Music Reviews

Nonconnah: Winter EP

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 21 2016
Artist: Nonconnah (@)
Title: Winter EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Records (@)
“Winter” is a mellow collection of seven short atmospheres built around sustained, reverberant, slowly looping gentle guitar notes, bathed in icy tones and cold, smooth drones. Despite starting out with ‘proper’ guitars, heavy use of reverse effects throughout give things an ethereal, synthesized tone.

Nonconnah, the new monicker of Zach & Denny Corsa formerly known as Lost Trail, are now based in Tennessee, but to an outsider this sounds more like a sonic representation of the open whiteness found in Alaska- spacious, broad, quiet, with an emptiness that might mean melancholy to some listeners, freedom to others.

The faintly choral tone of “Snowplows” is mesmeric and it’s a genuine shame that it’s only three minutes long. Some tracks, like “Downhill Trailer”, stop rather abruptly, leaving you wishing these ideas had been fleshed out into an album rather than a twenty-minute EP.

Ostensibly this is part of Silber’s Christmas series, but don’t worry, there’s not a single sleigh bell in sight and there’s no reason why you couldn’t enjoy this mellow Wintery soundscape at any time...

Marco Marzuoli: Senza Titolo

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 18 2016
Artist: Marco Marzuoli (@)
Title: Senza Titolo
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Dragon's Eye Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
After his remarkable "Appunti" and his use of loops, this italian artist returns to his usual drone field with this new release made with his bass guitar re-manipulated with vintage instruments. The result is a meditative journey into minuscule nuances of sounds which requires a partial surrender of intellectual analysis in favor of a spiritual contemplation.
"Senza Titolo" quietly starts juxtaposing layers of sounds until they start resonating and hypnotize the listener; while it could sounds static at first sight, an analysis of his structure reveals how the layers are added and subtracted to generate an inner movement which could be unperceived with a short attention span. If the first part of the track is focused on the addition of layers, the second is focused on movement and the third subtracts the layers until the track quietly ends in silence.
This is those kind of artist that could not surprise the listener, as he committed himself in a codified form, but has those mastery of it to remind that movement can be the infinite variation of a stasis. Please listen carefully.

Cut Worms: Lumbar Fist

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 15 2016
Artist: Cut Worms
Title: Lumbar Fist
Format: CD + Download
Label: Opa Loka Records
Richard Van Kruysdijk’s solo debut is a rich, immersive collection of drones. The press release describes sounds being “dragged through gravel”, “reserved, mangled, chopped and regenerated”, and alongside aggressive terms like ‘cut’ and ‘fist’ in the title, and it’s all surprisingly misrepresentative of this extremely smooth, harmonious, glitch-free and deeply mellow material. (The track “Drum Sloth” doesn’t even have any drums on it!)

The press release also describes “stillness in harmony” which is much more apt- this is borderline ‘ambient relaxation CD’ material. I mean no disrespect at all when I describe this as music to fall asleep to.

Opening track “Tangent Folio” is a highlight, a beautiful slowly rolling wave of sound that instantly transports you to another part of your own mind. “Stone Ether” has a slightly more ‘prog guitar’ feel to it, but is a natural fluid progression. “Seance Drop” and the remarkably titled “Crabby Plasma” both have subtly more floating-in-outer-space sound design, like the hum of a futuristic spacecraft. “Drum Sloth” has sinister low notes that are just a smattering of dissonance. “Slow Binging” is the atmosphere of a louder, slightly more rickety spaceship with distant crockery vibrating, presumably due to a misaligned warp drive. The emphasis may be on acoustic sources here but the result is still extremely sci-fi.

This is a genuinely beautiful and extremely simple sixty-five minutes of warm, slowly evolving, unchallenging ambience. It may not be original or memorable but nevertheless it’s rather lovely.

Athana: Invisible Colors

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 14 2016
Artist: Athana (@)
Title: Invisible Colors
Format: CD
Label: West Production As
Rated: *****
It's always hard to define or getting into to a new Athana album deeply and being able to write a review after few times you listened to it. For sure I could mention the fact that sometimes it reminded me the twenty years old Sylvian / Fripp collaboration, even if "Invisible Colors" is more dark and multifaceted. Maybe I could mention that its free spirit is able to bring you at the edge of different musical worlds that you can call: progressive, experimental, free jazz, fusion. Into this worlds you can hear the guitar gently weeping or crying out loud its pain helped out by the other instruments that sometimes create a spacey ambience (like on "The Elders Too") and then a strong energetic background (like on the opening "So Obvious"). I could mention also that for this album Alf collaborated with great musicians such as: Stewart Copeland, Gary Husband, Ivar Kolve , Giovanni Apprendi, Christian Hovda, Astrid Kloster, Tor Yttredal plus the guys of the band Torgeir Nes og Øyvind Grong. Sure, I could do that, but I'm note sure if I could give to you readers the right feeling I had. The forty one minutes of the album are able to catch you for the whole length if you give to the music the right attention, as well as leaving you indifferent if you don't give to it the right time and the right approach. For this reason I asked help to Alt Terje Hana and decided to make of this half review and half small interview.
Here's to you Alf Terje Hana...
On this album there is a dark underlying tone…the world situation is really going in the wrong direction and it makes me sad.
I also tried to bring in a bit from my early inspirations from the seventies: prog, heavy and all that (Gentle Giant, Zappa, Weather Reports).
Every song has an extra dimension. "Silent Warrior" is my take on looking out from the inside of the helmet of the “Mountain” in Game Of Thrones, or similar war guys. "The Elder Too", it's me going to an elderly home twice a week for two years, where my father staid until he died on May this year. I learned to respect the old people sitting there, with lots of stories and experience to tell. You can feel the timeline ticking away. It's also a bit inspired by Weather Reports.
Also I was so lucky to get both Gary Husband, and Stewart Copeland to join in (I´m by the way being invited by Gary to join his new project Gay Husband´s Trackers as his guitar player). "Berlin Spheres", is a result of a week in Berlin, just hanging and absorbing atmosphere. "Sea Of Change" is a cry for new directions to survive the insane leaders, that just care for ego and money. I tried to put in the call from the siren of the sea, that lures the ships to wreckage. Hope this will make it easier to understand my mysterious ways…
At this point, I think that you'll have all the informations you need to get into "Invisible Colors" and digging it as much as I did.

Radio Amore: Innovations For Electric Strings

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 08 2016
Artist: Radio Amore
Title: Innovations For Electric Strings
Format: CD + Download
Label: Filigran
There are many parts of Adnan Duric-Steinmann’s debut “Innovations For Electric Strings” that remind me strongly of Mike Oldfield’s attempts to sound trendy and relevant. It might seem an unexpected comparison for this Filigran release but hear me out. It’s certainly not a criticism.

Here’s a clearly accomplished virtuoso guitarist with a penchant for moody and progressive instrumental noodling, setting their work onto a bed of electronica which is listenable but a bit uneventful. Occasionally he’ll switch to piano to show off his multi-instrumental credentials, but the guitar work is where the real feeling lies. The EDM-lite bed is well observed but just a touch cliché and somehow you can tell that it’s not where the performance’s real passion lies. Tracks like “Libero” are examples of this, as is “No Pasaran” which sadly is melodic house by numbers.

To say that’s true throughout would be a big disservice though, as some tracks like “Noise Is For Heroes” is a tight bit of faintly glitchy production. “Bacchus And Me” is a form of electro-jazz with a lovely tone to it, although it ends flatly. “Neon Desperado” has an unusual, flamenco-meets-cowboy-movie-inside-a-synthesizer flavour to it that somehow really works.

The blend of organic live instruments with electronica (“at the precipice where the human meets the machine” as the press release puts it) is sometimes a very effective concoction, and some tracks ooze polish and class. A couple of less convincing, less convicted numbers let the side down just slightly.

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