Music Reviews



ELEH + Richard Chartier: LINELEH I

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 01 2017
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Artist: ELEH + Richard Chartier (@)
Title: LINELEH I
Format: CD
Label: LINE (@)
Rated: *****
This is the shortest (just 73 minutes lasting...a pittance in relation to the 128 minutes of the second part) and the first of a two parts collaborative release by two masters of so-called 'muted drones' like Richard Chartier, the co-founder of 12k's auxiliary label LINE and the man behind Pinkcourtesyphone, and ELEH, an unidentified (having no real or shown registered identity) flying project that already landed on labels like John Brien Jr's imprint Important Records, Touch and Taiga, following the reciprocal knowledge and appreciation of personal outputs. It belongs to that kind of projects where the setting where you decide to use it could have an important role, a matter of time (due to its remarkable length) and space then, whose enjoyment could provide somehow surprising mental journeys. Whether you reach some satori-like enlightenment or you travel through the observation of dust particulates flowing in your room when hit by a sun ray filtered through a window, these guys know how to set parameters for an entrancing listening experience. I could compare this first part of LINELEH to a long-lasting CAT scan, where the sound makers control the rotation of electromagnetic scan as well as the scan and the medical liquids that will stream through your body to remove any formation to clean tumours pressing on the cognitive processing centres of your brain. Well, this entrancing intersection of sinewaves and very low frequencies (created and revised between 2015 and 2016) won't maybe have such a therapeutical effect, but lovers of drones will be surely delighted by the listening experience they provided in this set. A pair of very good headphones is warmly recommended.

Giulio Aldinucci: Borders And Ruins

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 29 2017
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Artist: Giulio Aldinucci
Title: Borders And Ruins
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Karlrecords
Italian sound artist Aldinucci’s first release on Karlrecords is a 50-minute collection of eight thickly layered ambient soundscapes comprising electronics, choral tones, found sounds and atmospheres with a deeply reverential and reverberant tone throughout. It’s an extensive audio sigh with a rich and cinematic tone and a very soporific atmosphere.

After the choir-heavy opening of “Exodus Mandala”, “Division” is a more industrial-toned affair. An arcing background electric hum gives an extra sense of unease in “Parole”, that goes beyond the initial worry that there’s a fault in one of your speaker cables, before the relaxing choral sonic carpet returns in “Venus Of The Bees”.

“The Pray (Dissonant Association)” has a more synthetic feel to it, the longest piece in which the washes and envelopes are more overtly expressed. “Chrysalis” has the same construction but alternates between two choral notes in a manner that begins to feel like a Philip Glass work. Final track “The Skype Cloud And Your Smile On The Left” feels like the most conventionally melodic, in relative terms, dipping towards being a digital lullaby of sorts.

It’s a rich, consistent and velvety bit of sound layering which isn’t overshadowed or made excessively sacral by the use of choral tones. All rather lush and premium stuff.

Tristan Welch: Washington D.C.

 Posted by Levi Jacob Bailey (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 25 2017
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Artist: Tristan Welch (@)
Title: Washington D.C.
Format: Tape
Label: self-released
This is a shrinkwrapped cardboard sleeve cassingle with a transparent-red cassette inside that has professionally printed labeling on the shell. The package sent to Chain D.L.K. includes a copy of the Bandcamp description explaining what is recorded on the tape and the artist's statement, a vinyl sticker, a 5"x7" glossy photo print of what appears to be a tree covered in Christmas lights, and a download code. The Bandcamp copy explains that it is a "self-released cassette of minimalist heavy ambient movements. Drones for peace." I'm assuming "drones for peace" is a play on words, since the title of the cassette itself, "Washington D.C.", refers partly to the fact the side A's drone is in the key of D, and side B's is in C. Key of D and C, Washington D.C. Drones for war, drones for peace. The recordings themselves would be comfortable as a soundtrack for something in the neighborhood of a David Lynch film, but Tristan seems intent on leading listeners in a more political direction, attempting to apply features to this otherwise basically featureless music. There is almost nothing here. The recordings are of a decent quality, it's not a difficult or intense listen. Even other reviews he has posted on his Bandcamp refer to it as a nice chill-out-forget-your-troubles tape, so when he gives the listener specific examples of images to conjure while listening, it comes off as extremely forced: "The atmosphere of a failing rail system. The disappointment of gentrified neighborhoods. The insecurity behind a lost statehood. The headquarters behind mindless drone strikes." This heavy-handed approach at giving meaning and depth to these sounds comes off as kind of desperate and hollow. Propping up kind of vanilla ambient pieces with vanilla social commentary is bad enough, but he sealed the deal with the lackluster packaging. The artwork on the o-card is three stars with two lines of a musical staff beneath them, with two notes (I'm guessing our friends D and C) hanging from the staff. Because of Tristan's leading text, I'm assuming the stars are ballpark references to the United States stars and stripes, or military decorations. I understand minimalism, and could maybe just let this slightly clunky imagery slide, but the absolutely atrocious font choice for the text on the spine explains plainly that moving graphic design was never a consideration here, or at least could never be achieved by this artist. Despite the shallowness of the sounds, artwork and artist's statement, there's an alarming amount of attention (and money) given to the total package here...the professionally printed sleeve and cassette, the shrink wrap, the vinyl sticker, even the additional effort of bothering with the Bandcamp download code, but none of this warrants the overpromotion. The ambient drones are pleasant, but "pleasant" clearly wasn't Tristan's intent as much as "deep". But there is no depth here, and I really hope that Tristan's next effort delivers more substance.

Aeoga: Obsidian Outlander

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Sep 23 2017
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Artist: Aeoga (@)
Title: Obsidian Outlander
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
Aural Hypnox, the Finnish experimental label which is one of the physical manifestation of the Helixes Collective (including a constellation of projects orbiting around more or less dark ritual ambient), picked one of the columns of the label, Aeoga, for their very first release on vinyl. The duo, which prefers to keep their real names secret in order to focus on the potentially cathartic effects of their aural experiments, formed Aeoga just one year after the label was founded and, as far as I know, all releases under Aeoga came out under Aural Hypnox imprint. Also available on a nicely packed (as usual) CD edition, 'Obsidian Outlander' is slightly different than their previous releases. First of all, its length is apter to an EP instead of an LP, but it was introduced as their fourth album so that we can't really criticize the way it got filed. The moment when they get close to their earlier rite-like outputs is the central shortest tracks of the release "The Black Loom" (the ascending and descending chanting voice spreading over ritual percussive hits are really absorbing) and "Obsidian Towering", where the previously mentioned voice turns into a sort of entranced humming while weird whispers and ghostly chirping surround it. This short ritual output gets opened by "Initiatory Boil", where a set of percussive elements (including metallic hits and what sound a sort of rolling on a metal surface) seems to crackle and pop (without boiling actually!) over an ethereal melody that becomes clearly listenable at the end of the track. One of the most entrancing moment is the following "Rot Magnetism": a deeply low frequency and an obscure subtle chant begin to fill the aural sphere before a sort of subtle whisper and other elements get gradually inoculated. According to some more or less esoteric writing, the obsidian is a ritual element that requires a process of purification before having positive effects. If it doesn't get purified, it could attract negative energies. Whether you believe or not to this kind of matters, such an ambivalence seems to be rendered in the last two tracks of this album (the fourth in Aeoga discography). Both "Outer Observatory" and the final "The Sublime Canvas" get filled with disembodied weird voices, sinister aural entities and slowly rising dark melodies (close to some stuff by Lustmord or Troum).

Roman Leykam: Essence

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 22 2017
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Artist: Roman Leykam
Title: Essence
Format: CD
Label: Frank Mark Arts (@)
Rated: *****
We already introduced some of the outputs of Roman Leykam's musical incontinency. The most recent we talked about is maybe "Impressions", a very good one for listener's meditation. There was also a track titled "Essence" in its list, but it has nothing to do with the sound that he explores on this album, likewise titled "Essence". He keeps on focusing on the painstaking forging of aural settings for meditation, but he preferred to squeeze an acoustic guitar for this lofty target. He didn't squeeze an instrument he found in a pawnshop, but he chose a Line6 Variax 700, one of the aesthetically ugliest guitar, but one of the best in producing some particular kind of sonorities in my opinion. Roman seems to know this acoustic jewel and its mods very well, so that he turns the instrument into something closer to Japanese shamisen, Indian sitar (tracks like "Subterranean River" or "Instinct" are the ones where the Line6 resembles this instrument) and a set of classic legendary guitar like the D'Angelico New Yorker, the Selmer Maccaferri or the National Reso-Phonic Style "O" - some of the instruments that inspired the mods of Line6 Variax 700 -. Roman often switches over different mods in the longer-lasting of the seventeen improvisations he packed in "Essence" (such as "Food for Thoughts" or "Uncomplaining Patience"), but all of them are mainly based on slowly picked chords (strumming is really rare on this album), that highlights Roman's interesting handling of effects.


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