Music Reviews

Raglani: Real Colors of the Physical World

 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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Feb 24 2013
Artist: Raglani
Title: Real Colors of the Physical World
Format: 12" vinyl + 7"vinyl
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
The initial grumbling in "Tongue", the beginning of "Fog Of Interruption", the first of four parts of the 20 minutes lasting suite on A side of this amazing release by Saint Louis-based Joe Raglani, could let you think about the awakening of some monstrous sea crature who slept for centuries in the abyss and the crooked strokes on strings, which sound like twisting together before the entrancing electronic arpeggios of the second part, "Men for Wire", begins to creep into the endoplasmic reticulum of laser beams, the hypnotical computational gurgle of the thid part, "Brutality of the Eye", and the ancestral haziness of church bells, corroded corrugation of sparkling noises and other boiled sonic stimulations of the final part, "March", randomly flutters electrons in the sonic sphere could recall its slow resurfacing, but the abstract feast of old and new recipes in the following track, "The Terrain of Antiquity", which have a similar four parts subdivision ('Ferry Across Marginalia', 'Hollis Albion', 'Mild Power Descending', 'Fireflies of Arcadia') and whose beginning resounds somewhat animalistic and equally thicking for your head, will let you surmise Raglani plunged you into some psychedelic ultraword portayed by The Orb or Future Sound Of London, inhabited by bizarre beings and unexpected entities, which can be recognized in this impressive and somewhat confusing pot of sonic carousel in its catchy alternation of exstatic and hallucinogenic moments, which reaches the boundaries of liturgical atmosphere and 8-bit sonic abandonware. On the enclosed 7", Raglani seems to having squeezed parts of the two longest suites on the 12" in order to concentrate them in two gorgeous shorter tracks, "The Exploded View", which moves towards cybernetic-like reverie, and "Trampoline Dream", whose arpeggioes rended some stages of a platform videogame. Really succulent stuff for abstract synth electronic music.

Taylor Deupree: Faint

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 23 2013
Artist: Taylor Deupree
Title: Faint
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
Any elemental decomposition and "alchemical" analysis of the sound that unstinting and versatile renowned Brooklyn-based sound artist Taylor Deupree moulds could succeed in listing some recipes, but it's really difficult to give an idea of the taste of his hallucinatory soup: its modelling clay comes from field recordings, organic sounds, lukewarm twining of bass tones, thin streams of enslowed beaming sounds, sprouting instrumental melodies, plunk of crystalline nylon strings, little imperfections, heavenly reverberations and its seemingly wiggly glint which sounds like conflating into ether could vaguely recall some stuff by Robert Rich (particularly in tracks like "Dreams Of Stairs", "Shutter" and "Negative Snow"), but almost all listeners will by far leave such an analytical approach to lapse and getting absorbed into its mindblowing running, whose emotional radiant heat could find a visual correlation in the photo feature on the artwork, mostly instagrams taken in the woods and other outdoor location by Deupree's handmade camera. "Faint"'s glimmer flows without flouncing.

IKB Ensemble: Monochrome Bleu Sans Titre

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 18 2013
Artist: IKB Ensemble
Title: Monochrome Bleu Sans Titre
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
In spite of the semicircle on the inlay artwork, which is similar to the typical graphical representation of the seating arrangement of different musicians of an orchestra, and so many improvisational musicians involved in the project, referring to IKB as an "orchestra" could be quite misleading. IKB could better be defined an ensemble with some specific and somewhat original features: its conceptual framework focuses on French painter Yves Klein, leading figure of the artistic movement he co-founded in 1960 with art critic Pierre Restany, the so-called "nouveau realisme" (new realism), as suggested by the fact this ensemble names after the bright and intense blue hue, International Klein Blue, that Monsieur Klein first mixed and widely used for a lot of installations and paintings. According to the Nouveau Realism Manifesto, whose members autographed on a rigorously IKB panel, and the artistic perspective of this group, the surrounding world could be observed as a sort of modular picture and any artist could take single parts as well as incorporate them into their works in order to "seal" a sort of bond between art and life and a return to concrete world in opposition to abstract art. Their aggregation/congregation was considered a sort of "collective singularity" as it derived from the awareness of their differences, whose "trait d'union" was mainly methodological and based on the grabbing of reality. Whereas that movement mostly unfolded itself in visual arts, IKB ensemble could be considered the missing link with sound art. On the four sonic canvasses, it seems that they apply their precepts by means of instrumental clips and sounds derived from objects, which sound like emulations of daily sounds or rubber-stamps or casts from concrete reality and while it seems they flow into tonal streams, listeners could have the impression of a choral mimicry. Ernesto Rodrigues and his crowd of talented collaborators (Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Miguel Mira on double bass, Rogerio Silva on trumpet, Eduardo Chagas on trombone, Bruno Parrinha on alto clarinet, Nuno Torres on alto saxophone, Pedro Sousa on tenor and baritone saxophones, Abdul Moimeme on prepared electric guitar, Carlos Santos and Ricardo Guerreiro on computers, Monsieur Trinite', Nuno Morao and Jose Oliveira on percussions) presumptively invented a possible new direction for improvisational scene.

VV.AA.: 14 Tracks: Crepuscular Electronics

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 17 2013
Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: 14 Tracks: Crepuscular Electronics
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Boomkat (@)
Rated: *****'s 14 tracks series takes you back to the glory of high school mixtapes, except in this case the friend making you the tape happens to be one of the world's leading purveyors of cutting edge electronic music. In short, they have all the good shit, the best stuff. On Crepuscular Electronics, released in October of last year "with an emphasis on slow, squashed beats, half-heard vocals and introspective autumnal atmospheres," (from the press release). I'm happy to report that this music is not seasonally effected, and the greyscale techno and vacuous romance of these 14 songs sound just as good on empty winter avenues.

'Collapsed' from Emptyset, taken from a recent 12" from Raster-Noton, opens the gates with 4 minutes of scouring static and tectonic bass, the slimiest, most earth-shattering industrial techno yr likely to find, before the mood lightens with the robotic salsa funk of Lukid's 'Manchester'. It's a slowly evolving locked groove, engineered to roll yr eyes up into yr head while yr feet pound unyielding concrete. Kingpin Andy Stott shows up with 'Expecting', cavernous echoes like dismembered memories, voices rise from the deep to swallow you whole. He takes his time before cracking the dam; a hefty 4/4 basskick comes on like an unstoppable war engine, loose chains clanking and rattling about its feet. There's slithering slime in the margins, filling the stereofield with details. This whet my appetite to have more AS in my life; the man is a boss, rightfully lauded, and bringing his black-clad comrades with him.

'Salt On The Wound' by Afterhours, from their first vinyl release on LA label Not Not Fun, is a slow groove, a midnight burn. Beatport described Sleepwalker as "like a surveillance camera through shimmering tunnels, glowing skylines and empty streets". Its a dystopian romance, a drunken cab ride into the sunset. It reminds you of Blade Runner's neon apocalypse, if its futuristic cityscape were on a volcanic island. Vessel's 'Aries' is one of this set's highlights, another slow smooth groove, full of buried sex and hidden intentions. Its like a late night tumble, with fractured chemical fantasies. Simultaneously disorienting and alluring, Sebastian Gainsborough pulls you in and fucks with yr head. Vessel is another highlight of the rising current of post-punk electronics.

The heads at Boomkat must've been on a roll at this point: 'Open To The Dark' from 1991 runs 'Charlotte Sometimes' by The Cure through a mangled-tape blender, smashing it together with blissed-out futurist synthesizers, and minimalist computer exotica. Its like a memory of the '80s, collapsed into a singularity. I'm glad to hear the futurism of that decade returning to the forefront, recalling a time when newer was always better, when anything was possible. Even if they are invoking it 30 years later. Canada's No Ufo's (named after a Model 500 song) were a new acquisition from this crop; the grooving, strobing dub techno of 'Petit A At 90' owns up to their namesake, smooth and deep and fierce, slowly growing and dissolving, floating in an amniotic limbo of its own making. Elements drift and reappear at apparent whim, making this a monster of a dancefloor nightmare. This would be right at home in a 3 am set somewhere backlit, guaranteed to put yr revelers in the zone.

It would take too long for me to describe every track in detail. They're all good in their own way. Let me be brief: Porcelain Raft's 'Talk To Me' is a churning, noisy R&B ballad. 'Still Here' by Clara Intelecto is the finest of the second half of this record, climbing high on my list of favorites from 2012, and etching its way into my penultimate pantheon. Its gorgeous, reverb-laden piano hangs over the warm round bass like the Southern Cross. This music sounds timeless, ancient; the strings are straight out of Silver Screen hollywood. This is music for epic romance at the end of time. 'Kiss me yr beautiful/these are truly the end days'.

Silent Harbour's 'Descending Radius Curve' is an unsettling listen, reminding us that industrial music and dark ambiance are still alive and quite unhealthy. 'Brook' by Throwing Snow is a kaleidoscopic journey through a radioactive arcade. 'Impasse' is the second best track of the latter half, brought to you by the intentionally misspelled Ssleeping Desiress. It sounds like latter day Coil, Gabriel Ramos doing his best John Balance (R.I.P.) over Aurora Borealis synth washes, before breaking into a dub reggae groove. This is fine make-out music! 'Bola 4' from Alex Under is 10 minutes of sound poetry, slowly growing into a dance floor bricolage. Not for the faint of heart or for the impatient, but yielding interesting results to the binaural adventurer.

Last but not least, 'Mighton Ogan Lode' from Oberman Knocks is pure paranoid fantasy, all ties from reality severed, floating in a cosmos of broken thoughts, trapped within the prison of unyielding flesh. The last two tracks of this record have mostly foregone any condescension towards the dance floor and the traditional avenues for electronic music. "a place where ideas learned from ambient techno, pop, hauntology, and sound design play out a wealth of affective emotions, textures and groove," (press release).

This is a long listen, and the continuity of tempo, mixed with the abstract electronic and disregard for pop tropes like builds and breaks, means that this will not be for everybody. But for anybody that likes to slap on a pair of headphones and go for a walk in the cold, this is a godsend. Its a useful who's who of a very singular strand of modern Techno. Its often bleak and cold, but its also romantic. This crop of producers are extracting the DNA from all the electronics of the '80s to make mighty mutants of sound. Call it cybernetic, call it futuristic; the cats at Boomkat will never steer you wrong, take you further and deeper than ever before!

Billy Roisz: Walking The Monkey

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 16 2013
Artist: Billy Roisz (@)
Title: Walking The Monkey
Format: 12"
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
This solo debut album by Austrian experimental video and sound artist Billy Roisz, known for her talent to render experimental music into visual imagery, sounds like a sort of anarchic transposition of suprematist praecepts from plastics to electricity after yuppifying them by means of contemporary treatment of frequencies and an impressive weaponry of instruments and unstruments, i.e.remote-controlled instruments where a device (normally a computer) goes between instrument and performer, such as electric bass guitar, kakophonator, kluppe (a linux-only open source loop-player and recorder, developed by Dieter Kovacic aka dieb13, who already collaborated with Billy), Flower Electronics Jealous Heart (a small battery-powered modular synthesizer, which is quite good to produce chatic clashing sounds) and a set of audible video devices. On "Walking The Monkey", she manages to organize corrosive flow of noises by tantalizing vortexes of spooky mid-frequencies ("Blue Hairy Tongues"), progressive saturations over tonal curves which look like following hyperbolic trend ("Spinning The Ecstasy"), sonic peptic ulcers (the distant smooth jazzy excerpt on the incipit of the title-track "Walking The Monkey" could let you imagine the possible mishap of an heavy drinker after many drinks), fermentations of stunning drones ("Feeding The Monsters"), thunderous flashes of noises which broaden over the sonic sphere (particularly on the track "Wave Your Hand To Sleepy Land", whose title conveniently quotes Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow"...a possible reading which could match the listening of Roisz's sonic sculptures) and high-pitched sharpening death throes of sound ("Under The Influence"). If you appreciate modulations of noise and similar stuff, just give heed to this stuff.

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