Music Reviews



Altieri/Balestrazzi/Becuzzi: In Memoriam J.G.Ballard

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 30 2012
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Artist: Altieri/Balestrazzi/Becuzzi
Title: In Memoriam J.G.Ballard
Format: CD
Label: Old Europa Cafe (@)
Rated: *****
Simon Balestrazzi, Corrado Altieri and Gianluca Becuzzi, three of the most creative heads of Italian electro-industrial scene shared their sonic machines and intuitions for a due sonic cairn dedicated to an authentic forerunner of post-modern literature, J.G.Ballard, whose extravasion of symbolist, dadaist and surrealist psychological approach and subtly slashing social and cultural critic marked an important step of sci-fi literature, which Ballard renewed by focusing on inner universe, more than on aliens, monsters and bizarre planets or creatures from outer space. His characters are often alienated people, close to social misfits, almost always unsatisfied in spite of being protagonist of appearantly perfect societies, whose moral and ethical code were often rearranged so that what is considered a malaise could find its "codified" placement. Interferences and inferences between inner states of consciousness and external world, which often looks like a conformation to inner space (I'd say there's nothing so fictional in this statement...do you think fences could ever exist if mankind didn't have lust for money and possession?) in Ballard's novels permeates any onset of his possible worlds, where even music and sounds had a prominent role (think about plants who reacted to sonic stimulations, singing statues and other wise literary inventions by this British writer, who inspired many musicians and directors) as well by partecipating to personal conflicts and psychic life of Ballard's anti-heroes within their aware interactions between "real" world and its distorsions, their striking and sometimes perceptual dilemma between true and false, which subtly manages to contaminate or even destroy inner space. The critical ciphers of modern values, sometimes predicted, challenged, dramatized and exacerbated by Ballard through his unforgettable anti-heroes (Kerans of "The Drowned World", Sanders of "The Crystal World", multiple identities of Travis-Trabert-Tallis in "The Atrocity Exhibition", Vaughan of "Crash" and other embodiments of the social and "biological" intuitions in Ballard's rich bibliography) and pitiless descriptions of decadence, cruelty, dehumanization, cultural manipulations, consumerism, sex within futurist worlds have been wisely translated into electro-industrial code by this trio throughout a binding of white noises, corrosive buzzes, static drones, psychotic sonic architectures, serpentine paths of beats and pulses, which sounds like a musicalization of the perpetual dumping (congruent with Ballard's narrative production) from the inner space to the outer one. I cannot but recommend to enjoy the listening of this release while reading some Ballard's novel.

Philippe Petit & Friends: Cordophony

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 26 2012
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Artist: Philippe Petit & Friends (@)
Title: Cordophony
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
Hyperactive Marseille-based composer (or "musical travel agent", as he likes to be qualified) Philippe Petit's wit, label owner and manager of the appreciated BiP_HOp and one of the key element of Strings Of Consciousness, flows into an astonishing collaborative project based on the intertwining of his eager approach on sound art (he delights listeners with processed acoustics, field recordings, electronics, turntables, glass manipulations, percussions, synth/piano and balloons -!- on "Cordophony") and a number of expressive declensions of string instruments, as the title suggests ('cordophone' is a French word to name the big family of musical instruments whose sound derives from the vibrations of a string), played by a remarkable number of guest musicians, whose different backgrounds concur to give a motley style to the release. Besides his Stings Of Consciousness mates Raphaelle Rinaudo and Herve' Vincenti (in spite of its dusky tones, their duet in "Motion-Pictured" is one of the most suggestive moment of "Cordophony" together with the moving "Eugenia", where mutual musical acquaintance marvellously meets Rinaudo's electric harp), Philippe mustered many talented and esteemed colleagues such as Nils Frahm (his distinguashable touch combined with the vitreous and gloomy cello by Alison Chesley, cryptic processed guitars, whooshing vynils and electronics by Philippe Petit himself marks the emotionally purging feeling of constriction evoked by "Succumb To Gravity", one of my favorite track of the album), Bela Emerson (her floating cello with hypnotic vibraphone of Els Vandeweyer on "Eunoia" sounds so halcyon that listeners could be caught off balance by synesthesia while listening to it...), German pianist Ulrike Haage (she co-signs "The Modern Dance for the Advance in Age", the most nipping and apparently light-minded moment of "Cordophony", together with Monsier Petit and Perceval Bellone), Adrian Klumpes (member of 3ofmillions and Triosk, who affixes a mysterious phrasing on his grand piano to the epic closing track "Oneiromancy: A Dream With A View" together with prolific Canadian musician Aidan Baker, Perceval Bellone, who plays sanza, an African lamellophone instrument also known as mbira, Petit, who processes found sounds and acoustics, and Vincenti, whose tentacles hits a conque shell, a guitar, a keyboard and some percussions). James Johnston and Reinhold Friedl (appearing on the initial "Gli Occhi Freddi Della Vendetta") and many more. A really striking project issued by small but worthwhile Japenese label Home Normal with many cinematic hooks and imbued with lovely motifs for the likes of fans of Efterklang, Tunng, Brian Eno, Max Richter, Kronos Quartet, Tom Waits, The Books and similar musical acts which I cannot but recommend!

ET - Elisabeth Flunger & Tomas Tello: Labor

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 24 2012
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Artist: ET - Elisabeth Flunger & Tomas Tello (@)
Title: Labor
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Springs from old mattresses, dented cowbells and trychels, corrugated metal sheets, old-fashioned boxes for candies, tea bags and truffles, rusty harpoons, zappers, a wide assortment of gimcracks and electronic toys combined to roughly effected guitar ennoble the funny equipment of this bizarre release by Tyrolean (but Luxembourg-based) drummer, percussionist, performer and composer (a list of emeritus qualifications taken from her website) Elisabeth Flunger and Luxembourgian "electrician" Tomas Tello, who named their eccentric project E.T. (supposedly from their initials). Their "Labor" shows neither an obsessively epic nor an academic approach, it could be rather qualified as recreational: weird echoes and sounds on metallic hits of the first track "Miracle Merchants", the electric brushes and bleeps on sci-fi/lo-fi sounds which sounds coming from rudimentary theremins created with radio antenna on "Closer To The Sky", the acute electric peeps on percussive sizzles and grumbling of sonic waves on "Tar and Feather" are going to catch listeners' attention and persuade them to keep on listening their funny fumbling with objects and electrons, which sounds engaging even when their weird collages becomes more brooding and nervous ("Otra Tormenta"), frightening ("Se Fue'", "Imminente") or abstract ("Katze Was Tust Du?"). Their nice and eccentric tracks will implicitly strike a blow for all those people and loyal supporter of recycling who prefer to spare any kind of odds and ends and rattletrap insted of throwing them away while foreseeing a certain undefined utility related to their preservation! Have you thought about the possible existence of an authentic orchestra inside a rubbish bag? E.T. are aware about it! Have a listen!

Sleep Research Facility: Stealth

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 22 2012
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Artist: Sleep Research Facility (@)
Title: Stealth
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Most of Cold Spring releases stands out not only for the remarkable sound quality but also for the mysterious allure of concept and this record signed under commission of Cold Spring itself by Scottish sonic craftsman Kevin Doherty, who named his dark ambient project "Sleep Research Facility" to underline his personal research about sleep-conductive beatless music, is no less fascinating both for the concept, based on one of the most mysterious military secret, the so-called Stealth (the development of its technology, which makes it invisible to radars and other detection devices, is so mysterious that someone argues its invention could be related to the finding of some alien starship), and for the sonic result, whose source (available for free on a bonus cd for people who will manage to buy one of 1000 copies of its first edition) comes from intercepted field recordings inside the hangar environs of a US Air Force base in Cambridgeshire (England) during the maintenance of a Northrop-Grumman B-2 Stealth Bomber provided by Si_COMM. Kevin emphasizes the mysterious aura of such a place all over the long-lasting five untitled tracks with a bunch of ultra-low frequencies (the ones in the first track are so low that they could shake windows and objects of your room), clouds of spooky drones (the ones in the third and fourth track sound particularly magnetic), electronic chirps, disquieting echoes, muffled roars, sonic sediments, radio signals and distant hisses, which sometimes are close to the threshold of perception. The nebulous and somehow uncanny atmosphere Kevin creates could be associated by some listeners to sonic repertory by Andrew Lagowski or Robin Rimbaud (Scanner). In order to appreciate even the most imperceptible variations and details of this record, the artist itself recommends the usage of good headphones.

DVA: Botanicula Soundtrack

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 15 2012
cover
Artist: DVA (@)
Title: Botanicula Soundtrack
Format: 12"
Label: Minority Records (@)
Rated: *****
If I didn't know this funny release by Czech duo DVA from Trebechovice pod Orebem made up of Jan Kratochvil and Bara Kratochvilova (it cannot be but a duo, as DVA should mean "two" in most Slavic languages) had been composed for a videogame, I'd have thought they managed to observe vicissitudes of a community of leprechauns, pixies or other fairy inhabitants of some enchanted underwood and translate it into music. The idea of this collaboration came from the mind behind the curtains of Botanicula, Jaromir Plachy, who had already made a nice animation clip for DVA's "Nunovo Tango" with a style not so dissimilar from Burton's one, and even if these kinds of release are influenced by what they're bundled into, the plot of Botanicula, based on the adventures of five plant freaks (Mrs.Mushroom, Mr.Lantern, Mr.Feather, Mr.Twig and Mr.Poppy Head!) fighting against evil parasites which contaminated their treehouse (!) to save its last seed, makes DVA's more dadaist attitude come out, so that together with patent similarities - DVA never disguised them- with notorious Icelandic bands such Sigur Ros (atmospheres of tracks like "Gobbledigook" could come to mind since you listen the initial track "Juchu") or Mum (musical memories from their "Finally We Are No One" could eemerge when listening Botanicula's "Finale"), it seems DVA merge together elements from Saami, Baltic, Slavic, Finnish and even Breton folk music, chamber music, electronic glitch-pop, toytronic marches and motifs (I particularly enjoyed "Letejono", "Zatoichy" and the funny "A Major For 12 Frogs") and even some quotes from pop culture (the nicest is maybe the one in "Mrs.Mushroom Likes Lcd Soundsystem"!) with the amused creative approach of a lively baby! It's no coincidence that Botanicula won the "Excellence in Audio" award at Indipendent Games Festival.


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