Music Reviews

Bass Communion: Pacific Codex

 Posted by Mike V. (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 07 2008
Artist: Bass Communion
Title: Pacific Codex
Format: CD + DVD
Label: E=mc16 (@)
Distributor: Beta Lactam Ring Records
Rated: *****
What I immediately appreciate about this album is the carefully constructed experience arranged for the listener. The modest or veiled cover of the disc tells us very little about what type of music is contained therein (at a glance it reads more like chemistry than it does music release), but I was pleasantly surprised to find a 30+ page booklet filled not with excessive writing, prose, or details about how to understand the music, but with photographs that suggest numerous aquatic environments that might enhance the listener’s perspective while spinning. This is a nice touch considering that music is not limited to just an auditory experience.

Bass Communion’s Theo Travis and Steven Wilson showcase two contrasting soundworlds, called Pacific Codex 1 and 2. Of behind-the-scenes crediting for the album is Steve Hubback, whose metal sculptures provide the source material for the disc. How BC go about creating the textures is not specified, which makes each listen of the Codexes more compelling.
Perhaps it’s a power of suggestion in the booklet but the unfolding of the symbiotic relationship between metal, air, and water is a constant through the course of the album. Careful attention is given to the interaction of the electronics with Hubback’s instruments -the illuminating of partials, complete control of fluctuating densities, large sound masses adjacent to immersive microsounds, and an overall volume-centric approach to form. The color of the music drifts between dark greys and whites to the furthest ends of the color spectrum in other moments. The performances themselves are decidedly organic, which gives a solid foundation for the electronic manipulations. In closing, I am also impressed with the cohesion of the disc, as the overall experience leaves the listener feeling whole, as though the high tide has just receded after a pensive day.

Pacific Codex is a fine project that will provide hours of return listens, be they focused or environmental. Inside the case one will find a standard cd of the album, as well as a DVD containing surround mixes, additional photography and credits for the release. Cheers to Bass Communion for going the extra few miles at the service of the musical experience for the listener. Highly recommended album, particularly the physical release.


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 04 2008
Title: Blue Beam
Format: CD
Label: M-tronic (@)
Rated: *****
Focused on upbeat electronic rhythmic ambient music with Mid-oriental percussions/rhythms/vocals, BLUE BEAM is the newest Geomatic's album. Duo formed in 1996 in Holland didn't produced much, in fact their debut album "Control Agents" has been released in 2001 on Triumvirate label. Active also in the soundtracks business, Geomatic are good at crafting rich electronic sound sculptures which are accessible on a multi-level approach: they can be enjoyed for the convolving ambient/rhythmical as well as used as a sort of meditation soundtrack where the listener is like suspended, surrounded by minimal sound changes. Somewhat BLUE BEAN recalled me some atmospheres of the latest OTX album "A World In Red", maybe for its incredible sound (Geomatic made Kevin Metcalfe of Bowie, Orbital, U2 fame doing the mastering and the result is really crisp). Anyway, if you are into Muslimgauze, This Mour Omina or into the less industrial Ant Zen stuff, this is an album you can check. P.s. On the second session of the CD you can find three mp3 mixes of three album tracks reworked by Lagowsky, Ex_Tension and Ah Cama-Sotz.

NORDVARGR: Interstellar

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 04 2008
Title: Interstellar
Format: CD
Label: Beast Of Prey (@)
Rated: *****
If you are used to listen to industrial music or if you read magazines which talk about this genre it's impossible that you hadn't the chance to read the name of one of the projects that have Mr. Henrik Nordvargr Bjorkk involved. Names like: MZ412, Folkstorm, Toroidh, etc. This time Nordvargr is bringing to your speakers four dark industrial suites which aim is to re-create the dark sidereal sound of the space. Inspired by the Haglund theoy of "Absolute evil", INTERSTELLAR has been recorded using field recordings and sounds made by space objects transmitted over satellites. Space and its mysteries have always been the subject of ambient explorations since early 70's and it's difficult to being able to release something new and which works well. "Nothingness approaching", "Massive interstellar darkness", "Expanding matter" and the 17" long "Returning to a balanced existence" don't sound innovative but they succeed into creating a convincing and involving painful atmosphere. To be full appreciated this album mush be listened on a good hi-fi system or good headphones.

Unterm Rad: The Rake's Progress

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 03 2008
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Artist: Unterm Rad
Title: The Rake's Progress
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
Difficult, quite difficult release from the Chicago Heights-based Tympanik Audio label. I know that Experimental-Electronica can take a quite strange course, which seldom follows and satisfies your typically listening experiences. That’s something which fits on this solo-project of Mike Slansky, who stands behind this mysterious project with the German title. Mike is also known with some different other projects like REKT and AURAL and through some contributions for TEXTBEAK. Described with polemic, the music of UNTERM RAD is a sort of minimal and fragmented D’n’B-IDM/Electronica which mostly avoids any straight structures, with the both exceptions "Sick" and "On The Brink". 9 original tracks plus 7 remix contributions by acts like SYMMETRICAL SYNDROME, ATOMATIK 13 (whose member Alex Stilts has helped out with some additional programming...), DREAMS ARE MAPS or TEXTBEAK are featured on here. Personally I miss something which adds "ground", something on which I could use the term "remarkable" in the music of UNTERM RAD. I hear and recognize the unique kind in Mike’s very personal sound, but at least it includes nothing interesting I would be able to remember 2 hours after another useless try to pick up the content of this album.


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 02 2008
Title: Shadow Of Memory
Format: CD
Label: Thonar Records (@)
Rated: *****
Born in 2006, Abadoned Place is a dark ambient project headed by Romain Lemenorel (the same guy who's behind March Of Heroes) and SHADOW OF MEMORY is his debut album under this moniker. Presenting eight untitled tracks or eight movements of the SHADOW OF MEMORY suite, Romain created one hour long cinematic album where the main theme, by looking at the album's art and pictures, seems to be concerning the abandoned houses and the memories which like haunted souls are chained to those places. Reverbered noises, synths and violins are the main instruments used. The atmosphere created is working well although the sound construction doesn't change too much as it is focused on the effect/ambience created. The album has been mastered by Frederic Arbour of Cyclic Law.

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