Music Reviews



NORDVARGR/DRAKH : INFINITAS IN AETERNUM

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 08 2005
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Artist: NORDVARGR/DRAKH
Title: INFINITAS IN AETERNUM
Format: CD
Label: CYCLIC LAW (@)
Rated: *****
As with many Dark Ambient projects, simple verbal technical descriptions fail to convey the impact of the artistic work as a whole, or even in part most of the time. I find Dark Ambient music to be more of a feeling place’ than most other genres of music. Perhaps that is why it took me nine or ten listenings of this CD to experience the full impact of what the artists were trying to achieve. Even then, the vision of the artists vs. the perception of the listener may only be casually coincidental.NORDVARGR/DRAKH (Henrik "Nordvargr" Björkk & Drakhon) is a duo from Sweden (where else would you expect?) who established a reputation in MZ.412, if that is any frame of reference for you. This is cold, bleak isolationist territory on "Infinitas In Aeternum" to be sure, but it wasn’t until I experienced the CD under certain conditions that I realized the full impact of its aesthetic intent. Lately, there has been an abundance of snowfall in this Upstate New York terrain, and I decided to get the jump on the weather by setting out to shovel the white stuff at 1 AM one stormy night rather than join the neighbors in the morning pre-commute "shoveling party". I selected this CD to listen to via wireless headphones and experienced it without distraction or interruption for its entirety. From the start, I heard a distorted alien voice repeating an unintelligible phrase a few times over a public address system, then disappeared, only to return a little later even more garbled. Meanwhile, the bleak background ambience ebbed and swelled borne on an ill wind. Stray, distant whistling oscillations streaked the atmosphere. I felt like a prisoner on some cold planet galaxies away, without hope of release or reprieve. Very chilling indeed. The ambience becomes more "industrial" without being mechanical as I continue laboring at my task- shovel-full after shovel-full of cold wet snow. The atmosphere is static- only punctuated by intermittent stabs of electronic energy, still at some distance. It has gotten even colder, yet I’m sweating through exertion. I want this to end- I want to finish clearing the damn snow and get back into my nice warm house, yet there is no reprieve for me as the snow continues to fall. The longest track on the CD, "Black Oven Emitting" has a hint of a dirge while a feedback tone wails like a siren in the distance. No, there is no hope. This winter may never end. I am becoming tired. Now I hear a vocal sonority like a Buddhist chant from somewhere- I must be hallucinating. The wailing continues. I grow even more despondent. Everything sounds fuzzy, and soon slow, sludgy distorted guitar chords arise (think: Morthound’s "The Goddess Who Could Make the Ugly World Beautiful" ) I am beginning to feel ill, yet somehow sanctified. What if I die out here and they find my corpse buried under a mound of snow in the chilly light of morning? What if they don’t find me until the snow thaws in spring? The sludge guitar is eventually absorbed in a rising miasmic tide of sonorous voices and tones, which is shortly punctured by sporadic electronic drilling. Some type of alien probing. I am grateful when it ceases.Now this inhospitable landscape seems vast and uncompromising. The gloom is impossible to describe. The foliage stares at me with icicle eyes- silent, unmoving, yet somehow sentient. I think I hear a whispered human voice, am I alone and hallucinating again? The atmosphere grows even heavier and darker, yet there is a burning light on the horizon as this "Scotopic Vision" envelops me. Snow-blind and impassive, I carry on my mindless task no longer anticipating its conclusion or outcome. A high piercing tone invades my audial senses followed by puttering and muttering. I no longer dread the alien influence. I am numb. I am assimilating to the otherworldliness of this environment. There is no turning backI find myself standing on the precipice of an abyss. The void of space is no longer silent. The tinkerings of inhuman beings continue. Adjustments are made. I have been retrofitted with the equipment necessary for survival. I am imbued with knowledge that goes deeper than the intellect will allow verbal expression. The outlanders depart, leaving me on this brutal planet to continue my work. Again I am alone, but now with a gnosis of inexpressible profundity. There could be no other way.This release, in a black & white cardboard slipcase with a few pages negative image photography taken out of doors (yes, it does look like alien landscapes) is limited to only 1000. If Dark Ambient music interests you at all, you DEFINITELY want to pick this one up.

KLAUS WELTMAN: Cultus Island

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 08 2005
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Artist: KLAUS WELTMAN (@)
Title: Cultus Island
Format: CD
Label: Strange Life (@)
Distributor: Phear
Rated: *****
I know that Danny Wolfers (the same guy behind Gladio, Smackos, Legowelt, Polarius, Raheem Hershel and Squadra Blanco) is younger than me but for sure someway we've got the same movies background, because Klaus Weltman's CULTUS ISLAND is a sort of soundtrack of an Hammer movie. Try to imagine to arrive in Scotland or somewhere in the north of Europe. There's fog everywhere. Imagine a house on a hill facing the impetuous north sea. This is the starting point of the plot developed by Danny whose music underline the different moments of the story. As well as with Smackos' "The age of Candy Candy", the titles explain the story. Here are the titles:1 I Arrive At The Strange Island2 A Desolated Fishing Village3 Albo The Pigeon Brings A Letter4 Alert The Authorities5 I Can Look Into Your House6 UFO Landing At The Strawberry Field7 Sven Ekblads Korvkiosk8 The Japanese Ornithologist9 Distant Ships10 The Captain Drinks Courage11 The Cultus Makes A Decision12 Just A Little Bit Of Happiness13 Search Yourself14 Rite Of The Swedish Girls15 Living In A Sad World16 MainlandMusically, because of the synthesizers used (Korg mono and Poly), the tracks remember me some Tangerine Dream tracks where tons of pads duet with square waves and analogue bleeps while the filters cut the frequencies forming an hypnotic sound. Most of the tracks seems to be born from improvisations so sometimes there isn't a defined structure but this is the peculiarity of the project and for sure it isn't a weak point. If you are into b-movies and into electronic music, Klaus Weltman's CULTUS ISLAND could be something you might enjoy...

White Trash Firecrackers: Awkward Music for Awkward Situations

 Posted by Mark Lane   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 06 2005
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Artist: White Trash Firecrackers (@)
Title: Awkward Music for Awkward Situations
Format: CD
Label: Heads Up Productions
Rated: *****
The genre of experimental sound art has long been a tradition reaching back to the early 1980’s collective known as the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS). Artists such as Neef or Bruce Licher’s Project 197 were experimenting with this format in its infancy. Inspired by free form improvisation work akin to those artists the White Trash Firecrackers set for an interesting debut. Unlike their predecessors they use an array of electronics, tape manipulations, and sampling to create compositions that range from clever noodling to the beautiful accidents of juxtaposition.
There are no politics here, no clever melodies you can hum and certainly no pretension. If anything the White Trash Firecrackers are bit on the raw side. Their sound art is confrontational and brave. It is industrial in nature but not industrial music. The soundscapes are dissonant at times and humorous at others, and certainly not for the squeamish.



OPION SOMNIUM: As they fly into darkness...

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 04 2005
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Artist: OPION SOMNIUM
Title: As they fly into darkness...
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records
Rated: *****
A one man project from New Mexico, with a few vinyls and cdrs under his belt, Opion Somnium is the author of an impressive single (violet-speckled vinyl, hand-embossed and stenciled covers), my favourite one in the new batch from Drone. Constantly dealing with bird imagery (hence the titles) and the themes of eternity and death, Opion Somnium uses "voice, cello, violin, bowed guitar, saw, organ" to create two solemn and painfully beautiful pieces. Not much of the original instruments is recognizable, as if dissolving in the spacious reverb of some sacred place. Truly trascendental and spiritual music.

AS ALL DIE: East-West Noise Pact

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 04 2005
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Artist: AS ALL DIE
Title: East-West Noise Pact
Format: CD
Label: Foreshadow Productions
Rated: *****
A recent release by this US one-man project of Clint's (former boss of Dragonflight/Beauty & Pain, now of Absolute Zero Media), "East-West Noise Pact" is a 3-track cdr (35'), apparently dealing with the German-Russian conflict. "Death in the snow" is an elegiac ambient piece, simple but quite effective. Problems begin, in my opinion, with "The Russian front", a lengthy piece of similar droning ambience, but with half-spoken/half-recited vocals which totally ruin it for me. They're hardly intelligible nor they manage to convey any sense of drama - to put it bluntly, they are annoying, and the piece seems to drag on forever. "German Assault" closes the work with a neo-folk tune: strummed guitar, keyboards and half-spoken vocals again - not earth-shaking but ok. So let's say there are two decent tracks and a hardly bearable one, which unfortunately covers more than half of the cd... Sorry, not for me.


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