Music Reviews



MUSEUM OF TRANSIENT LIGHTS: Dream a Little Dream

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 03 2006
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Artist: MUSEUM OF TRANSIENT LIGHTS
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.

SPIRACLE: Ananta

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 03 2006
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Artist: SPIRACLE
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.

THE BEAUTIFUL SCHIZOPHONIC: Hyperblue.Hydrophonics

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 03 2006
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Artist: THE BEAUTIFUL SCHIZOPHONIC
Title: Hyperblue.Hydrophonics
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Last year I shared a cd with Portuguese artists Bio and Jorge Mantas/TheBeautiful Schizophonic (by the way, another 3-way split cd of his, with Pawel Grabowsky and the John Eeck Ripple/Paolo Raposo duo, has been recently released by Crónica), and I think he has a really interesting, stripped-down approach to drone music. First of all, Mantas usually comes up with shorter pieces than most of one-sixty-minute-track dronemakers, then he also adds a gritty, real time feel to them. I'm sure Mantas would probably be able to reproduce his style in a live performance without much loss in terms of impact and details. This 9-track, 39-minute release on Mystery Sea is no exception, though TBS is also refining his tecniques as time goes by. "A night at the ocean" starts the work with barely audible water recordings, filtered with Mantas' typical understatement (on a side note, I noticed that walking with his recordings in your headphones has a nice underwater-like effect). "Hyperblue.Hydrophonics" is made of mostly elusive soundscapes, occasionally rising to more metallic and noisy frequencies with great effects ("Gothic cathedral under the sea", "Shiny inner beach"), and is definitely the punkest (ahem!) release in the Mystery Sea catalogue to date.

PAUL BRADLEY: Sophia Drifts

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 03 2006
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Artist: PAUL BRADLEY
Title: Sophia Drifts
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Hell, reviewing Bradley's works is seriously beginning to be embarassing. This single-track, forty-minute work was especially composed for Mystery Sea's cult series, while Bradley also self-released on his own Twenty Hertz a limited edition including a bonus 3" cdr. As expected, it's another excellent work for this English dronemaker, much in the style of recent cds of his like "Liquid Sunset" or the latest Droneworks contribution. "Sophia Drifts" is a slowly uncoiling spiral of time-stretched drones, at first barely punctuated by what sounds like heavily filtered recordings of dripping water and crashing waves. After a first half of mind-numbing stasis, the piece undergoes a crescendo of metallic frequencies and an accumulation of unidentified audio debris, eventually leading to the final minutes of troubled rest, where ghosts of melodies surface for a while before disappearing altogether.

PENITENT: A Shapeless Beauty

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 03 2006
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Artist: PENITENT
Title: A Shapeless Beauty
Format: CD
Label: Trinity Records
Rated: *****
I'm not familiar at all with Penitent's discography, which I believe is now quite extensive (including a cd on Cold Meat Industry), so I'm afraid I can't make any comparison with their previous works. Recorded in 2004 and released by Hong Kong's Trinity Records, "A Shapeless Beauty", composed by Lucian Olteanu and Karsten Hamre (also responsible for Dense Vision Shrine, Arcane Art and a theory of other projects), features seven tracks of gloomy and occasionally pompous atmospheric music. I would call it "dark ambient", but bear in mind this is less drone-oriented and more "symphonical" in a keyboard/synth-driven way, actually reminding of many soundtracks for low-budget horror movies from the 80's... the kind of movies you don't necessarily recognize as masterpieces, but that you always watch with a sort of twisted pleasure. For me, Penitent's music works more or less in the same way: while it's not scary or moving at all, and has many artistic flaws (a muffled sound, some predictable and redundant compositions, monotonous drum machine patterns etc.), it is a decent job, with a few standout tracks like "Born Bound", "Regret" or "The Longing".


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