Music Reviews

Aidan Baker : Pretending to Be Fearless

 Posted by KlingKlangBedlam   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 09 2002
Artist: Aidan Baker
Title: Pretending to Be Fearless
Format: CD
Label: Flesh Made Word
Distributor: Flesh Made Word
Completely ambient journey of sound from yet another Flesh Made Word artist, this time focusing on atmosphere. The atmosphere through this whole CD is very laid back, focusing on just reverbs and a rather melancholy atmosphere, all washing over you after the first few listens through a comfortable set of repetition and drones. I’d advise waiting until sundown before you put this in and relax a bit. Track 3 would have to be my favorite, with it’s game of watch the little blip run through these different atmospheres". It reminds me of the cloud sequence in the anime Robot Carnival. Rating: 8.


 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 09 2002
Title: Maelstrom
Format: CD EP
Label: Fleshmadeword (@)
Issued by the UK label Fleshmadeword in a ltd edition of 200 copies, "Maelstrom" is a 20' cd-r featuring one single track by the prolific Israeli artist Vadim Gusis, well known for a series of releases on labels like Crowd Control Activities, Drone, Stateart, and The Rectrix. Minimally packaged in a folded brown paper sheet, the cd-ep is a long, powerful ambient drone, with a kind of reverberated organ sound, quite different from other recordings of Chaos As Shelter's I've listened to - probably closer to a minimal approach, and actually not that dark, while maintaining a peculiar intensity in its monolithic repetitiveness.

Mlada Fronta: Oxydes

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 05 2002
Artist: Mlada Fronta
Title: Oxydes
Format: CD
Label: Parametric
Beginning with very sensual yet heavily electronic ambient "CO" quickly adds heavy Power Noise rhythms. Mlada Fronta combine an extremely intelligent mixture of ambient, illbient, and digital experimentation with harsh metallic power driven industrial noise rhythms. Imagine Converter meets Beefcake with maybe a touch of Robert Rich for good measure and some Orb-like experimentation. Gritty, grinding, thumping, buzzing, harmonic, textural, mechanical, and emotional all accurately describe this project. Mlada Fronta's unique combination of noise driven harmonic simulation can only accurately be catagorized as 'noisescapes'. Like eclectic electronic ambient artist Robert Rich, Mlada Fronta combines various harmonic and nearly ethereal textures to create dark and moody pieces with an horrific beauty of it's own. At the same time power driven rhythms similar to those used by bands like Converter keep the tempo steady and oftentimes creates a nearly trancelike pulsating throb. Beginning slowly but building tempo rapidly this album quickly takes you into rather uncharted musical territories, like exploring a dark cave for the first time not knowing what dangers or wonders may lurk inside this album is an adventure of it's own. The album title sets the theme as all the tracks (as you can see) are titled after various Oxide 'chemicals' maintaining this abstract theme the inlay and cover artwork is compiled of various very well produced photographs of magnified depictions of corroded metals which normally may seem base, harsh, or even ugly instead have been transformed into visions of beauty and wonder themselves. This album is best listened to from start to finish as the tracks are artfully constructed to neatly lay next to each other in perfect compliment. When taken 'out of context' some tracks may seem simply too harsh or difficult to listen to as a standalone piece but when melded with it's companions it all fits comfortably. The second disc is combrised of remixes and videos. The remixes tend to be more beat driven, ambient, and less noise oriented and in all honesty I'd have to listen to both discs much more to even recognize which mixes belong to which songs. The videos mostly give you a chance to check out what Mlada Fronta is like live - simply put this is basically like Industrial-PowerNoize-RaveCulture.

Antenne: #2

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 30 2002
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Artist: Antenne (@)
Title: #2
Format: CD
Label: Korm Plastics (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De), Digital Narcis (Jp) and more...
I was happy to learn that Antenne had a new record out. I am a fan of Danish musician Kim Guenther Hansen's project because they are the only band I know that is able to achieve a mixture of experimental music, noise ambience, jazzy textures, trip hop coolness... It's quite unlikely in words, but it works great in action. The knowledgeable balance of lush electronica pieces, the sporadic breathy sax parts, the occasional upright bass jazzy flavors, the smooth female voice of Marie-Louise Munck, the synth pads lounging the slow drum beats (brushes, rim shots and machine), the noizy background rush, the reverb wash wetting the instrument of choice, the delayed guitar enhancing the swirly effect, the piano donating grace to already beautiful songs, the warping electronics... All these elements interact with a savvy that is uttermost astonishing and establish an environment of melancholic smoothness and emotional expressiveness. "#2" is more minimal than their debut "#1" and I don't consider it to be superior than its predecessor, but if you like Staalplaat's experimental edge and you also enjoy Massive Attack, Portishead and bands like that, this could really be the best of both worlds in one record! Look out for a remix EP of the opening Nick Drake cover "Black Eyed Dog" with contributions from Opiate, Freiband, Monotonos, Manual and Dub Tractor later this year (or early next year).

Boards of Canada: Twoism

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 29 2002
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Artist: Boards of Canada
Title: Twoism
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Warp (@)
After their triple LP/CD "Geogaddi" (almost a year ago), Scottish Boards of Canada are back with a re-issue of their legendary debut "Twoism", originally released as a 100 copies limited edition LP and MC in 1995 and subsequently sold for up to about 1000 dollars among collectors! Warp, who signed them in 1998, is to be thanked for here, as this, by many considered a true masterpiece of ambient music, is readily available at human prices again! The drifty chill-out ambient music magically performed by Boards of Canada has been entirely re-cut and re-mastered and the same track-list (including the unlisted hidden bonus track) is reiterated. The peculiar Warp signature sound bleeds through this record with its lush electronica, dreamy harmonic sounds, minimal song bodies and straightforward drum patterns. Among the Warp artist roster I would probably pick Autechre as a good match (even though I haven't heard the latest Autechre music), but also Jimmy Cauty and the Hartnoll brothers are a plausible inspiration here. Some of their analog synths actually sound like Aphex Twin (check out "Seeya Later" to know I am right ;-) but it's just the sounds, not the beats. "Twoism" is now available as a digipack MCD with the original artwork and a sticker as well as a 12" black vinyl. This music is beautiful, powerful, emotional, hypnotic, relaxing... a great example of the "less is more" philosophy!

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