Music Reviews

Rowland Yeargan: Close Your Eyes

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 14 2018
Artist: Rowland Yeargan
Title: Close Your Eyes
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Media
Silber Media’s ongoing and always intriguing ‘5 in 5’ series- where an artist offers up 5 tracks with a total running time of exactly, and only, 5 minutes- offers up another interesting nugget here. Made up of five diverse sonic ideas, like working prototypes of longer works, “Close Your Eyes” distinctly feels like a sampler, but it’s a sampler leaving you wanting more.

Between the distorted drone noise of “Make Haste”, the optimistic layered-up piano of “Breathing In And Out”, the organ drone and throat singing of “Everlasting Heart”, the avantgarde-jazz-esque cymbal work on “Look Into My Eyes” and the synthetic semi-alien choral tones of final track “One Day Today”, this feels like a showreel for a film soundtrack.

A really intriguing listen, if something of a tease!

Norman Westberg: After Vacation

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 11 2018
Artist: Norman Westberg
Title: After Vacation
Format: LP
Label: Room40
With “After Vacation”, Swans guitarest Westberg has consciously moved away from performance-sourced composition and pieces with single-take improvised cores, stepping instead towards more overtly planned and mapped non-linear assemblies of sound.

However the sonic ingredients are still broadly the same- long and warm sustained effect-washed drones, plaintive guitar notes with super-long reverb meld together into a womb-like ambient that’s mostly soporific, but with the occasional hint of disquiet and dischord squeezing through on tracks like “Sliding Sledding”. The title track ends up the odd-one-out with its decidedly more conventional guitar solo work that serves as an unexpectedly busy wrap-up.

Though Westberg describes the six tracks as “stand-alone stories, rather than my usual style of bouncing conversation”, nevertheless there’s a consistency throughout that in the case of this particular collection works as a strength. You’d be hard pushed to identify softly pulsing longest track “Levitation” in a crowd, and at times this form of guitar-sourced ambient does feel a little bit ‘done’, but if you’re after something relaxing, textured and from one of the extreme edges of guitar music, this is certainly worth a late-night listen.

Kajsa Lindgren: Womb

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 10 2018
Artist: Kajsa Lindgren
Title: Womb
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Hyperdelia
It’s obvious to hear why the name “Womb” seemed appropriate for this 7-track collection of pressured gloopy atmospheres of deep thrums and heartbeat-like pulses, but there’s more to it than that, as a procession of other elements arrive in various combinations to decorate the warm internalised drone base.

Some are intriguing- for example the electronic glitches and noise sparkles on tracks like opener “Cocoon” that give proceedings a slightly more alien flavour, while the slowly rising and falling vocal-like melodic wind noises and faintly whalesong-like calls on “The Garden” meld together into something more complex that plays well against vinyl-like crackle sounds.

Others feel a little more obvious and ‘done’. The distant unintelligible speech on “The Inanimate World” and the overt heartbeat sounds of “All The Other Children” feel quite conventional as elements of an almost theatrical sonic impression of existence in the womb, and by the time we get to birdsong on “Far (To Reach Me)” and what I think is the sound of a crackling wood fire in “The Forest” it does feel like we’re running through a list of stalwart ambient sounds. The Terence McKenna-esque rambling spoken-word element in final track “The Inanimate World” will be particularly divisive- personally I found it too prescriptive and consequently unwelcome.

It’s a rich and quite uniform bit of ambient work, certainly mellowing and sonically oppressive yet in a way that’s somehow quite comforting, but it perhaps needed to show a greater breadth and diversity and steer away from some of ambient’s more well-established clichés if it were really going to stand out.

Anders Brørby: Traumas

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 08 2018
Artist: Anders Brørby (@)
Title: Traumas
Format: CD
Label: Forwind Press (@)
Rated: *****
According to the liner notes, this release aims to explore feelings of ’fear, isolation and trauma’ and it's by an artist, Anders Brørby, not overtly known even he has a considerable discography. The premises of this release are rendered with a relatively canonical ambient form, sometimes blended with some noise or house influence which results in a pseudo-personal form which gives a convincing sense of easy listening to the whole.
"Hatred to all Living Things" opens this release with an atmospheric track based around a drone which is underlined by inserts of acoustic and electric guitar and samples with the result of a sort of crescendo ending in the final voice speaking about consolation. "Body Love" is instead a catchy track based on a dancey beat and dreaming synth. "In My Dreams My Teeth Fell Out" is a short and static, but noisy, interlude to "Various Positions, According to the Gospel" an eventful track based on rhythmic cages for samples and synth. "Trauma" is almost a proper IDM track based on a clear melody and complex beats. "Cruel Morning Orgasm" is an ambient track based on droning crescendo ending in a quiet noise. "Depression Puzzle" oscillates between quiet moments and noisy ones in a climate of suspension. "Describing Beauty" is a rarified and ephemeral track based on a delicate drone. "I Won't Be around When You Really Need Me" is a short track in two parts: the first one is a form of static crescendo where a drone is juxtaposed to an accelerating beat while the second one is a static soundscape ending with radio noises. "Dogma" is an almost new age quiet track which ends this release.
This is a multifaceted release clearly written without abstruse experimentation so, even if someone could have a form of déjà-vu during hearing, it's an enjoyable release for a reasonably wide audience. It's really worth a listen.

Small Life Form: Fragments

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 07 2018
Artist: Small Life Form
Title: Fragments
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Media
Although it collects together studio recordings from 2012-2014, “Fragments” from Small Life Form stands as a consistent piece of dark doom-drone in its own right and can absolutely be regarded as equivalent to a new full-length album.

Two of the tracks run for over twenty minutes each, which I’d describe as a little more than a “fragment”! Opener “Something Organic To Service The Machine” is on the mellower side of drone, and sets the tone with electric hums and waves that lull you into a confident, almost comforting yet alien environment which you don’t realise has crept up on you until the abrupt harsh-edged noise effects of the ironically-named “Slow Silence” cut right through it.

The other long work, the nearly 29-minute-long “Forgotten Summer”, is a harsher affair, with rough-hewn textures and drones that sound at times like absurdly-sustained ship horns passing in the night, preluding a glacially slow building wind tone that really gets into your head before it opens up into an unusual accordion-esque bright section (that Summer remembered, perhaps).

The rest of the album is made up of shorter pieces, ranging from nine minutes of hollow alien atmospherics in “A Night Like This” down to little interludes like the 29-second electric arcing sound effect of “Buzz”. The acoustic devolvement into noise in “So Sincere” plays nicely against the electric driven-guitar-style distortions of “Hero Reborn”.

It’s a coherent, captivating and mindset-changing long gathering of drone work with a strong cathartic effect, and rather than being regarded as leftovers, I’d have to describe this as one of the most interesting drone releases I’ve heard in quite a while.

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