Music Reviews



PAWEL GRABOWSKI: Cirr's Songs

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 24 2005
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Artist: PAWEL GRABOWSKI
Title: Cirr's Songs
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records
Rated: *****
Grabowski is a young Polish soundmaker now relocated in Dublin, with a couple of releases under his belt, on Laub and his own Silence Is Not Empty label. Grabowski may be young but he surely doesn't lack talent and a refined style. Both "songs" are based on subdued, far-away drones and concrete elements (dripping water, a creaking door...), and the artist knows well how to weave captivating and emotionally engaging soundscapes with those minimal elements only. Grabowski's approach to minimal music reminds of great artists like Mirror, Coleclough or Monos - my favourite ep of the new Drone batch. This 7" comes in a black cover with a photo and, oddly enough, on black vinyl.

SMOOTH QUALITY EXCREMENT: Wahid

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 24 2005
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Artist: SMOOTH QUALITY EXCREMENT
Title: Wahid
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records
Rated: *****
US artist J. Greco has possibly chosen one of the worst band name ever, but thanks God his music is on a different level. Greco, who has collaborated with Ure Thrall, Alan Trench and Kris Force, has already released three full-length albums as SQE, which unfortunately I don't know. "Wahid", on side A, is a powerful blend of oriental percussions and drones coming from processed and un-processed instruments (flute, guitars) - imagine a more layered and refined version of Muslimgauze and you'll get a picture. "Epitaph 3", on the flipside, is more droning and less physical, a vast and quite sombre soundscape of reversed sounds and altered voices. Some of Troum's epic compositions come to mind here as well. SQE will certainly appeal all fans of ethno-influenced ambient projects like Ure Thrall, Asia Nova, Rapoon, and the likes. I admit this is not exactly my cup of tea in the ambient field, but the quality of this project is undeniable. Beautiful layout and b/w marble vinyl.

TZESNE: Huffduff

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 24 2005
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Artist: TZESNE
Title: Huffduff
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records
Rated: *****
Quite a mysteryous project coming from Spain - I only know the person behind Tzesne is probably Basque, since he took part in a recent Euskal-only sampler on Antifrost, curated by Mattin, and that he's previously released two cdrs. "Huffduff" features two tracks ("Enviar ayuda ahora" and "La voz flamante") based on shortwave radio signals as the only source. The press-release talks of "a droney and eerie imaginary soundtrack to the communication between Submarines inthe Second World War", which is an appropriate description indeed. The work reminded me of Chaos as Shelter's "Dead air broadcast" cd - radio-based industrial ambient, which I think works best in the more abstract atmospheres of the B-side. A pleasant release, but not exactly an outastanding one in shortwave-based compositions. Hand-assembled and silk-screened covers made using photocopies, glue, paint, etc., which must look quite good.

ORNAMENT: Unicorn Lullaby

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 24 2005
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Artist: ORNAMENT
Title: Unicorn Lullaby
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records
Rated: *****
Self-released in a very limited number of copies in 2000, "Unicorn Lullaby" was Davide Del Col's third release as Ornament, after the tape "Strychninelovenectar" and the "Adorers" cdr on Oktagon, both from 1999. A third cdr ("Yzaniaveis", Blade Records, 2002) and an mp3 album ("Effortless", 2003) followed, and the project is currently on hold, while Del Col plays in the electronic-industrial duo Echran. Of all his solo releases, "Unicorn Lullaby" is still my favourite one, and I'm glad that AFE Records is re-releasing it, giving it a much deserved wider exposure. The layout, originally quite primitive, has been totally remade, and the new Lovecraftian images suit Ornament's style very well. "Unicorn Lullaby" is, in my opinion, the most successful blend of Del Col's major influences, i.e. loop-based rhythmic industrial à la Deutsch Nepal/Stratvm Terror, and more droning dark ambient. The result is a kind of cyclic, trance inducing ritual music, based on the repetition of manipulated samples. While the following "Yzaniaveis" was more serene, "Unicorn Lullaby" still features 100% nocturnal music, full of oneiric and disquieting soundscapes, as in the little masterpiece "From Concealed Gardens". While the tension is constant throughout, the more pounding and aggressive industrial elements lay in the background, only occasionally resurfacing (as in "Masked Complicity"). The work is still quite a head trip after all these years, and I honestly hope that Del Col unburies his solo project sooner or later.

PANTHER SKULL: Slothwave

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 22 2005
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Artist: PANTHER SKULL
Title: Slothwave
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: SNSE
Rated: *****
As mentioned below, Panther Skull is Devillock's Justin Meyers, and this is his first pro-printed cd. Meyers basically using the same tools as in Devillock (organ, tapes and electronics) and the sound as a whole is naturally very similar, but more in a droning and ambient way. Don't expect easy listening stuff, though: the first track sounds like a warmer take on death industrial-like heaviness, with sullen, billowing drones and creeping distortion. The rest of the cd is actually more minimal and less structured, but the tension remains high throughout. The analogue organ sound makes a big difference in keeping the sound physical and crisp, and often reminded me of early noise/ambient works by Man Is The Bastard/Bastard Noise. As a whole, it's a shame this lasts less than 25 minutes, but on the other hand the short length avoids repetition and stagnation. Very nice stuff.


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