Music Reviews



NETHERWORLD: Otherwordly Abyss

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 28 2005
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Artist: NETHERWORLD
Title: Otherwordly Abyss
Format: CD
Label: Umbra
Rated: *****
Recorded last summer, "Otherwordly Abyss" is another excellent work by this Roman soundmaker. The formula and the style remain the same: dark isolationist soundscapes created with synths, loops, gong, voice and field recordings. The cdr, released by Oophoi's label Umbra in an edition of 99, features five tracks, each one titled with a letter of the word "abyss". What I've just written regarding "Six Impending Clouds" can be applied here: Netherworld manages to put the listener in a state of stupor, slowing down the heartbeat and the flow of thoughts. The second track, built on a looped metallic percussion, then dissolving in ghostly pitch-shifted voices and distant resonances, is particularly impressive, but no track is less than good - which is not that common in prolific artists. This is probably my favourite work of his to date, and surely one of my 2005 favourite; my only complaint is for the frankly anonymous cover, but the music is surely recommended to dark drones aficionados.

NETHERWORLD: Six Impending Clouds

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 28 2005
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Artist: NETHERWORLD
Title: Six Impending Clouds
Format: CD
Label: Gears of Sand
Rated: *****
I guess it's an appropriate day to write about Alessandro Tedeschi's project: it was snowing heavily when I received his discs, and it's snowing now as well... "Six Impending Clouds", on Ben Fleury Steiner's Gears of Sand, is Netherworld's most recent release, following some excellent releases on Umbra Records which I'll partly review later. The minimal and well designed layout, by Slo Bor Media, matches well the six untitled tracks of the album. Tedeschi uses synths, voice, field recordings and gong to weave abysmal soundscapes which reminded me of Lull (circa "Cold Summer") or early Koener - dark and abysmal but with a sort of intimate and trance-inducing atmosphere that many dark ambient projects lack. "Isolationism" may be an out of date term, but it perfectly fits this music. Track 2 tries some melody, and in the fourth one the gong adds an extra feel of menace, but in general the pieces just match the "impending clouds" definition, being based on misty, slowly evolving drones.

SELAXON LUTBERG/.:C@SSX://: Split

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 28 2005
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Artist: SELAXON LUTBERG/.:C@SSX://
Title: Split
Format: CD
Label: Cold Current
Rated: *****
As I wrote some days ago in the review of Selaxon Lutberg's ".Total Control in the Heart of the Sun.", the definite dark ambient nature of that release could be misleading. The three tracks of his split with the bizarrely named project .:c@ssx:// are indeed a far cry from that style, rather being experiments in melodic electronica. "sector E.1" is arguably the most successful, if a bit unrefined, track, with backward melodic loops and a feel of melancholic indulging; but also the liquid throbs of "Static Solution" could have lead to interesting results had they been developed into more daring solutions. Not a bad listen, just not memorable. .:c@ssx://, on the other hand, opts for distorted and under-produced beats - a sort of minimal industrial-tinged electronica that honestly goes nowhere. The cdr comes in a square dvd box and is limited to 40 copies, currently sold out from the label.

JODA CLÉMENT: Movement + Rest

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 28 2005
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Artist: JODA CLÉMENT
Title: Movement + Rest
Format: CD
Label: Alluvial
Rated: *****
Joda Clément is a very young Canadian musician, here debuting on an important label like Alluvial. "Movement + Rest" is an apt title for these six tracks of droning ambient, played with a series of instruments ranging from synthesizers to harmonium, from laptop to firebells, plus several field recordings taken in Canada, Mexico and France. Clément blurs all his sound sources in apparently static, yet layered and detailed soundscapes, with a style reminding of Monos, Alio Die, Mirror or Paul Bradley. While there are no let downs, not all tracks are memorable either; I personally find "The Ballad of Sleep", for example, a bit too standard sounding. Fully successful pieces like "Sacré-Coeur" or "Song of Threes", however, make this a very promising debut nonetheless.

ECHRAN: Echran

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 27 2005
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Artist: ECHRAN
Title: Echran
Format: CD
Label: Ebria/Small Voices
Distributor: Wide Records (Italy)
Rated: *****
As I wrote in my recent review of Ornament's "Unicorn Lullaby" re-release, Echran are the new project of its former main man Davide Del Col (here at Korg synth), teaming up with Fabio Volpi (laptop and voice), who has worked over the last few years with the Milanese audio/video collective Otolab. Echran's dark electronic soundscapes are not that easy to pigeonhole: there's a constant metronome-like pulse which could be compared to Pan Sonic or some Basic Channel-inspired minimal techno, but I wouldn't venture to define this "rhythmic electronica"; at the same time, though, it's not really ambient or droning. A track like "Monitor B", for example, has a skeletal dub throb floating in a mist of piercing frequencies which could remind of old school industrial, while "Formant", with its echoes of analogue cosmic music, could be an updated piece from a soundtrack by John Carpenter. The whole disc has an obsessive and stifling atmosphere, better fit for paranoia-tinged urban travels than for home listening.


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