Music Reviews

Umpio: Opium Electronix Vol. IV

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 26 2016
Artist: Umpio (@)
Title: Opium Electronix Vol. IV
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Distributor: radionoise
An existentialist listen in an increasingly existential world, Russia-based Umpio's meditative Opium Electronix Vol IV edition renders the meaning of life, meaningless. A cursory visit to the Umpio website proclaims, “There's no scene like no scene!”, now how existential is that? Or let us take the project name, Umpio, which means 'Vacuum' in Finnish, we are constantly directed to The Emptiness. Listening to this album is probably what being a part of the SETI Institute must be like, scanning the vast, endless heavens for an echo of a signal from some sentient civilization. Sure, you get the odd, random burst of radiation fluctuations, the flutter from a distant quasar, or probe signals bouncing off natural satellites. However, if you listen to deep space ambience long enough , you eventually get struck with the realization that whether there are other sentient beings or not is moot, we are all pulsing along with the Universe in unison, regardless of cognizance, a blip in the infinite. Opium Electronix IV is a live recording (in Finland) of a noise session by Pentti Dassum, the front man behind Umpio, culled from improvised feedback noise, electrical contacts, radio static, and tape loops, among other equipment. The results straddle the line between noise and ambient and what at first listen seems like empty static yields microcosms of life during deeper listens. These noises ebb and flow like tides against a cosmic shore with chirps and hums not different from crickets and other insects on a beach at night. A case where art unwittingly reflects nature, we are all a part of the void and the void is within us. A not unpleasant listen that facilitates meditative thought and deep insights.

Eigenidyll: Kurmaßnahmen

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 22 2016
Artist: Eigenidyll
Title: Kurmaßnahmen
Format: CD
Label: attenuation circuit (@)
Rated: *****
Eigenidyll is the project by Tobias Schmitt and Sascha Stadlmeier using guitar as sound source. As the guitar is heavily processed, it's not a virtuoso duo but the result is something closer to EAI as it try to let the guitar escape the cliché of rock to create an aural landscape where the listener has to find some sounds instead of having all notes fight to impose themselves.
The track start quietly as an interplay between a sort of drone and some sparse guitar notes, then it starts to evolve into a dialogue between notes and noises upon a silence which let emerge every nuance of sound. This part is the central part of this release and result in a meditative framework owing sometimes to some reductionism an, sometimes to certain form of noise. The introduction of bass, played by Stadlmeier, is the start of the final part of this release which ends with a sort of guitar strumming, heavily processed, sounding almost as a percussion as his metallic formant is exalted and it's ended by the sound of the bass.
It's not a ground breaking release as it rework an already codified language but it tries to escape the obvious trap of it i.e., boredom. For all fans of EAI it's something truly enjoyable and for the other could be an exercise for listening.

Giovanni Lami: Bias

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 19 2016
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Artist: Giovanni Lami (@)
Title: Bias
Format: CD
Label: consumer waste (@)
Rated: *****
Bias is something that could be called as "documentary release" as, instead of being a traditionally composed music, it's a sonic document of a physical artifact. The basic material of this release are tapes buried to alter their chemical composition so, in a certain perspective, were ruined or degraded. When the role of the tape is the recording a sonic source that has to be faithfully reproduced, how has to sound if tape is the source in itself? GIovanni Lami answers this question using tape players as projectors without a visible film.
The original recording of "KRR5" could be a gentle soundscape but it now a representation of bits of music buried upon hisses and noises and a vague background noise. "BHHH" became a deconstructed piece of music, "INZZ" a dark interlude based on a drone able to let the noises act the sudden noise of an horror film which alarm the listener. "PPK1" is a piece based on a sort of foreground noise above which there's the phantom of the recording. "PPK4" starts with a quiet background noise and ends with an high pitch noise. "PPK2" sounds almost as an avant dark ambient track as it's the clearer recording of this release. "LRR3" closes this release with a dialectic between quieter moments and noisier ones where the degradation of the tape is more evident.
An evidently courageous release where there's the search of a personal sound dealing with the concept of legacy and degradation as an inevitable aspect of time, and life. The audible result of this process questions how a culture based on progress could deal with his past and shows the paradox that the medium with the higher fidelity is perfect to reproduce noise as it was music. An excellent release and a work of art.

Rafał Kołacki: Hijra. Noise from the Jungle

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 19 2016
Artist: Rafał Kołacki (@)
Title: Hijra. Noise from the Jungle
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
This release is based upon recording of music events and everyday life made in a temporary refugee camp called The Jungle in Calais, France. This field recordings document the result of the interactions of various nations in a relatively small area. Apart for the political relevance of a work around a theme, immigration, so present in public debate, is shows how music is present in everyday life; while music is almost a background in modern times, traditionally it was a part of specific moments of human interaction e.g., religious rites, and this recordings shows how this element remains present in african based ethnic groups.
But the sense of this release is not on the role of music but, as the liner notes printed on the cd clearly states, it's on the role of the document as a political act. As the refugees closed in the jungle, and called inhabitants by the author, are not citizen but are in a sort of limbo without a precise role, these recordings show them in a first place as humans and this is a political statement in a period when they are seen are a political problem. So, the role of the field recording is to capture the sound of their life without the indulgence of the sad representation of the trapped refugee but, in some recordings, as people which could even celebrate the fact that they are alive.
As the inner cover shows a plate where three hands are taking their food depicting how they can share the few they have, the recordings show how "they lost their homes and families but still retain what is the most precious: human dignity" as the author writes. Talking about music on this release would mean miss the point of this release: documents show what thought cannot. A remarkable release.

Ernesto Diaz-Infante: Tunnels

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 08 2016
Artist: Ernesto Diaz-Infante (@)
Title: Tunnels
Format: CD
Label: Kendra Steiner Editions (@)
Rated: *****
As most releases from this artist, Tunnels has a personal reason: impressed by the news of 32 Palestinian tunnels discovered during the 2014 Isreal-Gaza conflict, Ernesto Diaz-Infante decided to compose a peace conceived as a mantra of peace healing the horror of the desperation represented from their creation.
From a structural view this is a further development of the strumming technique already enjoyed in the previous release so it sound as centered on a single chord with slight variation and resonances so sometimes the chord sound pure and sometimes some notes escape from the harmony cage and even the pulsation of the strumming varies. The effect is something that progressively changes while remaining static and could be quiet resignation or clear headed rage.
It's a release that could sound repetitive or boring at first sight but at a closer listen is full of details and … emotions. It's one of the purest form of music of static along with loop music. Absolutely recommended for fans of minimal music.

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