Music Reviews



Surface Hoar: Sin-Eater

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 05 2014
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Artist: Surface Hoar
Title: Sin-Eater
Format: CD
Label: Galloping Foxley Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this artist, as well as the radio show on which this is based, but when I read that the album was mastered by Andrew Liles of Current 93 and Nurse With Wound, I was hopeful. According to the label, this album was 'inspired by Bob Corcoran's radio play, 'The Sin Eater,' which originally aired on the Suspense program in 1962. Sin-Eater plays homage to that work and also serves as a tongue-in-cheek rumination on time spent living in the Appalachian foothills.' I'm not sure how faithful this is to the original, but I'm also not sure that it matters too much. If the goal is to recreate the feel of old time radio dramas, the overture that opens the disc is a good start. Synth and erratic snare drum set the mood well. There is a sinister feel to the music that goes beyond the knowledge that it is called 'Sin Eater.' Throughout the album, we hear weird, disembodied voices that have been pitch-shifted up and down buried under the sounds of wind and synth and walls of sound that border on noise. Some of the high points on the album include 'Warm Velvet Mystery,' which is an odd grooving track, with a synth line over staticy ambiance, and 'Kveis,' which is general weirdness with pulsing bass, analogue noises, and dissonant synth. 'Appalachian Snail Trail' very well could feature voices from the original radio program, but we never would know because the voices have been processed beyond the point of recognition. Overall this is a weird disc, but an interesting listen. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes.

Cindytalk: TouchedRAWKISSEDsour

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 02 2014
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Artist: Cindytalk (@)
Title: TouchedRAWKISSEDsour
Format: CD
Label: Handmade Birds (@)
Rated: *****
Metallic stridencies that seem to emulate the sharp cry of a sparrowhawk or maybe of a phoenix, echoes of distant thunders, the buzz of rising voltage, magnetic resonances of lacerated guitars and electrified gurgles and cavernous pealing open this new impressive release by Scottish musician and former collaborator of Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil Gordon "The Freeze" Sharp aka Cindytalk, whose renaissance seeped through a series of acclaimed reissues and four astonishing albums on Editions Mego. Mr.Sharp bravely decided to change course towards darker non-music sonorities on "touchedRAWKISSEDsour", but Cindytlak's flair in forging entrancing soundscapes turns obscurity into dazzling sheen. The tracks which come after the initial "Dancing On Ledges" seem to get focused on layering of abstract noises, which singularly seem to render hallucinations or nightmares, whose overlapping emanates the psychotropic features of Cindytalk's sonorities: both "Fire Recalling Its Nature", whose abrupt stop occurs when the track seems to rise towards mystical levels, and "Mouth Of My Sky (Open Up And Swallow Me)", where an evanescent melody seems to get blown over a desolate industrial escape, smell like sonic reports from netherworld, while the lysergic wire drawing and scrapes of electronically processed guitars over syncopated noises which sound like the noise of unlocked wooden doors on "Reversing The Panopticon" and the following "E Quindi Uscimmo A Riveder Le Stelle", named after the last line of Dante's first book of the Divine Comedy "Inferno", which manages to render resurfacing from obscure tunnels underworld to nocturnal glimmer, sound like proper sonic rites of liberation. After the cathartic placidity of "Yugao", where Gordon brings to light both that airily anaesthetic piano featuring some of his recent releases and his mania for Japanese music, Gordon seal all the previous leaks with the mesmeric storms of "Mystery Sings Out", where the mysterious Cindy finally talks (and "sings").

Bryn Harrison: Vessels

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 26 2014
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Artist: Bryn Harrison (@)
Title: Vessels
Format: CD
Label: Another Timbre (@)
Rated: *****
The inputs of this interesting apotheosis of repetition for piano by composer Bryn Harrison are a sequence of nine notes from a mode by Olivier Messiaen (I could guess he took it from ""Mode de valeurs et dintensites" or from some variation of his sixth mode) for what we could call tonal entities and Howard Skempton's "Tendrils", where the composer weaves lines by means of a number of transpositions of Messiaen's mode. The resulting almost imperceptile repetition of intervals and phrases and the somehow confusing tonal juxtaposition of the 20-minutes lasting original version got remarkably expanded on he version you'll find on this release, which recently reached my desk in spite of the fact it got released last year, so that its spellbinding powers got highlighted on the 76-minutes masterful performance by Philip Thomas (an honorable mention to the one who flipped through the pages of the score, who got captured by microphones). I'm pretty sure that even the rational filters of the most trained musical ears, which will presumably focus on computational aspects, will fade away in order to make way for imagination - some nightmarish settings such as disorienting woods, narrow dark tunnels or other mysterious places you could build by your own imagination could croos listener's minds - and emotions - I could guess you could match it with angst, sadness or suspense - till the moment when this labyrinthine repetitions could even provoke some physical reaction. I can't exclude that...

Ernesto Rodrigues/Ricardo Guerreiro/Christian Wolfarth: All About Mimi

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 26 2014
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Artist: Ernesto Rodrigues/Ricardo Guerreiro/Christian Wolfarth (@)
Title: All About Mimi
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Even more abstract and "astringent" than "Early Refractions" the collaborative release with alto-saxophonist Bertran Gauguet, this release of the consolidated musical partnership between Ernesto Rodrigues (viola) and Ricardo Guerreiro (computer) with the guest appearance of Swiss percussionist Christian Wolfarth on cymbals is even more abstract and overlapped to reductionist aesthaetics. I could guess the title "All About Mimi" could be a reference to same-named multi-modal interactive musical improvisation system, whose linear diagrams seem to get reprised by cover artwork. Its slightly crooked green lines could be the sonic representation of the skewed declension of minimalism that this trio play where you could have the impression that each instrumental emission sometimes claws, sometimes furrows, sometimes violently cannons the surface of the seemingly silent computer-generated barrier that amalgamates the other two (sometimes unrecognizable) elements and their mimicry as if they are trying to escape from their atonal prison cells by means of painstaking grinding of the wall.

EXAUDI Ensemble: Exposure

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 20 2014
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Artist: EXAUDI Ensemble
Title: Exposure
Format: CD
Label: Huddersfield Contemporary Records (@)
Rated: *****
Have you ever suffered from that kind of hyperkulturemia that let you feel observed by family portraits or the people within framed paintings with arcadian or pastoral scenes inhabited by naked nymphes, fauns, puttoes and archers? If so, imagine they can finally speak and sings in order to jeet at your syndrome: they could probably sound like the opening 14-minutes lasting track Aaron Cassidy's "A painter of figures in rooms" by London-based Exaudi, an amazing vocal ensemble which seems to explore a possible bridge between canonic vocal music belonging to the traditions of early Baroque and High Renaissance and contemporary music. Founded by director James Weeks and soprano Juliet Fraser, the ensemble changes "register" on the following "Nakedness", where the first evanescent whisper-like vocals suddenly grows in intensity till those acutes which could break glasses on a solo-voice great piece which contrast with the above-mentioned sometimes chaotic and disquieting juxtaposition of voices and neighs(!), a vocal strategy which semms to have been followed by Bryn Harrison on "Eight Voices", even if the repetitiveness of its vocalisations sometimes get closer to monodic monotony. The ensemble deliberately plays with ambiguousness on Stephen Chase's five Jandl Songs ("why can i not", "trost in wolken", "suchen wissen", the heavenly "lied/song" and the buzzing "mein") settings by Austrian poet and translator Ernst Jandl (John Cage's fans maybe knows his name for his translation of "Silence"), as it's not clear if single voices are somehow matched or not. Another interesting experiment by the ensembles is the treble "Harmonizing (Artificial Environment no.7)" by Joanna Bailie, where vocals get closer (particularly on the second movement "William Tell") to onomatopoeic and scenic rendering, but according to my personal ear response the most fascinating experiments are the two final tracks where the remarkable hypnotical power of the slow oscillation on Richard Glover's "Corradiation" flows into the speckled and flippant vignettes of Claudia Molitor's "lorem ipsum". Exaudi provided one of the most amazing voice-based record I've ever heard.


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