Music Reviews

Sun Through Eyelids: Hyperborea

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 15 2018
Artist: Sun Through Eyelids (@)
Title: Hyperborea
Format: CD
Label: Black Mara (@)
Rated: *****
un Through Eyelids is the duo of Tom Necklen and Meghan Wood which use traditional instruments, e.g., didgeirdoo, clarinet, violin, chimes, in a predominately dark ambient, so electronic, environment. The result is something in between dark ambient and ritual music as they try a sort of musical development rather than a contemplation of sound. The use of traditional instruments is perhaps tied to the link to spiritual themes as the concept of Hyperborea that gives a name to this release.
The framework of "Weightlessness On The Red Tide" is closer to ritual music rather than dark ambient as it revolves around harmonic chant, a clocking beat and sparse bells while "Collapsing Cities" is almost canonical dark ambient based on atmospheric drone and working on the building of an atmosphere. "Fading Valley" is static and focused on small field recordings and a barely audible drone while a quiet line of synth peeks out. "Quiet Canyon" raises the bar of complexity with a layered track where drone, ritual element and atmosphere with ethnic samples are present; while this is a quiet and bright track, "The Riphean Passage" uses the same structure with a darker atmosphere obtained with effective use of bass frequencies. Varying an element in all track the album flows with ease: "The Sigh Of Winter" uses a sort of flute which is enhanced by the static background, "Eternal Course Of The Sun" features field recordings, "The Solipsist" has a sort of synth crescendo in the final part, "Hyperborean's Lineage" uses wind instruments and "Everything Must Have Its End" closes this release with a drone which slowly evolves using a noisy element.
Even in the context of a canonical form, this album shows a project with a reasonable identity which set a difference in a scene where the vast majority of releases sounds the same. It's really worth a listen.

Alberto Nemo: 6x0

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 15 2018
Artist: Alberto Nemo (@)
Title: 6x0
Format: CD
Label: Dimora Records (@)
Rated: *****
When you pull the CD out of his case for the minimal limited edition (150 copies only) of "6 x 0", you can read a sentence "etsise non ehc otrebla nu otama oh", the reverse for "ho amato un alberto che non esiste" (Italian for "I loved an Alberto who doesn't exist"). The Alberto, who surely exists, has a distinguishing mark/natural gift, a remarkably piercing voice, whose trembling timber on high tones is not that easy to find between male voices, the Alberto who shouldn't exist or the one existing within an imaginary mirror is the one you can listen on this interesting album, where the Venetian vocalist recorded six track (played on reverse -!-, the style fluctuates between contemporary classical, sacred music, minimal electronica and drone music) before recording their reverse on the studio. A guessed precedent he quoted to render an idea of what you're going to listen is the extraordinary soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" by British composer Jocelyn Pook as well as some experiments by notorious bands such as Dead Can Dance or Coil (and I'd also add the first outputs by Enigma as well as the ones by many intimistic modern Greek singers). I won't label this output as a merely formal exercise, as I think it's consistent with the intrinsic duality of the sound where his voice, encrusted like a shining diamond reflecting unnatural obscure beams, such as the last track "Emama" (a sort of reversed invitation to love him...), a breaching palindromic counterpoint to the above-mentioned assertion.

Rowland Yeargan: Close Your Eyes

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 14 2018
Artist: Rowland Yeargan
Title: Close Your Eyes
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Media
Silber Media’s ongoing and always intriguing ‘5 in 5’ series- where an artist offers up 5 tracks with a total running time of exactly, and only, 5 minutes- offers up another interesting nugget here. Made up of five diverse sonic ideas, like working prototypes of longer works, “Close Your Eyes” distinctly feels like a sampler, but it’s a sampler leaving you wanting more.

Between the distorted drone noise of “Make Haste”, the optimistic layered-up piano of “Breathing In And Out”, the organ drone and throat singing of “Everlasting Heart”, the avantgarde-jazz-esque cymbal work on “Look Into My Eyes” and the synthetic semi-alien choral tones of final track “One Day Today”, this feels like a showreel for a film soundtrack.

A really intriguing listen, if something of a tease!

Norman Westberg: After Vacation

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 11 2018
Artist: Norman Westberg
Title: After Vacation
Format: LP
Label: Room40
With “After Vacation”, Swans guitarest Westberg has consciously moved away from performance-sourced composition and pieces with single-take improvised cores, stepping instead towards more overtly planned and mapped non-linear assemblies of sound.

However the sonic ingredients are still broadly the same- long and warm sustained effect-washed drones, plaintive guitar notes with super-long reverb meld together into a womb-like ambient that’s mostly soporific, but with the occasional hint of disquiet and dischord squeezing through on tracks like “Sliding Sledding”. The title track ends up the odd-one-out with its decidedly more conventional guitar solo work that serves as an unexpectedly busy wrap-up.

Though Westberg describes the six tracks as “stand-alone stories, rather than my usual style of bouncing conversation”, nevertheless there’s a consistency throughout that in the case of this particular collection works as a strength. You’d be hard pushed to identify softly pulsing longest track “Levitation” in a crowd, and at times this form of guitar-sourced ambient does feel a little bit ‘done’, but if you’re after something relaxing, textured and from one of the extreme edges of guitar music, this is certainly worth a late-night listen.

Kajsa Lindgren: Womb

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 10 2018
Artist: Kajsa Lindgren
Title: Womb
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Hyperdelia
It’s obvious to hear why the name “Womb” seemed appropriate for this 7-track collection of pressured gloopy atmospheres of deep thrums and heartbeat-like pulses, but there’s more to it than that, as a procession of other elements arrive in various combinations to decorate the warm internalised drone base.

Some are intriguing- for example the electronic glitches and noise sparkles on tracks like opener “Cocoon” that give proceedings a slightly more alien flavour, while the slowly rising and falling vocal-like melodic wind noises and faintly whalesong-like calls on “The Garden” meld together into something more complex that plays well against vinyl-like crackle sounds.

Others feel a little more obvious and ‘done’. The distant unintelligible speech on “The Inanimate World” and the overt heartbeat sounds of “All The Other Children” feel quite conventional as elements of an almost theatrical sonic impression of existence in the womb, and by the time we get to birdsong on “Far (To Reach Me)” and what I think is the sound of a crackling wood fire in “The Forest” it does feel like we’re running through a list of stalwart ambient sounds. The Terence McKenna-esque rambling spoken-word element in final track “The Inanimate World” will be particularly divisive- personally I found it too prescriptive and consequently unwelcome.

It’s a rich and quite uniform bit of ambient work, certainly mellowing and sonically oppressive yet in a way that’s somehow quite comforting, but it perhaps needed to show a greater breadth and diversity and steer away from some of ambient’s more well-established clichés if it were really going to stand out.

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