Music Reviews



Jacaszek & Kwartludium: Catalogue Des Arbres

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 02 2014
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Artist: Jacaszek & Kwartludium (@)
Title: Catalogue Des Arbres
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
The integration of instrumental and ambient music with field recordings and sound of nature has almost become a cliche so that the discriminating factor is the aesthaetic quality of such an integration and the aesthaetics that Polish electroacoustic musician Michal Jacascek and the ensemble Kwartludium (Dagna Sadkowska on violin, clarinet player Michal Gorczynski, Pawel Nowicki on percussions and pianist Piotr Nowicki) convey on this "Catalogue des Arbres" (French for "Catalogue of Trees") is undoubtedly sterling from this point of view. The choice of a French title is not a matter of mannerism, but it's just a quotation of "Catalogue d'oiseaux" ("Bird catalogue") by French composer Olivier Messiaen, the forerunning oeuvre of the so-called biomusic where he incorporated the delicate chirps and tweets by thirteen different birds into likewise delicate compositions. By reversing the order that many poets and writers followed by using musical metaphors to render their enchantment for nature, Jacascek and Kwartludium turn into interpreter of the hidden sound of trees, whose presence is not limited to a bunch of field recordings but they seem to mark the sound of this project since the opening "Sigh (Les Peupliers)", where the musicians manage to render the serene magnificence of poplars whose elevation got evoked by 441 Hz Chamber Choir sylvan-like voices. A certain anxiety creeps into the record on the disquieting lullaby of the following "Green Hour", which evokes the so-called natural deficit disorder or Louv's hypothesis about some behavioral problems caused by the disconnection between humans (mainly children) and nature, and on "A book of lake (Roseliere)", where percussions seem to render the flowing of reed beds and clarinet could resemble the sound of some buzzing small inhabitants of wetlands where reed wildly grows. Fittingly, wind instruments had a prominent function in "Garden (Les Sureaux)", where they quote elderberry, whose branches are traditionally used for a number of flutes and wind instruments in Eastern Europe; moreover the track sounds like rendering the venomous beauty of sambucus, whose parts mainly includes cyanide. A similar contrasting suggestion comes from the listening of "From a seashell", where the enchanting sonic elements sounds like the clash between the beauty of those resounding forms and the circumstance that those exoskeletons are like abandoned houses or cemeteries. A feeling of vague dismay and digginess trickles from the following tracks "Circling (Le Pre)" and "Anthem (La Foret)", which precede the astonishing finale of "Kingdom (Les Chenes, Les Bouleaux)" here 441 Hz Chamber Choir emphasizes the quivering atmosphere of the soundscape again.

Gaap Kvlt: Void

 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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Aug 25 2014
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Artist: Gaap Kvlt
Title: Void
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
The man/woman behind Gaap Kvlt curtains managed to keep his/her identity conceiled for the moment as no one knows anything about him/her except, I surmise, Polish label Monotype which released his/her first complete album. As I am adverse to the cult of personality by nature, I cannot but praise such a choice, even if it could be consistent with the mysterious halo of the sound and the whole evoked atmosphere you're going to explore: the quotation of the Golem on the opening highly hypnotical track "Birth of Golem", who became famous for the notorious novel by Meyrink, but above all a style which melts dark ambient, cinematic industrial-like poltergeists, field recordings which seems to come from obscure recesses of some haunted building, abstract electronics whose low frequencies which gradually entwine and smother the sonic sphere (particularly on tracks like "Inquieude", "Poix" or "Far") and sinister knocks could be described as a possible crossbreed between Flint Glass, Emptyset and Vidna Obmana even if some occasional lacquering of Arabian sonorities (mainly percussions on tracks like "Ritual" or "Peganum Harmala") could resemble some stuff from Muslimgauze. Some moments of the album certainly render a sense of vague and suffocating emptiness, but a title like "Void" clashes against the thickening coagulations of visionary sonic injections and the fascinating polarization between icy sounds and the scorching heat which emanates from this fascinating release. Mind the Gaap...I said...mind the Gaap!

The Young Mothers: A Mothers Work Is Never Done

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 23 2014
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Artist: The Young Mothers
Title: A Mothers Work Is Never Done
Format: CD
Label: Tektite (@)
Rated: *****
I sometimes have to classify a number of projects that deserves visibility which could be labelled in a different way under the wide and vague "experimental" definition, where the experimental aspect lies on the intelligent crossbreeding of known styles which manage to trascend definitions andand I have to do this unproper labelling for this astonishing brainchild of Norwegian-born (but currently based in Austin, TX) bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, who grouped many brilliant musicians together: Dallas-based vibraphonist and drummer Stefan Gonzalez, son of jazz master Dennis Gonzales; guitarist Jonhaton Horne from the amazing Austin-based band Plutonium Farmers, who got blessed by Steve Albini's knack; saxophonist Jason Jackson, one of the most talented member of Houston's improvised music community and former co-performer with Leroy Jenkins, Pauline Oliveros and William Parker; Chicago-based octopus-like drummer Frank Rosaly; Houston-based trumpeter and rapper Jawwaad Taylor, former collaborator of Jay-Z and MF DOOM, whose wiseful lyrics set the mood on the opening "The Wood", and a plenty of guest musicians such as Bob Hoffnar (pedal steel guitar on "Mole"), Carl Smith (tenor saxophone on "Ruth"), Ralph White (the kalimba player on "Ruth"), Mars Williams (soprano saxophone), Alex Heitlinge (trombone), John Elliot (tuba). Even if some free-jazz and even standard jazz could come to mind - for instance Ronnie Boykins and Sun Ra's "Cosmic Chaos" came to my one -, their style cannot be properly defined under canonical concept of jazz as their crossover embraces elements from hip-hop, psychedelic progressions (it's really astonsihing the one that Flaten tributed to Ingmar Bergman's genius on "Theme from Fanny and Alexander"), black-metal (check the amazing groove of "Wells, The Original" where vocal and guitar abrasions perfectly matches the wrathful saxophone), samba-jazz (some Rob Mazurek's Sao Paulo Underground stuff resurfaces from the depths of musical memories while listening the "frisky" movement of "Mole"), West-African musical hooks (particularly on "Ruth", a song which got derived from a traditional Ugandan song) and exotica and abstract branches of jazz, which features the ecstatic improv wandering of "Virgoan Ways". If mother's work is unfortunately never done, the work of these men is so shining that really slips from sun to sun.

Mare di Dirac: Tupilaq

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 23 2014
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Artist: Mare di Dirac (@)
Title: Tupilaq
Format: CD
Label: Greytone (@)
Rated: *****
According to the linear notes Tupilak is "an assembly of various objects fabricated by shamanism for ritualistic chants" and this could be an hint that this relase deals with
a spiritual view of sound. The more evident aspect unifying the tracks is the methodic use of the resonances of the instruments so leaving the doubt if there's an electronic
manipulation or it's the use of extended tecniques.
The initial sharp notes of "Umlat" start this release with a drone, apparently from didgeridoo, that set the atmosphere of track upon metallic resonances. The opening sax of "Thecomposition" is the infrastructure for a complex texture made out of field recordings, string instruments and bells and gradually fades out to let a cello close the track. The resonances of the percussions of "Unhz" construct a piece of an impressive tension drowned in an almost quiet background that develops in an almost static drone. "Sintensi Aborigena" is on a didgeridoo, or at least it sounds like, dialoguing with the percussions, in the first part, the field recordings, in the second part, and, at last, it ends
changing his timbre, as with extended tecnique. "Granular Rite" ends this release with the juxtaposition of slowly changing notes from string instruments upon a quiet
soundscape, generating a dialogue between a quiet background and a menacing foreground.
This italian collective has released an amazing album full of demanding music for courious ears and lies in the threshold between mimimal, experimental and ritual music. Highly Recommended.

Splice: Silent Spoke

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 20 2014
cover
Artist: Splice
Title: Silent Spoke
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Loop (@)
Distributor: Cadiz
Rated: *****
The obscure abrasive bass, the dragging on drums and the menacing saxophone vents on "Dust Devil", the opening track of this astonishing release which got recorded in 2012, premiered at the 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival and released on late 2013, even if it recently reached my desk as a part of the pack of records coming from University of Huddersfield's CeNeReM - The Centre For Research In New Music -, could evoke some stuff from adjoining stylistical fields like the obscure trip-hop by Sofa Surfers or some excellent outputs by Dj Krush, but the following tracks of "Silent Spoke" render the elegant sonorities that this fourtet masterfully explores by drawing elements from doom metal, free jazz and electronic wells. Cymbals and winds keep on saturating the sonic sphere like an odourless poison gas, a subtle trepidation shines through the faint electronic blanket of their music, curvy stretches of dark tonal roads got slowly climbed by trumpet and clarinet with occasional accelerations, propelled by octopus-like drumming over broken grounds such as on the astonishing "Mobile Piece" makes this listening experience really adventurous, while hanging in the balance between haunting delicate beauty and obscure billows. The prowess by Slice in feeding this catchy musical procession got easily explained by the background of their members: the name of Canadian composer and performer Pierre Alexandre Tremblay (bass guitar, electronics), founding member of the no-tv collective, which preaches a life without tv-sets, should be known by all those ones who follow my reviews for a release on Empreintes DIGITALes I introduced and is strictly connected to University of Huddersfield where he teaches Composition and Improvisation; the name and the style by Norwich-born Dave Smith (drums, percussion), one of the co-founder of Loop Collective, is mainly known for his work with traditional Sabar drumming from The Gambia, Afro-Blues group Juju and Robert Plant presents the Sensational Space Shifters; French saxophonist and clarinettist Robin Fincker (tenor saxophone, clarinet, guitar amp), who also co-founded Loop Collective, got described as a dynamic "project instigator and in-demand sideman" and such a reputation got confirmed by the impressive number of projects he belongs; last but not least, British musician Alex Bonney (trumpet, trumpophone, electronics) is a leg of a critically acclaimed improvising duo with bassist Dave Kane, often appears as a sideman in several London-based bands (Brass Mask, World Sanguine Report, Nostalgia 77 and many more) and works as a producer and mix engineer for several record labels. Highly recommended listening experience!


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