Music Reviews

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.

Svarte Greiner: Moss Garden

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 06 2016
Artist: Svarte Greiner
Title: Moss Garden
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Miasmah Recordings (@)
“Moss Garden” comprises two twenty-minute soundscapes that are as darkly beautiful as the cover art suggests.

“The Marble” is a moderately cold atmosphere of long sustained string sounds, echoes and mechanical hums, as though a familiar but melancholy melody has been stretched beyond its elastic limit. It’s hard to dissect the sources, the underlying bed could be industrial machinery or the sound of a sleeping lion, or both.

Second track “Garden” is a slightly more sinister, faintly more discordant affair. Sparse but loud percussive moments, that possibly once resembled piano sounds, sustaining at length and gradually echo away into an emptier version of the space of the first track. The variation in volume is gradual but extensive to the point where listening in anything less than a soundproof environment makes the music disappear into your own environment. In the final three minutes, new and more synthetic elements arrive to shake off any complacency.

Svarte Greiner recently supported Jóhann Jóhannsson in a live performance, which is apt; some of this work is reminiscent of Jóhannsson’s but minus the central score, leaving only the ambient surrounding space, so as such it would have made a very appropriate scene-setter.

This is a high quality, bold and in some ways strikingly simple soundscape that, despite being so sparse, still manages to demand your attention.

My Silent Wake: Eye of the Needle

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Dec 04 2016
Artist: My Silent Wake (@)
Title: Eye of the Needle
Format: CD
Label: Stone Groove Records (@)
Rated: *****
I don't believe My Silent Wake has ever gotten more than a passing mention (usually in connection with other artists) here at Chain D.L.K., that is until now. My Silent Wake, from the south west of England, is a Gothic Death Doom Metal band who have put out 11 albums since 2005, and most of them (I gather) are Gothic Death Doom Metal, but not this one. 'Eye of the Needle' is indeed something else. The current (regular) line-up of MSW is: Ian Arkley - vocals, percussion guitar; Addam Westlake - bass; Gareth Arlett - drums; Mike Hitchen - rhythm guitar. The line-up for 'Eye of the needle' though is Ian Arkley - vocals, percussion guitar; Addam Westlake - bass; Kate Hamilton - keys, vocals. Also, Martin Bowes of Attrition guests on synth (boy, does that guy get around!) and also mastered the recording. Mark Henry guests on percussion. 'Eye of the Needle' is very different than just about anything I've heard from MSW previously. This is NOT METAL! let me say that again, no metal, no metal, no metal. This is more along the lines of dark ambient, or more precisely, atmospheric psychedelic dark ambient. It's the kind of recording that might have popped up on the Cold Meat Industries, or other similar small label years ago. What's really amazing about it is not chock full of of electronics and sampling. Obviously there there was some employed, but it's understated here. The music is somewhat minimal but still very full-sounding. Right from the beginning you will know you're listening to something completely different. The musical structure is rather loose but often held together by Westlake's bass riffs. Some passages are very, very dark, while others merely exhibit a morbid melancholia. Primarily instrumental, there are some vocals by Ian and Kate that fall more into the recitation than singing category. The slow hypnotic effect through the repetition of some music lines gives a gloomy psychedelic aura; stoner music for the woebegone. Although there are lighter passages, the pervasive atmosphere is dense and heavy, like a dark grey pregnant sky that waits in ominous oppression before giving birth to a storm. Only on the final track, "Three Furies" is there any hint of metal with the muted slabs of distortion emanating from Arkley's guitar pushed to the background, more for ambiance than any power ride. 'Eye of the Needle' is a wonderfully well-conceived and well-executed work that will appeal to doom and dark ambient enthusiasts alike. It was originally released in 2014 as a digital download only to deservedly great acclaim, but only more recently as a CD release. IF MSW chooses to go down this path in the future again, count me in.

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