Music Reviews



Aliftree: Clockwork

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 22 2009
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Artist: Aliftree
Title: Clockwork
Format: CD
Label: Compost records (@)
Rated: *****
Alif Tree is a seasoned and well established French composer, producer, engineer and sound designer. Based in Marseille but constantly traveling around the world he writes for film/TV, produces remixes, writes for classical dance ballets, plays gigs and at the same time magically finds the time to write great music, gets top musicians to record it in Nashville and then packages it into a beautiful and sophisticated melange of ambient, electronica, trip-hop, jazz, pop, blues and more. I don't think I heard his debut "The Observatory" back in 2000, but considering it took him 8 years to create the follow up to that you can imagine that this is indeed a great album, and he makes no qualms about proudly stating that himself. "Clockwork" is delicate and classy like french cusine but at the same time rough and live like some of the most well conceived and put together examples of live-music-based electronica. With male and female singers ranging in style from the Soprano-theme-ish deep blues tone to the chantouse-ish lounge/acid-jazz ethereal, "Clockwork" draws from influences and eras as disparate as every music lover's collection. Borrowing counter clock wise while attempting to look clockwise ahead, "Clockwork" is for the most part the result of live sessions with only minimal (if at all) sampling. Even so it manages to stand the test of time while challenging a unique temporal context. The album sounds fresh but rooted in the past, which is probably the best of both worlds today. Alif Tree draws a picture of depth and complexity that only the most eclectic and open-minded of producers can.

Aidan Baker & The Infant Cycle: Rural Sprawl

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 21 2009
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Artist: Aidan Baker & The Infant Cycle (@)
Title: Rural Sprawl
Format: CD
Label: Zhelozobeton (@)
Rated: *****
Seasonal music, id est a music that could be fitted to or associated with a particular season, has always been a good deal and that's quite notorious to a lot of music operators since centuries: Christmas-related marketing specialists launching cds fillep up with Xmas carols, pop stars, official and unofficial religious institutions and even ancient Celtic bards and Hindi gandharvas seems to know that! And there're some nice attempts even among electronic musicians (think for instance to Martin Jules' Herbstlaub or as well as well as more famous ones by classical old composers (from Vivaldi to Prokofiev) aware of the fact that each season of the year could arguably have its own sound. This intriguing album well-crafted by the Canadian musicians Aidan Beker and Jim DeJong (aka The Infant Cycle) issue by the juicy industrial and experimental Russian label Zhelezobeton seems to be another attempt of giving voice and grabbing sounds from the intimate spirit of the four seasons eternally cycling in a year (even if nowadays pollution is slightly changing the natural rules... ). Rural Sprawl '“ what an elegiac title! '“ contains four tracks, one for each season, four states of the soul, which seems to be the acousmatic harvest from a mindful haemorragia derived by the squeezing of perceptive spheres of the musicians by help of a respectable kit including tapes, a bass, some guitars, a feedback generator, a sampler, some playouts and a thumb piano. Four tracks partially reminding works by Strings of Consciousness or Origami Galaktica, mainly designed on powerfully hypnotic overstretched drones enriched with entrancing binaural pulses and nicely sequenced sounds, skewing the audio climax. This sprawl starts with the flat loopline saturated by a guadually eruptive infiltration of an atonal sound sustained by fluttering rhythms and a follicular guitar tune, wholly exudating the memory of those sneaking summer noons and its intimate sense of stunning stillness. My favourite track '“ and just by chance my favourite season '“ is the one dedicated to autumn: the sense of suffocating oppression is reduced and a more melodic and melancholic (and sometimes moaning) tone permeates through the drone surrounding the listener till the end, when it turns into a strangled lovely guitar solo... Both Summer and Temperature Drop were recorded in 2001 and already release on a very limited CD-R by the Italian label Blade Records. In order to complete the natural cycle of this album, Aidan and Jim recorded two others in 2005. The first one reflects the lethargic savour of winter throughout a silently murmourous set of subtones, an hardly dragging kit of electronic sounds and pure jems of isolationist drones, gradually preparing the ground for the more organic one of the final track, an enchanting anthem with tiny sounds on majestic sounds waves, summing up the reflowering of natural elements normally marking spring-time in a captivating way. Very good record, highly recommended for brain machine addicts!

THUNDERWHEEL: Credo

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 21 2009
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Artist: THUNDERWHEEL
Title: Credo
Format: CD
Label: The Eastern Front (@)
Rated: *****
Created by Vadim Gusis, already known for Chaos As Shelter and member of Agnivolok, Thunderwheel is a particular musical project. Helped out on some tracks by Igor Krutogolov (Kruzenstern & Parohod, Agnivolok, Igor Krutogolov's Carate Band) and Slava Smelovsky (Grundik + Slava, Crossfishes), Vadim created the eight tracks of CREDO having in mind Zen philosophy and, I think, the particular structure of Japanese/oriental music. The result is a sort of surreal soundtrack where dissonant melodies, whispered vocals, percussive sounds and theremin create an oneiric world made of slow rhythms and strident sounds. Like a nightmarish orchestra Thunderwheel painted their personal picture and it's all to be discovered...

Nebulo: Avutma

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 15 2009
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Artist: Nebulo
Title: Avutma
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
That’s a big scorer point for Hymen: every release they bring out surprises in one or another way, nothing seems to be foreseeable. This also counts for the French act NEBULO, the music-project of Thomas P. Musically this "Avutma" album offers a sci-fi sound-trip into a very own cold and foggy world. Pianos and organs got several times fx-manipulated to build a musically ground construct. Synth layers and subtle modified beats accomplishing this surreal scenario, which can described as a mixture of Ambient, IDM and Clicks’n’Cuts. The Ambient influence is surely the most recognizable ingredient, since this album doesn’t offer too much hectic and the possibility of a rhythmically movement. Some crunchy beatings here and there invade the walls of sounds to fill in at least some linearity. At times this complete sound scenario leads into a climax of surrealism and a real psycho-hypnotic impression. Not that easy to follow track by track, this "Avutma" album seems to be designed to satisfy the die-hard Ambient-Electronica freaks only. To me this album is a bit too personal-minded and it could need some more light extracted out of a more mass-compatible sound construct – but that’s only a personal impression. Not bad at all, but maybe this work requires too much spins from the listener until completely satisfaction joins in?
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Artist: AMON VS MORTAR (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Afe (@)
Rated: *****
Given the fact this release came out on Afe you have Andrea Marutti squared and that would be enough to give a strong identification to this product. This cd features material from Mortar coming from late 1996, some went to compose its Oktagon lp plus some previously unreleased materials, everything has been molded and reshaped by Marutti with his Amon moniker and if you've confidence with his previous work with such a project you don't have to expect something that different. It's misty-ambient, dark-ambient music with an incredible amount of mid-low frequencies and keyboards/synths' sounds. I think the original sound source for some of the tracks were synths but don't expect those post-black metal releases with cheap ambient keyboards sounding like a third rate horror movie soundtrack. If you strain and work with your imagination I think here and there you can also guess the cut of some of the original sources is someway old-school, but as you can guess Amon has reshaped the whole recordings to give it a new tissue and here you have it, thus don't consider it as old despite it betrays that old school touch lot's of you may appreciate. Sometimes I've been quite surprised by the fact Marutti has gone quasi-melodic, like in the passage where he used an organ sound to play a sad melancholic harmony that breaks into the wall of misty clouds you can cross for the whole length of the cd. For those of you who already had the chance to taste some of his Eibon materials, here Amon tends to diversify a lot some of the passages even though the global sound of the work is quite uniform but you have more sounds suspended in the background, sometimes lost in reverb, sometimes something strive to get to the surface, the impression is there's something beyond the steam. this effort also reminded me of Amon collaboration with Nimh in the occasion of Sator, just a bit less heavy and less powerful, but something brought to my mind that monolithic feeling. At the end of the day it's a really quiet and introspective cd and I think the desolated rocks Abby Helasdottir/Gydia has put on e the cover tell us much more of this release than the majority of the words I’ve written.


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