Music Reviews

AMATEUR GOD: Xenofeelia

 Posted by Ferruccio Milanesi   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 27 2007
Artist: AMATEUR GOD (@)
Title: Xenofeelia
Format: CD
Label: Black Rain (@)
Distributor: Nova MD
Rated: *****
AMATEUR GOD is a duo from Slovenia, formed by Bla Erzetič and Helena Gabrijelčič, and "Xenofeelia, or «Tales of How We Wanted to Fight Our Own Nature in Vain»" is the third album of the band (but until 2004 there was another singer), the second on German label Black Rain. The album is characterised by slow songs, with Helena’s voice laying on a bed of electronic beats and pads, creating a gloomy atmosphere, oppressive and disturbing. Sad emotions pervade your body, as listening to this album is like walking in a dead alley, fearful of the unknown. Voice is sometimes a bit monotone and dissonant, but I think this is just as they wanted it to be, to create this desperate sensation of emptiness; in fact, when she wants, Helena shows she’s able to sing melodically with no problem at all (see "Miss Fortune" for example), even though never aggressively but with a melancholic approach. I do like songs like "Changes", which has also a particular video, or "Garden of Sanity" with its deep and distressing noises, while I didn’t understand why a song with French lyrics has an English title ("Last Winter"). Maybe this album could give its best with few more variations, both in music and vocals, daring to strengthen some noises or beats when needed to emphasize some passages or to better take advantage of vocal extension. Told this, I must admit that if you accept "Xenofeelia" for the reflective atmosphere it creates, it could be a good album for grey evenings when you need to look into your soul. A trip to the sad side of life.

WEREJU: Through the Depths of Unknowing

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 26 2007
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Artist: WEREJU
Title: Through the Depths of Unknowing
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Electric Requiems
Rated: *****
Wereju is the solo project of Irish musician Cathal Rodgers', who, as I've just discovered, also plays in Wreck of the Hesperus, one of the finest newcomers in extreme doom (check out their brilliant cd on Esoteric's Aesthetic Death). Now, somebody has already pointed this out, and it could sound trivial to the artist, but why splitting 54 minutes of music when it could perfectly fit on one disc? This actually comes as a 2 mini-cds set, which is a waste of plastic. With that being said, on to the music: Wereju plays guitar-generated drones with a dark vibe, though I wouldn't call this dark ambient. Think of Troum, True Colour of Blood, Paul Bradley, Fear Falls Burning and Aidan Baker at their most obscure. The tracks float along plunged in a misty atmosphere, and are surely a nice listen, but rarely fail to impress or stand above the average level in the genre. It does happen with the spirals of "Drift... Like Sleep", the layers of "Into Withered and Dying Arms", or "And Death Shall Have No Dominion", which starts with a series of delayed notes, then turns melodic, and eventually collapses into a spacey nebula. These pieces show that Rodgers has the potential to release some remarkable droneworks, if he leaves the nondescript tracks out and focuses on the more ambitious and refined ones.
May 26 2007
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Title: Balls the Size of Texas, Liver the Size of Brazil
Format: CD
Label: Purplesoil
Rated: *****
Despite its gorgeous scumf**k title, Marhaug's and Hegre's latest is a mostly quiet and pensative release; maybe not "one for the rainy days [as it actually is today], or when you're longing for the prairie", as they put it, but surely not a vicious beast like their superb and rightly acclaimed "Metal Music Machine". The lengthy guitar-generated drones of the title track are arguably the best track here, and along with track n. 2, "Blues for Sterling Hayden", make this a mainly ambient, even Kranky-style disc. The harsh noise bursts that you'd tend to expect from the duo are limited to the aptly titled "Tentacles of Broken Teeth", and the rest is made of weird medical documentaries ("God Damn This Ugly Sound"), turntable noises, found sounds, etc. Save for the last track, I must admit this is a decent, but not really memorable release, considering the quality level I expect from the Norwegian duo.

VV.AA: Radio Rivendell compilation

 Posted by Ivan Racheck (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 26 2007
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Artist: VV.AA
Title: Radio Rivendell compilation
Format: CD
Label: Waerloga Records & Radio Rivendell (@)
Rated: *****
Hail Waerloga Records and Radio Rivendell!
This is the compilation I have always wanted to hear. Waerloga compilation vol. 1 - A tribute to Uglakh was the start and this is one hell of a follow up!
The music on this compilation has a lot of atmosphere and there are some excellent contributions on it.

I have to admit I was concerned at first when I heard about this release. Waerloga in Rivendell? Sounds like a collaboration between dark fantasy and elvish Enya fantasy. I looked up Radio Rivendell and found out I was all wrong. The radio station focuses mainly on fantasy music as a whole and not only on cheesy girlish fantasy. Why I even, in the first place, thought Radio Rivendell had to be only about new age and Enya I do not know. Probably because many of the elven inspired bands have hijacked elves and made the songs about them into pop and cheesy garbish. Maybe only me being cynical?
Instead of my fear I found that many of the songs played on the radio are from films. Andres or "Elrond" as he calls himself on the radio webpage have gathered some of the best soundtracks that fit. He has also computer game music scores, music from dark ambient and neo-classical acts. Arcana have many albums on the show as an example.

A funny side note is that the Waerloga records band Za Frûmi has divided the radio station in two! I know it because the radio station let listeners make short reviews of the song they hear or heard before. In the comments most people love and adore Za Frûmi but the haters are loud and seem to represent another side of fantasy.
The ambient scene have since long been divided in cells/groups. Is it time for the fantasy inspired music scene (dark ambient, neoclassical, folk/medieval, computer game music, film music and dark soundscapes) to experience the same as the ambient scene did a while back?
If so (sorry if this is already happening but if it does it is not something many do) would the stiles be named: Dark fantasy, elvish fantasy, orcish fantasy, Hollywood fantasy, Zimmer fantasy or maybe even Conan (insert favorite film) fantasy?
Or, maybe not.

Back to the compilation.
Best known names for me are Abnocto (I just wrote a review of their debut, but knew of them from before from some other good compilations), Erdenstern, Rising Shadows and Morgan the Bard. But there are a couple of really cool surprises on this compilation from bands that I had not heard about from before!

Erdenstern have a suite on the compilation, containing the two main themes, "Into The Green" and the heroes theme, combined into a whole story in short. The song is remixed especially for the compilation. Erdenstern picked the piece as a "special" for the CD, and as an attraction to all the people who liked the bands music and already have "Into The Green". The song is very good and Erdenstern fits a compilation like this perfectly!

Another German is Markus Holler which are the computer game composer of (among others) "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Shadow of Chernobyl". Marcus song is the first on the CD and it is very well written and performed.

The third German act is called Balaghan and is the solo project of Bernard Kahlen. His music is also game music fantasy with melodies that get you think about role-playing games (as with Erdenstern) such as Dungeons & Dragons RPG.

Two acts originate from England. Tincolindo and Helen Trevilion.
The last act is, known for her website called destiny hikari, kind of the lighter of the pieces on the album.
I listened to some of her material on her site and it often are a bit to much pop for my taste but in some songs she shine like the true star she could be!
The song on this album is wonderful and a great way to end the compilation.
Tincolindo´s song "Priestess of Avalon" is very easy to understand its inspiration. As you hear the song you can see the mist, the ship and the island.

Two of the more odd pieces come from Italy. Morgan the bard and Project Morfeo.
Morgan the bard has been on compilations such as one tributing Falkenbach. The original black metal version of "Galdralag" has been composed by Falkenbach. The track got several dimensions and I can clearly hear the inspiration of Summoning mixed with Medieval-Troubadour & Renaissance music. The song works best in the beginning and then kind of drifts away. I knew of Morgan the bard from before and I think the track is mighty fine.
Project Morfeo start their song with some old school sounds of a dragon and work through different passages in the composition. I like some passages, dislike some and love others.

The lone warrior from New Zealand goes under the name Tom W Hall. The info pages about this compilation give me some info: "On the compilation we can hear the original "prototype" version of what became three lengthier parts used as the soundtrack for Sarah Forgan's "Freakshow - Performing Secrets" piece at the Dunedin Fringe Festival 2006.".
The song is very easy to like. It got a dark and rather melancholy feel to it. Very much like film music to some dark thriller or drama maybe? I feel sadness in the song. It ends with some strange industrial thing which could maybe been shorten a little. This is a very good track!

Another lone wolf (when it comes to origin) is Dimitrij Volstoj. He is a Russian director, conductor and composer of music. He is also known for his work arranging choirs. Dimitrij is living in Canada (Saskatchewan).
According to the info page about the release "Dimitrij fled Russia in the early 80s and still have some legal issues with his birth town which make him use different artistic names. Even the name Dimitrij Volstoj is not his real name. "
His music is dark as hell and he got the without a doubt best track name "Bleeding the bishop". The track is dark and atmospherically with female and male vocals.

From USA the compilation got two game music composers: Willbert Roget II and Sean Beeson. Both are very talented!
Willbert with the track "Atonement" have a very likable piece of dark soundtrack music. The track is very well written.
Sean Beeson has done music for films which one can hear in his music. Like "Atonement" the track "Voice of the Seraphim" is very well written and beautiful. I would like to hear more of both of these composers for sure!

Then we have the Swedes. They have no less than five acts on this compilation CD.
Abnocto (Simon Heath and Simon Kölle) have a track called "Spiritus arma" which is very atmospheric and dark. This is also the opening track on
Abnocto´s debut album entitled "Simon Magus". As you see it’s the name Simon that’s in focus a lot. The track is one of the best on the compilation and that says a lot.
Rising Shadows (Fredrik Klingwall and Linda-li Dahlin) had an interesting debut album released some while back and this track was very much sounding like it. Pretty slow and enchanting track. It is not the best song made by Rising Shadows but I like it.
Two Swedish brothers Mikael & Daniel Tjernberg are Lost Kingdom. They appear with a track called "In heaven". Hell, I am in heaven listening to it. It is neo-classical with a touch of both romanticism and modernism. I want to hear more from this duo. I would love for them to Explore in the further regions of experience. Demons to some. Angels to others. Something like that.
What I mean is that if I lack something it is a touch of more darkness. Very intriguing and nice track.
Another very cool and fresh track comes from Sibelian. A Swedish project of Stephen John Svanholm. According to the info page he (in the 80s and early 90s) played lead guitar in a British funk metal band called Ignorance, releasing two CDs and touring extensively. After this he went on to study classical music at University and then specialize in opera singing at Music College in England.
You can on his track "Wish Fulfilling Jewel" here a very unique mix of opera (no words), chanting and moody music.
Gargrim the liar is the project of Andres aka Elrond. The track "The Pavilion" is one of the best on the compilation!
It has a slow and searching beginning but after a while it is pure magic. Very atmospheric, beautiful and haunting.

If you want to dream of great fantasy worlds you should purchase this compilation.

Make sure to check out Radio Rivendell (Radio station):

An inspiring album with a lot of talented artists!


 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 25 2007
Title: Neutrino
Format: CD
Label: Boring Machine (@)
Rated: *****
The moniker Be Invisible Now! Differently from what I thought doesn’t’ hide the guitarist of italian-post-punk-freaks With Love (yes that band that put out a weird dvd a while won!). Said that forget it since I assume there's no six strings in here (or at last from what I can hear) but there's an abundance of laptop plus synth conspiracy. There's a common retro/freak essence in this project but here we're talking about drone with a spruce of "kraut" influence and that what probably made me think to Klaus Schultz, above all during the first track. The second one is more evolved around high registers but you can bet the guy comes in with that vintage keyboard sound you can but love or hate. While synths represent the ghostly structure of the tracks, digital high frequencies are there mainly to add more colour to the canvas. Right when you don't expect it he puts a beautiful minimal-techno beat to transfigure it all. "Sarin" is probably my much-loved track of the whole lot together with Weather Report, but in general I tend to prefer the second half of the release since it's colder, drony but spacey in the same way the early industrial freaks used to be thus if I mention the Hafler Trio, Nurse With Wound, Stepleton, Current 93, Asmus Tietchens you know what we're talking about. Ok, perhaps by listing that dreadful wild bunch of monsters many of you thought "Neutrino" is heavy, in a sense that’s true, but it’s just a matter of background, these people came out of "punk" and "seventies", Be Invisible Now! Is lost somewhere in between those two islands. Neutrino is a good trip, the best is yet to come I think I can smell it.

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