Music Reviews



Abandoned Toys: The Witch's Garden

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 21 2008
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Artist: Abandoned Toys
Title: The Witch's Garden
Format: CD
Label: Mythical Records
Rated: *****

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With the best of intentions, self-proclaimed "new age music composer" Brett Branning of Abandoned Toys lays out what is meant to be a 9-course feast of melodious shadows in this instrumental, piano-driven Dark Classical disc. Immediately, however, it's clear that the piano in the opening track, "Within A Lilac Clutch," is either un-practiced or un-quantized, and it does not bode well for the rest of the CD. Luckily, the piano-predominant songs alternate with some nicely treacherous, wicked, haunted landscapes of more-than-Tolkienesque splendor, so all is not lost. In a vein belonging to Current 93, creepy female chorale-voices crescendo very well at the end of track two, the "Prelude" to the title cut. The brief track seven, "Spiraling Into the Sun," too, works best at redeeming the shakiness of this oeuvre.

As a composer, Branning is capable of many good turns of phrase, yet since he also claims film soundtrack experience on his website, it's all the more surprising that he'd put down so many pieces in need of tighter rhythm. Although he is ably assisted by a guest violinist on track five, "Flickering Embrace," the accompanist still can't find where to sync up with the choppy piano. Even with all the other scary, cool sounds to his credit on this release, it looks like Branning could stand to make better use of his toys for the next go-round.

SLEEP RESEARCH FACILITY: Nostromo

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 19 2008
cover
Artist: SLEEP RESEARCH FACILITY (@)
Title: Nostromo
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Alien has been released in 1979 after years of work and different times Ridley Scott was about to quit because production didn't care about his vision and for them the movie was beginning to be too expensive because of the director's maniacal precision. That movie had also the merit to introduce to a wider audience a master of the visionary art: Giger. He created the monster and he painted different sets. If you know the movie and you also checked the interviews included into the DVD editions you can understand why Sleep Research Facility on 2001, for their debut release, decided to take inspiration from the Nostromo crew story. Especially inspired by the first eight minutes of the movie, NOSTROMO, tries to reproduce the tension and the atmosphere of that great movie. This new edition of the album allow to the dark ambient lovers to rediscover a good CD where Kevin Doherty gave his best by creating five different movements able to scare the hell out of you. Dark ambient isolationism and drones will make you revive the first time you saw the dark corridors of the Nostromo space ship. This reissue include also a bonus track titled "Narcissus": an eight minute suite with fluctuating loops, light hisses and different other hypnotic sound layers.

KORINTH: Sign Of Eternal Return

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 19 2008
cover
Artist: KORINTH
Title: Sign Of Eternal Return
Format: CD
Label: Construct Destroy (@)
Rated: *****
Inspired by the Nietzsche concept of "eternal return" (only a person who has the courage to live his entire life just like he already did, could break the wheel/cycle and free himself) SIGN OF ETERNAL RETURN is the debut album by Korinth. Already released by Construct Destroy (personal label of the band Phragments which months ago released their latest album for The Eastern Front label) on a limited edition of 111 copies CD-r, the album is now reissued as a real CD on a 500 copies run with a new package and all. Musically the album contains a 44 minutes long suite based on hypnotic structures made of humming sounds and choirs/orchestrations. Despite the long track "double edged weapon" (in my opinion it's difficult to compose a track able to create a good ambience but it's really hard to make it work properly and sometimes is easy to repeat stereotypes and sounds) the track has a lot of good moments where the alternation of choirs/orchestrations/percussions keep the listener's attention awake. Reverbs and the right amount of hallucination help keeping the tension high and this is a good result. I'd prefer different movements rather than a long track but Korinth is worth a listen.

SVARTBAG: Svartbag

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 16 2008
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Artist: SVARTBAG
Title: Svartbag
Format: CD
Label: Rump Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
The first Svartbag core born in 1996 when the two guitarists of the band (A.REX and Niels Ladefoged) met thanks to a buy and sell ad. They started to work at some tracks and soon realized that thanks to their guitar effects they were able to create loops and thick atmospheres. Since then, they started working at their sound and they were joined by Peter Kyed in 2005, he took care of samples. Their debut album sees also the collaboration of Andreas Hauer-Jensen (Düreforsög/Mit Nye Band/Bleeder Group) on drums on four out of five tracks. With this combo at work, Svartbag self titled album is sounding like a blend of Krautrock and alternative rock noise where the mood changes from pseudo rock rides to spatial ambient tunes where guitars are sounding like the Glenn Branca Orchestra: alienated and multi-layered. "Loop#9", instead, is more psychedelic and it is the only track which doesn't have tension. The closing track "Billy Name" is a mix of psychedelic atmospheres and guitar noise and somewhat it recalled me some Sonic Youth ballads of the "Daydream nation" period. This was a nice surprise from Rump since I was used to their particular jazz/i.d.m. releases...

MAJU : maju - 5

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 11 2008
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Artist: MAJU (@)
Title: maju - 5
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
About a couple of months ago when reviewing the on-line free sampler just came out on Extreme, for the first time I've come into Maju and that song definitely put me on guard for my expectations for their forthcoming effort could have been to high, but here it is and it has blew me away as expected. I tend to be really sensible to japanese electronic music and I think Minamo, Neina, Yoshihiro Hanno, Sawako not to mention Ikeda (who's stile by the way is considerably far from this duo) did and are still doing some heartbreaking releases and yes, Maju can be unquestionably included in this list of "must have" if you're into modern-melodic-japanese-minimal-electronic music. If compared to the most of their country fellows they're probably more minimalistic (except for Sawako) but just cause they put the accent on letting every melody float as much as it takes for it to become narcoleptic. As many japanese artists playing this kind of music they create a dreamy ecstatic childlike dimension and even thought I'm the cynical bastard I'm, God bless the sons of the rising sun for having given us some melancholic but relaxing outputs like this. "Melody diluted in digital beauty" right as you're used to find when listening on labels like Spekk, Plop, 12K or in the likes, no surprise it has nothing to do with the rest of the boundless Extreme roster plus consider it's not even experimental. If you're not familiar with the rest of the material on this australian label or if you find the most of it's heavier than life, don't worry, this one may represent a sunbeam breaking a sky otherwise filled with black clouds (even if I'd better say "brain sticking materials"). Magnificence in simplicity.



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