Music Reviews



LEVIATHAN/GRIMBERGEN: ...of revisionism and relinquishment

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 02 2004
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Artist: LEVIATHAN/GRIMBERGEN
Title: ...of revisionism and relinquishment
Format: CD
Label: Monkeyhouse Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
A split effort of these two young UK ambient projects, both swapping/mixing each other's sounds in some compositions as well. Leviathan, who released other 2 cdrs on Monkeyhouse (that have also been recently collected) is definitely interesting, as it's not really typical dark ambient - instead, it is fairly melodic, with a melancholic and elegiac tone. Good point: the melodies are pleasant, and well managed. Bad point: the effects used are quite terrible, basically a simple, fixed distortion which never changes throughout. So it's like having good music filtered through a distortion pedal. "The Unattainable Object", which should be a remix of Grimbergen's material, is much darker and heavier, with slowly crawling bass drones - a successfull track, with both tension and a trance-inducing effect. Grimbergen's sound heavily relies on swirling synth sounds, with some obsessive mechanical percussions ("Entering the Painfields") and a taste for epic melodies. It sounds very... Nordic, so to speak. His mix is clearer than Leviathan's, but I personally don't like synths when they're so recognizable and standard-sounding. But "Is this the place?" has a more subdued minimal throbbing which does build an atmosphere. All in all, my impression is that both project have promising qualities (all tracks are fairly well constructed, and not boring) but still have to work hard for better results, both stylistically and technically.

Himuro: Clear Without Items

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 23 2004
Artist: Himuro
Title: Clear Without Items
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Couchblip
A little blippy, a little sci-fi-esque, highly textured yet minimal, experimental yet fairly accessible, the music of Himuro on "Clear Without Items" is surprisingly infectious for electronica that skirts the fringes of the scene (though it is fully musical and not experimental in the "non-traditional" music sense). Blippy: The mid-/down-tempo beats feel like electronic guitar strings strung loose and thunked at by a competent player. I mean that in a good way. Highly textured: There's also a bit of crisp distortion to the proceedings that add to those blippy beats and make for nice textures and layers in what is actually somewhat minimalist. Experimental/accessible: The music is unusual and far from mainstream but is pretty infectious and catchy. Oh, yeah, and at times it's quirky enough to feel a little science fictiony. These are all good things. The music is quirky and offbeat and, most important, quite listenable. Interesting ...

AAL: Disc 1 + Inherited and partially transmitted

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 23 2004
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Artist: AAL (@)
Title: Disc 1 + Inherited and partially transmitted
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: AFE Records (@)
Rated: *****
A couple of years ago, Davide Vallecchi self-released these two cdrs, both recorded in 2001, and already reviewed in this mag (search the archive). This is a welcomed reprint by the ever diligent AFE Records, in a limited run of 150 copies, coming in a really beautiful and fitting layout - sort of abstract figures looking like bindrunes or crop circles. Listening again to AAL's more ambient and droning production, I sense that it is much darker than I recalled. While I'd still use the references to Klaus Schultze or Coil in their cosmic incarnations, tracks like "Unsealed" (on "Inherited...") have a menacing feel, with their obsessive and self-devouring structures which reminded me of Koener or Lull. The sound quality fits very well with these atmospheres - I wouldn't call it "lo-fi" (it's probably not), but rather "dusty". It's like an old sepia-print. The other remark I'd add is that there's an evident growth between one release and the other, though recorded in a short span - "Inherited..." is more mature, with a better - and at the same time more extreme - use of sounds and repetitions, notably in the majestic, relentless emotional crumbling of "All that fall".

INCANDESCENCE: Chapter Two: The Replacement Phase

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 23 2004
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Artist: INCANDESCENCE (@)
Title: Chapter Two: The Replacement Phase
Format: CD
Label: Raw Nerve Promotions
Rated: *****
As I wrote in the review of Incandescence's "Chapter One...", this one is a new release featuring all new material, 12 tracks, 53 minutes. The sleeve notes state it was "written, recorded + mixed between March 29th + April 9th, 2004". What, ten days?? Alas, that's no good thing for me. All I can say is that IT SHOWS, and not in a positive sense. Basically, the main defect of these songs is that they're terribly basic and boring. They're mostly just loops, with some primitive effect thrown in. No proper programming, no proper ambiences. Some beats you just don't know why they've been put there, many many sounds are just lame. I don't mean to be rude, but this is not even tolerable as background music. If this was meant to be minimal in an Aphex Twin way, it falls short. This needs lots of work and, for God's sake, some second thought.

TELEPHERIQUE + MAURIZIO BIANCHI: Zehn Tage (Touka)

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 20 2004
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Artist: TELEPHERIQUE + MAURIZIO BIANCHI
Title: Zehn Tage (Touka)
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records (@)
Rated: *****
The long-term friendship between Klaus Jochim/Telepherique and Maurizio Bianchi has led to this collaborative cd, the very first "regular" cd released by AFE Records alone. Telepherique has frequently collaborated with other artists over the years (see the brilliant cd-r with Ultra Milkmaids, just to pick in the AFE catalogue), but this is the very first "shared" work by Bianchi (whose importance in the fields of industrial and electronica I won't even mention... period). "Zehn Tage (Touka)" is a massive 74-minute, 10-track concept on the nature and perception of time, titled after the 10-day gap created by the shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, back in 1582. The metaphor serves as a reflection on man's attempts at artificially controlling time, and as a memento on the endless, senseless rat-race we force ourselves on. But this rather scary series of thoughts doesn't prevent the work from being fascinating and soothing rather than ominous. Pretty much like Telepherique's "Hoerspiele", it is very much based on looped sounds, but the hypnotizing rhythmical patterns have a kind of droning ambient quality. Actually, very few tracks (notably # 5 and 9) feature more recognizable (and, to my taste, less effective) technoid/electronic beats. The sound palette is rich, with some memorable mixes: guitars, synths, bagpipes, birds, water, metallic percussions, scarce vocal samples... the songs often become dizzying mantras, leaving your head light. A very personal and inspired work which embodies cosmic ambient, beat electronica, concrete music... I was often reminded of label mate Raffaele Serra, which also leads to my only query - I find it a tad too long to be listened to in a row. But hey, this probably has to do with time perception itself... and this is surely worth 74 minutes of your life.


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