Music Reviews

Jochen Arbeit / Paolo Spaccamonti: CLN

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 15 2018
Artist: Jochen Arbeit / Paolo Spaccamonti
Title: CLN
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Boring Machines
Jochen Arbeit (member of Einstürzende Neubauten since 1997) and Paolo Spaccamonti have here created seven numbered pieces from the softer side of guitar-centric noise and drone atmospheres. Warm resonances, long sustains, measured use of distortion and deep rumbling, sometimes-tense bass notes combine to create a very filmic 31-minute album.

Longest piece IV, in the centre of the album, is particularly strong as the steady bass notes really up the tension. Track V, after a languid and bluesy opening, is also a strong example of slow build. Finale track VII is also worth noting, and a reasonable sampler track for the whole release, despite the almost absurdly abrupt ending which is a reminder that, averaging under 5 minutes per track, some of these soundscapes could have been explored and expanded rather further than they are.

The whole album was, says the press release, built out of one improvised session that yielded three hours of recordings. It’s certainly not overbaked, nor does it sound like sweat and tears has been ploughed into its creation, but as the sound of two accomplished and confident musicians playing to their strengths, it’s a very satisfying release.

Gray Acres: Gray Acres

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 13 2018
Artist: Gray Acres
Title: Gray Acres
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Sound In Silence
Brothers Andrew and Michael Tasselmyer (Hotel Neon, The Sound Of Rescue)’s debut album as a duo is a nearly-hour-long collection of guitar, synth and sometimes piano ambience, drone and soundscaping with a general feel of sedentary loveliness. It’s one of those releases where it’s hard to judge the temperature- technically it could be described as cold, but there’s something about the lapping reverb that actually comes across as reassuringly warm.

Opener “Sightlines” is particularly pretty. Other pieces, like “Return To Self” with its occasional piano chord, are somewhat more melancholic but in a way that’s arguably a little wishy-washy and as such a little forgettable. “Vestiges Of Form” is almost the definition of soft ambient drone, though none the worse for it and a very nice inducement to sleep, but certainly a little short of unique selling points.

A smart, smooth, relaxing but ultimately slightly forgettable bit of mellow ambient.

Alameda Duo: The Luminous Guitar Craft of Alameda Duo

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Mar 12 2018
Artist: Alameda Duo
Title: The Luminous Guitar Craft of Alameda Duo
Format: CD
Label: Instant Classic (@)
Rated: *****
This intense avant-folk release by Alameda, the project by Jakub "Kuba" Ziolek and his long-lasting collaborator and friend Mikolay Zielinski on guitar, is an awesome musical bridge between the so-called American folk primitivism and the obscure (but really luminous indeed) tradition of ancient Greek music, that Ziolek knew through Rafal Iwanski, who let him listen a tape "Music of Ancient Greece" (dating back 1946 and reissued after decades by Orata records) where Christodoulos Halaris, a sort of archeologist of composition, who tried to study and recover some old ethnic traditions (mostly the Greek and the Byzantine ones), tried to remove the dust away of some ancient Greek music, including the notorious Delphic hymns. The environment where Alameda recorded "The Luminous Guitar Craft of Alamada" in a couple of nights (in order to avoid distractions and dirty interferences of daytime) in an evangelical church in Bygoszcz, the native town of Jakub in the Nortwestern Poland, could have influenced the blissful nuance of the melodies, the virginal singing and the "spellbound" sound together with the link to Greek music (people who only know sirtaki could notice some resemblances with the sonorities of the popular dance in the first part of "Laurel" only!) and the myths they quoted through titles and lyrics (not only the Greek ones of Ate and Daphne - "Laurel" is the alternative name of Daphne as she got transformed into this notorious and scented tree according to the moving notorious myth -, but they also quoted the Norse one of Yore). I particularly appreciated the alternation of moments when the almost hypnotical "quotations" of Greek music prevail and the ones where they push those melodies into more modernist styles, as it happens, for instance, when they unleash a hectic tapping after the first five minutes of the opening "The Silver Chant of Ate" or when they let guitars fade out to give space to some evocative field recordings, wrapping the recitation by Tomasz Nosinski on "Ming".

Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast, God Body Disconnect: Miles to Midnight

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 11 2018
Artist: Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast, God Body Disconnect
Title: Miles to Midnight
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
While, at first sight, this could seems a split album, it's a true and proper collaboration between three acts that already have a significant amount of release on Cryo Chamber. As it's now a sort of development for this label, "Miles to Midnight" is another step away from the dark ambient form; evidently inspired from noir movies, the most recognizable elements of the OST for this kind of movies are used: the drum played with brushes and melancholic piano lines.
The usual barrage of sound effects, almost canonical for this type of releases, opens "Miles To Midnight" evolving, just after a minute, in a form close to a song because, when the drum enters with a reverse loop, there a hint of melody in the background and a well defined structure. The piano of "A Thousand Empty Rooms" is ever more audacious in this exploration towards pop territories, so "Scene Of The Crime" with his sound details return to something closer to dark ambient but with an experimental twist. "Floor 6, Please" sounds like the second part of "A Thousand Empty Rooms" while "The Other Lobby" shows the technical abilities of this artists with a recreation of an old style sound spectrum and "Sorry Sir, You Are In The Wrong Room" starts as the first true approach to the canonical form of the genre. While "The Sleep Ensemble" is impressive with his sharp tones and detailed but quiet background, "Quiet Days On Earth" sounds more like the track which are usually used in the end titles of a movie.
This release could perhaps upset the die-hard fan of the genre as it has weak ties with the genre but it will be truly enjoyed by open minded fans and even fans of ambient in the wide sense. Recommended.

Frank Meyer | Roman Leykam: Nebbia

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 11 2018
Artist: Frank Meyer | Roman Leykam
Title: Nebbia
Format: CD
Label: Frank Mark Arts (@)
Rated: *****
The title of this new collaborative album by Frank Meyer and Roman Leykam is the Italian word for 'fog', but there are not so many tracks that I'd label as 'foggy', maybe due to the habitual clarity of the sound that characterizes most of the releases coming from the imprint of Frank Mark. I sometimes griped about a lack of innovation of the sonorities explored by the label as well as other stylistic choices that could sound old-fashioned, but I have to say that this "Nebbia" includes many intriguing moments and very good tracks by this "run-in" artistic collaboration, in spite of the fact that some distinguishing marks have been kept such as the centrality of electric guitar in the line-up and a "new-ageish" coating of the sound. Even if many tracks keep on being very similar to previously composed material by these musicians, I appreciate the attempt of dusting their style down that can be perceived in many tracks over this retro mists... Lovers of supposedly mystical and meditative music (...and there are many more than someone can imagine, following the explosion of DIY or copy'n'paste religious beliefs and a rich assortment of "spiritual bundles" in the times we're living) won't really look after these details and they could appreciate it as a nourishment for the reaching of some enlightenment as they appreciate some brand new soy-based beverage or any other healthy goop, but a music reviewer can't but highlight that some outputs by these guys are excessively pleonastic and so repetitive that they could bore more demanding listeners. Fortunately, some of the sphere they forged (I'd rather match them to giant soap bubbles that explode just before the listener realize they're enveloping its aural sphere...) feature a different approach to compositions. I particularly enjoyed the ones where they added more beats (even if rhythmical patterns are quite simple) such as "Auxiliary Truth" or "Creative Hostility" as well as the ones where one of the two electric guitars dictates the pace, while the other one rambles on some melodic motif. Have a check and a comparison against other outputs by Frank and Roman.

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