Music Reviews

Artist: ANBB: Alva Noto & Blixa Bargeld (@)
Title: Mimikry
Format: CD
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
The creative person should have no other biography than his works'¦ Even if I break the conventional rules of good manners, I decided to butt in when Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto, the renowned and talented equerry of Raster-Noton, and Blixa Bargeld, the expressive and deep voice inside the noisy jungle of industrial rattles by the legendary band Einsturzende Neubaten as well as guitarist for Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, were handshaking the mysterious identity of Ret Marut, signing himself under the pseudonym B.Traven (it's still disputed the real identity of this moniker, author of some novels and short stories issued in the beginning of the last century and mainly issued in German and then translated in English ' the analogy with Blixa's attitude in preserving German lyrics is immediate! -, showing a stern criticism against capitalism'¦) just to highlight not only the evidence that these composer doesn't need any introduction, but also to remark that their interesting musical and artistic paths don't really need boring biographies!

Those paths have cut each other in September 2007, when they performed together at Recombinant Media Labs Studios in San Francisco in order to take concrete form (maybe an inappropriate expression if you know some of their workouts) recently throughout a project named from their initials ANBB, anticipated by a sort of preliminary EP entitled 'Ret Marut Handshake' as well, which provocatively seems to eulogize an author without a reliable identity ycleped B.Traven (aka Ret Marut aka Hal Croves aka Otto Freige aka Bruno Marhut aka Hugo Kronthal aka Kraus Martinez aka Adolf Rudolph, etc etc'¦. The only certain piece of information about this writer is just his sex even if some researchers think that this author was a German/Polish rebel, who needed to hide his real name!) in our times, when identity has become a sort of obsession for the controllers of the NOW according to many contemporary thinkers!

Identity, or it's better saying Identitaetlichkeiten, its convulsive convolutions, its annihilation cycled with different mimesis and transmutations seem to be the conceptual framework of this interesting collaboration, based according to the melting musical personalities which signed it on the combination of improvisation and abstraction (a 'mixed' duality reflected even in the booklet containing lyrics, where words are transcribed together with sound punctuation, a bizarre notation used by Blixa during the recording process similar to the one normally used to draw electronic circuits and wave forms) and featuring many peaks of pure lyricism since the beginning: Fall looks like a wandering poem about the lost of identity, starting with a torn shriek, in different chapters and showing really catching and sudden change of setting, superbly interpreted by Blixa.

Filled with pathos, any track has a powerfully dramatic wit, where even single sounds and self-shaping noises play an active role like disclosing strokes of a brush with many expressive peaks, among which I'd like to mention the astonishing cover of One (originally written by Harry Nilsson) and I Wish I Was A Mole, an Old American folk song, already remade by Bob Dylan, treated in a really eccentric way, Once Again, a track tracing the route of a journey towards an undefined goal and an undefined sense of inadequacy (I bitterly smiled after hearing the nice trait of Italian people mood, sometimes resigning to their fate, when after his distraught complaint inserted the repetition of the Italian word 'pazienza', meaning patience'¦), the title-track Mimikry, the disquieting Berghain (maybe a track which is intimately connected to Einsturzende Neubaten's Weil Weil Weil'¦a sort of link with due respect for that astonishingly impressive and meaningful repertoire) and the final track Katze, featuring the mewing vocals and spoken word by the model Verushka, the spider-like fascinating woman pictured on the cover, famous for her appearance on Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up. I don't exaggerate if I say that this work is close to masterwork, folks!
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Stürmer IV
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sturm (@)
Rated: *****
Latvia's most influential dark Electronica-label Sturm comes out with a new and awesome looking DCD set, which presents once again the who is who of this genre hailing out this small Eastern European country. By having a more detailed look and listening the label roster, it once again astonishes, how far away from any hypes and how diverse the provided music got spread. It seems to be quite natural for the responsible people behind this label, that the listener gets thrown into styles of abstract experimental Electronica side by side with Neo-Folk influences and harshest Powernoise efforts. A genre boundary is seemingly a foreign word for them, as this label has to offer a lot of undiscovered and never heard before music stuff. 'Stürmer IV' finally sorts and collects the most influential acts out this country, and it too collaborates also with artists, which have decided to release on their own, or are signed to other labels. As I mentioned above, the package of this DCD set is a feast for the eyes. It's a heavy-weight digipack-like packaging, but a bit bigger than normal in size, consisting of a robust, serrated black cardboard work. The silver-colored script, for example used for the track list, which got hidden as a special gimmick under both CD's, and the imprints are offering a glossy and beautiful contrast ' in short, to hold this DCD set in your hands suggests a rewarding feeling to any listener. Which form of a downloading procedure can rival with this? Musically you'll get a relatively strict separation of music styles by the choice between a black- and silver-colored CD.
Starting with the silver edition, you'll get the rather straight, harsh and rhythmic music assaults with band projects/artists like ROSEWATER, which are maybe the international most recognized act out of Latvia. All of you listeners, who have thrown them into the straight Hellectro-like drawer because of their contribution to Johan van Roy's NTP-label will be astonished by this dark and haunting instrumental tune, which is filled with ominous voice samples and opulent orchestral-like string sounds ' relatively unexpected from them, but atmospherically thick produced. HEZZEL is another fine solo project presenting with 'Magnets' a straight-forward moving track, which has been the title-track of one of the previously freely downloadable releases of this artist (signed to the Russian Absetzer / Alter-X Promotion group). TETSUO SHIMA sounds from its name like an uncompromising Japanese Noise-artist, but offers a steady slashing tune somewhere comparable to SONAR meets ARZT + PFUSCH. To produce rather distorted and rhythmic oriented tracks on the edge between the Harsh-EBM and very near to the Powernoise genre seems to be generally a specialty for most of the artists presented here, the tunes of NAV SAULES, NARKOSE-X ('Masturbators', how delicious'¦), or G-SHOWER (what a band-name'¦) are some excellent references for this dedication. Also PIXEL HERO are thrown into this harder kind, although this has happened because of the choice of the contributing track, as this project normally produces C64-related Electronica music following veterans like KRAFTWERK, or DEVO. Another highlight I would like to point out with SYMMETRY OF ASYMMETRY, whose track is a real, classic arranged Dark Electro tune with reduced noisy ingredients, but with a hopeless sounding male vocalist. Another 'thumbs up' also for CYBERPUNK for offering DIVE-like minimal Electro/Industrial structures. 18 tracks not only to warm your socks in your boots, it is also stuff worth to listen to.
The black and second CD edition of this DCD set then offers the more abstract and experimental-minded kind of music, featuring some more or less known names like SCRIPTA SENSUS, KNAUZERS, CLAUSTRUM, or ANTARKTIDA. The music ranges between the darkest Ambient tunes (SEASNSFDSPAIR, SCRIPTA SENSUS, CLAUSTRUM, MACABRO), to ominous Ritual-Industrial tracks featuring confusing voice samples (SVAMPKOKS, KNAUZERS, POSTS), to seemingly uncontrollable sound experiments (CLAUSTHOME offering some abrasive drone sounds, while ANTARKTIDA convince with percussive metallic noises thrown in a monotonous environment). Stylistically very far away from any norm, here you'll find that stuff, you couldn't imagine to experience it. The music presented here is well-suited to get checked out under a good pair of headphones, while you should be warned, that also this stuff presented on this black CD isn't suited for the faint-hearted listeners.
What a diverse sound experience provided by these 36 artists and pressed on 2 full-length CD's! This one is remarkable and a nice introduction to all newbies to check out the dark conditions of the Eastern European territory. To live a life in Latvia must be a hard one, as you won't find any tendency for lighter and smoother sounds, as styles like Synth- or Futurepop are generally left out at the Sturm label. Released under Strumamndat No. 29, this DCD set is strictly limited to 666 numbered exemplars and you should save your bucks to purchase it directly from the source.

CD 1 : Black
1 SeasnsFDspair - Tai ZiemÄ
2 Scripta Sensus - DvÄseļu Putenis
3 Swamp Koks - Murgs Visupirms
4 Veerot - Shvakais Uzpariht Marsch
5 Knauzers - MelnÄ SÄga
6 Claustrum - Melanhola
7 BÄdu VÄstnesis - Å Ä·irotava
8 Antarktīda - Katorga
9 Macabro - Black Moon Rising
10 Darba Dienests - PornodiÄta
11 Mortarum - Sonar
12 ApÄtijas Process - Slave Boy
13 Celmlauzis - Nelifts
14 Posts - AicinÄjums
15 Clausthome - Sieben.Drei.Zwolf
16 Meld - Mechabuddha
17 V.S.K.B. - Aiz Muguras
18 AutogÄns - Par VÄlu

CD2 : Silver

1 Rosewater - Cerihbu Juhra
2 Nav Saules - Noizexperience
3 Anacodaine - PieskÄriens
4 Hezzel - Magnets 5:01
5 Tetsuo Shima - Plumbum
6 Pixel Hero - The Warp / Raiders
7 Purva Pihschli - Disciplīna
8 G-Shower - Maizes Dziesma
9 Narkose X - Masturbators
10 Tec 17 - NeÄrstÄjams
11 Symmetry Of Asymmetry - Burning Footsteps
12 Lenoras SapÅi - Stigmata Plague
13 W.O.M.B. - Dead Undead
14 Cyberpunk - Trust Yourself
15 Ls Tur - Trachrakts
16 Thinner - Curriculum Vitae
17 Oyaarss - Holeage
18 Audioscope - Lasting

Pas: Pure energy output sessions

 Posted by Borys Catelani   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
 Edit (6082)
Nov 03 2010
Artist: Pas (@)
Title: Pure energy output sessions
Format: CD
Label: self-released (@)
Rated: *****
PAS stands for Post Abortion Stress. As the four people collective states, the "name refers metaphorically" to those who have been aborted by society". An interesting starting point that doesn't lead to any form of really "disruptive" music anyway as someone might expect indeed. On the other hand is hard to talk about music also, PAS don't follow any convention about structure or harmony as conventionally defined, it's more about creating rarefied soundscapes. In this sense they fulfill the task enlightened by their name. Sound sources vary, vocals as well as synths some kind of field recordings. Their nature is not harsh or particularly gloomy, they reflect various states of mind. Creativity flows freely, but I would call it mostly a "peaceful" kind of ambient, relaxing rather than ominous. The record is selfreleased but has the barcode on.

Collapsar: Beyond the Event Horizon

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
 Edit (6073)
Nov 01 2010
Artist: Collapsar
Title: Beyond the Event Horizon
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I am always happy to see a disc from Malignant in the package because I know that it has a good chance of being excellent. I had not heard of this French artist, but, as usual, this album does not disappoint. Here is how the label describes the album: 'Collapsar transports the listener on an epic journey deep into the cosmos, forging a path across a vast, inky void, and steering a course around a roiling galactic core of hyper-dense stars and black holes. . . . There is beauty and tranquility within these realms, but there is no light ' just massive, pulsating textures coalescing into shimmering drones, rippling sound waves, and billowing, multi-dimensional layers of powerful dark energy.' I would agree with this assessment. This is nice noisy dark ambient in the vein of Inade. Crushing, echoing drones invade the atmosphere as if we are listening to the soundtrack of the creation of the universe itself. Not all of it is pure intensity though. 'Passing the Gate' provides some respite, but there are still moments of uneasiness. This is not the kind of dark ambient that you put on and read a book. Rather, this is dark ambient that demands the listener's full attention. It seems that Collapsar has created a concept album of sorts, thinking through the ideas of black holes (hence the name of the project), and has done an excellent job of conveying this feeling. Without knowing anything about the project, one would get a sense of cosmic cataclysm, where natural forces were at work in shaping the planetary and solar occupants of the void. The only quibble I have is the use of what sounds like voice in 'Reaching Nariai,' which seems out of place at times. Overall, however, I would strongly recommend this album to people who liked Inade or Aricebo, which seemed to have a similar telos. This disc weighs in at about 47 minutes.

Nux Vomica and Voice of Eye: Fire of the Unitive Path: Three Rivers

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
 Edit (6066)
Oct 31 2010
Artist: Nux Vomica and Voice of Eye (@)
Title: Fire of the Unitive Path: Three Rivers
Format: CD
Label: Auricular Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Nux Vomica, but I have enjoyed Voice of Eye for quite some time. There are the expected ethno-ambient and tribal sounds that one would expect, but there is also a bit of dissonance throughout that keeps it from sounding too sanitized. This is more experimental than I have heard Voice of Eye, so it is reasonable to assume that Nux Vomica is bringing out that side of things. The experimental quality is to be expected, as the liner notes state that this is 'part one of a continuous improvisation recorded on September 17, 2009.' The press sheet that came with the disc states that they 'have been involved in countless collaborative improvisations over the years and this is the first one that can be released in its full, unedited form, making it something remarkable.' All I know is that I would have very much liked to have been there to hear this live. From the opening track, 'The First Gate,' we hear lush atmosphere and female vocals that would be quite at home on the old Hyperium 'Heavenly Voices' compilations. 'House of Water' becomes a bit too repetitive for my taste, despite its slowly shifting, evolving sound. 'River of Heaven' is an odd mixture of space-age electronic atmosphere and lilting vibraphone-like music. If Harold Budd and Hafler Trio had to collaborate on a track, I imagine it would be something like this. 'Water Wheel Treaders' would fit well alongside Coil's 'Musick to Play in the Dark,' with its atmosphere and relentless, repetitive melody. 'Tripod of the Elixer' is, by contrast, a slow moving track with waves that crescendo and decrescendo as a bubbling soundscape boils beneath the surface. 'Golden Elixer of Immortality' is a wonderfully peaceful track with soothing female vocals and sparse synth pads. 'Original Awareness' slowly shifts gears, becoming a dark, claustrophobic track that would suit a good horror film. Overall, this is quite enjoyable. This disc weighs in at about 46 minutes.

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