Music Reviews

Forenzics: Malign

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 18 2015
Artist: Forenzics (@)
Title: Malign
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Forenzics could maybe sound like the name of a blues band of middle-aged lawyers, who embraced music in order to escape from a profession which is going to kill their soul, but actually, it's the name of one of the most interesting improvised experimental music act that I honestly ignored before I received "Malign", the recording of a one-take live recording with no overdubs or edits they made on 15th June 2012, and their musical soul is more lively than ever in spite of the fact they included meteoropathy and misanthropy in their sources of inspiration together with their musical equipment, but I won't say that these overtones should be considered as pejorative aspects or pointless mindsets. The opening track "A Dusk Service", where Joe Cummins' trumpet sounds closer to some hazy suites by Bohren & der Club of Gore while John Wilton's drumming could resemble the searching of the right wrench to repair a mysterious mechanical contraption in darkness of night during a black-out and Matthew Syres' electric guitar and Dirk Kruithof's fretless bass seem to emulate the welcomed first break of lights at dawn, and the following gloomy vagueness on "You're Entitled" set the listener's mood for further listening; the atmospheres of the above-mentioned Bohren & der Club of Gore or Erik Truffaz's style resurface on the long-lasting anaesthetic dilutions of "Stone Cold Crazies", where Joe's electronic trumpet hones the febrile neutrality of the other instruments and sounds like the lead character on the following "The Song Games", where it sounds like the drunk honk of a car, which got fuelled by opium, and the awesome "Acid Nekk", where its wheeze mirror a pile of percussive spasms, an almost flat mumbling bass tone and choking distorted rattles from guitars; it sounds like having been poisoned by echo before spreading the infection to other instrumental brothers of misfortune on "Cubists". The garbled numbness of "Hyponagogic" and the disquieting emptiness of "New Ambient Dark Matter" close this convincing release by this Australian fourtet, who includes Supersilent, John Hassell, early Sonic Youth, Necks - their brilliant compatriots -, Tortoise, Demlike Stare and two masterpieces by Miles Davis ("Bitches Brew" and "In A Silent Way") as possible musical references.

glou glou: Hymn Her Hum

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 16 2015
Artist: glou glou
Title: Hymn Her Hum
Format: Tape
Label: Full Spectrum Records (@)
Rated: *****
The attached info about this release by glou glou, the collaborative project by Arjun 'subnaught' Mendiratta, who plays laptop ans squeezes some tones from a violin and some sounds from rocks, and Gretchen Jude, a young scholar of Oakland-based women's liberal arts Mills college, who pours voice (you should consider it as a sort of input of their compositional process), koto and a Roland SP404, says that children should be particularly receptive to their sound. I've not tested on my lovely nephews yet, but an adult eardrum can easily enjoy their sonic game, which seems to get started by a simple stretched tone, which generates a process like a spark, even if this spark can't really start a proper fire. If your ear is not so trained to textural miniatures and sonci slow chiselling, it's very likely that you'll find its listening (particularly side A) quite boring, no matter how hard you'll try to imagine the futuristic birdsong that glou glou prefigure in order to describe their sound or the reckless references to miliar stones of the so-called free music movement (Oren Ambarchi, Fennesz or 12k's MOSS ensemble...), but I have no qualms about saying that their sonic games could be imagined as a sort of lo-fi reprise of the sonic material they brought into play. It's kind of like someone try to strum and simplify a guitar solo by John Mclaughlin or Paco De Lucia by means of an out-of-tune acoustic guitar, but the final result is somehow interesting, if you focus on the sensory aspect more than the merely compositional one. Have a listen before claiming children's opinion about glou glou's "hymnified" hissing hum!

Ákos Rózmann: 12 Stations / Tolv Stationer (1978-2001)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 13 2015
Artist: Ákos Rózmann
Title: 12 Stations / Tolv Stationer (1978-2001)
Format: 7 x CD (septuple CD)
Label: Ideologic Organ (@)
Rated: *****
According to the words of Hungarian/Swedish composer and organist Akos Rozmann: "The history of music as I know it has reached its end. But if, after all, I still composed, it would be some thing like this... Take 3", as you can read on the booklet that Ideologic Organ attached to this monumental release of this brilliant composer, who seems to have poured most of his traumatic experiences during second world war in his compositions. The title of the above-mentioned worked was later turned into "Twelve Stations" and you won't believe that this oevre, which needed seven cds in order to include its length (almost seven hours), should initially be a five minutes lasting piece for voice and piano for Ilona Maros, a soprano as well as the wife of Akos' fellow Hungarian composer Miklos Maros, who asked it in order to include the track on a compilation of works by several Swedish contemporaries. Even if Rozmann intended to fulfil the initial commission, his composition, which required 23 years (from 1978 to 2011) to get completed without getting included in the compilation "Swedish Contemporary Vocal Music" (1988) for obvious reasons, grew longer and longer and included both natural sounds and raw materials unlike his previous compositions, but this is not the only aspect which makes "Twelve Stations" a really special work in Rozmann's creative and personal path: the detailed report that Gergely Loch attached to this electroacoustic mine explains that "it consists of two halves that are separated by an eighteen-year gap in the composition process; two halves that differ from each other both technically and aesthetically, hallmarking two distinct creative period" and such a duality of his compositions crosses personal religious crisis as well. Even if he was in close contact with Roman Catholicism, he get closer to Buddhism during his first years in Stockholm so that the title of this work has nothing to do with the (fourteen) stations Christian Stations of the Cross as it seems to refer to the twelve Buddhist nidanas, the twelve-link chain of causes and effects that prevent a person to reach enlightenment, a concept that is tradinally depicted as a part of the so-called Wheel of Life: "The wheel, held by the god of death, is kept rotating by three animals seen in the axis: the pig of ignorance, the snake of hatred and the bird of desire. The ring around the axis is a sort of stairway, the left side leading to higher, the right side to lower levels of mortal existence. Most of the surface of the wheel is occupied by these levels, six in number, enumerated here from the lowest to the highest: hell, the realm of hungry ghosts, the realm of animals, the human realm, the realm of anti-gods or demons and the realm of gods. The last one is not an idealistic place, as the lives of gods are characterized by endless suffering, death and rebirth in one of the six realms, just as is anyone else's. What keeps the beings on the wheel is the rim, which stands for the nidanas. Each of these is referred to on thankas by a metaphorical picture. Ignorance (a blind woman) causes diligence (a potter), which forms consciousness (a monkey), which in turn causes the dichotomy of name and form (the ship and its passenger). This creates the senses (the depicted building is the palace of the six senses), and these lead to contact (a couple in love), which causes feelings (a man with an arrow in his eye). Feelings lead to craving (people eating and drinking), which results in grasping (a woman picking fruits), which causes becoming (a couple making love), which leads to birth (a woman giving birth), and that results in old age and death (a corpse being carried away, another being eaten by birds). This causes ignorance, and thus the chain starts anew.". But the Buddhist key of interpretation explains just the first seven stations: when he started working again on "Twelve Stations" in 1998, Akos was asked by his wife Viveca Servatius to explain the connection with Buddism and it seems that Akos replied that they were not important anymore as he preferred to highlight the primitive distinction between Good and Evil, even if he later said in an interview he didn't want 'to be classified as one who is concerned only with the rather primitive Good and Evil'! The ninth station is the extreme negative pole of this mystical/compositional process, which seems to ascend after that stage as you can easily gues by reading the titles of the following stations ("The Contents and Life of the Black Pit ", "The Abandonment of Hell", "Awakening", "The Celebrators"). Many interpretative secrecies cannot be easily understood, so that the reporter wisely observe in his notes about this work: "The question 'what happens in the music?' is thus replaced with 'what happens through the music' The answer can only be found in individual experiences of listening, ideally in the immersive way recommended by the composer: when listening to his own works, he reportedly sat very close to the studio loudspeakers, turning the volume high, totally immersing himself in the sound with deep concentration.".
Artist: Nazoranai - なぞらない
Title: The Most Painful Time Happens Only Once Has It Arrived Already... ? 一番痛い時は一度だけそれは もう 訪れているのかな...
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Ideologic Organ (@)
Rated: *****
The sound of this trio of giants of contemporary music - Keiji Haino, Oren Ambarchi (hitting on drums on this chapter) and Stephen O'Malley (from Sunn O)))...if you never heard them while braggin on your musical culture till now, you can reasonably scrape off the bottom of your shoe! - is majestically apocalyptic and intense on this second output that I imagined Maldoror, the notorious fictional character by Isidore.Lucian Ducasse aka Comte de Lautrement, the true literary paladin of iconoclasts, misanthropists and flagellants, in the act of taking part to a live session of Nazoranai with a view to a possible collaboration for the purpose of giving a score to his notorious chants. "You Should Look Closely Those Shattered Spells Never Attaining Embodiment As Prayer They Are Born Here Again" - it's the title of the 19-minutes lasting first epic track, not a personal recommendation! - stirs up huge dust clouds by a harrowing wind that blows from eerily metallic scraping, riven distortions, sinister howling voids and pressing drums. Their sonic world turns more and more grey on the following "Will Not Follow Your Hoax Called History", whose oppressive tightness, that got emphasized by Ambarchi's sticks that sound like saying the time has come, could let you imagine the above-mentioned Maldoror sharing some crack with Jesus while observing the retrograde stepping of mankind. The whirligig of chaos keeps on spinning on "Who Is Making The Time Rot", whose rock body in advanced stages of decomposition seems to clinging on life on the final title-track "The Most Painful Time Happens Only Once Has It Arrived Already..?". Take a ride.

Expo 70: Frozen Living Elements

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 10 2015
Artist: Expo 70 (@)
Title: Frozen Living Elements
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
Instead of being presented as sort of obscure concept album this band simply 'plays their extended acid jams' and so the 70s, evoked in the band name, are the north star of this outfit that has a place in a tradition that starts with bands like Guru Guru with their jam sessions focused on guitar.
'Frozen Living Elements' starts quietly and develops slowly focusing on the guitar line while the rhythmic section marks the passing of time; so this track evolves as a sort of psychedelic, or krautrock, track. 'Curiosities of Levitation' is based, instead, upon guitar drones and synth in the first part and develops in a sort of sci-fi track typical of those years. 'Thunderbird Mound' closes this release focusing on the rhythmic section and the looping phrases of the guitar seldom developing in a melodic line in the first part but, slowly, the guitar starts to fully develop the melodic loop and ends this track submerging the musical spectrum.
This release is a strange one, compared to other Zoharum release, as it marks a departure to the usual dark ambient or experimental territories but, however, it's a sure pick for everyone accustomed to psychedelic or kraut music. Not for everyone but remarkable.

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