Music Reviews

Artist: Mika Vainio & Joachim Nordwall (@)
Title: Monstrance
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
Some fine-tuned hits on vibraphone and other metallic objects on the initial "Alloy Ceremony" precede the electromechanical heartbeat and the chafing wails on corrosive guitars of this brainchild by a guessed partnership between Finnish industrial prodigy Mika Vainio and Swedish noise artist (as well as iDEAL label owner) Joachim Nordwall, whose artistic partnership could be imagined as a proper alloy due to the theme of the release. The focus on metals from the sonic and compositional viewpoint rises to an epic, or I'd rather say sacred and religious, height as the title together with the general atmosphere of the record seems to suggest: monstrances are those elaborated and finely chiselled vessels that priests use to display relics or for the so-called transubstantiation and this sacramental analogy sounds clear if you carefully listen the detailed sonic sculptures by these Norse blacksmiths. This devotional ascension, which culminates on the final "In The Sheltering Sanctus Of Minerals", where Nordwall's Hammond organ ignites a sort of quasi-melodic catalepsy with no obtrusive noisy interferences or pleatings, unfolds by means of a series of drones, minimal electronic poaching, oxidised guitars, rasping acoustic sounds and metallic percussions, which chorally oscillates between the squeaky cacophonies of "midas In Reverse", the withering hammer blows of "Irkutsk" and the earsplitting magmatic casting of "Live At The Chrome Cathedral", whereas the tracks dedicated to two lanthanoids sounds like the real whimsies: in spite of the appearance of abrasive guitar blowing, the first one, "Praseodymium", could be thought as a sinuous sinter, while the bizarre sequence of plucks and crapes on "Promethium" lends a weird and somewhat theatrical guise to metals.

Monochromie: Colors In The Dark

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 15 2013
Artist: Monochromie (@)
Title: Colors In The Dark
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
This little treat which embellishes the already prettified catalogue of Time Released Sound, whose hand-made artworks and limited editions dignify the beauty of sonic productions (mainly orbiting around electroacoustic, ambient and post-rock planets) by the involved artists, comes from the inspirational shining light of Marseille-based composer Wilson Trouve'. Compared with his debut album "Angels and Demons" on Fluttery, "Colour In The Dark" raises piano on the top step which seems to magically materialize from the crystalline mists of the initial "Brightness", whose crescendo after the low keys got stressed, the enthralling emotional swelling and the re-echoes of childplays could vaguely resemble some stuff by Harold Budd or even Sigur Ros, whose "( )" could come to listener's mind on the following "Dust and Breath" insomuch as you could expect one of those plangent sounds from Jonsi's uvula making its appearance, but some past piano themes by Niels Frahm, Ludovico Einaudi and Olafur Arnalds could arise from the repositories of your aural memories. Besides any possible comparison, Monochromie succeeds in attracting listeners who are going to easily lapse into his astonishingly evocative melodies, breathtaking piano strokes which slide over a carpet of guessed electronics and field recordings. Even the most nostalgic or urgent moments, such as the somber malaise of "Ballade", the offish time spell of "Old Times", the ascetic phantasmagoria of "Katedra", the enchanting astral turmoil of "Constellations" - the sudden surfacing piano nearby the end of the track is one of the highest moment of the whole album -, the harrowing and solemn strut of the beautiful "Love Song", seems to radiate the initial brightness outward till its final flooding on "Thorn Of Roses". I warmly recommend to take one of the strictly limited 400 copies of this lovely release before sold out.

Morgan Zarate: Taker EP

 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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Oct 14 2013
Artist: Morgan Zarate
Title: Taker EP
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub (@)
Rated: *****
Mostly known as the drummer of Spacek, Morgan Zarate delivers the third stylistical master stroke on Kode 9's label Hyperdub by fading the boundaries between genres like r'n'b, hip hop, trap, grime and dub by means of accentuated futuristic brushstrokes. The two less martial track have been sweetened by two superb female voices: the most "stardusted" track cannot be sung by impressive singer from West London and former Gorillaz collaborator Roses Gabor, who seems to dive and snorkel into the ocean of radiant padded synth and over-reverberated claps of "Pusher Taker", while the bittersweet words by another skilled singer, Tawiah, who seems to froths honey and poison at the mouth, perfectly adhere to cleaving claps, heated funky drops and rushing synths on "Far Too Late". Even if I cannot imagine the so-called katsu, the shout a Zen-master should utter to let Zen apprentices taste enlightenment experience could sound like the vocal sample that Kendrick Lamar recorded to ignite "Backseat Freestyle", "Katsu" is an impressive trap experiment built on very deep resounding bass tone, military snares and menacing delayed chords, while the final "Tayco" entrap eardrums by seemingly acoustic drums, dry hits on trunks, vitreous industrial sounds and other bumps, which soncially renders what you could imagine "future primitive grime" could sound like. The digital available bonus tracks "This" sounds like a quite hard-fought ping-pong match inside a tron-like dimension.

Käehne: Remembering EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 14 2013
Artist: Käehne
Title: Remembering EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: CPH Undersound Records
Rated: *****
Even if talented Danish dj and producer Kaehne has more than one leg to stand on a nostalgic perception of his glorious past - besides being resident to the legendary Copenhagen club "Krasnapolsky", he organized Rave Parade, the biggest techno party ever in Denmark, which was partially inspired by German Love Parade -, "Remembering" cannot be considered a sort of devotional tribute to nostalgia from the personal viewpoint at least, but it doesn't mean there are some hooks to some old techno and IDM entries. The lulling low tones which accompanies the listener from the beginning to the end of this mental journey could surmise a similar sound which marked Underworld's notorious hit "Cowgirl", but there are other hooks to techno-trance and techno-ambient of the second half of 90ies, including the screeching noise of sliding metals, the dub-techno inputs on the amazingly crackling grid of percussions and the aerostatic melodic flow, which partially got eclipsed on the first of the three remixes which have been included in the release, where Reggy Van Oers from Affin label derived a likewise hypnotical but definitively darker tune by atomizing most sonic inputs from the original version and letting the kick drum perform phagocytosis on the above-mentioned lulling sound. Whereas Copenhagen-based techno producer and dj Audiolog (one leg of the underground duo Von Loops) squeezed a possible implementation for some old-fashioned sci-fi OST by adding that kind of shrilling synth-brass which could let you think about Blade Runner-like settings and sizzling everything into a steaming tech-house groove, Hannover-based producer I Am A Robot But That's Ok seems to have wrapped original version into film pack before rubbing it onto wet perspex.

Rafal Kolacki: Panoptikon

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 13 2013
Artist: Rafal Kolacki
Title: Panoptikon
Format: CD
Label: Mikrowsparcie (@)
Rated: *****
This solo release from Rafal Kolacki is made from tracks composed for a movie, called Panoptikon, influenced by M. Foucault's theory of permanent surveillance. Almost all tracks feature various guest artists so it aims to be varied.
"Wiedza Okrutna" opens this release with an oriental and hypnotic setting while "Obkakany w Zielniku" is a small interlude to "Jesyk Bez Konca" takes the listener to dark ambient territories of undoubtable charm. "Cialo Skazanca" is a noisy soundscape above a sad synth line while "Znaki I Przypadki" is a gentle track featuring even some sample of birds (or so it seems). "Widzialne Niewidzialne" is based on drone colored by some small noises and "Zywoty Ludzi Niegodziwych" is a marvelous track with small notes of piano that reverb in an open space. "Black Kazni" returns to darker territories with layers of violins. "Zamknieta Pokrywa Slonca" features a flute that dialogues with the soundscape. "Panoptyzm" is a drone track while "Plaga Goraczek" is a dark ambient one. "Wielkie Zamkniecie" close this release returning to small notes of piano dealing with a line of synth that seems to try to overwhelm it.
This is an album where the artistic personality of Kolacki is able to catch the boundaries of the genres crossed in the development of the musical path. It really worths a listen.

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