Music Reviews



Matthew Shaw: Lamorna

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 15 2013
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Artist: Matthew Shaw (@)
Title: Lamorna
Format: CD
Label: Fluid Audio (@)
Rated: *****
The gracefully statuesque droning ambient of billowing strings on the initial "Rosemerrynwood" introduces this new "enviro-mental" sonic translation of the fey town of Lamorna and its enchanting surroundings, a place on the south-western part of the lovely British region of Cornwall, by Matthew Shaw aka Tex La Homa, one of the most interesting musician of the UK underground ambient scene and founder of Apollolaan Recordings, who's not totally new to both this kind of releases where the musician seems to experience and translate into sounds an enraptured enthrallment by surrounding landscape or a specific location as well as by resulting inner frames of reference and sonic sanctification of Cornish places (he already dedicated a couple of CDrs to Lanreath and Metherell). The embedding of field recordings for such a release was almost compulsary, but Matthew skillfully kneads and amalgamates them with other sonic elements so that he manages to vividly render both the immediately perceivable manifestation of the places he visited (Lamorna valley, the beautiful cove, the peaceful woods and the mysterious historical site of Boleigh Fogou, an underground structure from the Iron Age) and the inner awesomeness they inspire by means of wisely played bowed guitars, acoustic guitars, Moog Prodigy and various effects. I'm pretty sure many listeners will experience synesthetic emotions as if they were surrounded by ferns, bluebeels, foxgloves, woodland, stones and all other elements of that Corbish corner of heaven.I hope there are still some available copies (just 100 numbered ones have been printed) as the package that Fluid Audio reserved for this sonic jewel mirrors its poetic soul by including a natural Larch wood slice, pressed Viola flower, a rare poem by British Surrealist painter and author Ithell Colquhoun, local scent and a download code as well.

Chris Abrahams: Memory Night

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 13 2013
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Artist: Chris Abrahams
Title: Memory Night
Format: CD
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
The circumstance that New Zealander sound artist and pianist Chris Abrahams is one third of the avant-jazz band The Necks, one of the most innovative of contemporary scene, could be considered a biographical note or a certification of consolidated experience for this occasion, as this album sounds completely different from The Necks' stuff due to the musical register he explores on "Memory Night". He already carved out the most enterprising musical experiments by his solo works on the occasion of a couple of releases - "Thrown" (2005), where he built catching soundscapes by means of an acoustic piano and a Yamaha DX7, and the surprising "Play Scar" (2010) -, but both of them were more ambient-oriented. On "Memory Night", he succeeds in catching listener's attention by means of a totally and somehow challenging sonic strategy, based on the functional transfiguration of classical piano, which got turned into a generator of noises. Piano melodies distinctively resurface, as they sound somehow worn-out, and the moment when the melodic function comes out again from an agglutination of cryptic tolls, grave stretched ultra-low keys, fazing taps, oleaginous metallic rubbing, occurs in a track Chris wisely labelled "Strange Bright Fact" before that sudden doleful melody gets stifled by a noisy melee of animal calls to boot. It precedes "Stabilized Ruin", the moment when the mongrel, which derives from the melting of piano melodies, its visceral noises and electronic tumefactions, arise at last by means of glitch tangles of noises, bleeps, hiccups, soughs, regurgiutations and a sobbing intermittent piano melody. It demands a very attentive listening in order to catch the lightest shades of this engaging hybridization.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 70 Years of Sunshine
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
19th April 1943. It could say anything to most people, but the historical importance of that date for the so-called psychedelic culture has been acknowledged as a sort of proper celebration, known as "Bicycle Day". Some people who have a certain familiarity with that culture knows that the term "bike ride" stands for a LSD trip, due to the legendary bike ride by Dr.Albert Hoffmann, the Swiss scientist who was the first to synthetize and experience the powerful psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide, which he later called his problem child on his essay about that discovery. He cannot imagine the heavy cultural consequences of that discovery when he chased after Lucy in the sky of diamonds, as he regarded it as a powerful therapeutic tool more than a recreational drug, even if he later sided with LSD decriminalization due to the fact it could solve the contemporary psychological problems related to "materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life". Whether you agree or not, the contribution of Hoffman's discovery to artistical blossoming was very strong despite any possible more or less boorish or bigoted controversy and biases and any tribute to that accidental discovery makes sense. One of the most famous dedication came from Kim Cascone's seminal Silent Records, which released a double CD compilation, "50 Years Of Sunshine", on the occasion of the first half century from Hoffman's trip, featuring contributions from Nurse With Wound, Psychich TV, Pelican Daughters, Controlled Bleeding, 68000 and Timothy Leary himself, a psychedelic ablution which has been reprised by fertile Polish label Monotype for the 70th anniversary by a series of explicit hints at its predecessor such as the double cd format (while Silent's collection names each part as a "100 Micrograms" and "250 Micrograms", a reference to the minimum and maximum dosage Hoffman tested, Monotype refers to the possible psychic directions of LSD trip by naming them "Ascent" and "Descent") and the engagement of some sound artists and musicians who already took part to the first collection such as Kim Cascone, Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound), Andy Ratzen (member of Pelican Daughters) and the Swedish duo Carl Abrahamsson and Thomas Tibert aka Cotton Ferox, who appeared in the guise of "White Stains" on "50 Years Of Sunshine", but what has been called a 'much anticipated software update' sounds a little bit more diversified. Besides a bunch of serene immersive pools of ethereal frequencies such as the incense burners of Phil Legard's "Lifting The Veil", the frothy "Border Feather" by Chihei Hatakeyama, the astonishingly mindblowing alchemical suite "Scilla Im Scilla" by Rafael Anton Irisarri, the lissome quiet movement of "Stare Deep Into The Clouds" by Invisible Path and the synaptic ionization on "Owsley" by Ethernet, you'll enjoy the Orb-esque "Blue Sunshine" by Lord Tang, the liquid tech-dub of Makyo's "Octopi (Underwater Dub 2)", the oddball contribution by Legendary Pink Dots, who rendered a sort of tranquilizing guiding voice on their amazing "Don't Worry Dear, I'll Be Holding Your Hand" and the initial blissful lapsing of "Lost Milkyway" - one of my favorite track of the whole collection - by the inspired Acid Mothers Temple's leader Makoto Kawabata on the ascending segment of this journey. The lopsided clouded guitar lines of "Bloodbury 1988" by Andrew Liles marks the beginning of the glide path and paves the way to the flickering chimes of Rapoon's "Back On The Bus", the outlandish gardens of "Come Down" by Komora A, the hallucinated numbness on Darius Ciuta's "seR-V", the subtonal disquiet of Mike Rooke's "Sliding Spaces", the tonal dizziness of "It's Getting Near Dawn" by Lonely Crowd, the gloomy haze of Mystical Sun's "Echodyssey", the eerie swamps of Tomek Mirt's "Soul Disorder", the panicked piercing electronics of Ceremonial Dagger's "Synesthesia", the wise dub under hangover of "How About That?" by Cotton Ferox and the final resolution by Andy Ratzen on "No-One Plays Upon Your Mind". This collection is definitively something more than a simple act of devotion or a simulacrum.

VV.AA.: Lietuvos Garso Menas - Lithuanian Sound Art

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 10 2013
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Lietuvos Garso Menas - Lithuanian Sound Art
Format: CD
Label: compiled by Gintas K (@)
Rated: *****
As he promised in the last chat we had on the occasion of his excellent release "slow" on French indipendent label Baskaru, Gintas Kraptavicius aka Gintas K invited us to discover the surprising Lithuanian sound art scene, which is almost unknown out of Lithuanian borders, by presenting us with a compilation he cared whose importance deservedly gained the institutional recognition by the support of the Ministry of Culture of the small Baltic Republic and LATOA-A (Agency of Lithuanian Copyight Protection Association) and equipped by thorough description by Jurij Dobriakov. I acknowledge that the quality of this cluster of Lithuanian experimentalists went beyond my expectation. Most of the first tracks seem to emphasize the spacial aspect of each sonic moulding: the initial "gir gir gir gar gar gar (garsas)" by Andrius Rugys seems to trace the attention's direction of the composer/listener during a rowing boat trip in the Green lakes nearby Vilnius, from the initial focus on the sound of water and creaking wooden boards after each stroke to the traditional folk song by Agota and Dorota Zdanaviciule, whose syncopation, which is a typical element of some Lithuanian vocal styles such as the many different kinds of Sutartines, seems to be mirrored by recorded natural elements and rowing itself; the academically trained composer Vytautas V.Jurgutis builds interesting figures by curling overpressurized computational microsounds, which gradually become more and more abrasive, while Antanas Dombrovskij perverts Raminta Kurklietyte's vocal improvisations by asphyxiating clumps and spasmodic rashes from broken synthesizer and circuit bending on "NNN broken jazz". The vagarious enchanting drowsy tune "We Watch TV" by Arturas Bumsteinas is an assay of the amazing "Sleep (an attempt at trying)", a radio project commissioned by the Deutschland Radio Kultur broadcasting service, which took the form of a fictional late night show for insomniacs and precedes "blind man tales 2", the astonishing textural piece consisting of melodic bits, granular particles and indented noises by which Gintas K won the main prize of the second international sound art Broadcasting Art, held in Spain in 2010. A different and likewise entrancing way to mould melodic bits comes from audio_z, the solo project of Tautvydas Bajarkevicius, whose (lasting more than 12 minutes) excerpt "Bits Pieces and So Far Beyond" focuses on whirling punctuating melodies of frail sounds and acoustic guitars, opaque transparencies and fishbowl-like deforming spacialization. Another mouthwatering assay is the excerpt of PAR, a metamorphic soundscape which features violin, electronics and enviromental sound recordings grabbed in South Africa (PAR is the Lithuanian abbreviation for SAR) Lina Lapelyte performed at Cafe Oto in London in April 2012. Antanas Jasenka minimal abstract electronics on "prognostic@act", a piece for microphone, voice, electric organ VENTA, max/msp and graphic equalizer vaguely resembles some stuff by Pylone, Zonk't, Alva Noto or Jan Jelinek, but he manages to inject a more baffling mark by means of the words he took from the notorious Seikilos epitaph ("While you live, shine/have no grief at all/life exists only for a short while/and time demands its toll"). Another interesting declension of minimalism is the one by sound artists and architect Tomas Grunskis aka ad_OS, who translated architectural graphic information (the draft of a city and its elements) into digital sonic information, which sounds basic but totally inhuman on "Analog underWAWE". The last track of this interesting sonic miscellany cannot be but a toast or I'd better say a proper sonic toast as the electroacoustic project SALA recorded sound of the fermentation of gira, a traditional Lithuanian beverage, for their bizarre track "Fermentacija".

Faust Degada: Lux&Uria

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 08 2013
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Artist: Faust Degada (@)
Title: Lux&Uria
Format: CD
Label: Cherryno Music
Rated: *****
One half of the Degada Saf duo, Faust Degada a.k.a. Fausto Crocetta, is releasing his first solo album titled "Lux&uria" for CherryNo Music. Four years ago, Fausto released with Degada Saf their comeback album "Without Religions" (see the review and the interview I did back then) and the year after he started producing music for different artistic events such like 'Human Rights? Art from world' (for Campana dei Caduti Foundation in Rovereto), video-art by Giordano Rizzardi, the play 'Rita e Graziella" by Francesco Scarfone and his music was awarded with a second place at the Roma Europa Festival. The project 'Lux&Uria' started in 2012 for an International Art Exhibition in S.Giorgio a Cremano (Naples) dedicated to 'The seven deadly sins' and, after that, he performed live and now, the album. Containing twelve tracks, the album plays around two concepts: the universal light and the physical being which lives a material life and the different aspects of it. One of them is lust (in Italian: "Lussuria") which, going beyond any moral concept, is an essential part of life. Just like the multifaceted emotions that lust is able to induce into the human being, this album tries to cover them all by alternating danceable tracks and ambient ones. So, we have blasting drums (now recalling dub rhythms and then i.d.m. ones) and complex sound layers creating a throbbing effect (like "Emma Cipapa" the following "I Step On Your Lines And I'm Wrong" or "She Knows My Way") alternated to ambient/i.d.m. tracks which sounds a little more experimental compared to the other tunes (it's the case of "Bapama Punk", "Bopid Manar" and "Lakaw") and a mix of both ("Jamspace" or "Gadem") where we have a sort of house/dub rhythm pattern with ambient atmospheres. There are tracks that sound catchy at the first listening, like "She Knows My Way", thanks to the use of melody, filtered vocals and powerful sounds, then there are other ones that need more attention and time.


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