Music Reviews

Different State: Enormous Components of Motor Unit

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 28 2019
Artist: Different State
Title: Enormous Components of Motor Unit
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This release marks the return of Different State with new music after several reissues on Zoharum. While the other project by Marek Marchoff, 23Threads, has a clear sound, "Enormous Components of Motor Unit" is characterized by raw, and almost low-fi, textures so the music in an intermediate state between the song form and the experimental one.
The linear crescendo in amplitude of the static framework of "Motor Unit" introduces the listener towards "Electricus" where the voice of Ingrid Swen balances the noisy and mechanical accompaniment. "Knar | Rank" proceeds by accumulation with a mechanical beats, samples and loops until in the final part distorted note of bass closes the track. "Within" is almost a catchy pop tune based on the voice of Marek Marchoff upon a danceable loop. With a cleaner sound "Mental" is an incursion on psychedelic rock territories while "Additional Components" in post industrial one with a more claustrophile sound. "An Absolute Necessity" alternates hypnotic resonances with noisy interludes while "Effector (Zenial)" closes this release with a quiet atmospheric introduction to a main part based on a metallic beat and distant voices.
While it's not exactly easy listening, the wandering among genres implicates a multifaceted listening experience that will mainly be enjoyed by fans of industrial music but could well draw a larger audience. Recommended.

Alessandra Eramo: Tracing South

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 26 2019
Artist: Alessandra Eramo
Title: Tracing South
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Corvo Records
On “Tracing South”, Berlin-based sound artist Alessendra Eramo focuses very heavily on experiments with her own voice, in a theatrical and not over-processed manner that harks back several decades. Eramo repeats words and phrases, overlapping, looping, and counterpointing both linguistic and a-lingual vocal noises, often as the sole instrument. Around this work is a fairly light smattering of more modern-sounding electronic elements to add occasional extra textures- found sounds, and on rare occasions theremin and harmonica (all played by Eramo herself).

It all works best when it is either at its most playful, tinkering with sonic ideas, or most simple. “Really Very Gut!”, with its over-effusive repetition of the ‘really very’, is bordering on childish, but very likeable, while the more electronics-heavy “My Favourite A Train” is probably both the most accomplished and most unusual piece here, while final piece “When I Look Into Your Eyes” is a purist singer’s showcase.

When it ‘goes serious’ then it is perhaps more of a mixed bag. The juxtaposition of curt grunts with longer vocal drones on “Vacio” is very nicely executed, while the pure vocal performance at the root of “Primitive Bird” is both beautiful and impressive. However at times, such as on “I Cannot Neglect The Sea”, there’s a certain amount of self-indulgence to the introspection, which doesn’t seem to sit as well as it might.

“Song For The Sun (Carnival Rites)” takes a totally different tack, blending together recordings of carnival music and celebration that devolve weirdly into radio white noise for a middle-of-the-album track that sounds like it’s been lifted from a totally different work, but which is intriguing in its own right.

An applaudable collection of pieces from a very strong experimental vocalist.

Rigor Mortiss: Wbrewny

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 22 2019
Artist: Rigor Mortiss (@)
Title: Wbrewny
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
Rigor Mortiss is a Polish band from Pock whose music is a sort of post-rock mostly based on repetitive music cells owing to certain minimalism orient towards trance. However, at a closer listen, their music reveals also influences from ritual, or religious, music and ambient music and they include also an homage to Eugeniusz Rudnik, a pioneer of electronic and electro-acoustic music in Poland
After a resonant intro, "Dream Catcher", revolves around a rhythmic cell in a noisy way while "Cyborgernas Bon" is based on an arrhythmic pattern and it features samples from Rudnik's music thus obtaining remarkable sound nuances. "Incantations" is instead the first proper song of this release with the voice of Magorzata Florczak. The synth drones of "Vires Spatii" are a sort of rest as they creates a suspended and meditative atmosphere. The pulsating tone of "Sorgens Stigar" collides with the solemn voice of Hans Seved Åkesson. "Last Sirens" marks a return to more rock-oriented territories and "Escape from the Flashback" is other riff based track that is hypnotic until the voice of Maciej Stoliski doesn't awake the listener. "Cormorant Islant" closes this release with gentle synth with chant of seagulls.
The unusual variety, from a band whose music is based on a deliberate repetitive form, is obtained with the use of a developing line over a static canvas. Highly recommended for fans of post rock that would listen to this release for a really long time.

Felix Blume: Fog Horns

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 18 2019
Artist: Felix Blume
Title: Fog Horns
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Discrepant
In the spectrum of ‘art music’- experimental, avantgarde, postmodern, whatever other labels will loosely fit- aspirational and high faluting language is the norm, with listeners encouraged to recognise the deeper meanings and connections drawn out through the sounds and their either connection or disconnection with their source and their production process. So it comes as a breath of fresh air to discover that Felix Blume’s “Fog Horns” is precisely that- it’s the sound of some fog horns, for 33 minutes. And it’s excellent.

Side A of the LP is an 18-minute track recorded during a ‘fog horn concert’ in Piraeus port area Athens, a seemingly live recording in which various large ships blow their single note horns in normally long blasts. Out of the layering and call-and-response of simple tuned warning systems appears a form of drone symphony, the horns become bassoons and tubas performing a slow and accidentally complex improvised musical pattern. The tuning is largely complementary, but intriguing in its contrast. You quickly forget you’re listening to prosaic industrial sound and interpret it as an immersive piece of neo-classical.

Side B ‘remixes’ this material, and is where Blume’s work really starts. The tones recorded in the first piece are stretched, echoed and effected into much darker territory. The naturalism is ripped away and the drones suddenly becoming more sinister, the environment much more alien and intimidating. It’s in three five-minute parts but essentially works as a fifteen-minute drone piece with a strong organic component, building to the final part where tones are bent into string section style arrangements worthy of, and strangely reminiscent of, 2001 A Space Odyssey’s journey beyond the infinite. Although it’s from the same source material as side A, it’s an entirely different work deserving a different arbitrary genre label.

Having first heard Blume’s work on his powerful “Death In Haiti” release a couple of years ago, this “Fog Horns” release is less emotive, and arguably less imaginative; however it’s still a captivating listen.
Apr 15 2019
Artist: Angelina Yershova
Title: CosmoTengri
Format: CD + Download
Label: Twin Paradox Records
Established Kazakh composer Yershova has a strong list of collaborations under belt and has worked with symphony orchestras, However this release is entirely her own work, with Yershova credited as writer, recording artist, producer, mixer and masterer of her own destiny here, in an album that sounds close and introspective, but which avoids sounding small. The result is an incredibly versatile showcase for a multi-talented artist, with a lot of breadth of moods and styles.

Opener “Korgau” (for which there is a YouTube video) is an expansive work of scratchy and discordant string with an old-school experimental feel, supplemented by thick damp-sounding atmospherics and very sparse use of vocal chords, and it truly shines and is understandably the album’s lead.

It’s not averse to a bit of rhythm either. “Tumbleweed” introduces a lovely sparsely-laid rubbery bass note, and some familiar-sounding curt electronic glitch-click rhythms that don’t feel particularly original but which integrate well. The heartbeat and whispered vocalisations of “Kamlanie” that unfold into more urgent-sounding electronic rhythms definitely feel ‘done before’ but are nevertheless well handled. After that, “Jelsiz Jel” takes a decidedly modern trip-hop twist, before the title track hybridises organic instrumentation that teeters onto ‘world music’ with mellow drone atmospherics. This mood flows smoothly into “Khan Tengri” which brings shades of dark electronica and just a shade of what is possibly throat-singing into the mix for something darker and more suspenseful, before final track “Ecstatic Dance” channels quite a strong gaming-style sense of underscored drama.

As a curriculum vitae for film score, compositional or production work it is exemplary. And almost as a bonus, it works pretty well as a listening album too, bringing forth thoughts of soundtracks to picture and long-form story-telling. An album with real character.

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