Music Reviews

Gjöll : Sum of Transformations

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 10 2010
Artist: Gjöll (@)
Title: Sum of Transformations
Format: CD
Label: Ant-Zen (@)
Rated: *****
The most remarkable transformation acting as an addend in this sum by the surprising Icelandic duo Gjöll, made up of the talented musicians Jóhann Eiriksson and Sigurður Harðarsson, is the stylistical turnabout of the band towards an interesting aggregation between dark-ambient elements and krautrock ones, combining an abstract evocatory charm with a deep awareness of the actual phase of human history. Some heavy thuds of delayed guitars on obscure jaculatories declaimed in the language of Vikings (don’t be scared as there’s an English translation on the booklet) in the introductory Natural Anarchy stimulate my imagination associating all these scenic/sonic elements to a sort of shamanic rite in the deepest cave of the known Icelandic volcano Eyjafjöll whereas the mentioned thuds sound like a musical transposition of the ashy explosions inside its belly. The track’s title as well as the conceptual framework of this release appears inspired by Free As a Bird: Natural Anarchism in Action, an essay by the American activist Pattrice Jones, suggesting some nonhierarchical and non-coercive organizational models taken from the so-called animal world as possible alternatives to actual governments., even if things such the famous Troubled Asset Relief Program might induce in arguing there’re some brain-injured monkeys occupying important seats of the Congress or in the bureaus of Fed. The thrilling tickling of a metronome with bumped accent on fourth step timing with your heart-beat while a creeping and disquieting drone sneaks into the cracks of listeners’ thoughts perfectly fits a track entitled Abandon All Hope. The most luminous addend of this sum is The Only True Philosophical Problem - it’s not a wise statement, but just the title of the song -, going on a tangent of delayed echoes, guitar glides and airy sounds close to the consistency Boards Of Canada gave to their sound in Campfire Headphase. By the way Gjöll’s way to shape their chaos looks even harsher and less ethereal than Sigur Ros’s one as it seems they arrive to different goals instead of similar starting point from the conceptual viewpoint - the feral nature of human society -.

Their soundscapes are not going to alienate or dejecting listeners, but look more like to a fertile soil Gjöll acting as patient and thoughtful farmers prepare for their thoughts and actions and after feeding you with luminous sounds they’ll tuck you in for the night with the gloomy atmosphere and a slow agonizing pulsating beat- wonderfully processed - of Tuckling In For The Collapse and that distinctive digital iciness of the intense Dérive - maybe the most entrancing track of the whole album -. A sort of vocal drone blowing superbly among circular sounds becoming gradually more and more obsessive by unexpected lathe-boring noises in Unity With The Earthworms - close to Origami Galaktica’s entrancing dark-ambient - seems to belong to some remote neo-pagan death cult, flapping your ears before the final majestic hosanna to nature, able with its powers to bare the insignificance of human beings by the swarming dark-ambient maestoso of At The Hanging Of The Last Of The Career Politicians - what a great title!!! -. A part of its almost oracular tones and its esoteric appeal, Sum Of Transformations could stand as the definitive portrait of a nature rebalancing itself against human typical lack of equilibrium, a process which open minded people will not face as a nihilistic assumption.

Kodomo: Concept 11 remixes

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 07 2010
Artist: Kodomo (@)
Title: Concept 11 remixes
Format: 12"
Label: 5 Points Records
I can understand why someone would want a remix single. After all, at one point, I think I had every existing version of Depeche Mode’s “Master and Servant.” However, what generally makes these remixes so sought after is the differences between them. The label notes that this 12” “contains all the remixes on the Concept 11 remix EP, (remixes by Taylor Deupree, Jordan Lieb, Andreas Bjork, Superdrive, and Compound) plus the bonus ‘decoherence’ version released on the iTunes single.” True enough, but all of them remain pretty true to the original, such that it was hard to tell if someone else had even put their stamp on the track. There are differences, of course. Some are more stripped down than others, for example. But none of them really stood out. If you really liked the original track from “Still Life,” and want to hear it in 7 slightly different ways, this is your single. At least it is pretty, pressed on translucent blue vinyl.

Aidan Baker: Gathering Blue

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 06 2010
Artist: Aidan Baker (@)
Title: Gathering Blue
Format: 12"
Label: Equation Records (@)
Rated: *****
I was a bit surprised when I saw the track listing and wondered why I recognized “The Taste of Summer on Your Skin,” then realized that it had been previously released on Ta'lem Records. It seems that this is a mix of previous work with new material. The label describes the album thus: “Gathering Blue provides new original material plus a stunning cover of the Joy Division track ‘24 Hours’ as well as an extended work-out of the remix of ‘The Cicada Sings Our Love Song’ by Building Castles Out Of Matchsticks. We are also treated to a delicate revisiting of the Troum remix of ‘When You Scream’ - both of the aforementioned remixes were originally released in 2005 on the ultra-limited and long-deleted Arcolepsy Records CD ‘Remixes.’”

So let’s talk about the music. This is a double LP, which lets you know you are in for a long ride, but with Baker at the wheel you know that there will be beautiful scenery along the way. Side A consists of “Bond Of Blood,” which features the soothing drones that Baker is known for. At times his voice comes into the mix, but it doesn’t seem out of place, as sometimes happens with drone. Side B consists of Gathering Blue and 24 Hours, which is a Joy Division cover. At least he picked a more obscure one than “Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”! The closest comparison I can give is when Frazier Chorus did a cover of Anarchy in the UK. The result was oddly soothing in a way that Joy Division never was. Side C consists of “The Cicadas Sing Our Love Song / Cipher / Cicadas / Circuitry / Cicatrice” which all blend together into peaceful drone. My wife at this point commented on how much she was enjoying this album and she is not really a fan of experimental music. Side D takes a slightly different turn with “The Taste Of Summer On Your Skin / When You Scream...” which opens with a bit of drums and dissonance and even a touch of feedback. Here and there pulsing waves and buzzing crescendo and decrescendo throughout. It never gets really noisy, but a bit more dissonant than the other three sides. Overall, this is a very enjoyable release that demonstrates why Baker seems to be all over the place. Like all Equation Records releases, this is beautifully packaged in gatefold sleeve and pressed on 180 gram vinyl. This release comes in three different possibilities of vinyl: black, sky blue, and mottled peacock-blue.

SAVIER: Serenade My Enemy

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 05 2010
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Artist: SAVIER
Title: Serenade My Enemy
Format: CD EP
Label: MOMT (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from Edinburgh, after a couple of releases on Noise-Joy, Savier is landing on MOMT with a new four track E.P. titled SERENADE MY ENEMY. Available as CD-r or digital download, the E.P. collects four tunes in balance from industrial and dub. Paragoned to Scorn or Techno Animal, Savier, without using guitars, is able to create convincing post industrial atmosphere where hard beats, bass sounds, industrial samples and tiny synth melodies form a dark soundtrack that will convince you in no time. Passing from the dilated atmospheres of the opening "Lapse" we arrive to the horror atmospheres of "The Beginning V2" carried by a sense of an incoming catastrophe. SERENADE MY ENEMY is the sound of a giant robot Gozilla shaped who's walking on your heads keeping the rhythm...

Talen: Kingston Book

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 28 2010
Artist: Talen
Title: Kingston Book
Format: 12"
Label: Mouthwatering (@)
Distributor: finetunes
Rated: *****
Kingston Book is the first of two “books” sealing the stylistic tunneling joining the Alps and the glorious Jamaica, built by the surprising Swiss dancehall collective Talen - a quartet made up two djs - Aunt One & Bux - and two producers Bobphonic and Uppernoise - , based in Winterthur, which exchanged musical particles with two authentic legends of the Jamaican scene, Sizzla and Cutty Ranks, for their debut release. The opening track on A-side should not be named but The Vibes with Sizzla’s roars targeting “undercover cops investigating music” and “fighting The Vibes” he usually likes and spreads, a stylish blend of electrified Ragga tunes and highly danceable Rock’n’roll stepping, close to that musical formula which recently seduced big names such as Fat Boy Slim, while on the same side the frightening sound of air raid alarms announces a very good version by another renowned leonine music maker coming from the Vienna scene, Herr Stefan Moerth aka Stereotyp, tailoring the track in a distinguishable way, which is quite easy-to-recognize if you’ve already heard something about this refined producer or something from his own Crunchtime label, generally featuring a dry hard-dub beating on sharp noises and obscure sub-basses.

On the flipside, it’s Cutty Ranks’ turn on the gun-firing mic spitting a sort of angry war hymn in the anguished Sniper Sniper, a track which from the stylistic viewpoint looks closer to The Bug and Razor X productions whose turgor has been swollen by heavy bass tones, buzzing synths and metallic kicks, setting the climax before the great remix by Markus Kienzl (Sofa Surfers) whose obsessive rushing rhythmical pattern sloping in miasmatic downbeat pulsations and razor-slashes are elements able to bring dub in a clubby dimension.

On the 12”, you’ll also find the codes to download the bonus tracks as well, among which my personal favorite is the atmospheric and rolling drum’n’bass Sniper Sniper remix by the Austrian crew Alien Entertainment, even if you’ll easily fall in love with the elegant dubstep variant by Dillon Dug, the stomping bonus remix by Markus Kienzl - this time with distorted brass and a venomous punk’n’roll drumming on evidence - and the Alternate Version of The Vibes - a balanced hybrid between analogue and digital with a catchy tribal drums’ crescendo and other thrilling improvements on the percussive set -.

A second book - the New York one , the American counterpart of the Jamaican one, propelled by the N.Y rappers Oddateee and Sensational- has already been issued. When you’ll listen to this one, it will be almost impossible to resist the temptation of ignoring it. I personally undersign the recommendation by Talen: I definitively won’t fight The Vibes of Talen! Bombaclat!

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