Music Reviews

Artist: Halo Manash (@)
Title: Wesieni Wainajat
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
The small Finnish label Aural Hypnox gained a reputation among followers of the most arcane side of dark-ambient and ritual music by focusing on the outputs of the Helixes collective and after a period of partial blackout of transmissions, it comes back with a bunch of very good releases including the return (or I'd rathey the beginning of a new cycle) of Halo Manash, one of the most interesting act from that stylistical grounds. Beyond esoteric aspects of their sonic palette, which could sound vaguely fanciful pleasantries to some listeners, and logical connections to their previous Forest Music trilogy ("Language of Red Goats", "Am Kha Astrie" and "Taiwaskivi"), "Wesieni Wainajat" immediately catches listener's attention by "Kwlksta", where slow tonal transitions on a magnetic analogue organ, distant gloomy horns, thin reverberation on rubbing of metallic plates and other sonic poltergeists knead a mesmerizing afterglow, whose gradual updraft set the stage for the following "Varjoista" (Finnish for "from the shadows"), which sounds the most highest sonic pinnacle of this release: while the organ sounds like fed by current generators, whose voltage-regulated hypnotic spirals seem to be highlighted by mid-tempo suffocated tribal percussions, whose rising intensity fires the ritual atmosphere up as well as the visionary effect of the field recordings which could evoke rustling leaves, sheets of breaking ice or the echo of a bucket after having been lowered in a water well. The cracking sound of brushwood in the fire or the typical noise of residual saltpetre in wet rocks starts a sequence of impressive field recordings on the 20-minutes lasting "Tulelle", where the presence of the organ has been limited to a trance-inducing low-key hum sneaking into listener's eardrum while they render some sacral (physical or just spiritual?) magical hideout beyond the clefts they could have possibly pried by previous sonic levers.

DUBCON - cEvin Key meets Twilight Circus: U.F.O. Pon Di Gullyside

 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 17 2014
Artist: DUBCON - cEvin Key meets Twilight Circus
Title: U.F.O. Pon Di Gullyside
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
The stylistical versatility of Canadian-born (even if he moved to The Netherlands in 1991) musician Ryan Moore, former member of The Legendary Pink Dots (never totally abandoned as his recent collaborative release with Edward Ka-Spel on Tourette label could testify), who has finally reprised his dub-translucent project Twilight Circus Dub Sound System after a ginormous pile of releases and a massive musical training on jamaican recordings , and multifaceted electronic talented skinny puppy Kevin William Crompton aka cEvin Key aka Download was already ascertained by respective previous works. They've finally flowed into one another by laying the foundation of DUBCON, which flies over dub territories and breezes in the hearts and minds of the lovers of the genre by means of a wise buffing of cauldrons for amalgamations of heavyweight and electronic dub with impressive electronic tricks, which sounds like an enhanced reshuffle of that kind of electronic dub which got mainly spread from UK and Germany in the 90ies (I could mention Zion Train, Funki Porcini, Dubstar, Transglobal Underground, African Headcharge, AlphaOmega, power Steppers, Dub Syndacate and many others) and the tracks where this electronic enhancement is more clearly audible are the best ones according to my ear response since the initial warm-up "Outerspace" where a shredded electronic bruising blends echoed vocals, slapped claps, resounding plops and pad-synth-driven gusts as well as on following tracks like "Zion Cluster" (featuring Sly Dunbar on drums), where they let some classic dub elements sizzle into an electric buzz, "Moment In Space", where banging clap and kick drum render the typical "shot in the dark" effect, "Project Sign", where alien decomposition of the genre could sound advanced before you listen the following stages such as the oxidized ligaments of "Dubbrain", the pressurized punches of "Farstar", the slick interferences on the title-track "UFO pon di gullyside" or the entrancing plasmic mush of the final "Gone Orbital". Very good jamming!

Maile Colbert: Come Kingdom Come

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 16 2014
Artist: Maile Colbert (@)
Title: Come Kingdom Come
Format: CD
Label: Two Acrons (@)
Rated: *****
The "Ouverture" for the so-called Dies Irae (the Day of Anger, which should the biblical Last Judgement), which somehow reminded me of the very first moments of Mozart's "Requiem Mass in D Minor" (K 626) besides electronic sounds and modified field recordings, introduces listeners in an experimental opera, whose mode of expression counterbalances a conceptual framework, which is so recurring and overworked that could sound banal. The most relevant aspect of this release, named after the notorious invocation "Come, Kingdom Come", is the intersection of sonic skills by intermedia artist Maile Colbert, who is currently director of Cross the Pond, an organization based on arts and cultural exchange between US and Portugal and contributes by her own writings on Acoustic Ecology and Sound Studies at "Sounding Out", and the celestial voice of classically trained soprano Gabriela Crowe under Colbert's direction with contributions by Christophe Giraud aka Tellemake, singer Jessica Constable and RUi Costa's electronics, who dabble in a sort of sonic exegesis of "The Book of Revelations", which got turned into a sort of score as well as a source for inspiration. The transfusion of apocalyptic and millenialism-related themes into clots of Latin medieval monophonic chant, instrumental suppurations, subcortical harmonies, ancestral calls, lyrical contributions by poet Ian Colbert, psychotic reversed sounds and a number of befitting field recordings such as the ones grabbed before, during and after natural disasters, VLF recordings of sun storms while hitting Earth's magnetosphere, bird calling from endangered species, the other-worldly quiet in Chernobyl, the seismic activity of an earthquake and so on, makes the listening experience constantly fluctuate between mystical nuances and thin apprehension, exstacy and anxiety, longing and catharsis, which cannot but come to a conclusion which refers to the end of time by means of barely audible raptured chants and agonizing sounds.

Rafael Anton Irisarri: The Unintentional Sea

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 15 2014
Artist: Rafael Anton Irisarri (@)
Title: The Unintentional Sea
Format: 12"
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
On the occasion of his new solo sonic jaunt, Rafael Anton Irisarri aka The Sight Below chooses to draw inspiration from one of the worst US environmental disaster, which affected the so-called Salton Sea, a brackish endorheic lake on the San Andreas Fault in Southern California, whose water inflow, which gave birth to this accidental sea after a strong flooding in the beginning of last century, and bayous has made up of the system of irrigation ditches, some small streams and rivers, but thermal, mixing and oxygen regimes of the Salton Sea are not so stable and the circumstance it's essentially a close system entailed its heavy pollution right after the development of human activities in close proximity to the area, particularly from Mexican inflows which poured many toxic hemicals from Mexican farming. Environmental blight caused the failure of a plan intended to turn the area into a touristic place, which some adverts described as "the miracle in the desert"; nowadays just some ghost cities, abandoned resorts, clunkers, wrecks and schools of died fishes remain and the landscape of the area surrounding Salton Sea looks like a post-apocalyptic artificial limb of hell, whose bleakness got impressively evoked by Irisarri, whose five long sonic suites oscillate between sadness, deep pensiveness and grayness. The initial "Fear and Trembling" sets the mood by moth-eaten field recordings and gloomy tonal haze before the brine got blended into the nostalgic burst of heat and memory on the following "Her Rituals" and the nestled feeling of annihilation on "The Witness", which closes A-side. Such a paralyzing motionless permeates the feeble lights of "Daybreak Comes Soon", which paradoxically thickens the dark reticulum on the highest dramatic acme of the record,"Lesser Than The Sum Of Its Parts", whose final synth-driven emotional outburst sounds like rendering a moving requiem or the uncontrollable weeping over such a tragedy.
Artist: RLW & SRMeixner
Title: Just Like a Flower When Winter Begins
Format: CD
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
"Wie eine Blume am Winterbeginn / Und so wie ein Feuer im eisigen Wind / Wie eine Puppe, die keiner mehr mag /Fühl ich mich an manchem Tag" (meaning "Just like a flower when winter begins / And just like a fire in an icy wind / Just like a doll that nobody wants anymore / That's how I feel on some days"), said the first strophe of the song "Ein bisschen Frieden" ("A little bit of Peace") by which Nicole Seibert, better known as Nicole, won Eurovision Song Contest 1982, rised UK single chart up and became quite famous due to a number of translated versions. This buttery and somewhat controversial (just check lyrics) song became the emblem and the title of this lampoon of pop hit songs - mainly German schlager, but there are also quotes and samples from other traditions together with some German musical atrocities which could have been exported by immigrants, such as the sample of Italian song "Mamma" by Claudio Villa in the disturbingly funny "Old Hearts Rejuvenated" - by Ralf Wehowsky aka RLW, member of the forerunning collective P16.D4, and Stephen "srmeixner" Meixner of Contrastate. Their humorous collage which turned a set of samples from a number of gutted pop hits, plunderphonics, industrial-like sonorities, electroacoustics and vocals which sound like radiophonic captions into a sort of creepy show, whose core elements are srm's meditiation on sentiment ("Old Hearts Rejuvenated"), which are somehow closer to his "permutative distorsions", and rlw's textual pieces ("Definition (Konsumation)", the disquieting swarm of "Alle (Everyone)" - it's really funny the list of names of German pop stars, where the female speaker turns into a devilish one -, the initial "Blumen fur den Prachtjungen") as well as some instrumental forays ("Gummidorf", "Spassbremse") or post-industrial unnerving activated sludges ("Wishing To Be Entartained", "The Man with the Sunglasses"). I could imagine that what you're going to listen on "Just Like A Flower When Winter Begins" if you woefully end up in a German schlager with drunken cockscomb, nazi loggers, twinkly blond milks and a lot of cholesterol while you were searching for a loo in order to sober up after a pitiless barman put an acid pill into your glass of milk.

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