Music Reviews

Malayeen: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 31 2014
Artist: Malayeen (@)
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Discrepant (@)
Rated: *****
One of the most fascinating musical discovery in the big cloud of releases that usually fill my room comes from Malayeen, a Lebanese trio by Raed Yassin (keyboards, electronics, turntables), Charbel Haber (electric guitar, electronics) and Khaled Yassin (darbouka and percussions). Many listeners could be tempted to link their powerfully evoking music to the tragic pieces of news which are coming from Palestine, but even if for instance the introduction of Omar could sound bloody of the opening organ-like sound which precedes the passionate dance of "Najwa", could evoke the blood and money sucker vampires, which are causing that huge catastrophe, this release has nothing to share with that shitty situation (and the shitty impotence of international hypocrite spectators). The main musical input of Malayeen's creative process is the music of the legendary Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid that these skilled guys rehashed in order to release this upgrade of Arabic music and belly dancing music, whose genuine originality allured Discrepant, who co-produced this release by collaborating with forward-thinking Lebanese label Annihaya. Named after the names of notorious belly dancers, the seven tracks of this self-titled record re-elaborates Arabic music ina very orignal way. Besides the above-mentioned "Najwa" - definitively my favorite track -, there are many original hybrids such as "Fifi" or "Dina", where folkish elements get closer to the contagiously obsessive hooks of most feverish Western techno, whose mishmash between Eastern and Western music sounds close to perfection.

Slicnation: Autoscopy

 Posted by Edward Trethowan   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 31 2014
Artist: Slicnation (@)
Title: Autoscopy
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Silber Records (@)
The term 'autoscopy' refers to what is also known as the out-of-body experience, in which the individual undergoes a conscious sense of disembodiment. In particular, the body can be observed from an external, elevated perspective without loss of any sense of self. It is a mysterious phenomenon, perplexing throughout the ages, spiritually and neurologically important and, of course, ripe for creative interpretation.

In this case, Nic Slaton seems to be imagining a metaphorical soundtrack for certain aspects of this experience. The track titles make clear references to some of the ideas and feelings associated with autoscopy: 'Watcher', 'Doppelganger', 'Astral' (the realm of non-physical, spiritual phenomena), 'Repossession', 'Heautos' (presumably a reference to 'heautoscopy', the hallucination of seeing oneself elsewhere) and 'Maartechen' (a name linked with negative autoscopy, a disorder of which failing to acknowledge one's own reflection in mirrors is diagnostic). Indeed, the mid-heavy, drone-based ambient style of most of these compositions lends itself well to the incorporeal inscrutability attributed to autoscopy. Cavernous and muffled as if distantly heard from The Other Side, the leading drone in 'Watcher', surrounded by wavering loops, makes for an enjoyable introduction. 'Astral' does well with the metaphor, drifting through deeply soothing tones. 'Repossession' upholds the concept most successfully and is the best piece overall, suggesting the conclusion of the autoscopic experience with more subtlety than usual. Elsewhere, when instead negative autoscopy and heautoscopy are referenced, the unnerving potential of these disorders is represented by harsher, treble-rich textures.

Slaton's modus operandi on this album is to make use of a different, single sound source for each track, recorded without overdubs and processed through pedals. Most of his instruments seem to have been acoustic, with their natural tonal ranges strongly modified and blurred into droning fabrics. A novel if unreliable way of reading into this process might be that Slaton is also trying to goad his instruments into having their own autoscopic experiences, inducing the sonic range of each to expand beyond the physical limitations of the instrument body. The metaphorical result: cloudy, formless, disembodied.

Bryn Harrison: Vessels

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 26 2014
Artist: Bryn Harrison (@)
Title: Vessels
Format: CD
Label: Another Timbre (@)
Rated: *****
The inputs of this interesting apotheosis of repetition for piano by composer Bryn Harrison are a sequence of nine notes from a mode by Olivier Messiaen (I could guess he took it from ""Mode de valeurs et dintensites" or from some variation of his sixth mode) for what we could call tonal entities and Howard Skempton's "Tendrils", where the composer weaves lines by means of a number of transpositions of Messiaen's mode. The resulting almost imperceptile repetition of intervals and phrases and the somehow confusing tonal juxtaposition of the 20-minutes lasting original version got remarkably expanded on he version you'll find on this release, which recently reached my desk in spite of the fact it got released last year, so that its spellbinding powers got highlighted on the 76-minutes masterful performance by Philip Thomas (an honorable mention to the one who flipped through the pages of the score, who got captured by microphones). I'm pretty sure that even the rational filters of the most trained musical ears, which will presumably focus on computational aspects, will fade away in order to make way for imagination - some nightmarish settings such as disorienting woods, narrow dark tunnels or other mysterious places you could build by your own imagination could croos listener's minds - and emotions - I could guess you could match it with angst, sadness or suspense - till the moment when this labyrinthine repetitions could even provoke some physical reaction. I can't exclude that...
Jul 26 2014
Artist: Ernesto Rodrigues/Ricardo Guerreiro/Christian Wolfarth (@)
Title: All About Mimi
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Even more abstract and "astringent" than "Early Refractions" the collaborative release with alto-saxophonist Bertran Gauguet, this release of the consolidated musical partnership between Ernesto Rodrigues (viola) and Ricardo Guerreiro (computer) with the guest appearance of Swiss percussionist Christian Wolfarth on cymbals is even more abstract and overlapped to reductionist aesthaetics. I could guess the title "All About Mimi" could be a reference to same-named multi-modal interactive musical improvisation system, whose linear diagrams seem to get reprised by cover artwork. Its slightly crooked green lines could be the sonic representation of the skewed declension of minimalism that this trio play where you could have the impression that each instrumental emission sometimes claws, sometimes furrows, sometimes violently cannons the surface of the seemingly silent computer-generated barrier that amalgamates the other two (sometimes unrecognizable) elements and their mimicry as if they are trying to escape from their atonal prison cells by means of painstaking grinding of the wall.

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.

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