Music Reviews

NIMH : travel diary

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 30 2009
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Artist: NIMH (@)
Title: travel diary
Format: CD
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
Here we go with a new release by Nimh after a small hiatus he's back with a plethora of new releases, the label is again Silentes and right after Maurizio Bianchi and Aube he's probably the most prolific artist on Silentes. According to my opinion this "travel diary" is the ideal follow up to "the missing tapes", the sound aesthetic of this two records is considerably different but by some means the travel-diary concept and the travel-music idea is basically the same. Clean production but with a warm feel, and if you consider in the line notes the artist wrote there's no synth and no electronic instrument involved in the production of this full-length we can assume he did a great work to produce it. The pictures of asiatic people included in the layout say a lot, infact Nimh used a bunch of singular exotic instruments with weird names like khaen, falu, bendir, soong and so on, most of them are string instruments, percussions and flutes, mouth organ. Believe it or not mixed together with field recording, some voices and with his usual touch behind the mixing desk he's been able to find out drones he's dragged around in this or that track adding an high hypnotic feel to an already oniric atmosphere. This cd features a bunch of tracks Verticchio has put out on some other releases before plus a new track and everything has been remastered, the result is great since instead of sounding like a greatest hits it all has a uniform idea that links all of the tracks of the cd. I'm tented to say some of t his artist has rarefied the atmosphere of his compositions leaving field recordings floating ashore on the surface of the single song, everything is embroided with a great taste and the global result stands on the edge between soft dark-ambient and ethnic-music. I'm sure William Burroughs and mighty Bryon Gisin would have enjoyed the trip, you can bet it!.

Wet Cookies: Soul Protection

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 27 2009
Artist: Wet Cookies (@)
Title: Soul Protection
Format: CD
Label: Cat’N Roof Records (@)
Distributor: Cat’N Roof Records
A good while back I reviewed Wet Cookies’ Earthling’ album. It was instrumental Nujazz in the vein with touches of Weather Report and Bitches Brew’ era Miles Davis. It was a positive review, even though not the kind of music we here at Chain D.L.K. usually groove to. I guess that’s why they sent me Soul Protection’ to review. That was a mistake. This is hard right turn for this outfit; dubby soul jazz with vocals on every track. What a disappointment. I can’t fault the playing or singers (for what it is, it is spot-on) but I had hoped Wet Cookies might go further out on the edge rather than take a much more commercial tack that caters to a whole different audience. I doesn’t help that I don’t particularly care for soul-jazz. Some of these tracks sound like the stuff on the This Is Acid Jazz’ series that I always skipped over. The arrangements and performances are good; it’s the material that lacks. I don’t think the world needs another version of "Word Up" either. For those that may into this sort of thing, vocalists include Betty Semper, Ken Boothe, Hubert Tubbs, Abisara, Ruffina Frontin, and Ola Egbowon. Two bright spots on the album are the sans vocals dub versions of "Something’s Changing" and "Unwind," primarily because there are no vocals. Still, I don’t think this album can hold a candle to Earthling’ but that was the group’s choice, and Soul Protection’ will probably sell better than their previous effort did.

The Project Pale: Our Inventions and How They Fail Us

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 27 2009
Artist: The Project Pale (@)
Title: Our Inventions and How They Fail Us
Format: CD
Label: Ohm Resistance (@)
Distributor: Ohm Resistance
Rated: *****
The year is almost over and I’m clearing the deck of all the stuff I have left over to review. The CD must have fallen thru the cracks’ so to speak as it was released in early May, although I didn’t receive it until much later in the year. The Project Pale is actually the brainchild of Glitch (Jason Selden) from the D’n’B outfit The Chosen. Well, D’n’B it certainly ain’t. Glitch straps on guitar for this venture which eschews drumn’bass for a heavily shoegazer-influenced sound. He’s assisted by Ohm Resistance label-owner (Kurt) Submerged on bass and Sensi*star (Phillia Kim Downs) lending vocals to a few tracks. To top it off, Bill Laswell produced. Well, that was a surprise.

I used to love shoegazer bands. I even still listen to some of them occasionally. Lush, Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and so many others created a genre of music that a certain enchantment and mystery to it. As for what we have here, there is no doubt The Project Pale is shoegazer-influenced, but I wouldn’t exactly call it shoegazer music’. The album opens up well enough with "Driving These Icy Roads," an atmospheric MBV inspired number with mountains of shimmering distorted guitar, a driving beat and ethereal wordless vocals that recall the Cocteau’s Liz Frasier. Even though it really doesn’t go anywhere, it sounds petty cool and sets a nice tone. Good intro. The following track, "Snowed In" begins with cool ambience and echoed clacks then after nearly a minute becomes a brooding tribute to early Ride and Jesus & Mary Chain. Brief track "It’s Not That I’m Uncomfortable" plays with prog-rock but really only has one trick up its sleeve. "Cleopatra’s Needle" mines the low end of the spectrum with bassy menace then ends up sounding like so many, many noisy alternative bands without bringing anything new to the table except some whistling sounds. Not even any vocals on that track. Now I’m beginning to see what’s going on here; there are a lot of ideas put forth, but they don’t seem complete. Too many tracks opens with some type of drone ambience. Also, the production has the guitar pushed way up and the drums sound squashed. This is beginning to sound like... a demo. And not a great demo either.

Vocals return in "Pulled Out to Sea" plenty gloomy, angst-ridden ones at that. The music has definitely settled into a heavy snail’s pace crawl, and "Another Day Without" continues in that vein. There are some sort of vocals wallowing in the swath of echo-verb but they seem more for effect than having anything to say. If you like songs totally obscured by dark clouds, you might enjoy this. "With Open Arms" begins with more melancholy atmospherics before it lurches into another plodding number with electronically treated vocals. I’ll give the Project Pale this much; there is certainly plenty of style in the shoegazer/noise mode; it just lacks substance. There is nothing to anchor the music to keep it from sliding down the drain of self-indulgence. For that, I blame Laswell. Yes, the man of a thousand albums, with a discography the size of a telephone book must have been out to lunch for this project.

"No Help Coming" is an aptly titled track, because there isn’t any. Oh wow, a heavy guitar riff with a ripping synth playing off it. Kind of sounds like a bad live recording. It just builds and builds in a repetitive progression until the end. By the time we reach the title track, I’ve had enough. There is little to save this exercise in excess. It started out as a good idea, but somewhere along the line Jason got so absorbed in the shoegazer sound, he forgot to develop the material into actual songs. Dude, you’ve got to give people something they can emotionally hold on to, some lyrics that can be understood. Maybe if hooked up with a real songwriter, he might have something, but as is, this sounds half-baked. And Bill Laswell, it’s hard to believe you had a hand in this. It could have been a halfway decent album if it had been given some direction, tempering, and sound advice. At least the CD cover looks kinda cool; but I learned a long time ago to never judge an album by its cover.
Title: all will change
Format: CD
Label: Earthen
Rated: *****
"All will change"... and all has changed! Above all from the age in which black metal sounded like Dark Throne or Burzum. Achenar is one of those musicians who's pushed beyond the boundaries of the genre and reminded me a lot of the first time I happened to listen to Ulver, well at the time they surprised me with their post-black metal atmosphere mixed with electronic, nordic music, Pan Sonic, freak atmospheres and who knows what else. Achenar work is located somewhere at a different (and symphonic) latitude, but you can bet he's as weird as them. There's a great abundance of electronic sounds and keyboards-alike melodies but what surprised me most is how Duncan Hemingway has structured some electronic beat really close to Aphex that revived the "Come to daddy" era. The average atmosphere is quite scary but sometimes it changes from obscure to weird, it's quite difficult to categorize a release like that since it would be a bit reductive even if there's no doubt this cd will be more appealing for some open minded black metal, experimental listener since I doubt an electronic-idm ambient aficionado would dig it. The cd is really well produced and technically Achenar is far from being a new-jack: everything sounds damn equilibrated and meticulously produced/pondered after many and many listenings. I can't say every track or every solution intrigued me in the same way, but sometimes I happened to think this guy has some interesting ideas: give it a try.

Flint Glass: Nyarlathotep

 Posted by Andre Wiegand   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 25 2009
Artist: Flint Glass
Title: Nyarlathotep
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Funkwelten
Distributor: Nova Media GmbH
Rated: *****
This is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die." This epigraph fits just perfectly here.

You guessed it right. Flint Glass draws its inspiration from the books by a master of horror literature, who lived a very secluded life and few are the people who knew him in person, H.P, Lovecraft. Unlike Bal-Sagoth, who among many others also found the writer inspiring, Flint Glass composes no metal music but dark ambient. Gwenn Trémorin, the only man responsible for this project is no newcomer. His first album "Hierakonpolis" was released in 2003 and re-released in the following year.
What we have here is a re-release of the sold out 2006 "Nyarlathotep" album which comes with a bonus EP to it. Hence two CDs altogether. The new seven tracks mesmerize no less than the original 15 plus four remixes to them (by Ah Cama Sotz, Disharmony, Xabec and TMO&Empusae), which are also featured on the first CD. Cold Meat Industry is a label that has released quite a number of similar projects in the past if you need some comparison. Mlada Fronta is another name that comes to your mind while enjoying Flint Glass. The new tracks are also free of vocals just in the vein of the project and I believe any vocals would be redundant here, even spoken samples. The music involves various elements changing from warmer to colder pieces. Rather rhythmical and sometimes industrial-like elements give place to ethnical themes like in "Hypnos". But also very slow and utterly disturbing pieces are no rarity on the bonus CD.
This album is not a good choice if you are planning a romantic night with your partner. But it is a great accompaniment for reading any horror book in solitude with only dim light lit. Creepiness and spookiness are guaranteed. Fans of such atmospheres and experiences should not let this album slip between their fingers or putting it Lovecraft-like; between their tentacles.

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