Music Reviews

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
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
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
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.

Ennio Mazzon: CeriseIcicles

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 16 2014
Artist: Ennio Mazzon
Title: CeriseIcicles
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ripples
Rated: *****
The follow up of last year's 'Xuan' is a shorter and more visceral release that and based upon the impact of layered noises. According to the linear notes this music is strongly tied to a visual component reacting to the audio and, even it aims to 'deconstruct and transfigure the "pop structures" of the original audio material', it sounds more experimental in nature than other releases of this artist.
A drone and some sounds that seems from a field recording opens this release with various small noises depicting a sort of menacing and industrial soundscape but, instead of basing upon the musical impact, it focuses on the details and the evacuative properties of the samples. The second part is based on a quieter drone that let the field recording emerges from the background. Some seconds of almost silence take the attention and it takes a couple of minutes of samples for the return of the drone and a deep rhythm creating the menacing atmosphere of the beginning of the track. In the middle of the track a bright soundscape emerges and introduce the listener to a part of the track based on noises and loops that develops in an end based upon glitches that suddenly end the track.
This release, in twenty minutes, shows more ideas and paths of development than most albums that last for three times this duration. It's demanding to follow this musical development but it's full of hidden treasures. Highly recommended.
Nov 14 2014
Artist: Cristian Vogel
Title: Polyphonic Beings
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Shitkatapult (@)
Rated: *****
According to Karl Heinz Stockhausen, a unified time structuring, a wise splitting of sound, the multi-layering of spatial composition and the equality of sound and noise are the "Four Criteria of Electronic Music" in brief and such an eminent conceptualization of music seems to have inspired the last two astonishing releases by brilliant Chilean techno legend Cristian Vogel, who after he moved to Berlin, one of the sacred site of contemporary music of our planet, fulfilled a quantum jump to his already appreciated style by a sort of integration of those principles into eerie dub-driven sonic boxes, which proves the chameleon versatility of this producer after the ambient-oriented album "Eselsbrucke". Some nuances of techno pops up in just one of his eight "Polyphonic Beings" - the amazing "How Many Grapes Went Into That Wine" -, while some technoid residue flow like water snakes in water ducts into a few of them - "Spectral Jack", "Forest Gifts" and "LA Banshee" are the ones where are more audible -, but most of the tracks have a totally different approach to rhythmical structure and sonic textures as he manages to synthesize outstanding hybrid between dub-techno and acousmatics where bright stylistical spots unpredictably deviate from the continuity principle of techno stuff: the sort of elegy that suddenly surface from the above-mentioned "Forest Gifts", the analogue spit-ups that surface on tracks like "Spectral Jack" (vinyl exclusive) or "Lost In The Chase" or the melancholically entrancing piano micro-melody and the shamanic hooks on the final "Society Of Hands" are just some of the moments when Cristian could find the right way to the hearts of more demanding listeners which cannot be considered proper clubbers anymore.

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