Music Reviews



Aoki Takamasa: RV8

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 31 2013
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Artist: Aoki Takamasa (@)
Title: RV8
Format: CD
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
RV8 could be mistaken for the abbreviation of some glossy and efficient engine, but it just refers to the eight rhythm variations that the talented Osaka-based producer Aoki Takamasa, who already delighted Raster Noton's followers by a similar glitch and rhythmic noise oriented release for the unum series in 2009, built with the complicity of Yoshihori Sunahara, who mastered them in a masterly manner. While listening to Aoki's amazing intense moulding on breaks and the engaging way he pixelates, hones or fulminates loops, listeners could imagine him in the act of grapping with levers, buttons, switches, squirt guns, die grinders, welders, belt sanders and other bizarre gizmos. The high appeal which fibrillating vibes and calibrated extrusions of rhythmical patterns by means of vivid samples, vocal snippets, bumping core drills, pleasingly elasticated synthetic tunes could share with dancefloors could even let you imagine Aoki's activity has more similarities with the one by a puppeteer of robotic marionettes that he inspirits by his own playful crossbreeding of grounds of mechanical loops or electric field with stylistical contraptions from downbeat, house, r'n'b and breakbeat. In spite of the substantial homogeneity, each amalgamation bursts with intriguing fast-moving dynamics: percussive elements such as claps, patters, chimes, bops and clackings gleefully wag around listeners by evoking perpetual motions even on the most chilling (particularly the third and the eighth ones) or the most "technoid" variations and its inner batch processing (as suggested by Kohei Terazono's words to describe this release: "beat clap chop pierce thrust polish warp twist burst squeeze expand cut stick overlap shift bend grate paralyze detach stack slip envelope coalesce vibrate shine dim radiate slice weave converge embrace unravel stiffen tremble elapse sink leap float dance drift swell resonate overflow") never sounds tedious or excessively droning. Check it out!

Mike Cooper: White Shadows In The South Seas

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 29 2013
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Artist: Mike Cooper
Title: White Shadows In The South Seas
Format: CD
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
Both the title of this intriguing album by 71-years old Mike Cooper and some semantic clues which lend a narrative structure too its fourteen tracks evoke "White Shadows in the South Seas", an old silent movie by Californean director Woodbridge String "Woody" Van Dyke Jr., focused on the vicissitudes and adventures of an alcoholic doctor Dr.Matthew Lloyd (the "Dr.Derelict of the initial track?), who got tricked by his employer to embark on a ship with a deceased crew due to the obstacle the doctor's aversion of exploitation of Polynesian natives by white people was causing to his marauding purposes. A storm will deliver Dr.Lloyd to a community of natives on an unknown isle, whose inhabitants had never seen a white man. There're undoubtedly many references to the personal experiences of Mr.Cooper, who has spent a lot of time in tours and explorations of Oceania, a fascinating continent which digged a groove on his musical and artistic production, including a sort of radiophonic documentary "Beach Crossings - Pacific Footprints", commissioned by Italian and Australian radio, which retraces history from the colonisation of the Pacific isles by Europeans to Pearl Harbour and the dropping of nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, so that you can draw an imaginary parallel between Dr.Lloyd and Mr.Cooper, who can certainly make waves about his venturous wit into musical and cultural fields (there are many remarkable highights on his resume... his very first band The Blues Committee gained support by proper blues legends such Jimmy Reed, Howlin Wolf and John Lee Hooker, he recorded many session with John Peel from 1969 to 1975, he shaked London music scene by his free music group the Recendents in the 80ies and many recordings by himself have been reissued by many labels across the globe) and kept his creative spirit pristine to reshape some memes of the so-called exotica generation and whisk "white music" ingredients and Tahitian, Balinese and Hawaiaan ones in an original way, which generates overlaps of tropical sonic and rhythmical blushes, pacific slide guitars and tricky crossbreed (many listeners could surmise that "traditional" motifs like "Po Mahina" and "Hilo Hanakahi" could evoke Bizet's Carmen!). The above-mentioned narrative consistency and the insertion of atmospheric field recordings, which could let the listeners feel the soaring of birds, the rain on lehua forest or even the scent of the blossoms of hala, could dispel that faux aura, which this kind of stuff may evoke. If Mike cannot be considered an old and wise minister of the cult of Tiki as there are not so many hedonistic, stereotyped and somehow holy elements which deeply marked exotica and lounge music production, his sonic brushstrokes can turn him into a sort of Matisse for ears.

µ-Ziq: Xtep

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 27 2013
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Artist: µ-Ziq
Title: Xtep
Format: 12"
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
The frontiline of a legendary generation of producers and musicians who stuffed the IDM slider by many nice and sometimes genial different intuitions is living a moment of upswing over the course of last twelve months, when there has been the resurface from the depths of more or less prolonged silence of notorious artists such Squarepusher ("Ufabulum & Enstrobia"), Autechre ("Exai"), Daft Punk ("Random Access Memories") and more recently Boards Of Canada, whose awaited new album "Tomorrow's Harvest" is upcoming on 10th June; the resurgence of Mike Paradinas' mu-ziq, which deeply influenced British techno scene, is undoubtedly one of the most popular relishes. Even if the nice cover artwork suggests that the oceans Mike dived are full of some bizarre colorants, I could surmise those dissolved pollutants must have some heady active principles and mutagens: there are many clasps to old musical troves on this appetizer, but I have the hunch that many of the above-mentioned musicians sipped from the same spring due to the fact that a certain fondness for 70ies-like pad-synth and some cosmic disco from 80ies has been featured, but together with old-fashioned sonorities, Mike seems to rediscover and evoke juvenile dream state and I could conjecture that the recent musical offspring with his wife Lara Rix-Martin could have foster such a rejuvenation. The dreamy daintiness of a piano which resembles some fluffy 70ies pop melodies, the uplifting arpeggiated funk on a freshet of splashing drums on the initial "XT" plunge into listener's eardrum, before he pour bucketfuls of proto-dance music by means of the lovely "Ritm"n and the gentle raid of cosmic-disco most valiant knights' sonorities on the plumly nostalgic "Pulsar". On the impressive "Monj2", Mister Paradinas let some percussive metallic spheres from his oldest synths collide and float into a vintage cloud of delighting pads, whereas the more clouded 2step of the final "New Bimple" focuses on that limbic haziness which those who loved his mu-zak could easily discern. Really mouthwatering stuff!

Hati & Z'EV: Collusion

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 26 2013
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Artist: Hati & Z'EV (@)
Title: Collusion
Format: CD
Label: Idiosyncratics (@)
Rated: *****
This third powwow by the revered behemoth of percussions and drums Z'EV and surprising duo of young Polish percussionists Rafal Iwanski & Rafal Kolacki, better known as Hati (named after the mythological wolf that chases the Moon according to Norse Gylfaginning?), sounds like the title "Collusion" seems to suggest for a couple of reasons: on one side, their skills perfectly matches and such a mutuality shines through the five acts of this recording, on the other side, their somewhat transcendent percussive textures and thick amalgam of harmonic auscultation evoke menacing harbingers and a deeply trance-inducing ritualism, so that their point of convergence doesn't lie only on vocational and technical aspects, but also conceptual or I'd rather say neural. It's just something they do together, as a male voice (Z'EV's one) stigmatizes before the performes start to play. Such a statement could sound a little bit self-referential, but the mesmerizing heights they climb by means of weaves of gongs, tolling hits, rubbing of membranes, grimly clashing cymbals, slightly ominous tom-tomming, spatialized plucks over the five parts of Collusion" titillate listener's imagination and wrap it by a sort of electrified cloud. Both Z'EV and Hati move deftly in the field of ritual trance music and its ancestral structures, even if their percussive journey, the gradual unfolding of hypnotical beats and contemplative undertows definitively sound like the outcome of possessed improvisational sessions whose absorbing progression could let you think about geometrical figures which asymptotically tend to a perfect circle.

Serph: El Esperanka

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 20 2013
cover
Artist: Serph
Title: El Esperanka
Format: CD
Label: Noble (@)
Rated: *****
Despite his recalcitrance in self-exposing on live stages and the mysterious veil on his identity, Tokyo-based electronic wizard Serph keeps on catching many listener's ears by means of this graceful brand new album, the fourth one of a hopefully big batch, which follows his acclaimed "Heartstrings" and renews and enhances all the distinctive features that justified the incredible sales of his past releases and recently fertilized the dry grounds of dance music by means of his new dance-oriented project Reliq. There's even a logical connection with his previous album , where he seems to describe an utopian world, as suggested by the title "El Esperanka" - a neologism, supposedly coming from the combination of "esperanca", Spanish word for "hope", and "ankh", the ancient Egyptian "key of life" -. Whatsoever blossom Serph is expecting to harvest, listeners will easily bask his musical efflorescences, which bud by means of gorgeous uplifting melodies which swing between jazzy tunes, childish roundelays, easier J-pop themes and springy overjoyed explosions (they could even surmise the hooking melodies of tv or radio jingles or pre-set songs of toy keyboards), breathtaking sparkling rhythm sections, twisting pinwheels and confetti of sonic slides (he reaches peaks of intriguing intricacy on tracks like "Vesta", "Wizardmix" or "Ankh"), refreshing whirlwind of popping splashes and chugs ("Shift", "Magicalpath", "Curve"), sudden chromatic and tonal permutations ("Felixz", "Rem") and the most amazing aspect lies in the fact that he blends so many elements with a built-in adroitness and a catchy vivaciousness which could be associated to nothing but a beating of wings by a butterfly or a fine-feathered bird. The reference to Ankh, the so-called key of life, could be a key for the access to the positive conceptual and "spiritual" (quixotic?) world, which Serph musically daubs, where a pell-mell dimension is no more a source for torment, which vexes a reasoning mind with the obsession for geometrical order, but a thrilling path to happiness!


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