Music Reviews



Neznamo / Siyanie: Sonans

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 14 2013
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Artist: Neznamo / Siyanie (@)
Title: Sonans
Format: CD
Label: Moonsun (@)
Rated: *****
I was already familiar with Siyanie's work, but Neznamo was new to me. I am always interested to hear collaborations to see what parts become foregrounded from each act. The label explains that this was the result of a live improvisation recorded at the Otgoloski Festival in 2011 and describes it as 'lo-fi drone ambient.' The album consists of one 41 minute track, which makes sense considering its origin. This has a kind of ethnoambient feel to it; there is some nice drone with percussion elements and noise. However, I didn't find it to be as lush as Siyanie's solo work. This sounded sort of thin by comparison. Of course there is less that one can accomplish in a live setting without resorting to a lot of backup tapes, so this is understandable. It also began to get somewhat repetitive toward the end, almost as if you were trapped in a locked groove. This album weighs in at around 41 minutes and is limited to 111 copies.

Siyanie: Shining of Unity

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 14 2013
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Artist: Siyanie (@)
Title: Shining of Unity
Format: CD
Label: Moonsun (@)
Rated: *****
Siyanie is the work of Segey Ilchuk, formerly of Vresnit. I had previously reviewed the collaboration between Vresnit & Kshatriy, so I had some idea of what I would be in for. This is really peaceful ambient work that allows you to drift off into your own thoughts. If I could describe this in one word, it would be 'contemplative.' The music reminds me of Vidna Obmana's 'River of Appearance,' with shimmering drone. When there are vocals (e.g., on 'Sunrise Lullaby'), they are slow and gentle. If you think that you're going to be delving into dark ambient because of his collaboration with Kshatriy, you're in for a surprise. Really calm, but very good. This album weighs in at around 57 minutes and is limited to 300 copies.

Grouse: Heads

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 14 2013
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Artist: Grouse (@)
Title: Heads
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The post it note on the press sheet said to file under 'downtempo electronica.' Grouse is the work of Dublin-based artist Ronan Carroll. This is his second album, but this is the first I had heard of him. The press sheet calls it 'abstract, cinematic and almost entirely instrumental.' At first this seemed far too minimal, sparse, and repetitive. However, I gave it another listen with headphones to drown out the noises around me and it was a whole different experience. It's still a bit on the repetitive side, but the compositions are delicate, as if they are houses made of flowers that could be blown away by the wind at any moment. Think a really stripped down Alpha, and you're getting close to what Grouse is throwing down here. 'Arm the Harmless' was a break from this, where it sounds like he's channeling a Mediterranean folk song. Really quiet, mellow stuff overall. This album weighs in at around 46 minutes.

John 3:16: Visions Of The Hereafter – Visions Of Heaven, Hell And Purgatory

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2013
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Artist: John 3:16 (@)
Title: Visions Of The Hereafter – Visions Of Heaven, Hell And Purgatory
Format: CD
Label: Alrealon Musique (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously heard John 3:16's work on an Alrealon compilation or two and enjoyed his work. For those unfamiliar with this project, it is the work of Philippe Gerber, who was previously in the band Heat From a DeadStar. As the title and song titles suggest, this is a kind of aural journey through heaven, hell, and purgatory. Think of it as another dimension to Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, much as Gustave Doré's images illuminated the text. That said, there is not the same stark differences between the various elements as there are in Dante's work. In fact, there is little difference stylistically between heaven and hell. As such, it doesn't really work as a concept album. In all of them, there is a nice layer of atmosphere mingled with guitar. At times the guitars would sound right at home on New Order's 'Movement' (Throne of God / Angel of the Lord) and others (Ascent of the Blessed (to the Heavenly Paradise)) sound like a collaboration between Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Durutti Column. One of the only times where there is a level of intensity is in 'The Inner Life of God / The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit,' where the percussion kicks in with full force. But then we are back to the same peaceful guitars over warbling synth drone in 'Through Fire and Through Water.' The end of 'Fall of the Damned (Into Hell)' keeps the same feeling going, but the sermonizing at the end that declares that 'now is the time to choose an eternal place of salvation or an eternal place of condemnation' seems a bit out of place. In some ways, this album seems to suggest that there is little difference between heaven and hell or otherwise. I found this a bit puzzling and so out of sync with the final message of the disc that I went online to try to make some sense of it by finding any commentary by Gerber. Turns out that Gerber is an atheist and in an interview with John Wisniewski for incunabula.org he notes that 'What I do with JOHN 3:16 ' as an artist ' is try to cope with my religious (un)beliefs.' Thus, if you think that you're getting Blackhouse or Mental Destruction flavored Christian experimental music, that is not the case, but this is well done and enjoyable even without thinking of it as a concept album. This album weighs in at around 49 minutes.

Sujo + Sun Hammer: Fistula

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2013
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Artist: Sujo + Sun Hammer (@)
Title: Fistula
Format: CD
Label: Inam Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sujo is the work of Ryan Huber, who is also Olekranon, part of 303 Committee, and the man behind Inam Records. Sun Hammer is the work of Portland-based Jay Bodley. The way this went down was Sujo started the process and then sent them on to Sun Hammer for processing and arrangement. The label describes the album as 'noisy drone, with heavy elements of doom and black metal, and glitch-laden DSP work.' OK, I'm not sure that I see the doom and black metal elements, but the noisy drone descriptor fits quite well. This is not really standard dark ambient, but rather what some (including such luminaries as Wilt) may call 'dark noise.' It's gritty and noisy, but not really noise. There is a lot of drone going on here and it is definitely a good listen. A lot of intensity without actually relying on getting loud. Good use of dynamics throughout. Well worth a listen. This album weighs in at around 40 minutes.


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