Music Reviews



HUM: Ether Rider

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 25 2005
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Artist: HUM
Title: Ether Rider
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records
Rated: *****
Surprisingly coming on "normal" black vinyl, with a b/w photo on the cover, this is a most surprising ep from Russian soundmaker Hum, after a few DIY tapes and cdrs, witnessing Drone Records' increasing interest in the blooming Eastern experimental scene. Declared sound sources are "tapes, tapeloops and analogue synth", and the style is... can I say "power-minimalism"? The title track is a semi-static, but powerful hum (sorry, couldn't avoid that), while "Crucible", on side b, is more rhythmical, with an obsessive use of looped sounds - both seem to merge the work of historical minimalists like La Monte Young or Charlemagne Palestine with the noisy heaviness of post-industrial, and create a strong, extremely promising visiting card.

PSYCHIC SPACE INVASION: And the cows go mu

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 25 2005
Artist: PSYCHIC SPACE INVASION
Title: And the cows go mu
Format: CD
Label: Elvis Coffee Records
Rated: *****
Fourth cd for Welsh artist Ian Holloway, who I think has progressed a lot since his latest "Book of dreams". Not that anything has dramatically changed in PSI's palette, which is still mostly based on sideral electronics, with a considerable dose of musique concrete elements and a tribal-ish rhythmic backbone here and there; but this time Holloway just offers stronger, more mature and engaging material. Something could probably be mixed or arranged better, but the four lengthy tracks flow very well and the attention never flickers. Staying true to his name (and despite the silly title), PSI's music is spacey and trippy but in an entropic, and eventually paranoid way: no romantic stargazing is evoked here. Dark cosmic music which I'd recommend to fans of Elph/Coil or Monos' "Nightfall sunshine". Minimal but nice-looking packaging too, made of Chinese paper to be burned at funeral ceremonies (sic!).

POLA: MÍme

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 21 2005
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Artist: POLA
Title: MÍme
Format: CD
Label: Plop
Rated: *****
Debut cd from a young Japanese composer who is admittedly strongly influenced by SND and Oval. Well, there is surely an Oval-esque feel in these 13 tracks, but at the same time Pola is much smoother and ultimately less interesting. His kind of electronica, halfway between glitch and IDM, is just too nice and clean to grab my attention - plus, the use of loops often lacks dynamism, and in general I craved for more structured and daring sounds. As it is, "Même" is an alright minor album of digital beats, but it suffers from the "wallpaper electronica" effect more than it should.

AUTO AGGRESSION: Geršuschinformatik

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 19 2005
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Artist: AUTO AGGRESSION
Title: Geršuschinformatik
Format: CD
Label: Dependent (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
After having heard a few compilation appearances of this German Electro/Industrial formation I expected to get a full-length debut album filled with Dark Electro music combined with some Powernoise elements plus a huge amount of German voice samples. Well, it is all here – but there is more – much more! AUTO AGGRESSION is the solo effort by Lukas Schneider, a student at the Institute for Computer Music and Electronic Media in Essen/Germany (WOW, to study there must be an unfilled dream for a lot artists...) and this "Geräuschinformatik" can be described as a kind of exam. True, this album differs a lot in kind and idea from comparable releases and expectations. The mentioned dancefloor oriented stuff a lot of you have already heard on three parts of the well-recognized "Septic" compilation series is not the only kind how Lukas is able to squeeze out of his machinery. I have noticed a lot of strange ideas in sounds, arrangements and kind of composing which break with all conventions of this music genre. Take some pieces like "Aufwärtsrosten", the strange rhythmic works on "Kubus" or his masterpiece "City of I.C.E.", which features some nice female vocals, and you have the strongest pieces here which try to break out from the death valley in which this music genre drowns. I am sure that Lukas did create and program every single sound here on his very own – nothing sounds here like heard before. Also the whole kind of this release breaks with expectations, here are no "Pain-Sick-Worlds end" - rambles, and here are no cheap effects on stolen drum loops – everything sounds clear and very well thought out. "Intellectual Industrial" is a catchword in the info sheet – well, this release is not far away from this. What you have to investigate to enter this music is a fair amount of a some more rotations than usually. You will be rewarded with a well produced Electro/Industrial album which is able to show hints and ways to avoid the lack of new ideas. It is also a brave release for the rising German label Dependent and it will be very interesting to see, how the audience will react on this. Give it a try – you won’t regret it!

VV.AA.: INTRICATE MAXIMALS

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 17 2005
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: INTRICATE MAXIMALS
Format: CD
Label: Audiobulb Records (@)
Distributor: Cargo Records (UK), Nexus (Europe), Coucjhblip (Australia), ITunes (Global), Audiobulb Shop (Global)
Rated: *****
Audiobulb Records is a UK label with a global artist roster specializing in glitch and groove, IDM, environmental ambience and microsound genres. They were kind enough to provide me with their critically acclaimed Switches’ compilation from 2003 and their newest compilation, Intricate Maximals’ which I will review here. As the ability and tools to create music becomes more readily to the average computer user, one has to look further afield to find more interesting artists and projects that transcend the pedestrian. (There are only so many different ways you can "reinvent’ Kraftwerk.) It is small labels like Audiobulb that should be commended for releasing new and different forms of music that think outside the electronic box’. While the overall impression I got from the Switches’ compilation was pleasant, I found Intricate Maximals’ more engaging, sometimes frustrating, but never boring. Some artist’s compositions just didn’t thrill me, while other had me wishing there was more. So let me give you my track-by-track impression:1. AUSTICI :"Nurture Nature" - buzzings& birds twittering over slowly falling skylight ambience, a very nice brief piece2. PRHIZZM:"New Teeth" – almost seems to continue where the first one left off, but here scattered & chaotic beats are introduced amongst the glitchy sound bits. The dominant tone at first is smooth, hollow, sustained synth sound that plays a slow repeating melody (maybe a little too predominant in the mix) but half-way through is replaced by a flange-crazy bass intro, then it all falls into place with a string section wash, subdued repeating staccato bass line in background and a wild glitch-rhythm section, By the time it really gets cooking... it over. 3. CALIKA: "Latticel Work" – The most cohesive piece so far, incidental acoustic guitar notes play against a repeating synth progression while a glitch-buzz & scratch rhythm section moves it along. Other sounds are introduced into the mix, all of them novel enough to sustain interest in this simple little piece. There are plenty of counter-rhythmic elements to enjoy that might be overlooked on a first listen.4. DIAGRAM OF SUBURBAN CHAOS: "So Gone" (Ventrimix) - "So Gone" started out with a lot of promise, nice ambient buildup with an engaging rhythmic aspect, and then a brief sampled voice byte is interjected as a rhythmic element that becomes dominant, and ruins the whole thing in my estimation. (I don’t care for that "Di –Di"__ "Di-DiDi- Di Di" stuttering kind of thing)5. TAAVI TULEV: "Tuhikl’I" – I really like this piece, reminds me of Future Sound Of London & Boards Of Canada. Engaging atmosphere over elaborate percussive patterns.6. CEDAR A.V.: "Song For A Republic" – Begins with a slow acoustic guitar melody pattern with an undercurrent of rapidly fingerpicked guitar notes with increases in rhythmic intensity adding various elements to the mix. A provocative piece.7. MARION: "Un Peopled" – A blipping and bleeping rhythm over echoey freestyle synth notes. The juxtaposition of the careening rhythm with the placidity of the electric piano-like free synth melody makes this structurally simplistic track highly appealing.8. CLAUDIA: "Pausing" (As If Unsure/Edit) – At 1:16, the briefest track on this compilation. Stray melodic sounds and hints of themes begin, get interrupted and begin anew. An aptly named transitional track.9. UNSCAN: "Ter Iara" – Begins with a burbling synth wash that works it’s way into a glitchy rhythm pattern overlaid with a sparse plucked synth melody. Somehow it’s just intriguing enough to make you want more.10. DISASTRATO: "Requiem Pour Une Feuille Morte" – The title means requiem for a dead sheet’ and in a small way, it heads toward Mynox Layh territory here, though perhaps less grandiose with a more comical bent. Starting with a low vocal wail, slightly off-kilter sampled stabs and jiggy rhythm, it mutates a number of times giving the overall impression of a broken, out of control cuckoo clock with sampled cartoonish vocal & noise sound bytes that skitter and careen humorously through most of the mix. Has a slightly disappointing finish that contrasts with the hyperactivity as short sheets of white noise pass like the turning of pages.11. EFFACER: "PONL MISC MOL MSC NYK OOCL UASC VROON YANG MING" - At 6:35, this is the longest track on the compilation and perhaps the most ambient selection with the sparsest percussion. The minimalist approach used here gives the impression of extra dimensional spaciousness, and an environment stretched to capacity. Towards the end, an early Kraftwekian synth rhythm emerges and guides the piece towards its inevitable conclusion.12. OCHRE: "Shiverbox" – A jumble of disparate glitchy sound bytes bounce chaotically off a repetitive sequenced synth melody that struggles valiantly against the multitude of elements hurled against it and sort of emerges victoriously. As a modern parallel, within the audial context of our daily lives, we are constantly bombarded by sounds from electronic devices and external sources, without even conscious realization of the intrusion. Yet somehow, we manage to maintain our own sense of rhythm and emotional patterns of existence.13. ROOM: "Percule Extract" – Another brief track, this one beginning by spewing small gouts of steam over a surreal and somewhat ethereal ambience. An enjoyable diversion.14. ANOTHER ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN: "Qualm" – So far, the most cohesive and accomplished track on the compilation. A simple rhythm pattern forms the basis that moves the piece along through LFO and ring- modulated FM tones and synth ambiences. Sometimes there’s a bass pattern, sometimes not. Sometimes a lot going on, sometimes very minimal. Everything halts midway, then continues. I get the feeling this one isn’t just "Another Electronic Musician".15. BUILD: "You Can Get There From Here If You Don’t Mind The T Left Over" – A slow lullaby-like dreamy atmosphere with what sounds like a carelessly played harmonica in the background. A frenzied rhythmic sequence imitating that harmonica sound, like some electronic toy for children takes over and more gitchy, buzzy sequenced elements emerge in contrast to the placid ambience. It disappears for awhile, but the ambience and harmonica remain. A more organized glitch rhythm sequence emerges, but this too ends before the conclusion of the track. I m not sure why, but the overwhelming image I got from the music here was that of a playpen.16. RODOLPHE KUFFER: "Question" – There is a lot happening here, many competing elements; blips, buzzes, bloops, plinks, notes, zizzes, whorls, zips, you name it. It’s almost like an aural trip through a primitive video game arcade. A off-kilter rhythmic background ties it all together nicely. Possibly the most inventive piece on the compilation.17. ROBIN JUDGE: "Fall" – Might be the closest thing to a dark ambient’ piece on the compilation. With a queasy ambient background, it sounds like insects may be chewing their way through your computer. I imagine this to be what the virus MyDoom might sound like. 18. OTI: "Little Tummies" (For Sinead) – A rezzy wash of synthetic strings dominates this track whose only other sonic diversions are a whispered female vocal sample and some electronic chomping sounds.All in all, a wide variety of compositional techniques and results within the framework of glitch dub n groove indietronica. . Some you will definitely want to explore further and Audiobulb is an excellent place to begin.


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