Music Reviews

Ewe: Fractured and Remixed

 Posted by Shaun Phelps (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 22 2008
Artist: Ewe
Title: Fractured and Remixed
Format: CD
Label: Smell the Stench (@)
This curious release by Ewe is the first of two Fractured and Remixed albums by Zarach Baah Tharagh (ZBT). This is Ewe’s fifth release through Smell the Stench Records. Most of the thirteen tracks on this album are within one and three minutes of length. Each track is typically composed of eccentric keyboards and ghostly ambience.

Ewe’s Fractured and Remixed album maintains a consistent sound of droning, dreary ambience complimented by keyboard sounds, sometimes introverted and pretty, sometimes random and unconventional. The image I get from this album is of a haunted piano room captured at different hours of night: never a room someone would feel comfortable alone in, but some hours are more welcoming than others.

There is a good balance between music and non-music here, and the more eccentric keys throughout this album add a sense of levity. Because of the rhythmic nature of Ewe’s Fractured and Remixed album, I find my mind at ease while listening to unearthly and haunted music. I think ZBT has committed more to the tracks on this Fractured and Remixed release, but I suspect that is because these piano pieces need to be heard in full form. All in all, ZBT’s Fracture and Remix of Ewe’s Demo V is a pleasantly unexpected change of pace.
Artist: Za Frūmi (@)
Title: Barrow Wights
Format: CD
Label: Tom Bombadil’s Collectors (@)
Rated: *****
Barrow Wights offers listeners a chance to experience the epic first four years of the world of Za Frûmi.

In a visually immersive, specifically designed BOOK (25 pages, A6) the beautiful CD lay like a treasure in the end of it. For you who read other reviews by me you already know I love Za Frûmi as a band and as artists. They are among the best in the genre of dark ambient and fantasy music. I don´t need to repeat that in this review and bore you with endless praise.

This stunning Za Frûmi sampler is released by new Portugal based label (very promising!) Tom Bombadill´s Collectors and is limited to 1000 numbered copies. The disc covers songs from the debut album "Za Shum Ushatar Uglakh" (not my old favorite song but what the hell!) and the second album called "Tach - chapter 2" from the "Za Frûmi saga". Also songs from "Legends act 1", "Legends act 2 - Vampires" and two interesting unreleased songs made during the first four years in the bands 8 year history.

The world of the supernatural has been well represented by Za Frûmi´s wildly imaginative work. To incorporate it with the work of Tolkien and use parts of the Za Frûmi stories to dive into the Barrow Wights is just pure genius.

When you step back and appreciate "Barrow Wights" as a whole, you recognize that Za Frûmi and Tom Bombadill´s Collectors have provided everything that you could ever want in a sampler.

It has a magical element of fantasy in its instrumentation; it has loyal and memorable themes for every aspect of the story, and it builds up to one hell of a tumultuously satisfying climax. In its vast complexity of layers, themes, orchestration and as a collector’s item this album is a magical jewel. A must for the fans and people who want to get to own tracks that are now sold out.

I am a proud owner of the album!
It´s a great gift too. But... I am keeping my copy myself.

Flutwacht: Breath

 Posted by Shaun Phelps (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 19 2008
Artist: Flutwacht (@)
Title: Breath
Format: CD
Label: Master of the Slave Records (@)
Distributor: The Tourette Tapes
Rated: *****
Flutwacht’s Breath is the 25th full-length release of this German-based project. Breath is released by Mask of the Slave Records and The Tourette Tapes. Breath is built of 8 tracks that approximate between 5 and 15 minutes each.

Flutwacht’s Breath is dark, droning ambience at it’s best: subdued sounds with limited progression to the inattentive ear; but the album ever-advances, and an inattentive listener would quickly find him/herself in a heightened sense of anxiety. The worlds created here are ripe, vast, and somehow predatory.

Each track represented on Flutwacht’s Breath is ominous and dissonant. The songs are composed of ongoing drones, with sometimes faint metallic scrapings, feint whispers, or mechanized pulsings. I find my pulse steadily rising with each passing moment, and any amount of attention I have tried to divert elsewhere falls right back into this unsettling work of music.

Stray: Abuse By Proxy

 Posted by Michelle Russo   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 16 2008
Artist: Stray
Title: Abuse By Proxy
Format: CD
Label: alfa-matrix
Distributor: alfa- matrix
Rated: *****
We begin with Erica D's other project called " Stray " . The album is called " Abuse by Proxy" This is a free flowing electronic masterpiece that flows like the waves of the ocean to draw you in and put you back on shore when you have saturated yourself with its brilliance. We begin with Track one ~ " Kindred Soul which is a pretty, electronic piece that really grabs at your soul and is a piece that can be played on repeat. Erica sings, " You are beautiful as I define, flawless and perfect in my mind. " I really liked this piece for it's wit and its true sentiment it stood for. We Progress to Track three ~ " Fade into You." which is a ethereal, peaceful track that raises the senses and curves the stimuli. Erica sings, " Fade into You " This track does not contain lyrics on the album sleeve but proved to be the most memorable piece to me and truly is now a favourite. Track five ~ "Intoxicate" really woke me up from my ethereal rest. This track is uplifting and pure electronic genius. It could possibly be a danse floor hit and one that will take our music charts by storm. Erica sings, "You won't let me fall repeatedly." I got up to danse in my tracks right when I heard the beat. Next is Track six ~ that just could be a soundscape soundtrack to a movie. It is hypnotic and moving and leads us to a climax of pure energy. Classic Track eight is " Does it really matter?" which is a big hit on this album and I have heard it all over, especially on other peoples myspace music profiles. I really like Erica's voice and I believe these are lyrics to be remembered by and repeated to the one that hurt us. Erica sings, " Does it really matter anymore." " You never cared, you never will, cease to love and seas of hate, I bear the cross of years of pain. " This song kicks ass and truly everyone can relate to this. As i listened to the rest of the album , I got the impression of listening to this along the shore of a dark ocean, being alone and being nostalgic about past loves and the like. This album is worth owning in your cd collection for the true Unter Null fan and the true experimental, soundscape artist connoisseur. Stray into stray and find yourself ~ 4 stars ~ Michelle Russo

Building Seven: The Time Has Come

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2008
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.

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