Music Reviews

AUTO AGGRESSION: Geräuschinformatik

 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
Title: Geräuschinformatik
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!


 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
Artist: VV.AA.
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.

Metaconqueror: Banishment of the Unforsaken

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 01 2005
Artist: Metaconqueror (@)
Title: Banishment of the Unforsaken
Format: CD
Label: Somnambulant Records (@)
Rated: *****
OK. At first glance and with the name of the tracks, I thought that Marc had sent me a black metal band by mistake. Come on – tell me that if you only read the song titles, things like "My Name is Legion for we are Many", "Dirge of the Crucified", and "Forging the Gates of Gehenna" you wouldn’t come to the same conclusion! So I put it in prepared the worst. I’m not a fan of black metal, but I was willing to take one for the team. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this has more in common with Lustmord than with Emperor. In fact, track 8 (Of Empires Burning) sort of reminds me of a track off of Heresy. It wasn’t until after I had listened to the album all the way through that I noticed that the email was for Steel Hook Prosthesis. I wasn’t familiar with this side project. This is nice noisy ambient that never really threatens to get out of control. It’s a good illustration that noise can be pleasant to listen to and that subdued can sometimes be much better. I can’t really think of too many comparisons at the moment because there are not a lot of people who do this kind of work. The low points of the album are tracks 2 (My Name is Legion for we are Many) and track 9 (Cerebus) because of the inclusion of heavily distorted voice / samples that intrude on the soundscape like an unwanted house guest. The voice is so distorted in track 9 that you cannot even try to make it out. Track 2 seems like a sample that just doesn’t work. That said, the rest of the disc makes up for this weakness. This is good music to put on for reading. It doesn’t demand too much attention from the listener, but occasionally gets noisy just when you’ve begun to ignore it. If you think that dark ambient lacks complexity and is a bit boring but think that most noise albums are out to kill you, this is your happy medium. Unfortunately, this is already sold out from the label, but if you happen to find it, pick it up. This is a good one to take a chance on.

Ivilion: Terean

 Posted by Shaun Phelps (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 29 2005
Artist: Ivilion (@)
Title: Terean
Format: CD
Label: Magnatune (@)
Distributor: Magnatune
Rated: *****
Imagine a peace-filled primitive world where the atmosphere is painted with swirling ambience, where intense tapestries of sound envelope and enrich every aspect of life. A world in which the air breathes and the wind has a mind and life of its own. A world where meditation is common and spiritual response is immediate and uplifting. This is a world of fantasy, a world of mystery, and a world of beauty. You can keep imagining this world, or you can pick up the new Ivilion release, Terean, and experience it for yourself in surround sound.

Terean is the culmination of Michael Weeks’ previous works with Ivilion, pulling in and adding to the structures started in his first release, Sartinal, and making use of the darkly melodic concepts from his unofficial release, What I see in the dark. I recently had the pleasure to review his other project, The Wretch, and I cannot enforce the difference between these two projects enough. While The Wretch takes listeners on a fast-paced trip through a schizotypal, A.D.H.D. crazed mind, Ivilion serves to take listeners on an intrinsic journey through their own psyche.

Terean is characterized by perpetual, evolving tribal beats, crafted on a base of dark, drifting ambience, and given life by the beautiful melodies throughout. Delicate, haunting string and piano arrangements visit songs, adding strength and body to the overall value of this work of art. While some ambient works are sparsely layered, change little, and drone into nothingness, Terean weaves its way into the listener’s mind, taking over the subconscious and inspiring 44 minutes and 44 seconds of thought and meditation.

If you don’t like tribal drums and ambience, I don’t have to tell you that you probably won’t enjoy this album. But if you have even a passing interest, I can promise Ivilion’s Terean is for you. The production on this release is impossibly flawless; the sound is amazing and inspiring. With Terean Michael Weeks shows an absolute command over his resources, turning what can be a dull and stale genre into a living masterpiece. I fully intend to dwell on this release for quite some time, and will be strongly suggesting it to anyone I meet.

VENETIAN SNARES: Rossz Csillag Alatt Szullet

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 29 2005
image not
Title: Rossz Csillag Alatt Szullet
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
Released before one year has passed from his latest Planet Mu release titled "Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding", Aaron Funk is back with a total different album titled ROSSZ CSILLAG ALATT SZULETETT. While "Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding" was based mainly on rhythms, this new one sees Venetian Snares dealing with ambient sounds and orchestral partitures. I'm totally unaware about the language of the titles (Hungarian, maybe?) but the music is enough to make me appreciate the geniality of this project. The album contains eleven tracks that form somehow a soundtrack of a drama. The only note we've got about the tracks is starting this way: "What if, for just a day, we could both be pigeons?" and after some rows "Ultimately, as quickly as our world blooms, our world is discordant, and our pigeons are wounded, and as our world dies, we die, and we are extinct. If only we could kill ourselves over and over until we get it right". Even if most of the tracks sound like modern classical music played by a real orchestra Aaron mix it with his particular breakcore style, creating something really functional and fresh. The strings give to the tracks a dramatic feeling that makes you think about the European cinema of the early twenties of the last century and it's amazing to see how the fast rhythms give to it more energy. I don't know if I was able to make you understand what's inside this album but I assure you that you should give it a try!

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