Music Reviews

VV. AA.: Chronik I

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 21 2009
Artist: VV. AA.
Title: Chronik I
Format: CD
Label: Trepok (@)
Rated: *****
First Trepok release I review, and it looks like we’re dealing with an electronic label from Swiss, in my book this one of those label that’s worth of a try if you’re in dear old soft, melodic and classy electronic music. IDM-ambient-dj materials with a really easy-listening feel or with a blatant pop-hook like in the case of Eiko, you’ve people from allover Europe since you’ve projects coming from Norway, Italy, Swiss, Portugal, France, etc. But given for granted we couldn’t care less about the geographical location of an artist unless he/she’s good and we’re dealing with a bunch of good songs here. I think you probably know some artists featured here like Philip Petit or Vitor Joaquim, but shame of me I didn’t know that much about the majority of the other musicians. The fact is beside some steady tempo tracks, among the soft experimental sound and the post-ambient, IDM influences you’ve something that starts right where samplers like Warp’s glorious "Artificial Intelligence" left off, the comparison is addressed to those of you that are into indie-tronica, or to those who miss the soft touch of Warp electronic-ambient heyday. As you already know I’ve never been that much into samplers, but this an homogenous and relaxing listening, that’s exactly what you probably look for when approaching a various artist compilation like this.

TRANSISTOR6: Virgin Venom

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 16 2009
Artist: TRANSISTOR6 (@)
Title: Virgin Venom
Format: CD
Label: The Black Lodge
Rated: *****
Two years after the demo MCD Claus Collstrup and Kira Li a.k.a. Transistor6 are back with their first full length album titled VIRGIN VENOM. The 13 new tracks (none of them available on the previous demo CD) give to the audience the chance to experience at full the cinematic ambient e.b.m. music produced by the duo. Despite the rare use of vocals (we find few samples and few phrases here and there plus "Get My", the only song that actually has lyrics and has been sung) Transistor6 is able to produce a rich and balanced mixture of rhythms and multi layered synth sounds. Dancey rhythms are alternated to calm atmospheres that slowly turn into 4/4 tempos where cosmic atmospheres duet with soundtracks for cyborgs. Few times I felt that something was missing (maybe a bit more of vocal samples) but generally the music and the sounds proposed by Transistor6 works fine. You can check a couple of tracks at their myspace

Crista Galli: Hayaku

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2009
Artist: Crista Galli (@)
Title: Hayaku
Format: CD
Label: Prikosnovenie (@)
Rated: *****
Tout est vibration... Everything is vibe! That's the hieratical preface adopted by the French duo of music therapists Crista Galli to explain their thaumaturgical audio-prescriptions based on natural sounds' constant stimulation aiming at the harmonization of the human body's parts with earth frequencies and we find a nice trick the contrast between the quiet audio-settings '“ proposing a fascinating cross between Celtic sonorities and Asian scents, sacred music and perfumes of pagan rites, the deep and shamanic male voice by Jean Paul Trutet and the angelic and crystalline one by Sarah Trutet aka Shayna - and the title of the album, Hayaku, a Japanese expression meaning "hurry up!" or "faster!" as well as the name of a little poem inviting to a sort of return to life throughout a "new-age"-like elemental evocation (the translation of the lyrics says "Hurry up! The heart waits no more..Hurry up! The earth cannot wait longer... Hurry up! The light cannot wait... Hurry up! Humanity cannot wait... [... ] Where is my dream? Where is my love?[... ] The sea is beautiful" and so on... ). Filed in the Mandala series '“ the ethnic-meditative one -by the French label Prikosnovenie, Hayaku is introduced by the band itself as the portrait of a long spiritual journey towards the realm of earth and light '“ beware!!! there're a plenty of references to Aquarian cultures... but we argue that you're going to appreciate their music even if you consider oddities such cromotherapy, mesmerian pools or crystal therapy (as well as cds filled with seagulls, bird choirs, sirens, waves and so on normally sold at newsagents... ) a plenty of bullshits invented just to grab money from depressed or stressed people... - . departing from luminous tracks such as Armor Mirror '“ how many seagulls!!! '“ and Procession '“ really intriguing track evoking ancestral Tibetan monks' choirs introduced by the siren-like "ohhhhhhh" by Shayna... even it seems that the lyrics are taken directly from the mysterious words written in an archaic partially deriving from Latin and partially from Celtic language on a 2000yrs old stele, which seems to be a dedication to Caticatona, an unknown Goddess related to Earth and natural forces... - to more obscure and mysterious ones '“ we love the bell chiming and the Tibetan howling bow in the lovely Ambre et violet as well as the first gurgling chant by Shayna (Alleluyah!)in Joies et mysteries, a delightful hymn with a minimalistic piano session -, from intriguing natural snapshots '“ such as the enchanting Messager de la pluie (Messenger of the rain) featuring an hypnotic zither session, a string instrument belonging to the same family of koto, harpsichord, dulcimer and guzheng (the Chinese zither) as well as the dreamy state of the heart-catching Clair de la lune, one of my favorite track of the whole album... . - to ancient cultures quotes '“ have a listen to the hypnotic mantra in Pakawa Shaman!!! '“ and sacred music gems '“ such as the above-mentioned Joies and mysteries and Seacht ndòlàs nà Maighdine Muire (Gaelic expression meaning "The Seven Sorrows of Virgin Mary"), which are two intriguing and mysterious songs belonging to the Gaelic tradition, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, two wonderful historical pieces telling how the Gaelic culture absorbed the Catholic one... -. Hayaku is not only a rendez-vous of different cultures and natural elements, but even a rendez-vous between sounds as some ethic instruments (such as Celtic harp, Balkan zither, Jew's harp, the ancestral sound of didjeridoo, the Japanese koto and a plenty of percussions belonging to different musical traditions) meet the canonic cello and piano! We could easily confirm that this album is a lovely spiritual voyage even if you dislike new age oddities and DIY devotional cults! And you'll agree with me after listening to this graceful work...

Troum: Eald-Ge-Stréon/ Abhijňâ

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 09 2009
Artist: Troum (@)
Title: Eald-Ge-Stréon/ Abhijňâ
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
I have never met anyone who was into experimental music who did not like Troum, and for good reason – they are the quintessential drone band. Rather than saying that Troum sounds like someone else, people generally say that someone sounds like Troum. For example, the Tjukurrpa trilogy is a pinnacle of drone music. But what would you expect from the man who runs Drone Records? Troum consists of Stefan Knappe and Martin Gitschel and came forth out of the ashes of Maëror Tri. Where some of the other Troum stuff I have seems to focus on building a specific mood, this album is rather varied. On reading the liner notes, we find out why: "This is a collection of strange songs and odd jewels. Most basic versions were recorded years ago on analogue 8-track and some later reworked & re-mastered over and over again. Pieces that were not ready’ when they were made, are pieces that developed and mutated further over the years. Most of them were originally used for live performances. We still don’t know really what it is, but we couldn’t stop ourselves from producing these little hymns." In some ways, I would say that this is a perfect introduction to Troum in that it showcases the variety of styles that they use to build their dreamlike states (Troum is German for "dream")some are peaceful dreams, and some are nightmares, but all are memorable. There are some songs that I am at a loss to describe because I know that I cannot do them justice, and "Elation" is one of them. Deep rumbling bass and synth that create a stunning orchestral piece. This is one of those songs that must simply be experienced. "Usque Sumus Lux" combines pulsing rhythms and majestic synth, making skillful use of crescendos and quiet passages to build and release tension. "Eolet" moves at a glacial pace; nothing but smooth, dark, shimmering drone here. "Ecstatic Forlorness" has a nice tribal feel to it with constant percussion running throughout, building in intensity. It then abruptly shifts halfway through and the drums and drone vie for attention until it all combines into a chaotic wall of sound at the end before briefly giving way to the soothing atmosphere and what sounds like sampled voice. "Dh'nu-H" is a lush wash of drone that has an almost mournful quality. Track 6 is a cover of Savage Republic’s "Procession," but not having heard the original I can’t really comment on the differences or similarities. All I know is that it sounds like something that Militia would do if they had more atmosphere. The lyrics are unintelligible to me because they are overpowered by the music. This gives it a chant-like quality that enhances the atmosphere. At 16.29, "Crescere" is the longest track on the disc, which allows it to evolve more fully thought the track than the other shorter pieces. Slow heavy bass tones and that become more ominous as the melody becomes more spastic. On to disc 2, we have "Abhijň'," a monster of a track at 33.30 minutes. Unlike the other disc, this track was created specifically for this release. This is a great track of drone that builds slowly throughout. The best comparison I can give would be The Anti-Group’s "Burning Water," not so much in content, but in feel. The changes throughout the track are minimalist, but enough to keep it from getting dull. I’m sure my upstairs neighbors are wondering if there is an earthquake happening as a result of the heavy bass that holds the track together. This 2XCD set is, like all BLR releases, nicely packaged, with artwork by Stephen O'Malley of Sunn 0))). The double CD release is limited to 500 copies, so you will want to act fast on this one. If you like ambient and drone, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. If you haven’t picked up anything from Troum but have been meaning to do so, this is a great place to start. Disc 1 weighs in at about 58 minutes and disc 2 weighs in at about 33 minutes.

Grindlestone: One

 Posted by Mike V. (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 06 2009
Artist: Grindlestone
Title: One
Format: CD
Label: Noh Poetry Records
Distributor: cdbaby
Rated: *****
"One" is the instrumental project of California artists Doug Erickson and Don Falcone. Consisting of ambient textures with guitar soloing, one can find hints of industrial music with a canopy of loop based samples and self described avant garde approaches. While not always prevalent, their influences are Eno and Fripp, Robert Rich, Bass Communion and Tangerine Dream. Fans of guitar-leaning ambient and tribal experimental music may find this an interesting listen.

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