Music Reviews



Bardoseneticcube: Ambiwax

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Bardoseneticcube (@)
Title: Ambiwax
Format: CD
Label: Senile Dementia Production
Rated: *****
Bardoseneticcube is the brainchild of Russian artist Igor Bardo. I first heard Bardoseneticcube when I was putting together the Zaftig Research Christmas compilation 'Season of Snow and Ice.' He sent an amazing track called 'Toyzmass,' which was a fun, playful collage of sound, like a toy store running amok. On 'Ambiwax,' he displays this playful side of his work for an entire album. If you are looking for ambient music that is soothing, this is not the disc that you are looking for. This is ambient music reflected in a funhouse mirror where everything is oddly familiar, but still disconcertingly twisted and reconfigured. Drones and pulsating bass blend in with alarm bells and random clangs, squalls, and distorted voices as you are transported through dreamlike soundscapes. This is well done and engaging material. Plus, if you want to check it out, the price is right ' you can download it for free at the label's website. I would highly recommend doing so. This album weighs in at around 60 minutes.

Chester Hawkins: Semisolids

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Chester Hawkins (@)
Title: Semisolids
Format: CD
Label: Intangible Arts
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed some of Chester Hawkins' work under the moniker Blue Sausage Infant ('Manitou' and 'Negative Space') and enjoyed his work. Evidently, he has retired that project to record under his own name. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, his website describes it thus: 'Using an arsenal of electronics, tapes, acoustics, handmade objects, and modified instruments, the goal has always been to create deep and elegant trance states with a glaze of paranoid tension.' Sounds about right. Let's see what happens when the names change but the players remain the same. 'Iodine' kicks it off with some noisy experimental ' well within the BSI constellation of music. Then 'Nematodes' drops us down the rabbit hole of repetition by degrees, which yields a hypnotic effect. 'Malattia del Sonno' keeps the repetition theme going but has a weird vibe to it that is powerful. Every so often a song kind of burrows into your soul; this is one of those songs. Haunting, dark, and beautiful. By the time we get to 'Plasmid,' it is clear to see that the entire album is an exercise in repetition, but not the stock ABABAB kind of repetition. Rather, this is the kind of repetition that folds in on itself in incrementally changing degrees, shifting ever so slightly on each pass. Sometimes this repetition is comforting because it provides grounding and a sense of direction ('Isle of Dogs'). Other times, this repetition is claustrophobic and disorienting, making you wonder where, exactly, it all went so horribly wrong ('The Brood,' 'Proximity Fuze'). Overall, this is well crafted and engaging. Finally, the review would not be complete without at least a mention of the liner notes. The text makes little sense combined, but has sentences like 'Mad eunuch choirs gone feral in the orchestra pit wielding the dead as bludgeons against the living. Molten sinewaves keeping bacteria down a massive Iron Age trachea, blurting out gospels like blood in the water to summon the final lizards pilot pilot pilot he's not responding pilot pilot something moved behind the eyelids I swear it....' These are not lyrics, but it gives you some sense of what you're in for. A solid offering from this prolific artist. This album weighs in at around 67 minutes.

Tetuzi Akiyama & Anla Courtis: Naranja Songs

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Tetuzi Akiyama & Anla Courtis (@)
Title: Naranja Songs
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore (@)
Tetuzi Akiyama is a Japanese guitarist and Anla Courtis is an Argentinean musician and co-founder of experimental outfit Reynols. I was unfamiliar with Akiyama, but somewhat familiar with Reynols. If you're wondering, this is a far cry from 10,000 Chicken Symphony. I've reviewed enough albums by duos to not underestimate what can be accomplished with only two musicians and guitars. However, in this case, I found myself wanting more. I've listened to the album several times now to see if I was missing something, but still found it to be a bit too minimal. We begin with 'Mind Mochileros,' which is a peaceful - if sparse - guitar duet that only seemed to get interesting halfway through. I found it to be a bit on the dull side, but then again maybe I'm just jaded. We shift gears with 'Springs & Strings,' which tries to push the envelope a bit with some feedback, distortion, and non-traditional playing on guitar. 'The Cítrico Vibe' combines these approaches to some extent but still gets a bit repetitive. 'Los Frets Nómades' finally shows us what they are capable of about halfway through as they lay down a droning, grinding segment to finish off the song. If the whole album would have been like this, I would have definitely been on board. If you like sparse guitar improvisation, this may be up your alley. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes.

Philippe Lauzier: Transparence

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Philippe Lauzier (@)
Title: Transparence
Format: CD
Label: Schraum (@)
Rated: *****
Philippe Lauzier is based in Montréal and specializes in bass clarinet and saxophone, although this album also features half-bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, and motorized bells. That said, tracks crediting 'feedback with alto saxophone' clue the listener in that this is not a Kenny G style album. This is some minimal improv that uses a lot of silence to make the parts in which he is playing stand out that much more. That said, after a few listens, I found this to be a bit too minimal for my tastes. Some tracks work well, like 'Gisement,' with its deep, rattling bass drone punctuated by more traditional tones and 'Au-Dessus,' which features trills and warbles that become almost maddening (in a good way). Others, however, like 'Empoigner,' are so sparse as to leave you wondering if it was more a warm up session for the next track. I appreciate the judicious use of silence, but some tracks here are very sparse. I found this to be a mixed bag. When Lauzier is on, he's on, but the minimal tracks didn't seem to go anywhere. This album weighs in at around 43 minutes.

Hübsch, Martel, Zoubek: June 16th

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 17 2014
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Artist: Hübsch, Martel, Zoubek (@)
Title: June 16th
Format: CD
Label: Schraum (@)
Rated: *****
A piano, tuba, and a viola walk into a bar.... Sounds like the beginning of a good joke, but in this case it is the beginning of an interesting collaboration. This trio features Philip Zoubek on piano, Carl Ludwig Hübsch on tuba (and objects), and Pierre-Yves Martel on Viola da gamba (and objects). As with most of the material I have reviewed for this label, I was unfamiliar with these artists, but Hübsch provides some insight into how he perceives his work: 'Through the use of avant-garde and self-invented performance techniques, the tuba acquires completely new characteristics as a brass instrument. An innovative array of unexpected sounds is heard, the instrument is seen from a fresh perspective, and the audience is confronted with a novel way of perceiving time.' So if you had never thought of tuba as a foundational element of experimental music, here is a chance to rethink what classifies as experimental because he pulls it off. 'Tap,' for example, has a lot of rapid-fire percussive elements as they seem to be tapping and pounding relentlessly throughout the piece. This is common in experimental classical, but I could swear that there was a flute in the mix. This is one of those albums where you wonder how they got those sounds out of those instruments. But this is also a showcase of musicians who know their instruments well and work well together, as seen in such tracks as 'Coin Rang. Clock Clacked' and 'Introibo Ad Altare Dei,' which are sparse improvised compositions that make effective use of dynamics and quite spaces. Sometimes it gets a bit too sparse and minimal, as seen in 'Rrrpr. Kraa. Kraandl.' Still, if you like stripped down experimental classical, this is one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 43 minutes.


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