Music Reviews



ARKTAU EOS: Scorpion Milk

 Posted by Kaf Mardel   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Sep 27 2006
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Artist: ARKTAU EOS
Title: Scorpion Milk
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
A very suggestive cdr. The work art is handmade and very arty. The music is mysterious and evocative. It is a single track and it lasts for several minutes. Although very minimal, it is moody and pensive. You will find ritual atmosphere, dark suggestion and lisergic construction. As it is stated in the inner sleeve, this recording deals with "waves beyond the mirror". There are no further words but if you want to get some more details, visit www.auralhypnox.com.

VV.AA.: Springs, re:makes and remixes of RF

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 27 2006
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Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Springs, re:makes and remixes of RF
Format: CD
Label: Odd Shaped Case (@)
Rated: *****
Ryan Francesconi (RF) is a SF-based experimental/glitch-electronica/ambient artist who composes and improvises electro-acoustic pieces in which digital fabrications organically dance, hand in hand, with ethereal sonic manipulations of strings, horns, guitar and voices. Francesconi implements all this with real instruments tons of reverb and a software of his own, publicly available from his company Spongefork.com (talk about creative ways of making sounds)."Springs" is a compilation CD featuring 10 of his tracks reworked by nine of his best music pals (Familiar Trees, .Tape., He Can Jog, Sora, Greg Davis, FilFla, Sawako, Madori Hirano, RdL). Obviously, as you can easily imagine, the boundaries between remix and re-make are blurry, to say the least, but that's what happens (and what is supposed to happen for it to make sense anyway) when you cut loose of the outside influence and you let them run with it. This ambitious and maybe a tad self-celebrative release, has more to offer than just new versions of old stuff. The common denominator of all songs can probably be considered the way sounds are treated in relation to their originating source and spacially positioned with reverberation. The arrangments are sophisticated and the dreamy approach of the material blends well with the resulting magma of sweetened airness and cloudy spring freshness.

TIDAL/PETER DUIMELINKS: Ablution

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 24 2006
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Artist: TIDAL/PETER DUIMELINKS
Title: Ablution
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Alluvial
Rated: *****
A collaborative one-track mini-cd from US Tidal (aka David Brownstead, ex-666 Volt Battery Noise, and currently involved in the militan zionist project Barzel) and Dutch Peter Duimelinks (known for his activity in THU20, Kapotte Muziek and Goem), clothed in two splendid photos by Alluvial's own Kevin Wienke. The work is inspired by the Jewish purification ritual, but as the cd gives no further information about that I will stick to the music - which by the way is excellent. "Ablution" features a powerful low-end drone probably created by mixing field recordings and some filtered instrumentation. Nothing new under the sun under this aspect, if you're familiar with the works of López, Meelkop, mnortham, Nehil, etc., but this surely ranks among the best in the niche. The soundscape is obscure and even frightening, but not bleak - which is probably the perfect way to portray an intense spiritual experience.

AIDAN BAKER: Dog Fox Gone to Ground

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 24 2006
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Artist: AIDAN BAKER
Title: Dog Fox Gone to Ground
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records
Rated: *****
I can surely spare commentaries on Canadian experimental guitarist Aidan Baker, since his solid (and much deserved!) reputation is growing more and more, thanks to an uncommon mix of talent, prolificity and quality. Over the last few months (those that I have spent waiting to eventually write this review, that is), he has released a disc on Small Voices, one on Gears of Sand, one on Die Stadt, plus new material of his other projects ARC and Nadja, and surely a lot more I've missed. This cdr on AFE Records, coming with the usual nice cardboard cover, is limited to 100 copies (most of them will be gone by now, so hurry up if you're interested),and is surely no leftover material. I would even say that as a whole this is the best disc I heard from him, and I do like his other records a lot. The five untitled tracks, clocking in at 50 minutes, were recorded using only an acoustic guitar and a set of effect pedals, without any further overdub. Well, Baker must have been in a true state of grace, because this is one of his most hypnotic, but also varied, works. The first track starts in an almost percussive way, with the use of looped clusters, reaching a dramatic crescendo with the layering of bowed strings. Tracks two and three explore the more serene and intimistic side of his playing, with minimal but effective gestures: plucking, strumming, some delay... Track four, with its vertigo-inducing repetitions and noise bursts, and the fifth and final one (starting subdued and melancholic, not unlike some Ambarchi, then reaching a climax with a very intense bowing), plunge you back in the ecstatic mood of track one. Everything is powerful and physical (you do realize this was played live, which is not always a good thing for ambient/drones records), but also very cohesive and focused - witnessing more than ever Baker's uncommon talent and vision.

SKY BURIAL: Spectrehorse

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 24 2006
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Artist: SKY BURIAL
Title: Spectrehorse
Format: CD
Label: Audio Immolation Industries
Rated: *****
I've hailed Sky Burial's eponymous cdr on Housepig as one of the most interesting and fresh debuts that I listened to over the last few months, thanks to its ecstatic mix of mostly string-originated drones, hypnotic loops and minimal percussion. Right from its grim cover, its follow-up "Spectrehorse" shows that Michael Page has decided not to replicate that formula, which he could have easily done ad nauseam - so kudos to him for that. This second disc is a definitely more obscure, heavy and merciless beast, evoking barren ghost villages rather than lush landscapes. It would be far too easy to write that this sounds like a spin-off of Page's main project, Fire In The Head, and it would be also untrue. Sky Burial has maintained the droning, atmospheric element but plunged it in a midnight black tinge. The pitch-shifted guitar (or bass?) sounds on the title track add a twisted industrial doom sound, while the similar use of rhythmic loops in the following "Smoke Sky Horizon" has a vague dub feel. The album, however, tends to get darker and even more abstract as it progresses, with low-end drones submerged by a feedback crescendo ("Down and Down and Down"), wailing distortion ("Straightjacket Sonata"), spiralling drones ("Justice, Just Ice, Just Us") and the gaping chasms of "Chroma Polaris". It is not surprising that the only glimpse of vital reaction (ahem...) comes from the remix version of "To Mock a Killing Bird", the best track from the debut disc and, in my opinion, the best one here as well. As a whole, I must admit I still have to make up my mind about the disc - it is very good in itself, with a welcome physical approach to the dark ambient style, but now and then I've missed the variety of the Housepig release. On the other hand, it wins in terms of construction and layering, which show how Page is getting more mature and complex with Sky Burial just like with FITH. He probably hasn't found a perfect balance of his epic side and his depressive, darker one yet, but the album surely gets a thumb up from me.


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