Music Reviews



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.

SMACKOS: The Age Of Candy Candy

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 02 2005
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Artist: SMACKOS (@)
Title: The Age Of Candy Candy
Format: CD
Label: Strange Life Records (@)
Distributor: Phear
Rated: *****
Even if you aren't an anime lover (the anime are the Japanese cartoons), probably you already heard of Candy Candy. The character has been created in the seventies by Kyoko Mizuki and Yumiko Igarashi. This is the plot: " Candy is a little orphan girl that grow up in the Great Lakes region of the United States at the beginning of the Twentieth century. The story tell us her life, her love for a rich boy called Anthony and then for an actor called Terence. Her involment in First World War, her joys and her sadnesses". Everything about that story was really sad and dramatic, so Danny Wolfers (the guy also active as Gladio, Klaus Weltman, Legowelt, Polarius, Raheem Hershel and Squadra Blanco) took the inspiration from that story to write a sort of dark electro commentary to it. The effect is really particular, because you could imagine that the mellowness of the anime has got nothing to do with electronic music and such. The fifteen tracks of THE AGE OF CANDY CANDY in any case, is a good release of weird electronic music. The sound is based on the wild analog generators of the Roland, Korg, Arp Odissey and Moog synthesizers. Most of the tracks haven't got a rhythmical line or a specific melody to follow but each of them succeed into creating the right ambience for the Candy Candy mishaps. The titles follow an ideal path that show the different moment of her life and of her misfortunes. The CD opens with "The age of Candy Candy" and follows with "The Countess visit the town", "Romantic smack", "Candy sells her body", "Forbidden world", "Journey through swamp", "Searching", "Codex calixtinus", "A new romance", "The hunting accident", "A defeatistic love", "The self sacrifice of Irena Karlstein", "Loneliest girl in the world", "Escape from captivity" just to arrive to the final "Look beyond the stars Candy". I'm sure that Danny put a lot of humor into this project but I assure you that he's damn serious when he plays his stuff so don't take this project as a joke. Try it!

The Victim's Shudder: In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 21 2005
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Artist: The Victim's Shudder (@)
Title: In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying
Format: CD
Label: NOTHingness Records (@)
Rated: *****
I can’t say enough good things about this project! It took me a few listens to really appreciate the full impact of the album; but the payoff is pure dark delight! Lest my overt enthusiasm be misconstrued for manic-depressive syndrome, let me first say that I am a total sucker for well-done dark ambient music. And this is as nearly well done as it gets. The person behind The Victim’s Shudder goes only by the name of DM Winn, whereabouts unknown. The label, NOTHingness Records is out of Belgium. That being said, let’s get down to the music. "In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying" opens with a piece titled "A Sleeping Box" where droplets of water play against a clicking sound with baby-babble and the faint tinkling of an abstract music box melody that becomes more psychotic toward the end of this short, introductory episode. "Agnellus" continues the cycle with restrained high-pitched squealing strings and bits of a singsong child’s nursery rhyme. A thumb piano in the background plays a counter-melodic sequence and then deep cellos enter and somberly state the brief theme while a storm cloud of malevolence builds in the atmosphere. A female voice, which has been humming in the wings emerges wordlessly, comes to the fore and follows the sad and foreboding cello melody. All the while high strings still squeal in apprehension. A deep male voice has a muffled verbal exchange with the female voice while the music builds with menacing intent. The female voice rises, singing sustained "ahs" while strings provide backing accompaniment ending on a high, dissonant psychotic chord. The sequence repeats. Merely describing the mechanics of this doesn’t even begin to do it justice. It is so well executed that it’s mind-boggling. You have to hear it to get the full effect.The third track, "The First Sleep", again features the female voice (Diana W, who does a very nice job in a Black Tape For A Blue Girl sort of way) while harp, and strings play seemingly innocent counter melodies. A brief respite from the psychosis. On track 4, "The Fall And Embrace" a piano plays somber chords while in the background another sinister storm brews. More female voice, subdued and counter-melody string chords. The fem-vox continues to wordlessly sing her own sad song in an Ophelia-like manner and a sampled discussion on exorcism is dropped into the mix. The strings and piano build in an increasingly distressing manner. An impending doom may be at hand... "Bells" is another transitory piece, enveloped in the protective embryonic innocence of childhood. With "Nox Intempestia", we really get the impression of a portentous resolution soon to occur. The insanity grows with woodwinds carrying a demented carnival tune interspersed with stately piano chords and stray higher register strings while male voice jibbers in the background. "The Crashing of The Spheres" begins with the piano chord theme hinted at before, and now fully realized and expanded upon. And yes, there truly IS a crashing as the sound of glass smashes across the speakers and the sonic-storm rages and howls! And all the while the piano keeps playing... ."Mente Concipio", the final track, and longest piece from "In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying" sounds very-much like Ordo Equilibrio, with a recitation by a male voice over slowly played piano notes and a rich mélange of atmosphere. No point in giving away the words of the recitation, wouldn’t want to spoil your listening experience. You just need to hear it for yourself. This continues in a repeated cycle for eleven and a half minutes until its abrupt conclusion. On the contrary to being boring, it is GREAT atmosphere, totally gothic and sublime. There are just so many elements of some of the best dark ambient projects I’ve ever heard here (Ordo Equilibrio, Caul, Ildfrost, Lustmord, Endura and probably a heap of CMI projects) that this CD is a MUST HAVE for fans of the genre. Maybe The Victim’s Shudder utilizes more neo-classical elements than the average dark ambient project, and maybe that’s what sets it apart from the slew (as opposed to the few in years past) of composers in the genre presently. Whatever the case, I believe that if what you’ve read about it so far intrigues you, you will enjoy "In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying" very, very much. Note: While this release is a CD-R, NOTHingness Records is a CD-R label and you’re still getting a high-quality product packaged in a DVD-style plastic case. (At least that’s the way they sent it to me.)

BEYOND SENSORY EXPERIENCE: Korrelations

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 16 2005
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Artist: BEYOND SENSORY EXPERIENCE (@)
Title: Korrelations
Format: CD
Label: Old Europa Cafe (@)
Rated: *****
After deleting the production of the final box containing the Beyond Sensory Experience trilogy ("Tortuna", "Urmula" and "Ratan") Old Europa Cafe decided to release KORRELATIONS: an album of unreleased tracks and re-interpretations managed by Alexxx, Doshaska!, P3, Zdan, Henrik Nordavargr Björkk, Morge and Alko. The new tracks "Korrelations", "Yes Satan", "Inside Erasmus's bed" and "Ratan II" are a sort of sum of the three previous releases. "Korrelations" is an ambient track with hypnotic layers and treated vocals (really suggestive), "Yes Satan" on the contrary is based on rhythms and loops (try to imagine an upbeat tempo of a real drum with treated violin inserts, distorted bass guitar mixed down, forming a first obscure part and a second one, more trip hop oriented). With "Inside Erasmus's bed" we enter again into the dark ambience created by Drakhon and K. Meitzer. Ambience that ideally continue with Ratan II, a disturbing track with subtle vocals and rhythms. The re-worked tracks pass from the raw ambient sounds of Alexx ("The two - trace problem") to the industrial distortions of Alko ("28.9.11.9"), passing from the ambient exoticism of Doschaska! ("Urmula"), the dark ambient of Zdan ("Himmelen") and the light minimal techno of Henrik Nordavargr Björkk ("Tortuna"). This is a good item which will introduce you to the next release "Pursuit Of Pleasure" that will be released anytime soon by Cold Meat Industry.


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