Music Reviews



Artist: Imperfect
Title: A Book of Many Pages Chapter One
Format: CD
Imperfect is definitely industrial but what the term industrial usually conjures is not what this is. Downtempo, very mechanical in personality beats plug forward while subdued bassy melodies lethargically pursue their ends. This is one of those industrial acts that truly touches on the idea of industrial in some primitive way. Machine-y beats chugged through distortion march ahead like a slow, deliberate but determined army. Such slow-groove electronically generated music may not be immediately hooking but once you've sunk into it you will find that it moves along to the beat of its own drummer, so to speak, and that it has all the capability to carry the discerning listener along with it. This is contemplative, if dark, industrial, not aggro-industrial. Open-minded listeners are encouraged to experience this instrumental escapade.

TEN HORNED BEAST: Ten Stars - Ten Horns

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 02 2004
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Artist: TEN HORNED BEAST (@)
Title: Ten Stars - Ten Horns
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Whoah. This is one of the most diverse and intriguing self-released cdrs that I've come across in a long while. THB is the solo project of Christopher Walton, who used to be part of well-known ambient occultists Endvra (whose "The Watcher", on Old Europa Cafè, is still one of my faves in the dark drones field). Chris also plays dark ambient/neoclassical music as Servants of the Secret Flame, but THB has been his main activity for a while. What can I say? Experience and talent shows. THB is pitch black drone-doom. Everything is black just right from the impressive package: the cover design has been printed on transparent film, so you can barely see it when housed in the DVD case; the cdr is black, as is the cardboard insert with black wax and black lace - talk of indicative packaging. And the music is great, and fairly different from what I thought. I was expecting some doom minimalism à la Earth or Sunn))00, but nope, THB seems to walk his own path. There are little to no '70's influences here, instead I was reminded a lot of great UK post-metal acts like Godflesh and Scorn: though THB's pieces are notably different, some characteristics (heavy drum programming, cold and very dilated guitars, etc.) are definitely there. But again, THB is really quite individual. Imagine a bass line or guitar riff obtusely repeated over and over again; drumming is rare, but provides for an obsessive militaristic feel; and then, the best part, the dark drones spiralling and coiling all over. Actually, I think that the more ambient tracks, like "Ten Stars Ten Horns", are just perfect. Pure solipsistic despair. Instead, the more "doom-oriented" ones, while good, could be bettered - at times, the riffs still sound a bit detached from the whole. But the massive, 20-minute "Shrines I-III" does reach the perfect combination. As Walton is working on a lot of new material (including tracks, allegedly, "up to 50 minutes in length"...), I expect some stellar release from the Beast in the near future.

LEVIATHAN/GRIMBERGEN: ...of revisionism and relinquishment

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 02 2004
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Artist: LEVIATHAN/GRIMBERGEN
Title: ...of revisionism and relinquishment
Format: CD
Label: Monkeyhouse Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
A split effort of these two young UK ambient projects, both swapping/mixing each other's sounds in some compositions as well. Leviathan, who released other 2 cdrs on Monkeyhouse (that have also been recently collected) is definitely interesting, as it's not really typical dark ambient - instead, it is fairly melodic, with a melancholic and elegiac tone. Good point: the melodies are pleasant, and well managed. Bad point: the effects used are quite terrible, basically a simple, fixed distortion which never changes throughout. So it's like having good music filtered through a distortion pedal. "The Unattainable Object", which should be a remix of Grimbergen's material, is much darker and heavier, with slowly crawling bass drones - a successfull track, with both tension and a trance-inducing effect. Grimbergen's sound heavily relies on swirling synth sounds, with some obsessive mechanical percussions ("Entering the Painfields") and a taste for epic melodies. It sounds very... Nordic, so to speak. His mix is clearer than Leviathan's, but I personally don't like synths when they're so recognizable and standard-sounding. But "Is this the place?" has a more subdued minimal throbbing which does build an atmosphere. All in all, my impression is that both project have promising qualities (all tracks are fairly well constructed, and not boring) but still have to work hard for better results, both stylistically and technically.

Himuro: Clear Without Items

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 23 2004
Artist: Himuro
Title: Clear Without Items
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Couchblip
A little blippy, a little sci-fi-esque, highly textured yet minimal, experimental yet fairly accessible, the music of Himuro on "Clear Without Items" is surprisingly infectious for electronica that skirts the fringes of the scene (though it is fully musical and not experimental in the "non-traditional" music sense). Blippy: The mid-/down-tempo beats feel like electronic guitar strings strung loose and thunked at by a competent player. I mean that in a good way. Highly textured: There's also a bit of crisp distortion to the proceedings that add to those blippy beats and make for nice textures and layers in what is actually somewhat minimalist. Experimental/accessible: The music is unusual and far from mainstream but is pretty infectious and catchy. Oh, yeah, and at times it's quirky enough to feel a little science fictiony. These are all good things. The music is quirky and offbeat and, most important, quite listenable. Interesting ...

AAL: Disc 1 + Inherited and partially transmitted

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 23 2004
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Artist: AAL (@)
Title: Disc 1 + Inherited and partially transmitted
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: AFE Records (@)
Rated: *****
A couple of years ago, Davide Vallecchi self-released these two cdrs, both recorded in 2001, and already reviewed in this mag (search the archive). This is a welcomed reprint by the ever diligent AFE Records, in a limited run of 150 copies, coming in a really beautiful and fitting layout - sort of abstract figures looking like bindrunes or crop circles. Listening again to AAL's more ambient and droning production, I sense that it is much darker than I recalled. While I'd still use the references to Klaus Schultze or Coil in their cosmic incarnations, tracks like "Unsealed" (on "Inherited...") have a menacing feel, with their obsessive and self-devouring structures which reminded me of Koener or Lull. The sound quality fits very well with these atmospheres - I wouldn't call it "lo-fi" (it's probably not), but rather "dusty". It's like an old sepia-print. The other remark I'd add is that there's an evident growth between one release and the other, though recorded in a short span - "Inherited..." is more mature, with a better - and at the same time more extreme - use of sounds and repetitions, notably in the majestic, relentless emotional crumbling of "All that fall".


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