Music Reviews



Aaron Dilloway / Jason Lescalleet: Grapes and Snakes

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 29 2012
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Artist: Aaron Dilloway / Jason Lescalleet (@)
Title: Grapes and Snakes
Format: 12"
Label: PAN (@)
Rated: *****
I won't start this review with expressions like "once upon a time", but I have to admit I felt tempted to do so while speaking about releases like this one, whose explorations by means of old fashioned analogue synths, recording techniques or tools, including the glorious tape recorder, which could inspire the same enchantment of a well-stocked antique store, could lead some listeners to believe that the apex of sonic research is not the perfect cleanliness of digital sound. I have no precise idea about the explanation of the title "Grapes & Snakes", even if a friend who owns a recording studio told me that he heard the slangy use of both words from some sound engineers - grapes, rhyming with tapes, could allude to green led lights under peak levels on mixer decks (similar to bunches of grapes), while snakes could refer to the typical pattern of soundwaves -, but I don't like puzzling with similar oddities. However I noticed some similaraties of the stereophonic movements of the sounds on the first track "Shattered Capsules" with the ones of water serpents, portrayed on the very elegant silkscreened pvc sleeve, when they wrap around something as well as the amazing and somewhat estranging pricks on sonic patchy fog and other (sometimes primordial, but extremely seducing) ways for interlacing sounds. Whereas the progressions on the above-mentioned "Shattered Capsules" sounds more straight, the second 20-minutes lasting track on B-side, "Burning Nest", sounds like a psychoacoustic storm, which gets gradually drenched with trembling low frequencies and droney dirty injections. The stylistical garment, which might recall some combinations between tape records and primordial industrial - not so far from some experiments by Mika Vainio -, could be explained by the background of the musicians: Aaron Dillaway was one of the most imaginative member of Wolf Eyes and borrowed his mindblowing, highly energetic and emotionally purging climaxes to a plenty of important projects of the experimental and noise electronic scene, while Jason Lescalleet scouted old-fashioned equipment and tactics in order to explore microscopic audio detail and really extreme sonorities. Their collaboration could be better appreciated if listened with close eyes, just like some stuff by Conrad Schnitzler or other forerunners of this sonic researches.

Mark Harris: An Idea of North/Learning to Walk

 Posted by Barton Graham   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 28 2012
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Artist: Mark Harris
Title: An Idea of North/Learning to Walk
Format: CD
Label: n5MD
Rated: *****
Very quiet, almost silent. A faint whisper of sound begins to fade in; very ambient, casual field recordings begin to sparsely populate this space before a light texture begins to comfortably drone in. So begins the opening track on 'An Idea of North/Learning to Walk' by Mark Harris. A refreshing effort that is extremely easy to listen to and get lost in, but doesn't slip away into the background some releases of its kind. The entire record is very soothing, emotional and dreamlike. It almost puts the listener into a trance with its airy textures, harmonics and ambience. Harris says his intent was to create a journey through various landscapes and environments and he has done that with fierce precision. Song to song it flows seamlessly and effortlessly with such a calming effect that even soothed this savage beast. Through his amazing arrangement of delicate space and tone interwoven with field recordings, gentle white noise washes and even a single lone melody has ensured this will be a journey you'll want to take again and again.

Thought Broadcast: Emergency Stairway

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 28 2012
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Artist: Thought Broadcast
Title: Emergency Stairway
Format: 12"
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
The very first beats of "Conflict Dub", the first track of this interesting release by Ravi Binning's Though Broadcast, recalled to my mind a group of fuddled chemist while grinding fictitious molecules with a peddle conducted by the suspicious gaze of a dour hunchbacked accounted, but beyond any kind of fuzzy associations of broadcasted thoughts such a music could inspire one of the most interesting aspect of this strange creature is its bizarre aesthetics. Even if there are some tracks such the claustrophobic pitting of "Breaking Test" or the sooty and dirt minimal dub of "Portrait Heads", which looks like recorded with a toy keyboard powered by almost dead batteries, whose recording is so well-done that listeners cannot easily recognize they've been extracted from a cassette, the painstaking and excellent work of recording and mastering at Dubplates and Mastering in Berlin from a pair of cassettes doesn't removed the whoosh of tape, so that "Emergency Stairway" could be associated to some forgotten or unpublished tape by some leading figure of the most bizarre and esoteric branch of industrial music, such as Suicide, Throbbing Gristle (many moments of Ravi's work recalled their recent "The Third Mind Movements") or some insane experiments by Wolf Eyes (particularly the ones on "Dead Hills") or The Residents, but - that's one of the most bizarre aesthetical aspect! - seemingly performed by a stiff and paranoid mad dubster. It could sound grim or wicked, but I recommend a listening, particularly if you appreciate the above-mentioned historical industrial activists.

Gianluca Becuzzi / Luigi Turra: In Winter

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 23 2012
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Artist: Gianluca Becuzzi / Luigi Turra (@)
Title: In Winter
Format: CD
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
One of the most interesting branch of ambient and neo-classical music, but also the one which exposes musicians to the risk of misfiring and getting jammed by stylistical platitudes and "already listened" stuff, is the "seasonal" one, which tries to use sounds as if they were paintbrushes in order to portray a particular season. The prolific Italian sound artist Gianluca Becuzzi joined together with Luigi Turra, who already made similar two-headed collaborations where he usually explores aural sonorities, in order to give "voice" to winter: most of tracks focused on the research of a balance between an evocative set of natural field recordings and sound objects by Becuzzi and slow, melancholic and often muffled (as they have been stopped by icy hard ground and crystallized landscapes) melodies on acoustic guitar and piano by Turra, which gradually sound like melting together whereas sustained reverbations of the last tones blur into gentle glacial breezes or scatter over a surreal silent scenery so that it seems to stare by sound at a person within the emotionless uniformity of a mute snowy expanse. Both Turra's minimal tonal weaves and Becuzzi's sonic faint setting seems more focused on the building of a deeply immersive virtual reality for the listener than on the maniacal research of musical perfection (maybe some common headphones which emphasize low frequencies won't neatly render some amplified stresses on low tones) and if listeners predispose themselves to such an experience, they will easily appreciate the enthralling recollection this couple of experienced sound artists patiently assembled.

Steven Severin: Vampyr

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Sep 19 2012
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Artist: Steven Severin (@)
Title: Vampyr
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Also known as "The Strange adventure of Allan Grey", Vampyr has been considered one of the miliar stones and cult classics of the whole vampire-related cinematography together with Murnau's "Nosferatu" and Browning's "Dracula", even if it's the only one which was not inspired by Bram Stoker: when Danish film director Carl Theodor Dreyer planned it together with its financial backer and leading actor Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg under the screen name Julian West, they preferred Sheridan Le Fanu writings to the ones by Stoker, so that Vampyr's plot contains a mixture of references taken not only to the sapphic vampire Carmilla, but mainly by Dr Hesselius, the first occult detective in literature, which after his debut in the pages of "In A Glass Darkly", quoted on this musical issue by the first track "Though A Glass Darkly", clearly inspired the portrait of Allan Gray and his most visionary moments of the movie, whereas the boundaries between real and unreal looks blurred. If you have the possibility to watch that movie, beyond the quotation of the Charon-like character appearing in the very first minutes of the movie by Arban on the sleeve design, you'll notice that Steven Severin, whose legendary past as bassist for Siouxsie and the Banshees doesn't seem to be eclipsed by his solo project as score composer - I've already introduced his previous soundtrack for Cocteau's "Blood of a Poet" -, perfectly follows the "rhythm" of the original movie by avoiding any temptation related to contemporary horror soundtracks so that the evoked scenes have been vividly called back by an evocative and sometimes stern dark-ambient suite. Sinister tolls, ectoplasmic atmospheres, haunting voices and other dusky imaginative suggestions are so catching that can fit a theme park focused on ghosts or haunted houses beyond its close connection to Dreyer's art.


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