Music Reviews



Dolmen: Incantations Verse Two

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 15 2009
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Artist: Dolmen (@)
Title: Incantations Verse Two
Format: CD
Label: Skean Dhu
Rated: *****
According to the website, Incantations Verse 1 & 2 were composed and intended to be listened to back to back. You can get a bit more on the band and such in the review for Incantations Verse 1. They describe the album thus: "Incantations push the boundaries of dark ambient music while encompassing the dense textures of the shoegaze, the power of post-rock and the rhythmic procession of authentic tribal music." The first Incantations disc would have been right at home on a label like Cyclic Law, where this one would be right at home on Projekt records back in the day. The closest comparison that I can give would be a less dark version of Lycia. This album throws down wonderful soundscapes that bring in bits of percussion and noise that simmer just below the surface of lush drones. If you like drone music, this is definitely one to pick up. I enjoyed Incantations Verse 1, but Verse 2 will be the one logging much more time in my CD player. Recommended. This disc weighs in at around 55 minutes.

Dolmen: Incantations Verse One

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 15 2009
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Artist: Dolmen (@)
Title: Incantations Verse One
Format: CD
Label: Skean Dhu
Rated: *****
First off, a note concerning the state of the music industry. The label, Skean Dhu has closed its doors. "After seven years we had to call it quits. The idea of actually buying music is foreign to the new generation. The final nail in our coffin was P2P networks. When we were sending out our promos to reviewers, our cd’s were already been seeded and downloaded. You can’t succeed as a business when your product is stolen from right under you." To my knowledge the reviewers at Chain DLK do not do this, and I certainly have not. As someone who thinks that copyright will eventually implode upon itself through the actions of the RIAA and the quest for the perpetual copyright, this is not that surprising. People really do not care about the idea of copyright anymore. I have had people infringe on my music on several occasions as well. That said, we really need to support the underground labels out there. Most people who run labels in this scene do so while maintaining a day job or aggressively touring to make enough to support themselves. It’s a tough gig. We really shouldn’t make it tougher. Let’s face it – most labels in this scene will give you a decent taste for free anyway, unlike the majors who peddle only the hit and then hope that you buy the disc of filler to go with it. If you find something you like, support itthat is, unless you’re just waiting for the next boy band or Britney Spears clone to put out an album. OK, now let’s check out the album itself. According to the website, "Dolmen is a collaborative effort between Jason Sloan and Steven K. Smith of Cleveland, Ohio. Since 2002 they have constructed an engaging and powerful new palette of evolving atmospheres and sonic textures. Sloan and Smith enlist a heavily processed and manipulated arsenal of guitars, drums, bass and samplers. While using many traditional instruments, at times it is impossible to tell what type of instruments are being played. This in turn gives the sound a timeless, transitory and almost apocalyptic feel." Not sure if I would take it to the apocalyptic level but this is solid dark ambient for the most part, although some depart from this formula. For example, "Forgotten Ritual" brings in a bit noisier element with some well placed feedback and distortion. "Residual Haunting II" brings in some drumming and ethnic percussion over a synth line with mostly unintelligible voice. At 15.28, "A Past Life Reconstructed," is the longest song on the album, incorporating elements from the previous tracks. It slowly evolves a kind of structure with rhythmic synth washes and insistent, yet understated, drumming. Overall, a pleasant listen. This is part one of a two disc series. This disc weighs in at around 48 minutes.

ERIK URSICH: 3048

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 15 2009
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Artist: ERIK URSICH (@)
Title: 3048
Format: CD
Label: Farmacia 901 (@)
Rated: *****
3048 is the latest Erik Ursich album and since the title comes from the length of the suite you'll find on this limited to 212 copies CD-r, you could think that you're listening to a conceptual release. Well, I don't know exactly if there's any concept behind the analog sounds that Erik produces with his old synths (he uses Ems Synthi AKS, Moog Sonic Six, Steiner-Parker Synthacon, Roland RE-501 and an Ibanez DDL) but for sure 3048 sounds like a throbbing result of an experiment that gone bad. The track starts slowly and low with humming drones and pulsing waves and little by little starts to grow with the add more drones, low frequencies and bleeps that cries for freedom running from one channel to the other. The result is a mesmerizing track that is able to hook the listener immediately. You'll be trapped for 30 minutes and 48" and you'll find asking yourself if you got abducted by aliens.
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Artist: Moldover (@)
Title: Moldover
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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There are VERY FEW people pushing the envelope today. Moldover is undoubtedly one of them, big time! He doesn't just do it musically, but he even builds his own instruments and delivers his music in probably the most original artwork/CD cover I have ever seen.
A few years back this guy pretty much single-handedly launched a new underground phenomenon known as "controllerism" (the art of manipulating sounds and creating or remashing music live using computer controllers and software) which then turned into a whole scene of people doing similar things. He then went on to build the Octamasher (an interactive music installation made up of eight unique keyboard controllers connected to one computer that allows anyone to get in on the fun and jam with any 7 other people). His first album (reviewed on these pages) was a masterpiece of live-remashing of famous rock, pop, electronic tunes, but Moldover wanted to move beyond that and create something that was all original and so this album slowly started to take shape. He's been working on it for years and it sounds fantastic!
Musically you can hear that he has a rock background and in this record he takes his previously instrumental-only/digital-only electronic music to the next level and adds live drums, live guitars and even does some signing. It's hard to say what's in his iPod... There's a broad range of influences at work here, probably things like Squarepusher, Tool, Linkin Park, Aphex Twin/AFX, Frank Zappa, Clay People, Venetian Snares, Boards of Canada etc... Moldover's music is as fresh, eclectic and original as it gets, with influences ranging from funk to nu jazz, from prog rock to metal, from glitch electronica to ambient, from drum'n'bass to dance, from darker dronier stuff to bright solar things. Generally it's safe to say that it is a very uptempo CD and except for the last tune of the record (sort of a Michael Manring guitar-only manipulation) and one other tune, it's a very hype and hip fast-paced piece of work. You just will have to hear it and you'll know how cool it is.
The entire record is made using Ableton + Reaktor and a self-built midi controller made of a bunch of ribbon controllers, knobs, faders, switches and arcade video game type buttons which you can see him play if you are lucky enough to catch one of his very cool live sets (you should!).
You can download all of the tracks from a bunch of different places online or buy a cheap $10 CD from his website, but if you want something unique you've got to get yourself the "awesome edition" (remember when I mentioned the most original CD artwork of all times?). If you thought that the David Lynch/Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse was original, Moldover tops that by housing a real circuit board inside a regular jewel case. The PCB traces create a maze artwork around the word Moldover and on the back they actually outline the titles of the songs. As if this were not cool enough to just look at, Moldover made this circuit board into an actual working instrument that he calls a "light theremin", made up of two light sensors, a trigger button, a blue LED light a speaker AND a headphone jack! So not only can you impress people by literally "playing" the art work of this CD, but you can even plug it in and rock out with it for real like Moldover does at some of his shows! I don't usually post links to youtube videos but this time is different: you've got to do yourself a favor and check this out for yourself so you know what I am talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8UzSVFUIc0&feature=player_embedded
Friggin' awesome! Obviously the dude is from another planet.

IN SCISSORS: Orbis Terrarum Requiem

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Sep 10 2009
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Artist: IN SCISSORS
Title: Orbis Terrarum Requiem
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
In Scissors second full length album is a good dark ambient/industrial record indeed. The nine tracks are always able to build a wall of tension where the dark ambient sounds are enriched by strings arrangements. Throbbing sounds and melody create a particular effect: industrial arrangements, orchestral neo-classical moments with percussions, strings and loops are alternated creating an interesting blend of genres that are able to fit very well the album concept (in this case the destruction of earth and nature caused by human beings). Like a virtual soundtrack to human decline ORBIS TERRARUM REQUIEM shake the audience to the bone offering an original an honest vision of a classic industrial theme.


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