Music Reviews



HENRIK NORDVARGR BJOERKK: Vitagen

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 17 2005
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Artist: HENRIK NORDVARGR BJOERKK
Title: Vitagen
Format: CD
Label: Essence Music
Rated: *****
As usual, this Essence Music release comes in a luxurious packaging: an oversize, 3-panel fold-out sleeve with embossed details, mimicking an old photo album with sepiatone portraits of young children. I honestly don't know how they could relate to Nordvargr's music, though, as this is quite obviously abysmal dark ambient with industrial overtones. Deep low-end drones form the basic layers to which Nordvargr adds a glitchy rhythm here and some, say, "symphonic" pattern there. The result is most of the times ok, reminding at best of Lustmord circa "The place where the black stars hang": a kind of black hole space music. But the main problem I have is that, as a whole, this is an alright cd but not much more, and from an experienced artist like Bjoerkk I expected something more challenging, or refined. These nine tracks, instead, are good examples of dark ambient synthesis, with everything you can expect from the genre, and of course a top notch production; but structure-wise, they often lack depth and variety. A pleasant listen, but not exactly a thrilling one.

SOSTRAH TINNITUS: A rain water stratum on the sea

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 16 2005
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Artist: SOSTRAH TINNITUS
Title: A rain water stratum on the sea
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
First of all, let me say this is probably my favourite Mystery Sea cover ever... so beautiful it actually influenced my listening experience, as if the tracks threw an azure light around. Sostrah Tinnitus is the solo project of Italian painter and musician Mario Costa, also one half of Tvmvlvs Seraphim, and this is his nth full length work is a few months, following releases on his own label, on Umbra and on Beyond Productions (see archive). ST plays deep ambient drones using both organic and acoustic sounds and synthesizers - not far from Alio Die or some Monos, to give you a clue. The seven tracks presented here are all well done and consistent, but somehow I'm not always drawn in by the music. In some cases ("Catherine barometer", "Dream with clam-diggers") it has the force to stop the ordinary flowing of your thoughts and leave you mesmerized; but sometimes it just becomes (good, very good) background music. I have no quibbles about the overall quality, which is quite high, so it must only be a matter of subjective experience.

PARADIN: Flesh of Caverns

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 13 2005
cover
Artist: PARADIN
Title: Flesh of Caverns
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Ben Fleury-Steiner has a nice series of releases under his belt, most of them on his own Gears of Sand label (which has recently released works by Oophoi and Netherworld as well). This cdr on Mystery Sea, a label Fleury-Steiner has been a long-time and enthusiastic supporter of, marks his debut with the Paradin alias, and the shift has a logical reason in the music it features. While using as a starting point some of the sources (effected guitars and synths) and techniques of the previous releases, "Flesh of Caverns" generally wanders into darker and even more abstract atmospheres. The drones are reduced to minimal glassy frequencies, but the skillfull job at layering and mixing prevents them from becoming too static. The three lengthy tracks rather embody the typical Mystery Sea kind of ambient music, with slowly (geologically slowly, I'd say) unfolding, but always immersive soundscapes. Particles of more recognizable sounds (as the electronic pulses in the first track, or the aggressive synth hammering at the end of the last one) are recognizable here and there, but they rapidly vanish underwater, into the oceanic whole. The title is definitely appropriate as well, evoking a fusion of organic and mineral qualities which could well define these three immersions. As Fleury-Steiner's forthcoming new work, mastered by Robert Rich, has been announced as more rhythmical and theme-oriented, I hope he keeps on producing this kind of nocturnal drones as Paradin.

Metagaia: Phonogenix

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 12 2005
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Artist: Metagaia
Title: Phonogenix
Format: CD
Label: Poseidon
Distributor: Musea
Rated: *****
Co-released by two labels and distributors (Tokyo-based Poseidon and the French Musea Parallele), "Phonogenix" is a record that was written in the late nineties by Haruhiko Tsuda, a member of the popular progressive japanese band Shingetsu. These eight tracks paint beautiful landscapes and scenarios made of ambient, world music, fusion, new age etc... The array of instruments is very various and enjoyable... From digeridoo to african tribe vocal samples, from beautiful Pat Metheny/Alan Holdsworth inspired guitar soloing & effected guitar volume-pedal comping, to a questionable and very eighties alto saxophone to fretless bass and of course a lot of computer programming, layering and electronica. Major influences are definitely Kitaro, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Artemiev, Vangelis, Klaus Schulze, Popol Vuh, Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream, Artemiev etc.

Hl: Broken ep

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 12 2005
Artist: Hl (@)
Title: Broken ep
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: First person (@)
Rated: *****
NH is Dan Hopkins from No Ground, even if this 3" is on First Person label. Differently from Sticker Club, HL's music is less "andante": let's say "Broken e.p" could be the perfect soundtrack for a trip. Opium softness and winter landscapes are a couple of things you'll probably find on this mini cd. Daniel Hopkins is a filmmaker and you can bet the cinematic feeling is there and that's why there's an high visionary impact that haunts the four tracks. This 3" mini cd is also filled with an all british depression, but this time it's not a matter of pop litanies as one can imagine, this' more a question of british psychedelia evolved into something different. Shogaze sensations and drones diluted into a magma where just every once in a while a minimal (industrial?) drum machine "swims in a dark pool" of sounds. Differently from other releases on No ground this one may force you into a really sad mood. Dan Hopkins has collected some scattered fragments he put together giving shape to this ep, the resulting image could be one of these Babs Santini's paintings/patchworks on the covers of Nurse With Wound. Psychedelic freak should better stay tuned.


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