Music Reviews

Gabriel Ledoux: Le Vide Parfait

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 05 2015
Artist: Gabriel Ledoux
Title: Le Vide Parfait
Format: CD
Label: Acte (@)
Rated: *****
Ideated during the Quebec student strike of 2012, the meaning of this interesting release where Gabriel Ledoux tries "prettifying evil", according to the words of an established composer asked to comment his work and quoted by Symon Henry's attached words (one of the six interesting comments, that include Ledoux's reflections about his "immoral art"), got explained by a set of comments, but above all by his own music, a psychedelic amalgamation of contemporary classical, electronic and free jazz music, where he manages to render a sense of upcoming or vivid tragedy where the main statement of free art can sometimes go beyond the limitations of worst sides of reality. "I want to pay tribute to the victims of Charles Manson and Jim Jones, of the Columbine shooting and of the Waco siege. I have tried my best to be respectful to the victims of these tragic events in creating Le vide parfait, but the economic liberalism plaguing us forces me to sell these pieces to eventually benefit from these tragedies.". This is his own introduction when he tried to explain it during his own master's final dissertation at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal, whose examining commission considered the use of recorded vocals by members of the sadly notorious People's Temple cult who declared "I'm a violent revolutionary", 911 calls during the Waco siege and the Columbine shooting, as "immoral" and while praising his examination specified that his source of inspiration was "a questionable choice"... One of the judge of "Rouge des crepuscoles" labelled it as "pornophonic"! I agree with what the above-mentioned Symon Henry says at the end of his comment by far, where he wisely quoted Nina Simone's shouted words "The whole damn world's made me lose my rest" on "Mississippi Goddam" as well: "Le vide parfait is about to get its foot in the viscous mannerism door of a music of its time (experimental as well as popular), comfortably looking for a living room idea debate, forgetting the concreteness of daily tragedies. Revolution, then and now, is defined by head-on actions as well as the subversion of cultural and social codes. By releasing this album, in full consciousness of the impact of his art, I have the impression Gabriel is paving part of the way for this revolution I strongly and urgently wish for us.". Check it out and "Don't return fire".

David Toop: Lost Shadows: In Defence of The Soul - Yanomami Shamanism, Songs, Ritual, 1978

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 05 2015
Artist: David Toop
Title: Lost Shadows: In Defence of The Soul - Yanomami Shamanism, Songs, Ritual, 1978
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
This huge audio-documentary collects a series of recordings that Wire journalist and sound artist David Toop made on the occasion of a fascinating journey in Amazonian jungle in order to meet the last Yanomani shamen in late 70s. Compared to previously released edition on David's personal defunct label Quartz Productions, this edition is much more extensive and exhaustive. The main mistake a listener could make is considering it as an exotic caprice for radical chics or an exploration of primitive cultures, as according to Toop's words, who begins his reflection on the 40-pages booklet (including Toop's diary, other interesting cultural matching and some snapshots that Toop took) by the interesting report of a novel by Swiss-born Cuban writer and ethomusicologist Alejo Carpentier and states that he was initially fascinated by the "almost total lack of musical instruments in Yanomami culture", where body, voice as well ideas, rituals and cosmology are the real instruments of their "music", "the Yanonami seemed to me not an ancestral throwback (as scholars such as Stephen pinker and Jared Diamond like to believe) but a contemporary society that had made choices about how to live, that moreover lived in a world defined more by events than objects". Each part of this 'katabasis' in Yanomani culture, which include ancestral shamanistic ceremonies and ritual songs, which mirror and imitate voices of the natural phenomena, secret spirit language, animal familiaries and a deeply symbolic language linked to shmanaic trance, which got compared to the sleep langage of Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" by Toop, closes with nocturnal field recordings that render Yanomani's "unique audiosphere". Highly recommended listening experience.

Natasha Barrett: Peat+Polymer

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 29 2015
Artist: Natasha Barrett (@)
Title: Peat+Polymer
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: +3dB
Rated: *****
Even if spacial relations between sounds as well as the relation between organic and synthetic sonic spheres are the main cornerstones of the stylistical research of multi-awarded British-Norwegian sound-artist Natasha Barrett, this huge collection of her works shows different aspects of her amazing sound art, which often deployed sipport and ideas by scientists and experimental sound designer that Natasha managed to involve. The "artificial" side of her sound got mainly poured into "Polymer", the part of the release where Natasha establishes or, I'd rather say, sculpts relations between sounds by means of really interesting and somehow weird themes. The initial acousmatic piece is a sort to ode to umbrella, where her voice seems to look for a shelter from heavy rain, and opens "Hidden Values", a tryptich dedicated to supposedly minor inventions - completed by a track dedicated to optical tubes and a really funny one to key and lock, where she stages a sort of fight between female voice and percussive elements that should mirror the fight to keep power or ownership hidden by means of this invention or the separation between people (in and out) on opposite sides of the lock -, that she explores by letting drama and metaphor collide. She applied a similar triple partition to "Kernel Expansion", where she exposes the kernel of sounds that are connected to her own memories (from outddors, from inside and from imagination, realities and dreams), and "Reality and Secrets no.2", where she tried to match everyday sounds as compositional parameters and patterns to shape and control two sonic materials (children sledging downhill and some performances by cellist Tanja Orning) by means of the "score" she derived from a set of analysis tools. The second cd is more "earthbound", but not less imaginative than the first one as the way by which she assembled (really realistic) sounds that she grabbed in three locations for different purposes is really brilliant: the first track is the Route No.1 of Oslo Sound Space Transport System, a 3d-sound mapping of the beautiful Norwegian capital, whose sonic architecture becomes surprisingly surreal. The seven short sets of "Sound Exposure in Peru" slightly differs from typical audio postcards as Natasha tried to focus on the way how nature and culture reflect contrasts in space and place, while "A Soundwalk through Shangai", a time-compressed sonic collage of recordings she grabbed in Shangai's backstreets on her way to Expo 2010, is closer to the idea of traditional audio postcards. She inserted a couple of untitled tracks at the end of each part: she unsuccessfully tried to find a title for the first one (maybe some listeners could suggest a possible title after listening), while the second untitled track has a subtitle at least, 'Flight of the Bee', as well as a localization - a sandy island off the south east coast of Norway - as the other tracks of the second part.

Mai Mai Mai: Πέτρα (Petra)

 Posted by mad:dog   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 29 2015
Artist: Mai Mai Mai (@)
Title: Πέτρα (Petra)
Format: 3 x 12" vinyl
Label: Corpoc (@)
Featuring 3 boiled down pieces, 'Petra' by Mai Mai Mai feels as if you were hearing a sound transmission that is about to break down and actually feeling relieved once the final frequencies collapse. But this will soon turn out to be just an illusion as its sonics creep only to become stronger and the first track, 'Bassae', stands as proof of this fragmented soundscape mapped by a genuine sense of closeness. It's the kind of closeness that makes you feel insubstantial once you are projected against such throbbing sound explorations as you may end up feeling that you have no other choice but to listen. Listen to it and be totally enthralled by these 3 sonic exercises playing with intrusiveness and acuteness that seem bound to tickle your most claustrophobic traits but without (necessarily) making you laugh. Backed by stirring vocals and ingrained drones, these tracks sound more as inner field recordings. Maybe in stark contrast to its abrasive content, 'Petra' is gracefully delivered on 300 white vinyl copies with artwork by Andreco and photos by Ilaria Doimo.
For more from this artist, you can check his bandcamp profile:

Inner8: Kunshi

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 25 2015
Artist: Inner8
Title: Kunshi
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Farmacia901 (@)
Rated: *****
This is the first solo EP from this artist and it's presents as derived from the author's "interest to the 'eight consciousness' developed in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism" as "Kunshi ['¦] is the eighth consciousness which has the function to store all the memories". The result stands in the tradition of minimal electronic music typical of this label.
This long track starts quietly with the reverberated beat that is usually bound to orient's sounds, then a soundscape made out of field recordings or the resonances of this beat slowly emerges from the background until something ebbs between a drone and a noise so trying to overcome the musical spectrum. When the clock starts the second half of the track, a new drone start his dialogue with the beat and this time is able to prepare the road to the soundscape that is the main element to the last part of this track and, colored by barely audible noises, ends the track in a pure silence.
While in the tradition of this genre, this project reveals a craft in sound construction that could reserve some real surprises in the next releases. Not only for fans.

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