Music Reviews



Philipp Münch & Loss: Transcontinental Desperation

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 22 2014
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Artist: Philipp Münch & Loss (@)
Title: Transcontinental Desperation
Format: CD
Label: Ant-Zen (@)
Rated: *****
I was already familiar with Loss, but I had to look up Philipp Münch. Turns out that I already knew of his work, but hadn't put the name with the band. Münch is involved with a whole host of projects, most notably Ars Moriendi, Mandelbrot, Monokrom, and Synapscape, to name only a few (seriously ' check this guy's discogs page). I'll admit that I was less familiar with Münch's work than with that of Loss. I had previously reviewed "Thorns" by Mandelbrot, but my exposure to Synapscape, likely his best known project, was limited to a remix here and there. It wasn't like I was avoiding it - I just hadn't gotten around to it, and with Ant-Zen's prodigious output one has to make some choices.

From the very start, you can tell that this is quite different from Loss's previous output. So at the very least, you get the sense that this is a true collaboration, where the end result is more than the sum of its parts. The music is a lot less of the orchestral noisiness that Loss is known for, which seems to have been traded in for more beats and melody. This also seems much less personal than previous Loss outings; for example, "Dystopia" has samples of news reports and political speeches discussing the former Soviet Union, Detroit, democracy, and so forth. This is by design. As the label explains, ''Transcontinental Desperation' is an aural statement of distress, anger and doubt, where topics like injustice and overthrowing the media have been integrated into the voice samples and lyrics. The suspense buried in the sound textures transmits an emotional spectrum of dejection and subliminal aggression, executed with a variety of electronic and acoustic equipment.' The use of samples works well on this album, with tracks like "The Spirit of Consumption" telling a story by describing debt and the consumption of resources in a relentless pursuit of more. Indeed, some of these more political tracks would not seem out of place on a Snog album. "Extinction," for example, was almost like a poppy industrial track with analogue leads and a grooving beat over moderately distorted vocals. Yes, you can actually make out some of the words.

Overall this is an interesting release and different from what I have heard from either artist. It is good to see collaborations that push both artists in new directions, and this album does just that. As such, if you are looking for something familiar, this is not going to be it. This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.

Loss: Sick

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 22 2014
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Artist: Loss (@)
Title: Sick
Format: CD
Label: Ant-Zen (@)
Rated: *****
From the beginning, I remembered why I love Loss so much. Crackling noise mixed with beautifully lush synth melodies dominate this album. 'Perdition,' a 9 minute long instrumental track, sets the stage, but is not as ominous as previous outings. When 'The (Broken) Promise Ring' kicks in with the expected distorted vocals, we know that we're in for a ride down into the depths of Dan Fox's damaged psyche. As the label explains this album, this is 'a fresh aural facsimile of his feelings, imagination and passion, transmuting pain, sorrow, love and hate into a powerful sonic ride.' Although the vocals are generally distorted beyond recognition, it seems that Loss uses them more as atmosphere; the content doesn't matter in those moments. Or, perhaps, he is keeping back some of the content, because there is some clarity that peeks through, as with 'Session 02' in which he describes a sense of loneliness and nothingness. There is also an interesting variety here; for example, 'False Impressions' has an almost Middle Eastern vibe at times. But the music takes center stage on this release, with much less emphasis on tortured vocals. 'Despondency,' for example, is an epic instrumental full of emotion. Despite the album title of 'Sick,' there seems to be some small sliver of hope in these compositions. Or perhaps it is just resignation. I prefer to think it's the former though. For those who have criticized the unintelligible vocals on his tracks, this is the answer. This is Loss at his most melodic, his most beautiful. This album weighs in at around 61 minutes.

Loss: I Am But The Sum Of My Conditions

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 22 2014
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Artist: Loss (@)
Title: I Am But The Sum Of My Conditions
Format: CD
Label: Ant-Zen (@)
Rated: *****
The man behind Loss, Dan Fox, has some personal issues he would like to share with you. The inside of the liner notes have no lyrics; it simply reads, 'No one hurts me like I do.' You get a sense that this isn't going to be feel-good party music, and you would be right. The label describes this release as 'thematically based on the artist's personal experience with his compromised mental state, covering relationships, love, waiting for answers to some of his medical questions, and his quality of life. . . . 'I am but the Sum of my Conditions' is an emotionally intense personal statement by an exceptional artist where sheer force is combined with captivating atmospheres: entrancing, hypnotic and monumental in scope and power - an unforgettable listening experience." I have made it no secret that Loss's 'A Letter That Will Never Be Sent' stands as one of the pinnacles of power electronics for me, so I was interested to see what he has done lately. On this album we see an evolution of Loss's style with some more beat-driven compositions than on previous releases I have reviewed. This makes sense in light of his move to Ant-Zen, but the dark symphonic elements he is known for are still present and accounted for. The heavy emotional content likewise remains. This is a glimpse into Fox's life, with tracks such as 'Product of a Poor Self-Esteem Case Two: Drunk and Delusional' opening up with an answering machine message from a woman who sounds like she is breaking up with him with the sample 'I know you don't care' repeated throughout the song as Fox screams heavily distorted vocals. But this is not all noise; tracks like 'Session 01' demonstrate that Fox has an ear for composition with a melancholy synth track over dejected, pitch-shifted lyrics. Others just take you on an aural descent into despair, such as 'Waiting for an Answer,' which has no vocals ' just drone with a heavy sense of foreboding, and 'Product of a Poor Self-Esteem Case Four: The Girl with the Plastic Face,' which is a flowing orchestral number with a nicely contrasting crunchy staccato rhythm. Others, like 'Watching you Crumble' and 'Memory' are old school Loss. Overall, this is a safe way to walk through the bad part of town in the city of human emotions with Loss as your guide. I hope he feels better after getting this all off his chest. But he probably doesn't. This album weighs in at around 61 minutes.

Gilles Aubry: The Amplification Of Souls

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 20 2014
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Artist: Gilles Aubry (@)
Title: The Amplification Of Souls
Format: CD + Book
Label: ADOCS Verlag (@)
Rated: *****
In spite of the religion-related subject, this interesting release by Swiss sound-artist Gilles Aubry is not an act of proselytism at all as it's closer to the concept of audio documentary. The two immersive tracks come from the explorations he led in Christian charismatic churches in Kinshasa, the capital city of Democratic Republic of Congo: the first 30-minutes lasting "Amplification of Souls" is a sort of immersive collage that combines a large number of elements that vividly render the cultural environment such as amplified sermons from rough speakers, surrounding noises of car engines, clamours, moments of fervor, a series of "halleluja" and "jesus" for soundchecking and other religious chants that come from distorting megaphones, exhausted worshippers or fanatical preachers, while the second 34-minutes lasting track "Amplified Souls" mainly includes collective prayers, overheated predications and speaking-in-tongues that he recorded at the Libambu Ministry Church in Kinshasa. One of the aural aspect of the record that struck me most was the distortion from loudspeakers that got used by proselytizers, which sound like a key-element of the religious experience, whose importance got explained in details by musicologist and cultural anthropologist Johannes Ismaiel-Wendt in the 80-pages book which integrates the release: "In Distortion is Truth (Poss 1998), distortion is perceived as enriching sound. Distortion creates sound, the enriched broadcast, the well-inteded gift, which the charismatic movements have quite appropriated for themselves as a amatter of course. The noise and distortion envelop everything with a patina, which also generates an aura" and "It is a proven sonic fact: if you want the signal to burn, then use a distorter. If you want to animate people to run out, if you want to inspire people to rapid transformation and to spread the gospel, then do not use a laidback, saturated sonorous sound texture. The latter only works when - as in the morning devotion on Deutschlandradio - the aim is to incite a depp emotional response. Amplification, distortion, and echoes are co-composers They dynamize, replicate, and complete the motivational ideas to form a holistic entity". This is just a part of the interesting analysis of this release by Ismaiel-Wendt, who wisely examines many aspects of this aural document by proposing a number of guessed connection with other contemporary musical stuff as well. The book also includes an explicatory interview with Gilles Aubry by Christof Haffter as well as a number of text fragments and photos by Gilles himself.

Lingua Fungi: Melankhton

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Nov 17 2014
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Artist: Lingua Fungi (@)
Title: Melankhton
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
When I read some notes about "Melankhton" according to which this album is "a sound interpretation of particular illness narratives and a study in experimental anthropology..." reflecting "the shifting states of the turbulent minds visited by 'Melankhton'", I thought that Melankthon was a sort of seraphic or alternatively devilish transfiguration of Philipp Melanchthon, the notorious German reformer, who has been regarded as the intellectual pulsating vein of Lutheranism, and judging by some aspects there could be some connection. Melanchton is widely known as the inventor of the term "psychology", but it seems that Jakko Padatsu, the mind behing Lingua Fungi, meant to use that term as a synonym of "soul seeking", whereas the five entrancing tracks of this record sound like an almost instinctive attempt of eliciting symphaty for mental sufferers , negative acception of soul seekers, by means of intensely evocative sonorities: the noise of a crackling pire on the opening "Wavy Guests" is the beginning and the end of a cycle where the reversed bells and the unexpected shamanic percussions seems to mirror the procession of phantasmagoric transient visions, which got rekindled over the quiet storms, the phoenix-like yells, the guitar-driven tribal dance and the obsessive pit-a-pat on "Departure", the hypnotical coalescence of cavernous waves, organic textures and alien melodies on the title-track "Melankhton", the dreamlike ballad of "Detached" as well as on the decisive last stage of this sort of sonic rite "Soma Dissolution", which sounds like adream withina dream. Another great act got added to Aural Hypnox catalogue, which released a deluxe box set (just 49 copies) including the already limited (449 copies) regular CD edition, two unique cyanotype prints and a silk-screen printed wooden panel which got housed inside a handmande cloth bag.


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