Music Reviews



Lost in the Woods: The Meadowland Suite

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 28 2014
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Artist: Lost in the Woods (@)
Title: The Meadowland Suite
Format: CD
Label: Hulterstad Sound
Rated: *****
Lost in the Woods is the work of Lars Tängmark and Johan Levin. Levin has also performed under the moniker Desiderii Marginis and Tängmark has his hand in many different endeavors, including running Hulterstad Sound and playing guitar with Viking-metal band King of Asgard among other things. Both are also in goth band The Wounded Meadow. I was unfamiliar with all of these projects, so this was a blank slate for me. With a title like 'The Meadowland Suite' one may expect something along the lines of Handel's Water Music. But despite the appearances and the title, this is not something out of the Narada new age catalog. Low drones hum ominously, punctuated at times with subdued noises and subterranean rumbles. This is not a peaceful, pastoral meadowland, but an open space where you suddenly realize that there is absolutely nowhere to hide. And something doesn't quite seem right. It isn't until the last few minutes that there is some sense of peace. After listening to the disc, I read the press sheet and found that this was by design: 'I mean standing in the far corner of a field, where the smell of rapeseed gets too much and the insects start to bite. The sun is setting. Cold mists rising. . . . There is nothing pretty about this, but it is something that I love from the bottom of my heart.' Well, they nailed it. This is well done dark soundscape that brings an oppressive feeling without resorting to cheesy horror movie samples or tipping its hand too forcefully. Worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 49 minutes and is limited to 200 copies.

Cernlab: Atomherz

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 28 2014
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Artist: Cernlab (@)
Title: Atomherz
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Electroton (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Cernlab, but this is the work of Germany-based Marek Slipek. The label describes the release as 'crystalline sounds and clicks are crunching and cracking on the search for clear forms and structures.' Sounds good. Once the music starts, you realize that it's time to get your glitch on. There is a rhythm here, but it really isn't something that you're going to dance to (unless you're a robot). Not really minimalist, but really stripped down. The closest comparison that I can come up with is Autechre's 'Tri Repetae.' Lots of bleeps, blips, and digital sounds. The music is simple, but interesting. Music like this has the potential to get really boring, but Atomherz never fell into that trap. Well done. This album comes nicely packaged in a simple translucent case and weighs in at around 22 minutes. Limited to 100 copies.

Dog Hallucination: Serving Two Masters

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 28 2014
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Artist: Dog Hallucination (@)
Title: Serving Two Masters
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Intangible Cat (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this artist, but this is the work of D. Petri, and the label describes the release as 'a eulogy and remembrance as well as a rumination on elusive and omnipresent aspects of human living.' First off, we need to talk about the packaging. This is hardcore DIY art packaging, with beet leaf-dyed fabric & pressed sage leaf from D. Petri's garden in a folded package. You get the sense that if he spends half the effort on the music as he does on the packaging, it will be amazing. We begin with what sounds like a hypnotist providing instructions, and what follows is truly hypnotic. For example, imagine that someone stole the guitar tracks from The Durutti Column and layered them with peaceful ambient music, and you have a good idea if what is happening on tracks 2 and 3 (there are no track names). Track 4 is an exercise in rhythmic repetition that draws you in as it slowly evolves and gains in intensity. On track 5, we have what sounds to be a letter on tape from one Betty Scott, who describes her experience at the Embassy building in Washington D.C. and Alexander Pope's quote about vice, mixed with more dreamlike atmosphere. Everything here is guitar with everything washed over with a thick layer of reverb. There are many who try to do surreal by going dark. Dog Hallucination do so from the space of pleasant dreams and happy memories. The word I would use to describe this disc is 'sentimental.' This is really nice, pleasant music that evokes thoughts of friends and loved ones who are far away. Well done. This album weighs in at around 24 minutes.

Rion: ホタル

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 26 2014
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Artist: Rion
Title: ホタル
Format: CD
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
UK ambient label Hibernate keeps on emitting sonic refulgence by means of this beautiful collaborative project by Home Normal label boss Ian Hawgood and Sapporo-based producer Ryo Nakata. They immediately wrap listener up into a very warm ambient drone, which has been built on a couple of stretched frequencies, coiling slow pitches, spellbinding modulations and resounding needles of the title-track (Japanese word for "fireflies"), which prepares the ground for the following trance-inducing "Let Me Sing You A Song Of Kindness", where sea-gulls got melted into binaural radiations, which unrelentingly migrate from opposite sides of the surface of sound sphere before getting conjoined on its centre. Some Japanese vocals and the noise of a typewriting machine are the starting point of the following track "hope", whose relaxing wavelets gently sluices listener's mind into a soothing basin. After the possible ambient translation of Chinese New Year's Eve where samples of fireworks got mixed with frequencies that sound like rendering the dazing feeling that the flashy colours of fireworks stimulates on a festive observer, you'd rather imagine that Rion are frying ether without volatilizing the positive feelings that this release is going to ingrain on your thirsty ear.

Quentin Sirjacq: Piano Memories

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 25 2014
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Artist: Quentin Sirjacq (@)
Title: Piano Memories
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
The reciprocal fascination between Japanese and French arts and culture is stronger than someone could imagine by taking account of their geographical distance. Somebody explains such a magnetic exoticism by a possible central and almost devotional sense of beauty of both cultural principles, but even if such an explanation cannot be considered completely preconceived, I could just reckon that both Japanese and French simply love beautiful things. I could say it's the same for music as well: many classical music lovers know that Debussy's way of breaking traditional rules of harmony derived from the influences of jazz and oriental music he never disowned, while many Japanese cinema lovers maybe noticed that many Japanese filmmakers emplyed French composers in their scores. I took cognizance of these two aspects as I firstly spoke about talented French composer and pianist Quentin Sirjacq on the occasion of the release of "Bright Days Ahead (Les Beaux Jours)" OST by highlighting the strong connection of his style with French impressionism. In regards to this new lovely album, which was entirely recorded with Schole label boss Akira Kosemura as a co-producer and Hiroshi Iguchi as a recording engineer after a journey in Japan, Quentin confirms the opinion of those ones who speak about him as a possible reincarnation of Chopin. Furthermore his lovely delicate flights on piano keys, which immediately hit listeners for their endearing touch, got wisely enhanced by unexpected and somewhat unpredictable electronic effects by Paris-based drummer and sound producer Steve Arguelles as well as by a guessed sound spacialization. His charming nine piano memories seem to whisper to listener's heart where beauty or maybe what French names joissance got hidden in the depths of its own soul.


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