Music Reviews

Tokyo Prose: Presence

 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 12 2014
Artist: Tokyo Prose (@)
Title: Presence
Format: CD
Label: Samurai Red Seal (@)
Rated: *****
After the first introduction of his music by means of a couple of EPs ("Introducing Tokyo Prose" parts 1 and 2) in 2011 by Geoff Presha's Samurai Red Seal, Sam Reed turned his trickles in the field of liquid drum'n'bass into a proper flood on this nice album, which will undoubtedly delight the followers of this branch of dnb. Since the opening track "16 Bar Cycles", which features young New Zealand producer Cristoph El Truento, some similarities to progressive chill out and soothing downbeat are quite clear, but the following tracks shows a certain stylistical diversification. If I have to look for some small flies in the ointment, I could say that Sam seems to have focused so scrupulously on melodies that some rhythmical patterns sound too steady even if they are essential propellants which optimally enhance the charming melodic fluttering. Some tracks such as the intensely emotional "Won't Let Me Go", where the presence of Dutch producer Teije van Vliet aka Lenzman and the smooth MCing by Phil "Fox" Box are clearly distinguishable, the piano-driven "Small Gains", the metronomic soulful romance of "Ventura" or the lovely "Sunsets" that Sam built with Luke LSB Beavon and Delroy DRS Pottinger which sounds like the bubbles in a Kir Royal, get closer to some recent pearls by Dramatic and Seba., Other highlights of this album are "Common Ground", the collaboration with Mancunian producer Synkro as well as my favorite track of the whole album, the sparkling glassiness of "Covet" and "All Things", the light and dark contrasts on "See Through Love" and "Fragmented You". That's a very good collection of smart strategies for dnb lubrication, whose title got explained by means of some words by German influential writer Eckhart Tolle: "Presence is when you're no longer waiting for the next moment, believing that the next moment will be more fulfilling than this one".

India Czajkowska & Sebastian Madejski: Tańce Snu

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 10 2014
Artist: India Czajkowska & Sebastian Madejski
Title: Tańce Snu
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This release from the duo of India Czajkowska and Sebastian Madejski is based upon early instruments (viola de gamba, psaÅterium) flute, piano, synthesizer, guitars and two voices. So it's showing his legacy with the works by Dead Can Dance or Ataraxia and is focused on the form rather than the innovation of the genre. However there's an almost pop attitude that seldom is able to give a personality to this release.
The quiet and solemn atmosphere of 'Entoihen' introduces the listener in a sonic journey where the song form is not a synonym for pop music. 'Natres' shows the impressive voices of this artists while 'Mirtey truti' features a musical lines that follows the vocal ones. 'Kan di kam', with his rhythmic evolution, is hypnotic while 'Eigis' is a vocal introduction to 'Sirhe noria', the longest track of this release, where cello and synth creates an almost religious background to the voices. 'Neritiese' is a lied for piano and voices while 'Naya trea ne' is hypnotic with his use of harpsichord. 'Hosenais' is a catchy pop :) tunes for glockenspiel and voices and 'Selionei' is an ethereal track focus on India's voice as 'Ane kaliman' that closes this release.
Even if it shows perhaps a too evident legacy with their influence, the form is so well developed that marks this project as something to hear in their next releases. Not only for fans of the genre.

Frode Haltli: Vagabonde Blu

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 02 2014
Artist: Frode Haltli (@)
Title: Vagabonde Blu
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
I remember an interview to Salvatore Sciarrino when the Sicilian composer described the first stage of his own compositional process and the invention of sonic worlds as the extraction from the bottom of Hades, the mythological reign of the underworld, of something which composer or musician wants to bring to light in spite of the fact it could be unknown or unfamiliar. I have not quoted this description of compositional process in order to introduce this release by Norwegian accordeonist Frode Haltli for the mere fact he named his first properly solo album after Sciarrino's notorious composition "Vagabonde Blu", but mainly for the choice of the scores he performed and the location where Frode recorded them. First of all, the three compositions he interpreted have some connections to that idea of life-in-death and death-in-life and its inner unpredictability and such a feature resurfaces from performative and compositional aspects: the alternation of grueling overstretched tones and sudden tonal tangles in "Flashing", Haltli's homage to Arne Nordheim, whose music according to Haltli's own words "is hurled out into space, into the universe, into eternity", mirror this duality, but also the breath-like sequence of sometimes agonizing tiny emissions of air and convulsive noises and the trembling motion that got vividly rendered by variations of intensity and speed in "Vagabonde Blu" as well as the lullaby-like "Ein kleines...", a composition by Aldo Clementi whose repetitive modal theme fades over slow reductions of dynamics and tempo, focuses on this duality. The link to Hades or to the interzone between life and death (or I'd rather say between discernible and undiscernible) is less dependent on the sensibility or the ability to focus of the listener for what concerns the place where this album was recorded: Tomba Emmanuelle, the mausoleum that artist Emanuel Vigeland built with the intent of making a museum for his sculptures and paintings, is a place whose acoustic features attracted many notorious musicians (Diamanda Galas, Huntsville, Susanne Sundfor, Stian Westerhus) who used the place where Vigeland's urn got hosted as a recording hall. Frode describes this place in album's cover notes by these words: "When your eyes get used tot he darkness you can see the fantastic and grotesque fresco of life that covers the walls and ceiuling in the vast, cold room. The massive acoustics produce a long and lively delay covering the entire register fo sounds, and as a result it is nearly impossible to carry out a normal conversation. Silence usually prevails, because you instinctively whisper if you want to say something the room is such an active partner that it changes my music and my playing radically. I listen and wait, and I play offensively at the room so that it can be difficult to determine whether a sound is coming from the instrument, the echo, a combination of the two, or simply a member of the audience who accidentally touches his jacket.". There is no need to highline how this evocative place managed to turn the above-described compositions into almost otherworldly listening experiences...

Paul Baran: The Other

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 29 2014
Artist: Paul Baran
Title: The Other
Format: CD
Label: Fang Bomb (@)
Rated: *****
One of the most meaningful and brilliant crossbreed between electroacoustic music and metacultural reflection on life under neo-liberal monstrosities, where it's quite clear that amplified truths in the name of the holy capital are nothing but blinding lies while keeping a personality or so-called critical awareness is almost a privileged state of being, came from Goteborg-based label Fang Bomb and got signed by Glasgow-based composer Paul Baran - it's not a moniker for some electronic music project taken from the inventor of Internet! -, who wove ten impressive sonic reflections/refractions around the concept of alterity or otherness, which should be regarded from the symbolic and psychological viewpoints filtered by flickering moments where perception of reality meets a sort of inverted rapture. The sound on "The Other" that his wise author fittingly linked with Britain, student protests, riots, Neo Liberalism, fear, nationalism, Haiti, chess, geopolitical sum games, Potlatch, celebrities, Obama, Shoah, love, Reflexive Impotence, the Wheel, inversion, Tarkovsky's The Zone, is less influenced by dark-jazz sonorities (Bohren und Der Club Of Gore, Dale Cooper and so on), even if there some moments when those influences resurfaces. The sinister squeaks and a sort of heartbeat whose rising pace and distorsion seems to mirror the growing disquiet and fear of our age on the opening track "Time" and the drunk limerick-like words from Obama's speeches about Holocaust by Paul over the estranging laptop-generated poltergeists by Sebastian Lexer and the heart-rending quartet of Sarah Whiteside's cello and the violins of Sylvia Hallett, Sasanna Ferrar and Alison Blunt on the evocative "Himmelstrasse" perfectly tunes listener's mood: the following "Dissent" where Paul inserted recordings from protesting students before repeating like a gawping "Beating the barricade" reminded an image I have on a t-shit I bought in UK with a picture of Smiley-masked police anti-riot squad wishing "Have a nice day!" while the really evocative sonic portrait of UK by the above-mentioned string quartet and the electronic grasps and the programmed drums by Gordon Kennedy on "Britonia" renders the portrayed object better than other similar portraits; the obscure mantle of distorsions and electric sparks which wraps the instrumental parts by Axel Doerner (trumpet), Werner Dafeldecker (double bass) and Richard Craig (flute) on "Celebrity" tears the veil of golden patina out by a brilliant Debord-ian reflection on the ephemeral consistency of the society of the spectacle which precedes the voodoo-like percussive track "The Human Republic Of Haiti" where Paul meaningfully hits a fire extinguisher on the fragmented structures and fragmented piano by Sebastian Lexer, the soothingly disquieting fake idyll by Sarah Whiteside's cello, micro piano melodies and life support-like artificial breath that Paul extracted from a VCS3 on "Krom" and the borderline post-industrial suite of "Time Zone", inspired by Tarkowski's The Zone; the lopsided classical hamronies of "Looking For Bobby", which got inspred the troubled chess player Bobby Fischer, and the withering atmosphere of the final "Potlach" ends an album which could be the perfect soundtrack for the ominuous decaying of humanity which seems to mark our century.
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Artist: Foundation Hope / Council of Nine / Alphaxone / Coph`antae Tryr
Title: Tomb of Empires
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from this swedish dark ambient label is a sort of 4-way split release from artists that, except from Alphaxone, are new from this label. They are represented by two track for each project and express a way to search a personal path in the now formally established genre of dark ambient.
The most impressive outfit is Coph`antae Tryr, almost unknown at least from a google search, with "Comprehended", an evocative soundscape whose constructing elements are something between drone and guitar oriented, and "Nothing to Near", a quiet and dark track based on carefully constructed sound closer to some forms of doom metal than dark ambient. Council of Nine opened this release with "Chimes of the Unfortunate", a track closer to the lines of this label, with heavy basses and evocative samples and closes it with "Blood Lit Skies" where the basses are replaced with noisier sound lines, perhaps from field recordings. Foundation Hope, with "The Kind" and "The Beacon", gives the most musical complex tracks as they use drones, noisy sound and melodic lines with almost a narrative in mind.
Alphaxone, with "Mysterious" and "Near to Nothing", gives the most quiet and cinematic tracks of this release with the clear samples that seems foley sounds.
With four project with a clear musical profile, this release is more enjoyable than typical release of this genre, as it's really multifaceted. It's really worth a listen.

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