Music Reviews



Sarang: The Dream Of Earth

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 10 2012
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Artist: Sarang
Title: The Dream Of Earth
Format: CD
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
This new release from Sarang, the collaborative project by Simon Balestrazzi (I introduced this hyperactive creative musician, who founded historical industrial/experimental band T.A.C., so many times that he doesn't really need any introduction) and Enrico Marani (member of another important "underground" Italian band, Le Forbici di Manitu' as well as part of the first T.A.C. line up) sound like a musical fervent and evoking reading of a nautical adventure story, which constantly focuses on the sea as a metaphor of life and refers on the key figure of Ulysses, the very first seaman whose literary vicissitudes could feed such a metaphor. Its dangers, its fascinating mystery (wonderfully emphasized by the spraying of Marani's didgeridoo and Paolo Sanna's Vietnamese tuned gongs in the opening track "Always in the Open Sea"), its immensity, its hidden treasures, its breathtaking beauty, the trembling fear of unknown and that strange enchanted dismay the sea can inspire have been evoked in this cinematic ambient-covered slushy raga and sound emphasized by actual historical moment, when sea seems to have flooded earth before the melt of glaciers with many people on the perpetual risk of drowning in the ocean of uncertainties so that they look like the Homeric hero in the lap of teasing gods (the track "Thousands of Ulysses" seems to suggest such a vision) where any landfall is like a mirage so that terra firma looks like belonging to a dream ("The Dream of Earth"). Temporary ways of inherently unwanted escapism could be offered in the act of indulging with enrapturing moments: submarine cetacean cries cannot stop the reverie in the exstatic "The Syrens Chant" where delicate piano strokes and Clara Murtas' singing could let you think about an underwater version of Vangelis' "Leyla's Theme" as well as the seduction of leafy vegetation of a pernicious wild island ("From An Island"), so that the only possible re/solution cannot be but enjoying the rest of the voyage ("Along These Roads"). Just keep on sailing...
Aug 08 2012
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Run Over by an Elevator
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Bearsuit records (@)
Rated: *****
"Run Over by an Elevator" (people who understand some youngish English slang cannot but chortle about such a choice) could be considered a digest of the lucky and brisk headhunting activity by Scottish label Bearsuit as well as an opportunity to foretaste some of its forthcoming releases by this interesting label, whose driving force seems to be a strong link with (mainly Japanese) producers who keep on spooring the traces of authentic innovators coming from Japanese scene (I could mention a plenty of musicians and non-musicians in the roster of labels such as Schole, Daisyworld Discs, Teichiku, Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo Lab, Toy's Factory, P-Vine and many others), even if there are many tracks which could recall other musical grounds (the track "Descending" by emlp, acronym for "electronic music learning projects", by Edinburgh based musician and composer Mark Rossi - one of the tracks I liked most of this collection - partially recalls Icelandic Mum asa well as "Bees In My Feet" by Haq, collaborative project between Japanese n-qia and Scottish half of Whizz Kid Harold Nono which is going to debut on Bearsuit soon, could remind some moments of Slowdive's "Catch The Breeze") and a geographical connection with Scotland and Northern England, one of the most active musical workshop who gave listeners a lot of mindblowing sonic stuff. It's really hard to rank them, as the stylistical range is quite wide and even lo-fi elements fly high ona quality level, even there are some highlights amidst this jungle of stuffed animals and hunting trophies: the above-mentioned n-qia with the hypnotic voice by Nozomi and fuzzy electro-acoustic textures by Takma, the intriguing feverishness of "Metamorphosis Pt.1" by Polish style-drifter Bartosz Dziadosz aka Pleq, the bizarre toytronics of "Mosquito Bites" by protean anti-nuclear activist Amogano aka Ememe and the amusing and childish one of "People Today Started Runrun" by Takashi Mizukoshi's Suppa Micro Pamchopp, the magnetic abstract J-pop of "Chikyu Wa Mawaru" (Japanese for "Earth is spinning") by Bunny & The Electric Horsemen, the seducing downbeat by Taub, a collaborative project by appreciated Nonine label manager Me Raabenstein and Harold Nono, the sweet melancholy-tinged rustic idyll of "Family" by Japanese vocalist, composer and pianist Hidekazu Wakabayashi and Harold Nono (him again!), and "Comp no.209" by Canadian composer and percussionist Antonio De Braga, the entrancing pastoral awakening of "First Moments" by The Frozen Vaults, forthcoming project of a big ensemble made up of cellist Dave Dhonau, pianist Yuki Murata, violinist Tomasz Mrenca and producers Bartosz Dziadosz (Pleq) and Harry Towell (Spheruleus), the frugal lo-fi lullaby of "The Kennel Club" by Edinburgh-based duo Aging Children, the balanced mixture of rain-inspired mood, soft electronics and indie approach by Anata Wa Sukkari Tsukarete Shimai, the cinematic intro by Welsh experimental musician Nick Auskeur, the desiccate homemade groove by Doug Seidel...I'm just realizing that I've mentioned them all even if my first intention was an attempt to isolate some highlights, a symptomatic "mistake" about how this selection could be mouthwatering. Check it!

Tastatur: Electric Lounge Machine

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 03 2012
cover
Artist: Tastatur
Title: Electric Lounge Machine
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
Distributor: Broken Silence
Rated: *****
Another interesting release from snow-capped Swiss higher grounds comes from the sound machines of a couple of friends of long standing, Bern-based producers Jakob Stoller (aka Dj Ramax) and Daniel Wihler, whose releases with aliases Alphatronic and Mustfuzz (or Muzzfuzz, the name I remember the first time this collaborative project with Tom Vedvik landed on my hi-fi system on the occasion of the issue of "Electro Commando 1 - Welcome to Psicity", an opulent compiation by Anthony Rother's Psi49net) could have already reached your headphones. The circumstance they come from relatively different fields and have a different approach to music production (whereas Stoller is more "dance-oriented", Wihler has a taste for more atmosheric music) have repercussions on the direction their co-signed project Tastatur (German word for "computer keyboard") follows. The album could be ideally splitted in two parts as the first tracks sound more "atmospheric" in spite of the insert of deep bass lines and phat slowed beats, so that weird electro and thessaloniki martial electro influences look like tallying with a sonic research whose high quality and dramatic hooks could be vaguely associated to some stuff issued by Ant Zen or Brume (Flint Glass, S:Cage or similar stuff), those sonic epic tales some Greek electronic performers often evoke throughout their music or even some interesting episodes related to the first waves of technoid ambient-trance (Brain Pilot, Model 500, Beaumont Hannant), even if in many track this Swiss project lean towards viscous and pasty sonorities ("Rolldose", "Dandanchak"), which some nice addictions of old-fashioned electronic dub stepping (in tracks such as "Eierkuchen", "Pepadsh" or "Swirell" - one of my favorite track of the whole album -), contemporary dubstep declensions ("Daemmerzustand", the fuzzy gleeful clicks'n'clocks of the title track or the nervously wired "Broadband" - another highlight - ) and occasional mongrels with Teutonic standard minimal techno ("Hausgang", "Bubble Control") make their sound punchier and snappier. Their hybrids include so many elements that some tracks are quite difficult to file under some precisely defined style, but this aspect cannot be considered a defect, but the authentic driving force of Tastatur instead.

Arcana: As Bright As A Thousand Suns

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 30 2012
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Artist: Arcana (@)
Title: As Bright As A Thousand Suns
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
After "The Architecture of Melancholy", Peter Bjärgö return with the Arcana moniker with an album of pure beauty.
"Somnolence" is a quiet opener based on a sad piano line while "As The End Draws Near", the first proper track of the album, hipnotize the listener with the two vocal lines above the solemn soundscape. "Inceptus" returns to meditative territories similar to the one already seen in his solo adventure. "Medea" is filled with echoes of what it seems the tradition of his country with the use of an ethereal female voice, sadly enough I am not able to understand if it's the voice of Cecilia Bjärgö or Annmari Thin (they are not credited on song base). "Leave Me Be" is another solemn track while "Infinity" relies on an interesting beat similar to the ones used by Dead Can Dance in their discography. "In Memoriam" is another ethereal track where the traditional sound palette is colored by the female chant while "The Fading Shadow", because features Peter's voice, is more solemn as is the titletrack. "Vinter" closes this release with an instrumental track based on a piano line as the first.
As it's true that Dead Can Dance could be an obvious musical reference as it's clear the musical influence exerted on this album, it's also cristalline that it's beautifully written. Almost amazing.

Shrine: Somnia

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 24 2012
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Artist: Shrine (@)
Title: Somnia
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
Shrine is the new album from Hristo Gospodinov and, according to the press notes is intended as "a complex audio metaphor that can be interpreted as an aural equivalent of a "low level" lucid dreamstate". This means an almost complex dark ambient based on soundscape chosen mostly for their evocative quality.
"The Grand Design" opens this release with some field recordings juxtaposed to a quiet soundscape floating between the two audio channel cradling the listener. "Immersion" relies in a darker and menacing drone while "Lost Beauty" is a soundscape based upon relatively high frequency noises coloring an, almost apparently, quiet field recording. "Somnia", the longest track of this release, is reminiscent of the audio spectrum and noises heard on a boat or on a beach. "The Iron Water" is a quiet soundscape while "Dream Captured In Stone", the shortest track of the album, seems a glitch experiment based on the samples collected for the other tracks. "Ruins" set a noisy environment until "On The Edge Of The Void" close the album returning to the atmospheres already seen in other tracks.
As the cover suggests (oddly enough is a truly visual expression of the musical content) this album relies on almost oceanic field recordings that set the mood for an OST of some movie based of aquatic fauna or a documentary. For fans of evocative sound this release is a recommended one.


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