Music Reviews

Rove: Orkestrova: Electric Ascension

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 04 2013
Artist: Rove: Orkestrova (@)
Title: Electric Ascension
Format: CD
Label: Atavistic
Rated: *****
Evidently this is a reworking of John Coltrane's 'Ascension,' although I am not familiar with this work. As the website explains, 'Coltrane's Ascension belongs right up there in the pantheon of multi-recorded masterworks. Since this is only the second recording by someone other than Coltrane, there's plenty of room for it and more. We decided to record it because we could, and because we had a very heavy line-up of 'free-jazz' players who we thought could handle the large ensemble improvisations.' And yes, this is a heavy lineup, most notably Fred Frith and Nels Cline. As I listened to this, I couldn't help thinking back many years ago when I saw the Nels Cline Trio play in a dive bar in Corvallis, Oregon. The bassist played with a drill and completely wrecked everything. Cline was no less inventive. It was frantic and noisy and it was amazing. This is likewise frantic, noisy, and amazing. How they manage to keep it together is a testament to the skill of these musicians. At first listen it sounds chaotic (which is fine with me), but on repeated listens, it is easier to find some structure in the maelstrom. If you like free jazz and improvisation, you probably already have this, but if you don't, you need to get it. This album weighs in at around 64 minutes.

Richard Chartier: Recurrence

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 01 2013
Artist: Richard Chartier (@)
Title: Recurrence
Format: CD
Label: Line (@)
Rated: *****
Line is undoubtedly one of the miliar stones for audiophiles with a passion for digital minimalism since its preambles and this release by its founder Richard Chartier comes back to the spark which lighted its story up 12 years ago and 58 releases ago. His "Series" has teasonably considered one of the most majestic sonic monument on the pokey borderlines between silence and sound (or I'd better say between silence and Tinnitus!), which got performed before a very restricted and selected lucky audience on live stage just ten years after its official release. "Recurrence" cannot be considered a proper new album by Richard Chartier, as it is a sort of reprise of "Series", where the original nine untitled tracks have been melded in one long-lasting track after a further smoothing of frequencies, a sort of suite where, even if the sounds that marked "Series" are quite recognizable, their chiselling borders on the fiendish research for perfection so that each single sound sneaks in listener's ears like a subcutaneous imperceptible jab and each sonic stream got atomized in order to be easily discernable for listeners themselves. This impressive sample of sonic surgery has been preceded by a sort of 21-minutes lasting bonus track in the opening of the record, "Recurrence (Room/Crosstones)", where this master craftsman dabbles in small-scale variations of ultra-low basses. I cannot but reccomend to listen it by means of headphones or hi-fi sound systems which manage to render sounds (particularly bass frequencies) over a "passable" level.

Francisco Meirino: Untitled Phenomenas In Concrete

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 26 2013
Artist: Francisco Meirino (@)
Title: Untitled Phenomenas In Concrete
Format: CD
Label: Cave12 (@)
Rated: *****
It seems that the high rate of dumping factor, let's say so, is intentional in Francisco Meirino's sonic research as according to the one who wrote his biography his music primarily "explores the tension between programmable material and the potential for its failure" and this operating procedures permeate this release, where you could imagine an astonishing electromechanical prototypical marvel which fails the test just some instant after it gives the impression it's going to to work well! It could be a wise way to gibe its own skills as I'm pretty sure Francisco knows them quite well. More than 150 live performances in many venues in Europe, Japan and North America and a plenty of collaborations and commissioned releases are enough to validate them. During the listening of Meirino's work, you could easily imagine a supercar with the highest technological content which ridiculously fails the first test for a punctured tire! It's not a negative criticism at all, as I reallt like those skilled musicians which manages to add some funny provocative hints in their artworks! Those abstract lines on black background on the cover artwork refers to the compositional process, which has been used for "Untitled Phenomenas in Concrete", as Francisco fed 85 HighC/UPIC sessions with a set of 18 external sounds (recordings of bones cracking, snow falling, electro-static noises, oscillators, gear failures, magnetic fields and insects!) by means of a device (UPIC) developed by Iannis Xenakis, which gave the possibility to create sounds from drawings on a sort of primordial tablet. I'm not surprised Francisco spent nearly four years to achieve a satisfying result, which arguably manages to reinvent the glitch logic within electroacoustic composition.

Ephraim Wegner & Julia Weinmann: Eins Bis Sechzehn

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 23 2013
Artist: Ephraim Wegner & Julia Weinmann
Title: Eins Bis Sechzehn
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
Scraped plaster, cracked walls, wrecked doors, broken switchboards, shattered mirrors, shorn wires, rusty spikes, wet planks, forsaken rooms, damaged facades. old dailies, faded attires, some tangible clues of gone-by glory and other sparse reminiscences of the heydays characterize this sonic and visual journey within abandoned huge hotel resorts, staged by these young artists. Sound machines and microphones by Ephraim Wegner and Julia Weinmann's lens wittily portray the ruins of former hotels as if they were wheeezing dying entities or a wreck of a drifting ship by exploring it from their skeletal chest, where the glimpse of beautiful places which surround them evokes shadows of his previous symbionts. A sort of elegiac representation of decay, where the concepts of place and non-place seems to coexist in the dramatization of artifacts as well as decostruction and construction find their meeting point, easily manages to inspire some glimmers of new beginnings.

Worsel Strauss: Unattention Economy

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 22 2013
Artist: Worsel Strauss
Title: Unattention Economy
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Vicmod Records (@)
Rated: *****
One of the main criticisms levelled at electronic music is that anyone can make it, the machines do all the work. That is true, just press the triangle and let fly! This then raises the question: What makes good electronic music? Sure, we can listen to the refrigerator hum or blender whine for hours, but does that constitute good 'music'? Worsel Strauss, half of the retro electronics outfit Schleusolz, plugs in his machines, and considers the results.

Inspired by an infamous piece of early electronics, Douglas Leedy's 'Entropical Paradise (with bird call),' a triple-LP of self-generated modular synth music, Strauss wondered if he could make some interesting synthnoise, without resorting to sidelong synth soundscapes. Instead, he wondered if the machines could come up with more conventional 'songs', and set to, armed with a vintage Buchla synthesizer and some other analog electronics. The pieces were composed, straight to tape, and then edited later, in a process he called 'subtractive mixing'. 'If there is a creative process involved at all it is the design of the rules and the final choice of which results to present, and which ones not.' He even wonders if it can be considered music at all.

Which brings us to the mechanical heart of 'Unattention Economy,': Does it sound good? An album reviewers purpose is to report back what he hears, and to alert listeners as to whether a particular piece is worthy of their attention. While 'UE' might be cyberdine techno, it sounds REALLY good. At first i was skeptical: another experimental synth record? How much knob twiddling can a bloke hack? But it is my job, to parse through the datastream and report what i see, and i will not let you down. It is our job, as listeners, to try and remain unjaded, to not let the cultural torrent wash us away. This comes through presence and awareness, and the final analysis is, Strauss' machines sound boss. Bringing to mind a surprising amount of modern electricians (Nine Inch Nails, Autechre, Jessica Rylan), the sounds are all sourced from exquisite components. The drums kick like a Parisian siege, while the analog pads are as warm as a Sahara sun. There's bleepy, gloopy tones, that'll appeal to the retro-fetishists out there, but there's also dance floor fare (Shopping for Antibiotics). 'Swarm Intelligence' is a standout track, killer martial breakbeats and detuned swarming melodies. Its like an instrumental outtake from 'The Downward Spiral' remixed with a Pure Data patch. It brings the body and the head together, and could help introduce some listeners to the world of abstract electronica that's out there.

Vicmod Records could have a real hit on their hands here. Worsel Strauss is worthy of yr time and attention, possibly yr praise. The time and care he took to setup the experiment allowed for some remarkable alleatoric daemons to manifest, and i'll be damned if i don't hear a bit of soul in there. 'Unattention Economy' is very highly recommended.

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