Music Reviews

SKY BURIAL: Sky Burial

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 11 2006
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Title: Sky Burial
Format: CD
Label: Housepig
Rated: *****
Over the last few months, Michael Page has been gaining more and more recognition for his main project, Fire In The Head, which is a fierce power electronics/harsh noise beast. Sky Burial surely doesn't lack power and emotional strength, but works on a more atmospheric and less aggressive level. This self-titled cdr, recorded over a two-year period and released by the excellent Housepig label in a silk-screened canvas bag (incidentally reminding me of many emo-HC records from the 90's), is a little gem indeed. "To Mock a Killing Bird" opens with an epic cascade of bowed string loops and pummelling percussion, combining cyclic drones with a sort of industrial rock feel à la Skullflower or a non-doom Nadja. The following tracks are more straightforward drone pieces, with more ecstatic bowing ("There Are Dragonflies At Dawn", "Distant Dissonance Disappearing"), metallic rumbles ("Smokescreen") and the sinking into darker waters of "Awaking From Someone Else's Dream", which will surely appeal to any Troum fan. The final piece, "Frostfire", is also the most dissonant one, apparently being constructed only on skipping cd sounds. Page manages to weave his tapestries of drones and loops in an instantly captivating way, though often keeping a simple structure - what he uses works right from the start and to the end, which is a fundamental quality in ambient music. All in all, this eponymous cdr is a bracing debut, showing that Page already has a mature and personal style. Get it fast, as the 150 copies are selling out quickly.

Joseph Murray: The Starlight Suite

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 09 2006
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Artist: Joseph Murray
Title: The Starlight Suite
Format: CD + DVD
Rated: *****
"The Starlight Suite" is a suite of 10 tracks of cinematic lounge-inspired new age-ish electronic music that exists both in the format of a CD and a DVD, within the same slim-design dual-disc DVD-sized-case packaged release. Basically the CD and the DVD contain the same tracks, but the DVD features a video clip for every track (plus some very minor additional bonus material, such as a rather sparse photo gallery). The clips range from mediocre to interesting but do not stand out for excellence or originality. Except for the first clip (shooting a girl who preps herself a cup of tea), the other nine visual chapters are basically computer graphics inspired by the eighties' wave of fractal design video art (which by the way, as minor as this inconvenience is, aren't even divided by chapters, so that you can eventually only skip to the 9th by going back to the main menu and clicking on that 9th song - but you can't skip the first eight by hitting your "next" button eight times). Although some of them are rather nice, I can't fail to notice that it really is not that much different than listening to your CD on a Windows Media player with the visualization feature turned on (or whatever that is called - I am on Mac so I can't remember). I don't mean to be sarcastic or to diminuish the efforts that I am sure went into this project, but in todays market for DVD's and considering the average quality of some of these releases, I think one would except better than just a couple of entrancing and spiraling fractal visual candies to go with some Martini music (or at least, those like me who do expect more can't be blamed in my opinion). I am sorry, maybe I am missing something, but it seems to me that this is an excercise in style and although the the sonic and visual elements are of high quality (the audio for one thing is Dolby Digital 2.0/5.1) the sum of all parts does not excel.

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.

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