Music Reviews

VV.AA.: Subharmonic in Dub

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 18 2005
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Subharmonic in Dub
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Collision (Cause of Chapter 3) (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Rated: *****
To be released on July 19th, this double CD by dub-mastermind Bill Laswell and friends is named as if it was a tribute to his productions under the Subharmonic label umbrella (one of the two sub-divisions of the Axiom record label that he founded with John Matarazzo in the early '90es in NYC). Collision (Cause of Chapter 3) thought well when they decided they'd put out this double-CD that basically collects the best of the best of the avantgard-experimental-electronic-dub music scene (a lot of which was going through a peak of popularity in New York, between the eighties and the nineties). Partnering up with Laswell on these CDs you'll find the incredible talents of as John Zorn, Mick Harris , Jah Wobble, Sly Dunbar, Robert Musso, Anton Fier, Alex Haas, Nicky Skopelitis, Haruomi Hosono, Gabe Katx, Bernie Worrel, Bootsy Collins, Buckethead, Brain, DXT. The first CD contains more of the avant-rock/free-jazz/fusion tracks, while the second CD is dedicated to the more electronic/dub/ambient cuts. With 16 tracks spread across 150 minutes, this great pair of discs (also available in a 1000 copies limited edition 180 gr. vinyl edition with 350 gr. cardboard 4 colour paginated sleeve) is for every mood an experimental music lover can be in and will hardly disappoint anybody.

Vidna Obmana / Bass Communion: Continuum

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 15 2005
Artist: Vidna Obmana / Bass Communion
Title: Continuum
Format: CD
Label: Soleilmoon
Rated: *****
This disc consists of three tracks, each about 20 minutes each. Nice oversize packaging with three art inserts about the size of a postcard. The artwork was done by Lasse Hoile and is reminiscent of Ben Didier’s work for Ad Noiseam. Reminds me of Amplexus releases in their glory days. I have some of Vidna Obmana’s work, although I was unfamiliar with Bass Communion (he also records under the name Porcupine Tree, which I do have and that project is nowhere near as good as this disc).

On to the music. If you are expecting something more new age like Vidna Obmana's River of Appearance, you’ll be disappointed. The first track starts off a bit more dissonant, although no so much as with Obmana’s collaboration with Asmus Tietchens, employing long drones that shift subtly. However, about halfway through it shifts to a more minimalist stance, becoming more and more minimalist as the track nears the ending, to the point where I had to check the player to see if it was still playing. Track 2 starts off as quietly as the last track left off. This track takes on a darker tone, reminiscent of Lustmord, only not quite so sparse. (Doesn’t everything in the dark ambient realm get compared to Lustmord eventually?) This track also shifts about halfway through into lush drone with a bit less dissonance than the previous track. I like the complexity of this track. There is a lot happening under the surface that keeps it interesting. As expected, Track 3 also starts off quietly, building up to soft drones. This track has a slightly noisier undercurrent, but by no means is this harsh. Once again, at the halfway point it gets a bit more interesting with some bass synth kicking in to provide some melody at which point the noisy undercurrent becomes a bit more demanding. Track 3 is by far the high point of this disc. I really wish that the whole disc was like the last 10 minutes! Outstanding.

Overall, this is a decent disc, but I found myself wanting more from the music. It was almost too subtle. After 40 minutes, I found myself wanting to change discs, not because it was bad, but because it was no longer engaging. Luckily, it got better halfway through track 3. Even so, according to Soleilmoon this CD is limited to 1000 copies and already sold out and out of print. You can still get it on Itunes, but then you are missing out on the exquisite packaging.

NIMP: Development Concept for Formulation of NIMP

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2005
Artist: NIMP
Title: Development Concept for Formulation of NIMP
Format: CD
Label: Parametric Records
Rated: *****
Abstract electro rhythms and melodies that are very similar to Plateau (that's cEvin Key) and has the flavor of early OMD. The brains behind NIMP, French solo artist Guillaume Eluerd, has issued and titled this CD of his as if it were a blueprint presentation of some kind, complete with a Flash/Quicktime interactive file and cool custom metal box for the disc. The interactive sports not only some nifty, weird collage art pieces, but links to both Eluerd's own website and that of his label. Nothing too groundbreaking, yet a pleasant listen. The best on here are the final three, brooding tracks, "Creeps," "The Final Boy" and "La Balançoire Américaine" ("the American swing". Somebody please email and tell me what that's supposed to mean, would you?)

Verplanken: Autopsy of a Dream

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2005
Artist: Verplanken
Title: Autopsy of a Dream
Format: CD
Label: Marie-Line T Discovery (@)
Rated: *****
This CD from Verplanken, one-man synthmeister from France (a prior release, now that his new CD "The Missing Tracks" is out), is average in scope but contains many exciting ideas and combinations involving both musique concrète and prog rock ideals. The mostly vocal-less disc is a pleasant mixture of symphonic loops, footsteps, piano scramble and low, repeated utterances. "Paradise," the nearly ten-minute opener, broods along nicely like a lapping ocean shore, and gives one fond recollections of the introductory suite "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" from Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here album. Fifth up, "Sputnik Ghost Dance," is a nearly humorous display of synth wash at a swing tempo, superimposed with a robot voice repeating the song's title. Track number seven, "Lost Interlude," makes you think of a chorus of summer insects that won't stop trilling their hypnotic patterns. Autopsy isn't too long of a disc, running at just the right duration (about 38 minutes) to leave you wanting more. And by the way, "Autopsy of a Dream" is my favorite title of anything I have reviewed here thus far. Good going, yo.

OOPHOI & LOUISA JOHN KROL: I Hear The Water Dreaming

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jul 11 2005
Title: I Hear The Water Dreaming
Format: CD
Label: Prikosnovenie (@)
Rated: *****
Louisa John-Krol has been really active in the first half of 2005. She released her collaborative album with Daemonia Nymphe a couple of months ago and now she's back again with another collaboration with Oophoi. I HEAR THE WATER DREAMING is basically different from "Ghostfish" and if the collaboration with the Greek combo was based on electric ballads enriched by percussions and traditional instruments, this new album sounds more dilated. Thing that reflects that album's title. Each track seems to be focuse on a dreamy state where Oophoi's ambient music meet Louisa's chants. Maybe this is the reason why the project is credited to Oophoi & Louisa John-Krol and it insn't the contrary. The seven tracks (the fifth one is divided into four different movements: "Cavern of dreaming shelles", "The dream of Cydron", "The dream of Kalyh" and "The dream of narwal") are like suites that tend to stop the rhythmical part of music just to create a water like ambience. The effect created is paragonable to a paused movie on a broken video player: the image is still but it is also trembling, it seems to change colors, etc. Try to imagine you taking a nap near a cascade and suddenly you start to hear distant siren's chants. The result is quite relaxing and interesting at the same time but you've got to stop and sit down for a while to appreciate this release.

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