Music Reviews

Eonic: Secret Land

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 15 2010
Artist: Eonic
Title: Secret Land
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
Eonic is a russian duo whose music is based on a mix between ethnic rhythms and ambient lines of synths. The result, influenced by names like Arcana and Enigma is pleasing and, sometimes, even remarkable.
"Easterly Wind" takes attention using an hypnotic reversed loop. "Secret Land", "Desert Island" and "Temple of Silense" dangerously approach the perilous coasts of new age, dampening the meditative mood of the genre with the help of the rhythmic sections. Near the end of the album "Abandoned City" takes the listener with a surprise a solemn field of synths evolving over an ethno rhythm in a real mix of genres. The rest of the album is a sort of new age dance music, clearly influenced by Enigma, but fortunately with a sort of personal gothic view in the songwriting.
This is a strange record: even if is not openly original, it escapes the faults of their musical model making the classic records that someone likes but doesn't know why. A record for the times of the day one need a soundtrack for a mind relax.

Murralin Lane: Our House is on the Wall

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 15 2010
Artist: Murralin Lane (@)
Title: Our House is on the Wall
Format: CD
Label: 12k
Distributor: Boomkat
Rated: *****
Maybe inspired by the faint rays of sunlight of the morning hours of Swedish spring and summer and by the somewhat pleaseful sense of being lost to the world and contemporarily bliss a similar enviromental set could induce, Our House Is On The Wall, the debut release from the Swedish duo Murralin Lane, made up of David Wenngren aka Library Tapes - a piano-based intimist experimental project issued mainly by Kning Disk and Home Normal -, appreciated young composer in the minimal-ambient neo-classical scene running Auetic, a label which is bringing out some interesting acts pushing out the boundaries of the so-called poetics of absence including his side-project Le Lendemain backed by Danny Norbury (I reccomened to have a listen to it as well) and his partner Ylva Wiklund, looks like a collection of ethereal transmissions from a parallel dimension. On this occasion, David let his piano - a sort of trademark of his personal style... - rest in order to work on electric alembics by collecting some delicious electro-acoustic cameos and fragile compositions wearing the melancholy hat and covered with dark-tinged ceruse. The sound space appears dominated by self-shaping drones of noisy and silently raging on the same time streams, on whose constant flow Ylva seems to put flowing ampoule of brimful vocal excerpts (sometimes recorded through a mobile phone as it's clear on the final trilling of When I Told You) resounding from the cavity in the wall where they built their sounding nest from the second track Folding Paper Planes oscillating between anesthetic depictions of void spaces and nyctalopic vocal vaporizations in the airless atmosphere saturated by distorted tuning forks and oblique sonorities. Murralin Lane's dimples sound easy to be tasted till its final fading out with its cinematic suite, which let me imagine Eskilstuna, the Swedish village from which they emit transmissions, is really close to Twin Peaks...

Mikroben Krieg: Final Cut

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 14 2010
Artist: Mikroben Krieg (@)
Title: Final Cut
Format: CD
Label: Thisco (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Mikroben Krieg is the project of Nelson L. Brites from Leiria, Portugal. Founded way back in 1995, this marks MK's 6th release since 1999. Self categorized as 'intelligent tribal electro ambient industrial,' I suppose I can agree with the tag. Brites has a few guests here to help him out on 'Final Cut' ' Caita Brites (accordion on Nightmare Dance'); Carlos Matos (lyrics and vocals on 'Inimputavel'); Nuno Cruz (keyboards on 'Soul Engineering') and Rui Francisco (angle grinder on 'Nightmare Dance'). Angle grinder? Just what the hell IS an angle grinder? I guess it's some kind of power tool. I was never much one for machine shop toys.

From the opening track, 'Soul Engineering,' I had high hopes for this album. It's mysterious and somewhat eerie; an atmospheric mid-tempo instrumental opening with a haunting descending piano triplet riff over industrial beats, sequenced bass and dark cinematic effluvia. It is a rather strong and effective mood-setting intro. At the end the voice comes in speaking in Portuguese. Sorry, not up on my Portuguese, so it was lost to me, but it sounded ominous anyway.

'Sleepwalkers' (in English, fortunately) immediately jettisoned me back in time to Front 242's 'Tyranny' album, and 'Soul Manager' in particular. The vocals might have had a something to do with it too. It wouldn't be the last time I noticed similarities between MK and Front 242 either. Unfortunately, that by itself is not enough to win me over. The crunchy rhythm on 'Sleepwalkers' is pretty good and it does have a nice dark tone to the atmosphere, seething with foreboding. Synth-work is sort of minimal but effective. Nice track.

What happens after this though takes it down a notch or three. Over bubbling sequenced synth bass and rumbling percussion the vocal track is all SAMPLED DIALOGUE. Now if you're a regular reader of my (often infrequent) reviews here, you KNOW how I feel about the overuse of sampled dialogue, no matter what the source, especially when it serves to replace, rather than enhance a vocal track by the artist. Long passages seem no more than babble, and even though the sampled dialogue here is in English, it's still babble to me. I could care less. The music was good on 'Scene Memory,' but I would have rather heard vocal content from the artist.

'On 'The Responsive Ear' we have a rhythmically potent track with dramatic piano chords, but the vocal is lightweight (with lyrics in English) and really needs more oomph. The words I caught, 'I could try a little bit harder'¦' seemed appropriate. Yes, you could try a little bit harder, or get a vocalist with more power and drama. That would make a big difference. 'Jihad' brings back more lengthy dialogue samples over random sample-&-hold style synth sequences. Sounds like an overly-dramatic actress auditioning for a role at an electronic music workshop. 'Sinus Addicted' (now there's a title my nose can identify with) is yet again more lengthy dialogue babble over early Front 242-ish rhythms and rhythmic synths. By this time I'm realizing that the hopes I had at the opening track of 'Final Cut' are beginning to dissolve liked oil in chemical dispersant. The track just abruptly ends, giving the impression ' 'oops, we've had enough of this. 'Inimputavel' seems like a lament with lyrics and vocals in Portuguese by Carlos Matos. Maybe lamentable is a more accurate description. They sound impassioned, but much too soft for this kind of music. Must be something in the culture; I'm just not getting it. Musically, it's actually pretty good though with its Middle Eastern undertone. We're back to more sampled dialogue serving as the vocal track on Paradox,' and a rhythm track that is reminiscent of a Rhythm Ace drum machine. And once again, more sampled movie dialogue ('Angels in America') over rhythmic industrial ambience. This is really getting old now. The positive sentiments I held for the album at the outset have eroded like the ecosystem in the Gulf. Last track (before the remixes) 'Inquietude' brings back some real vocal content over more traditional drums mixed with tabla, and I'm grateful for anything that doesn't reek of sampled dialogue. I don't even care that the vocals are in Portuguese; they're adequate and that's fine with me.

The last five tracks are remixes of previous tracks on the album. The Eden Synthetic Corps remix of 'Sleepwalkers' is the best of the bunch; very club-worthy. As for the rest, I suppose they're okay as far as remixes go, but by this time I've had more than enough. If the artist here is open to a little unsolicited advice, I'd steer clear from dialogue samples on the next release, and get a vocalist with some power and dynamics. I see potential in Mikroben Krieg, but it hasn't been realized here on 'Final Cut'.

Anthesteria: Phobos 1953 (OST)

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 10 2010
Artist: Anthesteria (@)
Title: Phobos 1953 (OST)
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
George Belogazlov, the mind behind this album, is also a computer game creator and this album is a soundtrack for a videogame about a soviet bunker theatre of experiments on human psyche. The result is a "classic" post-industrial music that is focused on textures and production rather than innovation or experimentations, just because it's more focused on ambient creation for the game that being a self standing record on his own.
The music has, however, some good points also because it hasn't sonic assaults to easily take the listener's attention: "inside the bunker" has an atmosphere closely related to the package pictures of abandoned offices illuminated by neon. "Mercurial shower facility" relies on a heavy sustain and bell-like noise evoking landscapes of isolations. "Black March" is, perhaps, the best track on the album with slowly moving ethereal synths (3 minutes of beauty). "Shortwave solitudes" features a surprisingly sample of violin.
The packaging is carefully done with few pages, fragments pd a book about mental suggestions, printed in old-style paper unfortunately only in russian and two videos of the video game that gives a more precise view about the whole operation (there's even an old-style tone generator in the gameplay video and pages similar to the one printed in the booklet).
Not the album of the year but a nice record carefully produced.
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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