Music Reviews

Original Past Life: Inference / Interference

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 28 2019
Artist: Original Past Life
Title: Inference / Interference
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Tone List
Three-piece Original Past Life use a combination of improvisation followed by studio reworking to craft a selection of quite gritty pieces that build thick and electronic atmospheres, drones and manipulations around an instrumental core of guitar, bass and drums to give a result that only hangs my a thin thread of connection to the conventional music those instruments are normally used for.

Michael Caratti’s percussion work is fairly organic and live-sounding, complex drumming that provides an anchor to jazz and ‘normal’ music. Adam Trainer’s bass work is generally quite languid, exploring long notes and sustains that work at a slow pace that pulls in interesting ways against the drums, while Warwick Hall’s guitar seem to have freer reign to twist itself into odd noises, scratches and impulsive expression.

All three of performers are also credited for ‘electronics’ and in pieces like “Serpentform”, the original instrumental work (if there is any) is so heavily processed as to be unrecognisable in a totally digital-sounding environment of rumbles and pulses. In its calmer and less distortion-washed moments it has shades of a moody M83, while “Blessing The Barn” has dub-like levels of reverb that feel nicely relaxed, compared to some of the other pieces which, while never overtly angry, sometimes come across as agitated.

It’s a strong collaborative effort that never really feels like it has struck new territory, but is still rewarding with 43 minutes of moody texture.

Cuts: A Gradual Decline

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 27 2019
Artist: Cuts
Title: A Gradual Decline
Format: CD
Label: Village Green (@)
Rated: *****
After the EP "A Slow Decay" already reviewed some time ago, Anthony Tombling Jr releases his debut album which is inspired by his concerns about the earth's fragility due to climate changes caused by human actiity. While "A Slow Decay" is something between minimalism and IDM, "A Gradual Decline" shows also ambient influences as there a certain use of drones and textures when there's not the presence of a beat.
"A Gradual Decline" is the only track present in both releases and starts quietly with loops starting sequentially until a beat underlines the rhythmic structure of the track and introducing its impressive melodic breaches. "Shattering Through" develops his synth melodic lines with a slower pace. The sharp distortions of "Polar" underlines its rhythmic structure. "From Here To Nowhere" is an ambient track based on piano chords and filtered female voices upon an ethereal soundscape. "Time Is Not Your Friend" and "Maboroshi" evolve from a drone to a melodic catchy tune. "Pollen" has a suspended atmosphere due to its use of resonances and echoes. "Beauty Collapsing" revolves around a mechanical beat. "Kernel Panic" alternate part based on complex beat to beatless and noisy ones. "Gravitational Loss" is a short drone interlude and "Fear Of Everything" is a long crescendo which proceeds by accumulation of sonic layers to create a soundscape of charming spectral density.
This release confirms the quality of sound construction hinted by the EP and will be enjoyed mainly by fans of IDM and ambient music and could even be listen among the releases of the year. Highly recommended.

Tańce Snu: Meander

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 23 2019
Artist: Tańce Snu (@)
Title: Meander
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
Tace Snu (Dances of the Dream) was the name of the first release of India Czajkowska and Sebastian Madejski and now is the name of the project which now includes also Christoph Matyaschek and Adam Rozenman. While its predecessor was mostly neoclassical ethereal, this one is more oriented towards folk and even some ambient elements appears in this recording of a concert done on 29.IX.17 in Warsaw; obviously the voices continue to have a lead role in the development of the track but now have to cope with a less minimalistic framework so they have to give musical space to the other instruments. The result is far more colorful than the debut.
The naturalistic setup of "Saraneti" is based upon traditional instruments as percussions and zither and the structure borrows from folk and ritual music.
"Holalia Ablakota" is a long track in two parts: the first one is a song for voice and dulcimer vaguely reminiscent of religious chants while the second one begins with a more complex relation between guitar, percussion and flute and a free structure with a coda base on the elements of the first track ending with solo voice. The suspended atmosphere of "Ilaperose" is based upon a clever use of synth which create a backdrop upon which the other instruments can move. "It Go Tona" is an instrumental track where flute and guitar have more freedom of movement. "Unsara Enditi" is a sort of lullaby with his reverb and quiet pace. "Kijamo" is based upon voices upon a dulcimer used as percussion and even guitar underline the articulation of the rhythm. "Elentiren" continues on the same framework but with a slower pace and the use of a xylophone. "Mestenija" is a weird song for voices and synth which closes the release.
This is a release at the threshold between traditional music, as its base is the folk song after all, and ambient music, as it relies on synth and electronic effect to shape the sound, whose writing is even able to mask the artist's influences. Really nice.

Stolen Light: Self Destruction

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 23 2019
Artist: Stolen Light (@)
Title: Self Destruction
Format: CD
Label: Zaftig Research
Rated: *****
Over the last year or so I have personally started to move toward a more positive focused lifestyle. If you can find a way to talk about your feelings or find a way to vent them in some creative manner this seems to work best.

Stolen Light is Brett Lunceford who I have known, chatted, and been fond of his work for years. This time he has released an album title like Self Destruction it sounds like this could possibly be a cry for help, but to me the music seems as if it is a good way for Brett to get out some anger and frustration. The first track is titled "Frustration" and it lets loose a barrage of harsh noise precisely layered and focused for a 15-minute assault on your ears. I would shy away from calling this a harsh noise wall because it does have some feeling and texture to it unlike a lot of the nihilistic emptiness of that scene, however, it would likely appeal to that audience.

"What The Hell Happened To Us?" is the second track which starts off with a more quiet approach, it takes me back a bit to the 3" CDr on Inner Demons titled Voices. This track goes in waves of these field recordings with background noise textures, that pan from left to right, to harsh blasts through out the 30-minutes. Often times I see a 30-minute track and I wonder if my short attention span will kick in and I will get bored, but it is kept interesting enough and kept my curiosity piqued.

The final track titled "Memories Reclaimed" has a cleaner field recording session from somewhere with people talking, the discussions are not clear but different voices are there. There is a constant less abrasive sound over the recording this time which almost seems more cathartic than the two previous tracks, this is a good finish to a solid album overall.

As I said in the beginning, as I get older I find it important to find ways to vent your frustrations and move past negative circumstances. Self Destruction has shown a healthy way of moving forward.

Amp: Entangled Time

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 23 2019
Artist: Amp
Title: Entangled Time
Format: 10"
Label: Ampbase
This release has been available since November for download, but it’s now available as a 10” from January 19th.

Described as a ‘concise album’, “Entangled Time” is apparently as a by-product of work on a ‘proper’ new album, though the distinction feels somewhat arbitrary and many artists would happily call this an album in its own right. Amp’s first new material since “Outposts” is a familiar set-up of long sustained string and synth melodies, calm vocal pads and (sometimes) deep melodic techno kick patterns.

“Drifting” is an apt name for the leisurely opener, which washes over you like waves- literal waves by the end, as beach sound effects appear. “Will-Oh Dreams” adopts a similar set-up melodically, minus the waves and bringing the feminine vocal sounds to the fore, but introducing a moderately tough drum pattern into the mix to framework everything. A brief interlude “Playing Time” which has a soft, under-nourished pulse to it. The final original piece “Opal Tears” takes a small step towards a more traditional song form, making the vocal sounds intermittent and layering up harp-like glissandoes washed in heavy dominating reverb.

The extended 16-minute version of “Will-Oh Dreams” is the most captivating self-contained piece, allowing a steady super-soft techno rhythm to interplay with the long sustained notes in a manner that will have a broad appeal that should span fans of slightly more mainstream equivalents such as M83.

It’s a richly textured bit of semi-ambient techno with some extremely lush and velvety sounds in it, and a certain elegance to boot.

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