Music Reviews



Eluvium: False Readings On

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 06 2017
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Artist: Eluvium
Title: False Readings On
Format: CD
Label: Temporary Residence (@)
Rated: *****
Being sublimely lyrical without lyrics is one of the relevant and maybe the most outstanding feature of "False Readings On", the eight full-length studio album by Matthew Cooper in the guise of Eluvium. Voices of benevolent entities, moaning like they got grabbed during an EVP tape recording, soothing tonal elongation, a fragile set of piano chords and a thrilling opera-like singing immediately catch listener's attention on the opening "Strangeworks", which delicately flows up to the folk-tinged lukewarm tones and the neighing high-pitched (artificial?) singing of the lovely "Fugue State" - it could be imagined a make-up of earlier songs by Sigur Ros or Mum featuring the way of singing of first outputs by Goldfrapp -. After the medley of "Drowning Tone" - the title well describes its content -, "Regenerative Being" seems to be the festive dedication to some natural "miracle" by following more or less the same ascending path (peaking over stunning ecstatic singing and gently brighten pad-synth melodies); such an ascension occurs earlier on "Washer Logistics", but such an effect got rendered by a sound that looks like the most critical phase of the cleaning process of a washing machine (!). Its mechanical cathartic explosion got counterbalanced by the quiet elegance of "Movie Night Revisited", built on the guessed combination of a sort of thin electronic wave, a church-like choir, and a synth flute soothing line. The following 9 minutes of "Beyond The Moon For Someone In Reverse" are one of the best listening choices during the drinking of your favorite magic sleeping herbal potion to relieve anxiety and help beautiful dreams. The title-track "False Readings On" is maybe the more cryptic moment of the whole album - a set of morse-like sings, reversed melodies and distant voices (speaking in Russian?) - and comes before the glaring delicacy and the yelling beauty of "Rorschach Pavan", the pillow talk-like hug of "Individuation" and the long lasting final suite "Posturing Through Metaphysical Collapse". The whole sound Eluvium developed looks like the flooding of a balanced combination of ecstatic beauty and controlled fading, a mixture that someone would call love...

Siyanie: Mystery of Life

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 29 2016
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Artist: Siyanie (@)
Title: Mystery of Life
Format: CD
Label: Moonsun Productions (@)
Distributor: Zhelezobeton
Rated: *****
'Mystery of Life' is the third full-length album by Syanie, the project of Sergey Ilchuk (ex-Vresnit, ex-Vetvei) and Dimitry Shilov (Neznamo, Peal Grim, Magical Things) comprised of material recorded at three live gigs in 2012-13 and completed in the studio 2012-15. Now I've heard and enjoyed Vresnit and Neznamo before, both exponents of the New Russian Ambient Music scene, but Siyanie is new to me. However from the moment I saw this CD I knew I was going to like it. It's cosmic ambient to the max, and nearly 80 minutes of pure aural bliss. A bodacious blend of electro-acoustic environments that you can just let your mind float away with. I especially like the use of sitar that crops up now and then in the music giving a kind of Eastern transcendental flavor. The textures of Siyanie are sublime and ever shifting within their cosmic drones. At times ultra placid, at others mildly intense, it bodes well for a musical trip into a higher state of consciousness. Voices that arise in some pieces sound absolutely other-worldly. The nine tracks (track 9, "Shine If You Will" has three parts) are somewhat lengthy (nothing under 6 minutes) and evolve nicely over time. The grossly overused term "psychedelic" might be applicable in the sense of mind expansion for what the listener may experience with this album, but no drugs are required. Although if I had to equate it with one, it would probably be DMT, although that trip is much more brief than the album, from what I've read. (Never tried it.) If you're looking for an aural equivalent of utopia though, this has to be it. One of the reasons why the album sounds so good is that it was mastered by Sergey Bulychov (Kshatriy), another Russian ambient artist I've reviewed here before. The colorful artwork on this 6-panel CD slipcase is by Sergey Ilchuk and certainly reflects the music. This is one of those albums that really needs to go on your "must have" list, and since it's limited to only 300 copies, I wouldn't wait too long to acquire it.

Orphax: As Yet Untitled

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 29 2016
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Artist: Orphax (@)
Title: As Yet Untitled
Format: Tape
Label: Silken Tofu
Rated: *****
A distorted electric buzz, which wraps what the typical noise of the needle on a vinyl when it reaches the last empty track, opens "Not Yet Titled", the first sidelong suite of this release by Sietse van Erve aka Orphax, coming as a dedication to Jos Smolders, as it seems it got 'based on recordings made for a never finished project for Jos Smolders in 2014'. The voltage of this 19 minutes lasting track gets higher and higher, when Orphax - almost immediately - adds spirals of thrilling sounds, which are close to the ones that many soundtracks use to highlight some frightening peak in a horror movie, and make them gurgling together with other subtle elements and a sinisterly squeaking whisper, which becomes clearly listenable some minutes before the end of the track, as if all of them turn into recipes of a highly corrosive acid soup. The soup I've just imagined could have been fatally mainlined by the organist, who fictitiously opens the title track "As Yet Untitled" by letting collapse his head on the keyboard: well-trained listeners will grab slight tonal variations over its twenty minutes as well as its resemblance to many outputs by Phil Niblock, the composer to them Orphax dedicated this somehow entrancing suite. If you listen to Niblock's "Hurdy Hurry" for instance, "As Yet Titled" could sound like its "phonocopy", rendered by means of gradually piercing higher tones, squeezed by what looks like a processed organ gradually turn to a sort of processed guitar - I could imagine Orphax prerecorded a processed organ and a processed guitar and slowly turning a fader knob to complete such a sonic migration -.

Mario Grönnert and Commonsen5e: Nightmares and Dreamscapes: Silhouettes of Urbia

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 27 2016
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Artist: Mario Grönnert and Commonsen5e (@)
Title: Nightmares and Dreamscapes: Silhouettes of Urbia
Format: CD
Label: Audiokult Music Group (@)
Rated: *****
This is a collaboration between German musician Mario Grönnert and Mason Metcalf, a Portland based artist who records under the name Commonsen5e. I was unfamiliar with both of these artists, had no press sheet, and the website seemed to have trouble, so let’s just put the CD on and see what happens. “Breathing in the Ash” starts us off with spacey ambient with a mournful feel that gets increasingly intense as it progresses. At around 10 minutes in, it adds a clavier and tectonic shifts of bass rumbling with slow moving synth drone and bits of static to break it all up. “Sky Full of Crows” is an exercise in contrast with brooding bass rumbles and high pitched synth work. “Station 17” is a short track of dreamy drone with factory noise built into the composition. “Journeys Calling” is a peaceful, simple piano composition reminiscent of Harold Budd with some low end rumbling that simmers just beneath the surface before coming to the foreground toward the end. “Through Midnight Fallen Lands” is a dreamy soundscape that would be quite at home as backing music for a Cocteau Twins song; “A Radiance” is similar, but with more of a piano and dreamscape vide. Finally, “The world Rewinded” is dancier, noisier, and more ominous, while keeping the piano as contrast. Well done. This album weighs in at around 53 minutes.

Reutoff: No One's Lullabies

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 27 2016
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Artist: Reutoff (@)
Title: No One's Lullabies
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
Reutoff is a trio of WoWa [BT], Arnold pR, and Mitya N, who all hail from a small suburb of Moscow called Reutov and decided to get together to make industrial music in 1998. For them, the town is inspiration. According to the band, they think that “there are plenty of unique, really magic places in the town and around, that forms a united sacral space which is able to stimulate creative activity like nothing else can.” So let’s see what the town inspired them to do. The album opens with “New World Disorder,” and absolutely gorgeous composition of complex, dark, droning synth melodies and percussion. There are a lot of layers here woven together into a beautiful tapestry of sound. Seriously, this track is worth the price of admission even if the rest of the album sucked (which, thankfully, it doesn’t). “Slumber Song” is, ironically, a bit noisier, but no less interesting. Next up, we have “Edge of Oblivion,” which reminds me a lot of Autopsia’s “Secret Christmas History,” with its minor key and plodding beat, but if there were some unintelligible buried Laibach vocals sampled for good measure. Dulcimer and bells combine with wind tunnel synth in “Dead Templar's Groove Manuscript,” and actually has a lullaby feel to it, although one that is meant to inspire dread rather than sleep – sort of how Grimm’s fairy tales were not just for children. “Ice in my Liver” is a jazzy number, with a good beat and a hallucinatory soundscape swirling around it. “Nameless Tune with No Fate” is more heavy, oppressive soundscape that has a claustrophobic feel to it. “Requiem for Android” is an otherworldly soundscape with a beat and synth lines that sound, at times, like the passage of time. “Stille Leuchtet in dem Dunkel” is a cinematic piece that sounds like the soundtrack to the showdown between the protagonist and antagonist with a beat practically designed for the trailer. No explosions though; they’re implied. Finally, “About the Stars (live in Heaven)” closes out the disc with a track that is a bit more raw than the others, which makes sense because it is live. The material on this album began life as a limited-edition tape of 80 copies on German label Sea State in 2014, then they added four more tracks to their Bandcamp page, before finally releasing it on CD with a live track added for good measure. I am glad that this material has received wider dissemination because it is excellent. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. This is far and away the best thing I have heard from Zhelezobeton. This album weighs in at around 70 minutes.


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