Music Reviews

Anthony Child: Electronic Recordings from Maui Jungle Vol. 2

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 16 2016
Artist: Anthony Child
Title: Electronic Recordings from Maui Jungle Vol. 2
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Editions Mego
This album was recorded in Haiku-Pauwela in Northern Hawaii in February 2016. It features genuine jungle atmospheric sound as a backdrop to electronic improvisations. So, coupled with the picturesque landscape of the cover art, you might expect this to be a distinctly low-key, chill-out affair.

In practice it’s somewhat more energetic and more sci-fi. The synth patterns, all sourced from Buchla instruments, are generally quite relentless, highly rhythmic, staccato and sometimes mildly abrasive loops. “Open Channeling” has parallels with Vangelis’s Blade Runner. “Truth Is Healing”, with its faintly choral chords, has Jean-Michel Jarre flavours. “Cellular Reintegration” is the closest the album comes to the old stereotypes of chill out music, with a synthesizer imitating an ethnic flute. From mellow beginnings, “Farthest Known Object” pushes towards feedback and discordance, trumpeting its way to the end of the album to ensure nobody mistakes this for a relaxing experience, before receding into distant ambience.

Each of the fourteen pieces is essentially a single idea or a single pattern, but developed, progressed and spontaneously reworked as it goes. Electronically it’s beautiful in its simplicity, replacing drum sounds with looping patterns that root the meandering drones, chord washes and arpeggios. There’s a shortage of sonic variety in the synth sounds, thanks to the focus on just one electronic instrument, but this is offset by changes in the arrangements. The production has an expansive, room-filling quality.

My only problem with this release is that it’s a solid improvised synth album, and it’s also got Hawaiian ambience, but there’s no real connection between the two. They don’t feel related and they just run in parallel. I would happily listen to just the synths, and I would also happily bask in the ambient noise for an hour as well, but often there seems little justification for doing both at the same time. The jungle noise is disregarded somewhat and might as well have been lifted from a sample CD. There are rare occasions when a jungle bird call adds an off-beat percussion, for example in “Old Technology”, but this is rare within the work and the jungle becomes incidental rather than involved. This certainly doesn’t ruin the listening experience, but it does border on false advertising.

An unusual, bold and strangely cathartic hybrid of an album.

Premature Burial: F/a/c/t/i/o/n/s

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 15 2016
Artist: Premature Burial
Title: F/a/c/t/i/o/n/s
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Records (@)
Silber’s neat bite-sized “5 in 5” series, in which an artist creates five tracks which have a combined length of only five minutes overall, continues its extensive run with this offering from Premature Burial.

This is five distinct pieces that act as a calling card for the breadth of Premature Burial’s work. “Pull A Single Thread” is a gently scary overture seguing neatly into “Action”, which has soft tribal drums and filmic synth lines and would make a great intro to a darkwave album, or to the villain’s exotic lair in an action movie, whilst “Inaction” is a scratchy done with pained strings. “Conpromise” [sic] alludes to heavy metal but via the medium of synthwave, then “Divide” is a warm ambience that wraps it all up in a surprisingly snug manner.

It’s something of a musical Curriculum Vitae rather than a coherent micro-album, but it’s an impressive sampler.


 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 14 2016
Title: Arktika
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements (@)
Rated: *****
According to the liner notes, COUNCIL ESTATE ELECTRONICS is the attempt of Justin K Broadrick and Diarmuid Dalton to pay a tribute to the music of their youth which is basically dub and krautrock. Obviously, this project is musically close of the impressive releases as Techno Animal (with Kevin Martin) but without the rhythmic emphasis and with a sharper sense of the underlying soundscape.
"Urals" opens this release exposing the musical structure which ties all the tracks: a dub rhythmic cage containing samples and soundscape so it's something as listenable as danceable and features even some abrasive moments. "567 foot 33,500 ton" is implacable in his hammering development while developing the track at the dynamic level. "Type LK-60YA" is based on somehow nostalgic synth line while "Rosatom" returns to the industrial framework based around a mechanical beat and a fistful of loops while "50 Let Pobody" seems closer to dub as the noiser elements aren't present and "Polar Star" exposes sonic nuances typical of more avant-garde field. "Liquified natural gas" floats without the rhythmic cage tying all the sounds and "60 megawatts" closes this release moving even further the most abstract elements of the dub canon.
As usual, while apparently there's all the canonical elements of Broadrick's music, something new, at least a detail, emerges and gives a sense of not been the routine of someone without anything to prove. Another clue that he's perhaps one of the most underrated artist alive. Recommended.

ProtoU: Khmaoch

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 14 2016
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Artist: ProtoU
Title: Khmaoch
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
ProtoU is the project of Sasha Cats focused on a relatively canonical dark ambient setting even closer to classic ambient as it's something really quiet and enjoyable. The research of images evoked by the sound is something really present during the listening of this release and it's the greatest quality of this release eclipsing the predictable development.
"Bridge of Storms" opens quietly this release with a sourceful of sounds moving in the aural field generating a sense of immersion in an somehow hostile field. "Stygian Vortex" is as simple in his structure as evocative in his palette. "Skar Mekh" is a physical journey rendered as a sonic journey. "Voices of the Water" use sparse element to generate an impressive soundscape. "Pel" is perhaps the only track with a marked rhythmic structure and without evocative sounds. "Dai Robsa Preah" slowly evolves unfolding drones while "Stones in Snow" closes this release revealing a subtle sense of sounds.
Honestly this is a somehow too derivative release at a structural level but it's so well crafted to let arise the question about how it could be if some of the efforts made at a sound level were done at writing level. Nice but only for fans.

Nuage: Prints Of You -The Remixes EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Nov 09 2016
Artist: Nuage (@)
Title: Prints Of You -The Remixes EP
Format: 12"
Label: Translation Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
It seems that the idea of a remix project related to Prints Of You, a little masterpiece of the liquid side of drum'n'bass by St.Petersburg-born producer Dimitry Kuzmin, better known as Nuage, was already discussed and planned soon after its release together with the hyperactive guys of American imprint Translation Records. Enhancing the original tracks was a pretty hard mission, but the producers involved in the project somehow managed to reach the goal, maybe as they knew each other very well due to the fact Nuage already did remixes for Blu.Mar.Ten and The Levels and gave some of his tunes to Bop's imprint Microfunk. The remix of "Overseas" by Bop is the one that most impressed me: the Russian producer built an amusing pattern by means of noises that sound like hitting pool and table tennis balls over a sneaking bassline and you could have the feeling that his tic-tac-toe game occasionally breaks the vocals of the original tracks into ecstatic syllables. On the other side both Blu.Mar.Ten guys and The Levels tried to highlight the highly emotional hook and the melodic aspect of Nuage original inputs, but while Blu Mar Ten kept higher bpm on their revamping of "Colors" - clearly influenced by the typical sonorities of the artists belonging to Hospital Records super team -, The Levels offered an assay of the so-called Future Soul Music for the remix of "Shining" (featuring an excellent vocal performance by Veronique J), the style that gave them some notoriety in the scene. The release includes a remix of "Waterfalls" by Nuage himself, who reshuffled the original track by a delicate tribal tapping of claves and a sort of clipped typewriting-like hit in a pool of crispy natural sounds.

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