Music Reviews



Michael Vernusky: Blood That Sees the Light

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 09 2006
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Artist: Michael Vernusky (@)
Title: Blood That Sees the Light
Format: CD
Label: Alas Seis Music (@)
Rated: *****

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Let's face it, it's extremely hard these days to make palatable "experimental" music in any genre, or even develop a unique style. Under the aegis of award-winning composer and full-time music instructor Michael Vernusky, however, there just may emerge a perfect variant in the realm of "serious" music. This young and accomplished classical/noise-collage artist has turned in an ambitious and impressive array of drone-and-klang-accompanied chamber pieces -- a side of rusty razor wire with your filet mignon, if you will.

In fact, let's imagine that this is one such dinner party, at which the first thing everyone hears is the title track, a swelling barrage of ambient menace, bringing to mind (for those of us with Industrial leanings) Reptilicus and maybe some of Laibach's Macbeth. But then track two, "Tanah," surprises us with a hissing alien demon who leads the way through a futuristic chamber piece for "flutes and electronic sound." "Arc," an intensely moody, brooding piano solo, has intricate and interesting modern phrasings in six movements, which means we've made it to the main course without too much wine and hors d'oeuvres. For the next course, "Means and Meditations," we've now left the chamber and stumbled out into the aliens' subway system, with snapping, spitting third rails and groaning vehicles howling electronically by -- and then on our way back in, we stop only to listen to a solo classical guitarist playing a somber prayer ("Selah") amid the sound of the otherworldly metropolis thrumming in the background.

Now we've come to dessert, the live orchestral "Drawn Inward." There unfortunately is some dissonance in the performance of this last track, but kudos must be given to Vernusky for not copping out and doing it all on synth. In any case, by that time you and your dinner guests should all be in a catatonic stupor of pleasurable, drunken angst. I'm putting in my RSVP for the maestro's next soirée, which should be sensational, if this foray is any indication.

Centrozoon: Angel Liquor

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 06 2006
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Artist: Centrozoon (@)
Title: Angel Liquor
Format: CD
Label: Divine Frequency
Rated: *****
Centrozoon is a German-based electronic trio revolving around touch-guitar player Markus Reuter (Europa String Choir), painter, synth and percussion player Bernhard Wöstheinrich (The Redundant Rocker) and singer Tim Bowness (No-Man). Since 1998, they have been delighting us with fine electronic ambient music and their latest record "Angel Liquor" contains five tracks spanning over one hour in lenght that cast a hi-pitched cloud-flavored veil of ethereal synthscapes and atmospheric guitar sounds. In this particular record, Tim Bowness' voice is either not present or has been treated, just like the guitar, to the point where you cannot even make out what the original source of the sound was. In other words you won't be hearing any singing and the percussive elements are also very few and far in between. This sporadically paced approach makes for a very cinematic experience that you'll probably best enjoy in a lowly lit and quiet environment. In other words this is not your average hop-on-the-train iPod record. Try to thoroughly enjoy these hovering and hypnotic thin-layered patterns and you just might be discovering and re-discovering new subtle nuances with every new listening pass.

URKUMA : Rebilding Pantaleone's tree

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 03 2006
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Artist: URKUMA (@)
Title: Rebilding Pantaleone's tree
Format: CD
Label: Baskaru (@)
Rated: *****
It's not the first time I hear Urkuma's name, but finally I hear a whole record, nice discovery! What else can you say about that!?. Stefano De Santi's (aka Urkuma) music is a good paradigm of listening where nothing really happens, but at the same time where nothing is the same for a long of time. An electroacoustic experience but in a way truly different from the music of people like Evan Parker, Birgit Ulher or other by the Creative Sources’ catalogue in general. "Rebuilding..." is much more electronic oriented but at the same time as I’ve just said it maintains a "ambiental/acoustic" feel. You can perceive there's just one person behind the entire audio-collage of every track, every single sound take slowly/gently place in the scenario not with an irruption, but with the precise intent of becoming a complementary colour. Beyond the mere strength of proportions I'd say this release somehow sounds psychedelic... nothing induces properly to trance, but this complementary idea behind single parts make me think of a trip with landscape alternating in front of the windscreen. Probably that's the worst bullshit I'm gonna write in ages, but it really make me think of Pink Floyd's live at Pompey...take the parts where those old freaks don't play proper song, imagine a similar stream of consciousness and above all take the whole idea as it was Christof Migone's reinterpretation of it all and that's probably what could cone out of it. Soft, cold, difficult but intriguing.

ASHIS MAHAPATRA: orange of

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 29 2006
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Artist: ASHIS MAHAPATRA
Title: orange of
Format: CD
Label: True-False (@)
Rated: *****
This' a double debut: both for the label and for the musician, this' a drony experience hence if "lysergic emanations" is what you're still looking for, well go on reading, please. The genealogic tree of drone-music could be divided in different categories and "Orange of" could be filed under the "melodic" one... like Kranky? yesss...the good feature is the same, above all if you have in mind the most electronic oriented releases of their catalogue but it’s more melodic and lass psychedelic, I’d say softer than many artists on Kranky. Who knows, probably this record is an electronic oriented one more than a "dronic" one but I think by what I’ve said you got more or less what kind of listening it is. I don't know that much about Ashis Mahapatra but he's been able to amaze me from the very first listening, his music is cerebral but not depressive at all and has a touch of "joyous eternity" which fits really well with summer's stillness. Too bad the layout is ok but as good as the cd, cause this berlinese? indian? american?...no I’ve not gone completely out of mind, this release has been composed and recorded between Brooklyn, Berlin and New Delhi. You think this particular in itself is irrelevant? No way, this music is borne out of a mind trip and really helps to trip away.

Ariel Kalma: Osmose

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 28 2006
cover
Artist: Ariel Kalma
Title: Osmose
Format: CD
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Distributor: Massive Music
Rated: *****
Hailing from the realm of Tangerine Dream is this pleasant collection of original synth music paired with nature sounds, from French ambient pioneer Ariel Kalma. In 1977, the year of its original release, the recording was sophisticated enough in both concept and execution not to be at all your typical space-trip. The music on each track is blended with rain forest sounds from Borneo brought back to Paris by composer/recordist Richard Tinti and layered in tastefully, if not artfully. On certain of the tracks different instruments are featured, such as soprano saxophone (track number one, "Saxo Planetariel"); harmonium (number three, "Planet-Air"); flute (played modally through "Forest' Ballad"); and guitar and organ (the also-remarkably-titled "Orguitar Soir"). Kalma himself claims to have employed a "circular breathing" technique whilst recording his wind instruments, a physiological twin to the classic technique of tape-looping, which is also featured in spades. The overall effect is eerily terrestrial and space-age at the same time. This can take you back to a blissful, pre-digital era just before the 1980s -- when the Yamaha DX7 took over all synthesized sound, and the terms "New Age" and "Rain Forest" came to mean phony crystal magic and overblown, insincere environmental causes. (And by the way, don't let that soprano sax scare you away -- this is a safe distance from Kenny G territory, so indulge yourself without worry.)


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