Music Reviews

Oicho: Halfling

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 23 2018
Artist: Oicho (@)
Title: Halfling
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Stasis Recordings (@)
Retro electro meets beatz in the ‘hood, enter the world of David Harrow aka Oicho who dwells on the poorly lit streets of the electronic scene where police fear to drive. Halfling opens with “ripper 2 cv”, where one gets the impression of Instinct Ambient label electronics until the beats evoke early Tommy Boy records. Think scrawny, white producers in Compton LA, where chocolate is stuck in their peanut butter. The electronic textures suggest the likes of Taylor Deupree, but that unclean drum machine beat could come from The 2 Live Crew studio, two flavours grooving along and giving off a dreamy, almost futurist vibe. “Sleazy” follows with overtones of dimly lit backstreets with more robotic menace than bored thugs—but there is something retro enough to suggest 70’s-era menace which would be pretty fly for a sci-fi. The following “Sparx” is a ghetto beat tribute to Jean Michelle Jarre’s “Oxygene”, only deftly recut and realigned by Harrow into a more psychedelic experience. Halfling caps off with “Half Rising” which is more like being in a chemical production facility with electrodes gone wild as the listener gets a tour of one vat of mystery solution after another. While this half-pint EP is a mere half-serving, it is not half-baked, rather a nice blend of grime and elegance. An Oreo cookie or coconut ball with a dark chocolate center, either will work but if you take a bite betcha you won’t want just one.

Guilio Aldinucci And The Star Pillow: Hidden

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 23 2018
Artist: Guilio Aldinucci And The Star Pillow
Title: Hidden
Format: CD + Download
Label: Midira Records
This is the first collaboration between two Italian electronic-and-drone artists, both of whose work has been appreciated in its own right. As a new collaboration, it hits the spot on the first attempt.

After the relatively simplistic warm textured drone of opener “To Be Invisible”, the main course of the release is 27-minute work “Hypothesis For An End”- a very detailed and acutely planned-out piece of ambient work that melds all sorts of detailed found sounds and atmospheric tones over washes and beds of sustained and organic-sounding drone work. There are the gentlest touches of what may or may not be light industrial recording at the front which gives the piece a sense of time, if not actually of rhythm, and as it unfolds it gently shifts your base consciousness just ever so slightly, brightening and layering up to a rather beautiful if undramatic crescendo.

Third track “Third Space” opens fairly abruptly into a more cinematic space, the album’s only real surprise moment, though it settles quite quickly into a concise seven-minute wall of lush noise without much progression and with rather raw bookends. The final relatively short piece “Getting Cold” appropriately adopts a more fragile and icy tone that traces a smart curve that approaches gently and then tails the album away into nothingness.

It’s an uncontestable release from two confident artists tracing sonic paths that seem to come easily to them. Well worth checking out if you like your drones both beautiful and complex.

Let There Be Light: Bent Parallels

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 22 2018
Artist: Let There Be Light (@)
Title: Bent Parallels
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released

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Enter LTBL’s dynamic duo of Marco Porsia and Piero Franguelli in collaboration with Senior Beat Box aka Savino Mazzuocco and their cryptically titled, Bent Parallels release, a surpassingly-produced feverish excursion into nostalgia-laced electronic, ambient, and minimal techno. Bent Parallels is one of those ornately-crafted works of art that holds up to close listens that reveal rich, intricate details. Tracks here are named “I” through “VII”, as in the Roman numerals and sets the tone with hybrid stylings of Oxygene-era Jean Michelle Jarre and more contemporary Boards of Canada, brought together in some kind of unholy union to form a musical hallucination, replete with echo effects, drone tones, field recordings of children playing on shore lines and calling (or is it singing?) voices artfully garbled. The following, “Bent Parallels II” is a shimmering drone piece while “III” features clear dialog on illicit drug use atop modulating synth tones. Track “IV” is a swirling drone while “V” evokes the collaborations of techno giants, Savvas Ysatis and Taylor Deupree with its dreamy ambient that breaks into lush melodic techno with a hint of acid . “VII” is an excursion into sublime, understated techno and lush, pillow-soft ambient layers one could blissfully get lost in. If you like brilliantly crafted ambient, electronic, post rock and cinematic soundscapes, Bent Parallels has it all, and then some. An overwhelming listen, in a good way on both modest and high-end audio systems and a natural high. LTBL and SBB is probably one of the best kept secrets out there, but with tracks this great, this should not be the case for long.
Artist: Oren Ambarchi & Jim O'Rourke with special guest U-Zhaan
Title: Hence
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Editions Mego
“Both comforting and subtly strange” is a given description of this album and it’s very apt. Across two twenty-minute parts, simply labelled ‘Hence One’ and ‘Hence Two’, we get a concoction which has atmospheric drone at its base, but which is layered with a fairly generous variety of obtuse and self-contained layers, ranging from processed guitar to bleepier analogue electronic noises, laid up into long patterns that slowly undulate, build and fade as though taking keyframe points from topography of a rather gentle hill walk.

The tabla rhythms from special guest U-zhaan are a prominent part of the jigsaw here. Those contributions are less heavily treated and processed than some of the other elements. With a tonality that gives the work a decidedly pan-geographic flavour for which you would be hard pushed to stick a pin on a map- shades of Japan, shades of Africa, shades of more Western sensibilities, it’s a blend that works but is hard to categorise. The second part of the work is a shade lighter and more melodic, with bubbly electronics complimenting the gentle plucking work.

The result is a gentle and mellow, yet complex, ambient and soft electronica arrangement with a distinctive and very approachable flavour.

Benjamin Finger: Into Light

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 18 2018
Artist: Benjamin Finger (@)
Title: Into Light
Format: 12"
Label: Forwind Press (@)
Rated: *****
This release from Benjamin Finger is presented in the liner notes, and it definitely is, something at the crossroad between electro-acoustic and modern classical; this, in theory, could be a little problem as this two genres are among the more bothered by clichés. However the key to avoid the pit is to blend the genres rather than juxtapose them i.e., use electro-acoustic to remove the romantic element of modern classical rather than blur it.
The two sides of this 12" are exactly symmetric a short first track and a longer second one. The A side is opened by "A Glimpse" which has more movement in three minutes than a whole ambient record: it has samples, drones, a little bit of noise and juxtaposes this elements with a speed that let breathless. "Gravity's Jest" is instead a track based around a melody of cello which slowly evolves upon noises and samples which quietly but implacably emerge from the background until the second part of the track is introduced by a female voices accompanied by cold synths. the B side is opened by "Into Light" an instrumental synth pop track whose quiet melody is remarkable. The voice of Inga-Lill Farstad returns at the begin of "Paradox Route" and is the center of a track whose synthetic sound gravitates in silence until the arrival of traditional string instruments in the second part creates a continuous and suggestive musical canvas.
The short duration of this release is used to remove all elements of rhetoric and lengthiness that could plague a musical form so relying in catchy romantic melodies and ethereal atmosphere as it also uses some unconventional techniques borrowed from electro-acoustic music. A truly enjoyable release for almost anyone.

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