Music Reviews

Lecanoscope: Comparing Notes

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 22 2002
Artist: Lecanoscope (@)
Title: Comparing Notes
Format: CD
Label: Metabolic Music
After many compilation appearances and several tapes released in the underground scene over the last decade, Californian Lecanoscope also have been hit by the new digital home-recording revolution and have finally given the entire world an opportunity to taste their beautiful, sophisticated and relaxing sound. Enchanting and bewildering, entrancing and capturing, their 5 tracks musical and meditative rapture entitled "Comparing Notes" is described by them as "ethereal ritual trance audio excursions through fields of pulsating luminescence"... now I don't need to tell you there is something more to this than just beautiful electronic-ethno-trance with tablas, distant vocal samples, transe-inducing repetitive patterns, dub grooves, layers of fluctuating synthetic pads and other stuff that might sporadically remind you of Bill Laswell, Asian Dub Foundation, Adrian Sherwood, Ustad Sultan Khan, Zakir Hussain, Psychic Warriors of Gaya, Karsh Kale, Talvin Singh, other indian music but also much more experimental, dark and electronic artists... Their metabolic music is «designed to open your third eye. " can let go"».
PS The CD came packaged in a standard jewel case contained in one of those CD-sized cardboard box used to ship CDs with their logo marked on it, which is a cool idea I thought...

Balligomingo: Beneath the Surface

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 17 2002
Artist: Balligomingo (@)
Title: Beneath the Surface
Format: CD
Label: Windham (@)
Distributor: RCA / BMG
When you pop in a CD and you suddenly find out you are listening to its last song, you know it was a good record 'cause you got so much into it that you lost track of time and just enjoyed the listening experience... This happened to me several times with "Beneath the Surface" the debut album of Canadian producer/composer Garret Schwartz, aka Balligomingo, due for release a month from now, on June 11th 2002. Drawing upon many influences, including Front Line Assembly member Bill Leeb's project Delerium, Enigma, Enya, Massive Attack, the most electro-ethereal Madonna, Deep Forest and other eclectic artists spicing up beautiful electronica with pop, ethereal soundscapes with alternative trip-hop, Schwartz's offering includes lush layers of orchestral strings and synth-pads, acoustic world blends, fluctuating ambient soundscapes, intense bass lines and classically electronic textures... Co-producer guitar-player Vic Levak, strings arrangers and directors Graeme Coleman and Mark Ferris (and his orchestra), drummer James Kaufmann and engineer Greg Reely are just some of the many people who contributed to this record, in fact what makes the record a pop record really are the seven beautiful seductive female vocals by Delerium singer Kristy Thirsk and other upcoming talents from US and Canada (Camille Miller, Jody Quine, Jennifer Baldwin, Collen Coadic, Jennifer Hershman, Beverly Staunton). 11 tracks and one hidden bonus track (this hidden track thing is so over-done by now that it ain't hidden no more). When it hits the streets on June 11th you should give it this a listen.

Bourbonese Qualk: On Uncertainity

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 17 2002
Artist: Bourbonese Qualk (@)
Title: On Uncertainity
Format: CD
Label: Korm Plastics (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Finally an experimental band that has something to say (even with no lyrics involved)... I started fearing that intelligent contents were only left to diy punk bands... Bourbonese Qualk are a UK anarco-experimental group/collective from the eighties. They were involved in anarchist and radical movements and manifestations such as "Stop the City" and the Trafalgar Riots. After touring Europe, eastern Europe and the US and releasing works on their labels "Recloose Organisation" and "New International", in 1993 they released their last CD "Autonomia" (not surprised by the name at all!) and then disappeared until now. "On Uncertainity" is a beautiful ambient album that you wouldn't expect to be theirs if you considered that "Autonomia" was gabber-techno and previous works were a mixture of acoustic instruments and electronics. 10 years after they are back with the same peculiar sound but they dropped the aggressive beats and the traditional instrumentation (only the last but one track in this album has a jazzy flavor with drums and clean guitars) in favor of floating ethereal soundscapes with occasional electro-beat patterns and enchanting heavenly textures made of lush synth layers, harmonious pads or even long reverberated saxophone notes. Dreamy and calm. Charming and colorful. The info sheet says that even after coming back from their hybernation, they remain true to their original sound... Well, I haven't had the pleasure to hear their older recordings, but I can only tell you this much: if they were doing this stuff two decades ago they were waaaaaaaay ahead of the curve!!!

VV.AA.: Beyond the Sound

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 11 2002
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Beyond the Sound
Format: CD
Label: Oltre il Suono (@)
This sampler, subtitled "new ambient-electronic music from Italy", is the physical compendium to the excellent website Oltre il Suono, gathering several Italian underground projects and artists working in the fields of ambient (from dark to ethnic/ritual), experimental electronics and electroacoustic/concrete music. While the site has been constantly expanding, the cd-r, compiled by the trio Biasthon, features a selection of 11 artists, of whom I only knew Amon/Andrea Marutti. I guess that all tracks are exclusive/unreleased. Now, talking about the sounds, I really think it's hard to find such a well-assembled sampler. Music ranges from oppressive dark ambient (Amon, Maath, Nefelheim... ) to field recording manipulations and electroacoustic (Car, Logoplasm), from cosmic music (Regivar) to mesmerizing ethnic atmospheres (Ku), but these "tags" are often oversimplifications, since most artists seem to actually cross boundaries and opt for oblique approaches – see for example Anofele (who also collaborate with Car), Alessandro Fogar and Nimh (alias Giuseppe Verticchio, main responsible for Oltre il Suono, here offering a mix of live sounds from the streets of Teheran and abrasive analogue synth patterns). Throughout the whole compilations, emphasis is focused on pure sound experimentation, with almost no melody at all, except for a really brief hint at the end of Regivar's "Visioni" and the more "humane" approach of Ku – so expect gloomy atmospheres and often alien, disquieting sounds. A must if you're even remotely interested in deep listenings and aural experimentation, and a healthy portrait of Italian underground... Check this out and visit the site, where you can find lots of info about the artists, with sound clips provided. I hope a second volume of the cd will be compiled soon.

Lambert: Essential

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 09 2002
Artist: Lambert (@)
Title: Essential
Format: CD
Label: Spheric Music (@)
German Spheric Music recording label creator Lambert Ringlage is a dedicated executive producer and musician who's been devoted to certain types of space music for a long time. His interest, passion and business is not only about other people's music, in fact he also plays under the moniker of Lambert and has been around for ages. "Essential" seems to be a collection of old "essential" material by him (I wish he'd send some additional info/bio when he mails promos!) spanning between 1991 and 2000, but I don't know much more... Two previously unreleased tracks are also included. When listening initially (before reading the booklet's notes) I thought the music was quite "retro'" at times... I thought I was getting sick of too many old fashioned bands still playing the same kind of music after decades. But then fortunately I realized that this was indeed older material and I started listening under a different light, from a different perspective. Respect for pioneers like Lambert who have been making space-music is always great. While ordered chronologically, I must also admit that not all the stuff sounds old, actually some older things sound more modern than younger tracks, but it might be just an impression. Synthetic soundscapes with melodies, sweeps and sweeping analog sounds, bit textures and rhythmical patterns often based more on digital sounds rather than drum(beat) sounds. All this building up and holding suspense in the background of long chords that give it that particular floating, calm and wave-like vibe. The front cover is a picture of a night-sky with stars and a really huge ball reflecting a green daylight environment. It's a nice contrast between day and night and it fits with the label's name and the whole attitude. Good choice (looks like Bruxelles' museum or some other Disney World-like tourist attraction glass sphere).

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