Music Reviews



Pjusk: Solstøv

 Posted by Paul Muhller   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 20 2014
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Artist: Pjusk
Title: Solstøv
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
Despite the fact they keep on orbiting around the glacial sonorities that they usually explore, the third album by Norwegian duo Pjusk on 12k and their fourth one in their discography reaches highest stylistical peaks as this masterpiece just derives from the (both natural and processed with the help of label boss Taylor Deupree) sound of Kare Nymark Jr's trumpet. Rune Sagevik and Jolstein Dahl Gjelsvik come back their icy homecountry after their previous excursions over the snowy Russian landscapes and immediately introduces a foretaste of their forthcoming collaborative release with Sleep Orchestra by the ethereal track "Streif", the only one of the album which can be properly considered a droning piece as most of the following tracks are astonishing alternation of natural and wisely processed trumpet, which becomes a sort of medium between the glacial places they manage to evoke and netherworld. The unpredictable eruptions of trumpet, which breaks Pjusk's effusions of placid frequencies on tracks like "Falmet" or "Blaff" are real emotional plunging and got often camouflaged together with other instrumental entities and field recordings in a sort of mimetic game as it happens on the astonishing "Demring" or even more dramatically on "Glod", the track which precedes the entrancing final track "Skimt", whose pulsating mantra got enhanced by Japanese sound artist Yui Onodera. Definitively one of the best electroacoustic "environ-mental" ambient album that titilated my eardrums this year.

Divine Shell / Justin Marc Lloyd: Obscure Psychic Themes

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 20 2014
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Artist: Divine Shell / Justin Marc Lloyd (@)
Title: Obscure Psychic Themes
Format: Tape
Label: Rainbow Bridge (@)
I was unfamiliar with either of these artists but after reviewing Justin Marc Lloyd's 'Anxiety Flood Cont.,' I was ready for some lo-fi experimental. This tape does not disappoint. First up, we have Divine Shell with 'Post-Trip Specter' and 'Trash Study' ' the two seem more like one song though (although this is not surprising considering that they weigh in at 0:43 and 4:07 respectively). 'The Bandcamp page offers this description: 'Truly awkward composition of uncomfortable synthesis and spoken word separates these DS pieces from his highly-regarded harsh noise, industrial and power electronics work.' This is a bit more stripped down than the wall of cacophony that Justin Marc Lloyd's threw down in 'Anxiety Flood Cont.,' so it makes for a good contrast. Voices fade in and out of the mix of static before unloading with a blast of harsh noise. This then drops down again making you anticipate the next assault (which doesn't actually come). Overall, Divine Shell makes very good use of dynamics here. Flipping the tape over, we get Justin Marc Lloyd with 'Hurricane Inside,' which begins with some voices and someone saying 'Here's your weather report!' The track consists of conversation about a coming storm mixed with blasts of noise. Not bad, but not quite as engaging as the other tape. This is a short tape, weighing in at just 10 minutes, so it is only enough to get a taste of the artists.

Justin Marc Lloyd: Anxiety Flood Cont.

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 20 2014
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Artist: Justin Marc Lloyd (@)
Title: Anxiety Flood Cont.
Format: Tape
Label: Rainbow Bridge (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this Chicago-based artist, but just looking at these tapes I had an idea of what I was in for. The cover is photocopied and lo-fi. There is a hand stapled little book of weird pictures in the case. The lyric sheet is slightly larger than a fortune cookie fortune. The tape label is hand painted with a stamp of the title on it. You can feel the texture of the paint as you put it in the tape player. And you know that the only ones putting out a C-22 tape are noisy acts. So it isn't much of a surprise when I hit play and am greeted with some noisy cut up music with lots of pitch-shifted samples and incomprehensible lyrics. But this is not just thrown together at random. The music hangs together with a kind of structure before descending completely into heavily modulated noise. But this is not just thrown together at random. The music hangs together with a kind of structure before descending completely into heavily modulated noise. On his Bandcamp site, the description includes these lines: 'Heavy garbled tape and vinyl looping as backbones, drunkenly staggered. Non-sensical contrast, as a repurposing, creating unique limits around free-associating. . . . Read the lyrics and sing along.' Yeah, good luck with that singling along part. Well played, Justin Marc Lloyd. We flip the tape over and get some chaos with moments of clarity. For example, in between snippets of voice and noise, we hear bits of a music box with varying levels of processing. In the middle of this there is some discussion about the North Pole, which made me wonder how this worked with the title of 'Approval Ratings.' Finally we hear 'Libra Tears,' which is heavy, thudding percussion with pulsing noise and heavily processed voice and music. This one also shows that we can have Lloyd's ring modulator when we pry his cold dead fingers from around it. Overall, this is pretty good experimental. If you live in the Chicago area, go see him live and buy a tape off of him. It's fun and worth listening to.

John Chantler: Even Clean Hands Damage The Work

 Posted by Paul Muhller   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 15 2014
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Artist: John Chantler (@)
Title: Even Clean Hands Damage The Work
Format: 12"
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
Fans of vintage modular synthesizers will immediately recognize the "voice" of the two rare glorious models that John Chantler, the London magnetic pole of Australian label Room40, squeezed on this release: he had the possibility to play on Buchla 200 and its grandson, Serge modular, that EMS Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm keeps and makes available to composers and sound artists and collected a pile of sequences and sounds that he revised over a couple of years in order to avoid that his stuff could be too closer to mere work outs on modular synths. The opening ultra low frequencies and the electric rifts of the first part of "November" and the erosive sequences whose noisy wavelets of the second part are closer to many electronic grafts into prog-rock elongations from the 70ies precede the atomized clipped fluctuations and the atmospheric textures of "Dismantled Cabaret" in the first group of tracks, while the second block includes "Wollmar Organ", where John punctured an organ-like sound from the Wave Multiplier module by rising voltages, zipped frequencies and tubular sounds, and the amazing fluid dynamics of "The Knight Firth", where gobbling sonic bits keeps on burbling before their gradual stagnating.

Dave Phillips: Homo Animalis

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 07 2014
cover
Artist: Dave Phillips (@)
Title: Homo Animalis
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Schmpfluch Associates
Rated: *****
The first humanimal that peeked out from the listening of the very first moments of this release by Zurich-based artist Dave Phillips, former founding member of brutal grindcore project Fear Of God who gained a certain recognition by lovers of noisy stuff with some meaningful connections by means of a series of underground and strictly limited releases that many people like to label as "extreme", is Jack Arnold's amphibious Creature from Black Lagoon and while keeping on listening, I wondered how Dave managed to render what a person could possibly feel while being eaten by some hungry zombies. The devilish voice which repeats the title of "The Less I Know" introduces the sarcasm behind "Homo Animalis" and the explicated "humanimalism theory" as well as the aesthaetics of this wise sound artist, which seems to explore human degradation or revival of ferocious instincts (it depends from personal viewpoint) in the guise of a probe for visceral detection: according to the interesting explanation which got attached to the release, the first one of Rudolf Eb.er.'s resurrected Schimpfluch, "humanimal theory...is rather a process of de-antropo-centralisation, a connectivity of senses, instincts, emotions, ideas and thoughts that are as personal and subjective as much as they are understood as a part of a larger whole" where "sound is humanimals preferred form of communication" and a way "to activate primordial shared emotions otherwise stifled by civilised experience and restricted by social consensus" that "taps into the essence of existence itself". Other disquieting images as well as an involving thrill can arise to listener's consciousness while keeping on listening: for instance, the sound of slammed doors and the whole sonic atmosphere of "Humanimal B" could let you imagine you've been closed into the same labyrinth where the mythological Athenian hero Theseus met and supposedly killed the Minotaur - with a difference: you are with no Ariadne's ball of wool and no dagger at all! -; the dreadful synth-crescendo of "Rape Culture" could sound like the most excruciating physical torment by Jigsaw Killer; the story told by the sounds of "Novaturient" could look like a POV snuff movie directed by a serial killer whose criminal alter-ego got awoken by the sound of a subway station and the one that got evoked by "Kelelawar B" sounds like the nightmares by a repentant vampire, where "So...What?" could let you think about a possible collages of Japanese or Chinese domestic abuses and the cinematic "Truth Is Invented By Liars" as a possible contemporary revival of the myth of Premetheus (simply genial the insertion of some dialogues taken from "Bad Boy Bubby", one of the first which used binaural microphones to record dialogues). In spite of its amazing amalgam of post-industrial hooks and horror-movie-like sonorities - not so different from some stuff that recently came from Cold Spring I spoke about on this 'zine), the aim of the game is not psyching listeners out as humanimals sound more noble by birth and in spirit as you can guess: "humanimal would like to encourage the global north to "change the dream of the modern world", from one of accumulation and consumption to one that honours and sustains life. humanimal knows there is enough food for every being on this planet if distributed properly. It encourages into paths and processes of one's alimentary choices and habits and a sensible and prudent appliance of these insights"... Humanimals maybe is aware that "nature doesn't need us".


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