Music Reviews

Melanchoholics: Solar Cafe

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 27 2015
Artist: Melanchoholics (@)
Title: Solar Cafe
Format: CD
Label: Eibon Records (@)
Rated: *****
Melanchoholics was a trio from Dusseldorf, Germany consisting of minimal guitars, low-end bass and lo-fi electronica. Their goal was to create slow, impressive soundscapes. They began in 2001, releasing a couple of CDs, an EP and some soundtracks over their course of existence. Unfortunately, guitarist Benedikt died not long after the completion of the recording of this album, so 'Solar Cafe' is their swan song as Philip (bass) and Lutz (electronics) have chosen to carry on making music under the name Minus1One. This is the first recording I've heard from Melanchoholics, so my review is untainted by any prior exposure.

At the outset on "Rotten City Radio" you can tell it's going to be an experimental sort of thing. Some slidey, descending guitar loop, soft, reverberating explosive sounds, a sporadic dialogue sample, electronics, and stray, struck guitar notes all combine to form some kind of amorphous industrial atmosphere. "Adam Dunkel" begins as a low drone four-note piece before noisier elements creep in making for a lethargic industrial soundscape. "Paranoia Lodge" is another crawling ambient piece featuring vocals (the spoken kind) by Arthur Walser Rosar and Miss Ada. It is predominantly placid, interspersed with laconic guitar chords. Vocals are creepy and dreamy, giving the track a semi-nightmarish quality. "Hiring Beared Women" (ever heard of a more peculiar name for track?) is low rumbling ambience over which electronically processed guitar intermittently improvises. It has a slight shoegazer quality to it. Title track "Solar Cafe" sounds like it could be the opening to a Pink Floyd album that was never released...just a kind of ambience, no rock. "Presence of Absence" has the heartbeat of some primordial monster, wind, and some gentle ethereal guitar improvisation. It must have been the combination of the wind and guitar that reminded me a bit of the beginning of Pink Floyd's "One of These Days". "The End Belongs to the World" is an ambient drone piece that gets noisy for a spell a couple of times, also with some malevolent whispers. Nuclear Welfare" continues the trend of ambient-industrial soundscape interspersed with noisy elements and sparse guitar improvisation. Final track, "Minus1One", another industrial drone piece, has much more of Benedikt's guitar in it than I expected; a somewhat melodic melancholy outro with more conventional musicality on the guitar's part.

Melanchoholics have come up with a really unusual album in 'Solar Cafe', and one worth a listen or three. Minimal, yet they manage to pack a lot into it. Obviously they will not be the same without Benedikt, but it should be interesting to hear what Philip and Lutz come up with as Minus1One. Available on CD or 12" vinyl.

Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo: Doropea

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 27 2015
Artist: Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo (@)
Title: Doropea
Format: Tape
Label: Old Bicycle Records (@)
Rated: *****
The shining glitter that have been melt in the transparent plastic of the cassette coul vaguely resemble those souvenirs, where an iconic monument of a place (the Mole Antonelliana in this case!) was put inside a sphere, which was typically filled with a liquid solution and some glitters in order to simulate the snow, and such a connection makes sense for this sonic dedication that Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo, former member of Larsen and Almagest! and collaborator of well-known musical acts like Xiu Xiu, Swans leader Michael Gira and Carla R.Bozulich as wel as one of the more original sonic artist of Italian underground scene, made for his hometown Turin. The somehow melancholic halo of the two fiftenn minutes lasting pieces, one for each side, got emphasized by the hissing of the tape describe the city at two different levels: a more ethereal and almost idealized one comes from the first one, where an upright piano, whose tones are sometimes lopsided or discordant, act like the above-described glitters into a floating and sometimes hypnotical droning stream, whose entrancing trascendence sprinkle on listener from buzzing tones from a synth, a processed guitar, an electric viola and an electric organ, which little by little wrap listeners into an icy and lukewarm hug at the same time, which I could match to the sunny days in late autumn, whose cold temperature got tempered by terse shining air. The second part of Doropea opens on the heavy snoring of someone, who maybe got asleep in a car just before a downpour, filtered by microphones and mechanical windscreen wipers, broke his sleep and could let you think that Palumbo's "description" descended to ground level, before his sounds keeps on spread over the listening space like an electrically excited gas and the gradual depletion of leakage currents after a somehow obsessive tonal crescendo that seems to have been evoked by the man who obsessively sounds like repeating, jabbering and leaisurely singing the word "tone", before his speaking got absorbed by the sonic magnetic field to the point it could resemble the way how more or less ghostly inhabitants of Twin Peaks' Black Lodge spoke in the famous final scene.

Christopher Hipgrave: No Greater Hero than the Least Plant that Grows

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 25 2015
Artist: Christopher Hipgrave
Title: No Greater Hero than the Least Plant that Grows
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
Six years after his first input on Ian Hawgood's imprint, the critical acclaimed album "Day", and after a series of relevant contributions to the universe of sonic arts including his standalone "AMBIENT" software, which generates amazing textures from wav or aiff audio files (available here: ) and his precious support to the super-group 'Tiny Isles', a collaborative project by Chris, Ian,Jason Corder aka offthesky, Rie Mitsutake aka Miko, Ben Chatwin aka Talvihirros, Erik Schoster aka He Can Jog and Antony Harrison aka Konntinente and Paco Sala, whose lovely debut release "The Seasoned Sleep" is going to be re-released at the end of the year, Christopher Hipgrave came back on Home Normal. The content he poured into "No Greater Hero than the Least Plant that Grows" mainly focuses on that kind of ambient, which could let you float in the mental universe of a quantum physician with a relevant difference: instead of accelerating particles, he prefers to reduce the speed of sound particles he wisely inoculate in order to let listener perceive their inner beauty and ideally follow their routes in the vacuum. Some tracks such as "Glittering Flecks Scattered", "More Beautifully etc." - it's really entrancing the way he reversed some sonic beams he inoculated on previous tracks over a sort of vinyl hissing on this track - as well as some bright moments of the album such as "The Quality of Not Being Explicable" or the entrancing "All The Things We Practiced" could sound a little bit lulling, but if you try to listen them carefully, you'll almost perceive the descriptive visualization of Hipgrave's sound on the cover artwork, where the chaotic flow of a cloud of resounding photons sounds like having been harmonised inside invisible wave-like pipes in the darkness.
Sep 24 2015
Artist: John T.Gast (@)
Title: Excerpts
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
The mysterious halo around the name of John T.Gast - supposedly a fake identity -, who credited on Hype Williams' LP "Black Is Beautiful" as well as on different releases of both Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland aka Karen Glass, the two legs of Hype Williams, got fostered by this album, whose mysterious halo as well as the above-mentioned connection with the likewise mysterious Hype Williams, whose amazing and somehow original aesthetics where an elusive bubble of synth-pop, lo-fi tunes, soundcollages, trip-hop like desolation, songwriting, garage and bass-driven music resurfaced from London's chaotic nebula of UK minimal-synth sonorities that got spread out since the first years of the new millunium, makes sense. The words by which Gast's debut got introduced, which refers to both sentimental and seasonal freezing and battling ("The majority recorded early 2014 in SW England. A particularly fierce winter. Woman reasserting power. Man fighting in the dark. The Cold War continues."), are the framwork for most of the sonorities that are going to be poured into headphones and loudspeakers: the opening drone of "Shanti-ites" sounds like the opening of a magical floodgate, which got gradually released on the viscuously acid movement of the following "Infection" and the weirding housey modules of "Congress", whose lubricated groove counterbalances a set of sonic entities which screech like brakes. The confused cauldron of vocal snippets of "£" got poured into the overshadowed tones of "Ceremony", which could surmise some clouded stuff by Future Sound Of London and prepares the listener to the darker part of the album: with the exception of the groovy strangulation and the Detroitesque tech-house swings of the tail on "Claim Your Limbs", the gloomy "Green", which could let listener imagine a spectral ship in the thick fog of London's harbour which is going to set sail, the perfumed soot and the thrilling noir atmospheres of "White Noise/Dys", an excerpt which got reprised before the end, as well as the electronic eddies of "Sedna" tunnel listeners into the oblique sense of otherness and blissfully terse alienation of the final "Torch". John Y Gast's hypnagogic refluxes are so closer to Hype Williams' one than I won't wonder to know John is just their brainchild.

Alphaxone: Absence Of Motion

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 20 2015
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Artist: Alphaxone
Title: Absence Of Motion
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
Cryo Chamber releases his third release with Alphaxone and describes it a "recommended for spacefaring audiophiles" so underlining the production quality of this project.
To be honest, the realistic sound reproduction of "Intro" introduces the listener into an immersive soundscape while "Appearance" develops the field recordings into a quiet drone. "Long Eternity" juxtaposes levels of drones resolving then into a recording of dripping water. "Space Continuum" and "Dark Geometry" are slight variation of the same formula while featuring an high level of sound details. "Celestial" returns to the exposition of small noises upon a drone acting as a canvas while "Inner Horizon" tries to develop themselves using only small noise when, al half his length, the drone returns. "X-land" is a track divided in two drones while "Close" is based on a single drone as a gravity center for the field recordings.
For all fans of this label, it's another milestone for the sound details so headphone listening is truly recommended. However this is balanced by the use of slight variation upon a single musical structure so it seems simply too long and it courts boredom at last. A nice release but only for fans.

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