Music Reviews



John Wizards: s/t

 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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Nov 03 2013
cover
Artist: John Wizards (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
This new satellite, which entered the orbit of Mike Paradinas's Planet Mu, reflects the gorgeous vibrations of the shining and engaging sonorities of some amazing musical styles of South-Eastern Africa and, besides representing a praiseworthy epitome of musical integration, is undoubtedly one of the best musical hybridization of the year, whose pulpy fruit followed the meeting of Rwandan refugee Emmanuel Nzaramba, the voice of John Wizards, and 25-year-old musician John Withers, who was noticed by his partner-in-art with his guitar on his back while Emmanuel was working as a car guard outside a coffee shop in Cape Town where he moved to become a musician. On that occasion John told Emmanuel that he was looking for a voice for the music he was writing, but they met again a year later when John moved to a new apartment on Loop Street nearby Emmanual's home by chance, a fortuity which got poured into this wonderful album, whose combination of champer pop, r'n'b and guessed electronic treatments on one side and genres like South African Mbaqanga and Kwaito, Zimbabwean Sangura and Shangaan or Congolese rumba is so charming that it doesn't sound like a poncey exotic stretching. The listening experience they offer is pleasing from the initial "Tek Lek Schrempf", where a blissful waltz sounds like sliding into a frisky tribal dance which involves listeners by means of an eccentric weave of handclaps, conch shells, curly electronics and pitched-up guitar riffs, to the final "Friend", where a subtle dubbing on Emmanual's song and a lulling harp-like guitar goes back over Mali's meditative music. Even when the influence of "western" music is more audible - on tracks like the delicate r'n'b of "Jamieo", the diluition with post-rock-scenting pearls of "LEUK" or the housey "Durvs", which almost quotes early British techno -, there's a sort of fragrancy of homemade genuine stuff which doesn't tamper with the balanced harmonic symbiosis of the record. I'm quite surprised by the fact that this dainty record has not received the exposure that it deserves yet.

Mountain Black: Closing In

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 28 2013
cover
Artist: Mountain Black (@)
Title: Closing In
Format: CD
Label: Moozak
Distributor: A-Musik
Rated: *****
It's not so difficult to realize that Melbourne-based sound artist and sound designer Martin Kay in the guise of Mountain Black knows many fictional tools which belongs to movie soundtracks and narrations in general, but the lack of precise space and time handhold and visual references subtend the intent of remove any narrative plot from its sonic art, which stands on an amalgamation of processed found sounds, field recordings and drone by means of cross-synthesis processing techniques and digital editing programs. Such a choice could floor many followers of this branch of sonic experiments since many sound artists who deal with field recordings are trying to render a sort of narrative line or let their arts move within the fences of conceptual frameworks at least, so that this purge by Martin could be the best invitation to sharpen ears as if they got outfitted by powerful receptors which can grab the slightest vibrations of resounding particles. However many listeners could fall into temptation of building a sort of narration due to the sonic clues that Martin Kay's astonishing sound modelling and the interceptions of his contact mics provide such as the intriguing dichotomy between "Diegetic" and "Non-Diegetic", a couple of tracks which refers to the role of sounds in films: when a character of the movie or a fiction in general can listen sounds, you can say that sound is diegetic, while on the other hand when the sound (for instance soundtrack itself) cannot be heard by the character, it is termed non diegetic or extra-diegetic. Mountain Black's translation of this concepts is absolutelly interesting: while "Diegetic" features the "usual" well-recorded insects, birds, burning pyres and other almost imperceptibles sonic elements that the "storyteller" can listen, "Non-Diegetic" seems to have been recorded while the key player falls in a light and disturbed sleep while watching TV. The above-mentioned temptation could be fed by some logical and sonic chains as well, such as it happens for the two parts of "Glass Eaters" (a sonic translation of hyalophagia?), the two detached sonic inputs of "Waiting Room" (a distant vocal noise and a white squall), which flow into the following "Messin", and the almost silent "Bind", which seems to be a sort of preface of "Non-Diegetic", but any chance of narrative cohesion cannot be but delegated to the imagination of listeners. I recommend a closer look (and a closer listen) to Mountain Black's website in order to understand both aesthetics and "poetics" as well.

Babi: Botanical

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 28 2013
cover
Artist: Babi (@)
Title: Botanical
Format: CD
Label: Noble (@)
Rated: *****
Babi's voice seems to flutter about and go through a musical hotchpotch where a sound of a drawing pencil, a pot-bellied horn, an adventourous childplay-like toy piano melody and a joyful metronome on the initial "Passiflora", which rings up the curtain that hides the enchanted world of this brimful Japanese female musician, whose delightful twine of toy-music, poppish commercial cosmetics and a delicate razzmattazz manages to emphasize her lovely dreamy view of the world. Funny instrumental arabesques and pirouettes, which seem to have been tweely formalized on the atonal track "Lesson", got spread on differen stlistical slices of fragrant bread with the support of many performers on saxophone, fagotto, viola, violin, cello and clarinet after the invitation of this precocious - biographical notes say that she started leearning piano when she was just 2 and professional composition at the age of 5 - musician, who has been helped by Cornelius sound programmer Toyoaki Mishima for mixing and mastering as well: there are no traces of "adult" strategies inside her gracful cameos, even when she plays on triple times such as the amazing "Fancy Witch", a sort of minuet on a funny harpshicord, the daydreaming waltzing march of "Praeparat" and the more ephemerl one of "Passepied", the electro-pop scherzo of "Insect Collecting", which features a triangle and many insects (!), the staggering puppets evoked by the tidbit of "Zaubertheater" and the carilloning "Parade". On the final tracks, Babi let surface a "Pierrotesque" melancholic side of her fanciful personality, but tracks like "Owl" and above all "Atelier" reveal that gentility, which could have been by the overjoyed vivaciousness of previous playthings. This record, which has been co-produced by Noble and Babi's imprint Uffufucucu, will let you easily realize the reason why she gained deserved praises by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Novi_sad: Neuroplanets

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 23 2013
cover
Artist: Novi_sad (@)
Title: Neuroplanets
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
The elective correlation between music, science and mathematics has already been widely canonized and this match has been an almost protocol conceptual framework for a plenty of electronic musicians so that many listeners and reviewers could considered it as a sort of cubbyhole; "Neuroplanets", the new project by Thanasis Kaproulias aka Novi_sad released for Sub Rosa's New Series Framework collection, seems to go beyond a merely conceptualen closure by focusing on the modeling of sonic raw material, which got provided by master craftsmen of sound like Bj Nilsen, Daniel Menche, Francisco Lopez and Mika Vainio, on the basis of applied data and numerical analysis of researches in the fascinating fields of neuroscience and astronomy. The unavoidable accentuation of the mysterious charm of the four resulting soundscapes intersects the outer reaches of these fast-forwarding and somehow psychedelic branches of human knowledge: the repeated sounds which have been rendered from audio analysis of strange meteorological phenomena on other planets (wind, dust devils and tornadoes on Mars, ghostly planetary plasma waves from NASA, a whistle of ultra-cold liquid helium-3, changing volume relative to the North Pole and the Earth's rotation and decametric noise and radio storms on Jupiter) could let you imagine that what you're listening by means of your headphones is playing on some very distant places at the same time. The initial project should have "sonically" detected only these strange events, but Thanasis decided to augment his excellent work by implementing data from functional anatomy of schizophrenic patients with auditory hallucinations (!), patterns of music agnosia associated with middle cerebral artery infarcts, rightward and leftward bisection biases in spacial neglect and neuroimaging with bipolar disorder and children with serious emotional disturbances. Both the uncommon references and transposition and the quality of sonic artifacts by Novi_sad, which reaches the noisiest peaks on the entrancing tracks commissioned from Lopez and Vainio, deliver many shocking frissons on listener's imagination.

VV.AA.: Sonopsies

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 22 2013
cover
Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Sonopsies
Format: CD
Label: Cameras Animales (@)
Rated: *****
I've been putting off this review like the last pea on a plate from a dinner that was just too filling. My lack of comprehension of it will become clearer as you read on. 'Sonopsies' is a compilation CD from the French publishing house Caméras Animales, specializing in avant-garde poets, spoken word and multi-media artists, and on this CD, avant garde electronics. The title - Sonopsies = sound autopsies. (A sonopsy is to sounds what an autopsy is to body.) This is a diverse collection of works utterly lacking in any continuity; more like a smorgasbord or tasting party over 16 tracks of unusual, exotic sonic foodstuffs. Unlike food or wine though, where you can appreciate foreign cuisine or beverage without understanding the language, it would be very helpful to have a comprehension of French to get the most out of it. Unfortunately, I don't, which puts me at a disadvantage, and as such, a good portion of my impressions will be cursory and visceral.

SÃomulçi' Gonn'¥c (pseudonym of Jme Gugginø, founder of Awkwardist Productions) opens 'Sonopsies' up with a piece utilizing scattered percussion, some sparse electronics and a computer generated voice reciting a nonsequitious poem in English called 'Cylindricals' but it still comes across as oblique. M. Savant Stifleson (another musical project of Jme Gugginø) offers 'Agglutina,' a chanted phrased in a language I'm unfamiliar with accompanied by trip-hopish percussion and cymbal tones. Kinda neat, more for its tribal sound than any comprehension of it. Méryl Marchetti's 'Impro 1' sounds like a manic story rant in French with chimey things in the background. I'm clueless about this one. R3PLYc4N (Mathias Richard - voice, harmonica, computer) incorporates light repetitive electronic sequenced phrases, breakdrums and other percussion, and barely there vocals to create a surreal dream-like ambience. It totters on the edge of sanity. Flatline Skyline is R. Scott and J. Kemp, and their contribution 'Be Good To Them Always' is trashy 80's, maybe what you'd get if you mixed The Cure and PIL. So far the most comprehensible track on the album, even if the tortured vocal in English is a bit wacked. ElFuego Fatuo is a French-Spanish poetic collective from Barcelona. Their 'Il paraît' incorporates ambient electronics and female spoken word (sometimes electronically processed) in French. I'm lost, for over 9 minutes. M. Savant Stifleson returns with 'epricooprio Prek,' a rhythmically quirky pop tune that sounds pretty cool, often using the title words in the vocal. Mushin offers 'Manifeste Mutantiste' ' female spoken word in French over a varied electro-acoustical soundscape. Would have been meaningful if I knew French, but the soundscape was interesting. Long track at over 10 ½ minutes.

Ichtyor Tides employs dual male/female spoken word (in French, of course) on 'loss/ANGLE\less' with Varèse style electronics and a subtle drone running though it which grows louder towards the end. M. Savant Stifleson returns again with 'bobbledred'd Nature's pre-grim rims, you've prissy inSeenshpí,' another peculiar electronic tune with female vocal that repeats the title over and over. Awkwardist (Jme Gugginø) warps electronics, loops, tapes, and who knows what else in 'jufamil N or N-O'. Forakte begins a western bluesy electric guitar improv intro before launching into an incomprehensible song with vocals somewhere between Beefheart and black metal with some squalling electronics in the background. Just painful. Sun Thief is the ritual drone and atmospheric project of Adam Wetterhan (from Columbus, Ohio) and offers a magnificent track titled 'Saturnalia (Lights Return)'. It begins as a cosmic soundscape and evolves into something more melodically musical with electronic organ leading the way over a percussion track. It's a rich pastiche of black light stoner music. Pass the bong please. Méryl Marchetti reprises with 'Impro 2' which is similar to 'Impro 1' although less manic and just spoken word this time. 'Any Elk' is yet another kooky electronic pop tune by M. Savant Stifleson, and of course, 'Any Elk' appears plenty of times in the lyrics. Last track is by Thierry Théolier who recites his diatribe (yes, of course in French) over a percussion loop laced with staticy and distorted noise elements.

Jme Gugginø seems to dominate the compilation purely on the amount of tracks, which in a way, turns out not to be a bad thing as they are some of the most inventive ones. Still, there is enough interesting material on 'Sonopsies' to make it a worthwhile purchase for those looking for something blatantly off the wall, mais si votre français est vraiment rouillées, you might want to opt for a Rosetta Stone program.


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