Music Reviews

RF: View of distant towns

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 08 2006
Artist: RF (@)
Title: View of distant towns
Format: CD
Label: Plop
Rated: *****
Top class electronic poppiness manufactured by Plop records and hi-profile cd as you could have expected it to be. Right with the coming of spring here we go with a relaxing sun bath in a pool of melody, the word is "pop", yes, Ryan Francesconi revitalizes the refinement of "easy listening". Consider RF could break the hearts of those into Stereolab, Mogway, Giardini di Mirò or Notwist but with the usual good amount of electronics that's the trademark of the artists on this japanese label. Differently from the rest of the releases I've heard on Plop, Francesconi’s sound is much more "normal instruments" oriented (that's probably where it gets close to many "post rockers" like those I've mentioned: bass, guitars, male and female vocals painting it all ethereal, trumpet, effects and a lovely use of tremolos. Soft without being neither pathetic nor boring like many others selling their soul and their creativity just to sella couple of records more. Sometimes I had the impression I was listening Belle and Sebastian ("The boy with the arab strap" era) filtered and remixed and that's ok with me. The fact all is "dreamy" and ethereal has to do with the light drumming he programmed, I mean being electronic it's obvious it all gets also rhythmical but he does it in a really elegant and "mimetic" (?) way. In the beginning there was 4AD and now their nephews, even if RF is not so ethereal and new wave like many of the artist on that cult label. Approved by my girlfriend.
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Recreation-X Display Disobey V2
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Urbcom Music (@)
Distributor: Nova Media
Rated: *****
Already active since 1996 (and so we also have to celebrate their 10th year anniversary, congrats...), this Anglo-Dutch label leaded by both J. Hookens of JERICO ONE and Dave Escott (AWAX) returns with a double full-length CD set presenting rarities and special mixes out of their label program. Lately they could also get a distribution deal with the German Nova Media, so now their work and power will be spread all over the European continent. A DCD indeed has a lot of space to fill, so no real wonder, that several acts are here present with more than one track. Several "guests" are included here, for example the Alfa Matrix recording artist NEBULA H, the well known harsh IDM artist SOMATIC RESPONSES, or the artists of the German Sonic-X label SKORBUT, ANTISTASIS and GLENN LOVE. Bands also co-operate here often for mutual projects, so also this is responsible for a wide musically diversity. The music itself presents all known formulas of modern electronic-based music, styles ranging from Electro, EBM, Industrial, Synth Pop, but also Breakcore, IDM or Trance elements. Favorites can be named with the only one and real EBM piece here, "In Zenith" done by SKORBUT, then the very well worked out experimental tracks by ALIEN SIX, a side-project by Geoff Pinckeny of the UK Synthpop legend THE NINE. Almost well and with a rich amount of diversity is featured by the works of J. Hookens’ own project JERICO ONE, with 6 (!!!) contributions on the top. There is a lot of nice stuff here to be checked out, please read also the very informative introducing words by Amanda Lear and the rich give track informations. A release to follow without hesitation and an impressive start for this label to reach a wider recognition.


001: NEBULA-H FEAT PANGEA - andalusion +
002: JERICO ONE & AWAX - dcoy *
003: BIODRONE- c02 *
004: INTERCITY3 - windows [ club mix ] *
005: AWAX - statica [remix] *
006: ALIEN SIX - c sqared [edit] *
007: JERICO ONE> flashing light *
008: GLENN LOVE & T.H.INDUSTRY- iceland
009: KINHO- terminal *
010: ALIEN SIX & JERICO ONE>- stratastate
011: BIONIK PHUNK- supersonic +
012: INTERCITY3 city at night *
013: SEROTONIN- funkwall *
014: DEATHSTAR- mybodydrifting *
015: AWAX- lines *
016: JERICO ONE>- extol *


001: AWAX- ion protocol *
002: DJ****- breakthrough *
003: ANTICRACY- uso derog [edit] *
004: SUDDEN INFANT- angelic agony
005: SOMATIC RESPONSES - omnivox [edit] *
006: SKORBUT- InZenith
007: DJ****- abberration *
008: JERICO ONE>- ulackra *
009: ANTISTASIS- TraumZeit
010: BIODRONE- pusher *
011: JERICO ONE>- bodyshock *
012: DJ****-metrophage plan B *
013: KYOSUKE TOKANAGA- extreamviolation
014: AWAX- know enmies *
015: BIODRONE- distrangled *
016: UNIFORM- day 6 in the season of mistakes *
017: BLACKPEPPER-thOughts

* Exclusive unreleased mixes or edited previously unavailable mixes / compositions
+ White label only or Dvd / promo-video transmissions

Kitaro: Spiritual Garden

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 05 2006
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Artist: Kitaro
Title: Spiritual Garden
Format: CD
Label: Domo
Distributor: Columbia International
Rated: *****
As one of the leading representatives of the new age avantgarde music scene of Japan, 12 time nominee and Grammy Award, Golden Globe and Artist of Peace Award winning composer/musician Kitaro now takes us onto a new musical journey inspired by the Harupin-Ha Butoh Dance of Koichi Tamano. Kitaro's eclectic and multifaceted approach to composition delivers twelve tracks of unique genre-defying music that references back to sound palettess from avantgarde progressive and psychedelic music (Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Can, Keith Jarret, Pink Floyd) as well as fusion (Pat Metheney, Lyle Mays) but arranges and incorporates them in a graceful classically-inspired fashion. The twelve tracks of "Spiritual Garden" travel from sci-fi-ish new age ambiances to slow classical piano pieces through orchestrated compositions of educated heritage and time-travelling synth pads, nature sounds (forest, birds) and occasional guitar sounds. Rhythmical elements throughout the record are few and far in between, but its sparse percussivness is cleverly augmented by the delivery of these tunes.All the songs on this record have been written, arranged and performed by Kitaro and his wife Keiko Takahashi (together for the first time on a Kitaro record) and occasionally feature acoustic guitar by Paul Pesco.Released by the Californian label Domo records this last February, "Spiritual Garden" is already #4 on iTunes, so if you happened to have listened to 2005's Kanpai records' "Reinterpretations (a remix album of timeless Kitaro songs)" CD, you owe it to yourself to discover the true original Kitaro world.


 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 03 2006
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Title: Dream a Little Dream
Format: CD
Label: Trinity Records
Rated: *****
"Dream a Little Dream" features exactly the same line up of Penitent's latest "A Shapeless Beauty", i.e. Lucian Olteanu and Karsten Hamre, and it's no wonder it reminds of that album in many ways - one could actually mistake it for the other in several passages. As regards to this aspect, the opening track, "The Way We Weren't", is probably the most individual one, with its suspended rhythmic electronica bringing to mind some atmospheric moments of Coil's "Love's Secret Domain". The other two, the 29-minute title track and "Out of Your Mind", are much closer to Penitent's above mentioned work, with many of the features I can't personally stand, like pompous synths, uninteresting drum machine programming and a very flat production. It's standard rhythmic electronica crossed with over-the-top symphonic ambient, and I honestly don't think much of such a mix.


 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 03 2006
Title: Ananta
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Japanese multimedia artist Hitoshi Kojo, who has recently moved to Switzerland, has collaborated with artists like mnortham (as Kodama), jgrznich and Loren Chasse, besides running his own label Octpia and actively collaborating with the remarkable Cloudmirror project. With this very label he released one of my favourite pieces of 2005, "Iris", which was a powerful beast of a drone (see archive). "Ananta" is a 62-minute single piece, and, while not as mind bending, clearly shows how Hitoshi is able to build massive soundscapes out of a limited number of layers. I don't know which sources lie at the basis of the work, but the high-end tones remind those of a gigantic organ, much like a grittier version of his fellow Grzinich's pieces. 62 minutes of it could be a bit overwhelming if you're not in the right mood to go through it and emptying your mind along the way, but a disciplined listen will surely reward you with a small scale ecstasy.

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