Music Reviews

Dirk Serries + Jon Attwood: The Sleep Of Reason

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 19 2012
Artist: Dirk Serries + Jon Attwood (@)
Title: The Sleep Of Reason
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Tonefloat (@)
Rated: *****
A monumental (three LPs plus one single sided live LP, recorded at Paradox, Tilburg on 27th February 2011, and one CD with a selection of tracks taken from above enlisted studio albums) and unmissable release for guitar-driven ambient lovers and audiophiles comes from the excellent Dutch label Tonefloat with the signature of the collaborative project by notorious Belgian ambient musician Dirk Serries, who already singed the impressive "Microphonics" series on Tonefloat, even if he's still mostly known for his purist sonic research under the moniker Vidna Obmana, and English minimalist guitarist, keyboardist and composer Jon Attwood aka Yellow6. Their sound has been properly labelled as post-blues-drone for many intrinsic stylistical factors, but in spite of any kind of possible raving related to the somewhat inexplicable need to label things, what's more important is the response to the listening experience they offer: towering plait of clear frequencies and effected guitar which gradually seems to descale sonic clots in order to make them sediment and keep on emitting subtle sonic radiations, which embrace a remarkably wide range of moods through slow mutations. There's a logical and thin concatenation between each album which is going to be catched by most careful listeners. It could easily refute the adage according to which the sleep of reason brings forth monsters. Just 200 copies have been printed, I warmly recommend to grab yours.

Tape Loop Orchestra: In A Lonely Place

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 14 2012
Artist: Tape Loop Orchestra
Title: In A Lonely Place
Format: 12"
Label: Facture (@)
Rated: *****
One of the three admirals of the appreciated band The Boats, Andrew Hargreaves, comes back with his interesting personal project Tape Loop Orchestra, whose release got inspired by an authentic noir masterpiece, "In A Lonely Place", an old film by Nicholas Ray, starring Humphrey Bogart and film director's wife Gloria Grahame (in a moment when their relationship was on the break point...) and based on an adaptation of the homonymous novel by Dorothy B. Hughes. The most bizarre and somewhat controversial aspect of the plot is a certain mirroring of real life happenings: Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) breaks the relationship with the cynical screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart), whose inflammable temperament and irascible behaviour stoke the suspicion of being the assassin of the story as well as her fear and distrust, so that it seems the fiction mirror reality. Moreover even the choice of the title and the profile of the screenwriter (his isolation among people, his selfishness and quick-tempered behaviour as well as his drunkenness) according to essayist Louise Brooks had some references to the real Bogart. The titles of the three long tracks - the first two tracks are real time live takes, while the third one is their editing -, which have been recorded on a modified 4-track and walkman loop, have been named from the words Dix said to Laurel in the car, which were also written on a page in the typewriter of the original end of the movie: "I was born when she kissed me, I died when she left me, I lived a few weeks while she loved me.". The devices used by Andrew which perfectly filled a C90 tape, before pouring the final result into vynil, managed to antiquate the sound, which seems to reflect a promenade within a fading and surreal scene by entrancing loops of feathered overstretched tunes, graceful repetitive blows and dazzling reverberation, whose subtle fluctuations gradually discloses lovely fragile melodies.

Uphill Racer: Nautious EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2012
Artist: Uphill Racer (@)
Title: Nautious EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: M = Maximal (@)
Rated: *****
This appetizer of forthcoming album (it should be titled "Golden Anchor") by Oliver Lichtl aka Uphill Racer, following the excellent collaborative release which should be titled "How It Feels To Find There's More", is one of the most welcome return into my headphones. He keeps on dry his sound up, a choice which can more easily soak the listener into his saccharine melodies. His style has nothing to share with minimalism as it seems to highlight its immediacy and blissful naturalness. The soothing indulgence of the initial "Nautious" got emphasized by a sort of imitation of the backwash of the sea by a few of resounding entities as well as by some guessed effects which turn his Fender guitar into a shrieking gull or a singing whale, while he delicately rises bpm on the following "Happy Xoxo", an 8 bit-like electro pop song which smells of glazed teen love affairs. The final "Waiting For Your Mistake" could vaguely remind an "unrocked" reprise of Alex Gopher's "Brain Leech" due to the singing style and the gripping melody by Uphill Racer. If you appreciate his particular declension of "organic" pop, this musica trinket cannot but be mouthwatering.

AC Prodz: Spyhole

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 12 2012
Artist: AC Prodz (@)
Title: Spyhole
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Beat Machine Records (@)
Rated: *****
Eux, the first stage of what Milan-based producer and one leg of Exprezoo Records Alberto Campi aka AC Prodz defined a musical story, didn't particularly thrilled me due to the fact he used too much hacneyed sounds, even if its concept was quite interesting. Its follow-up, "Spyhole", definitively sounds more interesting: his sonic research keeps on focusing on contrast between melody and "rhythmic noise" as well as on perceptions of contrasts between the illusion of movement and an almost static and somewhat confused evolutionary process he grabbed in the Italian capital of fashion, but he seems to tip the scales in favour of melody and contemplative moods this time. A certain feeling of forthcoming perturbation and epic upheavel permeates the first track, "Dither Class A", where microscopic bleeps looks like being flattered by the symphonic impetus and the delicate flurry of Ying Huang's violin, while the following "Dither Class B" smells like airy cosmic steams by Vangelis by means of an heartbeat-like muted beat within fluffy melodies, which sound like inflated in the lukewarm computational reverie of "Wi Fi". Pleasurable abstract and melancholic cameo.

Fescal: Alchemical Wanderings

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 10 2012
Artist: Fescal (@)
Title: Alchemical Wanderings
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
Fescal (real name David Suyeong) is an experimental musician and producer of audio, self-taught graphic designer, photographer and visual creator residing north of Seoul, South Korea. Classically trained as a musician, Fescal has worked with various forms of exploratory media for a number of years and plans to continue to do so in the future. The first thing you'll notice about 'Alchemical Wanderings' is the elaborate packaging. It comes in a see through anti static bag with hand-stamped metallic tag. (Something you'd expect to get an electronic component in, like a circuit board or hard-drive.) It also comes with a 5'³ screw capped pyrex test tube containing a secret TRS blend of semi precious and precious metals, glass and other transposed particulate matter, litmus paper, periodic table of elements, and instructions for 'Exercise 73,' Qualitative Separation of Lead, Silver and Mercury. The CD itself comes in a hand-worked black digipak. This package is numbered and limited to only 100. (Mine was #7, if you care.)

Science kit aside (although it makes a nice collectible) the album is ambient much in the way of Alio Die, Vidna Obmana, and maybe to an extent Brian Eno, and yet in places unlike them too. While not dealing strictly in drone, the album has an overall placid feel with elongated sustain of atmospheres that can be construed as drone-like. There is one long track (50:30) comprised of episodes with brief space between them. There is enough variety between these ambiences to keep things interesting and non-monotonous. In fact, as drone-based ambient albums go, this one leans toward the superb side. There is only one problem- throughout the album is the (faux) sound of vinyl on a turntable, as if you're listening to a record instead of a CD, or a record that was transferred to CD. Purists may find this quite annoying. On my first listen I found it so distracting that it was all I could think about. I remembered why I stopped listening to my ambient albums on vinyl, as over time the snap, crackle, pop just became a nuisance and distraction. I'm sure it was Fescal's intention to incorporate the vinyl listening experience into the sound of 'Alchemical Wanderings,' but to me it seems as though the purpose would have been better served releasing it on record rather than disc and let it occur naturally. The one advantage is that it won't get any worse or more predominant as it could on vinyl. If the music wasn't so subtle I could abide it, but there is no question that the stylus-on-plastic effect cannot be easily overlooked. Perhaps over time and repeated listenings one may become used to it, but I for one would have preferred a cleaner sound.

Still, this is a worthy effort, and probably worth owning as its limited release and unusual packaging will assure this one increases in value over time.

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