Music Reviews



PAS: Flanked By Women And Pumpkins

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 28 2012
cover
Artist: PAS (@)
Title: Flanked By Women And Pumpkins
Format: CD
Label: Alrealon Musique (@)
Distributor: Plastic Head
Rated: *****
From subterranean corridors to ghostly '50s living rooms, NY 5-piece (and guests) PAS take you for an odd, auditory journey. Described by spokesperson Robert L. Pepper as "more soundscapes than "songs" in the traditional sense," there is still a dystopian sci-fi vibe that makes for a coherent listen.

Employing a battery of traditional band instruments - guitar, bass, drums, keys, trumpets, and percussion - PAS then illuminates these grooves with sonic bric-a-brac - found sounds, field recordings, and countless synthesizers. PAS flirt with atonal jazz, sound collage, doom metal, and '80s horror movie music during its sixty-minute duration. What could have been a stylistic clusterfuck ends up instead as an engaging auditory hallucination; a streak through the collective HORRORSHOW id of its creators. Don't get me wrong, this record is not cloaked in shadows and soaked in gore. If anything, its more polished chrome and burning red neon than cobwebs and candles.

The band claims that 'Flanked By Women And Pumpkins,' conceived during a tour of Poland in 2011, is "uncommercial". "There are no clearly defined melodies, no structural landmarks that give you any sense of traditional anchor," says Robert L. Pepper. The thing they may not realize is that many of us have spent the last 10 years blowing the dust out of our Eustachian canals with krautrock, harsh noise, drones, and field recordings. I have found, after repeated investigations, that 'FBWAP' falls nicely in line with the current Zeitgeist. Anybody that gets off on the endless grooves of classic cosmische jams, retro-futuristic techno, or John Carpenter-esque synthesizer scores, will find much meat on this bone.

I was all primed to hate this record, initially turned off by the glossy cardboard packaging, but the initial warm bass pulse of 'Electric Rain On Adams Bridge' seduced me. It comes off like a techno record, before degenerating into noisy crackling, then sluicing through some disembodied jazz. Its not as incoherent as it sounds; there is a universal pulse to this record. Its got a groove. It worked its way into my kitchen CD player for a week, before moving onto my headphones, making my trips to the bank and the shoestore far more futuristic and abstract.

'Flanked By Women And Pumpkins' was produced and mastered by Robert L. Pepper, dispelling the myth that a musician can't mix and master their own work. He has a deft touch; the recordings are full and well-rounded, and help to distinguish this record from the legions of bland noise imitators. Every sonic element is glowingly rendered in spacious reverb; all the pieces work as a whole. There are no jarring changes in volume, surprising considering the varied genres and instrumentation. The spell is never broken, and the listener is treated to 12 surreal, walking dreamscapes.

Purveyors of art-house classicism and bored-room jazz, take note. There may be clues here as to how 'high-brow' 20th-century Avant-Garde techniques can come together with current DIY-sweaty basement experimentation.

Uncommercial, my left ear. Go buy this.

Kid606: Lost in the Game

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 26 2012
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Artist: Kid606 (@)
Title: Lost in the Game
Format: CD
Label: Tigerbeat6 (@)
Rated: *****
Time waits for no one. Neither for fitness guru Jane Fonda and musical marketing guru Madonna, nor for other strenuous fighters of telomeres and free radicals in the name of eternal youth. One of the possible way to escape from nature is leaving some (possibly good, but not necessarily valuable!) trace through arts, science or ethics. Former prodigious boy of IDM, glitch and breakcore scene, the Venezuelan beat-juggler Miguel Trost De Pedro, known as Kid606 since the times when he used to find his ways into the hearts of fans of Aphex Twin or other IDM glorious forerunners, wittingly restrains himself from joking about his anagraphical ageing (updating his moniker into Adult606 could be equally ridicolous as if the above-mentioned Madonna would have turned her name into Holy MILF), but he rather prefers to refurbish his style by putting the punk aesthatics he enucleated in his sound aside. The novelty for Kid606's sound in "Lost in the Game" is the prevalence of melody over hotchpotches of samples and beats, as it's clear since the initial "Godspeed You African American Emperor" - a funny pun based on the name of the notorious Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You Black Emperor with a possible allusion to the forthcoming American presidential voting days, which will decide the leader of further butcheries for oil and money - as well as the suppuration of a more pensive mood as if ripeness would have broght more waggles for thought and soul than for muscles and bones, which have been digested by Kid606 with the same old caustic mood he use to express by the choice of titles ("Night Club vs. Book Club", "I Want To Join a Cult", "I Need to Start a Cult", "Big Black Ketamine Jesus", Left Hand Pathfinder" and so on). The function of beats sounds different than his past tracks: their stage presence seems to be aimed to furnish melodies, beats and other percussive elements are more like dots to join melodic lines, which often leaves a sonic trail in the tide of each track (as if they were the pleasant sensation of an awakening after a nice dream) and the loud and somewhat grumbling basslines, which shakes many moments of the album - , sound like absorbing the medicinal properties of blooming fluffy organs, flutey synths and arcade games' squeezing, so much as I'd say some of the better tracks are almost or completely beatless ("Cardamom's Gone Soft" or the feeble lovely paleness and the feeling of vanishing of the final "I'm Sick but I Ain't Dead") together with many brilliant rhythimical ones as well ("Baroque and Out of Money", "Step Into the Light You Fucking Idiot" and "Left Hand Pathfinder" are definitively my favorite ones). Regardless of the reasons, identity crisis or religious-tinged flashes of inspiration, I'd say this unusual (more adult-like?) garment is going to keep on divining his listener's tastes.

KoldVoid: Roadside Ghosts

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Oct 24 2012
cover
Artist: KoldVoid (@)
Title: Roadside Ghosts
Format: CD
Label: Valse Sinistre (@)
Rated: *****
Releases like this one by Romanian project KoldVoid are normally filed under the eerie label "ghost ambient". If I have to accept such an occult way of labelling music on the basis of the suggested paraphrase of the title of this collection of tracks recorded between 2008 and 2011, I'd say this music appeals with the portraits of so benevolent and almost seducing phantasmagoric entities that you could wish to meet them while hitch-hiking by the roadside in spite of the addition of somewhat disquieting French clips from noir movies and the cryptic intro, which could be imagined coming from those iconic horror-style organs with keys made from finger bones. The first tracks sound not so dissimilar from other repertories belonging to this branch of ambient such as those ones by Svartsinn, Northaunt or Desiderii Marginis, but the appearance of a guitar on "Phantasma" and of a faint piano on the following "Nostalgia" anticipates the cinematic hooks, which will be clearer in following moments of the recordings, the ones I honestly prefer just for the resemblances of the notorious Twin Peaks' soundtrack by Badalamenti and Lynch when KoldVoid reaches the stylistical zenith with highly immersive and entrancing tracks such as the sweet intimacy of "Ephemeral", the glimmering paleness of "Arctic Silence", the spoooky charm of "Eyes Of The Bottom-People" - sounding like some squeeze of Tor Lundvall's music - or the thrilling chillness of "Sailing Without Sails". This album could be perfect to drive during a foggy night. I'm pretty sure some mist-shrouded ghost could make an appearance, especially if you boozed all night long...

Emanuele De Raymondi: Buyukberber Variations

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 24 2012
cover
Artist: Emanuele De Raymondi (@)
Title: Buyukberber Variations
Format: CD
Label: ZerOKilled Music (@)
Rated: *****
Many people, who are digging the improvisational soils and their exotic seeds, could be conversant with Turkish born clarinet virtuoso Oguz Buyukberber for his nice tapping style and his musical syncretism, which aggregates elements from American jazz, European classical music and Turkish traditional one, but they supposedly ignore the talented Italian avant-garde sound artist Emanuele De Raymondi, who recently recorded his debut release in an inspirational loft in Kreuzberg, Berlin, in spite of his remarkable collaborations and performing experiences and just chose Buyukberber's improvisations to give proof of his acquaintance with electronic compositional techniques. Clarinet, "extended" techniques and electronics have never been in cahoots like in the most recent years - think about known and unknown musicians such as Milos Sugar, Karlheinz Essl, Georg Antoniv, Harold Rubin and many others -, but the sublimation of this nice member of winds family, which manages to produce "rissoles" of amalgamated high frequencies and bizarre harmonics, by De Raymondi sounds focused not only on different treatments of its sound - I particularly enjoyed the ones when Emanuele seems to stretch clarinet's voice and Oguz's breathe like in the second (superb!) and seventh variations as well as those ones when he "pricks" frequencies or manages to make them hiccup as he emulates a sort of cutting edge -, but also on a careful and extremely clear study on spatial placement of sound, which could be helped by the location he chose for the recording. The dedication of this debut release to Giorgio Mortari, the head behind the highly regarded and notorious festival Dissonanze, which he successfully organized in Rome by inviting very important names of different stylistical fields of electronic music, is really moving.

Gudrun Gut: Wildlife

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 22 2012
cover
Artist: Gudrun Gut (@)
Title: Wildlife
Format: CD
Label: Monika Enterprise (@)
Rated: *****
Former member of the primordial Einsturzede Neubaten line up, founder of the seminal female band Malaria!, milestone of German post-punk scene, label manager of the appreciated Monika Enterprises, whose musicians have often been a finishing line whenever reviewers used to speak about the so-called forlktronica, club promoter, voice and selector of the weekly radio show Oceanclub together with Thomas Fehlmann, Gudrun Gut has been justifiably considered one of the so pioneering key figure of Berlin scene that she could be likened to an historical monument of that huge creative smithy. That's why the fact she decided to move out of Berlin - she entirely recorded "Wildlife" in Uckermark, a countryside town, sited not so far from German capital city - in order to get inspired for her new album and her temporary transplanting and seclusion in a rural environment could sound a little bit strange for a character who sounded so accustomed to an urban aesthetics. Although such a "coming back to nature" could be considered a return to the source - she grew up on the Lunenburg Heath - or ascribed to the general rediscovery of a natural dimension as a follow-on from the crisis of individualism, the marrow of her sound still linger on electronic structures, which oscillates between primeval new wave and industrial dance aesthetics and contemporary dub-techno, but her sonic language looks like pierced by "orgonic" and organic energies: therefore whenever her synths secretes sticky sounds (like in the dub-driven "How Can I Move" or in the darker "Tiger"), it seems she just echoes the secretion of resin as well as some percussive elements sounds like coming from tree hollows. While listening the album, you could almost feel that natural environment gradually hugging Gudrun's sensitivity, which looks like going native in many moments of the album, such as in the blissful feeling of con/fusion and annihilation of "Little Nothing", in the daydreaming abandon of the lovely "Slow Snow", in the progressive detachment from social roles and scripts (as it seems to be suggested by "Erinnerung"), in the contemplative mood of the enraptured "Leaves Are Falling", in the immersive experiencing of freedom of "Frei Sein" as well as when she looks like singing about a moment when she develops an awareness of physical human finitude by means of an eloquent and allusive revision of Bonnie Tyler's "The Best" - the most known cover is undoubtedly the one sung by Tina Turner -, whose almost recitative interpretation could remind Romy Haag or Amanda Lear singing styles.


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