Music Reviews



Building Seven: The Time Has Come

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2008
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Artist: Building Seven
Title: The Time Has Come
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Inimitable Records (@)
Distributor: iTunes
Rated: *****
I have to admit that when I received the latest batch of CDs for review I was less than impressed with the look of the two CDs from Inimitable Records. They sent CD-Rs, usually the mark of the amateur in my book. But when I realized their prime distribution outlet is iTunes and there is no physical product, I understood completely. In this age of digital distribution, it makes a lot of sense. Inimitable is a small label and they only have three releases- this one (Building Seven), Delenio, and Ryan J-W Smith who happens to be one half of Building Seven (along with Michael Schofield, aka Micro).. Building Seven also has a MySpace sight, and their own website, which may still be under construction.

Maybe it was because I didn’t have to unwrap anything that I decided to give Building Seven a listen first. On first impression, if I had to categorize the music, I’d call it softside-downtempo with touches of the eclectic. It’s electronically based as you might expect with an occasional atmospheric guitar groove. First track, "Pangea" (which used to be the band name) is a little dreampop gem that sounds like the ethereal side of The Church with the pop sensibility of Radiohead and the guitar noodling of Durutti Column. Frothy and spacey with a cool memorable chorus hook. A bit of female Middle Eastern ululating in the background. Nice touch guys. Definitely an opening track intriguing enough to prompt anticipation of the rest, and probably will end up being a favorite of college radio djs into dreampop. Also probably the best track on the CD.

Ryan has a pleasingly understated voice perfect for this type of material. Even if the next couple of tracks are a little blandish, his voice adds to the feeling of the music, becoming part of the ambience. Then again, I think Building Seven were striving for an overall dreamy atmosphere rather than producing commercial pop hits. Sometimes Building Seven get the groove right-on, such as on the 5th track, "Good Afternoon", a sort of nod to Boards of Canada, with some innocuous sampled dialogue set against a pleasant little melody. And sometimes not so right like of the preceding track, "Calliope", which has a bit of an awkward rhythm for a love song.

The mood breaks from the previously languorous drift on the track "Sentir", with a ponderous deep synth and string section opening, and a bit more of a driving Delerium-esque rhythm track. It crosses into that darker terrain mined by projects like Enigma, Deep Forest, Delerium, Conjure One, et al, primarily instrumental The rest of the tracks seem to be less "song oriented" with vocals sparse to non-existent ands melodies breaking through the haze every now and then, like rays of sunlight on a could-filled summer day. It effectively maintains the mood- kinda chilled, stirred but not shaken.

All in all, this is a nice debut for Building Seven. Too bad there are about five other bands with the same name. But when you name your project after a popular conspiracy theory, it’s bound to happen.

BJ NILSEN & STILLUPPSTEYPA: Passing Out

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 10 2008
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Artist: BJ NILSEN & STILLUPPSTEYPA
Title: Passing Out
Format: CD
Label: Helen Scarsdale
Rated: *****
After "Viking Brennivin" and "Drykkjuvisur Ohljodanna", the three Icelanders' studies on the effects of fiendish alcohol use come to an end, quite obviously "passing out". The cd features a hour-long track, titled "Scandinavian Tourist", embodying several fragments, or movements, with a constant sullen haze. Sounds get blurred just like the sight before collapsing into unconsciousness, and as in a drunken trip, not everything is memorable, probably not much will be remembered at all, but a vague feel (and the hangover) is there. Out of the grey droning mass, a few more recognizable sounds emerge now and then, like Oren Ambarchi's maracas which give a sort of ritual feel to that passage, or some detuned voices (Leif Elggren's?), hisses and grinding loops. Thirsty and miserable.

Samplescience: Plastikdisc

 Posted by Shaun Phelps (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 09 2008
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Artist: Samplescience (@)
Title: Plastikdisc
Format: CD
Label: Brown Coffee Records (@)
Rated: *****
Samplescience the electronica/near-IDM project of Pierre Parenteau, who hails from Canada. Plastikdisc is the first release from this artist since 2002, and is released by artist-owned Brown Coffee Records. This CD-r contains 15 tracks, which range between one and five minutes of length. The songs compiled on Plastikdisc are a collection of works composed between the years 2006 and 2008.

Samplescience’s Plastikdisc is a very unassuming release. The liner notes work as a disclaimer, explaining that this album is built for the purpose of simple, easy listening music. The liner notes did my job for me. All of the tracks compiled here are comfortable and unchallenging, and invoke a certain sense of dreaminess.

Plastikdisc reminds me of the early 90’s Artificial Intelligence movement by Warp Records. This is very much in the same vein as early Autechre and B12. The tracks are all enjoyable, and the only major complaint I have is that I wish Samplescience would have fostered more commitment. Parenteau has created a legitimately interesting release; he builds worlds that cause me to slip into a comfortable daze, but then ends most of the worlds within three minutes. I’d like to hear more.

B-Machina: DNA

 Posted by Shaun Phelps (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 08 2008
Artist: B-Machina
Title: DNA
Format: Tape
Label: Smell the Stench (@)
Distributor: Skull Fucking Metal
Rated: *****
B-Machina and Kenji Siratori’s DNA is the first collaboration by these two well-known underground ambient noise musicians. B-Machina also operates as Bone Machine and hails from Austria. Kenji Siratori is also a popular cyber punk fiction writer and hails from Japan. This 74 minute cassette release is not only a collaboration of artists, but a collaboration of labels: Smell the Stench Records of Australia and Skull Fucking Metal of Canada. This release is composed of six tracks, three on each side of the cassette. Each track is approximately 15 minutes in length.

The image DNA places in my mind’s eye is of warped transmissions from a dying planet. Indiscernible voices apathetically preach of the end of times as the world around them slowly fails and fades into another chapter of infinite history. The first track, Anti Vital, while in the same theme as the rest of the album, stands very much alone. It’s theme is very militant and oppressive, but is comprised of off-kilter rhythmic samples. This track is a strange offset to the rest of this release, but is very likable and I will return to it often.

As a whole, this release rides the line between a passive sense of loss and hopelessness, a collection of uncaring eulogies for the dead and dying. Every track is filled with ongoing drones and voice samples. I am somewhat familiar with the works of both B-Machina and Kenji Siratori. I could not honestly say I can tell which artist performed which role on this release. This is a very strong example of the abilities of each artist, and speaks well for the collaborative effort between the artists and labels.
Artist: Buddhist on Fire
Title: When you Smell the Stench of Dead Disciples you too will realize that all things are impermanent
Format: CD
Label: Smell the Stench (@)
Rated: *****
Buddhist on Fire is the unceremonious noise project of Robert LaBarge, hailing from Mesa, Arizona. This release, titled, "When You Smell the Stench of Dead Disciples You too will Realize that All Things are Impermanent"which will be shortened to Dead Disciples for the purposes of this reviewis a collection of three tracks, approximately 20 minutes in length each. Because of the uniqueness of each track I will describe them separately.

"Zombies of Dharmsala" conjures images of an aged black and white video documentary of machinery grinding relentlessly away; All of the gears and hinges are rusted and poorly maintained. "Open Sores" is reminiscent of a storm cloud forming slowly in a dark sky, lightening rolling through the clouds and thunder resonating through the dried and barren lands below. "Heaps of Bodies" is what I would imagine having one’s head stuck in a blender full of rocksin a wind tunnelwould sound like.

Buddhist on Fire’s Dead Disciples is very much an atmospheric noise release, with the final track touching on the harsher side of noise. The basic atmosphere of each track carries from start to finish; extra layers are introduced to build, and then carelessly fall away. This release is very raw in form, but the sound is solid and interesting, and well worth the listen.


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