Music Reviews

Giulio Aldinucci: Tarsia

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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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.

Charlemagne Palestine + Z'EV: Rubhitbangklanghear | Rubhitbangklangear

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 16 2013
Artist: Charlemagne Palestine + Z'EV (@)
Title: Rubhitbangklanghear | Rubhitbangklangear
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
The very first moments of this interesting collaborative recording by two of the most interesting contemporary musicians with the penchant for extreme experimentation, the master of minimalism Charles Martin, commonly known as Charlemagne Palestine, and protean American percussionist and sound artist Stefan Joel Weisser aka Z'EV, resembled the Italian version of a notorious French nursery rhyme "Frere Jacques" (the English version is known as "Brother John" or "Are You Sleeping?"), which sings about a certain friar named Martin, who plays bells. Joking aside, this sonic document whose title "Rubhitbangklanghear | Rubhitbangklangear" could vaguely summarize some "concrete" aspects of this musical performance. Its gestational times are almost mythological, as these renowned sound artists needed more than 20 years to channel their performative arts into a release: Charlemagne Palestine and Z'EV met in Amsterdam in the eighties, but they performed together just in 2007 (at Lem, Barcelona), but their first studio recording occurred in 2010 and it started after zoning out while seeing and listening to the carillon that Charles held in his studio in Brussels. After 3 days of recordings, this album is what they squeezed: highly hypnotical bells reel in sonic space while they twine on mesmerizing dull thuds, choking metallic hits, dazzling strokes, loosing acousmatic sounds Z'EV manages to squeeze. There are two avalable version of the release, but I warmly recommend the double CD one as you will find the complete recordings, both the collaborative versions (marked by a CZ, abbreviation of Charlemagne and Z'EV) and solo ones (marked by the initial letter of each performer). If solo performances sound unbelievably entrancing and magnetic, you can barely imagine how they could sound when they join respective flows...

The 49 Americans: We Know Nonsense

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 14 2013
Artist: The 49 Americans
Title: We Know Nonsense
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Rated: *****
This funny release on Staubgold records moments of extemporaneous musical wit, which sound in the balance between plagiarism and parody, by an ensemble of musicians and non-musicians (but fully involved in music scene) which we won't call "a band, in the conventional sense", as suggested by one of his most known member, David Toop. In accordance with the references to the number of united stars/states in North America, we could consider The 49 Americans, a do-it-yourself supergroup joined together by Andrew "Giblet" Brenner, as a confederation of American musicians (including people like Lol Coxhill, Viv Albertine, Vivien Goldman, Steve Beresford, Max Eastley, Eddie Saunders, Bendle, Terry Day, Nag and Keith James)who don't really look for any kind of celebration or wax sculptures in spite of their amazing and amused activity and their clarion calls to meaningful non-sense and possibly missing 50th star (!) in the boiling British scene between late 70ies and early 80ies. They whipped stylistical rinds by a carefree attitude and a funny insouciance over their occasional appearances, so that you could imagine that they composed most of their songs (and their seemingly nonsense dandy/dadaist lyrics...) in total idleness and this pleasant reprint of their second full-length, previously released in 1982 by Choo Choo Train Records, which include 23 (it's not a mistake...they're really 23) bonus tracks from their first releases "Toop Young To Be Ideal" and "E Pluribus Unum", validate their bizarre eclecticism and the above-sketched attitude. A wholesome shake of references (I'm pretty sure you'll recognize many preceding and following musical acts while listening their somewhat lopsided pastiches and pastimes of doo-wop, swing, rock'n'roll, gospel, childplays, acapella, easy listening pop, jazz or whatever) has been combined to lyrical cinches, whose naif sublimation are really intriguing. Have a listen and these odd American fellows will manage to lift your mood up.

Adern X & Tiziano Milani: Cinema Show

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 03 2013
Artist: Adern X & Tiziano Milani (@)
Title: Cinema Show
Format: CD
Label: Xevor Records
Rated: *****
The last time I reviewed Adern X, it was about the release "Ink spots called words", a collection of tracks recorded during the 2007/2012 time span. With "Cinema Show", Andrea Piran, is back with a new album recorded in collaboration with a well known sound tweaker called Tiziano Milani. The concept behind this album deals with the dependence of images and sounds on a movie and the way to enjoy it in different environments. They recorded their sound sources at the movies and then edited it to make it sound, as they say, like a "soundtrack of an imaginary expressionist movie or as an experimental form of synphonic poem". The release is divided into five different movements where noises we are kinda used to, morph into a disturbing sound collage that sometimes turn into a dreamy reversed orchestra, then into a pulsating signal from a distant galaxy and then into a cacophonic wall that melts into tiny melodies now and then. This isn't exactly my cup of tea but I appreciated the feeling and the concept of the release and I think that this is what these sounds were made for...

Lord Tang: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 30 2013
Artist: Lord Tang (@)
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Alarm (@)
Rated: *****
This self-named debut release by Lord Tang, the recent brainchild from Dominic Cramp's recording studio, jacks in vintage sonic equipment, which he uses to squeeze some juicy arrangments whose aftertaste recalls old glorious dub stuff as well as some electronic declension, and some elements (pleated and singed sonorities, obscure electronic entities, seemingly aimless vocal interferences of paranoid ramblings and field recordings), which could be clasped to Cramp's other projects (in particular Borful Tang) and similar sonic mounts, which combine a taste for modern compositional strategies and aged hooks (Digital Mystikz, Zomby, Demlike Stare), but Lord Tang hushes samples up and prefers to grate delicious melodic lines from old synths and catchy rhythmic pattern from drum machines. After the initial shining "Fog", he jogs on reversed groove by the caustic "Defections", drags shell-shock atmospheres, which could resemble some stuff by Future Sound of London, towards gluey jellied sludge on "Thang" - one of my favorite track -, fries ping pong balls into boiling soup of dub pieces of meat, sinisterly gnashes claps and bleeps on the dour "Friends" (featuring Gollum on mic?), frothes narcotic suds on "Slumberer", injects entrancing organ-driven tearing melodies in the veins on the beautiful "My Dub Uncle" - another highlight of this release - before suppurating pure dub nostalgia and plangently warm heavyweight bass in order to propel mental spacewalks as a good strategy to dissolve physical and spiritual restrictions of "real" world on the final "Smalls". That's a good release to remove muck-up out of dubster's ears.

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