Music Reviews



Philippe Lauzier: Transparence

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Philippe Lauzier (@)
Title: Transparence
Format: CD
Label: Schraum (@)
Rated: *****
Philippe Lauzier is based in Montréal and specializes in bass clarinet and saxophone, although this album also features half-bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, and motorized bells. That said, tracks crediting 'feedback with alto saxophone' clue the listener in that this is not a Kenny G style album. This is some minimal improv that uses a lot of silence to make the parts in which he is playing stand out that much more. That said, after a few listens, I found this to be a bit too minimal for my tastes. Some tracks work well, like 'Gisement,' with its deep, rattling bass drone punctuated by more traditional tones and 'Au-Dessus,' which features trills and warbles that become almost maddening (in a good way). Others, however, like 'Empoigner,' are so sparse as to leave you wondering if it was more a warm up session for the next track. I appreciate the judicious use of silence, but some tracks here are very sparse. I found this to be a mixed bag. When Lauzier is on, he's on, but the minimal tracks didn't seem to go anywhere. This album weighs in at around 43 minutes.

Hübsch, Martel, Zoubek: June 16th

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Hübsch, Martel, Zoubek (@)
Title: June 16th
Format: CD
Label: Schraum (@)
Rated: *****
A piano, tuba, and a viola walk into a bar.... Sounds like the beginning of a good joke, but in this case it is the beginning of an interesting collaboration. This trio features Philip Zoubek on piano, Carl Ludwig Hübsch on tuba (and objects), and Pierre-Yves Martel on Viola da gamba (and objects). As with most of the material I have reviewed for this label, I was unfamiliar with these artists, but Hübsch provides some insight into how he perceives his work: 'Through the use of avant-garde and self-invented performance techniques, the tuba acquires completely new characteristics as a brass instrument. An innovative array of unexpected sounds is heard, the instrument is seen from a fresh perspective, and the audience is confronted with a novel way of perceiving time.' So if you had never thought of tuba as a foundational element of experimental music, here is a chance to rethink what classifies as experimental because he pulls it off. 'Tap,' for example, has a lot of rapid-fire percussive elements as they seem to be tapping and pounding relentlessly throughout the piece. This is common in experimental classical, but I could swear that there was a flute in the mix. This is one of those albums where you wonder how they got those sounds out of those instruments. But this is also a showcase of musicians who know their instruments well and work well together, as seen in such tracks as 'Coin Rang. Clock Clacked' and 'Introibo Ad Altare Dei,' which are sparse improvised compositions that make effective use of dynamics and quite spaces. Sometimes it gets a bit too sparse and minimal, as seen in 'Rrrpr. Kraa. Kraandl.' Still, if you like stripped down experimental classical, this is one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 43 minutes.

Monochromie: Colors in the Dark

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Monochromie (@)
Title: Colors in the Dark
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Monochromie, which is the work of French artist Wilson Trouvé. I am often not one for piano albums, but this is absolutely beautiful. Monochromie provides lovely, delicate piano compositions that seem to be woven from of a mixture of sadness and hope. But these are not straight piano compositions. There is also the effective use of field recordings, as with the sounds of children in 'Childhood,' the hum of a film projector in 'Old Times,' and crackles of noise in 'Katedra' and 'Thorns of Roses,' as well as lush synthesized strings and heavy reverb that keep the piano from sounding too sterile. The best descriptor I have for this album is 'sentimental,' but not in a maudlin way; rather, this is music that reminds you that the soundtrack to everyone's life is limited and goes through peaks and valleys and changes along the way. If you liked Nature and Organisation's 'Death in a Snow Leopard Winter,' but found it too straightforward, this is what you are looking for. Very well done. This album weighs in at around 54 minutes.

Ovro: Id|entities

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Ovro
Title: Id|entities
Format: CD
Label: Some Place Else (@)
Rated: *****
Ovro is a Finnish musician who has also collaborated with Niko Skorpio under the name Hæretici 7o74. The press release describes this as 'a bunch of stories told by different personalities. Whether the stories told are true, or just true to the one(s) telling them is left to the listener to decide.' And Ovro knows how to tell a story. If the mini poster that comes with the disc is any indication, this won't be the kind of story that has a happy ending, either. We begin with some minimal music of drums, bells, and drone and spoken word samples like 'he who summons the magic controls the magic.' This gives us an idea of what we're in for. The use of samples on this album is a lot more pronounced than usual in this kind of music, but this is by design. As she put it, 'It all began with a sudden urge to start collecting samples: 'Go forth and sample!'. Not only my usual field recordings, but samples from movies. Some were recorded straight from TV when the movie was on, some were nicked from movies in our DVD collection. There are bits from good movies, from bad movies, famous movies, obscure movies and everything in between ' but all more or less from the horror et al genre (I wonder how that happened, heh).' At times the samples become a bit heavy handed though. For example, 'Fate Dealer' repeats 'You're my hate disposal unity.' Still, overall this is good ritualistic ambiance with interesting use of samples throughout to build atmosphere. If you like your dark ambient extra dark, this is one to check out. This album weighs in at around 64 minutes and is limited to 250 copies.

Shock Frontier: Mancuerda Confessions

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Shock Frontier (@)
Title: Mancuerda Confessions
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this band, as well as the bands which spawned this. Shock Frontier is the work of Robert Kozletski from Psychomanteum and Kyle Carney from Defiantly Fading. But I am very familiar with Malignant Records, so I had some inkling of what I was getting into. The label describes this album as 'an expertly composed and finely honed collection of shape shifting, nightmarish emissions and radioactive tonalities, drawing inspiration from some of the early death industrial pioneers, but adding an unique, densely layered and atmospheric style. This is a soundtrack to a world that ends not in a cataclysmic, fiery fashion, but one that slowly decays and rots into oblivion, where swathes of ghostly textures, samples, and disembodied noises morph into murky ambient realms, and caustic frequency reverberations pierce through a bleak, post-apocalyptic haze.' Sounds like a good time. We open with 'Paroxysm,' which includes some spoken word with statements like 'it's their fault that I tortured them.' This monologue melds well with the suffocating atmosphere and slow, plodding beat. This sets the tone for the rest of the album, which then moves into a noisy, ominous, mechanistic industrial nightmare with 'Angels Upon Iron Horses.' Other standout tracks include 'Understand the Extent of Our Disintegration' which layers sparse atmosphere with samples of reports from the 9/11 terrorist attacks and 'This Is Paradise,' which showcases the harsh side of things with grinding noise, but even this has a hypnotic quality that is almost peaceful. Throughout the album Shock Frontier maintains a tension between atmosphere and noise, which keeps things consistently interesting. This is an incredibly intense, well constructed album. I get the feeling that we are going to see a lot of this project. If you like your music rusted and charred with a side of death atmosphere, this was written just for you. This album weighs in at around 72 minutes.


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