Music Reviews

Dust to Dearth / Lysergene: The Death of the Sun

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 14 2012
Artist: Dust to Dearth / Lysergene (@)
Title: The Death of the Sun
Format: CD
Label: Aesthetic Death (@)
Rated: *****
I had already reviewed the Lysergene album 'Critical Mass,' which was decent EBM, so I was a bit surprised when I put this on. Dust to Dearth kicks us off with heavy atmosphere and female vocals reminiscent of Arcana's 'Dark Age of Reason.' Overall, it is pretty consistently dark. There was nothing on the website about the band and it seems that the website has gone away as well, but it has the same email as Murkrat (also with little description except 'Metal for denizens of the mire'), so I assume that there is a connection. Overall pretty solid, but perhaps a bit repetitive after a while. Something that would be quite at home among some of the older Cold Meat Industry stuff. Moving on to Lysergene, we get a completely different side of this act from 'Critical Mass.' This segment starts off with some atmospheric dark ambient with a hint of distortion and noise thrown in for good measure. 'Nebula' moves us into a more melodic zone that continues through the end of the album. This would be at home on the Cyclic Law catalogue. The closest comparison I can come up with is Kammarheit. I actually prefer this version of Lysergene over the other, and think this is a bit stronger than Dust to Dearth, although each has its strengths. Overall a decent album worth checking out.

Aelter: Dusk-Dawn / Follow You Beloved

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 14 2012
Artist: Aelter (@)
Title: Dusk-Dawn / Follow You Beloved
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Crucial Blast (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Aelter before I received this in the mail, but in looking at the press sheet, they invoked one of my favorite bands of all time, Clan of Xymox, so I was quite interested to check this out. Evidently, this is a side project of Wolvserpent guitarist Blake Green and a reissue of two albums that were previously released on vinyl. According to the press sheet, 'where Wolvserpent blends this chugging Melvins-esque heaviness and haunting slowcore arpeggios with violins, pounding drums, and a propensity for extended hypno-dirges, Aelter dispenses with the drums almost completely and goes for a more cinematic approach using layered keyboards and gorgeous harmonized voices that reminds me of something you would have heard on Beggers Banquet or 4AD being fused to a malevolent black heaviness.' So let's see if it lives up to the hype. Dusk-Dawn kicks us off with a sparse, atmospheric guitar line. In some ways, I could see this act doing a collaboration with Locrian because each seems quite interested in the idea of repetition. This is not quite Clan of Xymox kind of atmosphere, but the sentiment is there. If you think that Clan of Xymox is a bit synth heavy and prefer guitar, this is where you will want to look. Follow You Beloved moves in much the same direction, but is a bit more complex and even incorporates vocals, although these are difficult to make out and seem to be more there for atmosphere. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I read the sticker on the cover declaring them 'an offshoot of Idaho chamber-doom sorcerers Wolvserpent,' but this is actually pretty good. Heavy without being too oppressive, dark atmospheres without resorting to cheesy horror samples. File under old CMI-era Arcana. Disc 1 weighs in at around 32 minutes. Disc 2 weighs in at around 38 minutes, so I'm not sure why they decided to go with a double CD, but that's what we have.

4 stars

sink/sink: The Darkest Dark Goes

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 11 2012
Artist: sink/sink (@)
Title: The Darkest Dark Goes
Format: CD
Label: Feedback Loop (@)
Rated: *****
These New Zealand-based newcomers, made up of songwriter Gareth Schott, "technician" and lyricist Callum Plews and talented singer Kimberly Schulke, delivers an interesting musical declension which could belong to the sub-genre known as "ethereal" by crossing various stylistical grounds such as indie-rock, ambient, post-rock, drone and experimental and showing a remarkable suppleness. In spite of the skull, standing out on their debut's cover artwork, and gothic-mannered title such as "The Darkest Dark Goes", their attitude cannot be associated to necrophiliac or obituary musical ailments, even though they often give voice to some paranoid dizziness and their music sometimes evokes somewhat peremptory tension-driven dramatization. It's not because their first song has been titled "Astronavt", but their opening recalled to my memory a song by almost unknown indie-rock band Transmissionary Six, titled "Rodeo Satellite", imbued with Sigur Ros-like proving dough towards the end and a similar flow has been followed in the final bright reverberations of "Sunset song" where some vocal pitches could let you think about Amiina, but listening will reveal many other surprising moments and influences as well: the track I prefer most, "Place That I Love", sounds quite similar to some recent stuff by Alison Shaw's Cranes, while the post-rock heartbeat and a certain gloomy touch become more recognisable in the noise-steamed "Gursky" - the gradual transmutation of Kim's voice towards darker tones while repeating 'Climb over my fence, take your indifference and save it for myself' is really nice -, whereas some folk-like guitar-driven ballads such as "From the year 1752" infers associations with some nice folk acts like Taxi Taxi!, featuring a similar use of female voice, and there're some occasional references to My Bloody Valentine, Arab Strap, Slowdive and similar sonorities. They're not plagiarist at all, but you know that it's sometimes easier for reviewers - I don't mean those promoters in the semblance of reviewers of course - to search for terms of comparison, but I'm pretty sure this band can develop a more personal sound. Premises are really promising and their freshness will bring them to fill many blank slates with interesting stuff. In the meanwhile, have a listen to this album.

Asher: Untitled Landscapes 1 + 2

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 11 2012
Artist: Asher (@)
Title: Untitled Landscapes 1 + 2
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
After repeated operations of smoothing, bevel, trimming and shaving, Somerville-based composer Asher Tuil delivers this double digital release through Australian label Room40. His compositional approach sounds quite interesting and it's mainly related to the redifinition of the concept of home listening: the starting point was a set of recordings which has aleady been issued on "Landscape Studies", their repeated listening and treatment according to a generative process with random elements, focused on the aural perception from different listening points of the recording space, resulting in a set of tracks which are going to put your ears to a kind of hearing test, as they feature muffled and almost frayed harmonies which faces the audible threshold. This distillate is particularly diluted in the five tracks of the first collection of "Untitled Landscapes", whereas each track silently slips into listener's ear just like a point particle waving in the air reaches an alveolus inside the lungs or an H2O molecule in a wet atmosphere runs through any transpiring membrane, while in the 20-minutes lasting track of the second collection, frequencies sound suffocated by subtle white noises so that they look like those tracks deriving from repeated applications of overdubbing on tape recordings. Asher quotes a passage from Pessoa's The Book Of Disquietude (from fragment 224: "I seek and I don't find myself. I want and I can't. Without me the sun rises and sets; without me the rain falls and the wind moans. Its not because of me that there are seasons, the succession of months, time's passage. Lord of the world in me, as of lands that i can't take with me..") in order to give a conceptual framework and I think such an ideal association with that existentialist masterpiece could be well-chosen as I'm quite certain about the possibility some of you have already listened or composed in your own mind Asher's "Untitled Landscapes" as they sometimes look like some stuff casually sparked during an ordinary situation, instantaneous inputs which can provoke various chain reaction in your own mind just like those mental torments of a first-person narrator, evoked by some existentialist or diaristic novel. Check it out!
Jun 08 2012
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Artist: PBK & Zanstones (@)
Title: Mantis Fog Desert
Format: CD
Label: Monochrome Vision (@)
Distributor: Monochrome Vision
Rated: *****
This russian label Monochrome Vision ( represent for me a beautiful reality into the independent musical scene of Eastern Europe. This scene is becoming during those years more interesting and rich. The Monochrome Vision offer a number of interesting works. I invite you to visit his web site where, in addition to a catalog, you will find a very nice interface that stands out, among many different labels of the electronic/gray area, for it rigorous and geometrical graphic approach, full of shiny white color and total black.

This kind of black & white "esplendor geometric " becomes also a graphic choice even revived on the covers of his albums. And I imagine also this choice want to emphasize the care and rigor of the label into his selection of their authors and materials. So I would talk to you today just one of those works produced by the strict Monochrome Vision. An album that is titled "Mantis Fog Desert" and is signed by the double name PBK & Zanstones.

I must confess that before listening to this album, I enjoyed the presentation in the notes written inside the cover where one of the two authors describe the other as an insomniac because of his need to experiment and continuously produce electronic music. For this reason I went around the web to learn more. And I saw that PBK stands for Phillip B. Klinger and Zanstones is one of the many pseudonyms of an old acquaintance of electronic experimentation, which is called Zan Hoffman.

Of PBK/Phillip Klinger and his works , unfortunately, I have not any direct knowledge. So I prefer to trust the words of Don Campau published on his "Living Archive of Electronic Music" ( Is an interesting website which I highly recommend especially to all those of you who loves the roughness and the analog low-fi music of "cassette-culture" and the experimental manipulation based on audio tapes. Into his Living Archive website Campau (who is surely an expert) describes for us, in excited way, the musician Phillip B. Klinger and also which tells of his sound experimentation as the fruit of long experience in fact started in the mid 80's. So I think we can trust to PBK. I report here for you, in a few lines, a little part of that presentation:

< ... I always admired , respected and enjoyed the work I had heard by PBK over the years. For the first few years I didn't even know his real name although it was embedded, but shrouded in his releases. To me there was a type of mystery in what he did because the sounds were so far out, alien like and strange. However, Phillip B. Klinger is not only an intelligent, articulate and eloquent spokesman for his art but is inclusive and a genuinely nice and engaging fellow. He has also made some of the most outstanding and creative work in the experimental, home recording field...>

In addition to the words of Campau then add the fact that, together with a musician like Phillip B. Klinger joins, into this album Mantis Desert Fog which I am presenting, another important name as Zan Hoffman/ Zanstones, who is not only a good electronic musician, but is also the founder of the label ZH27 (
If you've never heard of ZH27, even in this case I think it is enough to visit the web area contains the catalog of this label and many works of Zan Hoffman, to get an idea of who I'm talking about. You'll find that the production of audio ZH27 and Zan Hoffman is nothing short of immense and continues without interruption for over 25 years.

It's hundreds and hundreds of albums. I thought that the union of these two authors, on the same musical work, was so sure index of quality music. And after listening to me has fully confirmed the initial supposition. Mantis Fog Desert proved to be fact, since first hearing, a long and beautiful series of 8 musical suites, consisting of a successful amalgam of electronic and noise, perfectly mixed and enjoyed listening to both, some peoples devotee of this musical genre or any neophyte that attracted for the first time from this type of sound.

This album, after repeated and careful listening, reveals a hot core of instinctive conceptual substance enclosed in a casing that is its musical form more aesthetic and technologically sophisticated. The album have 8 tracks. Half of these tracks is to last more than 8 minutes each. And the other half has a duration on average about 5 minutes. But only first 5 track are realized by all two musicians.
Into the next 2 track Zanstones works alone (titled are 'The Jor Bangla Effect' and 'Disentangling Bilot Kaf'), and also PBK plays alone into the last very long track (over 10 minutes) titled 'Paranoia Corridor'.

Their instinctive but concrete musical concept of working realize a sort of small, intense symphony for electronic and musical waves and noise, condensed into these 8 tracks. And it's amazing how, who can play either solo or in pairs, they create a dense sound and very intense. A sound with a great aesthetic appeal but also imbued with an air of conceptual and strange psychedelic substance intended for inner reflection. In this record there are no short tracks or fast rhythm, but only long musical carpets where every sound listening requires to find the correct time for a proper breath. All tracks are beautiful and elaborate, and build a labyrinth of sound around the listener. Labyrinth into which entry is easy but the output is difficult to find.

Each of these track reveal in fact a prelude sound and a sinuous development, with no clear conclusion, in the most positive sense of the term. Nothing is permanently closed into the infinite pathway of music by this strange and alien 'Mantis' who wanders through the mists of the desert. Nothing is developed to an end and nothing is locked between a beginning and another ending that are signs for a set a definitive cycle. On this journey through the desert, which is musical and conceptual, each cycle repeated and becomes theoretically infinite. They are cycles of day and night, light and dark, black and white.

Each piece of Mantis Fog Desert is thus resulting in a loop, and one being related. Loop for himself and about himself but also with the song that precedes and follows it. This disc may be the first chapter of a suite that becomes infinite. And you could become its slaves from the first listen. Because it is easy to get pleasantly lost in the dawn mists of this desert in the pitch dark religious listening of this mantis. Even happened to me to hear this record, several times in succession without having decided. It happened to me last night, while surfing the net and writing, for Chain DLK, this review.

It's been like if I lose on the way, listening to this album and thanks its sounds intriguing and fascinating, in a night journey made light of dawn blue leds in my monitor whit the many colors of the net. And I'm unaware of the lapse of several hours. When I stopped listening to this work was done daily. And the fog, with many mists of the dark night are gone. But the taste of dawn remained, as happens after any nice journey through the night.

I wish you a pleasant journey to you and I recommend listening to this Mantis Fog Desert. Enjoy your trip through the mists of night in the desert. I'm sure, the good electronic music of PBK & Zanstones that will accompany you until the next sunrise.

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