Music Reviews

Radium88: Only Science Can Tell Us the Truth

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 14 2007
Artist: Radium88 (@)
Title: Only Science Can Tell Us the Truth
Format: CD
Label: Lotek Recordings
Rated: *****
This is pleasant trancey psychedelic music - pianos, beats, synth pads, and drones all meld together for a pleasant listen with some vocals thrown in for good measure. The press release that came with the disc has a pretty accurate description: "Mellower, more musical than before, more purely electronic, it sounds a bit like Philip Glass jamming with the Orb, back before they got too clever. It’s the ideal soundtrack to falling asleep underwater." Although I am not familiar with their previous works, they seem to have mellowed out a bit. Their website describes this album thus: "Our latest album keeps us firmly on track to a less aggressive future. Still bitter, but not shouting anymore." Overall, this isn’t very aggressive stuff – some of the tracks could work on the dance floor, but that doesn’t seem to be the primary function of this album. There is a nice sense of continuity in that the songs seem to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. However, at times the vocals don’t seem to work well, for example, on "The Man Who Invented Himself." At other times, the vocals provide a nice dreamlike quality, such as on "Sleepwalk." Some of my favorite tracks include "... and the Deep Blue Sea," which is a nice piano piece, "The Sound of Light," which has nice breaks and engaging rhythm, and "Lullaby," which has a repetitive, dreamlike quality. This is a long album, weighing in at 71.21, so if you take a chance on it, you’d at least be getting your money’s worth. Also, with the various changes in the style throughout the album, it would be likely that most people would like at least something on it.

Life Toward Twilight: I Swear By All The Flowers

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 13 2007
Artist: Life Toward Twilight (@)
Title: I Swear By All The Flowers
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bottle Imp Productions
Rated: *****
I really like the cover of this CD- depending on how you look at it, it could be a look down a decrepit hallway in some now abandoned once-great building, or an old mine or elevator shaft. The music... well, frankly I expected something a bit spookier. It starts out with notes plinked on a toy piano, then you hear the sound of a scratchy phonograph record, probably stuck in the runout grooves. Slow but deliberate piano enters and somehow I feel like I’m listening to Wednesday Addams practicing, only Wednesday would probably be playing a harpsichord. The piano becomes more tentative and less deliberate as occasional background sounds like chains cranking over a pulley device come into play. Barely audible spoken words drift through the room, the melody changes (actually, it’s more like simplistic repetition of some phrase with slight variation on the keyboard) but the scratchy record continues.

Scratchy record becomes less dominant and a gaggle of voices talking at once in the background merge with some other unidentifiable ambient sounds. That eventually ends, but still the scratchy record (maybe a different scratchy record, still stuck) seems to be the prime ambience. Vague ghostly female vocalizing, warbling a melody where the words can’t be distinguished, swathes of other ephemeral sounds, low noises, into dissipation. We’re at the 6th track by this time and the toy piano has returned. More background voices, shwish-swithering sounds, maybe a train... and then back into that scratchy record again. Sounds like someone’s rummaging through a toolkit. Piano returns, and now I’m reminded of a lesser Harold Budd, without the treated rooms and fluid piano. Not much changes here...

Next track begins with... you’ve got it! SCRATCHY RECORD! And, the sound of water. More toy piano. Well, I’ll give it this much, so far it’s been pretty unobtrusive. By track 9, I’m so sick of the scratchy record that I’ll take nearly anything else sonically as a musical gift. So the subway ambience with ghostly vocalizing in the background really is a welcome change. Unfortunately, it’s too much, too little too late to save the CD as a whole.

Last track – scratchy record, and piano, and even the piano is beginning to sound scratchy now plays til conclusion. You know, I really wanted to like this CD- it had such a cool cover. And the artist (Daniel Tuttle) lists some of his influences as Coil, and Current 93, which is fine by me. But even Coil and Current 93 put out some garbage. "I Swear By Al The Flowers" just doesn’t have what it takes to make an interesting ambient listen. Even the piano playing is rather mediocre. Spend your money elsewhere, wait for a future release.

Wolff: Don't Be Afraid

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 13 2007