Music Reviews

Suspicion Breeds Confidence: Tand

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 04 2015
Artist: Suspicion Breeds Confidence (@)
Title: Tand
Format: CD
Label: Attenuation Circuit (@)
Rated: *****
Named after one of the bizarre slogan of the likewise bizarre dictatorship in Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil - inspired by Orwell's "1984" -, Suspicion Breeds Confidence is the alias that Frankfurt-based sound artist Tobias Schmitt gave to his electronic artifacts. Its title "Tand", an obsolete German word to mean little nice but useless objects (generally referred to basic toys for children or junk jewelry), as well as the sarcastic titles of its tracks could be both deceiptful and meaningful, if you carefully listen to the flotsam and jetsam that he let float in his sonic pond: my favorite titles are "Although His Leadership Was Brutal His Death Was Deeply Mourned" that he gave to a track where he matched the session of an hypnotist to singed interferences, corrugated metallic sounds, which reminds the act of descaling a toilet tank -!- and one of those fluffy carpet-like pad-synth that your eardrum could meet in those therapy music gimcrack cd in the office of an osteopath or in a massage parlour before the whole track become more and more "claustrophobic", "The Rather Surprising Dishonesty of The Opium Mining Company", the abstract collage of ghostly whispering, soughing background noises, metallic hits that could surmise the noises from the water pipes - it makes sense if you saw the above-mentioned movie Brazil -, or "The Gentrification Of Babylon", the title he matched to one of the spookiest moment of this album, where a set of vanishing voices resurfaces from an expanding foggy sound as if they are clues of stifling or confused memories that some advertiser inoculated into subconscious world in order to generate shell-shocks. Likewise Gilliam, it will sound clear while listening to the sonic stuff that poured into "Tand" that Tobias seems to have penchant for grotesque deformation and a certain surreal hypertrophy of his sonic collages could sound more "extant" than any other unmeaningful info-particles that chaotically float around and flood our senses.

SPUNK & Joëlle Léandre: Live in Molde

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 02 2015
Artist: SPUNK & Joëlle Léandre (@)
Title: Live in Molde
Format: CD
Label: +3dB Records
Rated: *****
Another wonderful release from the surprising Nordic improvisational scene immortalized one of those mixing that could only be sparkling, the collaborative performance of Spunk, the female quartet that the brilliant vocal performer Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje joined together by involving Kristin Andersen (trumpet, flutes), Lene Grenager (cello) and Hild Sofie Tafjord (French horn, electronics), and the iconic double bass player Joelle Leandre, that got held at Moldejazz Festival on July 20th 2011. The recording has been splitted in six moments: my favorite ones are the three collaborative parts, where the first sounds like a reciprocal exorcism within storms of sneaking tones, vocals which perpetually roll over moments of abstract joy, exstasy, paroxysm and rage, a double-bass which sounds like coiling around disjointed instrumental phrases, the second - one of the most amazing moment of the whole recording - renders a sort of musical tormented sleeping (heavy snoring included!) and an encore at the end of the recording, where they seem to produce sonic resin which frustrate any possible movement of each instrument, while Kristin uses her trumpet like a sort of whip against angry Furies. The sparkle of the two solo tracks by Joelle, which sound like a set of primers for a soul on fire, got counterbalanced by the solo performance by SPUNK, who seem to render the caring assuaging of the screaming wounds that Joellle lets ideally bleed. Joelle herself expressed her own admiration for the female super-group that get aside her art on the occasion of Moldejazz performance: "SPUNK is rare. As a group they have a unique strngth in the fact that all members move freely between roles as performers, improvisers and composers. SPUNK's music is poetic, responsible and free at the same time".

Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo: Doropea

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 27 2015
Artist: Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo (@)
Title: Doropea
Format: Tape
Label: Old Bicycle Records (@)
Rated: *****
The shining glitter that have been melt in the transparent plastic of the cassette coul vaguely resemble those souvenirs, where an iconic monument of a place (the Mole Antonelliana in this case!) was put inside a sphere, which was typically filled with a liquid solution and some glitters in order to simulate the snow, and such a connection makes sense for this sonic dedication that Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo, former member of Larsen and Almagest! and collaborator of well-known musical acts like Xiu Xiu, Swans leader Michael Gira and Carla R.Bozulich as wel as one of the more original sonic artist of Italian underground scene, made for his hometown Turin. The somehow melancholic halo of the two fiftenn minutes lasting pieces, one for each side, got emphasized by the hissing of the tape describe the city at two different levels: a more ethereal and almost idealized one comes from the first one, where an upright piano, whose tones are sometimes lopsided or discordant, act like the above-described glitters into a floating and sometimes hypnotical droning stream, whose entrancing trascendence sprinkle on listener from buzzing tones from a synth, a processed guitar, an electric viola and an electric organ, which little by little wrap listeners into an icy and lukewarm hug at the same time, which I could match to the sunny days in late autumn, whose cold temperature got tempered by terse shining air. The second part of Doropea opens on the heavy snoring of someone, who maybe got asleep in a car just before a downpour, filtered by microphones and mechanical windscreen wipers, broke his sleep and could let you think that Palumbo's "description" descended to ground level, before his sounds keeps on spread over the listening space like an electrically excited gas and the gradual depletion of leakage currents after a somehow obsessive tonal crescendo that seems to have been evoked by the man who obsessively sounds like repeating, jabbering and leaisurely singing the word "tone", before his speaking got absorbed by the sonic magnetic field to the point it could resemble the way how more or less ghostly inhabitants of Twin Peaks' Black Lodge spoke in the famous final scene.

Andy Haas: Taballah

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 26 2015
Artist: Andy Haas (@)
Title: Taballah
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I have been receiving and reviewing Muslimgauze CDs for over two decades and when I first received this package I thought this was a new posthumous Muslimgauze CD that had just been unearthed (yeah that still happens!), until I realized it only "looked" like a Muslimgauze CD and instead it was a CD by the NYC-based experimental saxophonist Andy Haas. Then I read the liner notes and it all made sense: the CD is actually dedicated to Muslimgauze, so I felt vindicated because the graphics, lettering and art work really were made to look like that! I am unaware of the reasons why Haas dedicated the CD (other than obvious respect and admiration) to the late Muslimgauze but it was a welcome tribute to a great musician and a great writer (Ginsberg is also an inspiration for this release). Unlike pretty much any Muslimgauze release you might have heard, this one has none of his distinctive percussion sounds and loops. However it does have some bubbling structures of repeating time, mostly thanks to the taal tarang, a digital tabla drum box with a selection of raga time signatures that Haas put through effects to create the rhythm tracks he then improvised on top. With the exception of the taal tarang, "Taballah" is pretty much a solo sax release, but you would be hard pressed to come to that conclusion if you didn't read that in the liner notes. It actually sounds more like a collaborative CD in which Haas duets with an electronic musician. Playing alone with oneself is nothing new in the genre, but doing it so that it sounds like you are listening to a duo who is interacting with each other is a harder balance to achieve. Haas has done just that and has brought his unique playing of the soprano and sopranino sax to best fruition with the aid of harmonizing, minimal rhythmic structures and various effects.

Konakon: Ars Magna

 Posted by mad:dog   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 25 2015
Artist: Konakon (@)
Title: Ars Magna
Format: Tape
Label: Vacancy Recs. (@)
With Konakon's "Ars Magna" we have 3 long pieces, all pushing towards a complex set of outlandish sounds and shapes. The first track, "Ars Magna", is nothing short of a sonic expedition, both in terms of length and intensity. Spreading over almost 40 minutes, it's a piece that mingles alienating space echoes with subtler but equally disaffecting recordings and, at times, this track might feel as if it was carved out of cold air flows coming from systems that ventilate indoor spaces or comatose human beings. "Piano Loop" plays through as a warmer and gentler sonic body despite its air of austerity that infiltrates the track, underpinning a strange mix of claustrophobic yet somehow expansive acoustic while "Binaural" feels as if it's brushing the edges of a tourbillion, with a nervous rhythm that congests only to stretch even further (definitely my favorite track from this album if anyone reading this review would care to know). All 3 tracks seem to take up a hallucinatory field, somewhere between full consciousness and sleep deprivation, where uncomfortable thoughts are welcome instead of being resisted to. In fact, I would say that there's a certain sleepwalking trait maintained across the entire album, a trait that stays indifferent to your choice to listen to this album as a whole or to just one of its tracks. Positively, each piece may demand your sonic attention to its weird details and also steer you towards repeated listening. Belonging to the "Language" series ("audio rough drafts, complete thoughts, one-off experimental meanderings & carefully sculpted sounds"), "Ars Magna" comes in a cassette edition of 20 that includes the bonus song "Strings" and additional filler material by Konakon.

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