Music Reviews



SAWAKO : madoromi

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 09 2007
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Artist: SAWAKO
Title: madoromi
Format: CD
Label: Anticipate (@)
Rated: *****
After several listenings I can truly say this new Sawako release hasn't deluded my expectations and if you consider I've bought her last release on 12k, plus I've heard many of her previous releases, you can guess why I was quite curious. This record is not only good, it strengthen my opinion this japanese girl actually residing in the Us (if remember well) is a talented and inspired electronic artist. The fact she's from Japan is not secondary at all since the music is minimal melodic japanese electronic music, and above all if you compare this one to some of the previous material recorded by Sawako it remind the esthetic of bands, artists like Minamo, Fourcolours, Yoshihiro Hanno just to name a few. This' the kind of release I wouldn't be surprised to se on a label like Cubic Music to help the most informed among you. If "Yours grey" was minimal but at the same time cerebral, this new release is much more immediate and easy to be listened due to the extreme melodic essence of the tracks. Simple ambiental-oriental repetitive melodies embody the corpus of the tracks, while Sawako comes in and out with vocals, soft noises, electronics: the end result is a good number of sweet lullaby that will drive you straight to close your eyes after Morpheus' kiss. Simplicity is the keyword in the making of this work, but what amazes me of brilliant japanese music (and Sawako is a top class artist) is how they paint it all with that childish atmosphere that makes you feel you're floating on in a soap bubble. On the other side it's quite easy to classify some of the tracks as ambient music and it's hard to deny that, but still I think this ambient esthetics has much more to do with oriental minimalism than with Brian Eno. This' the kind of music they should use in the cure of stressed people, I'm sure many would start relaxing after a few songs. If you're looking for something soft to the sound of which you can finally catch some sleep: here we've what you're looking for.


MOLJEBKA PVLSE: Driftsond

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 06 2007
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Artist: MOLJEBKA PVLSE
Title: Driftsond
Format: CD
Label: Gears of Sand
Rated: *****
Those into droning ambient, both dark and ethereal, should be well acquainted with Mathias Josefson's creature by now, given the amazing quality of his releases on Cold Meat Industry, Eibon, Segerhuva, Fin de Siècle, Mystery Sea etc. This new full-length work is released on high-quality, you-wouldn't-tell-it's-a cdr by Ben Fleury Steiner's Gears of Sand imprint, which makes perfect sense, as both artists have deeply investigated the potential of guitar-generated soundscapes. Unlike many of MP's recent releases, which incorporated lots of manipulated field recordings and even voices, this is a pure guitar drone work. Think of vast drones and tones of resonating strings, probably played with an ebow and filtered with an array of pedals. As simple as that, but less is more in this case, as the four tracks have a constant intensity and quality which is often lacking in releases of this genre. Fans of the most abstract, less "rock" (ahem!) side of Fear Falls Burning, Troum, etc. should go & grab a copy of this for sure.

KURSK : the truth in the head

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 03 2007
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Artist: KURSK (@)
Title: the truth in the head
Format: DVD
Label: Amirani (@)
Rated: *****
Wow, I think I deserve some respect here since before writing the final review of this dvd I've been watching it at least three or four times which in my book means I've given it lot's off attention!. The fact is the work and the concept behind it is to say it all: majestic, I dunno if you remember the whole tragedy of the russian sailors left choking in the dept of the sea but I've seen a couple of documentaries on it and I remember quite well the whole disaster. The other reason why it took me so much to digest the dvd is that not only the project is ambitious, but the final result is equally complex, infact the dvd featues some extras where Mimmo explanes how they’ve approached this work. To prevent you from thinking this’ gonna bore you to death, I’ve to say according to my personal taste that's one of the most interesting releases on Amirani. While most of the original sources for the visual part are well assembled I'm not completely convinced about all the effects used in the process of elaboration of the images, but that doesn't mean it won’t leave you dry. Though the primary "voices" involved in the realization of this soundtrack are soprano sax and trombone, the electronic insertions are really well calibrated and help dying neutrally every act of what sometimes has the feature of a theatrical play (a drama indeed). There’s something beautifully old fashioned in the music played for the score and surprise, surprise: differently from what one may expect it’s not sad or dark, but that’s also what I find it’s really personal of this work. With the exception of the electronic parts of the record, which usually are non intrusive and discrete, our "horn" duo ranges from abstract melodies to barely classical movements eluding the jazz background of Contini and Mimmo. Funny cause what initially could be a dangerous choice reveals to be the most unconventional decision and at the end of the dvd I’ve happened to think that they’ve given much more power to the images and to the story plot. The music has its autonomous life even when separated by its soundtrack essence and that’s good, by the way the majority of the "movements" are subsequential thus it’s quite different from those soundtrack where you have a recurring theme or songs that can be isolated from the whole musical context. Good work and above all music wise an enchanting release.

LUCA FORMENTINI: Tacet

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 02 2007
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Artist: LUCA FORMENTINI (@)
Title: Tacet
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
After Australians, Americans and Japanese, Italians are doing their best to increase their ethnic weight between the ranks of Extreme records and Luca Formentini follows Claudio Parodi, by the way even if both those country fellows can be ideally filed under "drone" music, the nature and the final result of the two works are quite far one from each other". Formentini has an candid old school ambient/visionary approach that I’m sure many of you (me included) will appreciate. While remembering you "old school" doesn’t imply always: "surpassed", Formentini’s refined effort will kill those who loved the most inspired Eno, David Torn (minus some of his old fashioned fusion reminiscences), the most sober Laswell and many beautiful documentary soundtracks you may have (or have not) heard once in your life. I’m tented to say this could be a sophisticated atmospherical release with a ECM, Axiom cut (no, it’s nit dub). Don’t worry, I know for many of you ECM (and Axiom) has become just a synonym for "chic music for pretentious bourgeois intellectual wonnabes", but I’ve to admit myself they still put out interesting records every now and then. For what it’s worth Luca has some celebrities featured on this cd: Markus Stokhausen (son of such a father but great musician himself!), Sylvian’s own Steve Jensen that surely have enriched what already was an intense release just to name the most famous. By some means I wish I’ve been able to express this guitar driven songs are in some way close to "classic ambient" but scout’s honour: if that’s the so called classicism is more than welcome! The fact is Formentini has simply exploited a pre-existing "language" but he manages to be both lyrically evocative and touchy thar makes the difference. "Tacet" is warm and has the undoubtful quality to make you feel relaxed both when the mood of the track is sad and when we have something close to the softest/diluted evolution of Miles Davis (Nordic jazz anybody?). While many of his contemporaries fall while looking for the coolest sound, Formentini is more absorbed in the search for interiority and you can hear it. I know I may sound dumb for writing this but after many listening I couldn’t but think how Wenders’ "Until the end of the world" wouldn’t have been such a bore with a soundtrack like that. Nothing can better describe "Tacet" but relaxing.


Erdenstern: Into The Dark

 Posted by Ivan Racheck (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 01 2007
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Artist: Erdenstern (@)
Title: Into The Dark
Format: CD
Rated: *****
After three very interesting releases, covering each a specific color and theme, it was about time Erdenstern explored the dark. When I heard speak about a 4th album of the band I was not all that thrilled to be honest. Small weaknesses on the other releases have been the lack of variation. Even though it has been but small holes in the otherwise magical armor, it made me not so thrilled.
Going into an album that way as a journalist is a good thing. What I hear on this new Erdenstern album is the without a doubt best Erdenstern album up to date. As the other releases have been very good this album put the band in the top of the food chain!
The pure darkness, variation, wonderful choirs, good horror mood, great chants, rituals and atmosphere is what make this album so alive. This even though it´s an album about death.
This time the melodies have taken a step back and instead made way for more experimentation and pure good old horror feel. Still with a freshness and high standard as Erdenstern is known for.
At times this wonderful album tend to be a little too much background music for my taste but as the band wants to do music for RPG games that is intentional and it works!
The artwork is high class but I did not like the pictures of the members. Nothing against them as persons at all but the photos and the way they were inserted is not so good. Comments on the back about being a small label and telling people to not "rouge or pirate".
What I really love with this album and band is the precision which they keep within a set out border! Sometimes with Erdensterns releases you think it is music to a film. They even work with themes or at least very similar melodies. That could be a bit too much but here it is done with more skill than before and with more care to details. I really enjoy listen to this album and if you like fantasy music you should check this one out. You should also (for the first time maybe) get a really good kick out of this album if you like dark ambient. A band such as Shinjuku Thief comes to mind.
Good work Erdenstern!


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