Music Reviews



AutopsiA: AutopsiA Live at Divus Prague

 Posted by Edward Trethowan   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 09 2014
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Artist: AutopsiA
Title: AutopsiA Live at Divus Prague
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
'Ritual ambient' music tends to evoke only a limited range of rituals. Very often, it honours its roots in dark ambient by producing atmospheres suggestive of mysterious, perhaps forbidden occult gatherings; group or solo chanting, throat singing, thick drones reverberating as if from concealed, underground chambers and sluggish, primitive percussion. There need not be a sinister tone to these kinds of evocations, but one is often richly executed, the music revelling in ominous invocation or worship. It can make for excellent music. However, doesn't sticking to these tropes greatly oversimplify the complexity and diversity (and musical potential) of ritual as a cultural phenomenon? Must we always represent the sinister in the same way? As for benign ritual, one might suggest it is already covered by familiar styles of ambient and new age music. Yet, it seems to me there's a very diverse and fertile gap waiting to be filled.

This live recording by Czech outfit AutopsiA makes use of elements from the darker, more standard interpretation of ritual ambient. However, while the same aesthetic prevails throughout, it isn't particularly loyal to the cliches of this sub-genre. Opener 'Gate' elicits the dark rituals as described above with chants, coarse brass drones and a dense overall murk. Yet from this point, it begins finding other ways to articulate this theme. The second track 'Archipelag' begins with a post-climactic quietness, restlessly populated with hiss and a muffled trombone motif, but culminates in dramatic brass swells that remind more of the Mt. Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble than Herbst9 et al. 'Weltuntergang' enlists brazen orchestral loops as its centrepiece. There is still a familiar climactic grimness here. Then 'IV Essays (1)' turns things positively psychedelic, with meandering organ and synth melodies that seem to recall the wacky intoxication and disorientation of low-budget 60s and 70s horror films. Finally, in contrast to the first piece, the sound sources of 'Radical Machine 3.0' are altogether synthetic: drum machine, spacey pads and a few bleeps for good measure. Equally mysterious and uneasy, but more equivocal; not as unscrupulously grim.

Whether this is the complete live performance or a collection of excerpts, Live at Divus Prague follows a clear path across different ways of conveying similar circumstances. While most of the tracks themselves fail to develop a great deal, they are individually brief. Particularly when heard as a whole, they don't disappoint.

Candor Chasma: The Key

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 09 2014
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Artist: Candor Chasma (@)
Title: The Key
Format: CD
Label: Old Europa Cafe (@)
Rated: *****
Named after the unexplored canyon of Valles Marineros on Mars, the biggest one on the Red Planet, Candor Chasma, the collaborative project of Sardinia-based sound artists and musicians Simon Balestrazzi (T.A.C., Dream Weapon Ritual, Sarang, A Sphere Of Simple Green) and Corrado Altieri (Uncodified, Monosonik, TH26), despatch their second sonic transmission on Old Europa Cafe after their debut album "Rings", by digging brightly obscure industrial sonorities out of a fascinating conceptual framework, which ideally retraces the most meaningful moments of the adventurous life of Madame Blavatsky, the Russian noblewoman who co-founded the Theosophical Society together with Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge and remarkably influenced Western occultism. Named after some of the most important stages of Blavatsky's biogrphy - from "Hyde Park (August 12, 1851)", where she met Mahatma Morya aka "M", the mysterious initiate that she already met during her childish visions before meeting him in person on the day of her 20th birthday, to "Adyar (1882), a village nearby Madras in Southern India where the founders of the Theosophical Society bought a farm which became the headquarters of the group, from "New York (1877)", where J.W.Bouton issued the first sold-out edition of "Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology", the masterpiece of esoteric philosophy by Madame Blavatsky, to "Calcutta (1855)", the first place she visited in India - the eight tracks of this sonic journey condense abrasive analog noises, electric discharges, otherworldly resounding entities, field recordings, vocal samples and subcutaneous piercing pricks over a captivating crossbreed between power electronics and industrial canons, whose psychedelic intensity gradually grows and reaches the mesmeric acme on the two parts of "S.S.Eunomia" and "Adyar", where this electronic duo seems to give voice to the spirit guides that supposedly opened the gates of the high spiritual gardem and the psychic realms that Madame Blavatsky let espy by means of her life and her rich literary production.

Joshua Bonnetta: Strange Lines and Distances

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 08 2014
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Artist: Joshua Bonnetta (@)
Title: Strange Lines and Distances
Format: 12" vinyl + DVD
Label: Experimedia (@)
Rated: *****
December 12th 1901. The first transmission of a wireless signal, the morse code for S (2 short dots), crossed Atlantic Ocean from Poldhu Cove in Cornwall, UK, to Fever Hospital in St.Johns, Newfoundland by means of the pioneering Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi. There have already many musical and non-musical works which got inspired by that historical moment, but this one by interdisciplinary artist Joshua Bonnetta focused on the somehow artistic Marconi's belief about sound: the Italian marquis was sure about the fact that sound never completely disappear and a proper receiver could be even able to amplify aged sound which got "broadcasted" in the past. Joshua's audio-visual work could be considered the temporary objectification of such a technological reverie as his author combined hypnotical and dream-injecting emission of short and long radio frequencies with otherworldy transmission, archival material and field recordings, which got grabbed on the two poles of that historical communication in a couple of long-lasting sonic suites, the first of which seems to highlight the interference of human transmission over natural "emissions", while the latter attacks with holy sonorities which evoke the "sacredness" of that scientific discovery before the sonic sphere begins to get saturated by a tangle of radio frequencies. Such an entrancing historical remembrance and a masterpiece of hauntology got completed by a DVD-video, which looks like bridging the transmitting and the receiving points on our planet.

Costanza Francavilla & Alex Infascelli: Bushwick17

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 08 2014
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Artist: Costanza Francavilla & Alex Infascelli (@)
Title: Bushwick17
Format: 12"
Label: ZerOKilled Music (@)
Rated: *****
There are many evidences about the widespread obsession with the 23 enigma, other ones has a sort of devotion for their own lucky number, but besides sporadic fans of Heaven 17 or East 17, I've rarely heard about people who like number 17 till the moment I've read some notes around this collaborative release by Los Angeles-based movie maker Alex Infascelli, who gained a considerable notoriety for having signed a number of videclips of many well-known (mainly Italian) musicians, and Italian versatile artist Costanza Francavilla, whose name got known by many music lovers for having been partner-in-art (and according to some rumors, a proper personal muse) of Tricky, who referred to her "the female version of me". Out of respect for their beloved number, they recorded a 17 minutes lasting improvisation in Bushwick, NY, with no overdubs, effects or any other frills by means of a couple of microphones whoich got placed in front of the wall of their performative space where Costanza played synths and Alex built entrancing guitar drones and occasional out-spurts on drums, but listeners could hazard more than one guess around the connection between what they recorded and 17. For instance, you could read 17 according to the typical way to mask other meanings by different typefaces (the most known is AK47, which could be translitterated as "a key for this heaven") so that you could read that number as "one-seven" or "one's heaven" or consider other "esoteric" meanings - the angels or demonds which can be evoked are 17, knight templar were 17, which represent the radiant power of divine knowledge according to other numerologists -, which could have some connection with the somewhat mystical halo fo their improvisation, or 17 could be coniderd their favorite moment of the day (5PM), their personal tea-time! The general atmosphere could recall the sonic rendering of a ritual to get closer to the divine or to some undefined source of inspiration, where the opiate sonorities gradually absorb the sudden drumming explosions, which get slower and slower as if they got anesthetized as well. The end of the recording is a little bit abrupt, but they had to exactly stop recording after 17 minutes...

Monty Adkins: Residual Forms

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 04 2014
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Artist: Monty Adkins
Title: Residual Forms
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
Inspired by the psychogeographic method of exploration based on the so-called "drift" - an aimless wondering aroudn the city, exploring its hidden resonances, which lay just beneath the surface -, which got mainly applied to his fascinating wandering in the meander of London by Welsh writer Iain Sinclair, this one-track record by Dr.Monty Adkins delivers a very fascinating musical journey. Delicate and placid piano tones, which renders the sequence of emotions and memories evoked during a running in an undefined urban setting, seems to cover any glimpse where the runner directs his glance with a veil and cover any perspective like a flimsly layer of hoarfrost. There are many listenable cues or urban life, but they sound like phantasmal entities while such an insight intertwines melodic web whose opening volatility limbers listener up for the following emotional outburst, which signals the moment when all the parts of some broken dream got finally pasted together and keep on shining brightly. "Residual Forms" is available as a free download on Cronica website...an extra reason to join the musical explorations by Atkins, even if it could be moreish!


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