Music Reviews



Oublier Et Mourir/Brume: A Year To Live

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 09 2013
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Artist: Oublier Et Mourir/Brume (@)
Title: A Year To Live
Format: CD
Label: Silken Tofu (@)
Rated: *****
Practitioners of Zen often advise to 'die before you die'. This is the Memento Mori, the contemplation of Death and the Afterlife; it has been known to spur people into enlightenment. The pair of Oublier Et Mourir, the sparse ambient side project of Anenome Tube, and Christian Renou, appearing here as Brume, have taken up the contemplation of finality in two very distinct and interesting ways.

Oublier Et Mourir's side best sonically encapsulates the sharp lithographed artword on the cover of a decaying bouquet. OetM's four tracks sound like a tortured composer, brooding in his mahogany study. Its like the medieval fantasies of John Paul Jones in The Song Remains The Same, if the warlock were reflecting upon memory, oblivion, the cosmos and the devil all at once. 'Ocean of Melodious Songs (Tsangyang Gyatso)' is the stand-out track here, which brings to mind the cosmic reminiscences of Klaus Schulze solo output in the '70s. It stands out like a rainbow against the ink-black dark ambiance, bringing some classic Terry Riley minimalism to the proceedings, and making this record ever-so-much-more interesting than the stereotypical dark ambient record you might expect from the subject matter at hand. There's black wind to be had, for sure, 'A New Thought Is Born, Another Will Arise' and the eponymous track (Oublier Et Mourir means 'to forget and to die') conjure vast digital caverns, that make it seem as if yr floating in eternity, back to the crystaline womb from whence we originated. Its colorful imagery, and lovingly executed; OetM's sound design stands out, with all the pieces hanging in suspended perfection. He stands at the edge of oblivion, unblinking, and notates it all to see. Oublier Et Mourir then acts as a psychopomp to the living, describing the afterlife and all its strange angels with a rich, complex tonal pallet that is more Bach than Bastard Noise. If only every member of the underground had this dedication towards their craft!

Brume's side is a way more eclectic affair. Christian Renou seemed to focus more on the 'First Thought/Best Thought' school of Buddhism, bringing in a track called 'The Simple Way' in 5 parts that bring to mind the pop surrealism of Jim 'Foetus' Thirlwell and Stephen 'Nurse With Wound' Stapleton. Renou's been making music since 1975, and got his start with a 9-piece big band called Uria, and you can hear echoes of that in the disjointed jazz of 'pt. 2', all stark rhythms and tuba blatts that could be a remix of the 'Panic At Year Zero' soundtrack, before surprisingly breaking into an unexpected funky machine bass backed by what sounds like a pressure hose and vocal snippets. 'The Simple Way' has a dream logic all its own, it takes you for a ride, making a series of unlikely connections and correspondences utterly distinctive and alien. Renou's activity in the DIY industrial/noise/electroacoustic cassette world (over 120 releases) have made him a prankster and an experimentalist and an individual, and i, for one, feel like the electronic underground really benefits from this presence. The segues can be abrupt and bizarre, and you truly don't know what's coming, but it gets surprisingly soothing, especially after multiple listens. Both sides of this record create new sonic pathways in the brain, allowing the listener to think fresh about the way they make and hear music, which is probably the ultimate living testament to the assignment.

It takes a rare breed to stare into the void and risk that inevitable return scrutiny, and the downside of this is that most who investigate bleakness and blackness already have an inky pallette, and we, as record listeners, are subjected to millions of hours of vacuous cosmic wind dark-ambient records. It is a rare and precious combination, to have talented and adept composers and sound artists looking into the subtle hues and strata of living and dying; reflecting upon memory, thought, passions. 'A Year To Live' is a valuable addition to any late-night listening library, or for anyone who's burned a hole in their Lustmord or Black Tape For A Blue Girl records, and are looking for a different kind of melancholy.

The Swifter: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 07 2013
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Artist: The Swifter
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: The Wormhole (@)
Rated: *****
The Wormhole, the newborn imprint by cassette label The Tapeworm, definitively weighs anchor by means of this seafaring debut release of an impressive trio made up of Italian drummer, electroacoustic musician and composer Andrea Belfi, Australian Berlin-resident pianist Simon James Phillips and Swedish sound-artist Benny Jonas Nilsen. The sound genesis by The Swifter approximately works so: Phillips strokes on Imperial, the largest flagship by the notorious Austrian piano manufacturer Boesendorfer, get into Nilsen's machines, both of them seem to interact in real-time, while Belfi's drumming and electroacoustic nick-nacks sometimes play the role of a joining link, sometimes emphasizes the "dialogue" between the other "interlocutors", but there's a fourth member of the line-up which plays a very important role: the setting they've chosen for the recording, Berlin's Grunewald Church, whose impressive reverberation already attracted similar musicians like Nils Frahm, who recorded "The Bells", and Dustin O'Halloran. The fact that listener's imagination could be broght on a sailing boat struggling against unpredictable moods of the sea or got confused with the sea-mist, the breathtaking feeling of infinite space or the relief for the sight of a forthcoming haven has not been influenced by the fact the release has many references to nautical words, but it arises from the sonic hints this trio manages to render: the ingenious attention to details, the gentle metronic brushes on hats, the sophisticated play of echoes and delays and even the electroacoustic additives which realistically simulates the creaking of the deck or the noise of the cordage a sailor knows are so vivid that you could easily lapse into a daydreaming and enchanted state. Available on limited edition vinyl lp or FLAC download, I cannot but recommended such a charming listening experience!

Maeror Tri: Emotional Engramm

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 07 2013
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Artist: Maeror Tri
Title: Emotional Engramm
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This album is the reissue of the final album of Maeror Tri inspired by the healing nature of engrams and the music, according for the printed linear notes, seems an empty canvas to be explored by someone's own signs. Even after 15 years this release sounds better than most album of this genre aiming for musical impact rather than meaning.
"Landscape of visionary thoughts" opens this release with a dreamy and visionary soundscape that, in the second part of the track, evolve in dark ambient territories of great efficacy. "Sublimis" a static that slowly evolve with his sharp metallic noises. "Nebulos" is another noisy soundscape while "Vadum" start almost quietly to slowly evolve in noisier territories. "Chymos" further refine his musical structure beginning dreamy and ending noisy in an evoking manner. "Undisonus" is, instead, a soundscape exercise in the portrait of vast and void landscapes. "Sphaira" end this album in classic dark ambient territories dominated by obscure drones.
While this is an album of 15 years ago, it sound modern and it's better than most dark ambient album praised by the press. Almost essential.

Simon12345 & The Lazer Twins: If I Stay Here. I'll Be Alone

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 06 2013
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Artist: Simon12345 & The Lazer Twins
Title: If I Stay Here. I'll Be Alone
Format: 12"
Label: Doumen (@)
Rated: *****
You could have the impression to ride a skittish prancer that found the way to rise into the air as you'll press play with this nice leftfield release by Simon12345 and The Lazer Twins, who seem to launch a popping hash of claps and sticks into earth-synchronous orbit from their secluded cottage in the north of Denmark, where they recorded these track while jack frost was hardly working outside of it over many weeks. They decided to live there and build a temporary studio in this isolated envoronment with the vague and undefined intent of squeezeing some powerful musical ideas from a set of musical ideas and day after night, they basically shaped a set of tracks where presumed deductions and thinking caps seems to expose musical celluloid just like a warm breath which steams a window up. They sound poured in the blender of post-production with reality bits, distrusts, elations and mercurial moments resulting into catchy dubby sound collages, which could remind some amazing releases by Rump Recordings or some meaningful patchworks on NoNine from the stylistical viewpoint by means of an emotional crescendo and sonic morphology, which manages to pattern reality in accordance to moods and reaches the highest peak in the final title-track "If I Stay here, I'll Be Alone", where the decisive resolution and enlightment gets frozen just before it gets bequethed to humankind thru Californian postapocalyptic rap voice of Beegs Alchemy, just like Moses would have died of exposure before spreading his inlaid boulders.

Laurel Halo: Sunlight on the Faded

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 02 2013
cover
Artist: Laurel Halo (@)
Title: Sunlight on the Faded
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
Rated: *****
After the critically acclaimed Quarentine, American sound-artist Ina Cube aka Laurel Halo manages to boggle listener's by means of this little lovely plaything which seems to link the above-mentioned album with her previous repertory and a palette of sounds, which seems to bridge the gap between old-fashioned British chilling trance of the second half of 90ies (I could mention System 7, Weatherhall's Slab, Mark Pritchard's Reload or some stuff by Kirsty Hawkshaw and Hartnoll Brothers) and contemporary declensions of garage house, which some reviewers dubbed post-dubstep, a sonic synthesis which has been marvelously rendered on "Sunlight on the Faded", whose lyrics could sometimes sound like a caption of her sound. The computational process of such an emotional sonic translation starts with the jangling of digital bo-peeps and procedes by wobbly low-pitched burbling, refreshing pads, loops of airy percussive bubbles and sonic entities which look like mirroring sudden blossoming as if they were unforeseen memory glitches of rewarming past feelings so that it seems to resound Laurel Halo's repeated words "Only the best memories stay/ I just want those on loop forever". There's also a bright dub version on B-side with no lyrics, whose light and shade dynamics implement a surefire uplifter.


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