Music Reviews

Minitel: Abimes

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 31 2016
Artist: Minitel (@)
Title: Abimes
Format: CD + Download
Label: Facthedral\'s Hall (@)
Rated: *****
More interesting music from France courtesy of the Facthedral's Hall label. There seems to be very little information on the artist, even from the label. 'Abimes' is the debut Dark Ambient Industrial Drone project composed and recorded in 2006 by Iconoclast, under the project name of Minitel, and not released until this year. Why, I have no idea. As for Iconoclast, the only other info I have is that Raphael Henry played (and maybe still plays) guitar in a Black Metal band called Sael under the name Iconoclast. Well, that's at least something, and does explain some of the music on this album. 'Abimes' begins with "Vitriol," a 4 minute noise piece that sounds like white hot ore being processed in a steel mill. Good for noise enthusiasts, but I was hoping the whole album wasn't composed of pieces like this. "Novocaine Messiah" put my fears to rest with an uneasy calm. Primarily hollowish synth drone with a vague, eerie whistling melody over the top, this somnombulant ambience might lull you to sleep but also inspire nightmares out of the twilight zone. I swear I heard some snoring in there... "Inner Filth" presents a much heavier ambience, a spiraling dark ambient drone piece that lasts for over 22 minutes. "Lurker at the Threshold" juxtaposes a very low tone melodic loop over even lower engine idling with other sonics that sound like snakes slithering over sleeping monsters of the deep. This is the creepiest track on 'Abimes,' and owes much to Lustmord's oeuvre. Finally, we have title track "Abimes" and here is where the black metal comes in. It begins with thick slabs of distorted guitar amidst cooing dove-like sounds, and a thick underpinning of deep, dark drone. As the piece progresses, squeaky metallic sounds can be heard, the guitar fades away, then a slow doom drum loop, and all the while that low, thick drone holds down the bottom. This goes on for quite a while until it seems to fade out until... BAM! at a little over 14 minutes the black metal guitar returns with a vengeance swallowing everything and returns into the abyss from which it came, with only traces of doom drum left. While 'Abimes' seems minimal in form, there is a lot of complexity in the drones. I know people who would absolutely love this because of the black metal aspects. For me though, I preferred the middle tracks. Still, very well done. Limited to 300 copies.

Akira Kosemura: Tiny Musical (remastered)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 30 2016
Artist: Akira Kosemura (@)
Title: Tiny Musical (remastered)
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
Akira Kosemura was only 22 when he released his solo album "Tiny Musical" in 2008, the second in his career, but after almost a decade, it's still considered its masterpiece, besides the fact it recorded a significantly high number of sales that was quite unusual for an instrumental album. This digitally remastered edition is a gift in itself: if you never had the chance to listen to it, you'll fully understand why its launching got announced as related to a "new style of music for daily life", where a wide range of genuinely human emotions got translated into melodies, whose extreme conciseness enhances its power of speaking to listener's soul. The gently inverted piano tones of the opening "Ouverture", which got poured into the delicate rhythmical patterns and rising radiant sonorities of "Departure", will open the gate of Akira's musical gardens, where you'll find tenderly moments of relieving serendipity (a breeze that sounds intensely vibrant in the three collaborative tracks of the album - "Parterre", the home version of "Light Dance" and "Just a Few Minutes" -, featuring the acoustic guitar by Muneki 'paniyolo' Takasaka), almost entrancing delicacy ("Seaside"), awesome piano-driven exercises of resounding melancholy ("Moon", "Smile") and joyful explosions - my favorite moments of the whole album - close to J-pop tronica sonorities ("Sky", "Remembrance" - that hiccuping guitar could vaguely remind the sound by Cornelius, another brilliant Japanese musicians, which became popular in Europe and US for its innovative music - or the bubbling sequence of electronic crystal particles in "Shorebird"). This remastered edition also includes "Light Dance", the piano work by which many listeners feel in love with Kosemura's sound, and - this is the second welcomed gift - he decided to attach the score of this excellent composition to give the chance to play it on piano or keyboard as well as some linear notes (in Japanese only) by Akira itself.

Phonothek: Lost in Fog

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 24 2016
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Artist: Phonothek
Title: Lost in Fog
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber
Rated: *****
Phonothek is a duo from Georgia whose vision of Dark Ambient is characterized by a sense of melody embodied by the use of real instruments as the trumpet, the most prominent used, shifting the focus of the track towards songs rather than soundscape. It's another example of how this attitude seems to be a vision of this label as other releases by Cryo Chamber shows this musical elements.
The initial drone of "Old Swings" covers a soundscape of small noises and evolve in a slow melody played by a trumpet. The intricate layers of sound at the core of "Last Train" reveals a sense of narrative that "She was in a Dream" confirms as the return of the trumpet marks the unity of musical development.
"Something Happened" oscillates between ambient and field recordings while "Heavy Thoughts" return to the form already displayed at the beginning of this release. The long notes of "Dancing with the Ghost" creates an atmosphere of tension which is almost resolved by "Clown is Dead" as its final part is vaguely reminiscent of some industrial influences with his martial drumming. "Lost in Fog" closes the circle of this release with the return of the trumpet and the sound of the bells which closes this release with a bunch of question.
Apart from the consideration that this release is based on a fistful of ideas which are reworked an almost all track, with vague sense of boredom toward the end of the listening, there's a sense of atmosphere and writing which generates the wish of another listening. Only for fans of the genre.

free_quenz: Garten

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 23 2016
Artist: free_quenz
Title: Garten
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Klanggold (@)
Rated: *****
If you just focus on the supposed result on body and mind of music, you could label this older entry in Andreas Ubersetz'z imprint Klanggold, the last one I listened of a package sent by Andreas himself, could be quickly labeled as relaxing. A careful listener will notice how many interesting details this collaborative project by label owner and Gregor Quade barely camouflaged behind their seemingly placid sonic streams: most of the tracks seems to have been roughly live-recorded by external mics instead of typical recorders, as if they virtually tried to render the experience of improvisational sessions genuinely without regarding of possible sonic deburring as well as sneezes, coughs, cracking objects, sonic overpressures, outdoor pouring rain and other (supposedly unexpected) interferences. They gave preference to the imperfection of immediacy and unpredictability to the icy perfection of artificially clean recording techniques, and such a choice turned the smooth piano tones and the peaceful frequencies by Gregor, that got gently modified by Andreas, who also cared field recordings, strangely enchanting. Join them in their sonic garden!

Jeff Mills: Free Fall Galaxy

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 23 2016
Artist: Jeff Mills
Title: Free Fall Galaxy
Format: CD + Download
Label: Axis Records
Distributor: N.E.W.S.
Jeff Mills needs no introduction- IT'S JEFF MILLS. His legendary status is such that he could release the sound of him eating his breakfast and brushing his teeth and it would still sell in numbers that most of the other artists reviewed on this site would be envious of. The danger of course is that once you reach such a level, there's no obligation to put any effort in, and a half-baked artist album can be knocked out on a whim.

Luckily though, nothing like that has happened here. Mr Mills- or perhaps I should just call him 'sir'- has clearly put together "Free Fall Galaxy" as a labour of love, a deeply sincere artistic project on the head-bending sci-fi theme of a chaotic galaxy operating outside of the usual physical laws. It's a fictional concept that Mills has completely made up, as far as I can tell, but both the music and the accompanying promo tackle the subject with not only a straight face, but a downright stern face.

So here are thirteen tracks which sound like they have been moulded out of radio telescope data of this distant galaxy, fed into Mills' synths and arpeggiators and translated into frequencies we can hear. Much of it is deeply experimental, some of it is borderline drone, and while there are loops and patterns in it in tracks like the rather bleepy "Aurora", more often than not it bears more of a resemblance to a modern-day reimagining of the Radiophonic Workshop than to techno as we know it (captain).

Several of the tracks recall Tangerine Dream, none more so than the 17-minute epic "Entering (The Free Fall Galaxy)", with some others being more reminiscent of Jean Michel-Jarre in their production, except with a sometimes stoic determination to avoid melody.

"Inner Synthesis" has a pressing synth bassline building throughout, threatening to invite its big buddy the kick drum, but the kick drum never appears, the sense of urgency drifts and we wander back into the ethereal. The kick does finally make cameo appearances in "Solar Crossroads", "Tri-angularism" and the three-minute workout "Rabid Star Clusters". These are among the shortest tracks on the album, rare and strangely unexplained foray into club sounds- and the sounds people may more commonly associate with Jeff Mills. It's as though we stop off at a stellar disco on our way through deep space. The structure of the album makes these numbers stand out like a sore thumb, and anyone planning a truly mesmeric relaxing experience with the album will need to set up a playlist with those tracks excluded.

The production quality is exemplary throughout, this is expert stuff with all the polish of a project that's been a long time in the making. Hit this release at the wrong angle and you might find it self-indulgent and pretentious, but if you're in the right mood, a classic spaced out, chilled out, zen mentality with a yearning for digital sci-fi, this is an epic journey. The only real mystery around it is with the slightly schizophrenic ordering, that bounces us chaotically between ambience and rhythm.

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