Music Reviews



Benjamin Finger: Into Light

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 18 2018
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Artist: Benjamin Finger (@)
Title: Into Light
Format: 12"
Label: Forwind Press (@)
Rated: *****
This release from Benjamin Finger is presented in the liner notes, and it definitely is, something at the crossroad between electro-acoustic and modern classical; this, in theory, could be a little problem as this two genres are among the more bothered by clichés. However the key to avoid the pit is to blend the genres rather than juxtapose them i.e., use electro-acoustic to remove the romantic element of modern classical rather than blur it.
The two sides of this 12" are exactly symmetric a short first track and a longer second one. The A side is opened by "A Glimpse" which has more movement in three minutes than a whole ambient record: it has samples, drones, a little bit of noise and juxtaposes this elements with a speed that let breathless. "Gravity's Jest" is instead a track based around a melody of cello which slowly evolves upon noises and samples which quietly but implacably emerge from the background until the second part of the track is introduced by a female voices accompanied by cold synths. the B side is opened by "Into Light" an instrumental synth pop track whose quiet melody is remarkable. The voice of Inga-Lill Farstad returns at the begin of "Paradox Route" and is the center of a track whose synthetic sound gravitates in silence until the arrival of traditional string instruments in the second part creates a continuous and suggestive musical canvas.
The short duration of this release is used to remove all elements of rhetoric and lengthiness that could plague a musical form so relying in catchy romantic melodies and ethereal atmosphere as it also uses some unconventional techniques borrowed from electro-acoustic music. A truly enjoyable release for almost anyone.

Common Eider, King Eider: A Wound Of Body

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 18 2018
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Artist: Common Eider, King Eider
Title: A Wound Of Body
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
Common Eider, King Eider returns with a new release that change a little bit their musical style as it starts to be personal. While their previous release were well written but showing their influence, "A Wound Of Body" is centered upon two elements: wide reverberating drones and silence. Nowadays dark ambient is a synonym of sharp drones and foley to create realistic soundscapes which surround the listener while this is a release that almost asks the listener's attention to catch the nuances of the sound as it often tries to hidden itself in the environment.
The first track, "Remembrance A Threnody", opens this release showing the particular idea of dark ambient that is the base of this project: instead of being based on drones, the track start with isolated noises and long tones at relatively low volume and immersed in silence; only at the middle of the track, a slowly developing melody appears but it's just an interlude for the return of isolated and atmospheric drones with distant cymbals in the background. "Sinew Stretched Over Crumbling Bones" is instead more cinematic as it starts with a drone which it's slowly evolved by accumulation so it has a far richer spectrum and surrounds the listener in the final moments of the track. "We Sing Over These Bones So That They May Rise Up And Run Away Into The Night" is the shorter track of this release and it's centered upon a slow violin line underlined by sparse insertions of atmospheric drones. A wide spectrum drone is the core of the first part of "Helene" while the second one is based upon sections separate by a couple of seconds of silence. "River Of Blood" closes this release with a quiet atmospheric drone which is the background for a violin melody which starts as a drone underlining the background and evolves in the final part of the track in a sort of accompaniment for filtered voices.
With this release, the project show an almost developed personality which is the center of a release that sounds as something really different from the rest of the scene. Highly recommended for fans of dark ambient.

Monty Adkins: Empire

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 16 2018
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Artist: Monty Adkins
Title: Empire
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Line
Andy Warhol’s 1985 “Empire” is an eight hour forerunner of slow TV, filming the Empire State Building from dusk to the following dawn, and any attempt to create a new soundtrack to the film must also enter that slow mindspace and wallow in it. And that’s what Adkins does here- though the recorded product available to buy is only 50 minutes long, so we get selected highlights (if ‘highlights’ is an appropriate word) from across the reels, rather than the full-length experience.

Taking the idea of the building as a bell tower, and leading that into the idea of a nine-bell ringing sequence in which the pattern constantly changes and never repeats, has led Adkins into creating a nine-chord harmonic sequence built from piano- and Rhodes-style melodic notes and pads blended with ambient sounds recorded in other large spaces, with the latter elements fading away as it progresses as though to reflect the stillness descending (theoretically) on the city.

The result is beautifully mellow, calm and soporific and has gone straight onto my sleep playlist. It’s relaxing, and wallpaper-like if you want it to be, but with just enough detail and variation to keep it interesting. There’s a lush warm quality to it that can only be liked as an experience, far more perhaps than New York City itself.

kj: ex

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 11 2018
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Artist: kj (@)
Title: ex
Format: CD
Label: Dronarivm (@)
Rated: *****
This album by kj, known also a KJ Rothweiler, a writer and direction, is presented as a journey through the dark side of nostalgia. This musically means that it's along the path of certain minimalism formally based on tape loops or lingering synth lines which can be mesmerizing or boring due to the writing ability of the composer.
This release is opened by "maze", a small introduction based on the repetition and variation of a simple melodic cell, while "caro" exposes the framework of this release which is based in melodic figures which seems to be repeated in loop but are varied when the listener is too cradled. "Ex" juxtaposes a drone which slowly evolves in the background and a melody which is concealed in the sound creases. "Sile" is a drone mainly evolving in dynamics and "thursday" is a slow melody exposed with evocative thick sound masses while "room" uses the same procedure with a more rarefied sound. A sound watercolor for guitar, "you", is obtained by the careful use of delay and "foxes" closes this release with a gentle soundscape brightened by the cello of Aaron Martin which gives an element of metallic angst.
Perhaps it could be seen as nothing more than a derivative release based on known form of minimalism but actually it's a release which plays with what it seems. It's apparently repetitive, apparently static but it's moving as it asks a quite attentive listener to catch the small variation of the music. Recommended for fans of the genre.

Adam Basanta: Intricate Connections Formed Without Touch

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 07 2018
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Artist: Adam Basanta
Title: Intricate Connections Formed Without Touch
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Kasuga Records
“Intricate Connections Formed Without Touch” is a six-track work supposedly built entirely from a single acoustic guitar improvisation, but which has been “cut, sliced, re-arranged and folded-over” with a diverse range of digital processing to bend it firmly into the territory of digital electronica. Where some of the audible reportage-like spoken-word elements, other more vocal noises and some rich pad-like atmospherics come from isn’t disclosed, so people appreciating the purity of the concept may feel a little cheated.

There’s a bit of everything in the processing- reverb, reverse, glitch, bend, stretch, the works, and at times it feels more like a playful experiment with digital audio tools than something with compositional intent. However there are other points where it’s a clear success- “Flora & Fauna” being an example, its gentle icy plucked tones seeding an encapsulating and rather sci-fi environment, and the more frantic stuttering “Joy”, which initially has echoes of BT’s granular synthesis work but ripped out of its EDM context before unfolding into something rather cinematic, is quite compelling as well. Final ‘proper’ track “Extension Out” turns simplicity into a virtue by centring around an intriguing deep pulse and drone that you could happily get lost in.

It’s rounded off (or filled out, perhaps) by a remix of “Flora & Fauna” by Kai Basanta- presumably a relation of Adam’s, though this is also undisclosed. It’s a straightforward ten-minute bit of downtempo thoughtful electronica with some soft organic padded rhythms. It compliments the original track but which doesn’t necessarily meld as a coherent piece of the main album.

It’s a smooth listen, pleasant and full of interesting details but not particularly ground-breaking.

It’s available as an SD card or as a download, but at the time of writing ChainDLK’s format options don’t include SD card as something I can select, hence it being displayed as download-only.


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