Music Reviews These Walls Resemble Absence

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 23 2014
Artist: (@)
Title: These Walls Resemble Absence
Format: CD
Label: 3LEAVES (@)
Rated: *****
Once upon a time nearby Guimaraes on the banks of Vizela river in Northern Portugal, the textile factory of the Earl of Vizela was the flagship of the lively industrial district surrouding that beautiful Portuguese city and more than 4000 workers got hired in the 50ies when the sector experienced the period of highest development. After the growing competition by Chinese factories, the Vizela factory was compelled to close between 2001 and 2002 and both industrial premises and building became one of the typical decaying carcass of contemporary globalized economical system. The sonic journey that Rui Almeida released on Hungarian label 3Leaves by collaging a series of mainly untreated field recordings, found objects and hits on supposedly rusty machinery inside the abandoned factory and the surrounding natural environment manages to render both the state of deterioration of the factory and the strange contrast between the harmony of nature and the chaotic decay of human traces on the territory, where unexpected crescendo and dumb and somehow sinister tolling seems to come from the very last rattling of a dying giant, whose previous life left indelible traces on the landscape and the collective memory of the community, which already got focused by other reminiscences in different artistic fields - photographic exhibitions and movies such as "Centro Historico", related to Guimaraes city, which was premiered on the occasion of International Rome Film Festival 2012 and shown in many festivals with contributions by Victor Erice (the one focused on the Vizela factory), Pedro Costa, 104-years old Manoel de Oliveira and Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki -.

Aloa: Aloa

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 22 2014
Artist: Aloa
Title: Aloa
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records
Rated: *****
Originally issued in 1982 the self titled album by Aloa has been a particular one which, at that time, the press and radio stations didn't appreciate fully. Formed by Al Kanz and Matthias Brendel, two guys born in Kassel, Germany, Aloa released only that album and the fourteen songs contained on that vinyl issued by Offers Musik Produktion 'are the only stuff left to testimony their innovative style. Using Roland 606 and 808 drum machines plus a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synthesizer, they composed tracks that were in balance from krautrock and robotic electronic music. Some tracks like the opening "Weisser Wal", "Deutsche Begegnung" and "Tramfrau" recall the evolution DAF did from their early experimental phase of "Produkt Der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft '" to the first core of their sound already present in "Die Kleinen Und Die Bosen". Both the bands were part of the Neue Deutsche Welle movement but Aloa were more focused on their personal version of synthpop where melodies, dark atmospheres and extravagant vocals were mixed just to form a fresh and dadaist paint. "Babane Zitrone" is a great dark pop song with catchy melodies, while the following "Madchen Von Gegenuber" sounds just crazy, like a party held at a clowns conference. Also the following song "Du Machst Es Mir Schwer" is a weird one, as it sounds like a folk song sung by a drunk who fell in love with a certain girl called Martina. This album is a multifaceted one which contains many ideas and it will take time to be fully appreciated but compared to thirty years ago, you'll be able to catch at a early listening its real value. This reissue was a must due and it has been restored and mastered from the original master tapes by Klearlight Studios. Presented on high-quality 180gram heavyweight green vinyl. Features bonus LP insert with liner notes by Dave Segal. Check it here

Athana / Stavanger Symphonic Orchestra / Stewart Copeland: Athana Symphonic Experience

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 21 2014
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Artist: Athana / Stavanger Symphonic Orchestra / Stewart Copeland (@)
Title: Athana Symphonic Experience
Format: CD + DVD
Label: SSO
Rated: *****
As I wrote on the review of the latest Athana's album "Paviljon", the last year on March, they played live with Stewart Copeland (yes, him!), as the Athana Symphonic Experience. Now, we have a Blu-ray/CD release that document that experience but let's start from the beginning. Back on 2008, the Norwegian city of Stavenger was along with Liverpool, the Cultural cities of Europe. That, made available a certain amount of money to use for cultural events. Athana thought that it would be a great thing to play with the local symphonic orchestra and they had a connection, since their bass player Oyvind Grong also plays the tuba with them. Since the company Electrocompaniet added some other funds, they thought that they would have make the event even bigger, so when they got hold of Stewart Copeland's e-mail, they tried to check with the man to see if he was interested into a collaboration. Fortunately, he accepted and on March 2013 the 3rd they made a gig at the Stavanger's concert hall Zetlitz. With the help of Helge Sunde and Reid Gilje who took care of the orchestral arrangements, the trio played seven particular versions of Athana's tracks. In my previous Athana's reviews I already pointed out how they are able to create a convincing mix of jazz, ambient and experimental music. Well, the Athana Symphonic Experience, thanks to the orchestra, takes that experience to a new level as the strings and the blows enhance that cosmic effect created by the band's suites. This is concerning the sound's structure and the atmosphere created. Apart from this, we should talk about the apport that Copeland gave to the whole sound. He's one of my favorite rock drummers. I like the way he hits the cymbals and the drums by creating hundreds of little sounds creating colors by using sounds. This release is a pleasure to listen to and to watch (at the end of the performance the "gang" is joined by two modern dancers) and the way it has been directed is making you enjoy the experience as it's balanced, offering details of Alf Terje Hana guitarism, Copeland's drumming, orchestra elements as well as the whole stage.

Halo Manash: Wesieni Wainajat

 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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Jan 20 2014
Artist: Halo Manash (@)
Title: Wesieni Wainajat
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
The small Finnish label Aural Hypnox gained a reputation among followers of the most arcane side of dark-ambient and ritual music by focusing on the outputs of the Helixes collective and after a period of partial blackout of transmissions, it comes back with a bunch of very good releases including the return (or I'd rathey the beginning of a new cycle) of Halo Manash, one of the most interesting act from that stylistical grounds. Beyond esoteric aspects of their sonic palette, which could sound vaguely fanciful pleasantries to some listeners, and logical connections to their previous Forest Music trilogy ("Language of Red Goats", "Am Kha Astrie" and "Taiwaskivi"), "Wesieni Wainajat" immediately catches listener's attention by "Kwlksta", where slow tonal transitions on a magnetic analogue organ, distant gloomy horns, thin reverberation on rubbing of metallic plates and other sonic poltergeists knead a mesmerizing afterglow, whose gradual updraft set the stage for the following "Varjoista" (Finnish for "from the shadows"), which sounds the most highest sonic pinnacle of this release: while the organ sounds like fed by current generators, whose voltage-regulated hypnotic spirals seem to be highlighted by mid-tempo suffocated tribal percussions, whose rising intensity fires the ritual atmosphere up as well as the visionary effect of the field recordings which could evoke rustling leaves, sheets of breaking ice or the echo of a bucket after having been lowered in a water well. The cracking sound of brushwood in the fire or the typical noise of residual saltpetre in wet rocks starts a sequence of impressive field recordings on the 20-minutes lasting "Tulelle", where the presence of the organ has been limited to a trance-inducing low-key hum sneaking into listener's eardrum while they render some sacral (physical or just spiritual?) magical hideout beyond the clefts they could have possibly pried by previous sonic levers.

David Berezan: Allusions Sonores

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 17 2014
Artist: David Berezan
Title: Allusions Sonores
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes (@)
Rated: *****
Another aural delight for the lovers of unconventional electroacoustic sonorities and field recordings from the well-known Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes bear the signature - the second for the imprint - of Uk-based fellow countryman David Berezan, who recently mastered the five acousmatic works he made from 2008 and 2011. The oldest one, "Badlands", is related to his native region, Alberta, as he grabbed some field recordings in the so-called badlands or calanques in Southern Alberta in the summer of 2007 so that the densely constructed soundscapes he built by means of intriguing amalgamation of buzzing insects, chirping cicadas and crickets, flurries, eroding rocks and even skits of traditional American Indian ritual sonoritis vaguely exudes a sense of nostalgia while rendering dinosaur fossils, indigenous people history, lovely parks and the characteristic climate of that part of the planet. If we go in a chronological order, the following track "Nijo" teleports listeners inside Japanese castles; the title refers to Nijo Castle in Kyoto, where David supposedly recorded the sounds he assembled for this track, which focuses on the squeaking sound when a visitor of the castle walks upon its wooden floors, which are commonly known as "uguisubari" (meaning "nightingale floors" due to the fact they sound like chirping!) and functions as a security system which detects intruders, which cannot but inspire a sound artist like David, who tried to go beyond those floors by nailing occasional Japanese voices, high-speed trains and other noises from contemporary Japan which bumped into his microphones. Another region of the planet Mr.Berezan visited many times and grabbed many sounds from is Bali, Indonesia, which fed "Galungan", where he carefully nestled sounds from the Galungan religious festival, the rice paddies, the rich nocturnal natural life and the gamelan in order to render both the extraordinary natural environment and the impressively rich Balinese traditional culture, and "Thumbs", where David just recorded a single plucked sound froma Balinese thumb piano before processing it while inspired by anything related to the word "thumb" that came to his mind during the compostion (all-thumbs, thumbs-up/down, under thumb, thumbing through and so on). The most recent track is maybe the most unconventional one as David entirely assembled "Buoy" from sounds of different kinds of sea buoys, whose bells, whistles and gongs as well as detecting systems (whereas buoys normally aid sea navigation or circumscribe safe area for swimmers or divers, some buoys aid scientific research of ecology, oceanography or maritime weather) could be considered as a sort of decoding of an imaginary language of the sea.

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