Music Reviews



Jacob Kirkegaard: Conversion

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 29 2013
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Artist: Jacob Kirkegaard (@)
Title: Conversion
Format: 12"
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
The spreading of crossbred genres like the so-called narrative ambient must not let you think about a new branch of ambient with relations to philosophers, as some people could envisage after reading the title of this release and the name of its author: it's possible that the notorious religious author, theologian, philosopher and poet Soren Aabye Kierkegaard could be an ancestor of Jacob Kierkegaard as they both come from Denamrk and Jacob's maverick sonic research could recall the definition of genius by his possible forefather, who wrote that "geniuses are like thunderstorms ­ they go against the wind, terrify people, cleanse the air", but this album has nothing to do with his conversion or any other religious theme, even if any possible hidden meaning of "Conversion" could be considered as holy to a certain extent. Jacob's aesthetics and compositional methods are quite outside the box indeed and this release with converted version of a couple of bizarre projects from his previous releases confirms his eccentricity. He decided to translate "Labyrinthitis", a piece which was the recording of oto-acoustic tones generated from Jacob's ears (...have you ever imagined to listen the ear of a musician?), into musical language with the help of Scenatet ensemble and the resulting "inverted" canon, which sounds not so different from some works by Gyorgy Ligeti such as "Lontano" or "Atmospheres") is so catchy that it could be considered a sort of enrapturing tribute to the intimate and mysterious wonder of hearing. A similar process of refurbishment has been applied to "Church", a track built on the sounds taken from an abandoned church within the contaminated area of Chernobyl: the first part of this second version is quite close to the original one, but the instrumental ensemble gradually rises and blends into the heady radioactive organ-like drone as if it were the chant of some spiritual inhabitant of that holy place after mutation.

Jim Haynes: The Wires Cracked

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 29 2013
cover
Artist: Jim Haynes (@)
Title: The Wires Cracked
Format: 12"
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
A sudden crack of a gas-filled tube, the resulting high-pressure spurts, the gradual reaching of saturation level and the activation of the alarm system on the initial track "Oscar" introduces this release on renowned Austrian label Editions Mego by San Francisco-based versatile artist Jim Haynes, who already applied the principles of his artistic research, which he summarize by the formula "I rust things", focused on graphical experiments of "corrosion" of photographic images and investigations into rust and decay. He explains such an interesting multimedia transposition of his work, he said: "I have focused on how decay parallels and relates to the perception of time when cycles of activity dwindle toward stasis. While I still incorporate much of the visual sensibilities from those aforementioned processes, sound has emerged as a central medium for my current installations and performances. Drawing from shortwave radio static, electric field disturbances, controlled feedback manipulation, and numerous textural scrapings, I manifest a broken minimalism whose magnetic drones give the impression of timelessness, when in fact the environment is quite active. This engineering of disparate materials and media seeks to evince the unpredictability of decay, to manifest its potential for a rough hewn beauty, and to bare witness to its inevitability.". Based on some recordings he made in a couple of weeks in October 2012, the following long-lasting track, "X-Ray" and "November", could be imagined as the after-shock sonic description of the above-mentioned explosion: static cold hisses, frozen gearwheels, spectral death raffles of withering machines, asphyxiating obfuscations, mist-shrouded beeps utter the atrophy of an imaginary industrial giant in unison and implicitly forewarns listeners of the rising hope for renewal...

RM74: Two Angles of a Triangle

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 26 2013
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Artist: RM74 (@)
Title: Two Angles of a Triangle
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Utech Records (@)
Rated: *****
After the convincing release "Ride Out The Waves" by his side project Sum of R, the underestimated prolific Swiss electro-acoustic and electronic artist Reto Madler aka RM74 manages to renew his sound and reach another remarkable expressive peak by this impressively introspective/introjective release (on double cd...supposedly corresponding to the two angles mentioned on the title...), where he seems to scheme sonic strategies in order to fill his typically awfully somber atmospheres by means of different transcendental conjugations of his style as well as an intimately narrative flow. Recorded between Bern and Milwaukee, on the first of two angles Reto immediately applies a slight pressure on headphones so that he seems to evoke a descent into inner realms before reaching the cliff edge where an aural effected guitar loom on dull hits and creaks on the initial "Betwixt", which starts an intense journey whose steps are going to speak to listeners with no words: the sorrowful thuds of piano on metallic groans of "Spineless", the tiring but behooved dragging of resounding chains on the lulling "Between and Forever", the obliquely premonitory aura of "Orkas Dream", the flickering light from guitar strokes and expanding pads where the sound of chains have been turned into rattles on "A Shimmer OF Bronce", the temporary blissful levity of "May 30 2012" and the will-o-the-wisp and the cyclic melancholy of the final "Bees and Ghosts". The introduction of the second angle evokes the precipice and the vertigo before another inner exploration again, but after the initial absorbing noisy flux turns into an imaginary cusp by means of a piano-generated earworm, which acquaints listeners with the other six different stages, whose most interesting moments are the meek and somehow insane joyfulness of "We Run In Vicious Circles", the ominously sinister reminiscence of the sepulchral "Because Of The Slow Shutter Speed", the mesmerizing tension of "Laid Open" and the placidly abstract feeling of possesson of the final "Show Me The Shadow Of The Sun". I wonder if a third angle will be sketched by Reto or by some listener, who could finish the triangulation by means of an imaginative soul...

Haq: Nocturnals

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 24 2013
cover
Artist: Haq (@)
Title: Nocturnals
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Bearsuit Records (@)
Rated: *****
On this gorgeous debut of the collaborative album Haq between Tokyo-based dynamic duo N-qia by adorable singer Nozomi and programmer Takma and Edinburgh-based multifarious musician Harold Nono (guitars, keyboard and programming), who previously signed an interesting collaborative project Taub with renowned Berlin sound-artist Me Raabenstein (Nonine), it seems the involved artist play an infinite air-jockey match with a remarkably wide set of samples. Each sample could be imagined as a puck that changes of pace, tone and color every time it gets shooted by mallets of opposite players against the sides of the table: percussive skips and popping slide on electrically excited pad-puffed sonic surfaces together with electro-folk, J-pop, glitch, ambient and dubstep sonorities, while Nozomi's graceful bel canto, which sometimes resembles infant wailing and utterly sleepy daydreaming murmurs, creep into the sonic tangle Takama and Harold Nono make during continuous passes of percussions and sounds, whose heterogeneity is so evident that it's not easy to make full-scale comparisons with similar artists. I can grossly envisage their heavily layered music by a succulent meat pie of well-selected cattle from the most exquisite electronic music and IDM pasturage, sometimes mottled by exotic spices and amazing fancies: I could mention Nobukazu Takemura (particularly for tracks such as the digitally jagged childish refrain of "That's Just Like The Same" or the naive trepidation of "Learning How To Fall", even if its audio montage could resemble many other musicians), Cibo Matto, Venetian Snares, Mike Paradinas, Squarepusher, Apparat (echoing together with some stuff by Four Tet on a couple of my favorite tracks, "Are You The Elephant Factory?" and "Jikan Ga Nai"), Jaga Jazzist (listener can enjoy a jazzy declension of their sound in some of their most refined tracks such as "Lifted", "Retrospect" or "Sleeper", maybe their master stroke amidst these "nocturnals"), Sketch Show and other freaks by Haruomi Hosono, Arovane or Yasume, but the way they stir broken melodies, sampledelia, electronic doodads, toytronics and splashing rhythmical patterns, is somehow original and highly enjoable. Have a listen!

Betacicadae: Mouna

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 22 2013
cover
Artist: Betacicadae
Title: Mouna
Format: 12"
Label: Elegua Records (@)
Rated: *****
A piercing sine wave tunes listener's mind on the charming listening experience offered by multi-instrumentalist and photographer Kevin Scott Davis aka Betacicadae, who squeezes a couple of years of spiritual vicissitudes and rebirth as well as some field recordings he grabbed in a rainforest in Hawaii (the initial track "Pahoa" seems to be a reference to this location), in a farm in Sheridan, Oregon, and in other urban centers before they got layered with an remarkably wide array of acoustic and electronic sounds coming from guitars, harp, violin, vibraphone, percussion, wood flute, effects pedals, synthesizers and digital processing, on his debut release "Mouna" (a spiritual practice whose name derives from Sanskrit word "mun", meaning "measure" or "silence"). Its pace sometimes resembles some affiliations between exotic ambient, therapeutic music and post-rock due to the occasional grafts of some instrumental jets, eruptions and strokes, but in spite of the abrupt interruptions of each track which sometimes occur when they begin to emit dreamlike scents, the narrative trend "Mouna" manages to render into headphones makes it really engaging without recurring to hypnagogic evennness of drone-ambient or other unuseful melodic-related gimmicks and curlicues. After the above-mentioned tuning sine wave, nocturnal insects and other field recordings, almost imperceptibly trembling hi-hats spout on a luminescent choral orchestra, which surrounds listener by an entrancing dead calm mayhem, on "Pahoa", one of the most catchiest track of the entire album, which precedes the cameo "Small Interlude", a sort a nap, as suggested by the initial snoring, where wind chimes, radio waves, interferences and other voices sound like transient interceptions of dreamer's mental activity, which goes ahead over cosmic fugues on the following "Seti", where delicate jazzy tolls on vibraphone and cymbal glisten with chirping birds, who greet listener on the mellow web of radio frequencies, lethargic guitars and languid static noises of the enthralling "Gold Country". The last track of A side, "Jjjjj", is another highlight of the album: the eerie introduction by a soft buzzing drone, waterfalls and opaque tuning of an electric guitar gets flattened by a deeply lukewarm organ, which is going to leave a sediment on listener's soul. The opening track of B side, "Pirene", crawls towards New Age sonorities: gurgling waters and distant frogs open the gate of dreams, which sound less veiled on the following "Creakaboo" and the beautiful 12-minutes lasting final soundscape "Telerehabilitation", where somehow colliding sonic elements gradually erect an altar for voice of Helen Funston, who gracefully towers over thin layers of jitters, muffled guitars, hissing church organs.


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