Music Reviews

Richard Pinhas & Oren Ambarchi: Tikkun

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 25 2014
Artist: Richard Pinhas & Oren Ambarchi
Title: Tikkun
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
The brilliant phiosopher and musician Richard Pinhas, the man behind the legendary French rock band Heldon - when he founded Heldon in 1974, Richard was an assistant professor of philosophy at Sorbonne as well as a lover of science fiction, two branches of human knowledge which heavily influenced his musical outputs -, join his sonic forces with Australian ground-breaking guitar player Oren Ambarchi, a proper prodigy in the enhancment of guitar sound with equalizer and the stylistical flirtation with krautrock (have a listen to his excellent "Sagittarian Domain" in order to have a recent evidence of the fact my words are not shallow praises), for one of his two simultaneous releases. The complementarity between Richard and Oren techniques and aesthetics got already successfully tested on Pinhas' recent album "Desolation Row" and get enhanced by the contributions from drummer Joe Talia, Pinhas' son Duncan, Merzbow and Eric Borelva and perfectly express the theme of this release, which refers to the idea of Tikkun ha-Olam, one of the most important concept of the Kabbalah according to Pinhas' personal interpretation: "the concept of Tikkun is immense, very very big and important, not only in the original Kabbalah but in all the paragnosis "jewish" theoretical concepts. It is about the spiritual creation of our world...a kind of parable... to repair something deeply broken is the point...and Tikkun is the concept that this operation or this process can be named". The three long suites which harmoniously melt elements from progressive rock, krautrock, ambient, psychedelic electronics and dub mange to evoke the spiritual yearning of renaissance behind this esoteric concept by means of effected guitar rides, whose balanced sequences prop the groove up like sharpened spines, smooth stridencies, refulgent drumming, where the almost metallic layering of the initial "Washington, D.C. ' T4V1" and the gradual melodic decay on the centrl "Tokyo - T4V2" prepare the ground for the psychedelic acme of the release, the final "San Francisco - T2V2", where electronic gurgles and scraped guitars coalesce with the punctual appearance of Talia's drums, which boost the previous stridency up to an almost mystical experience.

George Lazarus U-731: By All Means

 Posted by Paul Muhller   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 21 2014
Artist: George Lazarus U-731 (@)
Title: By All Means
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Malignant Records (@)
'By All Means' is a new CD by Gordon Lazarus, also known as U-731, and Malignant Records. Released in February of this year, Lazarus is joined on this album by Andy Grant of Vomit Arsonist fame and John Stillings of Steel Hook Prosthesis. The result is a strongly drawn image of the power of totalitarianism as seen through the bleak lens industrial strength noise, distortion, menacing drones and spoken words from the speeches of historic personalities. The opening track, 'Forced Neurotic Displacement,' immediately sets the tone with the low drone of propeller-driven bombers heard slowly approaching and then passing directly overhead. A distorted voice is heard shouting out harsh commands amid the sound of explosions. There is the feeling of unstoppable violence and even the sound of the WWII-vintage aircraft is made more menacingly relevant by the high distortion ' it is as if we are looking back through the mist of time to experience the horror and none of the nostalgia. Track 7, 'Suo Gan/Last Rights,' is similar and incorporates the speech by Chamberlain announcing the beginning of the war over the invasion of Poland in 1939. This is accompanied by what sounds like a flight line of departing bombers. As the speech concludes there is the somber sound of women singing amid explosions and this evokes a very sad feeling ' the failure of civilization and the descent into total war. In the title track, By All Means, we hear the voice of Churchill, explaining the evacuation of Dunkirk, is interwoven with a speech by Adolf Hitler. The continuous buzzing drone establishes a kind of blurry equivalence between the two and there is the uncomfortable sense that we have inherited the evil which we sought to destroy. The historical theme continues into the 1960s with track 4, 'Aktion - Freedom Reaktion Resistance.' Here a cold war speech by John F. Kennedy is submerged in a sinister whirring roar that effectively translates the old fears of communist totalitarianism into a unsettling parallel to our present broken political system and reduced civil liberties. Perhaps the most effective track on the album is 'F.E.M.A. Care' where a female voice describes how certain present-day railway facilities have been changed in camps. There is a loud whirring, like some giant machine, accompanied by static so that not all the words are intelligible. But you catch bits and pieces: 'the war on drugs' morphs into 'prisons' that morph into 'concentration camps with gas furnaces.' Another voice is heard and the words 'CIA', 'martial law' and 'concentration camps' are repeated. Your mind begins to connect the dots and this produces a bleak vision of the future that is equally frightening and compelling. There are other tracks on this CD that use the same techniques, 'The Mechanics of Embalming' and 'Asphyxiant Collapse,' but these don't have the political punch of the others and come off as weaker by comparison. 'By All Means' is at its best when dealing with the history of totalitarianism and is an excellent illustration of the proverb that you must choose your enemies carefully because in achieving victory you will become them.

Bisclaveret: Theu Anagnosis

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 21 2014
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Artist: Bisclaveret
Title: Theu Anagnosis
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This release is presented as 'a mystical-philosophical treatise of sorts' and, so, the name of a band like Coil starts to resonate in the first listenings and this could even be a good thing. The more evident difference with his obvious influence is the mix as, in this case, the voice is almost inaudible and becames closer to an instrument with his characteristic timbre, so it's a really cohesive sound.
The drone of 'Seven Lands Of Happiness' introduces the listener in fields where introspection is the keyword. The piano notes with the almost inaudible voice of 'Out Of The Depths Have I Cried Unto Thee, O Lord' reveals the search for a personal path in a known form. The flavor of the oriental beats of 'Three Sacraments' is enchanting while 'Two Ways To The Highest Truth' deals with the more obsessive paths of this genre.
The drone of 'Trio Deum' is colored by the whispers of the voice while 'Humani Sanctus' is more focused in the hypnotic beat. 'Dog's Blood For Love Of God' sounds like a modern lied for voice and piano while 'In The Hospital Of Lost Souls' closes this release with a song based on two distinct drones: a darker one in the first part and a brighter one as a canvas for the color of the voice.
This album is an example of, even if his musical content is reminiscent of his influence, there's the search for a development of a form that promises something meaningful. This is moon musick.

EXAUDI Ensemble: Exposure

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 20 2014
Artist: EXAUDI Ensemble
Title: Exposure
Format: CD
Label: Huddersfield Contemporary Records (@)
Rated: *****
Have you ever suffered from that kind of hyperkulturemia that let you feel observed by family portraits or the people within framed paintings with arcadian or pastoral scenes inhabited by naked nymphes, fauns, puttoes and archers? If so, imagine they can finally speak and sings in order to jeet at your syndrome: they could probably sound like the opening 14-minutes lasting track Aaron Cassidy's "A painter of figures in rooms" by London-based Exaudi, an amazing vocal ensemble which seems to explore a possible bridge between canonic vocal music belonging to the traditions of early Baroque and High Renaissance and contemporary music. Founded by director James Weeks and soprano Juliet Fraser, the ensemble changes "register" on the following "Nakedness", where the first evanescent whisper-like vocals suddenly grows in intensity till those acutes which could break glasses on a solo-voice great piece which contrast with the above-mentioned sometimes chaotic and disquieting juxtaposition of voices and neighs(!), a vocal strategy which semms to have been followed by Bryn Harrison on "Eight Voices", even if the repetitiveness of its vocalisations sometimes get closer to monodic monotony. The ensemble deliberately plays with ambiguousness on Stephen Chase's five Jandl Songs ("why can i not", "trost in wolken", "suchen wissen", the heavenly "lied/song" and the buzzing "mein") settings by Austrian poet and translator Ernst Jandl (John Cage's fans maybe knows his name for his translation of "Silence"), as it's not clear if single voices are somehow matched or not. Another interesting experiment by the ensembles is the treble "Harmonizing (Artificial Environment no.7)" by Joanna Bailie, where vocals get closer (particularly on the second movement "William Tell") to onomatopoeic and scenic rendering, but according to my personal ear response the most fascinating experiments are the two final tracks where the remarkable hypnotical power of the slow oscillation on Richard Glover's "Corradiation" flows into the speckled and flippant vignettes of Claudia Molitor's "lorem ipsum". Exaudi provided one of the most amazing voice-based record I've ever heard.
Jul 20 2014
Artist: Ernesto Rodrigues, Bertrand Gauguet, Ricardo Guerreiro
Title: Early Reflections
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
This collaborative recording by Ernesto Rodrigues on viola and Ricardo Guerreiro on computer, with the guest appearance of Bertrand Gauguet on alto saxophone is maybe the most abstract release by this musical liason. I'm pretty sure that the most demanding listeners whose ears are trained to those free improvisational sessions which get closer to pure abstract sound art and reductionism will appreciate this long-lasting recording that this trio made in studio ("Wood") and on live stage ("Stone") by following more or less the same operational mode, where electronic sounds emphasize the lenghty tonal sequence where tones themselves seem to be like accidental events that meet Gauguet's breath and Rodrigues's rubbing and manage to excite listener's imagination. For instance the first part of "Stone" and the gradual saturation occurring between 18th and 21st minute could let you imagine about the sudden awakening in the middle of a nocturnal labyrinthine cornfield where the chirping of cicadas or the nearby flight of other nocturnal insects become frightening moments of a nightmarish rural experience. If you consider "Early Reflections" under an exquisitely technical viewpoint, the delicate manoeuvring on dynamics and sonic "consistency" as well as on surreal chromatic grasps of these two sessions is really remarkable.

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