Music Reviews

Jun 08 2012
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Artist: PBK & Zanstones (@)
Title: Mantis Fog Desert
Format: CD
Label: Monochrome Vision (@)
Distributor: Monochrome Vision
Rated: *****
This russian label Monochrome Vision ( represent for me a beautiful reality into the independent musical scene of Eastern Europe. This scene is becoming during those years more interesting and rich. The Monochrome Vision offer a number of interesting works. I invite you to visit his web site where, in addition to a catalog, you will find a very nice interface that stands out, among many different labels of the electronic/gray area, for it rigorous and geometrical graphic approach, full of shiny white color and total black.

This kind of black & white "esplendor geometric " becomes also a graphic choice even revived on the covers of his albums. And I imagine also this choice want to emphasize the care and rigor of the label into his selection of their authors and materials. So I would talk to you today just one of those works produced by the strict Monochrome Vision. An album that is titled "Mantis Fog Desert" and is signed by the double name PBK & Zanstones.

I must confess that before listening to this album, I enjoyed the presentation in the notes written inside the cover where one of the two authors describe the other as an insomniac because of his need to experiment and continuously produce electronic music. For this reason I went around the web to learn more. And I saw that PBK stands for Phillip B. Klinger and Zanstones is one of the many pseudonyms of an old acquaintance of electronic experimentation, which is called Zan Hoffman.

Of PBK/Phillip Klinger and his works , unfortunately, I have not any direct knowledge. So I prefer to trust the words of Don Campau published on his "Living Archive of Electronic Music" ( Is an interesting website which I highly recommend especially to all those of you who loves the roughness and the analog low-fi music of "cassette-culture" and the experimental manipulation based on audio tapes. Into his Living Archive website Campau (who is surely an expert) describes for us, in excited way, the musician Phillip B. Klinger and also which tells of his sound experimentation as the fruit of long experience in fact started in the mid 80's. So I think we can trust to PBK. I report here for you, in a few lines, a little part of that presentation:

< ... I always admired , respected and enjoyed the work I had heard by PBK over the years. For the first few years I didn't even know his real name although it was embedded, but shrouded in his releases. To me there was a type of mystery in what he did because the sounds were so far out, alien like and strange. However, Phillip B. Klinger is not only an intelligent, articulate and eloquent spokesman for his art but is inclusive and a genuinely nice and engaging fellow. He has also made some of the most outstanding and creative work in the experimental, home recording field...>

In addition to the words of Campau then add the fact that, together with a musician like Phillip B. Klinger joins, into this album Mantis Desert Fog which I am presenting, another important name as Zan Hoffman/ Zanstones, who is not only a good electronic musician, but is also the founder of the label ZH27 (
If you've never heard of ZH27, even in this case I think it is enough to visit the web area contains the catalog of this label and many works of Zan Hoffman, to get an idea of who I'm talking about. You'll find that the production of audio ZH27 and Zan Hoffman is nothing short of immense and continues without interruption for over 25 years.

It's hundreds and hundreds of albums. I thought that the union of these two authors, on the same musical work, was so sure index of quality music. And after listening to me has fully confirmed the initial supposition. Mantis Fog Desert proved to be fact, since first hearing, a long and beautiful series of 8 musical suites, consisting of a successful amalgam of electronic and noise, perfectly mixed and enjoyed listening to both, some peoples devotee of this musical genre or any neophyte that attracted for the first time from this type of sound.

This album, after repeated and careful listening, reveals a hot core of instinctive conceptual substance enclosed in a casing that is its musical form more aesthetic and technologically sophisticated. The album have 8 tracks. Half of these tracks is to last more than 8 minutes each. And the other half has a duration on average about 5 minutes. But only first 5 track are realized by all two musicians.
Into the next 2 track Zanstones works alone (titled are 'The Jor Bangla Effect' and 'Disentangling Bilot Kaf'), and also PBK plays alone into the last very long track (over 10 minutes) titled 'Paranoia Corridor'.

Their instinctive but concrete musical concept of working realize a sort of small, intense symphony for electronic and musical waves and noise, condensed into these 8 tracks. And it's amazing how, who can play either solo or in pairs, they create a dense sound and very intense. A sound with a great aesthetic appeal but also imbued with an air of conceptual and strange psychedelic substance intended for inner reflection. In this record there are no short tracks or fast rhythm, but only long musical carpets where every sound listening requires to find the correct time for a proper breath. All tracks are beautiful and elaborate, and build a labyrinth of sound around the listener. Labyrinth into which entry is easy but the output is difficult to find.

Each of these track reveal in fact a prelude sound and a sinuous development, with no clear conclusion, in the most positive sense of the term. Nothing is permanently closed into the infinite pathway of music by this strange and alien 'Mantis' who wanders through the mists of the desert. Nothing is developed to an end and nothing is locked between a beginning and another ending that are signs for a set a definitive cycle. On this journey through the desert, which is musical and conceptual, each cycle repeated and becomes theoretically infinite. They are cycles of day and night, light and dark, black and white.

Each piece of Mantis Fog Desert is thus resulting in a loop, and one being related. Loop for himself and about himself but also with the song that precedes and follows it. This disc may be the first chapter of a suite that becomes infinite. And you could become its slaves from the first listen. Because it is easy to get pleasantly lost in the dawn mists of this desert in the pitch dark religious listening of this mantis. Even happened to me to hear this record, several times in succession without having decided. It happened to me last night, while surfing the net and writing, for Chain DLK, this review.

It's been like if I lose on the way, listening to this album and thanks its sounds intriguing and fascinating, in a night journey made light of dawn blue leds in my monitor whit the many colors of the net. And I'm unaware of the lapse of several hours. When I stopped listening to this work was done daily. And the fog, with many mists of the dark night are gone. But the taste of dawn remained, as happens after any nice journey through the night.

I wish you a pleasant journey to you and I recommend listening to this Mantis Fog Desert. Enjoy your trip through the mists of night in the desert. I'm sure, the good electronic music of PBK & Zanstones that will accompany you until the next sunrise.

Senking: Dazed

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 08 2012
Artist: Senking
Title: Dazed
Format: 12"
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
I'm not sure if these sonic pills by Senking, one artistic alias of Jens Massel, could be considered the completion or just an extension of his previous full-length album on Raster-Noton, titled "Pong", just like its predecessor "Tweek" due to the similarities of its shell as well as the sonic breeze coming from inside of it, but what really matters is the fact the musical treasures Jens extracts while diving towards the depths of human psychic abyss shore to our eardrums. This sort of mini-EP just includes two 7-minutes lasting tracks: the first one, "The Dance Hall Walk", immediately harpoons listener's mind with dark atmospheres, choking amalgamations of dub and downbeat, twitchy sonic strains propped with dubstep pickets and bevelled with an hypnotic melody, according to the tasty recipe which could be similar to the ones by recent acts such as Plaster on Kvitnu or less recent ones such as Sofa Surfers, Markus Kienzl and some releases by The Bug or Terranova. Sonic diving on B-side sounds more unruffled and fluffy and beyond the female counter this German sound sculptor could have kidnapped from Boards of Canada studios, the most immediate musical link of "Closing Eyes" is with eco-friendly mystical techno-ambient digression by Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere (it's quite nice the flukey anagraphical similarities as well), in particular with his debut-release Microgravity (chimes of "Cloudwalker II" come to mind while listening to "Closing Eyes"). By the way, avoid listening Dazed by means of low-fi laptop would be an authentic heresy!

Don Preston: Filters, Oscillators & Envelopes 1967-82

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 07 2012
Artist: Don Preston
Title: Filters, Oscillators & Envelopes 1967-82
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
Esteemed Belgian label Sub Rosa issues this bizarre audio-documentary about electronic pionierism of Don Preston, one of the key figure orbiting around legendary Frank Zappa's The Mothers of Invention, whose staid hippie-like figure behind old-fashioned synths has been immortalized in many clips. Known for his distinctive touch and his unflinching wonder for sonic research, he deeply influenced the stylistical path of that band and issues such as Uncle Meat or Ahead of Their Time, which marked Zappa's veering towards jazz as well as a more accentuated stylistical syncretism, are considired as authentic miliar stones of the evolutionary stages of MoI's sound and even if he was member of the combo for a limited time-span, his stamp was clear even after the arrival of Ian Underwood. Don Preston's vision was shining through his linear notes on Uncle Meat yet: "We're coming to the beginning of a new era wherein the development of the inner self is the most important thing. We have to train ourselves. So that we can improvise on anything: a bird, a sock, a fuming beaker. This is, this too can be music. Anything can be music." His prominent enthusiasm for possibilities given by electronic music devices, which remarkably widened expressive chances for musicians as well as the scope of investigation for sonic explorers, led him to enrich his creativity with deep listening of some masters of concrete and electroacoustic music such as Luciano Berio, Karheinz Stockhausen and Tod Dockstader while focusing on these magical sonic machines called synths - he developed a self-made instrument by combining an home-made synthesizer with various filters and oscillators - the one used for the assemblage of "Electronic", the first long-lasting track of this selection, recorded in 1967 - and gave his personal contributions to the enhancement and the integration in traditional line-ups of Mini-Moog, due to his close friedship with his inventor, Robert Moog. The placement collective imagination could assign to Don preston could prompt the association of some sounds to other elements of that scene - for example, the caterwaul-like whistle in the second track, the first of "Analog Heaven", a sort of mini-album recorded in 1975, included in this collection, could be mistaken for the whimpering of some groupie! -, but careful listener are going to enjoy, almost immediately, Preston's mindblowing style and tonal games whose dynamics could recall molly twist bracelets, as well as the attempt of giving to the compostion a certain cinematic attitude, in accordance with many musical researches of that age so that it's almost spontaneous thinking about those fish-eye, multi-coloured or filtered scenes when movie makers tried to represent some character's point of view under the effect of some mind-altering psychotic drug!

Wil Bolton: Under A Name That Hides Her

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 06 2012
Artist: Wil Bolton
Title: Under A Name That Hides Her
Format: 12" vinyl + CD
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
This interesting release (the first on vinyl issued by Hibernate, adding a more remarkable patina to its main theme, related to nostalgia, whose musical translations seem to attract and fascinate an increasing number of listeners) signed by Wil Bolton aka CHEjU and titled from a quote referred to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice - "Under A Name That Hides Her" - echoing in Wil's consciousness while reading "the Space of Literature" by Maurice Blanchot seems a sort of skinny dipping in the ocean of memories or I'd better say it's a walking in unforgettable gardens if I consider the occasional field recordings with a specific spatial position (chirping birds or maybe call notes taken in the ruins of a medieval castle in Beaumaris, North Wales, seagulls and the lapping of waves around a lighthouse in Anglesey, noises grabbed during a rain shower from behind the window of his flat in Liverpool, other alluring natural sounds grabbed within a forest in Scottish Highlands as well as sounds taken from inside atrain during a journey in North Africa), a spontaneous mental dive which seems to have been conceived when Wil was looking for inspiration by many guitar-driven bands such as The velvet Underground, The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine and The Cure he used to listen when he was a young pup. Those musical references are just rhizomatic and even if they look like dropping from tubular bells, nylon guitar plucks, electronic celesta and harp-like tolls, they've been masterfully amalgamated by Wil in the exhalations coming from inside his magical sonic cauldron taking heed of the main features of mnemonic process with bright sounds which suddenly black out, broken harmonies, blind alleys and cones of shadow. After "Time Lapse" on Hibernate and many release for other labels (Cathedral Transmissions, Distant Noise, Time Released Sound, Rural Colours, Boltfish, Kahvi Collective and so on), Wil Bolton comes back on the stage with the umpteenth great and catchy ambient record.

Rapoon: Disappeared Redux

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 05 2012
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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Disappeared Redux
Format: CD
Label: zoharum (@)
Zoharum releases the new album of Rapoon, well known moniker of Robin Storney, created after his influencing experience with Zoviet France. Properly speaking, this album is a reissue because it was released as a limited CDR edition and now is remastered and reworked and seven minutes longer, so the "redux" of the title is a joke?
"sunshine in the parlour" opens this album with a piano line while "Days like rain" is a more regular, if this term means something for one of the innovators of this genre, ambient track familiar to everyone who like this artist's work. "Lost caress" is a quiet atmospheric track. "Dust rattle" is a lesson on how a bunch of small noises could be cinematic. "The outside shadow" is a lied for piano without voice. "We walked in diamonds" is movement for violin loop. "Breath of ages" is perhaps the more reminiscent track of the author's past while "a clock in every room" is a ritual ambient exercise of style. "The declining of lace" is a quiet soundscape for resonances while "Snow legend" is a soundscape made out of voices and small noise. "Pig vampires" continues the use of small violin samples when "a pale blue door" is almost religious in his evocative soundscapes and "she never came" close this album with a piano lines as the opening track.
Honestly speaking, Robin Storney continues his musical journey under his usual influences, inspiration and musical style but the quality of his work is really remarkable and enjoyable for all his fans. One of the masters of this genre. Unrankable.

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