Music Reviews



CLINT LISTING: My Father My Keeper

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 21 2008
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Artist: CLINT LISTING (@)
Title: My Father My Keeper
Format: CD
Label: Autumn Wind Productions (@)
Rated: *****
Side project of the creator of As All Die, Clint Listing produces a particular music made of dark ambient atmospheres, slowed down jazzy intuitions and a bit of early 4AD style (see for example "Cut off your wings to enter heaven" where the melancholy calm/deep vocals are hidden between treated strings sounds). MY FATHER, MY KEEPER is a multi faceted album because if the first three tracks sound like a minimal mix of dark ambient synth pads with the add of a clarinet, the fore mentioned "Cut off your wings to enter heaven" and the following "The last day's of originality" (this one couple whispered vocals, clean electric guitars a la post rock with synth pads) change the style a bit but without changing the atmosphere which is always disturbed and intimate. Also the reverb synth experimentation of "One's loss of sanity", even if it sounds like of break into the atmosphere created since then, it isn't a total surprise, because just by listening to the first couple of tracks of the album you can realize that Clint Listing allows to himself an approach to music that is freed from boundaries. The last three tracks are reported as being part of "The Snow Ghost bonus EP". They span from the opening industrial ambient sounds of "Traveling the celestial path" to the creeping tubular bell sounds of "Simplicity is bliss" passing through the post rock drones of the long "The snow ghost".

PROCER VENEFICUS: Saltwater & Glassmoon

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Aug 19 2008
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Artist: PROCER VENEFICUS
Title: Saltwater & Glassmoon
Format: CD
Label: Stellar Auditorium (@)
Rated: *****
Heading from Greece, Stellar Auditorium is a new label that sent me two of their latest releases. SALTWATER & GLASSMOON by Procer Veneficus is the second one and contains five movements of slow classical orchestra music played like there was a string session drowning under the sea. The music produced by Derek Schultz try to change a little the rules of dark ambient music by using more melodies but being true to the genre thanks to the sounds used that seem to be fluctuating between hisses, choirs and a general feeling of pain produced by the underwater effect. Three out of five tracks succeeded into keeping my attention alive but a couple of them made me want to skip them. This album is available as a limited edition of 300 CD-rs in a cardboard sleeve.

Blackfilm: s/t

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 13 2008
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Artist: Blackfilm (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Spectraliquid (@)
Distributor: Tympanik Audio
Rated: *****
Second release for the Greek Spectraliquid-label and with BLACKFILM they like to present their first foreign act. This is a mysterious one-man music project whose protagonist likes to hide himself and stays away as much as possible from any photo. He presents a sort of cinematic Ambient/Electronica music with a dark environment. The chosen band name is a trademark and BLACKFILM can impress with moody atmospheres and ominous soundscapes. As for further ingredients, some orchestral-sounds as well as some well chosen voice samples get some inserts. The cover art, done by Kostas K. of SUBHEIM, shows some dark gray and rainy autumn-like landscapes which reflect excellent the attitude of this album. As for musically comparisons, names like SUBHEIM, FLAGUE and GRIDLOCK come to mind, but BLACKFILM scores also with a completely different rhythmic outfit. Some tracks here seem to be created by chance or at least the rhythm section offers a lot of improvisation and a real "live" feeling ("Come & See" or "Stalingrad", the latter nails the listener with a playing time of more than 10 minutes...). It isn’t that "lets-program-and-distort-an-Electro-drum-kit-attitude", and the tracks tend to drift in unforeseeable directions. Another favorite of the IDM/Electronica-related audience is "Sonar" with it easier-minded arrangements and lighter percussion work. An album with an impressive artistic background, which is far above your usual Electronica experience. It is well-thought arranged and demanding music in which the listener can’t sink in after only 1 – 2 spins. It requires a bit time, attention and dedication. Packaged in a beautiful digi-pack offering some of the best photo images by Kostas K, which compliments this excellent release.
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Artist: Ich hatt' einen Kameraden (@)
Title: Kampstaoff LOST
Format: CD
Label: SkullLine (@)
Distributor: SkullLine
Rated: *****
This band name sounds militaristic inspired with a German background taken out of an old folk song, but behind this project we have a US-based duo presenting us their vision of Military-Industrial. It is the debut release for Sean and Jason and they could already earn some attention through some compilation appearances like "Bewein Dein Mädel" (SkullLine). But there’s more than to settle down some WWII-related German voice samples with a repetitive musically string orchestra ("He Will Not Come"), ICH HATT’ EINEN KAMERADEN can integrate different musically styles out of their different influences. Be it a Classic-oriented outfit featuring strings and pianos plus a bombastic drum set ("A Final Movement Forward"), here is also Ambient ("Forgotten"), Martial (He Will Not Come") and at least a small doze of Noise ("Imperium In Imperio", "Like Ashes") included. On a few pieces they also include their vocals, which is rather a speech language instead of singing ("Before The Storm", "Imperium In Imperio"). Published and released by the German SkullLine label, also this edition is strictly limited to 100 pieces available, so if above mentioned genres fits with your taste you have to hurry up once again.

Rayan J-W Smith: Becoming

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 10 2008
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Artist: Rayan J-W Smith (@)
Title: Becoming
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Inimitable Records (@)
Distributor: iTunes
Rated: *****
This is the second of two releases from Inimitable Records, closely related to the first I reviewed a couple of weeks ago- Building Seven- "The Time Has Come". Ryan J-W Smith happens to be one half of Building Seven (along with Michael Schofield, aka Micro). That CD fell into the category of dreampop/softside downtempo. This one is basically in the same genre, albeit with a somewhat different feel. But first, a little bit about Ryan J-W Smith. The guy is somewhat of a Renaissance man, a musician since age 5, singer-songwriter at 13, an acclaimed Elizabethan playwright in the Shakespearean vein, an actor, director, photographer... jeez, is there anything this guy can’t do?

So how does Smith’s solo CD rate musically? Well, generally, pretty good. It has a cohesive flow often lacking from solo efforts where an artist dabbles in diverse styles in order to exhibit versatility. Ryan sticks to what he does best here- ethereal downtempo mellow pop with thick, lush orchestrations with accessible melody lines and a tinge of sadness. The opener, "White Russian", is a bit of an emotionally aching enigma that sets the stage for what’s to come. Ultimately complex, with nearly every sonic element incorporated in it that comes into play in later pieces. None of the songs with lyrics fall into the traditional verse-chorus-verse category. Rather, there is a repeated memorable line sung with soulful restraint but with heartbreaking pathos that digs deep into the psyche. Very effective. Ryan J-W Smith knows how to tug the heartstrings with seemingly little effort.

Although some of the arrangements are lush and rife with an undercurrent of sonic effluvia, there is a basic simplicity to the album that ultimately works in its favor. At times, the music is Eno-esque in layered synthetic clouds of ambience and uncomplicated piano melodies. Although "Becoming" sometimes verges on "preciousness", there are enough engaging elements that emerge to keep the album from tumbling into the cloying abyss of schmaltz. The use of vocoder is one particularly nice touch, but since words can’t really be distinguished, it has the effect of an auxiliary musical instrument rather than vocal treatment. The album wraps up full circle with its last track, "Emily", a fitting song of departure with the lyrics "Ill see what comes to me... let go, and let it be, Ill see what comes to me... ergo Emily" backed by acoustic guitar, brushed percussion, strings, piano and dabs of echoed short synth pads. A pensive reminiscence of someone you knew some time ago washes over you and as the scene fades to black. Even after an hour, it leaves you wanting more.

"Becoming" is an album of emotional wistfulness that rolls dreamily along like the soundtrack to a modern romantic foreign film. You know the kind – where at the end, you’re still not sure just what the relationship of the guy and the woman was after she jumped off the bridge into the water. But you know there was something about her he could not live without, and something about her life that she could not live with.


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