Music Reviews

Alphaxone: Living in the Grayland

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 16 2014
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Artist: Alphaxone
Title: Living in the Grayland
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Cryo Chamber
Rated: *****
This release is presented as a soundscape that flows "between the ancient and the futuristic and inspires for internal stories about the path of mankind". Musically speaking it's an almost classic album but it's constructed with an overall direction, so it's not a void research for an enchanting sound.
"Awakening" opens this release with layers of atmospheric synth depicting a sort of dawn while "Cold Spring" introduces the listener in a darker territory using lower frequencies that, while listening in an open space, allow natural sounds to enter into the music. "El shadows" starts as a continuation of the previous track and ends in the same mood of the opening track. "Darkscore" continues in the use of higher frequency and a broad sound spectrum while "Interface" returns to depict a more menacing sound constructed upon small noises upon a dark soundscape. The quiet drones of "Overwhelm" opens the second part of the album and features more evident field recordings. So "Into the Silence" seems almost constructed upon small field recordings of a cave (or so it sounds). Whit "Foresight" the drones start to enlighten and slowly develop in a canvas for the field recordings. As the title suggest "Melancoly" is a static track that acts as a prelude to the last track "Grayland" almost entirely constructed on a bunch of drones slowly developing as in a spiral that quietly ends.
This album features an unusual quality in this field: the drones, instead of creating a static mass of sound, depict a form of storytelling so it's really enjoyable and engaging. A really nice release.

Laurent Perrier: Plateforme #1

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 15 2014
Artist: Laurent Perrier (@)
Title: Plateforme #1
Format: CD
Label: Baskaru (@)
Rated: *****
The ability of a chef consists in making some palatable course from any kind of available ingredient. You have just to change sensorial channel (auditory nerves and eardrums rather than taste buds) in order to have an idea of what renowned French electronic musician and collagist Laurent Perrier, the man behind one of my favourite French electronic acts Zonk't, made on this release, where the providers of aleatory units of these sonic recipes are the German outlandish electronic composer Felix Kubin, the esteemed Italian sound artist Gianluca "Kinetix" Becuzzi and the Australian media-artist and composer Lawrence English. Even if I can't say this kind of experiment where electronic composition sounds more like an assemblage of tiles of known origin is totally new, Laurent Perrier let leak the source so that I'm pretty sure that all those listeners who know involved seeders would easily match each track to them. The first track got fed by Felix Kubin, whose anarchical "concretist" outspurts are listenable in the sequence of pointy saturations, flickering gurgles and nervous abrasions by Laurent, which could be suitable as a possible soundtrack for a reprise of Lynch's "Inland Empire", while the second track sinks to the bottom of the trench, which got evoked by icy sonic depressurization and minimal opalescence by Gianluca Becuzzi, and the intriguing organic textures by Lawrence English on the third collage sound like getting pulverized and sprinkled over nebulous ellipsis.

Coil / Nine Inch Nails: Recoiled

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 10 2014
Artist: Coil / Nine Inch Nails
Title: Recoiled
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
It's well known about the love of Trent Reznor for the musical work of Coil, so it's not a surprise this release of a bunch of remix made by Peter Christopherson and Danny Hyde. The obscure aspect of this release is the long time when this tracks were buried in some tape. In the long history of Coil there's almost any remix, only an epochal cover of 'tainted love' where they were able to transform a symbol of an hedonistic epoch into a funeral march, so this is difficult to frame into the path of their musical life.
The almost desperate voice of 'Gave Up (Open My Eyes)' opens this release and they are suddenly doubled by the guitars and the industrial barrage that define the NIN sound. With 'Closer (Unrecalled)' the overall sound resemble the classic Coil sound as they underline the erotic side of this track depiction their notorious view about this argument. With 'The Downward Spiral (A Gilded ' the magick obtained with the cover of 'Teinted Love' appens, they turn the track from a desperate view on suicide into an almost ironic view of it, or perhaps his use, using the time and the mood of the sound. Erases is covered with two tracks: 'Eraser (Reduction)' constructs drone and loops from the original track while 'Eraser (Baby Alarm Remix)' constructs a dance track.
This release is obviously developed for fans and collectors of the two bands, however is an important release because it shows the rivers of sounds that can be developed upon the basic ideas of their sound. It's really worth a listen.

AutopsiA: AutopsiA Live at Divus Prague

 Posted by Edward Trethowan   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 09 2014
Artist: AutopsiA
Title: AutopsiA Live at Divus Prague
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
'Ritual ambient' music tends to evoke only a limited range of rituals. Very often, it honours its roots in dark ambient by producing atmospheres suggestive of mysterious, perhaps forbidden occult gatherings; group or solo chanting, throat singing, thick drones reverberating as if from concealed, underground chambers and sluggish, primitive percussion. There need not be a sinister tone to these kinds of evocations, but one is often richly executed, the music revelling in ominous invocation or worship. It can make for excellent music. However, doesn't sticking to these tropes greatly oversimplify the complexity and diversity (and musical potential) of ritual as a cultural phenomenon? Must we always represent the sinister in the same way? As for benign ritual, one might suggest it is already covered by familiar styles of ambient and new age music. Yet, it seems to me there's a very diverse and fertile gap waiting to be filled.

This live recording by Czech outfit AutopsiA makes use of elements from the darker, more standard interpretation of ritual ambient. However, while the same aesthetic prevails throughout, it isn't particularly loyal to the cliches of this sub-genre. Opener 'Gate' elicits the dark rituals as described above with chants, coarse brass drones and a dense overall murk. Yet from this point, it begins finding other ways to articulate this theme. The second track 'Archipelag' begins with a post-climactic quietness, restlessly populated with hiss and a muffled trombone motif, but culminates in dramatic brass swells that remind more of the Mt. Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble than Herbst9 et al. 'Weltuntergang' enlists brazen orchestral loops as its centrepiece. There is still a familiar climactic grimness here. Then 'IV Essays (1)' turns things positively psychedelic, with meandering organ and synth melodies that seem to recall the wacky intoxication and disorientation of low-budget 60s and 70s horror films. Finally, in contrast to the first piece, the sound sources of 'Radical Machine 3.0' are altogether synthetic: drum machine, spacey pads and a few bleeps for good measure. Equally mysterious and uneasy, but more equivocal; not as unscrupulously grim.

Whether this is the complete live performance or a collection of excerpts, Live at Divus Prague follows a clear path across different ways of conveying similar circumstances. While most of the tracks themselves fail to develop a great deal, they are individually brief. Particularly when heard as a whole, they don't disappoint.

Joshua Bonnetta: Strange Lines and Distances

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 08 2014
Artist: Joshua Bonnetta (@)
Title: Strange Lines and Distances
Format: 12" vinyl + DVD
Label: Experimedia (@)
Rated: *****
December 12th 1901. The first transmission of a wireless signal, the morse code for S (2 short dots), crossed Atlantic Ocean from Poldhu Cove in Cornwall, UK, to Fever Hospital in St.Johns, Newfoundland by means of the pioneering Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi. There have already many musical and non-musical works which got inspired by that historical moment, but this one by interdisciplinary artist Joshua Bonnetta focused on the somehow artistic Marconi's belief about sound: the Italian marquis was sure about the fact that sound never completely disappear and a proper receiver could be even able to amplify aged sound which got "broadcasted" in the past. Joshua's audio-visual work could be considered the temporary objectification of such a technological reverie as his author combined hypnotical and dream-injecting emission of short and long radio frequencies with otherworldy transmission, archival material and field recordings, which got grabbed on the two poles of that historical communication in a couple of long-lasting sonic suites, the first of which seems to highlight the interference of human transmission over natural "emissions", while the latter attacks with holy sonorities which evoke the "sacredness" of that scientific discovery before the sonic sphere begins to get saturated by a tangle of radio frequencies. Such an entrancing historical remembrance and a masterpiece of hauntology got completed by a DVD-video, which looks like bridging the transmitting and the receiving points on our planet.

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