Music Reviews



Feb 14 2013
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Artist: MRKVA/BOLKA (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: LOM (@)
Rated: *****
I've already spoken about the creative explosion related to electronic music (and not only that) in many Eastern European countries, which sometimes experience some troubles in getting visible in the cluttered music scene, at some other time so that the venture by LOM, a small group of people which is trying to help unknown or forgotten deserving experimental artists from that geographical area (particularly from Slovakia for "logistical" reasons) to gain some visibility is praiseworthy. This first physical release is a split mini-album, co-signed by a couple of talented Slovakian sound artists, Jonas Gruska aka MRKVA and Matus Kolka aka BOLKA: the first one is a performer, sound artist and electronic instrument engineer, also known for his project Binmatu, who attended the prestigious Institute of Sonology in The Hague (Netherlands) and Music Academy in Krakow (Poland), where he studied composition and electroacoustic music, while Matus is a rising star of Bratislava experimental scene with a mania for building his own software instruments. On this release, they focused on the sonic representation of a dystopian (but not so far from forthcoming technological mischiefs) future when we will deal with swarms of nanotech insects. They both render them by means of sizzling electric sounds, but while MRKVA prefers to focus on electroacoustic devices and tricks with a huge quantity of gurgles, creased radio frequencies, warped cries, fragmented voices and other corrosive sonic secretions, which sometimes could remind the noise of ear drops for softening wax in the event of otitis, BOLKA builds glitch soundscapes by inserting sonic layers and more structured cluster of noises, temporary magmatic spills and efferent sonic "mistakes" (MRKVA seems to buil a linkage with this compositional approach in his last track "Anders"). Interesting offbeat stuff for tuned-in listeners.

Quarz: Five Years On Cold Asphalt

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 12 2013
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Artist: Quarz (@)
Title: Five Years On Cold Asphalt
Format: CD
Label: CrĂ³nica (@)
Rated: *****
Slithering low frequencies, oxidised sounds, dull tumbles, subdued shouts and a general feeling of decay impregnate the first part of this one track album by Quarz, a Wien-based collective project assembled by versatile musician Alexandr Vatagin, member of Tupolev and Port-Royal and label boss of Valeot Records, who involved many musicians of the lively artistic entourage of the Austrian capital, such as Stefan Meneth (Radian, Lokai), Alexander Schubert (Sinebag), Nicolas Bernier, Martin Siewert (Trapist, Heaven And) together with two guests, Bernhard Breuer (young drummer of Elektro Guzzi and Metalycee) and David Schweighart, Tupolev co-airman, who gave same field recordings on the occasion of "Five Years on Cold Asphalt". Then the sound perks up before alternates ups and downs, so that it could surmised a sort of underlying narrative intent about the facts of life, where temporary relief gets followed depressive moments in an erratic way. Such an epic odissey conveys the musical path by each contributor and even if there are some occasional hesitancies, this hybridization together with a certain shoegaze-like approach succeed in avoiding that high-falutin drift, which is quite common for similar bands. Quarz sometimes lacks in that completeness which has been reached by other ensembles, but they're coming closer and closer to it.

Bungle: Astral Travel/Aura

 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 11 2013
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Artist: Bungle (@)
Title: Astral Travel/Aura
Format: 12"
Label: Soul:R
Rated: *****
Another breach in the wall of hearts of drum'n'bass followers from Markus Intalex's Soul:R bears the name of the talented Brazilian musician Andre' Olivera Sobota, better known as Bungle, who doesn't goof up the beat on this lovely release in spite of his moniker. Mr.Intalex already played some stuff by Bungle on the occasion of some dj sets, but he preferred to use the utmost discretion about the author till now and he already announced a series of releases on his label by Andre'. The first track "Astral Travel" is pure bliss for lovers of airglowing stuff: after 40 seconds of routine maintenance of rocket engines, the listener gets pushed upwards by gild synths and aerostatic tunes, whose last descending triplet adds a certain sense of melancholy as well. During this ascension, which seems to be propelled by feverish tickling of astronomical clocks, just don't look down! The second track "Aura" sounds equally uplifting and breezy, but the feathered progression of rhythmical pattern with a stress on the eighth step could remind his Brazilian masters - he got ideally initiated to drum'n'bass by Dj Patife and he sometimes coupled the somewhat legendary Dj Marky -. A really good way to start 2013 for Soul:R.

William Basinski + Richard Chartier: Aurora Liminalis

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 09 2013
cover
Artist: William Basinski + Richard Chartier (@)
Title: Aurora Liminalis
Format: CD
Label: Line (@)
Rated: *****
Gee whiz! I cannot but exclaim so when I read the names of two grand masters of frontier sonic disciplines, Richard Chartier and William Basinski, who already showed how complementary their sonic languages are on "Untitled", which was releases almost ten years ago by Spekk. Chartier's personal declension of minimalism as a collection of entities on the threshold between silence and sound and Basinski's pulchritudinous harmonies in ultra slow motion coalesce again on this highly visionary 45 minutes lasting track, whose title "Aurora Liminalis" and beautiful cover artwork sound like a sort of walk-through for listeners. It could be splitted in two parts: on the first one, there's a sort of gradual ascension, where Basinski and Chartier describe a dawn in minute details, so that listeners could almost feel they managed to expose each single photon of each sun ray as well as the gradual spreading of light by means of a slow fade-in which manages to evoke this daily spectacular natural show and the charming paint of its inanimate and animate onlooker and bystanders. While you could imagine that sunbeams are trying to reach the abyss of oceans, the sonic watershed begins to sneak in just after nine minutes. It slowly taxies and percolates till it becomes clearly distinguishable and sounds hypnotic as if it were the sonic representation of chores, social conventions and any possible epiphany of self-identity, which could divert attention from surrounding happenings, whose sonic comeback sounds tardive as the sun is already withdrawing and dragging the colours from the world. The singed electric buzz on the final part of the descending phase of "Aurora Liminalis" almost evokes the metaphoric smouldering of the night and the soot of the fog, where the bonfires of artificial lights could let you think about the last burning points of an almost completely charred leaf soon thereafter the sun removed its colourful warm mantle. You shouldn't wonder how an ambient record could suggest such a scenery when sonic scenographers are so talented. A proper little masterpiece.

Jojo Blue: First On Air

 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 08 2013
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Artist: Jojo Blue
Title: First On Air
Format: CD
Label: MENU (@)
Rated: *****
The hyperbolic ascending directrices that the sound by talented Slovakian producer Jozef Miklos aka Jojo Blue on his debut album, released by Czech label MENU, are clear since the introductive track "Hactba", where some seagull cries, a sort of fairy angelic choir and the sea breeze confuses with the enthralling suavity and the veiled melancholia of harp, strings and a bassoon by evoking a mysteriously holy and naturally mystical dimension, which he manages to integrate with his sampledelic dubstep and its possible variations over the album, even if the initial chod progression on that kind of organ which was widely used by garage-house producers on the following "Apocalypto" could mislead listeners before the heavy and skeletal step and the typically dubstep grinding bass burst into the sequence of instrumental sketches he progressively adds. Jojo Blue's skills in bouncing beats and samples (mainly extracts from movies, old songs and vocals under exstatic raptures) is quite evident since these first rushing beats but become clearer and clearer over the listening: the puffed dry beat of the catchy "Blue Down" got enhanced by dropping samples (particularly amazing that sort of banjo), which on the following "Jocker" have been used to make the portrait of a devilish jester; on "Anthem Of Science (for Lilien)" - maybe the best track on "First On Air" -, Jozef builds splashes of bubbly dub which sounds performed by researchers during laboratory tests, while he peppers the following "Cybersex" with sizzling computational fibrillations, which surface in the initial part of the following "Goral Cut" as well, where you could surmise he awoke some Carpathian female vampires and the mummy of some monk who conducted a Gregorian choir by means of some spell casted from the handbook of an unknown necromancer, before narcotizing them again for the definitive eternal sleep on the soulful "Fusion", where he seems to reprise some "vintage" sounds of the last 90ies. Even if some rhythmical patterns could be still improved and in spite of its nostalgic halo, Jojo Blue managed to suggest a possible way to the so-called and somewhat undefined post-dubstep. Have more than one listening.


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