Music Reviews



Mabou: Summer Artifacts

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 22 2004
Artist: Mabou
Title: Summer Artifacts
Format: CD
Label: Skean Dhu (@)
Rated: *****
Mabou's "Summer Artifacts" is a beautiful record by Cleveland based experimental musicians Stephen Copley (guitar player) and Steven K. Smith (installation artist, also with Skye of Daye and Dolmen, the latter being a duo with Baltimore based Jason Sloan, with whom he released the long distance collaboration ambient record "Ritual Awakening" in April 2002). The two engage into dense and sophisticated layering of drones, samples, percussions, guitar effects, voices by slowly adding, to build up a climax, or substracting, to reverse back to minimal sonic isolationism. The tribal percussions, coupled with the effected guitars and the bass lines, sometimes seem to be echoing Bauhaus, but there is more to this that just memories of the past... An intense spiritual approach and vision seems to underpin the record in its entirety (sound wise and graphically as well) and the feeling of naked ritualism warps and wraps your perception of time and space. Nonetheless the ritualistic dark soundscapes and the ethno-sciamanic percussive tribalism make this close to a masterpiece in ambient music that lovers of Lycia, Lopside, Rebro, Steve Roach, Vidna Ombana, Bethany Curve and similar acts will surely appreciate. Very impressive.

Bigga Bush: BiggaBush Free

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 21 2004
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Artist: Bigga Bush (@)
Title: BiggaBush Free
Format: CD
Label: Stereo Deluxe (@)
Rated: *****
BiggaBush's "BiggaBush Free" is probably one of the most out of the ordinary sounding dancefloor friendly records I have ever heard. After working for a long time with Rockers Hi Fi, mostly during the '90es, BiggaBush has developed his production skills spitting out remix after remix for the like of Morricone, Tosca, St. Etienne, Ella Fitzgerald etc... This solo production of his is a hardly classifiable blend of chic chill out electronica with sparse and feeble elements of dub, trip hop, dancehall, acid jazz... Deep, but not intrusively annoying bass lines, reverberated rhythmical patterns, lush strings, ambience keyboard sounds, layers of synthhetic pads and otherwise unlikely and unexpected bits of sounds (such as sax, harpsichord, pluccked pizzicato strings, jazz guitars) all work together, blending into each other to achieve ultimate satisfaction... Maybe not pumping hard enough for the actual sweaty and light spotted dancefloors and maybe (at times) a little too dancey and groovy for the VIP chill out couches, I guess this album will probably best work as a perfect transition from the former to the latter, or to close the evening, or at the bar. Either way, you "flick-of-the-wrist decknologists" out there should make sure to bag a copy of this for your next spinning performance. Come in a nice zodiac-themed shiny digipack.

VV.AA.: XII Ceasars

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 21 2004
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: XII Ceasars
Format: CD
Label: Somnambulant (@)
Rated: *****
Altough I understand the financial constraints today's small indie noise labels have to work under, it doesn't help us much when we receive a unpackaged review copy of a release, such as this one, which is heavily based on imaginery and iconography (in this case Roman iconography; a series of original graphite portraits of the Caesars on heavy cardstock by Chris Donovan is enclosed to the retail version of this CD-R), so I am not gonna be able to tell you how nice the art-work is, nor will I be able to comment on what was indeed the very source of inspiration for the artists on this compilation. All I can tell you is that "XXII Caesars" is a 67 minutes compilation based around and inspired by the Roman empire's 149 years long lasting succession of twelve Caesars, from the popular Julius (49 BC) to the young Domitian (96 AD), as immortalized by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. Every emperor was assigned to a musical project, along with a Suetonius text excerpt for additional inspiration. Musically the involved parties stuck to dark-ambient, death-industrial, noise and oneiric music and include: Exsanguinate, Tugend, Murderous Vision, Bestia Centauri, Post Scriptvm, Survival Unit, Ond, Axone, Marspiter and The Great Despisers (a new project by members of Axone and Marspiter themselves).

ARTEMIY ARTEMIEV: Time, Desert And A Sound

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 18 2004
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Artist: ARTEMIY ARTEMIEV
Title: Time, Desert And A Sound
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
Rated: *****
There ins't a better title than TIME, DESERT AND A SOUND to describe the music of the lastest Artemiy Artemiev release. Since the first minute you're wrapped by warm sounds of flutes, hissing pads, hums of unknown human nature (the sound it's the same of the Buddhist priests when they pronounce "OM"), far percussions, etc. The atmosphere is kinda magic and the effect doesn't vanish on the second track "Time". The five tracks of the CD are like long suites linked one to the other because of the similar sounds used and also because the similar atmosphere of the whole CD. Here and there you can find also some kind of melodies but they seem to come out from the wind and in this way you can't tell exactly how they sound like. Sometimes the atmosphere gets darker and when you arrive at the third track the sound of an acoustic guitar ligths for a moment the ambiental effect created before. This doesn't lasts that much, because after a couple of minutes chaotic sounds based on pads and metal percussions start to join the dance duelling with the guitar. The following "A Sound" and "Mysticism Of Sound Part II" are two long and hypnotic suites with light changes and play with tension creating moments where acoustic and synthetic sounds textures form a web of sound which sometimes sound too static. If you appreciate ambient experimental music and you like to be caught by hypnotic sounds, this CD might interest you.

VV.AA.: Stereo Deluxe Two

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 15 2004
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Stereo Deluxe Two
Format: CD
Label: Stereo Deluxe (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Rated: *****
Harbouring and nurturing some of the most talented and recognized European lounge music artists, German label Stereo Deluxe has gotten well known for their compilations series ("Slow Mo", "Coming Home", "Bassic Instinct", "Future Lounge", "Wildstyle" to mention a few...), and 2004 continues this tradition with the release of "Stereo Deluxe Two", the second instalment of this new series that exclusively features unreleased tracks and remixes especially carved for this release. Homegrown german talents and other artists from different parts of Europe shake the grounds with their several blends of loungadelic sonic cocktails of funk, electronica, dancehall, disco, trip hop etc... The tracklist features Bigga Bush (UK), The Strike Boys (D) with Emo (DK), Trio Eletrico (D), Soul'n'Soda (D), Robbyn Rhodes (FIN), Bobby Hughes Combination (NOR), Loungechic Prouctions (CH), Mo'Horizons (D), The Funky Lowlives (UK), Megablast (A), Emo (DK) plus a bonus track by Deluca & Majbour (D), who are the founders of the Stereo Deluxe record label and DJ team. No vinyl counterpart will be released of this CD.


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