Music Reviews

Dmitry Mazurov: Creature on a Lavatory Pan

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 20 2010
Artist: Dmitry Mazurov (@)
Title: Creature on a Lavatory Pan
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock Records (@)
Distributor: Eurock Distribution
Rated: *****
This has got to be one of the most interesting albums I've received in the latest batch from Chain D.L.K. HQ. Dmitry Mazurov is an artist on the cutting edge Russian Electroshock Records label, and his eclectic album, 'Creature on a Lavatory Pan' certainly fits within Electroshock's roster. The title is much creepier than the music, which is a mixture of dark ambient, semi-classical and cinematic soundscape. Although Dmitry's artwork for the CD cover does show a bizarre creature on a lavatory pan (actually, it looks more like a toilet) I think it is more macabre and overt than the music, which is subtle and sublime. Opening with a brief piece titled 'Abyss' which sets a ghostly dark ambient tone, more light is shed in 'Luminos' which follows, as medium tempo piano arpeggios play over a sustained nebulous background of strings. It adds an aura of mystery. Sparse piano melody follow, accented in places by the string ensemble. Gradually, a theme develops through more orchestration. Way cool! It is like the soundtrack for a movie in the imagination.

'Burevo' plunges the listener into a fantastical environment where many subtle elements (both musical and noises) coalesce into an other-worldly soundscape, a subterranean hive of activity and elemental movement. I could imagine this as background of a mysterious (not your 'shoot-em-up' type) video game. 'Depths' goes even deeper with very low frequency drone, subsonics and bubbling liquid. One gets the impression of a number of aliens creatures moving through this environment, although what they may be up to is oblique.

On 'Surovitsa' you get the impression of something slogging through some type of pebbly terra, finally reaching an area where strange lifeforms hold sway. There is such a collage of different, yet purposeful sounds, some acoustic, some electronic. An eclectic guitar (by Jury Starosotnikov) plays a suspenseful sustained tonal rise (think Pink Floyd in Umma Gumma days) that culminates into a brief resounding 'BLANG' for lack of a better description. Frenetic string scrapes on the bridge leading into a wailing entity while low, slow moving orchestration fills in the background.

'Lethargie' puts the listener on more solid footing, as a melancholic slow-moving theme plays out with higher strings accented by the occasional chime. Very classical sounding. There is a sweet and sad feel to this piece, and understated drama. 'Mask for Delicate Aesthetes' is the longest track on the album at 14:35. It begins atmospherically, but soon a rhythmic sequence comes into play. It comes and goes as synth ambience fills in the background. This may be as close as it come to anything conventional (and I use that word loosely) in the realm of IDM, more Autechre-style than anything else. Eventually the sequence disappears and is replaced by more ominous electronics'¦think Klaus Schulz being kind of 'out there'. An Enoesque melodic passage follows, and I have come to realize that this album is absolute cinematic genius. I don't think I have ever heard anything like it. A stronger melodic theme develops toward the end with some phantomesque violin courtesy of Oleg Huhua while sporadic noises erupt in the background. Magic, pure magic.

'Oblivion' uses a subtle industrial loop and floating sustained chords and electronic pads to create an atmosphere that is both cosmic and tremulous. 'Reminiscences' puts the piano upfront again with supporting orchestral elements, developing a theme, then playing a fantasy on it. I am reminded of Harold Budd. Then dramatic percussion kicks in for effect. Sometimes I hear strains of Satie, sometimes Wojceich Kilar, surely other soundtrack composers too; you are bound to come up with your own parallels.

The final two tracks on the album, 'Awe' and 'Sisters of Gloom' are no less enthralling but I am running out of descriptive adjectives. If you're not checking into where you can buy this CD by now, I suppose there isn't anything more I can say about it. But you should buy it. It's that damn good.
Artist: The Truth About Frank (@)
Title: Murder Sleep
Format: CD EP
Label: LYF
Distributor: Norman
After their previous sonic issues (sometimes close to lo-fi techno and electronic razor-shaped industrial'¦you could imagine something amidst Negativland, Psychic TV and acid techno era strips), the mysterious duo hailing from east boroughs of Leeds ' one of the English city's baking some interesting experimental projects -, known as The Truth About Frank, reaches his 4th 4-tracks Ep just before announcing (finally!!!) their first full-length, acting as a confirmation of their skills in forging strange sonic creatures, which could be perceived as playful and disquieting, elegant and aggressive at the same time throughout rapid passages (or I'd better call them interpenetration of )from hollow even if agonizing dreams to sinister scary nightmares. These brainy guys don't use sounds to excess, but they wisely treat them in that hallucinogenic way able to pierce listener's search of strong audible emotions, stimulating thoughts without any recurrence to Gothicism or industrialism injections. Artworks ' there's one for each track, partially reminding those provocative collages of some cyber-punk graphic designer, rich in fluorescent outlines and psychedelic mosaics- seem to play almost as a caption for tracks and the above-mentioned contrast between peaceful and disquieting elements resurface mostly in the last one, Welcome, in which The Truth About Frank loops a low-pitched voice morbidly repeating 'Welcome to My World' on a flat slow-changing half-melody. You could easily grab the implicit irony and the keenness behind a track like that! Maybe this Ep will not murder your sleep, but it surely could unsettle it! I'm curious to listen TTAF forthcoming album after listening to this taste of their enjoyable quibbles!

Hurry Hurry feat.Marilyn Thomas: Life

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 13 2010
Artist: Hurry Hurry feat.Marilyn Thomas (@)
Title: Life
Format: CD
Label: Substantial Brothers Productions (@)
Hailing from Lake Heights, Western Australia, the Hurrys Brothers, Rob and Wayne, after a remarkable experience in the composition of music for commercial release and film-scoring, decided to dwell on a personal musical project which might potentially have many interesting developments. As a matter of fact, this first release entitled Life ' they took almost three years to finish it ' even if it's not so easy to categorize could stand as a sort of music-ed audio-book dealing with an immersive narration, almost lost in reverie, about the presumable appearance of Planet Earth before the coming of mankind and its greedy purposes, whimsically spoken by Marilyn Thomas, acting as an imaginary Gaia, narrating in such an interesting way a sort of auto-biographical report! Some sounds look a little too 'vintage' to my ears (maybe it's a sort of heritage from their professional experience I music business'¦), but have you ever imagined an audiobook full of quotations such as kosmische muzik (Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schultze in primis), Pink Floyd, new age's knights, primordial electronic music (maybe for the in-embryo themes of this record), space rock, symphonic rock and more in 16 chapters starting with a preface, A Million Stars / The Virgin Planet, which could let resurface to the listener's memory that French-powdered interpretation of glam-wave by Vintage after an overdose of Schultze's most ethereal release and some nice forays in dub and 'liquid' music territories (tracks such as Amphibion are definitively my favorite ones), and ending with the intensively emotional stress evoked in a track which could not be titled but Homo Sapiens? An enjoyable and educative (in many senses'¦try for example to imagine what could be the actual words of Mother Earth'¦) way to tell a story on how LIFE came to life!

RM74: Reflex

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 07 2010
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Artist: RM74
Title: Reflex
Format: CD
Label: Utech Records
Rated: *****
REFLEX is the fifth solo album by Reto Mäder (Ural Umbo, Sum of R, Pendulum Nisum) as RM74. Since from the cover art, Reto, is giving us some ideas about the sounds we're going to listen: bats make me think about caverns, about the ultrasonic sounds they have to use and about their un-straight flight. Translate all these factors to music and I think that you'll have pretty much the idea of how the eleven tracks of REFLEX sound. RM74 uses processed guitar sounds, tones, drones, piano, harmonium, dissonant sounds, samples, etc. The result is a creepy schizophrenic symphony which cause dizziness into the audience. The great thing is that even if Reto used unconventional sounds, every track has a melodic line or a rhythm to follow which give the musical sense to the whole opera and I liked that! Presented in a heavy matte sleeve printed with dark metallic ink. Includes fold out insert.

Mirt: Handmande Man

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 03 2010
Artist: Mirt (@)
Title: Handmande Man
Format: CD
Label: cat|sun (@)
Distributor: MonotypeRec.
Rated: *****
According bizarre David Christianus instructions, the alchemical beast known as Homunculus could be created by injecting human sperm throughout the hole in the shield of an egg by a black hen, then sealed by virgin's skin for thirty days ' don't try it at home, folks! -; according to alchemists, if you do everything in a correct way ' someone argued you should take the sperm from the final ejaculations of an hanged man'¦ that's just one of the reason I suggested it's better do not try similar experiments by yourself! -, this creature is going to become your humble servant'¦Well, this mythical being permeates the conceptual aspect of the fifth solo release by Mirt, a skilled Polish musician and graphic designer, former front-man of One Inch Of Shadow as well as member of Brasil and The Gallowbrothers, maybe one of the last experimental musicians totally refusing the use of computers-aided sound design and still faithful to that Carthusian approach to the audio-montage, based on edits and magnetic tapes, normally requiring more concentration on assembling different parts of the track. Even if a conceptual album normally contains other allegories and side meanings, it's impossible deny the narrative aspect of this release, underlined by the plenty of field recordings 'mainly natural soundscapes rich of murmuring waves, singing birds and chirping insects -, supporting the delicate intertwining of guitar and acoustic sounds in some tracks (Homunculus 1, Homunculus 2, Music Of The Frogs 1 'one of the most 'chaotic' amidst the 8 tracks - and the uterine Glass Mother, one of my favorite recording of the album).

The title-track itself, Handmade Man ' the only real song, whose structure reminded to me the typical post-rock 'packaging', enfilled with a certain sense of subcutaneous melancholic anxiety -, induced my mind to imagine this being dramatically translating into music his sense of inadequacy after a shipwreck (on a ship made up from an empty plastic bag on an island of smelly mire at the borders of peripheral road'¦). But the best piece of advice I could say in order to better appreciate Mirt's work is to use your own imagination for your personal storytelling spleen till the final piano-driven Right Hand Without Fingers, which together with the previous track, Burnt Words Of Moai, features those day-dreaming and delicate atmospheres which are able to highlight the secret aura of this alchemic creature. Mirt's questions about Homonculus according to the info-sheet on Handmade Man were 'How such a being would perceive the world?' or 'What the asylum for Homunculus would look like?', but after I perceived in the general feeling of the record a subtle critic of human stupidity, greed and fanaticism from which this nice little creature seems to run away I've asked to myself 'How long do you think an Homunculus will last in our world?''¦ The only surest thing about its life expectation is that he will live in listener's mind at least for the duration of this record! Handmade Man is also available on a very limited deluxe edition housed in a special wooden box which listener's can connect to his own amplifier and treat like a musical instrument!

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