Music Reviews



Component #4: Barbed Wire Sunday

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2013
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Artist: Component #4
Title: Barbed Wire Sunday
Format: 12"
Label: Wayside and Woodland (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with Component#4, which is the work of Mike Rowley, who has previously the drummer for The Arm and has collaborated with both epic45 and My Autumn Empire. The label describes Rowley's music as 'drawing on the decaying factories, vandalised bus shelters and litter-strewn canals which formed the landscape of his childhood. Barbed Wire Sunday was 'inspired by two recent trips to the German capital, where the juxtaposition of crumbling ruins and pristine new developments inspired Rowley to create new soundscapes. Degraded post-dubstep rhythms and bass contrast with clean, melodic synths and drum pads, capturing the contradictory, restless nature of the built environment.' As I listened to this, the closest comparison I could come up with was Kodomo. A lot of this is instrumental, but 'Goodbye to Berlin' has some vocals and a more traditional song structure. In this regard, it also reminded me of Ovo Nooven at times. Others didn't seem to work as well; 'Some (w)hole,' for example, has a kind of staccato delivery of lyrics that are difficult to understand and sounds almost like a rap. Overall, this is a pleasant listen. File under mellow soundscapes. This album weighs in at around 20 minutes.

Archon Orchestra: Cenotaph

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2013
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Artist: Archon Orchestra (@)
Title: Cenotaph
Format: CD
Label: Muzyka Voln (@)
Rated: *****
I've been enjoying the material coming out of Muzyka Voln, so I was interested to see this installment. I was not familiar with Archon Orchestra, but the cover reminded me of Theatrum Chemicum's releases. The label describes the album as 'the sounds of a church organ harmoniously intertwine with delicate, subtle electronics while piano and strings mysteriously 'float' under the arches of a gothic cathedral immersing the listener in light melancholia.' Archon Orchestra serves up some good electronic neo-classical which reminds me of Theatrum Chemicum or Autopsia. Somber and heavy. The only downside on this album was 'Time {extra},' which was an upbeat number that didn't seem to work. Kind of like when Autopsia has a somber track that all of a sudden kicks into techno for a while. However, this is pretty good overall. This album weighs in at around 44 minutes.

Supersimmetria: Golden Ratio

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2013
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Artist: Supersimmetria (@)
Title: Golden Ratio
Format: CD
Label: Industry 8 (@)
Rated: *****
When I opened the package, the post-it note on the disc described it as 'Ant-Zen-ish.' The layout and design were done by Salt, so I figured that we'd be on the same page. To me, Sonar and Winterkälte are Ant-Zen-ish, so I was a bit surprised when I put this on and was greeted by'¦. piano. And no beats. Well, the beats came later, but this is not the kind of in your face beats of Imminent Starvation or Noisex. The interesting thing about this album is that the beats sneak up on you; by the time you notice that they are there, they seem like they have always been there. Supersimmetria is the work of Berlin-based Armando Alibrandi, and the label describes the album as 'A recording where space and atmosphere are the most dominant. The varied rhythmic and arhythmic elements are never allowed to dominate the sound. All musical elements are subservient to the tranquil and spacious sound.' Indeed, this is much more peaceful than most of the Ant-Zen catalogue, so if you're looking for more of the drum and noise kind of stuff, this is not what you're looking for. Then again, this may be something you didn't know you needed. There is a lot of repetition throughout this disc, but instead of becoming annoying it actually works. There are also recurring themes that travel from song to song, such as the piano lines that are continually woven throughout and the drone that ties it all together. The beats are pleasant and resist overpowering the atmosphere that Supersimmetria works so hard to build throughout. Overall, this is quite well done, and I will be interested to see how this artist evolves over time. The two remixes at the end of the disc were good on their own merits, but didn't seem to hang together with the rest of the album (as should be the case with remixes). Worms of the Earth put a more beat driven spin on 'Ascending,' with exotic female vocals, while Aphexia offers up a dense, almost overpowering rendition of 'Chiasm.' Well done, but I would almost like to see them off the disc because the rest of it has such a level of cohesion. This album weighs in at around 75 minutes.

Somnambulance: Night Wandering

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2013
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Artist: Somnambulance (@)
Title: Night Wandering
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this duo from Zurich comprised of Valentin Dietrich and Silvan Jeger, but with a name like Somnambulance and a disc titled 'Night Wandering,' you should have some idea of what you are in for. And rarely have I heard a disc live up to such expectations. The label explains that 'From their noise-music past they adopt the concept of music as something abstract and consecutive; something that spins on in the head of the listener ' similarly to the comatose moment just before falling asleep, where the sense for temporal sequence is lost and the perception of reality is no longer possible nor necessary.' This is one of those discs that fade into the background so well that you are only aware of it when it shifts ever so slightly. As such, it has that peaceful feeling of sleep, but the kind of sleep where dreams are coming and you're never certain whether they will be good ones or bad ones. On this disc, they are all good ones, at least as far as the music is concerned. The closest comparison I have is Aidan Baker's drone work, but this should provide some sense of how things sound on this disc. This is very well done drone that doesn't really get boring, which is quite a feat when you are trying to channel the idea of sleepwalking. Get this and sit down with a good book (anything by Thomas Ligotti would fit well) and sink into the music. This album weighs in at around 43 minutes.

Zenial: Chimera

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2013
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Artist: Zenial (@)
Title: Chimera
Format: 12"
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This release from Åukasz SzaÅankiewicz collects tracks developed mainly from installation so they are in connection from some visual elements unknown to the listener of the audio release. His musical path relies in the classic tradition of industrial/electronic music so is based upon oscillators and filters creating a musical palette with a clear and almost geometrical structure.
The rhythmic path created with oscillators of 'Chimera' opens this release creating a feeling with the '80's experiments of the first wave of industrial with the typical kind of static created with drones. The initial drone of 'Hastallen' with his sine waves is even colder in the exposition of the musical process based on the juxtaposition of the outputs of the instruments. 'Unclean/clean' depicts his title showing clearer sounds and noisier ones. The b-side of this release if filled by a track, 'Rosora 28', that entails classic industrial form with his coda 'rosora 28 : wymar 4/5' where the repetitive and alienating form evolves in quieter and refined path.
This release develops his musical ideas in the tradition of industrial ambient music working in the refinement of the form rather than in experimenting without a clear end. Recommended for fans.


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