Music Reviews



KOJI ASANO: Spring estuary

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 05 2005
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Artist: KOJI ASANO (@)
Title: Spring estuary
Format: CD
Label: Asano productions (@)
Rated: *****
As I said before (what a boring man I've become!), when Asano sits behind his laptop the result's always top notch. While following the footsteps of Merzbow in the amount o releases consecutively put out by the same composer, this Anglo-Japanese musician fuses again his laptop skills with a classical background. He did it in an interesting way since the equilibrium between the different elements is better and better after every release. I can't say this "furious" japanese is the first one to cross the thin border dividing the two musical worlds, at last the success of Alva Noto and Sakamoto proves there already is a receptive audience for that kind of cross-over, but honestly in some of Asano's compositions the point of ebullition is reached perfectly, nothing more nothing less. Differently from many else Asano manipulates classical works with a digital restyling but at the same time he processes computer music with the same patience of a contemporary composer. Here it's an odd cello, there a piano...whatever it is, it all disappears into a "hall reverb" as acid as those you can hear in many shoegaze recordings (Kevin Shields would approve it). The treated pattern are repeated or evolved with the same patience of Riley or Reich when they're not obsessed with serialism. Differently from his previous works this one is divided in four movements and is much better elaborated thinking to ambience and digital noises. This' a compact recording which gives homogeneity to compositions not so similar one to each other. To me that's the best listening together with his "Sanctuary on reclaimed land".
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Artist: URCEUS EXIT (@)
Title: Metro
Format: CD EP
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
Another new signing for the Canadian label Artoffact, this time a new project done by Richard Duggan who hails from Vancouver. Conclusions to any PUPPYan influences here are totally wrong placed, URCEUS EXIT’s music dwells more into wide fields of enjoyable Synth Electronica, Future Pop (some parts in the title track and also the good piece "Together"...), some Trance/IDM and Tekkno ("Metro – Shy Brothers Remix") elements and also some Ambient-like layers ("These Spots in my Eyes"). This "Metro" SiCD is a 8-track appetizer for soon to be released full length CD "Contra" with a nice and satisfying playing time of about more than 52 minutes. The title track "Metro" comes here in four different versions, but there is only one remix work by a different act (SHY BROTHERS), and this one will push the crowds to the dancefloors. Very danceable stuff is required for a SiCD release and it is rich given here – but this project has as well a dark and experimental side. The bass lines and beats get more experimental, sometimes even distorted on a track "You Taste Like", which is (of course) my favorite here. Also the "Dark Slavery Mix" of the track "Soil" is worth any listening while still servicing any dance attitudes. Richard Duggan’s music shows a wide range of diversity and I haven’t found any weak point. The music is intelligent produced and guaranties an enjoyable listening from track 1 to 8, nice manipulated cover artwork of a driving train constructed by Sam Javanrough, www.topleftpixel.com, too. I can’t await the full length album!

Visions : Lapse

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 28 2005
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Artist: Visions
Title: Lapse
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
I received this for review in the same package as Kammerheit "The Starwheel." They share similar elements. Both are nice drone, dark ambient music, but overall this seems a lot darker and heavier than Kammerheit I don’t really know how to describe it, but this is some pretty heavy stuff. Not too noisy, but definitely dark, oppressive, and a lot more complex that Kammerheit.

This is not music that soothes the listener. Rather, it demands that the listener pay close attention and never deviate from listening. If your mind wanders, there will be some musical element in the piece that will jar you back. On some tracks, such as "Passage" the music becomes a bit noisier. This is not pleasant drone music. Rather, this seems meant to put the listener on edge. "Lapsing" sounds as if it were specifically written for a suspenseful part of a movie soundtrack. You know something bad is about to happen and there is nothing that you can do to stop it.

What makes this disc interesting is everything that seems to lie just below the surface of the music. Elements surge in and out of the music to make themselves recognized and then fade back into the mix. Overall, if you like your dark ambient music to be really, really dark, this is definitely a must to pick up.

Floating Mind: Deep Visions

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 28 2005
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Artist: Floating Mind
Title: Deep Visions
Format: CD
Label: Urgence Disk Records
I had never heard of this project before. The note attached to the disc identifies it as the artist’s first "ambient – deep electronica album." When I put it in, I was expecting something more along the lines of Orb, based on the cover art. think of ambient, this is not really what I think of. This disc is pretty hard to classify. It has some decent ambient tracks, but also has some standard four on the floor drum machine driven tracks, and then there are those tracks that are more noisy and experimental.

Overall, this disc relies heavily on repetition - too much so. I would have preferred a lot more subtlety. In fact, most of what is interesting about this disc lies beneath the heavy use of analogue bass synth lines and samples. Under what amounts to musical clutter, lies some nice atmospheres. Even without the fat bass lines and samples, there are times where there are nice atmospheres but then the atmosphere is wrecked by bleeps and bloops that sound as if they were generated by an old analogue synth or sampled from 1980’s Erasure albums. While Erasure can pull off the analogue bleeps, in Floating Mind, they just seem forced in to make the tracks more interesting. Unfortunately, the tracks were already good and, like badly airbrushing the Smurfs on a restored 64 Impala, sometimes an improvement is not an improvement. Some examples of this are "Voices" and "Transformer." However, all is not lost on this album. "Stellar" is a nice bit of floating ambience which moves into the more spacey track "The Saturnday."

Overall, it seems that Floating Mind just kept adding things to the track to the point where it was overdone. For the next attempt, I would recommend a more stripped down approach if he wants to take it more into the ambient realm, or if he is trying more for the electronica / techno approach to lighten up on the repetition. He has a good start. Now it needs some refining.

Kammarheit: The Starwheel

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 28 2005
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Artist: Kammarheit (@)
Title: The Starwheel
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
The first thing you notice on this album is the visuals. Before you even open it up, you know that what you are in for is dark and bleak. It comes in a grayscale digipack with dreamlike imagery. And the music does not disappoint. This is really good, solid dark ambient drone music. The most fitting comparisons are Inade, older Lustmord, and fellow Swede, Ovum. What more can I say? This is really good stuff. It’s the kind of music that fades into the background, emerging at times to make its presence known. This is a wonderful mix of drone with other elements such as noises and barely perceptible voices bubbling to the surface just long enough for you to notice before they submerge again. This is perfect music to relax or read to. The only one problem I see with this album is that at 46:10, it’s a bit short. This is the kind of album that you sink into like a hot bath. I would like it to last a it longer. Highly recommended.


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