive back beat appears and this continues, eventually giving way to the ambient sounds again as the track concludes. The presence of the percussion sections do offer contrast, and will be a familiar focus for the listener, but the tracks of 'Ghost Story' would likely be stronger without them. All of the opening ambient constructions are solid enough on their own to sustain interest throughout the entire piece. 'Cliff Edge Ghost' is perhaps the strongest track on this CD for just this reason. The opening roar effectively evokes the feeling of standing on some high cliff with a strong wind coming from a deep canyon below. A wash of ghostly voices is heard adding to the serene feeling, and the swelling volume gives the sense of a rising wind. The percussion in 'Cliff Edge Ghost' is less pronounced than in the other tracks and has an organic feel, as if it is part of the landscape. The varying dynamics in this piece provide a convincing sense of soaring high above a cliff on strong winds. 'Departures', the last track on the CD is another strong piece. Broad, warm sounds under-gird three repeating tones in the guitar that are soon joined by voices. This combination nicely evokes sense of leaving and farewell. 'Departures' is a lovely ambient wash and leaves the listener with a sense of sweet sadness. The mix and sound engineering on this CD is also well done. If you like ambient music infused by strong imagination, a bit of mystery and a solid back beat, 'Ghost Story' by Kosuke Anamizo is for you.


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