Music Reviews

VV.AA.: A Sense of Unity

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 07 2018
Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: A Sense of Unity
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Stasis Recordings (@)
A four track EP of mostly ambient remixes of music by Mikael Syrehn aka ‘Maps of Hyperspace’, though it would have been nice to hear the original track to measure the alternate interpretations against. We have a nice, ambient-IDM piece provided by Boston, MA. based, Tim Dwyer aka Off Land, followed by deep space ambient from Norway’s Arjen Schat, along with a dark-atmospheric techno by someone who goes by ‘Elwood’ and finally a dance remix of an unreleased MoH track by Adriano Mirabile, simply titled “Sky”. First off, Off Land brings us into a vast, futurist star chart room aboard the interstellar ship, Stasis as the lights dim and augmented holo-controls materialize awaiting navigation queries. Our chief navigator waves through virtual panels like a Tai-Chi master while brooding ambient tones and rhythmic mechanical clicks provide dramatic tension. Then, Schat’s beatless track of deep ambience bellies the vacuousness of space with it’s reverberating tonal echoes as our navigator wades deeper into the firmaments while holo-planets and stars wash by. Elwood’s remix offers a steady pulsebeat to half-growling, half rumbling bass lines; a destination is selected and coordinates are set aboard starship Stasis—the propulsion system flings our heroes into the depths of deep space. Elwood is understated deep techno with mere vapours of trance accents while vocal fragments provide dark, attitude-driven moods. Adriano Mirabile closes the EP off on a house-music tempo tip with fragments of techno organs, ‘mission control’ squawks and snappy beats; perhaps our ship was bound to a party planet. Mirabile offers up a fun ending to a mostly pensive release. Speaking of which, A ‘Sense of Unity’ is pretty fulsome for a mere EP, with its range of moods, tones and textures, leaving this listener way satisfied and pleased to hear so much packed into so little. Practically a whole sci-fi episode worthy of the Expanse on the Syfy channel from this modest release.

Palcolor: Wróg

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 04 2018
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Artist: Palcolor (@)
Title: Wróg
Format: CD
Label: Kosmodrone (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
Palcolor is the project of Emil Macherzyski, based on cheap analogue and FM synth so, with his use of old hardware but tied to a particular moment of electronic music which is the rise of ambient house (or techno ambient). Altrough the release features no political messages, the press notes states that t
the title of the album, the Enemy (translated from Polish), is inspired by the feeling that a sort of McCarthyism is present today in Poland.
The first track of this release, "1987", introduces the listener into a sonic framework so declaratively reminiscent of certain 90s techno ambient to create a certain sense of nostalgia. "Bias Trap" introduces the rhythmic part to the recipe and "Prima Terra" even a structural sense of writing as it's based upon dancey moments and quieter ones. "Kush Komfort" moves into more aggressive territories as it's completely based upon an heavy rhythmic part while "Pyongyang" return to more dreamy atmosphere with his use of synth. Oddly enough, "Retkinia Pónoc", closes this release bordering IDM territories with the most experimental and abstract track of this release.
While completely adhering to the canon to be dangerously closer to be a cover band, their ability on writing and the sense of nostalgia provoke the monolithic presence of this release on the stereo so, when it ends, the first idea is to press again the play button. Perhaps only for fans of the period but it's really recommended.

This Is Where: This Is Where

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 03 2018
Artist: This Is Where
Title: This Is Where
Format: LP
Label: Hallow Ground
Despite the suburban-looking artwork, This Is Where are a New York City-based collaboration of Algis Kizys, Swans guitarist Norman Westberg, and Lynn Wright. Mixing up guitar, bass, feedback, reverb and decay, they’ve dished up forty minutes of spacious, slightly murky drone. It ebbs and flows vigorously, sometimes with a slightly aggressive edge, sometimes with a more sinister and alien rumbling tone, with some exceptionally low and immersive bass sounds.

While each track flows with smooth fluidity, the transitions between tracks is more abrasive, with the segue from “2:2-7” into “4:5” a particular wake-up call for anyone beginning to suspect this work could be described as ambient throughout. “1-6:0” is the mellowest piece and perhaps a little generic, but is made up for by “3-4:5”’s unusual welding of low industrial-like tones into something bordering on synth-symphonic while ghostly upper end noises inject a note of tension.

Fans of acts like Resonance Association should enjoy wallowing in the spaced-out drones of this (is where).


 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 03 2018
Artist: CNSNNT
Title: T (T)
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Banoffeesound
Multi-layering field recordings of various European train and tram journeys and then effecting, twisting and reverbing them for 77 minutes, combined with very subtle deep synthetic tones on the very edge of audibility, gives an unusual take on the found sound and ambient genres. It’s mellow- you can certainly fall asleep to it- but there’s enough going on in the exposed resonances and the slowly adjusting rumbles to keep things interesting for more attentive listeners.

Electric hums and the familiar clackety-wheel sound at times build into an accidental near-electronica arrangement at times, whilst at others, the sonic scape is rather emptier, cold and hollow. As it progresses, you realise gradually that different recordings are fading in and out almost absurdly slowly.

It’s a relatively simple idea and whether it really sustains 77 minutes is certainly debatable, but as an ambient work it’s not without its merit. It’s an unusual follow-up from CNSNNT whose album “Chng S Th Nly Cnsnnt” (hmmm) from last year was rough-edged discordant techno.

Carlo Domenico Valyum: Cronovisione Italiana

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 26 2018
Artist: Carlo Domenico Valyum
Title: Cronovisione Italiana
Format: CD
For “Cronovisione Italiana”, Mirco Magnani and Valentina Bardazzi take old radio recordings- recorded by Carlo Domenico Valyum and surrounded, according to the press release, with a particular mystique as to their real age and origin, even to the point where time-travelling radio waves and a conspiracy theory are suggested. They lay them quite sparingly onto slow, moody arrangements of synthetic pads, soft micro-electronic rhythms, noise washes and waves.

Don’t let the title of opening track “Eurovision” mislead you, this could hardly be further away from the Song Contest most people will associate with that word. Conceptually it’s got more than a little in common with works like “IBM 1401, A User's Manual” by the recently and tragically lost Jóhann Jóhannsson, but the electronica tones are a little colder and a little darker here, and the orchestral element subtler and more synthetic. Alternating electronic bleeps and pitch-wandering arpeggios are the busy layer that provide a sense of rhythm in otherwise ambient sonic layouts.

Pieces like “Oretredici” are excellent examples of well-moderated and modest layering of the electronic noises into something melodic and beautiful, yet slow and sinister. Towards the end, “Oggi Al Parlamento” and “Bumper 77” are generally plainer, slow ambient wash material with the archive samples pushed into distant memory.

Every piece bar one is between four and five minutes long, showing a good amount of restraint and also a good understanding of what attention level these arrangements are likely to sustain- but even so, it would have been nice to hear one or two of the tracks allowed more time to evolve and rework- “Estrazioni Del Lotto” being a prime example.

Regardless of whether you buy into the more far-fetched claims about the album’s sonic origins, this is a very well-realised bit of spacious electronic composition with a definite accessibility. If you fancy a thoughtful chill-out, this is a soundtrack worth trying.

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