Music Reviews



Yuya Ota: Arctic April Mother

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 02 2013
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Artist: Yuya Ota
Title: Arctic April Mother
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements
Rated: *****
Yuya Ota is a composer and sound artist clearly influenced by artists like Nobukazu Takemura as he is trying to create a balance between pop clarity of musical development and avantgarde research in the musical texture.
"Knife" opens this album with gentle notes of piano above some field recordings of a rainy day. "Silver Rain" is instead based on bright juxtaposed drones while "Lágrima" on darker ones. "Maria" is almost a pop song with his soundscape and romantic notes of piano. "Seven Sisters Cliff" is a quiet track based on noises and drones while "Parfum" feature sparse and gentle notes of guitar above a gentle texture and remind to some pages by groups like Fonica and Minamo. "DispÄrsus" is a gentle track for piano and noises. "Tokyo" is a gentle ambient track based upon acoustic and electric guitar. "Viento" is a quiet optimistic soundscape that closes this release.
Even if he's clearly in debt with his musical influences Yuya Ota delivers an album that is enjoyable not only for fans of this kind of music but almost for everyone. It really worth a listen.

Contrastate: A Breeding Ground for Flies

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 02 2013
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Artist: Contrastate (@)
Title: A Breeding Ground for Flies
Format: CD
Label: Dirter (@)
Rated: *****
Contrastate is back after a lengthy hiatus with 'A Breeding Ground for Flies'. Contrastate is one of those projects which I've heard of and read about, but never actually heard. The group, from the U. K. consists of Jonathan Grieve, Stephen J. Pomeroy and Stephen Meixner. Everything I've heard about Contrastate's music was pretty weird, and this album doesn't dispel that notion. There is a dark undercurrent running throughout 'A Breeding Ground for Flies' but it's not entirely dark. Where it isn't dark, it is still pretty weird. 'Son of Sam' has ominous drone and electronics, a creepy spoken recitation about the resurrection of the Son of Sam, sampled lecture speech of an anti-war activist, and some electronic effluvia and sequenced looping and wafts of noise. Sets a mood I suppose. 'Tripoli Calling' is comprised of subtle dark electronic ambience and an intermittent buzzy drone, a few stray slow electric guitar riffs, then voice mutterings, the sound of a helicopter overhead, sparse snippets of noise, church bell, a backwards music loop, high-hat tapping and a bit of snare drum. Weirdly atmospheric. 'Operation Infinite Truth' begins with more dark ambient electronics that keep building until George W. Bush breaks in with his infamous Iraq War and Weapons of Mass Destruction speech. The really weird thing though is that he seems to be backed here by a neofolk combo complete with vocals, guitar and bass, ending with an abbreviated mangled excerpt of an orchestral 'Star Spangled Banner' and a child's recitation of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. Strange, just strange. More miasmic dark ambience sets the tone for 'Abuse Your Illusions' giving way to a pulsing monotone synth sequence and some slidey guitar notes. Spoken poetry in cadence possibly made up of newspaper headlines strung together completes this track. 'Against The Sky' has sustained synth chords and voices and a squeaky metal loop with an intermittent spoken 'against the sky loop'. All that fades, then backwards voices, sustained string drone in the background, wafts of white noise, other processed voice loops and tinkling tidbits, a flute or recorder with a plaintive melody, more processed voice loops, a nice oboe melody loop backed by swelling strings and phased choir, until the 'against sky' sample and squeaky metal loop returns. It ends with a full band vocal and instrumental song rendition with the lyrics 'Find a black spot on the sun, thickening hatred shall descend'. One of the members actually tells what it's all about- 'This is about the death of America' he says. Well, all-righty then.

I could point out a dozen things I didn't like about 'A Breeding Ground for Flies' (having to hear Bush's speech again was certainly one of them) but I could just as easily point out a dozen things I DID like about it. If I were giving points for creatively strange and weird alone, I guess it would be 4.5 out of 5. However, that's not quite enough. There is a lot of creativity here but some of it just seems misguided. If this were Contrastate's first effort, I'd be willing to cut them a bit more slack; however these guys have been around the block more than a few times and I sense some rustiness in this endeavor. Still, if you're just looking for something kind of dark and plenty strange, you might want to check it out. I don't know any other project that's doing anything quite like they are. CD is limited to 500 copies, comes in a long sliding slipcase with 8-page booklet.

rlw: Fall Seliger Geister

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 30 2013
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Artist: rlw
Title: Fall Seliger Geister
Format: CD
Label: Dirter/Black Rose Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
I never ceased to be amazed by finding so many artists who have been making music back to the 90's and earlier that I have never heard of, yet have prolific output and have garnered solid reputations. Ralf Wehowsky is one such artist. As far back as the early 80's he was in the groups P.D. and P16.D4 (the output of the second being great and more long-lasting than the first); has collaborated with Merzbow, Aube, Tomas Korber and numerous others; has about 24 or more albums out plus collaborations, EPs, singles, etc. Granted, he's not much known on the U.S. scene, but must certainly be a notable figure in the Euro avant-garde music scene. Then again, Wehowsky seems to like to keep a very low profile. I barely was able to find the website with his profile on it. Email address? If he has one, he ain't sharing. Yet he's done interviews has all these releases (most under the name rlw) and shows no sign of stopping. Amazing.

In a sense I am lost for frame of reference in Wehowsky's body of work since I've never heard anything by him previously. I can tell you though that 'Fall Seliger Geister' is definitely avant-garde and experimental, and no, it's not noise, although there are plenty of noises throughout. Roughly translated, the title would be 'Event of the Blessed Ghosts' and I suppose there is somewhat of a ghostly theme running throughout, but it seems more like a 'ghost in the machine' to me. The album begins with a couple individual sound effect samples then something sounding like an old motorboat idling, and some ratcheting. There are deep groans and squeaks that I could imagine emanating from an old ship as well as other plinks and plunks, rumblings, noise interspersions, etc.. The sonics are very foley-oriented (as in film), sometimes minimal, sometimes multiple events taking place. There is also an undeniable mechanical aspect to this, although I wouldn't say what I'm hearing is at all strictly mechanical. Sometimes things seem like they're being stretched to their limit, sometimes you get bit of generally unintelligible sampled voices, sometimes what sounds like whales, or moose or elephant calls, fast modulation oscillations, woozy frequency modulated struck tones, more bursts of noise, revving chainsaws, strange reedy-sounding instruments and undefinable sounds interspersed. There really is no way to catalog all of what's going on in 'Fall Seliger Gesiter,' but I do believe there's a method to the madness in here somewhere. This certainly isn't musique concrete as it seems planned and not random. One can only use their imagination as a guide for this trip. As for what it all sounds like ' Weird? Absolutely! Dark? In places. Musical? Depends on your definition of music but for the most part, no. Difficult to listen to? For most people, I'd say yes, but for those who like experimental, it's rather easily digestible. Replayable? Well, I've listened to it 6 or 7 times and I'm still finding new perspectives in it. What does it all mean? I haven't the foggiest notion. 'Fall Seliger Geister' is an enigma just waiting for you to puzzle through. When you figure it out, please let me know.

My Home, Sinking: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 28 2013
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Artist: My Home, Sinking (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Fluid Audio (@)
Rated: *****
Many ambient lovers acquainted themselves with the music of Venice-based talented soundscape sculptor Enrico Coniglio, who surround himself with a group of musicians and vocalists, including cellist and flutist Katie English aka Isnaj Dui, talented Galway-based singer and artist Laura Sheeran aka Glitterface and his partner-in-art Marc Aubele, enviro-mentalist musician and photographer Orla Wren, sound and voice artist Barbara De Dominicis aka Anti-Gone and Sean Quinn from Tiny Magnetic Pets for the debut release of his collaborative project "My Home, Sinking". The stylistical drift of Enrico's ice pack, which glided over glacial sonorities and awesome illustrative sonic power, towards post-rock fields sounds clear since the introductive track "The Void", whose piercing icy wafts got cracked by bright guitar strokes an strums, which firstly meet English's cello on the following track "Morning Walk", where you could almost feel the screeching sounds of an opening door's rusty hinges and the snugness of a lonely walk. A feeling of nirvanic composure permeates the lulling "Fading To White", which Laura Sheen superbly translates into a siren chant, whose fatalistic declension got emphasized by the way she repeats a refrain, saying 'There's no sun, there's no love, there's no God above can bring me back to your heart', which could vaguely echo the emotional atmosphere of her mini-album "Murderous Love", if you already know some previous releases by this talented singer. The journey of the imaginary traveller over glacial expanses goes on over mirages and beatific visions at dusk ("Skyline Obscured"), the strange ravishing of "Sunset Eyed", where a chidish lull clashes with the desolate lyrics of De Dominicis, temporary refuges ("Truna"), moments of prostrations, which got rendered by the beautiful two parts of "The Body Tired", glazing hallucinations, which sound evoked by the astonishing drift of "Descending" and the hypnotic vibrato of "Touching The Void", and glimmers of hope ("Trump Trump").

Thuoom: Resonant

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 25 2013
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Artist: Thuoom (@)
Title: Resonant
Format: CD EP
Label: Textural Healing (@)
Rated: *****
This one is kind of hard to explain. Imagine a mixture of minimalist synth mixed with percussive melodies created by an improvised junkyard vibraphone and you're getting close to what Thuoom is laying down in this short disc. As the press sheet explains, 'For this release, I've only used alarm clock, bird cage, and wine glasses.' The end result, through much processing, sounds far more than the sum of its parts. This is interesting work and pretty good overall. The only one I was not into was the last track ('Glasses'), which goes more for a glitchy feel at times which didn't quite work as well as the other two tracks. Still, you have to like someone who observes, 'I rely heavily on chance in my works.' This disc is limited to 50 copies and comes in a simple handmade paper sleeve held together with Velcro. This album weighs in at around 18 minutes.


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