Music Reviews



The Orb: Baghdad Batteries

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 16 2009
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Artist: The Orb
Title: Baghdad Batteries
Format: CD
Label: Malicious Damange records (@)
Distributor: Cargo
Rated: *****
The Orb need no introduction, they've been at it for longer than I can remember. "Baghdad Batteries" is the third installment in the Orbsession series and, differently from the first two volumes, is comprised of newly composed material written in their Berlin studio. Alex Paterson and Thomas Fehlmann give us eleven slow burning atmospheric floaters that gracefully flirt with occasional minimal techno beats and shades of world music (do I hear a kalimba?). If their different approaches to music are indeed divergent to certain extents (allegedly Paterson is said to be more about the hooks and sports a pronounced pop sensibility, while Fehlmann is more into his sounds) then I'd say the latter seems to have had the final say (especially in the first half of the record), but I think they both play nice on this record (no pun intended). The key element is the mood and the sonic palette is only an extension, a tool, to achieve the ambient nirvana the two have settled on. They are after all amongst the original masters of the ambient genre.
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Artist: Aphorism (@)
Title: Surge
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
This is a newcomer-project for Tympanik Audio and musically based in the wide field of IDM/Ambient/Electronica music. Tympanik strives the whole world in search of authentic sounding acts presenting this demanding music style. APHORISM isn’t an exception of this label dedication, although I had some initial problems by consuming this album. It may belongs that Tympanik has scored previously intense with acts like ZENTRIERT INS ANTLITZ, ESA or TOTAKEKE and in the first instance, APHORISM seemed to be dull and rather like a copy of the best horses in the label stable. But no, "Surge" has to offer some pearls to warm the hearts and ears of the interested listener. The tracks of Josh Pyle (music and production) and his partner Kris Rosentrater draw a well-done balance between melodic, but dark sounding pads and sweeps mixed with an attractive IDM-related rhythm programming, which often adds cuts’n’ break elements to keep it bizarre but interesting. The label comrade STENDECK would be musically an option to draw some comparisons. 12 original tracks are available, from which I tend to rate "Chrysanthemums For Carrion" (remarkable synth arrangement, a lighter-minded Breakbeat rhythm foundation and interesting breaks thrown in), "Msect" (featuring exchanging synth layers for the catchy main theme) and "Two Sides Of The Bullet" (includes authorized voice samples by Martin Luther King – no, not the often used "I Have a dream..." platitude) as being the best tunes on here. Three additional remix works by the beloved label comrades TOTAKEKE ("Negative Two"), the high-skilled newcomer ACCESS TO ARASAKA ("What We See Now") and TAPAGE ("Msect") completing this album. The whole talent behind this project cannot be discovered after only 2 – 3 spins, so give this one a chance to grow on you. You’ll get rewarded with an addictive IDM/Electronica-album of the upper class.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Songs for a Child - A Tribute to PIER PAOLO PASOLINI
Format: CD
Label: Rustblade (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Some Italian journalists have tried to make a great fuss about nothing related to this interesting issue and right and proper tribute by the Italian label Rustblade to the most prominent Italian poet and intellectual of the previous century, Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose death by mysterious homicide dated to back to 34 years ago (it was 2nd November 1975 when his body was found on the beach of Ostia, nearby Rome, being run over his own car by Giuseppe Pelosi, a 17yrs old hustler, even if the way events occurred is still substantially unexplained) has been recently remembered by some media (sometimes inaccurately). The uselessness of the above-mentioned polemics being about the presumable lack of suitability between a collection of songs belonging to the so-called avant-garde music scene and the poet's hostility towards some futile excesses of some avant-garde forms of art and literature consists in the "genetic" defect some reviewers show when they didn't manage to contextualize expression as they look too self-confident in arguing that contemporary musical languages are just a product belonging to our days. Are they so sure that Pasolini would not have appreciated this tribute as well? As I'd like to exclude the hypothesis those reviewers act like mediums chatting with the souls of dead bodies (requiescat in pacem!), I think these polemics are quite fruitless. It's even longer sensible to them asking what should be the ideal arrangement of Pasolini's thinking (in particular his ardent critic to consumerism running side-by-side to the one against bourgeois values and ambitions standing behind the picaresque neo-realism, standing out among his flunkey contemporaries) nowadays.


An elegant artwork with images provided by the portrayer Saturno Buttò and the painter Alessia Catanuto for a selection of 14 tracks (hurry up if you're interested in it as it's another strictly limited edition... just 696 copies issued... ) signed by an interesting roster of European underground scene, ranging from the renowned Coil '“ whose track Ostia (The Death Of Pasolini) propelled by an entrancing string session composed by Billy McGee, a sort of musical epigraph on the death of this illuminating as well as troublesome intellectual , was already issued in their intriguing apocalypse-inspired Horse Rotorvator '“ to the foggy dark-ambient by Bahntier '“ project by the label head of Rustblade, Stefano Rossello '“, from the touching and crystalline folk-pop by Spiritual Front to the lopsided fractured drops of diapasonic guitar of Les Mille Et Une Nuits by Ah Cama-Sotz to the corrupted string sonata on the subliming vocal samples by Pasolini himself reciting the so-called "civil poems" propelled by the creativity by Alio Die, from the electrified oddities by Teatro Satanico in Ppppetrolio and the esoteric choirs combined with ritual sound hooks by In Slaughter Natives, from the stinging dark pulsations of the obsessive downbeat by Condanna to the grand droning with some famous samples by the poet attacking fascists depicted as criminals thirsty of power by Sandblasting and so on... And even if the Supplica by Black Sun Productions could not easily be compared to the most famous one by Diamanda Galas, we have some evidence to say that maybe Pier Paolo Pasolini could appreciate it if still living as one of the most intriguing musical memorial and summary of the highlights of his scathing thought...

MAX BONDI: M

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 05 2009
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Artist: MAX BONDI
Title: M
Format: CD
Label: Tartaruga Records (@)
Rated: *****
Boss of London based label Tartaruga Records and experimental musician, Max Bondi is releasing on his own label his debut album titled M. Recorded in one week in a North Spain small flat, the album opens with "Aleph, bet", an track based on minimal variations of organ sounds with the add of xylophone like sounds. During only its four minutes, "Aleph, bet" is already able to built a cinematic atmosphere and musically it reminds me of "Lucifer rising" soundtrack. "Morendo" has a suspended/tense atmosphere thanks to a treated bass guitar (it sounds like noises coming from a cave) with sparse snare drum beats. "Volante!" is a tribal tune based on percussions, guitar distortions and organ drones. "In such seeming all things are" creates a similar effect to some Glenn Branca guitar orchestrations (the ones without rhythms) with its organ sound mixed with guitar high pitched drones. "Alina" has a dramatic touch because is based on violin melodies which are delayed and repeated. "A desperate threnody" is a 15' long suite where organ drones, tiny bells, distorted guitars sounds grow reaching their top just to silently fall turning into a rarefied melancholic piano moment then a noisy distortion starts and step by step it become a giant monster that eat everything else and from its sound it seems to contort on itself. The closing "Elenco" is based on minimal melodic repetitions where a windy noise after three minutes is replaced by a noisy guitar drone which becomes louder and louder just to stop at the end of the suite. Personally I found the first six tracks enchanting and convincing (they are able to sound fresh because of the kind of sounds chosen by Max and because of the atmosphere they create) and this last one less interesting because more "conventional" if paragoned to other experimental albums I listened during the last twenty years. The album is available as a limited 200 copies CD edition and as digital download at the major online stores like iTunes, Amazon, 7digital, etc.

QUARTERSIZED: Robotic Funk

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 03 2009
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Artist: QUARTERSIZED
Title: Robotic Funk
Format: CD EP
Label: MOMT (@)
Rated: *****
Quartersized is the musical project of MOMT label's boss Ian Proudfoot and ROBOTIC FUNK is its debut EP. This release contains four tracks where Ian, influenced by twenty years of electronic music listening, is giving his personal vision of electronic funk music. "Robotic funk", "Tribal flux", "Subliminal" and "Clockwork noise crash" mix dub bass lines, ambient atmospheres and dark electro solutions (check the overall atmosphere on "Tribal flux"). Each track is built around one or two melodic lines and Ian then alternates sounds sources and rhythms giving to them spatiality. At a first listen I thought that their melodic minimality was their limit but after a couple of spins the tracks started to "grow" in my ear. If electro with a bit of experimental approach is your cup of tea check this out.


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