Music Reviews

Front Line Assembly: AirMech

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 06 2013
Artist: Front Line Assembly
Title: AirMech
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Announced in September 2012 and released in the end of 2012, this astonishing studio album by notorious Canadian industrial band Front Line Assembly, born as a sountrack for fre-to-play war strategy game AirMech developed by Seattle-based indipendent company Carbon Games, shows the impressive versatility and adaptability of Bill Leeb's band as well as an interesting update of their sound by means of the integration of sonic hooks from dubstep and electronic sounds for videogames (laser guns, shots, explosions, silicon hisses, robotic belches, cyber farts and so on). Even if there are no lyrics, FLA fans will easily recognize the surgical operation they made on their very first abrasive and essential sound, the one they proudly flaunted before following insertions of stereotyped apocalyptic choirs or conventional guitar riffs, which sounded like a wink at market's tendencies according to many listeners. Someone could argue the incorporation of dubstep elements could be considered the same, but FLA carefully dosed them as Hecq considerably did and authentic sonic pearls like the flaring stepping of "Arise", the amazing metallic crisps of "Pulse Charge" (the closest to Hecq's abrasive dubby concoctions), the translucent industrial rock "Mech Killer", the computational beams of "Everything That Was Before", the bleeding industrial afflatus of the brilliant "Lose", the grim atmospheres of "Stealth Mech" and many other stylistical preciosities will extinguish any doubts about the remarkable quality of this release.

Simon Whetham: Never So Alone

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 05 2013
Artist: Simon Whetham (@)
Title: Never So Alone
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
I'm pretty sure that the great majority of people, who experienced jams when the soot from the notorious elfin barbecue inside Icelandic volcano with unpronounceable name Eyjafjallajökull in February and March 2010, countered with a fine selection of cuss words and complaints against powerless air company's ground crews and imaginary underground deities or devils, who caused the closing of European airspace. The skittish English sound-artist Simon Whetham, compelled to outstay his stay in Lisbon for the above-mentioned occurence, preferred to explore the fascinating Portuguese capital city and surrounding countryside in order to grab sounds and match them with his own feelings by his paraphernalia of microphones he kept in his luggage together with razors, deodorant, socks and underwear, so that he started to collect sound material by means of a Sennheiser shotgun microphone, a pair of Tram lavalier mics, contact microphones, hydrophones, an electromagnetic coil transducer and a radio receiver. Simon's decision to turn hassles into a creative opportunity generated this interesting album where the reference to experienced loneliness in the title "Never So Alone" should not be interpreted as a negative factor, but as an essential condision for the creation of this work: the electric flurries on creaks, tweets, trampling and crumpling sounds of the initial track "Inertia, Rising" immediately imbibes the sonic space by evoking a certain sense of isolated dismay of the receiver, whose amplified perception acts like an imaginary sentient marble which rolls on metallic smooth surfaces by creating occasional dissonances and blurring with other external resonances on "A Metallic Aftertaste" before the first interlude "The Suspension of Time", where a web of tintinnabulations gets gradually overshadowed by rasps, amplified sinister echoes and plastic rubbing from recesses of material world. The regular stepping on planking level and trickles over flowing streams of spooky interferences on the following "Shifting" is almost cathartic, while the membrane between inner and outer world seems to thin and disappear in the following "A little Faith", where any stimulations from the surrounding environment look like moving inside streams of bodily fluids. Whereas the second interlude, "Lifesigns/Ashcloud", refracts urban traffic, the high-spirited chit chat of a Portuguese woman, distant playing kids and other resonating plaster casts from lively settings, immersed in a volatile sonic wave, look like unexpected appearances on a scuba mask on the final "Accentuate the Positive".

Ben Fleury-Steiner: Clearings

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 04 2013
Artist: Ben Fleury-Steiner (@)
Title: Clearings
Format: CD
Label: Rural Colours (@)
Rated: *****
This new hue on the paletter of Hibernate auxiliary label Rural Colours has been added by Delaware-based producer and owner of lòabel Gears of Sand, Ben Fleury-Steiner aka Paradin and Light of Shipwreck, who has already been mentioned on some past reviews on this space for a release on small Belgian label Mistery Sea. On "Clearings", Ben seems to trace a sort of gradual transition from organic to more ethereal sounds over the three long-lasting tracks of the release, so that you could imagine it as a step-by-step catharsis by means of silent hints from natural environment, wide apart from disorienting urban settings. The carrier waves on first phase of this process of refining, "Wind Up Bird's Lament", have more surfs and they follows one another in a loop built on twitters, distant croaks and dripping on backwater, vaguely on the doldrums, the second and central phase "Glade", the one I like more, combines aural melodic aureoles and organic sounds by evoking variable weather conditions from a shelter nearby a watercoarse and a more enraptured ecstatic mood, while the waves of the final radial "Parallax" sound more stretched where some faint metallic interferences and cavernours echoes still bob on the almost unruffled waterline, whose swells are close to some similar stuff by Steve Roach. If you focuses on details, you'll easily notice that even the rare "flattest" moments conceal an eager strain on texturing.
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Artist: Noisedelik (@)
Title: Vlad - Looks to Europe in flames
Format: CD
Label: NDK Recordz (@)
Distributor: NDK Recordz
Rated: *****
I just listened to the first one of 50 numbered copy of "VLAD - Looks to Europe in flames" the second musical work of Noisedelik, a project founded by my friend, and musician, Massimo Olla of Cagliari (Italy)
It 'a self-CDR self-produced for its NDK Recordz, but it comes with a beautiful appearance and a very fine packaging really superior to that of certain label far more noble. And also during the first listen of this album, I'm really pleasantly surprised by its sound.
I'm living in the same city and I know the author for some time. Last year I also listened to her debut album, entitled "The 9 Obsessions". I'd considered his previous work very bitter and almost youthful, although the author has more than forty years. The previous disc of Noisedelik, 'The 9 Obsessions' was the result of a sincere musical passion but suffered from the initial enthusiasm with all the ingenuity of more recent infatuation for industrial sounds by his author. Massimo Olla comes in fact from a personal past of rock music and approached only recently at the direct production of this strange kind of sounds and noises with a recognizable industrial matrix.
This second album instead, in my opinion and unlike the previous one, represent not only a strong personal growth of the author, but is also an important musical work. A resulting evidence of a greater compositional technique and of a strong awareness. Which would have been difficult to obtain, for some musicians, without taking a course of many years. Massimo obtain this personal maturation of his sound, into this hard kind of musical niche, the industrial productions, managed to do it in just two years only. I think I deserve it, for that reason alone, our greatest respect.
I speak now more details on this record and say that this album sound like a very professional product and have a very good mastering. Except for some very little small drops I listen in some places during the tracks (I think are a possible result of unwanted errors during the homemade cdr-burning).
Noisedelik humbly told me that the disk mastering not only a result of his technique but is the work of an Italian musician important as Gianluca Becuzzi who collaborate also with Massimo into the last track of this album. A friend of his and ours too. Becuzzi is an italian well known electronic musician and it is certainly one that not needs many presentations. I think his work, at mastering, really make the difference. Many other musicians and friends collaborate into this work. They are: Dalila Kayros, Svart1, Urna, Gianluca Martucci.
Returning at the sound compositions, the first 2 tracks are titled "The problem defeat me" and "Narcisism ambient" and open in generous way the entire work, preparing the listener to listen to the central body of the disc. Those tracks are two electro-acoustic pieces, with many ambient sounds and particularly suitable as a musical introduction. I state that also the song titles are the ones I inferred from their digital tag because unfortunately there are not, into the disc cover, notes or others information about the tracks.
The majority of sounds presents into the disc keep this electro-acoustic imprint which develops along a strong use of drones and growing of many different sampled sounds. The sound structures of different songs have always more levels and a very intriguing ambient of carpet sounds are interspersed with details of rhythmic episodes that are never out of place or dissonant. Even when some drum loops are strangely off-cut, perhaps deliberately as in the case of the beautiful track titled 'Ancestral Kebab' (featuring Svart1), add new colors and the songs playing nicely crooked.
The third track titled in Italian 'Cenere e menzogna' (Ashes and Lie, featuring Dalila Kayros)) is the only one who has an important vocal presence and have also a text in Italian. It's not a real song because the voice is distorted and filtered during a sort of banal exercise of 'spoken word'. But this use of reading and vocals however, in my humble opinion, cannot be reconciled with the rest of sounds who create an interesting plot and this track, for this reason, is the less successful episode of the entire work.
Except this track less successful, all other tracks keep their unaltered and quite the high level of attraction of this disc. But I would point out, in particular, the two central tracks entitled 'The Vlad Suspicion' and 'To chain a dog up'. The first one refers to the famous prince of Transylvania Vlad Tepes III, that "Vlad the Impaler" mentioned also in the title of the album, and reveals a beautiful sound structure, intriguing and full of metallic dissonances and little squeaks deep that unfolds over an harmonic low bearing of noise and very slightly darker carpet. Complete the experience wise some grafts of rhythmic effects that transforms the song into a involving and hypnotic drill-mantra which does not expect the end.
The second track titled 'To chain a dog up is very hard to describe. A plot sharper of saxophone samples and wind instruments, sounding vaguely experimental-jazz that come into a progression of increasing radio frequency placed each on the other. It 'a beautiful track, hypnotic and progressive. I like it very much, because it reminds many forms of 'industrial-psychedelia' of the early 90s we loved. His hearing has involved me into a small imaginary vision. In this piece I heard echoes of a lost transmission over a radio channel of the Nazi occupation in France. In a day of June during 1944. A channel was turned on a radio unit abandoned into a Nazi bunker full of steaming corpses of German soldiers incinerated by the flamethrower marines during the American D-Day in Normandy. Without a doubt, this 'To chain a dog up' the best track on this album. This track remains to turn whirling in mind even after its end. It has accompanied me pleasantly while listening the subsequent track 'Justice and decline' (featuring Urna and Gianluca Martucci) and also the last great track 'Return at the obscurity' (featurin Gianluca Becuzzi) which closes slowly and with dignity this work of Noisedelik. My overall assessment for this job of Noisedelik / Maximum Olla is therefore a more than good. But at the end of this long review, I think we should also say that his growth as an electronic musician, which greet with pleasure, I think is the result also of a musical environment that has grown in our country around him and with him, in these last times.
I speak of the music electronics and industrial scene, of which has come to create gradually in our city of Cagliari. This city is the elective urban location of our island of Sardinia placed in the center of the Mediterranean. But for the same fact of being the city of an island, in the middle of the sea, is also considered to be a real peripheral place too distant from many other places of artistic and musical scene surely best known in Italy or in Europe.
Yet, in our city away from it all, where it seems that nothing could happen is instead grown autonomously and independent a new electronic industrial music-scene that I believe it is an important thing.
My small tribute to this work of Noisedelik is therefore a small tribute to this city scene. A scene that is also represented by an annual festival of music and industrial culture as 'Solo il mio nero' (Only my black) ( which has many free live concerts of electronic music and contamination in the grey-area. Scene that I know well since I attend personally for many years. I think it's just report it. How do I report Maximum Olla that in this scene, is a new entry, which adds excitement, lymph, energy and good ideas.
In fact Noisedelik, although being a neophyte into our grey-area, is an active person that drives a forum on Facebook dedicated just to these sounds and called MUZIKA [P]ARTIGIANA. He does it with so many of our musician friends of Sardinia and Italy, many of they are such well-known names into the Italian electronic music-scene as Gianluca Becuzzi, Simon Balestrazzi or Corrado Altieri. MUZIKA [P]ARTIGIANA is a virtual space on Facebook that comes to life from a real music scene exists in Sardinia and, according to many musician friends, it is also one of the few existing places on the net and in Italy that allow a sincere debate between producers , musicians, fans and lovers of electronic music and industrial. A virtual place that facilitates the real exchange and deepening of musical themes and concepts that characterize most of our cultural environment that is the gray-area and electronic music and industrial.
I speak with pleasure of MUZIKA [P]ARTIGIANA because it is the place on the net that deserves maximum respect and your full attention. And although I do personally and unfortunately not I attend because of my strong idiosyncrasy against Facebook and social networking in general. I invite all of you but to do it in my place. I think you will find it perhaps one of the few valid reasons for those of us still use this shit of Facebook.


Ho appena ascoltato la copia numerata 1 di 50 di 'VLAD ' Looks to Europe in flames' , il secondo lavoro di Noisedelik il progetto dell'amico Massimo Olla di Cagliari.
E' un CDR autoprodotto, per la sua NDK Recordz, che pero' si presenta con una pregevole estetica e un packaging molto raffinato e molto superiore a quelli di certe label ben piu' blasonate. E devo dire che, fin dal primo ascolto, questo disco mi ha piacevolmente stupito per le sue sonorita' .
Vivendo nella stessa citta' conosco l'autore da diverso tempo e lo scorso anno ho ascoltato il suo disco d'esordio, dal titolo 'Le 9 Ossessioni'.
Consideravo questo suo lavoro precedente, un disco molto acerbo, quasi giovanile, nonostante l'autore abbia oltre quarantanni. Disco frutto di sincera passione ma che scontava l'entusiasmo iniziale con tutte le ingenuita' proprie del recente innamoramento per le sonorità industrial. Massimo proviene infatti da trascorsi rock e si e' avvicinato solo di recente alla produzione sonora in prima persona di suoni e rumori dalla riconoscibile matrice industrial.
Questo disco invece, a mio giudizio e a differenza del precedente, rappresenta non solo una forte crescita personale dell'autore, ma un importante lavoro frutto di una evidente maggiore tecnica compositiva e soprattutto di una forte consapevolezza. Cosa che sarebbe stata difficile da ottenere, per alcuni musicisti, senza compiere un percorso di molti anni. Massimo Olla, questo percorso personale di crescita e maturazione sonora, in un ambito di produzione e ascolto difficile e di nicchia come l'industrial, e' riuscito a compierlo in soli due anni. Credo meriti, solo per questo motivo, il nostro massimo rispetto.
Entro piu' in dettaglio su questo disco per dirvi che, fatta eccezione per alcuni piccolissimi drop in alcuni punti, che sono forse frutto involontario della masterizzazione casalinga del cdr, questo disco ha un suono davvero molto professionale segno di un buonissimo mastering. Noisedelik umilmente mi ha rivelato che nel disco la parte tecnica non e' solo sua ma e' frutto anche del lavoro di un musicista italiano importante come Gianluca Becuzzi che collabora con Massimo musicalmente pure nell'ultimo brano del disco. Un amico suo e anche nostro. Becuzzi e' un musicista italiano molto noto e non ha certo bisogno di troppe presentazioni. Il suo lavoro di mastering, in questo disco, fa la differenza. Ma diversi altri amici e musicisti hanno collaborato in queste tracce. Sono: Dalila Kayros, Svart1, Urna, Gianluca Martucci.
Venendo invece alla composizione sonora le prime 2 tracce, 'The problem defeat me' e 'Narcisism ambient' aprono il lavoro generosamente predisponendo l'ascoltatore all'ascolto del corpo centrale del disco. Sono due pezzi elettroacustici, molto ambientali e particolarmente indicati come intro.
La gran parte delle sonorita' presenti nel disco, mantengono questa impronta elettroacustica, che si sviluppa insieme ad un forte uso di drones e di crescendo di suoni campionati diversi. Le strutture sonore dei diversi brani hanno sempre livelli sovrapposti e un tessuto molto intrigante. I suoni ambientali si alternano a episodi ritmici particolari che non sono mai fuori luogo o dissonanti. Anche quando i loop di alcuni drums sono, forse volutamente, fuori-taglio, come avviene nel bel brano intitolato Ancestral Kebab (con Svart1) diventano una nota dinamica ulteriore e piacevolmente storta.

Il terzo brano intitolato 'Cenere e Menzogna' (con Dalila Kayros) e' l'unico che ha una presenza vocale importante e anche un testo in italiano. Non e' una vera e propria song, perche' la voce e' distorta e filtrata nel corso di una sorta di esercizio di "spoken-word". Questo uso di lettura e voce comunque, a mio modesto parere, è abbastanza banale e mal si concilia con il resto dei suoni che creano una trama molto interessante. Questa traccia, per questo motivo, risulta l'episodio meno riuscito di tutto il lavoro.
Eccetto questa meno riuscita tutte le altre tracce mantengono invece inalterato e abbastanza alto il livello di attrazione di questo disco. Segnalo in particolare le due tracce centrali: "The Vlad Suspicion" e "To chain a dog up". La prima delle due richiama il noto Vlad Tepes III, quel 'Vlad l'Impalatore' che da' il titolo all'intero album. La traccia presenta una bella struttura intrigante e ricca di dissonanze metalliche e cigolii profondi che si dipanano su un'armonica portante bassa, leggermente noise e molto cupa. Completano il tutto sapienti innesti di ritmica ad effetto che trasformano il brano in un ipnotico trapano-mantra di cui non si attende la fine.
La seconda traccia centrale intitolata "To chain a dog up" e' molto difficile da descrivere. Una trama nitida di campioni di sax e strumenti a fiato, vagamente sperimental-jazz che entrano in progressione su un crescendo di frequenze radio sovrapposte. E' una bella traccia ipnotica e progressiva. Che mi piace molto, perche' ricorda molte forme di psichedelia industriale dei primi anni '90 che abbiamo amato... Il suo ascolto mi ha fatto anche immaginare una piccola visione. In questo brano ho sentito gli echi di una "lost transmission" su un canale radio dell'occupazione nazista in Francia. In una sera di giugno del 1944. Ho sentito un canale radio morto e l'ho visto pulsare sui meter di una centralina rimasta accesa all'interno di un bunker nazista fumante e ricolmo di cadaveri di soldati tedeschi inceneriti dai lanciafiamme dei marines durante lo sbarco americano in Normandia. Senza ombra di dubbio, a mio avviso, questo brano "To chain a dog up" rappresenta di gran lunga il miglior pezzo dell'album. Una traccia che rimane a girare vorticosa in mente anche dopo la sua fine. E che ha accompagnato piacevolmente anche durante l'ascolto delle successive tracce, la bella "Justice and decline" (con Urna e Gianluca Martucci) e l'ottima "The return at the obscurity" (con Gianluca Becuzzi) con cui si chiude lentamente e degnamente il lavoro di Noisedelik.
Il mio e' dunque un giudizio complessivo piu' che buono per questo lavoro di Noisedelik/Massimo Olla. Ma in chiusura di questa lunga recensione, credo si debba anche dire che questa sua crescita, come musicista, che salutiamo con piacere penso sia frutto anche di un ambiente musicale che, secondo me, e' cresciuto intorno a lui e insieme a lui in questi ultimi tempi.
Parlo della scena musicale, elettronica e industriale che si e' venuta a creare progressivamente nella nostra citta' di Cagliari. Che e' luogo urbano per eccellenza della nostra isola di Sardegna al centro del Mediterraneo . E per il fatto di essere la citta' di un'isola in mezzo al mare e' anche considerata un luogo periferico e distante da molti altri luoghi musicali e artistici sicuramente piu' noti in Italia o in Europa. Eppure, in questa nostra citta' lontana da tutto, dove sembra che niente potrebbe accadere e' invece cresciuta in modo autonomo e indipendente una scena elettronica e industrial che credo rappresenti una cosa importante. Una scena che e' viva e ben rappresentata anche da un festival annuale di musica e cultura industriale come 'Solo il mio nero' ( che presenta molti concerti dal vivo di musica elettronica e contaminazioni nella grey-area. Il mio piccolo tributo al disco di Noisedelik e' quindi un piccolo omaggio anche a questa scena cittadina. Scena che conosco bene dato che la frequento personalmente da molti anni. Credo sia giusto segnalarla. Come segnalo Massimo Olla che in questa scena, rappresenta un nuovo ingresso, che aggiunge entusiasmo, linfa, dinamismo e ottime idee. Aggiungo anche che Noisedelik, pur essendo un neofita nella nostra grey-area, e' una persona che anima attivamente un bel forum su Facebook dedicato proprio a queste sonorita' e chiamato MUZIKA[P]ARTIGIANA. Lo fa insieme a tanti nostri amici musicisti sardi e non, come ad esempio nomi molto noti del panorama elettronico italiano del calibro di Gianluca Becuzzi, Simon Balestrazzi o Corrado Altieri.
MUZIKA[P]ARTIGIANA e' uno spazio virtuale che prende vita a partire da una scena musicale reale esistente in Sardegna e, a detta di molti amici musicisti, e' anche uno dei pochi luoghi esistenti sulla rete e in Italia che permettano un confronto sincero tra produttori, musicisti, appassionati e cultori di musica elettronica e industrial. Un luogo virtuale che favorisce lo scambio reale e l'approfondimento delle tematiche musicali e concettuali che contraddistinguono meglio il nostro ambito culturale che e' quello della Grey -area e della musica elettronica e industrial.
Parlo con piacere di MUZIKA[P]ARTIGIANA perche' e' un luogo sulla rete che merita massimo rispetto e tutta la vostra attenzione. E lo faccio nonostante, personalmente e purtroppo, non lo frequenti a causa della mia forte idiosincrasia nei confronti di Facebook in generale. Invito percio' tutti voi a farlo, anche al mio posto. Penso che se vi trovate su Facebook lo dovreste ricercare e iscrivervi perche' lo troverete forse uno dei pochi motivi ancora validi, per quelli come noi, per usare ancora quella merda di social network.

Sabled Sun: Signals II

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
 Edit (7528)
Mar 30 2013
image not
Artist: Sabled Sun
Title: Signals II
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
For the first part of this series there's some linear notes on the release page with the cover and the name of the track. For the first part of this series I was not sure to understand the reason for this apparent incommunicability as it could be a statement about the faith on the capability of music to communicate his meaning without any note or is the implicit assumption that it's an exercise in style and so it has to be evaluated only for his technical values.
This series is based upon signals from space that the protagonist of the albums "2145" and "2146" finds during his journey. Musically speaking, this track is based on almost his entirety on low frequency drones with juxtaposed some noises, mainly in the first part of the track, and some stereo effects to create some small variation. Every drone lasts for some minutes after which there's the entrance of the other. In the last minutes there's an high frequency drone introducing the listener to the end of the track.
As other release of this project there's a quite obscure contradiction between the high quality audio result of the spectrum utilized and the almost trivial musical development. If this album is heard through headphones there's the possibility to appreciate all the small noises inserted in the texture and the clear audio spectrum, but it sounds as the copy of the first release. Only for those who appreciated "Signals I".

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