Music Reviews



Von Magnet: ElectroFlamenco

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 07 2004
Artist: Von Magnet (@)
Title: ElectroFlamenco
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Phil Von Magnet has always been a bright, out-reaching, barrier-braking, convention defying musician, and now he is taking all of that to a whole new level with something that is truly unique! In fact, with the exception of German The Brave's 1994 "Fiesta Fatal!" hit, I can not think of any other artist that has managed to successfully and tastefully mix the warm and dramatic world of flamenco guitars and cajon percussions with the digital electronics that Von Magnet is maybe best known for. He did it, and this is but a taste of what his forthcoming album "De L'aimant" will be like. This CDS starts out with a Mimetic mix of the title track, which runs through you like a driven percussive minimal-electronic techno parade where Les Tambours Du Bronx stomp on one truck, Paco De Lucia strums on one next truck and the Young Gods go for their floating electronics on the following one. "How to Breathe" introduces an unexpected theatrical vocal performance in english. "Ma Peine" takes the cajon's beautiful percussive textures, samples them, distorts them and filters them with sweeps, pitching etc, and in doing so creates the perfect sonic and aural support for Sabine Van Den Oever's flamenco guitar and the other ethereal vocal layers. The fourth and last track is a remix by Holeg Spies of "MorirMe" in which the male vocals are back (this time in Spanish) and the electronic soundscapes become more sophisticated and widely embracing.I think it's pretty darn obvious that I really like Phil's latest work, but I must also admit that I was hoping for an even deeper integration and a bigger use of flamenco elements.But now he got me thinking to "De L'aimant" I can't wait to hear the final product.

Xeno Volcano: Black Book

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 07 2004
Artist: Xeno Volcano (@)
Title: Black Book
Format: CD
Label: Hardpresse (@)
Rated: *****
Xeno Volcano, aka Zurich-based Californian David Beltran, has been living and performing minimal ambient music in Switzerland, while occasionally touring the US (twice a year). He uses mostly a minimoog, toys, samplers, a laptop and a vibraphone or other percussions, but in his third album "Die Organik" (2002), a collaboration with Swiss poet Eletka Sturmschnell, he had a guitar in the line up. "Die Organik" is a trip into pure sonic isolationism and the only contact with the outside world is the poet's spoken word performances over the music (mostly in german). Stereo spreading and panning, volume sweeps and other techniques are used to make the minimal sound come at you in a wave-ish fashion. The CD has a beautiful art work, among other things. His last album "Black Book", on the other hand, does not relay on the presence of the female voice, but instead has a less minimalistic approach and generates gorgeous atmospheres with soft and dragging beats and, in one instance, even a violin. Zurich is fabulous, so if you ever go there, try to also catch David performing (shouldn't be too hard, I read). Allegedly his performances are intense and include visuals by chemical lighting artist Denis Wier (also with Zappa) and other graphic artists. I am curious to find out this artist's more rhythmic side, which I hear, is being explored as we speak and is more the focus when he gigs in the underground industrial-dance scene.

KLANGWELT: The Age Of Numbers

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 03 2004
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Artist: KLANGWELT (@)
Title: The Age Of Numbers
Format: CD
Label: Spheric Music (@)
Distributor: Spheric Music
Rated: *****
Sidereal journeys have always been a fascinating thing to men. Man's brain inspired philosophers and a lot of common people. Numbers and numerology could be seen also like a magic discipline and maybe this is the aspect that fascinated Gerald Arend most. THE AGE OF NUMBERS contains ten intrumental suites which take their inspiration directly from '70s space rock and from '70s electronic bands such as Tangerine Dream or from musicians like Jean Michel Jarre, Kitaro or Klaus Schulze. Since the first track you've got the sensation that the room around you it's expanding and the hissing sounds are gathering taking shape and turning into the Milk Way. At a first listening I found the tracks too similar but at a second listening I liked them more. "Topologique", "Infinity + 1" and "The Beauty Of Numbers" are the tracks that convinced me most as they have a certain halo of mistery that made me found them more interesting. Try this CD if you want to loose your senses by falling into deep space...

Lopside: 37

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 19 2004
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Artist: Lopside (@)
Title: 37
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

BUY from  BUY NOW from CD BABY (CDBaby.com)
This is a guy who made treasure of the best ambeint lessons that the greatest ambient musicians ever tought us all, and implemented that knowledge in a very personal, unique and gorgeous way. Allegedly the sounds which became the basis for these pieces are noises generated by 37 messages found one day in an erratically behaving pager who Dan Hinds, the artist, refuses to use.Lopside, once a mostly guitar driven project, is now experimenting with ethereal electro-acoustic patterns where charming synthetic layers float through the sometimes thin, sometimes dense beautiful atmospheres. Elegant and rapturing electronic textures, luscious percussive parts, mysterious clinging and belly sounds, lush pads of thick electronica, random noises and wordless vocals ("To the Point of Obscurity" is a masterpiece!). Think of it as a blend of Vidna Obmana, Steve Roach, Lycia, Afex Twin, Autechre, Black Tape for a Blue Girl... This really is great music and great musicianship.Visit Dan's «ambiguously minimalistic artsy-fartsy website» for more info and some nice photography!I strongly suggest you buy this CD from Dan for only $6 (or for more money from CD Baby), that is if you can get a hold of him, now that his pager is broken...

HECTOR ZAZOU: L'absence

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 19 2004
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Artist: HECTOR ZAZOU
Title: L'absence
Format: CD
Label: Santeria (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Zazou musically born in the mid '70s as one half of the ZNR duo. He always experimented with jazz, world music, electronic creating each time something unique. The latest Zazou release, L'ABSENCE, is really various and intriguing. It gathers a lot of influences: world music, pure electronic ambient music made of drones (like on the opening "Etranges Attracteurs"), a touch of hip hop, pop, etc. Just to make some comparisons try to figure David Sylvian, Japan, Jah Wobble, Brian Eno mixed together just to make a sensual tracklist of eleven songs. Another relevant point of this album is that many people accepted to collaborate on vocals: Nicola Hitchcock, Caroline Lavelle, Lucrezia Von Berger, Asia Argento (yes! You read it right and it is who you are thinking she is) and Katrina Beckford. The atmosphere of the instrumental tracks is different respect to the ones with guests: the first ones tend to be more tense and experimental, while the others are like sensual and luscious pop songs: it's like a sort of experimental version of latest Everything But The Girl (see "Lies Will Flow"). This is an intelligent way of making refined songs without being too poppy or a rip off and if you want something unique, this is for you.


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