Music Reviews

Hoarfrost: Puppets Of The Divine Coroner

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 26 2012
Artist: Hoarfrost
Title: Puppets Of The Divine Coroner
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
Almost oddly enough the linear notes, readable at the artist's website, instead of the usual words about how the record is made is a long reflection on human condition in modern times. These words sounds as the offscreen voice in some films, a way to further explain the message underneath the development of the work.
An old woman chant introduce the listener to "Homo Sacer" when suddenly the ritual beats and the soundscape set the overall mood of the track. "Prisoner Of The Present Time", the chosen track for the video included in this cd, is constricted as a recording from some strange movie using some found vocal in a meaningful way. "In An Endless Progress" is made out of strange noises that evolve in search of some kind of rest while "Neurotic Necropolises", the longest track of this release, relies in more descriptive territories with spoken words sounding as a confession. "Swoosh Of An Epithelium" is evocative in his search of an oppressive mood above some kind of mechanical samples. "Dies Irae" seems reprising the introducing chant of the first track as to close a circle in this desolate view of modern society.
Even if there's nothing really new in this musical output, the coherence of the construction of this record gives the impression of a really conceived work and this is not an usual thing those day. It worths a listen for all dark ambient fans.

Pinch: Fabriclive 61

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 25 2012
Artist: Pinch (@)
Title: Fabriclive 61
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Fabric
Rated: *****
Writing a record review is sort of like trying to stop time, or at least slowing it down enough to watch it pass. There's the first time you hear a record: the thrill of discovery, delving, succumbing to its frequencies. Letting yrself be lost in thought and feeling. Then there's the next time, thinking, 'what is this thing? what am i going to write?' on and on, multiple evaluations and repeat listening, as the point becomes clear, and the review is written.

DJ mixes are like little slivers of time, like a radio program, as yr favorite selector build a soundtrack for you for an hour or six. Generally tossed up quickly on websites and pirate radio stations, there's something ephemeral to them, like listening to a bootleg, a recording of a moment.

Bristol Producer/Dj Pinch gives us a snapshot of the current scene of bass music. He's been exploring the bass frequency spectrum since 2003, when he started one of the first dubstep nights outside of London, Subloaded. Between running the Tectonic label, which has put out records by Skream, 2562, dub maverick Scientist, and his collaborations with Shackleton, Peverlist as well as his own productions under a slew of pseudonums, Pinch has been slinging dubstep since it was a new, exhilirating, bone-crushing comer on the scene. Since then, Dubstep has become watered down, cliche and forumalaic, with the bass junkies forced to go underground and reconsider.

On the 61st installment of the popular Fabriclive mix series, always a good place to turn to find the temperature of the musical waters, Pinch is not trying to make a definitive statement, a grand shaking opus defining all the various mutations of bass music, formerly known as dubstep. Instead, he's living in the hear and now, doing what DJ's know best, how to string songs together. How to make the pieces fit. Ranging from a whole slew of his own music, with tracks from his Deleted Scenes project, and collaborations with Quest, Loefah, Photek, he also begins and ends with the same track from Distal, venom part 2, on his Tectonic label. It has the raw, immediate quality of an old dancehall sound-system, quickly dashing off a dubplate to be spun that night, playing yr own music, yr friend's music. Rather than being restrained by restrictive genre or bpm barriers, instead Pinch looks at the breadth of Electronic music, and his own tastes, and makes it work. You get quiksilver slivers of d 'n b, and locked-groove romance, rave sirens 303s gothic strings. Its all mixed on vinyl, and you really get a sense of Rob Ellis' feather touch on the wheels, faders, and knobs. There's no substitue for experience.

This sort of impartial, unrestrained listening is essential to the forward motion of dubstep. Around the time Pinch was getting started, it was some of the most exciting music around, heavy body beats with a strong philosophy and refined aesthetics, those of us that always relished the dark side rejoiced. This music was mighty, and nocturnal. I was mildly disgusted, mildly amused, mostly confused, when it got taken over by bros, the world over, who responded only to its amphetamine sugar rush bass drops, pleasure button repeat, ad nauseam. The way Pinch moves in and out of different styles and moods is inspiring, and encouraging.

Hanetration: Tenth Oar EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 24 2012
Artist: Hanetration (@)
Title: Tenth Oar EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Hanetration's identity is shrouded in mistery and this circumstance - I'm pretty sure he/she/it contacted by email a number of selected reviewers all over the planet - jointly with that intriguing aura of mistery evoked by all tracks of the sonic titbits included in this ep (available for free) could be a nice self-promoting trick to rise interest on his/her/its stuff. Haughtiest reviewers could have thought so at least. It's even possible some listeners who pay attention to its name could think he/she/it could be someone terrified by a "chinesization" of the world where all purchasable arable lands will be cultivated with rice or soy or where "R" will be abolished from every dictionary and death penalty will be imposed for its usage as Hanetration could sound as a reference to the massive market and society penetration of descendants of Han dinasty, the biggest ethnic group in China and supposedly on Planet Earth! Such an interpretation could even be supported by some listenable signs and sounds, close to some Chinese musical instruments (for instance that sort of hypnotic drone "wrapping" the sonic space in the third track "Rufus" sounds similar to a processed erhu, a notorious kind of two-string violin as well as that disquieting babbling bubbling in an ocean of chings and muted rattle-drums in the initial Rex could be imagined as coming from some Chinese stammerer!). As I sometimes consider such an esoteric exegesis not so indispensable to appreciate electronic music, I say the most relevant aspect is the musical one as Tenth Oar demostrates its author knows quite well some ambient tricks so that he manages to tickle listener's mind with reversed loops, subtones, processed sounds, bunch of hypnotic frequencies and muffled rhythmical syncope, being my favorite moment of the release the second track "Alarm" where he/she/it floods the sonic space with amniotic fluid so that listeners will easily be grabbed by the lulling tension of this suspensive drone.

The Micronaut: Friedfisch

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 22 2012
Artist: The Micronaut (@)
Title: Friedfisch
Format: CD
Label: Acker Records (@)
Distributor: Kompakt
Rated: *****
If you dwell upon some details of debut release by German guitarist Stefan Streck, also known as Dj Sterngucker, the nice moniker he used for his appearances in German dnb scene, such as the way he titled tracks taken from freshwater inhabitants (daces, rudds, carps, tenches, gudgeons, minnows, crucians, barbels and so on), you could assume Micronaut's creator is a fanatic for aquariums or recreational fishing, but other marks, including that gudgeon (or at least it seems a gudgeon...) while swallows some unidentified fish on the cover artwork, might shake such an assumption, which could appear belittling or close to a reductive shot cut if you begin to discerning a metaphorical language, based on the "big fish eating little fish" vision of such a broken social scene, where economical impasse as well as some political decisions which are hitting welfare policies and competitional mechanism, basis of Capitalism, look like awakening primordial atavistic predatory instincts fostering a battle arena-like vision of society more than a cooperative one. If you try to solve such a dilemma by an auricular analysis of musical clues, ambiguity could remain (and be even increased if you try to find an association between tinches and Bulgarian folk choirs, suggested in the lovely entrancing track "Schleie"!): whereas there are tracks which evoke wondering in deep contemplation of river's or just pound's life through sonic splashes, spurting, darts, soft xylophone's trills, clappy rhythmical stepping and sweetly effected guitar arpeggios (I particularly enjoyed "Grundling", "Hasel" - featuring very nice vocal games - and "Karpfen") there's that feeling of dramatic urgency and underskin tension, that kind of electric defibrillation close to the one applied by Apparat to his songs, amalgamating such a bucolic musical poem with more pensive weighs in mind. Every track has been carefully assembled and performed anyway and the release includes two appetizers for clubbers and djs as well, two dubby/electropop remixes by Ronny Mollenhauer aka Mollono.Bass (I liked more the one of "Barbe" than the treatment he reserved to "Schleie", maybe cause original version of the track was good enough).

Celer & Machinefabriek: Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 20 2012
Artist: Celer & Machinefabriek (@)
Title: Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake
Format: 7"
Label: Machinefabriek (@)
Rated: *****
"What'd he look like?"
"I don't know. He didn't lift his head up. He could've been... just anybody."

A disembodied voice, a tape snippet, inquires, on Maastunnel, the A Side to this auspicious pairing of these two giants of drone. 'Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake' came about after Machinefabriek & Celer played a show together in Tokyo in 2010, and was released to coincide with an upcoming European tour, so we will most likely hear more from these combined heads.

Both Machinefabriek & Celer are hyper-prolific, nigh-on legendary in the ambient/drone/field recordings microcosm, so what happens when they get together? That's why i started with that quote, it is a fine example of the egolessness of both artist's work, an almost slavish devotion to the 'sound', the 'work'. Tasteful in the extreme, you can hear the individual spirit of each, the squeaky field recordings that are Machinefabriek's hallmark, the drifting, cloud-like melodies Celer is known for. The overall effect achieved, is a sonic world, an auditory hallucination, with Machinefabriek creating the space for Celer to score, events unfolding, humans interacting with the inanimate.

'Maastunnel' is the more pastoral of the two, which is funny as its named after a tunnel, but its tinkling, splashing water give a sense of the outdoors. 'Mt. Mitake', named after the mountain to the west of Tokyo, is a more sci-fi affair, think Vangelis, think Klaus Schulze - dreamy, futuristic, floating. The pair make for more colorful drones and inner-visions than the monochromatic blur often found in the more industrial cadre of this style.

'Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake' is an exercise in restraint, in good taste. They show respect for one another, the music, and the listener. The whole shebang clocks in at a scant ten-minutes, which means you will spend a lot of time hitting play, or flipping over this little gem. Poring over its intricacies. Makes for pleasant company in the morning, if you want to keep that dreamy vibe going. I'm looking forward to hearing more from these two.

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