Music Reviews



KEITH BERRY: A Strange Feather

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 31 2005
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Artist: KEITH BERRY
Title: A Strange Feather
Format: CD
Label: Twenty Hertz
Rated: *****
With a few releases on cult labels like Trente Oiseaux and Crouton, UK soundmaker Keith Berry is not exactly a newcomer, and his name is probably already familiar to many drone listeners. This limited edition cdr, professionally released on the exquisite Twenty Hertz label, features a lengthy and suggestive track of vanishing sounds and recurring ambiences. While soft digital cracklings and more recognizable environmental sounds punctuate the whole work, the emphasis is on the exapanding and immersive drones, which have a sort of melancholic and elegiac overtone. The inner writing actually seem to witness a moment of self release: "All the craziness, all the empty plots, all the ghosts and fears, all the grudges and sorrows have now passed. I must have inhaled a strange feather that finally fell out". While Berry's bent for quiet (though not necessarily "peaceful") composition easily explains his presence in the Trente Oiseaux catalogue, his thoughtful and slowly unfolding ambient music belongs to the same family of Mirror or Twenty Hertz's own Paul Bradley (especially in his recent "Anamnesis").

John B. Arnold: Logorythms

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 25 2005
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Artist: John B. Arnold
Title: Logorythms
Format: CD
Label: Compagnia Nuove Indie (@)
Rated: *****
This cd shows just one of the many possible evolutions of jazz at the beginning of the millenium. Logorythms features some impressive guest musicians such as like Uri Caine, Massimo Urbani, Marc Abrams, Daniele Tittarelli and many others coming from the jazz scene. If to the guest list for this cd, you add John Arnold basically plays electronic drums, yes!: "the whole is equal to the sum of its parts". Electric jazz that I'm almost sure the last Miles Davis would have appreciated, the musicologists reading out there will probably think of Davis during the "Marcus Miller era", no way! This is electric but not "synth jazz" and above all neither "cold crossover influenced by funk". "Cool jazz" atmospheres arranged with a straight beat, Arnold had to specify the 95% of the drums on the record have been played live and not pre-programmed, he did it for a good reason since I dare everybody to understand ther's no drum-machine here. Great production and classy refinement but the "cocktail" could be improved a bit, since the jazz soloist and pianos are not perfectly melted with the electronic drums. The global result of this work is that of jazz redefined in the view of a dj and it's kinda strange since that's not the real background of John B. Arnold. At times it may give you the impression you're listening a colder version of some releases on K7 but above all of those on Compost (the label of the legendary "Future sound of jazz" series). "Modern jazz with a mid-90ies electronic cut"?!.

HENRIK NORDVARGR BJOERKK: Vitagen

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 17 2005
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Artist: HENRIK NORDVARGR BJOERKK
Title: Vitagen
Format: CD
Label: Essence Music
Rated: *****
As usual, this Essence Music release comes in a luxurious packaging: an oversize, 3-panel fold-out sleeve with embossed details, mimicking an old photo album with sepiatone portraits of young children. I honestly don't know how they could relate to Nordvargr's music, though, as this is quite obviously abysmal dark ambient with industrial overtones. Deep low-end drones form the basic layers to which Nordvargr adds a glitchy rhythm here and some, say, "symphonic" pattern there. The result is most of the times ok, reminding at best of Lustmord circa "The place where the black stars hang": a kind of black hole space music. But the main problem I have is that, as a whole, this is an alright cd but not much more, and from an experienced artist like Bjoerkk I expected something more challenging, or refined. These nine tracks, instead, are good examples of dark ambient synthesis, with everything you can expect from the genre, and of course a top notch production; but structure-wise, they often lack depth and variety. A pleasant listen, but not exactly a thrilling one.

SOSTRAH TINNITUS: A rain water stratum on the sea

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 16 2005
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Artist: SOSTRAH TINNITUS
Title: A rain water stratum on the sea
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
First of all, let me say this is probably my favourite Mystery Sea cover ever... so beautiful it actually influenced my listening experience, as if the tracks threw an azure light around. Sostrah Tinnitus is the solo project of Italian painter and musician Mario Costa, also one half of Tvmvlvs Seraphim, and this is his nth full length work is a few months, following releases on his own label, on Umbra and on Beyond Productions (see archive). ST plays deep ambient drones using both organic and acoustic sounds and synthesizers - not far from Alio Die or some Monos, to give you a clue. The seven tracks presented here are all well done and consistent, but somehow I'm not always drawn in by the music. In some cases ("Catherine barometer", "Dream with clam-diggers") it has the force to stop the ordinary flowing of your thoughts and leave you mesmerized; but sometimes it just becomes (good, very good) background music. I have no quibbles about the overall quality, which is quite high, so it must only be a matter of subjective experience.

PARADIN: Flesh of Caverns

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 13 2005
cover
Artist: PARADIN
Title: Flesh of Caverns
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Ben Fleury-Steiner has a nice series of releases under his belt, most of them on his own Gears of Sand label (which has recently released works by Oophoi and Netherworld as well). This cdr on Mystery Sea, a label Fleury-Steiner has been a long-time and enthusiastic supporter of, marks his debut with the Paradin alias, and the shift has a logical reason in the music it features. While using as a starting point some of the sources (effected guitars and synths) and techniques of the previous releases, "Flesh of Caverns" generally wanders into darker and even more abstract atmospheres. The drones are reduced to minimal glassy frequencies, but the skillfull job at layering and mixing prevents them from becoming too static. The three lengthy tracks rather embody the typical Mystery Sea kind of ambient music, with slowly (geologically slowly, I'd say) unfolding, but always immersive soundscapes. Particles of more recognizable sounds (as the electronic pulses in the first track, or the aggressive synth hammering at the end of the last one) are recognizable here and there, but they rapidly vanish underwater, into the oceanic whole. The title is definitely appropriate as well, evoking a fusion of organic and mineral qualities which could well define these three immersions. As Fleury-Steiner's forthcoming new work, mastered by Robert Rich, has been announced as more rhythmical and theme-oriented, I hope he keeps on producing this kind of nocturnal drones as Paradin.


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