Music Reviews



Woodland Choir: Serenity rise

 Posted by Borys Catelani   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 16 2010
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Artist: Woodland Choir
Title: Serenity rise
Format: CD
Label: Epidemie (@)
Rated: *****
Hailing from Hungary, Woodland Choir, a.k.a. Attila Bakos, the mind and the arm behind the project, is not on the usual side of art. It's more common to see art-works springing from tormented souls, states of sorrow, anger, frustration, basically negative feelings stimulating creativity. The main concept behind Woodland Choir refers to love for life, serenity, hope. Something pretty unusual mirrored by those 9 songs based on peaceful and melodic acoustic guitar arpeggios. Vocals are added, sometimes choirs, occasional flute and synth, creating a calm atmosphere where's there's no place for melancholy. It's rather the soundtrack for a contemplative sunny morning in the countryside in the middle of nowhere. This is fully that acoustic/folk the label is writing about. The aim is achieved though the vocal parts sometimes rate not the best ones. As far as my knowledge of hungarian folk goes there's no trace of it if it's a question that comes to your mind

Sutekh: On Bach

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 14 2010
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Artist: Sutekh (@)
Title: On Bach
Format: CD
Label: Creaked
Rated: *****
Seth Horvitz aka Sutekh (the Egyptian version of his real and enviable name!) is not a newcomer in musical operations concerning the restyling of classical music: he never neglected his passion for classical music and in 2005 he issued on his own label, Context Free Media, a 12' including one bizarre rhapsody inspired by Paganini. His obsession for classical composers slightly restrained for his love for sequencers, computers and other stuff belonging to industrial age (!) should have been noticed by the art directors of the historic Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, who invited him to perform for Bach To The Moon, an event dedicated to the 'original father of harmony' ' those ones were the words Beethoven used to describe the genial German composer J.S.Bach -, being the only electronic musician alongside a plenty of classical ones to join this sort of conclave and the industrious Sutekh astonishingly used some shibboleths belonging to his musical territories by acting almost as an eraser of conventional music standards in order to use Bach's intuitions and tunes for the hard-working fertilization of his creative fields! Well'¦many organ or piano students could consider such an operation a kind of personal revenge against fearful exercises on Bach's scales, responsible ' I'm not joking!!! - for many tendinitis, wrist dislocation or phalanx cramps, but the electronic surgery by Sutekh is definitively a brilliant opus even if it could sound like a daredevil outrage to certain puritanism still surviving in music schools.

It's not correct to speak about remixes or cover versions of Bach scores, as they act more as seeds feeding its logical and creative process, so that you can hear to excellent samples of manipulated MIDI data of Bach's chorales ' it borders on most demented Kid 606 tunes on tracks such as The Lips Of The Foolish Way ' or funny grafts of Bach's arpeggio on quirky mechanical monsters (in tracks such as The Glorious Day Has Downed ' you'll wonder how Toccata and Fugue in D Minor descending scales' samples could sound so aciiiiiiid -or Repulsion By Slit And Roundabout, Sutekh highlighted the obsessive aspect of Bach's music you could easily recognize even in some of the most famous scores by the German composer, insisting sometimes in a spasmodic way on the same note'¦) or freaky sound setting (have a listen to the way the Fugue for Organ in C Minor - or maybe it's the Passion Chorale'¦?!?!? - seems to resurface from the muddy depths of pond, full of sometimes dreadful sound life'¦).

In the intricate web of noisy balls where you can sometimes uneasily listen to Bach's traces, I appreciated the presence of a sort of tribute to one of the most bizarre Bach's interpreter of almost contemporary ages, Glenn Gould, and you'll enjoy the presence of some bubbling vocal samples by this crazy performer in All Men Must Die, the track tribute to this eccentric character! Sutekh's cannot end but with what seems an immersive remake of Come Sweet Death (Komm susser Tod BWV478), entitled The Last Hour, where a single organ chord grows in volume, intensity and is gradually enriched of different tones till it towers above the sound space by skimming over the initial crystalline and obsessive set of church bells. Evocative and sometimes sublime opus!

Sutekh: On Bach

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 12 2010
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Artist: Sutekh
Title: On Bach
Format: CD
Label: Creaked Records
Rated: *****
Active since the late 90s with the Sutekh moniker, Seth Horvitz has many releases at his active on a lot of record labels such as Leaf (UK), Soul Jazz, Force Inc./Mille Plateaux, M_nus and his own Context Free Media. ON BACH is his fourth album and it is a follow up to the work he presented in February of 2009 at the historic Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, where Sutekh was invited to perform at a special event entitled "Bach to the Moon". Sutekh were the only electronic act in the program, which included an incredible roster of classical musicians. Having the freedom to chose how to inspire his compositions having as reference the music composed by Bach, Seth opted for a complex web of pulsating sounds which in balance from experimental intuitions, rhythmical and melodic references to the original scores which surface here and there, create a particular mood. It's surprising how mixing minimal techno, experimental ambient and chaotic moments, Sutekh have been able to honor a classical music composer without making the open minded listener shouting "what is this stuff?", but this is what happened. You can preview the album at this page http://soundcloud.com/cloudcreaked/sets/sutekh-on-bach

Zeller: Turbulences

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 11 2010
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Artist: Zeller
Title: Turbulences
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Another Tympanik release fresh to the dissecting table is the French electronic music project Zeller, with 'Turbulences,' an aptly named album. Zeller fuses space music with complexly programmed Industrial percussion, and does it very, very well. If ever an album could be called 'Futuristic Industrial,' it has to be this one. If this is the future though, be afraid, be very afraid. The depths of space are very cold indeed.

'Turbulences' is a helter-skelter starship ride through a wormhole in the spacetime continuum. The exotic matter of the particles of sound employed along with the propulsion of percussion jettisons the listener through universes at warp speed. Although there is a lot going on in the spatiality is incredible. Sounds don't compete with each other; they compliment and buffer each other to maximum effect. There is cohesion to this work that makes it compelling. You can easily get lost in it. Some tracks might be ideally suitable for a video game.

There is a quite a bit of echo effect on some sonic elements, but appropriately utilized, enhancing the cosmic ambience. Sometimes the percussion resembles that of an alien machine, while other times is some of the most effective IDM techno-industrial I've ever heard . The shifts in atmosphere are sometimes striking; just when you get acclimated to one environment, another comes along and sweeps away the previous. Nothing is ever static. Motifs are simple in a Kraftwerkian sort of way, but not kitschy or trite. The sophistication of form and construction is remarkable. At every turn there is something to dazzle your aural perception. The music is sometimes reminiscent of Future Sound of London; could this be Future Sound of Paris?

While many of the sounds may be things you've heard before, you've never heard them put together quite like this. Maybe if Amon Tobin was to drop acid and then ride Space Mountain at Disneyworld a few dozen times, he might come up with something like 'Turbulences,' (and I hear he's working on a space album) but Zeller beat him to the punch, and this punch packs a wallop.

Candle Nine: The Muse in the Machine

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 11 2010
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Artist: Candle Nine (@)
Title: The Muse in the Machine
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Out of Chicago comes Candle Nine, an apparently one-man electronic music project. On the website is a face, but no name we can put to it other than Candle Nine. He says he used to be an acoustic songwriter, but from his first experience in 2006 with a sequencer got hooked on electronic music. Influences claimed are such entities as Gridlock, Haujobb, Converter and Download. Candle Nine sounds like none of them though.

With the exception of vocal (dialogue) samples and maybe a slight vocal track, the music is mostly instrumental. There are Industrial leanings, with an emphasis on heavily programmed percussion, often in the glitch and IDM mode. In fact, the drum/percussion elements are so predominant most of the time that everything else takes a back seat. 'The Muse in the Machine' opens up with moody keyboard work and it's well over a minute before any significant percussion even enters the picture. Not a bad way of building atmosphere. When the drums do come in with a rolling sort of beat, they're strong and defined. Unfortunately, the underplayed keyboard work never swells into anything more defined, and just meanders along in its moody progression. This the way the tracks seem to continue throughout the album.

Track 2, 'Penumbra,' also starts with moody atmospherics (and those vocal samples, also present in track 1) before the drums and percussion hits with a barrage of chaotic and sonically twisted programming. For a time, its crazy and wild, then subsides and lets the synth string pads fill in the space'¦then it happens again. After the wild rhythm leaves for the second time, it returns in a more subdued and controlled form. This happens a couple of times, and then we're left with the synth pads again. I know this is a clinical description, but it's fitting; there isn't anything emotionally grabbing about this.

Candle Nine is good at moody atmospherics but seems lost as where to take them. One of the problems is the mix. The percussion is just so dominant that everything else seems to be the canvas the picture is painted on. One good example of this is 'Raison d'etre,' a track that has two simple synth melodies, a sparse repeating vocal line ('I can't find it on my own'), and a lot of heavy-duty percussion programming, which is the focus of the piece. There is even a time when one of the synth melodies comes to the foreground (with minimal percussion backing), but nothing is ever developed and taken further. It lacks vitality.

By this time I am noticing one element that is missing which could help out immensely ' BASS. There is not much bass, except as an occasional low end undertone. It was probably intentional to do things this way, but it could have been an important unifying factor to add some cohesion. What happens without the motion of bass is that there is often a lack of cohesion between the drifting and woozy keyboards and the percussion elements. What you end up with is a chillout juxtaposed with an Industrial/IDM hybrid percussion track. (And also, an overlay of dialogue samples.) The repetition of chordal progressions ad infinitum also gets old quick, and begins to sound New-Agey.

For me, the often raucous percussion and the gentle keyboard elements don't work well together. It often sounds like I'm listening to two different albums. It's unsettling, and not in a good way. There is no doubt there is some talent here, but it needs refining. Maybe the next album will be better if Candle Nine can find a way to fuse the elements he's using so they work with each other instead of against each other.


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