Music Reviews



Jules: Adventures & Explorations (Volume 1)

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 25 2018
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Artist: Jules (@)
Title: Adventures & Explorations (Volume 1)
Format: Tape
Label: Audiobulb (@)
Rated: *****
Jules is an anonymous project from India which describes himself as "the spontaneity of the imagination and storytelling"; apart from the consideration that every storytelling has to be mediated by conscious (re)construction, so, it's not properly spontaneous, the musical output is a dreamy ambient based on drones but with a movement obtained with an unusual commitment to writing. As it's not surprising these days, this release is available, apart from digital format, on cassette.
So, "Paris 1870. Melancholy during a trip in hot air ballon.", the first side of this tape, with his ebb and flow of his drone sound as crossover between ambient, loop music and minimalism of rare evocativeness and cure for sonic details which is as static as far from boredom. The other side of this tape, "Stories of long journeys in Indochina.", is, instead, a slowly evolving track which add layers of sound as time goes by and, when the drone starts, create a pacific sound watercolor which lasts until it slowly fades to silence.
This is a remarkable release which would be enjoyed by all fans of classic ambient as it has all characteristics of that genre without being outdated. Waiting for the next volume.

The Sand Rays: Remembered Vol. 1 (EPs Gathered Together)

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 25 2018
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Artist: The Sand Rays (@)
Title: Remembered Vol. 1 (EPs Gathered Together)
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
The Sand Rays is a project of Canadian Jim DeJong, formerly The Infant Cycle, among other activities. I remember reviewing an Infant Cycle work ('Plays Fender Bass Guitars And Bird Cages Of Unknown Origin, Exclusively') back in 2011 in an overly lengthy essay about avant-garde and esoteric music which I will not emulate here. 'Remembered Vol. 1' is as it states in the subtitle, EPs Gathered Together from DeJong's EP releases on his small label The Ceiling, in tiny editions. After the dissolution of The Infant Cycle, DeJong received an offer to score a feature film for which he produced a number of flexible basic tracks. Unfortunately, the film ended up being scrapped, but since the music was already made, The Sand Rays was born as its vehicle. This CD consists of 8 tracks of varying lengths (the shortest being 0:10; the longest 20:44) which are primarily but not exclusively drones. It also sounds somewhat industrial. You might be inclined to think of it as minimal and static in nature, and to some degree you'd be right, but not totally. "Senor Trainwhistle" which opens this compilation does kind of sound like a sustained train whistle blast that just will not stop, but there is an ever-shifting dimension to it in the variation of harmonics. At different points the perspective changes and higher, lower, or mid frequencies are emphasized. "Pingray 2" is looped, glitchy noise formed into a lopsided rhythm over various harmonic drones. "Escalator Attendant" (great title!) has trembly, shimmery, echoed harmonics into drone that morphs over time into something nearly completely different while still maintaining its original feel. "That Blurry Tunnel There" is a pretty accurate title for the description of this track. A somewhat hazy hollow tone with little variation comprises the bulk of it. Perhaps the most bizarre title on this CD is "Something Sure Smells Fishy About Sandra Y.!" It begins with some deep chambered sustained metal grating and then something that sounds like a sander on the walls. It's real deep shaft stuff. "Pongray" is as much fun as a pair of waterlogged tennis shoes bouncing around in a dysfunctional dryer. The longest track, "A Mysterious Disc 1" features a richly textured metallic drone that changes shape, size, position, with only minor incidents over the course of its duration. Then, all of a sudden it just stops dead, and a newer, more abrasive drone issues forth until it is eclipsed by other glitchy noise loops, some backwards, and eventually that drone ceases while the loops carry on. A lower tone drone emerges carrying it all out to the vast cosmos. Final track "A Mysterious Disc 2" is completely submerged drone sounding likely barely anything at all in ten seconds. The sounds used in these recordings emanate from an assortment of instruments and sound makers including carved (record) runout grooves, bass guitar, bird cages, shortwave radio, and more. Creative? Definitely. Rewarding? Sometimes. Something for the drone/noise aficionado and avant-garde minimalist enthusiast, but not many others. Limited to 300 numbered copies.

Homogenized Terrestrials: Suspension

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 20 2018
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Artist: Homogenized Terrestrials (@)
Title: Suspension
Format: CD
Label: Aubjects (@)
Rated: *****
I knew I recognized the name Homogenized Terrestrials as soon as I saw this CD for I reviewed this project's 'The Contaminist' album back in 2013. Homogenized Terrestrials is of course Phillip Klampe from Princeton, Illinois, and HT is just one of the many projects he's been involved in. (Amalgamated is another one of them.) I've barely heard a fraction of this guy's stuff, but he never ceases to amaze with what he produces in experimental electronica. The compositions on 'Suspension' are varied, richly textured excursions into dark and mysterious terrain, often unworldly and dark enough only to see the dim light at the end of the tunnel. It is difficult to describe these pieces in any depth or detail because often there is just so much going on that you can't just condense it into a few lines. From its weird, spooky opening, you may feel like you've opened a Pandora's Box with 'Suspension'. Strange lifeforms creep out of it on "gronk" and even some kind of musical theme developes toward the end. I didn't think Klampe would be "enlisting devils" in the making of this album, but as that's the title of the track, I guess he does. These spawn of Satan seem to be throwing everything into a giant blast furnace, then relaxing in the radiation sauna after the task is complete. Moving along, things don't get any cheerier. Lots of little snippets, glitchy things, foley-like effects and mini-events can be heard sporadically amidst the morose pads and drones. A track such as "part, parted" gives the impression of industrial activity, but not in any reality we're familiar with. Then out of nowhere comes a strange tribal rhythm (loop) that belies the concept ascribed to the piece in the first place. There never seems to be any inertia in these soundscapes; activity abounds, even if you're really not sure just what that activity is, and it's usually quite abstract and enigmatic. Sometimes sounds are just familiar enough to coax some sort of impression out of the listener, but the majority of it is left up to the realms of one's imagination. Just because you think you may be hearing twittering birds, the zzzz of the line on a fishing reel, and the creaking of a wooden boat doesn't mean a summer vacation at Lake Watchamcalit. The vast majority of 'Suspension' is dense and dark, and what's not dark is still pretty grey. When compared with projects such as Nurse With Wound, Coil, and Dead Voices on Air, you'll realize just how primitive they were compared to this, in spite of similar tropes and techniques. If there was such a sub-genre as abstract industrial sci-fi pseudo-cinematic ambient, this would be it. Not something you're likely to fathom in just a couple of listening sessions, 'Suspension' will take time to absorb and grok, but it's very grow on you in its own fungal manner.
Mar 18 2018
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Artist: African Ghost Valley & Billy Roisz (@)
Title: Angry Ambient Artists Vol.3
Format: Tape
Label: Forwind Press (@)
Rated: *****
This new volume of Angry Ambient Artists is a split release by African Ghost Valley and Billy Roisz and, in spite of the title, is more oriented towards noise and experimental music territories than classic, or dark, ambient ones. Noisy sources are placed in times to variate dynamics and spectrum to create movement so it's not neither ambient nor industrial music but a crossover with a certain level of personality.
African Ghost Valley open their side of the tape with a noisy sound, vaguely reminiscent of certain '80s synth music, of "9732 XE" opens the first side of this tape and introduces the listener to a sort of noise ambient i.e., noise music without the deafening mass of layers but with a layer of quiet drone which sometimes emerges and takes the aural scene. "MM 152" is instead suspended on his oscillation between silence, quiet drones and sharp tones which creates a tension toward the final noisy section. From an initial part close to silence, "OC 154 T" closes the A side with an accumulation of layers which end in the closing mass of noise ending in silence.
Billy Roisz instead occupies her side of the tape with one track, "Hidden Layers", which oscillates between abrasive moments and quiet ones, both developed upon noisy elements asking the listener to follow a musical development rather to be overwhelmed by mass of sounds.
Perhaps a bit too noisy for the usual ambient fan, but it reveals al least a research of personal perspective of the crossover between ambient and noise. Not only for collectors.

Raison D’être: Alchymeia

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 18 2018
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Artist: Raison D’être
Title: Alchymeia
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
This new release by this historical project is presented as based on "Carl Gustav Jung's notions of archetypes and the individuation process" but seems more based on traditional religious rites. The vocal samples are predominantly prayers in latin and the drones are immersed in a quiet atmosphere that let emerge every small concrète sample.
As "Nigredo" starts, the first thing that could be noticed is the impressive quality of the sound details as the religious atmosphere obtained with bells, concrete sounds and prayers in latin are depicted with both a sound patina and realism while the second part is based upon a droning crescendo and a martial atmosphere which surrounds the listener. "Albedo" is a track in three parts: the first one is quiet and suspended whose crescendo introduces a second part focused in a thick drone whose end is marked by the third part based on a child choir. The development by accumulation of "Citrinitas" build an audio spectrum in which the listener could drawn only to be taken towards a suspended end of the track. Whilst "Rubedo" starts as a meditative track centered on a resonances, it's suddenly twisted in a rarefied ambient track.
As someone could reasonably states that, at writing level, it's just another dark ambient release, he should also notice that the quality of audio detail and construction is so impressive to let gobsmacked. Recommended.


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