Music Reviews



M2 (Squaremeter): The Frozen Spark

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 04 2006
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Artist: M2 (Squaremeter)
Title: The Frozen Spark
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Ant-Zen (@)
Rated: *****
OK, I have been living in a cave for the last few years and have not heard Squaremeter before, nor had I heard any Panacea. First off, this was not what I expected from an Ant-Zen release. If you are looking for rhythmic noise, this is not one to pick up. But you should give it a shot anyway if you are in to engaging music that blends ambient textures with noise and the occasional burst of rhythms. The promo material states that "B. Lustmord was mentioned as a possible inspiration to Squaremeter and now it seems, Mootz’s intention for this album was to create a 21st century "Paradise Disowned" that is coupled with an imaginary soundtrack to a "The Seventh Sign" sequel." I would not really call this standard dark ambient. Although there are some Lustmord-like elements here (I’m thinking specifically of Monstrous Soul) this is a bit more complex and engaging but sometimes that complexity gets in the way. On to the music.I really liked the first half of this disc. For me, the standout tracks were "White Breach" and "Acr Flow" and "Gazed Radiation". All of these manage to use elements of dark ambient while adding just enough elements of noise, synth pad, and beat to remain engaging to the listener. Not quite the kind of thing that you could just put on and read with, but pleasant listening. "Second Angle" was also nice and would sound right at home in a science fiction film. On the down side, I was not too into the other tracks. "Diffraction" has a staccato synth line that gets a bit too repetitive. "Reanimation Limit" has good elements as well, but also has some synth elements that just didn’t seem to work. "Deviation" is OK and starts to get a bit more chaotic and noisy toward the end, which was a welcome change of pace after "Reanimation Limit," but it never seemed to let go and unload with both barrels. Overall, when the music is good, it’s really good. When it’s not so good, it’s still not too bad, because half of the tracks are structured in such a way that it is like having two or three tracks in one so the parts that are not terribly good are not that long. Squaremeter does do a good job of using silence in his tracks to add tension, which is becoming a lost art. So while this disc is sort of a mixed bag, it’s still a disc worth checking out. I have a feeling that this is the kind of disc that gets better with repeated listenings.

ROY-ARNE KNUTSEN: Old Boat House

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 04 2006
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Artist: ROY-ARNE KNUTSEN
Title: Old Boat House
Format: CD EP
Label: Silence Is Not Empty
Rated: *****
Released by Pawel Grabowski's new mp3 label as a free download ep (18 minutes total), "Old Boat House" features two tracks from 2005 and one from 1999 by this Tromso-based soundmaker, inspired by his old grandparent's house in Steines, a Norwegian coastal town. It comes as no surprise, then, to find water loops in "Korstog", my favourite track and probably the one where Knutsen's approach to ambient works better. "Host" opens the work with seashore recordings, pulsing electronics and synth patterns, while "Isodet", the oldest track, is more rhythmically oriented. As a whole, Knutsen plays a kind of serene synth-based ambient music which will probably please the fans of labels like Hypnos, while I personally find it a tad too old fashioned to really grab my interest.
Jan 02 2006
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Artist: Autoclav1.1 (@)
Title: You are My All and More
Format: CD
Label: Crunch Pod Media (@)
Rated: *****
Autoclav1.1 is the project of Tony Young, a well known promoter and musician in the noise underground. You are My All and More is his first full-length album following two stand-alone EPs. The premise of You are My All and More is to map the process of dealing with the loss of a loved one. A subject brought to Young’s attention last year while coping with the loss of his cat, Frank. Listening through this album is like a window into his mind as his emotions fluxuate from sadness, confusion, nostalgia, anger, hope, and disillusionment.

Young had promised from his first EP that there would be evolution and growth. While some of the same qualities exist in his music there is a level of artistry and understanding that his humble suggestions put to shame. Tracks like "This is the Hollow Point" and "White Cover" are nothing short of amazing. The same skitterish break-beats can be found throughout the album, but Young’s experimentation with ambience and texturing has turned into an all-out mastery, flirting with melodies, twisting and turning them enough to keep your brain on edge even on the most sentimental of tracks.

I will admit, I am biased toward Tony Young’s music, but I am certain that even if I’d never heard of his name or work before I’d still be as caught in it. This is a wonderful album; Inspiring, Distrubing, and painfully honest all at once. Autoclav1.1’s You are My All and More is perfect in my mind. My heart goes out for his loss, and my gratitude goes out for this album.

Mohan: As Is Where Is

 Posted by Shaun Phelps (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 30 2005
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Artist: Mohan (@)
Title: As Is Where Is
Format: CD
Label: Devlian Records (@)
Rated: *****
Mohan is the newest offering from Seattle-based Dave Nugent. Nugent’s bio claims he is an award winning producer, composer, and film-scorer. While I am not familiar with his past work, I am apt to believe the claim. This is the composition of a professional, and this music is nothing short of art.

As Is Where Is is a graceful mixture of ambient textures drifting among skitterish IDM beats, organic tribal sounds, and the beautifully layered female vocals gracing at least five tracks. Nugent’s work here brings to mind anything from Delerium, Future Sound of London, and... Well... Pretty much anything. Mohan seems to touch on every end of the electronic spectrum, encasing it all in an easy-listening shell.

Mohan’s As Is Where Is is a brilliantly crafted album; Calming and chill till the last moment. This is a great accent to any laid-back afternoon. My recommendation goes out to anyone who enjoys trance, ambient, or electronic jazz music.
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Artist: SRMEIXNER (@)
Title: The dictatorship of the viewer
Format: CD
Label: Fin de siecle (@)
Rated: *****
Srmeixner is that Stephen Meixner of Contrastate, what we have here is a solo project, but obviously the fan of the band should give it a try. "The dictator of the viewer" has been meant like a big 55 minutes long suite, though Meixner had also the brilliant idea of dividing the whole book in 18 "chapters" that can be put in a different order up to the "viewer's taste". The title is coming from the 2003 Venice Biennale and embodies a reflection on the conflict between the viewer and the artist, it indirectly recalls J. L. Borgès ideas concerning the writer/reader relation. Yes, the record has some reminiscences of Contrastate but at the same time it moves forward, the release is more dark-ambient oriented, sometimes is hard to hear the passage from a "trail" to another, but that's not a bad thing if you consider this cd has been projected as a suite. I've said dark-ambient but the "post-wave/dark" keyboards at the same time makes me think to some "sci-fi"/"horror" soundtracks, that sound is somehow post seventies but even if it could sound a strange cocktail, the result is definitely good. It's a pity this release doesn't come along with images 'cause it would have been a great match, and there's a sort of idea that links the most of the episodes. How to say that..."the misty canals of Venice".


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