Music Reviews



AAL: Disc 1 + Inherited and partially transmitted

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 23 2004
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Artist: AAL (@)
Title: Disc 1 + Inherited and partially transmitted
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: AFE Records (@)
Rated: *****
A couple of years ago, Davide Vallecchi self-released these two cdrs, both recorded in 2001, and already reviewed in this mag (search the archive). This is a welcomed reprint by the ever diligent AFE Records, in a limited run of 150 copies, coming in a really beautiful and fitting layout - sort of abstract figures looking like bindrunes or crop circles. Listening again to AAL's more ambient and droning production, I sense that it is much darker than I recalled. While I'd still use the references to Klaus Schultze or Coil in their cosmic incarnations, tracks like "Unsealed" (on "Inherited...") have a menacing feel, with their obsessive and self-devouring structures which reminded me of Koener or Lull. The sound quality fits very well with these atmospheres - I wouldn't call it "lo-fi" (it's probably not), but rather "dusty". It's like an old sepia-print. The other remark I'd add is that there's an evident growth between one release and the other, though recorded in a short span - "Inherited..." is more mature, with a better - and at the same time more extreme - use of sounds and repetitions, notably in the majestic, relentless emotional crumbling of "All that fall".

INCANDESCENCE: Chapter Two: The Replacement Phase

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 23 2004
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Artist: INCANDESCENCE (@)
Title: Chapter Two: The Replacement Phase
Format: CD
Label: Raw Nerve Promotions
Rated: *****
As I wrote in the review of Incandescence's "Chapter One...", this one is a new release featuring all new material, 12 tracks, 53 minutes. The sleeve notes state it was "written, recorded + mixed between March 29th + April 9th, 2004". What, ten days?? Alas, that's no good thing for me. All I can say is that IT SHOWS, and not in a positive sense. Basically, the main defect of these songs is that they're terribly basic and boring. They're mostly just loops, with some primitive effect thrown in. No proper programming, no proper ambiences. Some beats you just don't know why they've been put there, many many sounds are just lame. I don't mean to be rude, but this is not even tolerable as background music. If this was meant to be minimal in an Aphex Twin way, it falls short. This needs lots of work and, for God's sake, some second thought.

TELEPHERIQUE + MAURIZIO BIANCHI: Zehn Tage (Touka)

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 20 2004
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Artist: TELEPHERIQUE + MAURIZIO BIANCHI
Title: Zehn Tage (Touka)
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records (@)
Rated: *****
The long-term friendship between Klaus Jochim/Telepherique and Maurizio Bianchi has led to this collaborative cd, the very first "regular" cd released by AFE Records alone. Telepherique has frequently collaborated with other artists over the years (see the brilliant cd-r with Ultra Milkmaids, just to pick in the AFE catalogue), but this is the very first "shared" work by Bianchi (whose importance in the fields of industrial and electronica I won't even mention... period). "Zehn Tage (Touka)" is a massive 74-minute, 10-track concept on the nature and perception of time, titled after the 10-day gap created by the shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, back in 1582. The metaphor serves as a reflection on man's attempts at artificially controlling time, and as a memento on the endless, senseless rat-race we force ourselves on. But this rather scary series of thoughts doesn't prevent the work from being fascinating and soothing rather than ominous. Pretty much like Telepherique's "Hoerspiele", it is very much based on looped sounds, but the hypnotizing rhythmical patterns have a kind of droning ambient quality. Actually, very few tracks (notably # 5 and 9) feature more recognizable (and, to my taste, less effective) technoid/electronic beats. The sound palette is rich, with some memorable mixes: guitars, synths, bagpipes, birds, water, metallic percussions, scarce vocal samples... the songs often become dizzying mantras, leaving your head light. A very personal and inspired work which embodies cosmic ambient, beat electronica, concrete music... I was often reminded of label mate Raffaele Serra, which also leads to my only query - I find it a tad too long to be listened to in a row. But hey, this probably has to do with time perception itself... and this is surely worth 74 minutes of your life.

ESCAPE POD: Winter

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 14 2004
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Artist: ESCAPE POD
Title: Winter
Format: 7"
Label: Dead Digital (@)
Rated: *****
It's impossible not to be seduced by the mix of twisted atmospheres, pop melodies and electronic semplicity the band is able to produce. The new Escape Pod single contains three gems. Three songs that would made Blur die of jealousy because the Manchester trio succeeded into creating weird atmospheres but keeping the semplicity and the tension always at the top. "Winter", "Living in books" and "Seeing" last only nine minutes and are like a lightning in the pop world. It's really hard to explain but even if at a first listening the band's sound could seem really minimal and low fi, the songs are rich thanks to the atmosphere created. Slowly but resolute the songs will convince you immediately. I'm listeining to it the fourth time in a row, now... help me! Stop the CD player!

NIMH/NEFELHEIM: Whispers from the Ashes

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 08 2004
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Artist: NIMH/NEFELHEIM (@)
Title: Whispers from the Ashes
Format: CD
Label: Amplexus (@)
Distributor: Soleilmoon (USA)
Rated: *****
Inspired by the Inquisition and witch-burning periods, "Whispers from the ashes" is a great collaborative effort by Roman artists Giuseppe Verticchio (Nimh) and Nefelheim. After a private cdr edition, the work is luckily made available by the ever active Amplexus, which has also re-released Nimh's "The Impossible Days" (see review). "Whispers..." is an inspired, flawless work which combines the best features of Cold Meat Industry-inspired dark ambient and a bit of acoustic folk, managing to avoid the n.1 problem with this genre, i.e. sounding cheesy and cliché. From the very beginning of the solemn, gregorian chant-driven "Last hours of the heretic", the listener is plunged into an atmosphere which is at the same time gloomy and epic, depressing and soothing - a quality which is common not only to good dark ambient, but also to the best black and doom metal, where Nefelheim's roots probably lie. "Age of stakes / Crying bard" rises into a menacing melody and heavy mechanical percussions, before dissolving into dripping rain and a melancholic guitar arpeggio. "Sounds from the Ossuary" is utter bass-heavy droning darkness, reminding of Nimh's solo "Frozen", but a funeral melody emerges from the final layer of distortion. "Malleus Maleficarum" goes back to the initial Raison d'Être-sounding fusion of gregorian chants, swirling drones and electronic throbs. "Peaceless Rest" closes the album with more gentle guitar picking and a thunderous underlying ambience. A very successful and cohesive work from start to end, which could reconcile many to the CMI/Northern wave of dark ambient, definitely not that thrilling over the last few years.


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