Music Reviews



VV.AA.: Coming Home - compiled by \

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 15 2007
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Coming Home - compiled by \
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Stereo Deluxe
Distributor: KGD-Media
Rated: *****
Brooklynite artist Tim Love Lee's latest mix of euro-party-island chill-out/lounge/dub tracks put the emphasis on relaxation.
"Coming Home" (the name of a series of compiled CDs released by Stereo Deluxe), is Tim Love Lee's follow up to his "Against Nature" album and features 18 of his favorite tracks: Incog, The White Sport, Brother From Another Planet, Stuntmen, Al Chem, Dub Syndicate, As One, Kings Have Long Arms, Antena, Gudrun Gut, Jammin' Unit, SJD, Tara Busch - First Girl on Mars, Broadcast, Mescalito, Skylad and one of his own compositions. The moods swing and drift from chanteusey electronica to bossa nova (Tim's track) and from psychedelic lounge music to matinee dub. Throughout the entire selection you can hear that central European (dare I say almost French?) flair that shines through other DJs and mix compilers alike who have made laid back their religion and love their language. This is the ultimate laid back afternoon Martini music for the sun-bathing hours after long clubbing nights in the island of love, whichever that might happen to be on your trip.

The Secret Meeting: Ultrashiver

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 11 2007
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Artist: The Secret Meeting (@)
Title: Ultrashiver
Format: CD
Label: Noiseplus Music
Rated: *****
The Secret Meeting is a long-distance collaboration project between kaRIN & Statik of Collide and Dean Garcia of Curve and, as one would expect, the result is nothing short of outstanding: no surprise if you consider the skills and the sum of experiences of these three individuals (who collaborated with Skinny Puppy, Tool, Prince, Cohen, Eurythmics, Jagger, O'Connor etc).
If you love Collide and Curve you must of course check this out (we know you'll love it), but for those of you who don't know the two bands, imagine an alternative electronic band that would probably do fine on mainstream radio but has more to offer than most of what mainstream radio plays. The quality of The Secret Meeting's music is above the ordinary and you'll hear that in the production and the arrangements. Darkwave at heart but reaching upwards towards more solar and ethereal electronica heights, "Ultrashiver" features ten tracks of beautiful songwriting completed by gorgeous ethereal female vocals. Echoes of Conjure One/Delerium, Lycia, Massive Attack, Recoil, Balligomingo, darkwave bands such as Black Tape for a Blue Girl, female-fronted rock bands like Evanescence or Lacuna Coil (but not nearly as guitar-heavy), the most electronic of Madonna's records, Nine Inch Nails, Blue Man Group (I could swear I recognized a sample). The list could go on and is by no means meant to be definitive. The sound of this particular band draws from so many different areas and yet is so consolidated and original that it is able to create an all new character and is definitely worthy of your time and attention. Check it out.

NETHERWORLD: Kall - The Abyss Where Dreams Fall

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 10 2007
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Artist: NETHERWORLD
Title: Kall - The Abyss Where Dreams Fall
Format: CD
Label: Mondes Elliptiques
Rated: *****
If "Mørketid", which I've just reviewed, shows that Alessandro Tedeschi is willing to try new paths, "Kall - The Abyss Where Dreams Fall", released by the quality Angle sub-label Mondes Elliptiques, plunges us back to his known mental swamps, and I personally welcome the experience. Featuring four tracks clocking in at 53 minutes, the disc, packaged in a superb white cardboard cover, is quintessential Netherworld anguish: crawling drones, grinding metallic loops, sparse noises and cavernous pulses, disquieting whispers and moans... Under this aspect, there's nothing different from what we already knew from his previous releases (except a superior sound quality), but I think that those were very mature and successful from the very start, so repetition is not an issue with me. This is a top-notch "dark ambient" album if, by this tag, you mean the solipsistic inner soundscapes of Lull and early Thomas Köner, rather than the Lustmord school or more bombastic CMI-style stuff. Netherworld uses only a handful of selected elements, and his strength lies in how he combines them - his "breathing" mix of near-silences and grinding bursts which does make this a scary trip, even if you're more than used to audio horrors. Excellent disc, guaranteed to be one of my favourite this year.

NETHERWORLD: Mørketid

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 10 2007
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Artist: NETHERWORLD
Title: Mørketid
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements
Rated: *****
Released simultaneously with "Kall - The Abyss Where Dreams Fall" (on Mondes Elliptiques), "Mørketid" is not the disc I expected, under many aspects. Over the last few years, Alessandro Tedeschi/Netherworld has created some of the bleakest drones around, legitimately reviving the term "isolationism" and starting to build a solid reputation with a few limited releases on Umbra and T'alem. The name he's chosen for his own label, "Glacial Movement", was perfect to define his style. But right from its beginning, this self-released work is a surprising detour, or possibly the sign of new inputs that will be gradually absorbed in his soundscapes. To be short, the whole disc is bathed in melody, and is largely loop-based (instead of featuring vast bottomless drones). The glacial theme is still there (the liner notes explain that the title refers to "a certain period in the year when the Arctic winter cold encases everything and the sun doesn't rise over the horizon"), but the atmosphere is melancholic and peaceful rather than one of ghastly desolation. Now and then, Maurizio Bianchi in his most serene mood came to my mind, along with vague similarities with some Eno or Basinski. Short melodic fragments are looped building expanding cyclic pieces, sometimes accompanied by spoken samples (one more difference - human traces!), and occasionally clouded by darker drones and metallic rumblings, as in the title track and the final "Virgin Lands". After the initial shock, I found myself liking this album quite a bit, though being no die-hard fan of melodic ambient. I am now looking forward to seeing if Tedeschi will cultivate his more humane side as opposed to the more abstract and desperate one, or try to merge both - which could lead to awesome results.

UBEBOET: Spectra

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 06 2007
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Artist: UBEBOET
Title: Spectra
Format: CD
Label: Twenty Hertz
Rated: *****
Madrid-based soundmaker Miguel Ángel Tolosa, aka Ubeboet, has surely found a perfect home for this 9-track, 39-minute work. While the previous releases of his I listened to were more field recording-oriented, "Spectra" is definitely a drone thing, and a kind of natural twin to Twenty Hertz owner Paul Bradley's more melodic production. As the opening track "Premia Lucis" suggests from its very title, the album, unlike most drone releases, seems to be bathed in sunlight - possibly the kind of light you get from a stained glass window in a cathedral, with some occasional meridian demon as well. But as a whole, this is an ecstatic and peaceful soundscape, full of expanding high-end tones, occasionally streaked by some discrete field recording (footsteps, the ubiquitous rain...) - the liner notes inform us that "fm radio, tape recorder, lap steel guitar and laptop" were used, but I doubt you can recognize those, except for some string bowing in "Corridor". The ethereal feeling reminded me of Bradley's "Sketches from Dust", "Liquid Sunset" or "Anamnesis", and, staying in the Twenty Hertz catalogue, of Keith Berry's "A Strange Feather"... all of which are good examples of serene, no-new age ambient music.


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