Music Reviews

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
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
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
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.

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.

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