Music Reviews



Vortex: Rockdrill

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 27 2011
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Artist: Vortex
Title: Rockdrill
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
According to the linear note of this album, rockdrill is the history of the sculpture made by Sir Jacob Epstein and depicted in the pictures in the curated booklet. So this is, in fact, a work about the (con)struction and (de)struction of a work. The history of the rockdrill is a strange one: a sculpture destroyed by the war, reconstructed and, casted again, partially destroyed by the author unsatisfied by the result.
"Rockdrill I" opens this release with a drone that develops in an almost industrial beat, "Canto Spoleto" relies on spoken word part that try to evoke a nostalgic novel of past times. "Spiral" is an oppressive drone coloured by atmospheric samples. "Fatalism" use a classical guitar line to brighten the musical journey. "Iron Cage" juxtapose an almost religious chorus above a martial beat. "Persistance" and "Asylum" are ambient tracks constructed above samples that are almost an introduction to the final part of this album. "Construction" marks the part of the reconstruction with metal resonances and and a soundtrack-type texture. "The Fall" is an atmospheric track relying on a ritualistic beat while "Rockdrill II" is a solar tune based on a clear drone. "Epilogue: Canto Zero" begins with an high frequency noise above a sad line of guitar and ends with metallic resonance above a martial beat.
This release has the unusual quality to be able to tell a story, so it's one of the best release of the year. Truly recommended.

Spheruleus: Voyage

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 23 2011
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Artist: Spheruleus (@)
Title: Voyage
Format: CD
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
Drone music's intrinsic quality of abstractness doesn't lead most of its authors into the temptation of looking for concrete or narrative references to describe or just frame it, so that this album by Lincolnshire based sound designer Harry Towell aka Spheruleus could be considered an oddity by some reviewers, as Voyage has been inspired by an imaginary adventurous travel on some vessel. Such an inspiration has been foddered by Harry's intensive reading of some books related to the historical great sea disasters, such as Gareth Hardwick's "Of The Sea And Shore" or Gavin Byars'"The Sinking Of The Titanic", but his album doesn't refer to any particular sinking ship. The choice of the mentioned subject is going to give listener's thoughts a precise direction; therefore you're going to think to the meticulous operations of a worried fitter-out during the listening ofthe initial track "All For Sea" as well as the noisy scrap-iron giving the idea of some working on contraptions for recovering some parts after wreckage, the hiccuping shabby phrasing of a guitar, whose metronome seems to be replaced by the breathe of some member of the crew while mixing with the queasy smell of putrid algae, the mellow sound drops getting the sea-echoing drone rougher in the final one "Afterlife Of A Ship". As the ship casts off the moorings, the creaking of the planks, the diapason-like reverberations and the trembling frequencies which sound pushed by winds and currents in the following track named "Set Sail" could let you think the very first moments of the sailing before the anxious forecast of forthcoming storms at the sight of dark cloud-thicking nearby the horizon evoked by the following track "Cloud Swarm", whose rising suspense has been highligted by the russian pianist Alex Tiunisev's crescendo. The gradual bewilderment caused by the storm has been musically portrayed in the claustrophobic guitar-driven drones of the track "Losing Transmission", while the most dramatic moment of the ship's sinking looks like rendered frame by frame in the lovely track "She Sinks", which features again the collaboration of Alex Tiunisev. The following phases have been superbly rendered by Spheruleus, so that I'm pretty sure that the listener could have produced the same images making it a possible soundtrack to a doomed sea-voyage without the caption by the sound designer himself. Wear your headphones and have a safe journey!

Inner Vision Laboratory: Future Chaos

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 22 2011
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Artist: Inner Vision Laboratory
Title: Future Chaos
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
The forth chapter of the IYHHH series is, according to the linear notes, inspired by an almost pessimistic view on today's state of the world. The dark ambient soundscapes aim to descrive the crisis of global civilization and the primitivism arising from the ashes.
This album start with a dark ambient intro that slowly evolve in a soundtrack like soundscape. The second track (all the track are untitled, perhaps an intention to see the tracks as a whole) is an obscure drone evoking desert lands. The third track is based on synth line above an implacable rhythm. Small stroke of noise and loop decorate the static texture of the fourth track. The fifth track relies heavily on film-like voices to create the desired atmosphere. The end of the sixth track marks the change of mood of the album when a bright line of synth emerge from the soundscape as the seventh track confirms. The eighth track is a really calm soundscape in opposition to the oppressive drone of the first part of this cd until the martial beats of the second part of this track reminds us of the pessimistic thoughts underlining the work. the ninth track seems an interlude to the last track that close this release with a quiet and subtle drone.
This album, like other releases of this artist, relies more on the overall construction than on the artistic novelty or courage and this is sometimes a quality. Recommended for dark ambient fans.

Enrico Coniglio: I

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 21 2011
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Artist: Enrico Coniglio (@)
Title: I
Format: Tape
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
The format placement of this release under cassette class is not a mistake, as this sonic stuff coming from the talented Venetian composer Enrico Coniglio's archive belongs to an interesting series on tape by the label Silentes, whose Collezione del Silenzio project is going to associate each issue (hand-numbered and strictly limited to 100 copies) with each letter of the alphabet in order to give voice to the visions of silence by some of the most renowned Italian electornic music producers, such as Fabio Orsi, Maurizio Bianchi, Giancluca Becuzzi, Simon Balestrazzi, Under The Snow and Opium. The first thinning by Enrico sounds like a drone, whereas the typical swish of the tape merges with expanded frequencies, ghostly voices - whose presence seems to suggest that silence is sometimes a so unknown dimension that it could be thought as coming from another world - and tolls of a sort of nylon guitar, which turns gradually louder into a kinf of chorus which emphasizes the immersive sound experience. Even if the one on A-side is a very powerful ambient-drone suite, I prefer "I"'s B-side as it sounds more chilling: some nice noisy tears have been wisely inserted into what appears to be the recording of a white noise radio transmission and softer sounds close to that sonic intertwining proposed by some musicians devoted to the concept of the so-called staedtizism such as Kit Clayton or Jan Jelinek. One possible and impressive way to point out the evidence silence is something to be listened to.

Vitor Joaquim: Filament

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 16 2011
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Artist: Vitor Joaquim (@)
Title: Filament
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Both astrophiles' and philosophers' imagination could be immediately spurred by this release signed by the talented Portuguese composer Vitor Joaquim and issued by Kvitnu, an Ukranian label, which has recently focused on the Portuguese electronics.Vitor's not really a newcomer as he performs since the late 80ies, an experience confirmed by a weighty curriculum, full of important collaborations such as the ones with Scanner, Colleen, Phil Niblock, o.blaat, Ran Slavin and many others, and releases such as Flow, considered as one of the best electronic record of 2006, and Tales from Chaos under the moniker Free Field, whose musical stature deserved the inclusin amidst the ten best record of the Portuguese electronic music scene. As a matter of fact the first two tracks, "Filaments and Void" and "Filaments and Walls", could refer to some "spiritual" nourishments for many astronomers and not only for their titles - voids are those empty spaces between filaments, arguably formed by baryon acoustic oscillations (it's undeniable the fascination surrounding the idea of a sonic wave on the basis of the creation!), while wall is a different way of naming galaxy filaments, the largest known structures in the universe -, but also for their sound, where some sound tricks close to the improvisational scene such as the usage of connections in order to "burn" frequencies intertwined with cinematic transitional effects (such as over-delayed subtones, explosions and hypnotical drones) are going to launch the listener into sidereal spaces. To be honest, the conceptual framework implied by Vitor's reasoning in order to decipher this release seems more referred to cognitive sciences as filament sounds like artist's answer informational voids, created by a plenty of fast, short and shallow messages filling our daily lives, where such a lack in consistency seems to suck away and soak up all the real contents of life's moments, an emotionless uniformity reducing everything to a task or to an act of devotion to the cold perfection of formal logic. The third track, Filament, could be thought as the gradual strengthening of that silent scream against what Vitor describes as "a massacre of intensity and constant pulse coming from out of us", "an answer that is not linear, not sharp, not fast, not easy", a sort of rocketship which he makes travel to explore conformity and devotion in the fourth (such a lovely piece of minimal dark ambient close to some electronic buzzing by Benge or Monoceros) and fifth (my favorite one whereas such an SOS distress signal seems to get gradually more and more concrete) track. Really seducing stuff!


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