Music Reviews



PASSO UNO: Il passato riemerso

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 18 2007
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Artist: PASSO UNO
Title: Il passato riemerso
Format: CD
Label: Tra Zero e Uno
Rated: *****
Passo Uno is a quartet formed by Stefano de Ponti (acoustic bariton guitar, electric guitar, percussion, keyboards), Alessandro Bider (cello, clarinet, double bass, acoustic bariton guitar, keyboards), Andrea Avolio (drums, percussion), and the just-reviewed Matteo Uggeri/Hue (field recordings, mixing). The cd was actually released together with Hue's "Un'estate senza pioggia" with which, while having an identity and characteristics of its own, surely shares a similar mood and atmosphere. The 9-track, 40-minute disc is a soundtrack for a documentary by Stefano de Ponti himself and Michela Mozzanica, and I suppose this is its perfect dimension; otherwise, it could have easly been labelled as the nth "soundtrack for an imaginary movie"... Passo Uno play slow, delicate and crepuscular instrumentals, where acoustic guitars have the leading role and the other sounds skilfully add details and nuances to their melodies. It's surely not obtrusive music, and maybe to truly evaluate it one should watch the film too, but the soundtrack works well as a moody late-afternoon headache-quenching. Not really my cup of tea at the moment, but well worth a listen.

HUE: Un'estate senza pioggia

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 18 2007
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Artist: HUE
Title: Un'estate senza pioggia
Format: CD
Label: Grey Sparkle/Tra Zero e Uno
Rated: *****
As usual, reviewing music by friends of yours is not always easy, even more so when you have also played with them - and with Matteo Uggeri/Hue I have shared a release I'm very fond of. But well. I think this is the first full-length release where Hue doesn't use his usual alias Sparkle in Grey, which makes sense: while SiG is an electronic-based project (be it IDM, ambient or electroacoustics), this disc (the title means "A summer without rain") is mainly based on concrete recordings, found sounds and real time performances, courtesy of a bunch of friends (Davide Vallecchi/aal, Andrea Marutti/Amon-Never Know, Giuseppe Verticchio/Nimh, Nefelheim...). The whole thing started in 2003, when during his summer holidays Hue picked up every kind of sound with a minidisc (voices, cicadas, church chants, pebbles, rain...) and played with the above mentioned mates; one year later, he met Davide Vallecchi again and added more field recordings and guitars. Everything was eventually assembled in seven tracks, clocking in at one hour, featuring several sub-divisions or movements. Despite the following work of editing and mixing, which must have been very careful, the whole work has maintained a free-flowing, fragmentary feel. You can hear Hue talking with other people, or walking, or jamming - a kind of diary or polaroid collection. The strictly musical part is quite limited, with a predominance of Vallecchi's melancholic guitars, which have a sort of wave feel to them, perfectly merging with the atmosphere of the cd. Which is one of nostalgic recollection, of letting yourself go or just flow with the environment (sounds a little summer-of-love, doesn't it). It's a work with many details and shades which will appeal to those who like the more humane part of field-recordings based compositions. Due to its very fragmentary nature, it honestly fails to really grasp my attention after its first half or so, but I'm a very tired listener at the moment. I'm sure some more spinning would do this justice.

Rothkamm: FB02: Astronaut of Inner Space

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 15 2007
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Artist: Rothkamm (@)
Title: FB02: Astronaut of Inner Space
Format: CD
Label: Flux Records (@)
Rated: *****
Coil has noted that their equipment is just as much a member of the band as the people. They called the entity that inhabited their equipment ELpH. Now imagine that ELpH met Erasure’s studio and they started dating. This is what their courtship would sound like. The promo sheet that came with this disc proclaims, "A new vision for American Music." Maybe not, but certainly interesting. Warm drones and analogue blips mesh to make a satisfying whole. "Silence of Mute" is a track that would be right at home in some futuristic Bugs Bunny cartoon - whimsical, with moments of action. "Triumph of the Analogue Age" begins chaotic and noisy, as if someone was completely misusing a Prophet 5, but then becomes a bit more subdued. After the more sedate tracks, this one makes you sit up and take notice. There are only five tracks on this disc (the unlabeled ones are just 4 seconds tracks of analogue blips and silence). In general, they all would sound at home in 1950’s Sci-fi movies (I would love to see a collaboration between Rothkamm and Stelladrine for this). An interesting disc but how could we expect anything less from a self-proclaimed polymath (person of great or varied learning; one acquainted with various subjects of study) who has, according to the bio sheet, appeared in Playboy in 1991, playing an instrument of his own creation (IFORMM), which, according to the CD notes, is "tuned to 768-frequencies-per-octave, a scale so delicate that you may be able to detect the silent architectures of a parallel universe"? We couldn’t.

Daniel Smutny: Telehors

 Posted by Andrea Vercesi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 14 2007
cover
Artist: Daniel Smutny
Title: Telehors
Format: CD
Label: Normoton
Rated: *****
Daniel Smutny's "Telehors" is the first electronic effort for this avantgarde composer and rivals with the best glitch-ambient releases in 2006 along with Machinefabriek's "Marijn", Tim Hecker's "Harmony in Ultraviolet" and Mathieu & Schaefer's "Hidden Name". Smutny works with piano fragments and heavily processed field recs and all these loops are then repeated and layered after they are given their place in the track giving a sense of motion that resembles the work that Taylor Deupree did for the unrivalled "Still". I do not agree with the microscopic sticker on the cover that mentions Gas and Fennesz as references, a good reference point other than Deupree would be
Philip Jeck's more "melodic" stuff. Truly an exquisite record with a nice foggy mitteleuropean artwork.

MARKUS REUTER : Trepanation

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 13 2007
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Artist: MARKUS REUTER
Title: Trepanation
Format: CD
Label: Lotuspike
Rated: *****
When somebody thinks of good ambient music he should figure out something like this release by Markus Reuter. Following the notes of his profile this guy should have done a lot of works and honestly it's easy to believe it since the production is great in every sense, not to say perfect. Sure, you've keyboards, synths and laptop like many other release of the genre, but in a work like the one we're talking about the difference stands in the work to give an interesting silhouette and colour to the sounds. As you probably have argued the sounds and the melodies generate the basic framework of this apparently (and I underline the word: "apparently") simple music, infact there's no real rhythmical skeleton (apart from a couple of episodes) and everything gets ethereal as it should be. There's a strong melancholy coming out from the music of Reuter but it’s still far from being depression. "Trepanation" can be unquestionably filed under ambient music but on the edge of electronica, for example just give a listen to tracks like "beat". For those aficionados of the "dear 'ol’ school" of soft electronic music, someway "Trepanation" could pay an inspired homage to some Afx "Selected Ambient Works" while dressing a brand new expansive suit. Tip of hat to the tailor then!.



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