Music Reviews



Redukt: OTHO

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 28 2017
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Artist: Redukt (@)
Title: OTHO
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Each track of this EP - the catchy debut release of Redukt, the project by Moscow-based electronic noise craftsmen Alexander Vasiliev and Nikolai Turchinski - got titled as a permutation of the main title and such a choice could make sense, as some aural elements are like constants that get thatched in different set-ups to change their "chemical" properties. The way by which they handled the noisy slices and the electric sparks that ignite each loops and the simple mechanics of the five tracks could let you think they didn't rely on computer-aided manipulation, with the only exception of a small clutch of percussive elements (such as the ground-shaking hitting low frequencies and the metallic clicks of "HTOO" or the async stitches digital crackle on the electrical stretching of "OTOH"). The paradoxically sordid collisions of these cushioned noisy entities are anything but thunderous, as they, on the contrary, evoke arctic wastelands and suburban desolation, which contaminated language, thoughts, and lives. A soundtrack of imaginary dystopian or borderline scenarios or something tragically close to our (more or less camouflaged) reality?

Lasse-Marc Riek: One Hour As Trees In Finland

 Posted by Tyran Grillo (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 27 2017
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Artist: Lasse-Marc Riek
Title: One Hour As Trees In Finland
Format: CD
Label: and/OAR
Rated: *****
At the end of his career, filmmaker D. W. Griffith famously quipped, “What the modern movie lacks is beauty—the beauty of moving wind in the trees.” Whether we agree with Griffith’s lament with regard to cinema, one could hardly say the same of aural media. An obvious and tactile case in point is Lasse-Marc Riek’s One Hour As Trees In Finland, wherein we are led to commune with nature’s enduring messengers without fear of intrusion. As its title indicates, the purpose of this album is not to present its subjects as novelties for escapist listening, but portals of becoming.

A literal description does little justice, if only because these windblown trees recorded in Alajarvi, Finland have both individual and collective personalities, meaning that any attempt at defining them would be an exercise in psychoanalytical failure. We need therefore only recognize that the album is divided into two nominal sections, “Crown” and “Trunk,” of five subdivisions each. Between them is a balance of high and low, outer and inner spaces, by which the ear itself is rendered leaf-like, itself windblown.

Wind is notoriously difficult to record. Without proper screening or absorption, it peaks input meters and distorts microphone sensors. Here, however, it is distant and expansive. Indeed, Riek’s technologically mediated presence feels devoid of any Hawthorne effect. For this hour, we are listeners among listeners. Hence, wind’s proverbial mystery: it is invisible yet made audible by its interaction with living matter. The beauties of this recording, then, thrive not in the wind itself but in what it activates.

Most remarkable about Riek’s engagement are its horizontal depths. We experience the rippling of leaf and limb against leaf and limb as currents spread in multiple directions from our ephemeral vantage point. The realm of the crown is populated by birds and other expected details flitting in and out of earshot. But there is also a feeling of height made all the more surreal for its quotidian atmosphere. Within the trees, one encounters a different narrative, as every ache of wood creaks through you. It’s the same sensation as when you hear your own tendons during a stretch. In this case, however, every nuance embodies an earthly history of flexion and elemental resilience.

If Alan Lamb’s classic telephone wire recordings are a modern wind music, then this is its traditional counterpart. The more one listens, the more these sounds become a part of something grander. There is not only the immediacy of the forest but also the mystery of seedlings yet to sprout, the detritus from which future forests will rise. It is, above all, the evocation of a place where only thoughts may lay themselves in beds of foliage. Its continuities remind us that such forces exist of their own volition, exhaled not by lung but divine suggestion, and that our knowing of them is one arc of a ceaseless journey.

Hallucinocide and Novasak: Split

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 26 2017
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Artist: Hallucinocide and Novasak (@)
Title: Split
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
Hallucinocide was new to me, but I had actually heard Novasak on a compilation that I was also on over a decade ago, so he has been kicking around for quite some time. Inner Demons is a known quantity by now (or it should be if it isn’t yet), so we know the formula: a 3” disc with good music. So let’s get right into the music. Hallucinocide kicks off this split with a screeching squeal of feedback to open up “Dissociative Entity (Live at Beerland).” But this is not the wall of noise I expected from this burst. This is more along the lines of pounding power electronics and yelled vocals. However, this has a lot more variety than a lot of PE stuff, but still has a lo-fi rawness to it that I enjoyed. Feedback and pulsing percussion, lots of screaming, and a ton of distortion. In other words, it was a good time. Novasak is up next with “Maximum Liability,” which starts off with a lot of fat analogue action. This is like listening to a 1980s video game soundboard that suddenly gained sentience and is now trying to communicate with the outside world. The only problem is that no one knows what it is trying to say, so it gets more and more frustrated and increasingly agitated. It has so much to say and no one understands it. If you like it circuit bent and burned to the ground, this is one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 19 minutes.

Thea Farhadian: Tectonic Shifts

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 26 2017
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Artist: Thea Farhadian (@)
Title: Tectonic Shifts
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Thea Farhadian is credited with “violin & electronics,” so you go into it having at least some idea of what you are in for. I was unfamiliar with this artist, but she is based in the San Francisco bay area and Berlin. She is classically trained, with an M.F.A. in Electronic Music. So now that we know the background, let’s get into the music and see what we have here. Overall, this is interesting improvised stings. A bit chaotic, but still holds together well. At times (e.g., “Time Shift), she is playing the instruments in unconventional ways that sounds lightly processed. There is a lot of processing at other times. For example, “Splinter” and “Particle Party” sound like a recording that has been spliced up on tape and then fed through a dirty cassette player that ate the tape. Reminds me a bit of Bob Ostertag’s “Attention Span,” which is a good thing. “Vertical” sounds like she is rubbing the instrument and abusing the stings. Others go outside of the chaotic feel; “Silverplate,” for example, is a peaceful droning track with just a hint of dissonance. If you want experimental strings, this is one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 37 minutes.

Grant Cutler: Self Portrait

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 26 2017
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Artist: Grant Cutler (@)
Title: Self Portrait
Format: CD
Label: Innova (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed Cutler’s collaboration with Chris Campbell, “Schooldays Over,” and had enjoyed it, so I was interested to hear what this solo disc sounded like. As the label describes it, “Cutler recorded artists improvising to delayed recordings of themselves, a kind of sonic déja vu where memory and experience blend together in an evolving present. Slowly evolving colors wash over the listener; as though placing a mic in front of a fresh Rothko.” Considering that I had called the previous disc “well done dreamlike music,” this sounds like we are in for a similar ride. “Georgia” starts us off with some staccato arpeggiated tones that give way to a composition of slow moving piano quarter notes and saxophone. Peaceful and calm, but gets more intense as more and more layers emerge out of nowhere.
“The Dream I Float Away” brings us lush soundscapes of strings and drone, a feeling that continues for the next few songs until we reach “Part 2.” This is a bit different, at times keeping with the tranquil feeling of the other tracks, before suddenly kicking in with heavily amplified organ and a bit of distortion and convolution to the track. It is almost startling after the peacefulness of the earlier tracks. This moves into the plodding piano of “Stairwell” before shifting gears once more for “Paroxysm,” which is almost noisy by comparison to the other tracks. This is not harsh noise, but rather a sense of pressure with warbling drone and rumbling bass. Finally, “Drowning” brings it all together with a track that is both noisy and soothing at the same time. The music crashes over you like staticy waves. Overall this lacks the melancholy feel of the previous collaboration. Instead, we have intermittent moments of storminess over a placid sea. If you want to get mellow, this is one to reach for. This album weighs in at around 38 minutes.


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