Music Reviews

Richard Chartier & Yann Novak: Undefined

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 27 2013
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Artist: Richard Chartier & Yann Novak (@)
Title: Undefined
Format: CD
Label: FARMACIA901 (@)
Rated: *****
The linear notes states that "Undefined is dedicated to the uncertainties of Los Angeles" so it has a curious development: Chartier sends to Novak an unfinished work with no explanation other than "add to it, subtract from it, or a combination in order to finish the piece". Then Chartier would accept or reject the result.
The track is a long journey of sound, it starts quietly with a subtle drone and some quiet noises slowly developing to remember the listener as it's more important the texture than the shape. A bright drone dominates the second part of this track and acts as the dominant color in a Rothko painting until silence begins and a quiet drone is reminiscent of the meaning of "lowercase music" and "quiet environment" and in the final part is substituted by quiet noises event if this sounds like an oxymoron (at least for western culture).
This release is not ground breaking but the stature of the artists involved is so huge that is could be voted as one star of five star related if you love the genre or not.

p.s.: From the vote you can see from which side I am: in my 2013 rewind playlist.

Hybryds: Mythical Music from the 21st Century

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 27 2013
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Artist: Hybryds
Title: Mythical Music from the 21st Century
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Apart from cover the dark ambient/post industrial polish scene, Zoharum has an almost challenging program of reissue of classic albums from the golden age of this music genre. This time is the place for the debut album from this bands. As most of the releases from this period, the linear notes are filled with magical tales so they talk about "Na He Ma" wondering that even she's "disguised as a willing victim, she is able to meet the Beast face to face".
The thirteen tracks of this release stating from the intro of "The Awakening" to "The Final Answer" are filled of everything it will be became the essential parts of this genre: hypnotic loops, ethnical beats and atmospherical drone in the search for the musical expression of the project stated in the linear notes. Something could seem outdated or simple but, in the '80s, this was the new frontier where everyone were listening to new romantics and this music was truly underground. There's also five bonus track to complete this re-issue and cover the production of the band during this period (1983-1986)
It doesn't matter the aesthetics opinion about the singles tracks, so this release has no vote as it's useless, as the historical importance is so huge that this reissue is a must hear for all fans. Essential for all fans of this genre.

Hati & Z'EV: Collusion

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 26 2013
Artist: Hati & Z'EV (@)
Title: Collusion
Format: CD
Label: Idiosyncratics (@)
Rated: *****
This third powwow by the revered behemoth of percussions and drums Z'EV and surprising duo of young Polish percussionists Rafal Iwanski & Rafal Kolacki, better known as Hati (named after the mythological wolf that chases the Moon according to Norse Gylfaginning?), sounds like the title "Collusion" seems to suggest for a couple of reasons: on one side, their skills perfectly matches and such a mutuality shines through the five acts of this recording, on the other side, their somewhat transcendent percussive textures and thick amalgam of harmonic auscultation evoke menacing harbingers and a deeply trance-inducing ritualism, so that their point of convergence doesn't lie only on vocational and technical aspects, but also conceptual or I'd rather say neural. It's just something they do together, as a male voice (Z'EV's one) stigmatizes before the performes start to play. Such a statement could sound a little bit self-referential, but the mesmerizing heights they climb by means of weaves of gongs, tolling hits, rubbing of membranes, grimly clashing cymbals, slightly ominous tom-tomming, spatialized plucks over the five parts of Collusion" titillate listener's imagination and wrap it by a sort of electrified cloud. Both Z'EV and Hati move deftly in the field of ritual trance music and its ancestral structures, even if their percussive journey, the gradual unfolding of hypnotical beats and contemplative undertows definitively sound like the outcome of possessed improvisational sessions whose absorbing progression could let you think about geometrical figures which asymptotically tend to a perfect circle.

King Gong: Voices

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 19 2013
Artist: King Gong (@)
Title: Voices
Format: 12"
Label: Discrepant (@)
Rated: *****
Poncey exoticism has never attracted my attention, particularly when it's clear that the more or less noticeable insertion of etnhic elements get justified by no particular reason that an inappropriate titivation, but I cannot say the sonic researches by French sound-artist Laurent Jeanneau, one of the most activ contributor of Sublime Frequencies, which recently released a collection of sonic documents of unknown indigenous music from ethnic minority groups of Southern China, prolific producer of ethnographic field recordings and tireless wayfarer, belongs to that kind of sonic fetishism. On "Voices" as in Jeanneau's previous collages, the concept could be vaguely close to Freform's Audiotourism, but in spite of the computer aided editing which is not invasive at all, there's no particulr stylistical imprint and the process of coalescence between recorded voices, field recordings and textures of traditional (mainly percussive) instruments doesn't taint the authenticity of the source. It rather highlights the immersive listening experience that Laurent evokes. As you can easily imagine, "Voices" focuses on vocal excerpts he recorded in the southern regions of Yunnan and Guizhou, China, in Sapa, Northern Vietnam and phongsaly, Northern Laos, which are often embellished by means of intriguing instrumental twines: the overlapping of entrancing vocals on the initial "Baozoo Khen", the lopsided string striations on the absorbing "Sixian Miao Choir", the ritual scent and the odd howling of the speaking woman on "Cym Wu Khmu" are the most impressive moments of a record, which is going to steep listener's mind into the remote corners of the planet Laurent genuinely documented.

Giulio Aldinucci: Tarsia

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 17 2013
Artist: Giulio Aldinucci (@)
Title: Tarsia
Format: CD
Label: Nomadic Kids Republic
Distributor: Experimedia
Rated: *****
In an interview with the website Fluid Radio ( Italian composer described the origins of the title Tarsia, his first release under his own name.

"The term Tarsia (or Intarsia) denotes an ancient technique of wood inlaying. The first examples of this practice date back to the XIV century and come from the Siena region. I have chosen this title because I consider this technique similar to the that of a lot of contemporary electro-acoustic music. To make these wood inlays they used rare and carefully selected natural elements, which were then treated, and sometimes individually coloured, and subsequently placed next to each other in order to create complex patterns, which is what many musicians within this field tend to do."

It seems like the terms 'field recordings', 'modern classical', and 'soundscapes' could be interchangeable, so often are they found in the same sentence. It seems like every time an artist lays a cello or a piano to tape, it is accompanied by handheld tape recordings, the sounds of rippling brooks, and the ringing of churchbells. It is hard to stand out in this saturated field, but Giulio Aldinucci achieves this rare balance, by creating whole compositions, that don't merely sound like 'classical lite' with some voicemail pasted on top.

The composer achieves this effect by carefully mixng and balancing the sounds, creating a delicate interplay that suggests technical mastery and a sensitive ear. Most of the sounds are synthetic in nature, overlaid with pristine soundscapes: crystal running rivers, dogs barking, snippets of conversation. It seems like a memory of wandering the Italian countryside. Aldinucci's music may have originated in a soundcard or a circuit board, but they beautifully complement the acoustic recordings with masterful mixing, making a cohesive whole, like the wooden boxes Tarsia is named after.

Once upon a time, a record like this would be merely considered 'new age' and left at that, mainly due to the soothing synth ambiance that makes up most of this record. However, with synthesizer opuses making a heavy comeback for the last 10 years or so, perhaps we are ready to consider these electronic instruments on their own terms. I would like to amend the newage tag with 'heavenly' or dare i even say it, 'beautiful'.

Giulio Aldinucci, and the Nomadic Kids Republic that released this, are ones to watch out for, seemingly creating reams of gorgeous modern classicism. Physical copies of Tarsia are long gone, but you can stream or download copies from the label's bandcamp site.

Lovely stuff! Recommended.

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