Music Reviews



Chris Octane: Synthetics/Gaia's Dub

 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 02 2013
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Artist: Chris Octane (@)
Title: Synthetics/Gaia's Dub
Format: 12"
Label: CO:RE (@)
Rated: *****
After the widely acclaimed release "Method In The Madness" together with DLR, Chris Octane undertakes a personal route by launching his own imprint CO:RE and dropping the first self-signed release, which doesn't sound just like a persuading proof of concept, but a sort of spiritual groundwork as well. The first track "Synthetics" unrolls both amazing beats, crackling drums, an effected buzzing electric guitar, cryptically vanishing melodies, which chorally sounds like cogs of a wheel in perpetual motion and a voice which enunciates a pensive reflection about the mutated perspective of an artificial reality, which invites listeners to think about the role of synthesis in the perception of surrounding and often encapsulated world. Such a reflection on "artificiality" looks like the mirror image of the spinned thoughts by the following "Gaia's Dub", a possible decryption of a raped Mother Nature, whose unpredictable burst, eruptions and sizzles could be likewise considered as cogs of a self-regulating machine, whose response is commensurate with any different attempt of awkward sabotage. Chris' work on mid frequencies and reverbs are really compelling and succeeds in masking the layered structure of both tracks.

Lord Tang: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 30 2013
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Artist: Lord Tang (@)
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Alarm (@)
Rated: *****
This self-named debut release by Lord Tang, the recent brainchild from Dominic Cramp's recording studio, jacks in vintage sonic equipment, which he uses to squeeze some juicy arrangments whose aftertaste recalls old glorious dub stuff as well as some electronic declension, and some elements (pleated and singed sonorities, obscure electronic entities, seemingly aimless vocal interferences of paranoid ramblings and field recordings), which could be clasped to Cramp's other projects (in particular Borful Tang) and similar sonic mounts, which combine a taste for modern compositional strategies and aged hooks (Digital Mystikz, Zomby, Demlike Stare), but Lord Tang hushes samples up and prefers to grate delicious melodic lines from old synths and catchy rhythmic pattern from drum machines. After the initial shining "Fog", he jogs on reversed groove by the caustic "Defections", drags shell-shock atmospheres, which could resemble some stuff by Future Sound of London, towards gluey jellied sludge on "Thang" - one of my favorite track -, fries ping pong balls into boiling soup of dub pieces of meat, sinisterly gnashes claps and bleeps on the dour "Friends" (featuring Gollum on mic?), frothes narcotic suds on "Slumberer", injects entrancing organ-driven tearing melodies in the veins on the beautiful "My Dub Uncle" - another highlight of this release - before suppurating pure dub nostalgia and plangently warm heavyweight bass in order to propel mental spacewalks as a good strategy to dissolve physical and spiritual restrictions of "real" world on the final "Smalls". That's a good release to remove muck-up out of dubster's ears.

Jacob Kirkegaard: Conversion

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 29 2013
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Artist: Jacob Kirkegaard (@)
Title: Conversion
Format: 12"
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
The spreading of crossbred genres like the so-called narrative ambient must not let you think about a new branch of ambient with relations to philosophers, as some people could envisage after reading the title of this release and the name of its author: it's possible that the notorious religious author, theologian, philosopher and poet Soren Aabye Kierkegaard could be an ancestor of Jacob Kierkegaard as they both come from Denamrk and Jacob's maverick sonic research could recall the definition of genius by his possible forefather, who wrote that "geniuses are like thunderstorms ­ they go against the wind, terrify people, cleanse the air", but this album has nothing to do with his conversion or any other religious theme, even if any possible hidden meaning of "Conversion" could be considered as holy to a certain extent. Jacob's aesthetics and compositional methods are quite outside the box indeed and this release with converted version of a couple of bizarre projects from his previous releases confirms his eccentricity. He decided to translate "Labyrinthitis", a piece which was the recording of oto-acoustic tones generated from Jacob's ears (...have you ever imagined to listen the ear of a musician?), into musical language with the help of Scenatet ensemble and the resulting "inverted" canon, which sounds not so different from some works by Gyorgy Ligeti such as "Lontano" or "Atmospheres") is so catchy that it could be considered a sort of enrapturing tribute to the intimate and mysterious wonder of hearing. A similar process of refurbishment has been applied to "Church", a track built on the sounds taken from an abandoned church within the contaminated area of Chernobyl: the first part of this second version is quite close to the original one, but the instrumental ensemble gradually rises and blends into the heady radioactive organ-like drone as if it were the chant of some spiritual inhabitant of that holy place after mutation.
Apr 29 2013
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Artist: Jim Haynes (@)
Title: The Wires Cracked
Format: 12"
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
A sudden crack of a gas-filled tube, the resulting high-pressure spurts, the gradual reaching of saturation level and the activation of the alarm system on the initial track "Oscar" introduces this release on renowned Austrian label Editions Mego by San Francisco-based versatile artist Jim Haynes, who already applied the principles of his artistic research, which he summarize by the formula "I rust things", focused on graphical experiments of "corrosion" of photographic images and investigations into rust and decay. He explains such an interesting multimedia transposition of his work, he said: "I have focused on how decay parallels and relates to the perception of time when cycles of activity dwindle toward stasis. While I still incorporate much of the visual sensibilities from those aforementioned processes, sound has emerged as a central medium for my current installations and performances. Drawing from shortwave radio static, electric field disturbances, controlled feedback manipulation, and numerous textural scrapings, I manifest a broken minimalism whose magnetic drones give the impression of timelessness, when in fact the environment is quite active. This engineering of disparate materials and media seeks to evince the unpredictability of decay, to manifest its potential for a rough hewn beauty, and to bare witness to its inevitability.". Based on some recordings he made in a couple of weeks in October 2012, the following long-lasting track, "X-Ray" and "November", could be imagined as the after-shock sonic description of the above-mentioned explosion: static cold hisses, frozen gearwheels, spectral death raffles of withering machines, asphyxiating obfuscations, mist-shrouded beeps utter the atrophy of an imaginary industrial giant in unison and implicitly forewarns listeners of the rising hope for renewal...

Pavla Mikulasova: Mirror

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Apr 27 2013
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Artist: Pavla Mikulasova (@)
Title: Mirror
Format: CD
Label: Decadance Records (@)
Rated: *****
Even though I cannot say it's original at all, this debut release by Czech-born and Italy-based singer and pianist Pavla Mikulasova is quite palatable and the main reason is the element the entire album has been focused on, Pavla's voice, which sounds mellow, emotionally intense and evocative enough. She decided to graft her vocal cords on a stylistical soil which is not virgin at all and this is maybe the main defect of this record, despite the fact that she manages to resemble some worthy past experiences, such as some stuff from the most seraphic part of the repertory by In The Nursery or Ophelia's Dreams (for instance, songs like "Black Out", "Anonymous day" or "The little angel" could evoke ITN's songs like "Poema", "Hallucinations?" or "Duality"), and sometimes smoke music with blurry reminiscences of folk from Eastern Europe. The persistence of themes like the obsession for the passing of time, which has often been recalled by samples of clockworks and various references in the lyrics, the ephemeral essence of beauty, the melancholic coziness of memories (one of the best song has been dedicated to her grandmother, like the whole album) wink at typical listeners of the genre, but walk on the dangerous edge of hackneyed cliches and even the contribution by guest musician Roberto Conforti (Pulcher Femina), who duets with Pavla on "Overdose" and additional vocals by notorious actress Nastassja Kinski on the meaningful song "The Magic Mirror" don't downsize the above-mentioned risk. Anyway there are both premises and skills for further improvement of the musical framework and I'm pretty sure that many musicians who will discover Mikulasova's voice by means of this record could pursue her for a musical partnership.


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