Music Reviews



Culls: The Dross Play vol.1

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 31 2014
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Artist: Culls (@)
Title: The Dross Play vol.1
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The thick underbrush of mostly unknown musical project often set many surprises aside and one of the most interesting came from a flare by its author, the Italian guitar player Alessandro Rossi. His activism within underground extreme fringes of metal surfaces on this interesting project, whose flattened frequencies could mislead many reviewers who will grossly label his style as ambient. If we had to accept such a label, we could stick the adjectives "dark" and "industrial", but Culls crosses contiguous territories than projects which could come to mind when this adjectival use got linked to the word "ambient" such as Atrium Carceri, Lustmord or Desiderii Marginis (maybe the menacingly cryptic atmosphere of "Suspended In Craving" is the track, which sounds closer to the mentioned projects, whereas the ghostly choirs of "James Graham Ballard" make me think about some obscure stuff by proper masters of the genre such as Robert Rich), some details of Culls' sonorities such as the occasional insertions of stifling delayed guitar chords, the sombre drones, some pulverized thunders that he often smear on tracks like "Spiral Staircase" - one of the most hypnotic moments of the release, where a looping record stuck adds a distressed "look" to the track - or "Hold Strong Handle", where the accumulated breakdown voltage sounds like spewed out by means of a psychedelic riff, seems to push it towards other really interesting directions that have been masterfully clouded by layers of drowning sonic drolls. I can't wait to listen the second volume after such a promising onset.

Ø: Konstellaatio

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 29 2014
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Artist: Ø (@)
Title: Konstellaatio
Format: CD
Label: Sähkö Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
After his name has been associated to emanations of noisy particles whose penetrating property could be able to shake any configuration of inorganic matter by means of a set of remarkable releases, Finnish sound artist and composer Mika Vainio revives his "slashed o" named project which skyrockets his sonorities towards childish reverie of cosmic peregrinations. Whereas last outputs by Mika seems to be drifted towards saturation and breaking points, "Konstellaatio" orbit around empty spaces and its sparse wavelets on pure electronic frequencies sound like gears of propulsive engines. The first half of this album condenses bubbles of very low frequencies whose sequenced explosions let emanates clipped beats, gusts of cosmic streams, whistling dark stars, ongoing dim coruscations, electronic air blows and sonic coils: in spite of the undeniable charm of tracks like the opening "Otava", the weirdest "Kesayon haltijat" (Finnish for "Holders of a Midsummer Night"), the eerily shakes of "Syvyydessa kimallus" (supposedly meaning "at a depth of sparkle") and the subatomic resounding specks of "Neutronit", some connoisseurs could perceive their similarity with other previously explored sonorities on epic sonic poems by Autechre or Andrew Lagowski's S.E.T.I.. "Elaman puu" (Finnish expression for "the Tree Of Life"), a track which reminded a sonic emotion I experienced while listening a guy playing the organ inside Temppeliaukio Kirkko, the notorious Church of the Rock in Helsinki, ushers in the most interesting part of this album, where Mika's sound rarefies by degrees as if he replays some pieces of his vast sound-bank while coming closer to perfect vacuum. Proper masterpieces which follow this "strategy" are "Talvipaiva, vanha motelli" - the track that he tributed to Harold Budd - and "SyvaÌnteessaÌ pukinjalkaisen", where a menacing entity seems to be awaken from the initial silent cavities that got evoked by the first part of the track. This journey ends with "Takaisin", a wonderful reversion where the most emotional side of the above-mentioned childish reverie got rendered by placental bass tones, music-box-like shimmers and an entrancing microdub ticking.

Birch and Meadow: Butterflies And Graves

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 28 2014
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Artist: Birch and Meadow (@)
Title: Butterflies And Graves
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
Birch And Meadow is the work of David Wenngren (Library Tapes) and Swedish singer-songwriter Sara Forslund. The website describes the album thus: 'Alongside David's spare and lingeringly lovely electronic treatments, Sara vocalizes an emotional soundtrack to an imaginary film featuring Nico and folk legend Shirley Collins, fighting over the man who has left them both and stolen their harmoniums!' Delicate male and female vocals hover just over the drones ' there is a deep sense of intimacy, as if you are listening in on a couple's personal conversations. These fragile compositions hang in the air like morning fog; the slightest hint of sun could destroy it in a few moments, but it is beautiful and covers the dawn in a shroud of mystery. The lyrics are actually poetic, as opposed to simply rhyming, evoking feelings of beauty and loss. At times there is a touch of noise and dissonance in the tracks, most pronounced in 'When the Sun is Warm,' which works well with the lyrics and keeps it from being too much a straightforward love song. The closest comparison I can come up with is This Mortal Coil's 'Filgree and Shadow.' Like that album, this is stunning and beautiful. Other similarities include In Gowan Ring and Birch Book. Incredibly well done. This album weighs in at around 31 minutes.

Exit in Grey: Shadows of Stillness

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 28 2014
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Artist: Exit in Grey (@)
Title: Shadows of Stillness
Format: CD
Label: Muzyka Voln (@)
Rated: *****
Exit in Grey is the work of Moscow-area artist Sergey [S], who also records under the names Five Elements Music and Sister Loolomie; he also runs the Still*Sleep and Semperflorens labels. I was unfamiliar with Exit in Grey, but Muzyka Voln has distinguished itself by putting out top quality dark ambient, so I was interested to see what Sergey had to offer. We kick off with 'The Sunset Dust in our Hands,' which is really complex dark ambient with lots of field recordings woven into the mix. Disembodied voices struggle to make themselves heard over the slow, mournful melodies and washes of drone. This is well done with a nice mix of noise and atmosphere. Next up we have 'Shadows,' which at times reminded me of the instrumental portions of Pink Floyd's 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' - shimmering drone over synth melody. 'Speaking with Silence' takes a mellow turn with a sense of repetitive rhythm throughout, as if you are listening to the EKG of the song. This is kind of peaceful. 'So Beautiful and Quiet Place' brings us right back where we started from with field recordings and melody. Every once in a while I get an album that is just brilliant, and this is one of them. This album weighs in at around 47 minutes and limited to 300 copies. Get this one.

Paul H. Muller: Sunbreak

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 28 2014
cover
Artist: Paul H. Muller (@)
Title: Sunbreak
Format: CD
Label: Ventura Contemporary Music (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed 'East/West' by James Ross and Paul Muller, so I was somewhat familiar with Muller's music when I received this disc. Of the two, Muller's work was the stronger, with nice droning ambience. On 'Sunbreak,' we see him continuing this trajectory, with slow moving, peaceful droning synth work. According to the liner notes, this slowness is by design: 'The original chords are notated on a standard treble and bass clef and then converted to midi. The midi file is sequenced using orchestral instrumentation and subjected to a stretching process such that the tones are extended 20 to 30 times longer in time but without changing their pitch.' This accounts for the almost glacial pace of the music. At times Muller breaks it up a bit by adding some piano over the synth lines, as heard in tracks like 'Tone Three' and 'Tone Four.' His use of piano seems more for accent than as a way to create a melody. Overall this is music that is blends into the background. It doesn't really push the experimental envelope, but sometimes that is not necessary. The closest comparison that I see here is Harold Budd's ambient work. You can check this out for free on the website, so if you're strapped for cash and looking for some peaceful ambience this is worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 63 minutes.


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