Music Reviews



VV.AA.: The Owls Are Not What They Seem: David Lynch Tribute Remixes

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 08 2017
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Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: The Owls Are Not What They Seem: David Lynch Tribute Remixes
Format: CD + Download
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
You might recall Zhelezobeton's 'Now It's Dark' the David Lynch Tribute album by 11 Russian ambient/industrial/electronic artists last year. 'The Owls Are Not What They Seem' is a remix of that album, and it's a double album, so maybe Zhelezobeton figured that would make it twice as good. Participants here include: Arcuation, Regular, Uhushuhu, Notum, Wunderblock, Neznamo, Sal Solaris, Mortart, Bionoid, Light Collapse,
Reutoff, Mira Drevo, Riddika, Svetlo111, Alex Schultz, Lokodepo, Majdanek Waltz, Relic Radiation, Zima23, Lunar Abyss, Kshatriy, and Anthesteria, featuring Peter Theremin, on what else but a theremin! Well, he is the great-grandson of Lev Sergeyevich Termen (aka Léon Theremin) so that obviously makes sense. The latter contributes two new tracks - "Green Is Its Color" and "Silencio" in addition to the 23 remixes for a whopping total of 25 tracks. If the first David Lynch tribute album explored the darkest, most sinister side of Lynch's oeuvre, then this one is even farther afield. I don't see it as much of a Lynch tribute as a remix album, and well, those that have followed my
reviews know how I feel about remixes in general. But that sort of applies more to dark dancefloor goth-industrial than it does to this kind of stuff. If you start with abstraction, exponential abstraction isn't going to make much of a difference. Hence, you won't find me saying for example that Arcuation absolutely massacred Skripp's
"Lynch Law," or the Relic Radiation Remix of Wunderblock's "U-Turn to Lost Highway" is a sublime take on the original. (None of that is true by the way.) In fact, I'm not going back and listening to any of those tracks on 'Now It's Dark' to compare because it's too much work and likely won't sound much like the original, so what difference would it really make?

Overall, 'The Owls Are Not What They Seem' seems to have more rhythm to it than 'Now It's Dark' incorporating a more techno-industrial atmosphere where the first one was predominantly dark/ambient/industrial ambient. That's not to say those aspects have been replaced; they've just been remixed with some rhythm in many cases. Some (purists)
who really liked 'Now It's Dark' are likely to be turned off by this, but there may be plenty of others who are really going to enjoy it. I'm kind of on the fence about it as some tracks really work well in remix mode while others others... not so much. Say for example, Alex Schultz's remix of Relic Radiation's "Arrakis Cinnamon" turns it into a hypnotic techno-tribal dark space ambient delight. The very next track that follows, Lokodepo's remix of Povarovo's "Prelost" is just a techno headache screamin' for some heavy-duty pain relievers to me. As with any compilation, and especially one this large, there are tracks you're going to really like, and ones that will leave you cold, even for Lynch fans. One thing though that I think of as a missed opportunity was for one of these remixers to try a quasi-Angelo Badalamenti take on at least one of these tracks. Badalamenti's noir jazz and somber orchestral work was a vital component of the vast majority of Lynch's filmography. Maybe it's out of their comfort zone, but I don't think it would have been unappreciated here. Be that as it may, Lynch fans are still going to eat this up as they do with nearly everything with his name attached to it.
The first one sold out, and this one, limited to 300 copies, likely will too. For the latecomers there's always the digital album, but you won't get the cool owl-oriented artwork by Barrett Biggers.

Rafael Toral: Moon Field

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 08 2017
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Artist: Rafael Toral
Title: Moon Field
Format: CD + Download
Label: Room40
“Moon Field” is three fifteen-minute pieces of thoroughly sci-fi ambient sound design centred around loose and freeform electric piano improvisations around which has been built a landscape made up of analogue oscillations, bleeps, electronic twiddles chirrups and interferences, all floating in a broad space.

On “The Stars” a theremin squeals as though impersonating a saxophone, at times inadvertently sounding like a sad Clanger. Through “The Horizon” this continues, like an emotive space probe signalling for responses that don’t arrive and struggling to comprehend the complexity of its vast surroundings. “The Field” is at times a touch more playful, with the electric piano stepping around loose chord patterns while the bleeps get a little bit cuter, arguably more silly, with a bit of extra stereo separation that adds a sense of conversation- has the space probe made a new friend? Or is it just talking to its own signals bouncing off a nearby object?

This, as some people say, goes deep- a heart-wrenching, borderline-discordant piece of sonic solitary confinement that takes you on a long and not necessarily comfortable journey. It’s one of those odd and striking releases which I’d recommend without actually saying I enjoyed it.

Uhushuhu ~ Ogni Videniy ~ Lunar Abyss: s/t

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 01 2017
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Artist: Uhushuhu ~ Ogni Videniy ~ Lunar Abyss (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
Three ambient projects from St. Petersburg, Russia on a triple-split untitled album. All of them I have reviewed individually (in one form or another) in previous efforts, but now they come together to create something very interesting and highly unique, each project adding its own touch and difference, although these four tracks share a certain commonality. Uhushuhu is up first with "Atchafalaya," an 8:11 track of electronic/acoustis wonder that makes you feel as though you're traveling through a primordial yet alien forest that is teeming with life. The sonics of extradimensional creatures surround you backed by cosmic drones. While the "creatures" are electronically realized, they do seem to take on individual identities, almost as if real. The eight minutes passes awfully quickly here, and before you know it you're on to Ogni Videniy's "Bog People" (7:39). Videniy does use real bird sounds in his swamp, or bog, along with a mildly intense drone scheme. There is also the occasional splash of aqua, and something vaguely bellish in the background. Towards the end there are hints of broken melodies. Lunar Abyss has the longest individual track (15:23) with "Utro Vechera," which begins with some shamanic utterances leading in to an electro-acoustic psychedelic odyssey. You won't need drugs for this trip because Lunar Abyss will make you feel like you've already taken them, and a liberal dose at that. It's as spacious as you can possibly imagine, yet grounded in a way. You will hear things in this piece that are absolutely mind-blowing and yes, there are creatures stirring about, and even a carnival at the end! Now, what would happen if ALL 3 of these projects were to collaborate on one piece? Well, they do that on "Mooshrooty" for over 31 minutes. Moving through varied terrain, you'll hear gravity-defying water backed by light organic organ drones; deep space rumblings, strange whispers, vast drones and sonic oddities; a wide variety of electronic creatures and effluvia; bursts of steam noise; densely layered soundscapes that go on forever, and a feeling of loss of control and being overwhelmed. It kind of ends without a prolonged fade, not a very gradual come-down. As intense as that was, "Mooshrooty" lacks the personality of the three individual pieces as the project identities tend to get lost in the sauce so to speak. Still, if you're looking for a whopper of electro-acoustic psychedelic ambient, look no further than this release. Limited to 77 CDs or 55 cassettes, hand-numbered.

Melodie Des Vergessens: Palustre Genesis

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 01 2017
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Artist: Melodie Des Vergessens
Title: Palustre Genesis
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
Melodie des Vergessens is a project of Igor 'The Ghost' Tumanniy, which began in 2012. Unfortunately, he's dead now having committed suicide in Moscow early this year. All music is based on post-processing of live sound of the accordion, sampledelics in small quantities, and some compositions have vocals. Although he has a number of other releases, this is the only one I've heard. 'Palustre Genesis' is a very strange affair, beginning with the mysterious Druid-like figure on the cover, which could very well be Igor. In five tracks of 41 minutes length, you're certainly not going to hear anything that sounds like "accordion music". According to the Zhelezobeton one-sheet - "Igor recorded the material for this work in the summer of 2015, alone with nature, in thickets, forests and swamps, while later working on it in his mobile studio, This resulted in six disassociative dark ambient compositions in which abstract textures morph into harmonic consonances, get overgrown by viscous layers of electronic processings and turn into rhythmic patterns created from looped acoustic noises. Often one can hear the characteristic timbre of the instrument, but sometimes it transforms into something chemically otherworldly as if coming from another dimension. Here one can feel the subtle personal movements when one is left alone with himself, surrounded by dark woods and looking in the abysmal mirror of infinity."

I couldn't have described that better myself, hence the quote. This is far removed from typical dark ambient, perhaps DA filtered through experimental electro-acoustical manipulations, and no two tracks sound the same, or remotely similar. The only track that seemed to have anything remotely sounding like an accordion was #5 -"Trepidation". Still, it is fairly atypical. There is a sense of unease woven throughout this album which makes it all the more disturbing. Even when there is not a lot happening the atmosphere seems dense and encompassing. There is also a vague sense of ritualism. It is unknowable now what Igor was striving to realize, so it is left to the imagination of the listener. For me, this could be the aural equivalent of a DMT trip, and not necessarily a pleasant one. But all experiences have their benefits and drawbacks, and perhaps with repeated listenings more can be gleaned "from the other side" on this recording. Strictly limited to 77 hand-numbered copies.

Omrr: Devils for my Darling

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 01 2017
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Artist: Omrr (@)
Title: Devils for my Darling
Format: CD
Label: Dronarivm (@)
Rated: *****
This release is presented as an imaginary love story in the liner noted of the CD by this Egyptian sound artist which present a release based on what is called as glitch-pop i.e., glitch music that, instead of revolving around noise, it's based on small sound events to be closer to a lullaby than unpredictable sequences of samples.
The first track, "Quicksands", opens this release with gentle lines of synth revolving without a center which are juxtaposed to sample and a final line of guitar just when the track seems to became static. The layers of "Ink We Spill" generate a complex sound field with an overall sensation of levity obtain with a careful choice of nuances. The quite crescendo of "Lunatics" is touching in his simplicity while "Illicit" generates tension with his use of drones and loops. The piano of "Aquiver" put this release in the perilous fields of modern classical remaining reasonably safe and "Your Heartless Sky" uses samples of field recordings to creates something similar to the effect of b&w in a color movie i.e., generates a sense of nostalgia. "Rotten Poetry" is a short experiment with more abrasive sounds and "Eloquent" closes this release with an evocative soundscape with use a breathing as rhythmic infrastructure and the carillon-like melody to close this release in a dreamy atmosphere.
This is a really strange release because it uses a really canonical form so it should be just another release for fans but has that kind of charm, and a couple of really well written tracks, that the first to do when the CD stops is to play again the press bottom. A nice release for everyone.


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