Music Reviews

Marsen Jules: Beautyfear

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 19 2014
Artist: Marsen Jules (@)
Title: Beautyfear
Format: CD
Label: Oktaf (@)
Rated: *****
A mixture of spleen and vague anxiety sounds like swimming towards intangible depths and anaesthetic abstractions on this new record by Marsen Jules, as if he managed to decode thoughts and worries by a wendersian angel before gushing them into a resounding bucket, whose contents became the varnish of the twelve tracks of this "Beautyfear". As the title could let you easily surmise and according to Jules' own words, "it's an album on the fragility of beauty", whose birthplace had an influence on its sonorities. Masterfully mastered by 12k label head Taylor Deupree, the sequence of synth strings-driven fragile celestial symphonies, which sometimes sound like a distillation of techno with no percussions, dusky thunders, whose menacing halo could surmise some crepuscolar stuff from darkwave or dark ambient fields, reedy aural wavelets and plush sonic fluctations could let you imagine that Marsen abraded a number of suggestions, which got evoked by the place where he created this album during a week stay, a theatre workplace on the top of one hill of Lisbon, where the ideal proximity to a cloudy sky tied in with the panoramic view over that dusty enchanting city. The strange beauty of "Beautyfear" manages to feed expectations on the announced collaboration with Swedish filmmaker Anders Weberg and a forthcoming release that Marsen made after a residence at GRM studuos in Paris, the temple of electroacoustic music, acousmatics and musique concrete.

Lubomyr Melnyk: Windmills

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 18 2014
Artist: Lubomyr Melnyk (@)
Title: Windmills
Format: CD
Label: Hinterzimmer (@)
Rated: *****
Cervantes' Don Quixote fighted against them as he thought they were monstrous enemies, they used to loom like giants over landscapes of notorious painters such as Jan Brueghel, Ivan Aivazovsky, William Callow, Claude Monet and Salvador Dali', who imagined giant butterflies in place of its blades. A windmill is also the protagonist of "The Old Mill", one notorious animation of Silly Symphonies series by Walt Disney, which dates back to 1937. Besides the advanced animation techniques which got tested, it can be considered a proper masterpiece for a number of reasons such as the intelligent use of timing and the score by Leigh Harline, whose musical and sonic supply included interesting effects as well as Johann Strauss' waltz "One day when we were young" managed to emphasize the most dramatic moments and the emotional changes of the funny fauna living inside an old mill before, during and after a violent thunderstorm. According to the interpretation by talented Canadian composer and pianist of Ukrainian origins Lubomyr Melnyk, that windmill could represent a human being, who faces misfortunes, vicissitudes and trials just like the windmill holds out against the destructive force of the wind on the top of a hill. His astonishing musical translation revolves around this vision by means of heart rending melodies, breathtaking emotional keys, restless variations and that whirlwind of extremely rapid notes, which connotes the technique of piano playing he named "Continuous Mode" by which he keeps on holding the record for most number of notes played in one hour (almost 94 thousands individual notes!). The final composition occurred after 3 years of tweak and revisions, where the addition of the lovely 20-minutes lasting suite "The Song Of Windmill's Ghost", whose gentle melodic breeze evokes less anguished and tormented emotions, sounds like the ascension of windmill towards empyrean beatitude! Simply beautiful listening experience!

Yann Novak: Snowfall

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 16 2014
Artist: Yann Novak (@)
Title: Snowfall
Format: CD
Label: Dragon's Eye Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Despite its own peculiarities, environmental music got often introduced as an homiletic variation of ambient or even new age by some reviewers, who hastily label it without examining it in depth, but I still think it's a very rich soil for a number of creative flair as it's proven by this interesting release from Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist Yann Novak, who extrapolated one hour lsting recording into one track he entitled "Snowfall" from a 6-hours lasting audio-visual performance which renders, as you can easily guess, a snowstorm and has been premiered at Human Resources in Los Angeles. The almost imperceptible murmur which opens and closes this suite evolves from silence to sound by gradual variations and fade where the growing intensity of field recordings, white noises and audio frequencies pushes listener into an immersive listening experience, as if Yann carefully rendered the accumulation of snow after a number of flurries and the emotional repercussion of a snow-clad natural landscape and its apparent stillness. Yann's delicate manoeuvring on sound particles is going to bring listener from the perception of the meteorological phenomenon to the overwhelming awareness of isolation which turns into pure aural bliss. This haven of rest and the fascinating sonic path to such a landing place got heavily influenced by the idyllic setting where Yann collected photographs and field recordings for "Snowfall" in Febrauary 2010, the Jentel Artist Residency, a cozy beautiful place just outside the small village of Banner in Wyoming, not so far from Sheridan, whose spectacular views, somewhat healthy isolation and contemplative context played their role as a source for inspiration.

X-NAVI:ET: Dead City Voice

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 12 2014
Artist: X-NAVI:ET
Title: Dead City Voice
Format: 12"
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This new release for this artist is presented as a concept album about the the theme of the city presented with the word of Win Wenders as the place that "leaves its stigma on [people] and deforms them to its own likeness." so he aims to represent as "the city by means of sound and vision is becoming an inward journey as well", according to the press notes. The musical output is however indistinguishable from most post industrial or dark ambient albums except from the focus in the timbre's development rather than in the noisier one, so resulting in a enjoyable listening.
The a side of this album is opened by the juxtaposition of a menacing and a bright drone in "1 + 1 = 1" that lasts until a noise enters to ends the track with a delayed beat. "Mutagenocidecadentia" is evocative with his use of various found sounds. "Schism" begins with a relatively low frequency drone and end with relatively high frequency noises, so justifying his title.
"Tinnitus Auris" is constructed upon the juxtaposition of wooden noises and metallic bells.
The b side features only two tracks: "Garden Paradox" featuring a static drone and a loop forming a structure without development and "Luna 369 Park" based mainly upon a slowly changing drone.
The curious thing about this release is that, being a vinyl, his format reveals his content as, if the a side reveals the good thing of this format, the b side is perhaps too static and underdeveloped. The a side worths four stars but the b worths two so the average is three. Recommended for fans.

VV.AA.: Dark Ambient Radio Vol. 3 – Muzak for the Final Elevation

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 05 2014
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Dark Ambient Radio Vol. 3 – Muzak for the Final Elevation
Format: CD
Label: Dark Ambient Radio (@)
Rated: *****
This compilation lets you know what it is right up front, and in some ways it flows together like a good radio show should. If you didn't know it was a compilation, it would be easy to think that it was the work of the same artist for several tracks. I had not heard of any of these artists, so I was interested to see what this group had to offer. Aspectee, Nepenthe, and Valerio Orlandini open the disc with three tracks respectively of nice spacey ambient. Mortaja mixes it up a bit with some ritualistic chanting. Crepuscular throws down some crunchy ambient with the feel of tectonic plates shifting. Myth Industries and Sjellos also departs from the space ambient feel with slow waves of rattling and light drumming. Sjellos takes on his own track with some drums that I didn't really expect to kick in, but it worked. Then he goes back to the comfort of droning ambiance. Winterbound provides the base for your next Halloween mix ' this has a nice horror movie soundtrack feel to it. Mytrip finishes us off with 'Small Humyn,' which has a nice heaviness to it. There is a feeling of pressure and depth, like the thick drone that you might find in the inside of a beehive. For me this was one of the standout tracks on this disc. Overall this was interesting dark ambient and it was curated well. If you want to hear some new blood in the dark ambient scene, this is one to pick up. This compilation is limited to 500 copies and weighs in at around 72 minutes.

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