Music Reviews

Nadja and Troum: Dominium Visurgis

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 14 2011
Artist: Nadja and Troum (@)
Title: Dominium Visurgis
Format: CD
Label: Transgredient Records (@)
Rated: *****
When I am not writing for ChainDLK, I am a university professor, and in that job I find that the most difficult papers to critique are not those in the middle, but rather those at the far ends of the spectrum. I am having a similar problem with this album. I have enjoyed Troum immensely for several years and have reviewed several works by Nadja and Aidan Baker and have been impressed by all of them. The label describes the release thus: 'This is something you could call a "dreamlike liaison". When the Canadian "avant metal
/ drone doom"-duo NADJA (who name TROUM as one of their early influences) and the German postindustrial / experimental drone pioneers TROUM (years ago active as MAEROR TRI who are still discovered by many drone-fans these days) combine their exceptional styles, they form something even vaster as usually known from them.' Evidently this was made during spontaneous improvisations with no post-recording processing or overdubs. So what happens when you have two masters come together? This is what happens. We begin with Part 1, featuring lush drones and dreamlike atmospheres (which is appropriate, as Troum takes their name from an old German word for dream). Part 2 is where Nadja's influence begins to shine, with crunchier sawtooth waves and slowly pounding percussion. Drones layer upon drones with crushing weight. If the first part was a soothing dream, this is where things get more sinister. Part 3 weighs in at 25.10, so you know you're in for a long ride. We have some respite from the nightmare, but all is not back to normal. You're walking in familiar landscapes, but wondering what is still lurking around the dark corner ahead. We are engulfed in slowly shifting bass drones and washes of static until it all dissolves into peaceful synth pads and drone. All of this comes beautifully packaged in a weathered foldout digipack. Highly recommended, but then again, you probably already knew that. The album weighs in at 49.30.

Troum: Seeing-ear Gods

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 04 2011
Artist: Troum
Title: Seeing-ear Gods
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This album is a remastered reissue of an album issue in 2006 and featuring a composition recorded live for a radio broadcast. According to the linear notes "You are about to embark on a plane-transcending journey into the world of sound" and this album is an almost one hour immersion in truly experimental dark ambient territories.
This album opens with an atmospheric ethereal movement based on subtle synth drone creating an hypnotic loop of resonances, the subsequent movement is based on a bright synth drone shored up by a slow melody. The third movement return to almost dark ambient territories while the fourth takes the listener by hand towards a states of peace. The last two movements are an exercise of quiet lowercase dark ambient slowly movements challenging the listener to be able to be in a course of attention to subtle details.
This issue is an example of how a band could stay in an established genre and create a work escaping all the quicksands of the genre. Truly recommended.

Offthesky: The Beautiful Nowhere

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 04 2011
Artist: Offthesky
Title: The Beautiful Nowhere
Format: CD
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
Can an anaesthetic drug reawaken from a prolonged catalepsy? Contrary to what medical science asserts, the answer is yes, especially when the giver of such a musical medicine is a talented one such as the American (from Kentucky) composer Jason Corder aka Offthesky, who intertwines translucent acoustic pearls which are able to carry the listener away in a daydreaming state so that enlighting his emotional inner world. Falling into some reverie while listening to Offthesky's guitar-driven melodic dilatations which are often emphasized by lovely chimes, distant whistles, dull percussive hits, amplified cellos, kalimba tolls and other instrumental sketches, turning up like invisibly dynamic details of a static landscape picture, whose intimist eagerness sounds amplified by some intermittent and caressing Jason's vocalizations, is quite easy, but the intense emotional charge of many pieces of this whirling sonic maze could cause some palpitations of your heart even if some moments are steeped with a vague sense of melancholy and solipsism, which are easy to be imbibed by listener's consciousness. While listening to The Beautiful Nowhere (this is the title of this new issue signed by offthesky) I got literally dazzled by the cold luminescence of many tracks such as the impressive Whittling You Little Lights (my favorite one), the solitary little poems of Daydream Tarnation or Waiting To Fade (another light nocturnal track I enjoyed listen repeatedly) or the dream-injecting chirpings of Now We're Nowhere, whereas musical memories such as Stars Of The Lid, Eluvium or Labradford could reoccur. Beauty could be not easy to be precisely located as the title seems to suggest, especially when it's so widespread!

Piemont: Sand Hills Remixes

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 03 2011
Artist: Piemont (@)
Title: Sand Hills Remixes
Format: 12"
Label: Suchtreflex (@)
Rated: *****
As a consequence of their stylistical decision to shift their musical loads from agit-prop-like grunde to electronic dance music, many reviewers argued Piemont's Sand Hills maybe ushered in a new season for minimal techno, even they prefer to say the mutation fo their style was almost automatic, as it belongs to the tectonic plates' movement between indierock and idm, whereas some rocks easily crumbled into dancehalls. The acclamation they mainly received from dancing audiences for their fuzzy live-sets and from music press who understood the real value of their balanced sound dosage appears to be confirmed by this nice release, available on mp3 and vynil, issued by Suchtreflex and supported by many notorious lights of techno star-let such as Laurent Garnier, Chris Wood and Gregor Tresher, which contains four nice dance-oriented remixes (plus two other ones if you opted for digital download), a logical step after Piemont's choice of assembling a kind of techno, whose harmonics made it appreciable not only on firing dance halls but also on listener's sofa. I particularly enjoyed the remix of Run Down by the Italian producer Hugo (it's just a coincidence his studio is located in Turin, the administrative centre of Northern Italy's region called Piemont!), who decanted some jazzy trumpet slices into his elating deep house according to a sort of musical osmosis he already proposed in his album "The Sloop and the Siren" on Jay Haze's label Tuning Spork. The mentioned Jay Haze itself, quite known for his philantropic attitude as he raised some money for important causes (including the disgusting phenomenon of child abuse during the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the devastating Asian tsunami in 2004), signs the "Jay Haze For Palestine" remix of With Small Pupils, a more bumpey version of the original, whereas childish vocal samples and sounds reminding a boat in the act of werighing off for a new harbour (!) are perfectly balanced. I've noticed no particularly deforming warp on Instead Of Multiple's remix by the Spanish producer Uner (better this way!), while Philipp aka Sante' flambes the track Self Of Sense with many recipes, which are going to espouse the tastes of many Ibiza frequent visitors! The bonus remixes on digital version, the rhythmically rumbling one of A Bound Of Passivity by Re:You and the vortical crunchy plaything the French producer Lowris made from Try To Read The Numbers - my personal favorite one! -, are very easygoing tunes as well. Nice stuff.

Bit-Tuner: Drome EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 28 2011
Artist: Bit-Tuner (@)
Title: Drome EP
Format: CD
Label: Trepok (@)
Distributor: Phonofile
Rated: *****
The petrified stern face standing out on the cover artwork's makes resurface to my mind one of the most iconic fictional character of the notorious L.Frank Baum's Oz books I used to read when I was a little child, the Nome King, so that my mind started to find any possible similarities out with this astonishing proof of sound ballistics by Swiss producer Marcel Gschwend aka Bit-Tuner and the fearful antagonist of Oz villains! Even if I cannot be sure Marcel doesn't like eggs (if you've seen the Disney movie adaptation of that story, you'll arguably remember the Nome King was killed by an egg, laid by Billina, the nuisance-hen Dorothy accidentally brought in Oz during his second travel in the emerald city!), his style, a juicy hybridization of ill-bient, booming dubstep and experimental hip hop, sounds rocky like the cells of any gnome and dim like the obscure underground hollows where they use to dwell. Another feature of this stony civilization consists of their habit of hiding jewels. Well, this could be undoubtedly a controversial point as you'll unlikely deny his skills in melting styles in a turgidly psychedelic way by mining authentic gold from previously drilled soils (especially in gorgeous tracks such as Traffic, Anger or Dizzer - what a guessed title! -), but you'll notice Bit-Tuner is inclined to bury the nice harmonics he assembles with layers and layers of heavyweight basslines or thrilling samples (I appreciated the sci-fi nuances of tracks such as the final Full Bass Bonus or the clocking abrasive dubstep of Nuclear Silence). Really bewitching stuff, which is potentially going to daze the listener...especially if related to some Oz stupidly happy villain!

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