Music Reviews

Metatron Omega: Illuminatio

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 29 2017
Artist: Metatron Omega (@)
Title: Illuminatio
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
As its previous release, Metatron Omega confirms his religious inspiration with a release based on the concept of illumination obtained with meditation in a solitary environment. This depiction is mostly obtained with a massive use of echoes and reverbs to obtain a sound of great space and based on resonances similar to those that could be heard in a really large cathedral.
The echoes of Gregorian chants in "Ecclesia Universalis" open this release introducing the listener into an environment which is as abstract as culturally signified that is interrupted for a second part based on small sonic nuances. "Heosphoros" is always at the crossroad between a crescendo and a static track while "Illuminatio" is almost a proper crescendo, or, more properly, is a slow layering of sound lines, which abruptly ends for a finale of grave meditation. "Thy Light" and "Mysteriis De Sanguine" oscillate between echoes of voices and evocative samples. The deep sounscape of "Sacrum Noctis" with really bass frequency is illuminated by the bright high pitched drone and "Chalice of Eternity" closes this release with a quiet and religious environment generated with evocative sound lines.
While it could be a little boring for listeners of other genres, as it's based on a couple of great ideas scattered in a release lasting over an hour, it would be a sure pick for those who cares for evocative and crafted soundscapes. A nice release.

Jason Van Wyk: Attachment [remastered]

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 27 2017
Artist: Jason Van Wyk (@)
Title: Attachment [remastered]
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
Ian Hawgood's label Home Normal and his sister label Eileen are already known to act like smart smugglers of high-quality ambient music and soundscapes. Such a reputation got confirmed by very recent outputs, but also by some past entries, that Ian decided to remaster such as this very good album by South African prodigy Jason van Wyk, who started making music (trance music to be correct...quite far from the compositions he spread in recent years) since he was 14. He's 27 now, but the music he made features a level that many composers only reach the adult age. The intersection between gentle breezes of electronics (some sonic strategies actually resemble the ones that featured the so-called chilled side of Trance music of the late 90ies/first 00ies... stuff by Chicane, Ocean Lab some stuff by Francois K and so on), a balanced sound design and lovely piano melodies filled this "Attachment" - a real gemstone of that branch, combining ambient and post-classical music - when he was first pushed out, but according to Ian's words (Ian mastered and remastered this album), the first clean master should be better appreciated by some glitches, so that he kept some dust of the sound, including the ones rendered by the use of close-mic to record an instrument. In Ian's words "after inviting Jason to release his follow-up on Home Normal, we also agreed that a complete remaster using tapes would be a lovely way of approaching ‘Attachment’ again. Alongside his follow-up ‘Opacity’, with its searing vision, clarity and electronics twists; we are so happy to present another side to Jason’s wonderful work with this remaster.". All those listeners, who already appreciated the "clean" master of "Attachment", as well as listeners, who missed it, will appreciate the way by which the emotional intensity and the flowing piano elements, gliding over daydreaming melodious pads, got enhanced by this "dirty" remastering.

Forest Management: The Elevated Quiet

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 27 2017
Artist: Forest Management (@)
Title: The Elevated Quiet
Format: Tape
Label: Constellation Tatsu (@)
Rated: *****
Another lovely roll of magnetic tape in the catalog of Constellation Tatsu, belonging to the spring/summer bunch, got signed by American producer John Daniel aka Forest Management. As you can easily guess by looking the detail of a white and supposedly warming jumper standing over a snowy field (I guess it's snow at least), there's something in this release that is somehow out of seasonal (considering it came out in April) and that vague sense of detachment, sometimes pushed into some people's mind by wintertime low temperatures, maybe influenced the forging of the sound, which occurred close to the end of last year. According to John's words and memories, he composed "The Elevated Quiet" in the very last days of 2016 and finished before joining his friends to celebrate New Year's Eve. These are some eloquent words attached by him to introduce the emotional framework of this stream of "ambientness": "Residing in a high place of luxury, above everyone else. You look down at thousands of people every night, but they become increasingly distant. A hustle and bustle that’s always present, but up here it’s quiet - your environment is your own. There are countless opportunities to do countless things every year, but as the New Year approaches you reflect on who you’ve been, rather than what you’ve done. Midnight arrives, but it mostly feels the same. You finish the bottle, and come to a resolve in your mind to finally pursue what’s in your heart.". As he currently resides in Hemet, California, I guess he decided to spend this moment of the year in the cozy atmosphere of some detached cottage on the mountains behind that area or close to Los Angeles. By the way, the sound of the entire album is really ethereal and evokes the above-mentioned feeling - something in between that kind of escapism, which gets rising claimed as a human right in many over-crowded urban jungle, and strong need of brooding on a self, that goes out of personal focus, blurred by more or less wanted active social life. Best tracks according to my ear response: "Until Midnight" (...where John managed to render a sense of constant ascension by playing on the volume pitch of some frequencies), "The Girl of My Dream" (you'll think John dreamt of engaging with a woman from outer space, maybe!) and "I'm Just Going to Lay Down" (I hope it's not what he thought some minutes after joining his friends for New Year's Eve celebration!).

Olivier Alary: Pieces for Sine Waves Oscillators

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 27 2017
Artist: Olivier Alary (@)
Title: Pieces for Sine Waves Oscillators
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: LINE (@)
Rated: *****
On the occasion of Olivier's output "Fiction/Non-Fiction" on Fat Cat's sister label 130701, the Toulouse-born producer told us something about his forthcoming projects (including an attempt of intersecting Lachenmann-like "concrete instrumental music" and post-tonal language developed by many American minimalist composer), but he didn't tell anything about this release. That's the reason why I can say it's a sort of unexpected sonic gift. There's nothing but sine waves (obviously squeezed by oscillators) as you can easily guess by the title, but the imprint and the sensitivity by Olivier Alary is the really important recipe. You can imagine he took a break, lighted a cigarette up, but just to observe the wreaths of smoke to turn them into sound instead of inhaling them. The way by which he blows the smoky impalpable sine waves out of his oscillators sounds remarkably influenced by the somehow cinematic imprint of Olivier's sound. The six entrancing pieces placidly enclose listeners into amniotic whispers, that get detached by underlying pure tones to dissolve into the sonic sphere, and fine tonal mists, that could be thought as a minimalist derivation of organ-driven sacred music. Besides a good pair of headphones or a good set of amplifiers, I recommend to enjoy it in the dim lights just before nightfall.

Sugai Ken: UkabazUmorezU

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 22 2017
Artist: Sugai Ken
Title: UkabazUmorezU
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: RVNG Intl.
“UkabazUmorezU” is a sonic representation of night-time in Japan, one that may seem a touch culturally stereotypical in parts as it makes steady use of bell percussion, taiko-ish drums and Eastern metallic and melodic tones. But it’s still primarily an ambient electronica album, full of digital drones, warm chords and processed found sounds all wrapped up in quite a dubby production style.

It’s exemplified by tracks like “Wahiki”, “Mei” and the flute-driven “Doujiri” which generate a warm and unique environment that beautifully melds organic elements in a mellow digital space. Occasionally it goes darker, with “Sawariyangi” an example of a more sinister twist on the same formula.

“Ganoubyoshi” implements a bizarre robotic vocal processing reminiscent of old-fashioned analogue electronic experimenting, while final track “Suzunarikibushi” also has strong flavours of 1960’s electronic avant garde about it. It’s sharper-edged and short-lived tracks like this and the alarm-esque “Kugutsu Biwa” that prevent this release from being a straightforward chill-out experience. Conversely though, “Shinobine” is so sparse that I had to check that the media was still playing, an unusual bed of transmogrified found sound situated surprisingly early in the album.

A unique release, full of character and enthusiasm, that gives a fresh take on experimental soundscaping.

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