Music Reviews

Stefano Guzzetti: At Home - Piano Book (Volume One)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 12 2014
Artist: Stefano Guzzetti (@)
Title: At Home - Piano Book (Volume One)
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
The increasingly thready light texture and the abating intensity on "To Sleep For A New Day", the opening track of this balletic piano-driven release by Sardinia-based composer and sound designer Stefano Guzzetti made me think about a pianist who got whacked by his own reverie, the sudden thud at the end of the track almost validated my vision and such a vision got perpetuated by the rhythmical slackening at the end of each melodic phrase of the following "The Road To You", but on "Harvest", the third daydreaming movement, listeners are almost unwittingly absorbed by the graceful and often intensely melancholic weave by this musician. The following tracks follow a similar pattern where vivace inception fade out into lullaby-like movement where even the acutest pangs vanish. Both the most sullen moments and the most serene ones such the graceful "Little Dreams" and the sweeten harmony of "Haiku" seem to vividly arouse what titles evoke by means of essential digression on ivories whose stylistical mold sounds like a balanced crossbreed between the melodic pointillism by French impressionists and some Italian contemporary minimalist pianists such as Arturo Stalteri and Ludovico Einaudi. Maybe this release won't topple any conventional scheme, but its stripped-down form gathers substance correctly.

Janek Schaefer: Lay-by Lullaby

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 11 2014
Artist: Janek Schaefer (@)
Title: Lay-by Lullaby
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
J.G.Ballard's bounteous literature and visionary creativity have often been a source of inspiration for UK sound artist Janek Schaefer, who after 20 years of acknowledged activity and an impressive number of releases and sound installations for many labels and institutions signed his first release for Taylor Deupree's label at last. The nocturnal field recordings of "Lay-By Lullaby", which took place above M3 motorway, whose building and proximity to Ballard's house as well as to Schaefer's recording studio heavily influenced proper masterpieces about spiritually noxious effects of so-called progress and technology on human life by this sci-fi novelist. The ready-references of this album are the narrative setting of those novels where car culture and motorways had a meaningful and emblematic role such as "Crash!" and "Concrete Island", where Ballard splendidly shows sensorial and spatial cracks on some of the most typical badges of modernity by bringing characters out of that idea of chimerical order whose structure rests on pervading conceptions of organization, efficiency and urbanization, acting like addicting drugs on minds and souls. You could imagine Janek Schaefer in the guise of Robert Maitland, whose "accident" reactivates memories, feelings, thoughts and reveries that burst into consciousness over the hypnotical streaming aural code of a motorway where gusts of wind and barreling wheeled cells constantly weave a trapping web. The sonic strategy by which Janek renders such an abstract sequence of "enlightenments", which sound like unpredictable radio interferences, is simply stunning and deeply emotional and seems toi come from phantasmagorical entities which invite listeners to take a rest, come out of this suffocating stream and lapse into daydreaming in a whisper. "Lay-by Lullaby" is undoubtedly one of the best "environ/mental" ambient release of the year.

Christos Fanaras: Impermanence

 Posted by Paul Muhller   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 10 2014
Artist: Christos Fanaras (@)
Title: Impermanence
Format: CD
Label: Adaadat (@)
Adaadat, the London-based independent recording label, has recently released Impermanence, a new CD of ambient music by Christos Fanaras. Recording under the name of Jack Shirt, he has recorded and released seven previous CDR albums and is currently a member of Moon Ra and Masters. Christos has also played bass guitar in the group Agaskodo Teliverek, drums for Temper Temper and has a long list of associations with contemporary musicians and bands. Impermanence is a solo effort and consists of six sections connected into a single track that runs for 44 minutes. Each of the sections has an individual character but there is an overall pattern that emerges as the piece unfolds. The piece begins with a low hum and a soft, funerary organ melody. The volume builds and the feeling is solemn, brooding and mysterious. The low tones dominate as the higher notes in the melody become shorter and transient until they become overtaken by the drone below. The loudness ultimately subsides allowing the second section to begin with the soft sound of rainfall and a clear declarative guitar line that brings some forward movement. Now the organ arcs above this with a quiet, uncertain feel that builds in volume as the section progresses. The purposeful guitar eventually becomes buried by a swirling organ accompanied by loud, unsettling propeller sounds that end the section abruptly. Impermanence proceeds in this fashion, each section beginning with a comfortable flow and feel that is quietly familiar, but eventually becoming submerged in louder and more chaotic textures. Section 3 has a beautiful organ line that has a church-like, medieval sound, and this is eventually intruded upon and consumed by a distorted guitar. Section 5 features an optimistic dance-like melody that generates an exotic, optimistic feel that is slowly engulfed in a low rumbling sound. This pattern of the familiar being overwhelmed by the alien is repeated throughout the different sections and effectively makes the artistic statement of Impermanence. The final minutes have a futuristic feel and a sense of inevitability that point to coming change. If you take your ambient music straight up and with a definite point of view, Impermanence will be worth a listen.

Richard Moult & David Colohan: Hexameron

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 09 2014
Artist: Richard Moult & David Colohan (@)
Title: Hexameron
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
This assay of graphical and musical art from Time Released Sound got signed by Richard Moult and David Colohan, two young Irish musicians from Galway-based neo folk collective United Bible Studies. I think that the artwork of digital version with that "industralized quotation" from Gustave Dore''s "The Deluge" is a more appropriate image than those swatches from a 100 years-old book about mysterious 15th century printer and illustrator Anton Sorg for the deluxe edition of "Hexameron" in order to let listener envision their style. Named after the term which refers to 6 working days for the creation of our planet by God on Genesis, which got mirrored by the number of tracks as well as by a steady "mystical" tension of their sound, these guys glides along sugarcoated expanded piano melodies, cherubic choirs, occasional drones, placid guitar riffs and lukewarm tonal vaporization, where that vague sense of frail beauty got emphasized with a touch of tragedy and inescapable austerity. To be honest, some moments when the driving musical forces of this record (piano and guitar) reciprocally stress melodic phrases with single chords, which could surmise similar dynamics from melodic prog-rock or fusion stylistical fields, are not so original, but the emotional textures they manage to weave are sometimes enchanting: the gradual ascension on the fifth tracks, the fade-in by which instruments make an entrance on the stage of the second track, which let me think about the breathtaking show of mist sea at dawn on the Isle of Skye, where Moult started to record this album on January 2013, and the occasional dramatic eruptions by Colohan's alto saxophone mark some of my favorite moments of this musical palingenesis.

Kangding Ray: Solens Arc

 Posted by Duff Harris   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 08 2014
Artist: Kangding Ray (@)
Title: Solens Arc
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Distributor: Kompakt
Rated: *****
You could almost envision the contraction of the muscles of an athlete, his gradual perspiration or his challenge against gravity since the initial "Serendipity March", as if such a slowing down could display some hidden secrets of universal forces. You can have the impression to perceive the movement of every single air particle while a bullet slices through the space that is between its origin and its target on "Transitional Ballistics" or understand the vector space of a bird's flight while listening to "L'Envol". The concept by this awesome record from David Letellier aka Kangding Ray seems to be focused on the attempt of gleaning the essence of movement by a translation of trajectories and parables into sounds by following any resounding object that got launched by laptop, drum machines and synths as if they were cannonballs whose infinite rifle range got mirrored by the gradual "blossoming" of synth arpeggios and melodic dust into enzymatic broken rhythms and deconstructed rave anthems. Each of four Solens arc, one for each side of the album, has been splitted into three phases and wondrously cleaves to such a concept by progressive polymerizations of industrial techno engines - the first stage - into granular entities - the second stage -, which vanish over ether - the third and final level -. My favorite ones are the third arc ("Amber Decay/Apogee/History Of Obscurity") as its evolution sounds like a sort of epic apokatastasis to my ears and the fourth one on D side ("Crystal/Transitional Ballistics/Son"), where the emotional tension wisely reaches the highest peaks by going through stylistical environments which bridges 70ies horror movies soundtracks, industrial techno, broken noises and sidereal drone-ambient. Labelling this release as a masterpiece is not a backslapping at all!

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