Music Reviews

Midnight Doctors: Through a Screen and into the Hole

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 26 2015
Artist: Midnight Doctors
Title: Through a Screen and into the Hole
Format: CD
Label: Ouro (@)
Rated: *****
Formerly known for his amazing project Hapsburg Braganza, melting electric guitar modulations, electroacoustic techniques and experimental hooks, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne-based skilled sound designer, producer and composer Phil Begg recently brought his big-band long-term studio project Midnight Doctors that seems to have been evolved by a series of gigs to the attention of my ears and my ears really enjoyed it. The emotional lukewarm wrapping of the preface of this album, the opening track "Life and Light Apart", kicks this borderline sonic experience off by melting faint rattling violins and a somberly hushed melody on guitar, piano and John Pope's double bass, which becomes more and more solemn as violins highlights the mood and drums begin to crawl over sonorities that could resemble some stuff in between Bohren & Der Club Of Gore and Roy Orbison; Joe Posset's nice tape jams and first electroacoustic entities by Begg himself ignite the following "Chump Change", a wisely crooked movement where the occasional absence of drumming seems to upset the weak balance of other instruments, which seem to find a new balance in the almost peaceful ventricular fibrillation of the following "Long Sands Black Labrador", a fragile balance that got dissolved in the obliquely sinister electroacoustic echoes and peremptory glacial percussions of "Death of Similaun Man". The foggy and raggedly seducing jazzadelic atmospheres of "Rust Coloured Smoke" opens the second half of the record, where Midnight Doctors unwind the brooding interferences and tape artifacts of "My Forsyth (Demonic Frequency)", the delicate fragile beauty of "Climatic Loss", where the big band seems to puff emotionally driven sporadic breaths into a crystalline motionless scene, and the final lukewarm intimacy of "The Slow Way Home", where the cinematic tricks that hooked listeners got sharpened by Americana-folk hints.

Kapital: Chaos To Chaos

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 13 2015
Artist: Kapital
Title: Chaos To Chaos
Format: CD
Label: Instant Classic (@)
Rated: *****
Kapital, the bicephalous project by Rafal Iwanski (playing or controlling a tone generator, an analog synthesizer, a rhythm machine, a sampling unit, a sampling pad, congas, metallophones, rattles, found objects, horns as well as his own voice and other special effects!) and Jakub Kuba Ziotek (another great sonic mind under an electric guitar, 6- and 12-stringc acoustic guitars, analog and digital synths, loop station, clarinet, gongs, another sampling unit, a dvojnica double flute - a woodwind instrument from Serbia and Southern Hungary -), forges its second output after the praiseworthy debut release "No New Age" (coming out on Polish experimental label Boclan Records) by referring to the illustrious genius of their fellow countryman Stanislaw Lem as a fitted framework for their impressive stylistic symmetries. The novel they quote Lem's "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub" in the inlay of "Chaos To Chaos" - if you carefully see that diamond on the cover artwork, you can consider it a quotation or a reflection of well-known ocean of memories on planet Solaris, maybe the most known work by Lem -, a little pearl of modern science-fiction where the somehow paranoid dystopian setting intersects that kind of bitter satire that could be injected by means of more or less hidden allusions to social science and political themes, inspired by the finding of some notes (Notes from the Neogene) by a narrator, who was losing his mind when he understood that the only ruler of the days he was living was chaos and that such an awareness fed social life by paranoid thoughts. It is rather odd that the first edition of this novel has a drawn ear on the cover and if you imagine that Kapital's music could have been made for the paranoid pleasure of the protagonist of Lem's novel, who could have some similarities to contemporary human beings, can improve the listening experience they provided. The oblique technoid movement of the opening Kap-Eh-Thaal, where the deceptively abstractions of shining sounds sweeten the tightness of the first part of the track, the scented wool over listener's ears on the lukewarm psychedelia of "Paradis Electronique", the flavoured malaise evoked by "Kolaps", the rising pressurization counterbalanced by the anaesthetic effected guitars on "Trans-Mania", the delusional nuance of the only proper song of the album "The Music Of Goodbye", the estranging hybrid of peaceful ambient and disquieting mechanical roaring of Cyborg Interchaos", the time-delay switch that seems to clock human emotions on "M.I.T." and the otherworldly landing of "Zona Incognita" render that kind of drugged feeling of oppression, where artificial illusions seem to rule human behaviour, where even the awareness of being controlled immunises any attempt of self-releasing.

Father Murphy: Lamentations

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 08 2015
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Artist: Father Murphy (@)
Title: Lamentations
Format: 10"
Label: Backwards (@)
Rated: *****
This new Father Murphy's release on Backwards is a rather short EP closing the Trilogy of The Cross and following Calvary and Croce. As the title suggest, the sound of the band is focused on a sort of repetitive and almost religious palette using spare element chosen with care.
The obsessive organ lines opening "Lamentations" are juxtaposed for the creation of a thick sound mass doubled by the vocals of the band closed by the final part based on the guitar drone. "Mercy and Truth" is instead a quiet track based on sparse beats while the vocal and the organ develops quietly their musical path and the guitar is replaced by the trumpet.
With his short duration it's a release for fans and collectors which perhaps would appreciate its connection with the previous parts of the trilogy. The others could be disappointed by a far too predictable musical development diluted by the evocative quality of their sound.

Jos Smolders: Modular Works 2015Q1

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 08 2015
Artist: Jos Smolders (@)
Title: Modular Works 2015Q1
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
The name of Jos Smolders should say something to many followers of the most hidden recesses of electronic and experimental music, as you could have met it as the signature of some articles on well-known Vital magazine or less recently on, a label he made that turned into a proper webzine and one of the most updated source of information for electronic community by focusing on many aspects of the expanding netaudio scene (online services, net labels online magazine, social media functionalities and so on), but besides the editorial activity, Jos is primarily a sound artist, who knows modular synths like the back of his hand and this release is the most convicing proof of his knowledge. This digital release came as the attempt of combining together isolated sonic objects that he made while mastering and restoring 10 albums by Pierre Henry into a proper composition as Jos himself said: "I composed these works during the first months of 2015. They are clearly defined constructions, built in a modernistic fashion. The sounds have a character of their own but I force my will onto them and thus create a composition. [..] The theatrical approach of henry is clearly audible in these works. I started with a certain mood in my head and worked from there. First collecting the initial sounds (objets sonores), reworking and editing them and in the mean time placing them in a timeline". Three of the four works got dedicated to Robert Hampson ("an inspiring conversationalist on the subject of Musique Concrete", in Smolders' own words) and features really amazing sonic entities: I particularly enjoyed "light" and "debris", the second and the third composition, as they sound like sonic translations of mental states that someone could experience during prolonged working in isolation, where ordinary noises like the crackling of a wooden floor or a chair ("light") or a clock("debris") got somehow defomed by senses, as well as the 12-minutes lasting "TomTomTomTom", where a breathe and a ticking into a set of impressive modular sounds gradually render a really oblique listening experience.

Blodfet & DJ Lonely: Erasuremade and Dissolved

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 07 2015
Artist: Blodfet & DJ Lonely
Title: Erasuremade and Dissolved
Format: 12"
Label: Das Andere Selbst (@)
Rated: *****
The lo-fi cover gives little indication as to what we're in for, and the song titles provide no more clue than the cover ('Synth won...Oasis & Heavy Metal are gone!' and 'From Smersh for New Jersey,' for example). But the artists' names seem to be a misnomer, as this project is the work of one person: Amsterdam-based artist Jonas Ohlsson. The label describes the album thus: 'His sounds rummage in upper & lower music traditions, from musique concrète through favela bootie beat, industrial noise and synth pop. . . . From laconic loneliness to caricatural anger, Erasuremade & Dissolved delivers dysfunctional songs and a really unique approach to electronic music and song writing.' OK ' we're still no closer to knowing what this will sound like, so let's get into the music. This is pretty weird stuff. Imagine a collaboration with Wesley Willis on vocals, The Residents on music, and sampling provided by Negativland. There is a lot of digital beeps and synth with spoken word thrown in for good measure. For example, on one track we get a dialogue between the artist and a woman discussing the qualities of shadows ('Do you have a good shadow?'), and on 'Synth won...Oasis & Heavy Metal are gone!' he discusses the importance of electronic music ('We thank Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder...'). There are some recognizable samples (as in the slowed down and distorted beginning of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody') and a statement that 'I've got two synthesizers and a microphone.' It's clear that Ohlsson is having a good time with the music and not taking himself too seriously. This makes it fun for the rest of us who may listen in on his merriment. If you like your experimental music weird, this is definitely one to check out.

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