Music Reviews

Mrako-Su: Путь В Белое

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 29 2017
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Artist: Mrako-Su
Title: Путь В Белое
Format: CD
Label: Black Mara (@)
Rated: *****
The short liner notes of this release state that "is dedicated to the loss of human nature […] for another condition in the lunar Winter" and so there's large margin for the interpretation of this complex vision of dark ambient. The structure of this release is a juxtaposition of drone mainly generated with wind instruments, like flute of didgeridoo, and percussions so there's a sonic link with certain folk, or ritual, traditions.
The opening track, "–––-–--––- –-––", is a long soundscape at the crossroad between ambient and certain ritual music as the wind instruments have a key role in the composition. "–––--" is based on an equilibrium between sound and silence while "–--––- ––––" juxtaposes elements in sequences so it's more like a journey while the previous track was closer to a building. The sustained tones of the first part of "––– –––--– –––-–– ––-–" introduce a second part where sound events beats time. When it seems that "–––––" closes this release with a drone, a rhythmic part introduce the flute melody which ends the track.
As a release with a certain sonic personality, it sounds different with the majority of dark ambient releases based on a certain numbers of clichés and the search for moments of disruption of the plain surface which is the image of this genre makes this release an oasis in the desert. Truly recommended for fans of the genre.

Matt Christensen: Prowl

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 27 2017
Artist: Matt Christensen
Title: Prowl
Format: CD + Download
Label: TVEI (@)
Matt Christensen’s relatively short solo offering “Prowl” is six polished pieces of high-end sparse ambient electronica in what’s now something of a classic style- echoing pianos and FX, fluid warm chords and tones, crisp lightweight digital percussive sounds and occasional bleeps. Principally the result is ambient, in the “if you like The Orb, you’ll like this” way.

Each track offers one new element into the mix. The title track “Prowl” is among the more upbeat offerings, initially offering acid house-like noises and playing with pace, as different layers shift in time, slowly overtaking one another. “Crasenim” adds faintly glitchy gated synths that drip sound like water off a growing stalectite. “Mountains Of Fire” stands out as the most minimal, “llull me to gentle sleep” music with a softly dark underside, that flows into “Spending It” where light organic rhythm patterns plug away while the ambience floats on top. “Junk Test” adds a gentle arpeggiator and a kick drum-like sound so muted it’s like you’re only listening to its echo, with short track “In Force” a soft outro.

It’s a lush sound, and a neatly segued collection of pieces that form a very coherent 36-minute whole. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s got quality in spades and is certainly worth of attention.

Magnetica Ars Lab / DK 5600: Final Muzik CD-Singles Club 10

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 26 2017
Artist: Magnetica Ars Lab / DK 5600
Title: Final Muzik CD-Singles Club 10
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Final Muzik
Recently I received this split MCD with Magnetica Ars Lab, project headed by Arnaldo Pontis, and DK5600, duo coming from Trieste (so both Italians). It is a limited item which is part of the Final Muzik's CD Singles Club. Let's start with Magnetica Ars Lab, who with "Ground Control" are really walking on a dangerous area, because making a sort of Bowie's cover without trying to make one it's a really difficult target. In this case, I'm sorry to say that while I appreciate the cold ambient background atmosphere created, I didn't like the vocals at all, because there's the attempt to follow a little the original melody without doing it and this is the tricky part: or you're really good at it, or you don't do it, because doing that, the people will compare this version with the original. In my humble opinion it would have been much better a reading or a filtered voice not attempting to do any melody at all or a different melody with also a different metric. About DK5600, you read about them here some time ago when I reviewed their debut album "Distanza Katrias 5600". They are here with two tracks: "Punto Zero" and "Uscire Dallo Spazio Curvo". The first one is a cosmic pulsating track which brings you on board of a lost spaceship. There, you hear a voice which seems to come from the central computer. The effect is really good and the long melodic drones and the bleepy effects are really good too. On the second track, we have the same kind of processed vocals with the add of an anxious breathing with a great synth glacial ambient background. The sound is really sharp and detailed. Two really nice tracks.

Edit Select: Points Of Contact 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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Jan 25 2017
Artist: Edit Select (@)
Title: Points Of Contact EP
Format: 12"
Label: Substrato (@)
Rated: *****
Despite its relatively short presence in the market, Italian label Substrato is already breaching the rockiest hearts of lovers of the genre. Even if Italian media are depicting mountains as terrible and nefarious places due to the earthquakes, large snow avalanches and harsh climatic events that are severely hitting central Italy, mountains are somehow magical places, and Substrato's concept got mostly based on the emphasis of its mysterious majesty and the rejuvenating power of its rocks. The fourth output by the label has the signature of a known name of the scene, the one by British producer Tony Scott, mostly known as Edit Select, his more famous moniker. His mastery in forging techno tunes, coming from many years of experience in the field (he's active since the 90ies), perfectly matches the stylistic path that Substrato is trying to trace, where the combination of the more "acoustic" sonorities of techno and deeper pulsations is aimed to render the meeting of subterranean and surfacing hard rocks of upland regions. Tony reached this goal by means of only three tracks: all of them features punching muffled beats and subtle electronic buzzing, but he adds more gurgling sonorities on "Faction 1" and harsher ones on the synth-driven serpentine of "Tangent" (close to some hybrids of chilling minimal techno and Detroit sound) before reaching the almost ethereal thin air of the deeply atmospheric "Faction 1.1", the highest peak of the whole release. Check it out.

Chris Abrahams: Climb

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
 Edit (9567)
Jan 25 2017
Artist: Chris Abrahams
Title: Climb
Format: CD
Label: Vegetable Records
Rated: *****
This new ring in the chain of solo releases by New-Zealander, but notoriously Sidney-based, pianist and composer Chris Abrahams (mostly known for being one-third of the Australian cult band The Necks, even if he's active in many likewise exciting projects), collects a series of piano-driven studio recordings, supposedly composed or somehow blurted out during personal solo studio improvisations. From the exquisitely technical viewpoint, what impressed my ear is the way by which Chris performs a series of legato and staccato touches within gradually rising runs, a performative strategy that he manages to render using amazing tricks (subtle and sometimes instantaneous changes of scale as well!), even if he keeps on orbiting on the same tones, in tracks like the opening "Roller", the final "Shoreline" (the four compressed tone-made chords spurting out of the central movement are one of the more uprising moment of the whole album) or the lovely "The Sleepings and the Drifts". Likewise fantastic the assay of the so-called vertical phrasing technique in the self-describing track "Overlap", where slight variations of the pressure on the sustain pedal amalgamates tones to the point they get almost indistinguishable and homogenous, as well as the angular imploding of the convoluted phrases in "Fern Scapes" and the feverish rising tension of the lovely "Beach of Black Stones". The movement of "Dog Rose" sounds more predictable, but its almost soothing melody renders the idea summarized by the title - dog roses are Australian flowers that are widely suggested by naturopathic practitioners as a remedy against insomnia, paranoia, fear, and anxiety -. "Climb" sounds like an excellent musical restorative more than a pure pianistic exercise.

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