Music Reviews



Wil Bolton: Amber Studies

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 09 2012
cover
Artist: Wil Bolton
Title: Amber Studies
Format: CD
Label: Rural Colours (@)
Rated: *****
The appreciated sound-artist Wil Bolton, who used to sign his previous releases (mainly on the appreciated Boltfish) with his moniker CHEjU, should have been enraptured by amber jewelleries and peaceable temperament of Krakow citizens I could also witness about people living nearby Baltic Sea when I explored those countries over the so-called route of amber. I'm pretty sure that Wil read many documents about the beliefs concerning the supposed powers of this "stone" - the ones in Baltic jewellery, also known as succinite, is particularly beautiful for their colour gradations -, which is nothing but fossilized tree resin (sometimes containing accidentally "drowned" insects or plant material), but was believed to chase nightmares and headache and bear wisdom and altruism. On the four tracks of "Amber Studies", he seems to excrete sonic amber by means of effected guitars and thin ambient tones in order to absorbe surrounding reality and ordinary life (people talking, noises of carriages on the pavement or grabbed nearby restaurants or bars on the street and so on), supposedly recorded in the streets and places of Krakow Old City Center he mentions to name his tracks - "Rynek Glowny", "Ulica Kanonicza", "Ulica Grodzka" and "Plac Szczepanski" -. An entrancing way for frozening reality whose final result is prominently atmospheric and healing for your head ache. Just like amber supposedly does!

Elizabeth Hoffman: Interieurs harmoniques

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 07 2012
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Artist: Elizabeth Hoffman (@)
Title: Interieurs harmoniques
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes (@)
Rated: *****
Even if "Interieurs harmoniques" is officially her debut album, it's quite clear since the first seconds of listening that NYC-based composer Elizabeth Hoffman is not a callow improviser and the fact her solo-release comes out on Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes, one of the most appreciated in the field of electroacoustics and acousmatics by many demanding followers of the genre, is fairly meaningful. Once the listener can easily ascertain her skillfulness in modelling mainly percussive sounds, related to her passion for electroacoustics, which has been accrued over many years of academic background, the most remarkable aspect of Elizabeth's sound maybe lies in the fey facets of her visionary (lasting about ten minutes each) sound collages. Listener's imagination immediately meets its match in the intial (and most recently recorded) track "Resonants", where the seducing texture of bells, glockenspiel and cymbals seems to echo back listener's phosphenes after closing eyes and the following movement could be associated to a fictitious pebble nearby the rail in the act of listening the coming, the arrival and the departure of a train in the subway. This imaginary ear-transplant or cochlear implant into a molecular entity could be imagined while listening to "Water Spirits" - listeners could easily think about the vicissitudes of a water particle since the moment it arrives on earth from a storm cloud, which travels across conduits, sewer pipes, sinks, entrails and viscera afterwards - and "Songstressed" - its listening could let you think about microphones on a particle of dust which during its mishaps falls into a bird's syrinx! -. Similarly fictional microscopic journey could be inspired by remaining tracks: "Allamuchy" reminded the initial track of Autistici's "Beneath Peaks" I recently reviewed due to the recordings of different moments (including a nap), which have supposedly been recorded in the natural set of Allamuchy wood in New Jersey, while "D-ness" sounds like the sonic translation of some emotional set which could'nt be explained but through sounds. The effected squeaks and every tessereas of the sonic mosaic of the final "Soundendipities", which costantly sounds on the edge of a cliff, closes this interesting listening experience with a sinister note of acousmatic self-irony indeed!

Stuart Chalmers: Shimmering Reflections of the Endless Myriad Moment

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 01 2012
cover
Artist: Stuart Chalmers (@)
Title: Shimmering Reflections of the Endless Myriad Moment
Format: CD
Label: ZamZam (@)
Rated: *****
The alienating effect of the field recording, supposedly grabbed on the occasion of unpleasant walking whereas bad weather and lashing wind seem to evoke ravages of time and other voices and forgotten melodies (the jammed music box seems to play the first tones of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake") from inner depths before they sound like falling down a sink drain, in the initial "Pulse" opens this release by tape manipulator and improviser Stuart Chalmers (also known as Skarabee and tusK), whose artistic path has been deeply marked by a course on sound engineering and music technology at the Birmingham Academy of Sound. His passion for tape manipulation is clear on the following track "Emerge", where a viscous loop, seemingly based on slammed doors, electric hums and a recurring wailing sound precede tape fast whooshes which could be made by a light pression on forward button during normal playback, obsessive tweets and even some broken beats before Stuart decides to change side as well as on the disquieting and sinister obliquities of slowed bells and e-bows of the following "Mirror". The following sample collage "Harvest" could be perfect for a really frightening horror movie since the nursery rhyme sung by a baby, which introduces to this strange listening experience, where appalled shouts, those thuds which can easily be associated to those horror movie effects which simulate the typical pace of the killer on wooden stairs (of course!) as well as to the heartbeat during high-tension moments, reversed bells and other sonic clues. Fast-forwarding tapes on a carpet of disquieting whistles, strange cries and voices come again on "Fragment", where other somewhat nightmarish sonic inserts seem to simulate a devastating and adventurous hungover which begins with the awakening in the middle of an Arab market. The ever-present tape whoosh accompany the listening till the final clouded track "Return", whose final field recording lead listeners to believe that "Shimmering Reflections of The Endless Myriad Moment" could have been just the audio documentary of a bad mental trip.

Aaron Dilloway / Jason Lescalleet: Grapes and Snakes

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 29 2012
cover
Artist: Aaron Dilloway / Jason Lescalleet (@)
Title: Grapes and Snakes
Format: 12"
Label: PAN (@)
Rated: *****
I won't start this review with expressions like "once upon a time", but I have to admit I felt tempted to do so while speaking about releases like this one, whose explorations by means of old fashioned analogue synths, recording techniques or tools, including the glorious tape recorder, which could inspire the same enchantment of a well-stocked antique store, could lead some listeners to believe that the apex of sonic research is not the perfect cleanliness of digital sound. I have no precise idea about the explanation of the title "Grapes & Snakes", even if a friend who owns a recording studio told me that he heard the slangy use of both words from some sound engineers - grapes, rhyming with tapes, could allude to green led lights under peak levels on mixer decks (similar to bunches of grapes), while snakes could refer to the typical pattern of soundwaves -, but I don't like puzzling with similar oddities. However I noticed some similaraties of the stereophonic movements of the sounds on the first track "Shattered Capsules" with the ones of water serpents, portrayed on the very elegant silkscreened pvc sleeve, when they wrap around something as well as the amazing and somewhat estranging pricks on sonic patchy fog and other (sometimes primordial, but extremely seducing) ways for interlacing sounds. Whereas the progressions on the above-mentioned "Shattered Capsules" sounds more straight, the second 20-minutes lasting track on B-side, "Burning Nest", sounds like a psychoacoustic storm, which gets gradually drenched with trembling low frequencies and droney dirty injections. The stylistical garment, which might recall some combinations between tape records and primordial industrial - not so far from some experiments by Mika Vainio -, could be explained by the background of the musicians: Aaron Dillaway was one of the most imaginative member of Wolf Eyes and borrowed his mindblowing, highly energetic and emotionally purging climaxes to a plenty of important projects of the experimental and noise electronic scene, while Jason Lescalleet scouted old-fashioned equipment and tactics in order to explore microscopic audio detail and really extreme sonorities. Their collaboration could be better appreciated if listened with close eyes, just like some stuff by Conrad Schnitzler or other forerunners of this sonic researches.

Frank Riggio: Psychexcess - Presentism

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 27 2012
cover
Artist: Frank Riggio (@)
Title: Psychexcess - Presentism
Format: CD
Label: Hymen records (@)
Distributor: Ant Zen mailroder
Rated: *****
Frank Riggio is an Italian-French artist based near Toulouse, France. He's been making music and releasing records for a long time, but his first official debut release dates back to 2007, shortly after he closed the label he was running (Sagaloops). He then embarked on a more sophisticated musical journey, the effects and results of which we are seeing in "Psychexcess I - Presentism", the first of a three part installment which showcases Riggio's abilities as a composer, sound designer and engineer. The album is masterfully executed and you can tell from the compositional style, the versatility of the sonic palette and the quality of the final mixdown and mastering that Riggio is a talented professional who excels in his field. The low end of this album is just amazing (present, controlled, thought out) and comes through even on smaller speakers and without a subwoofer. You can also tell that he works in sound design and music/sound for film/TV because he uses some of the same techniques and types of sounds that you often hear in that world (a great example of that is the fantastic sounding track "Venusian Philosopher (Future Vision I)", which would make a great Hollywood action-suspense movie trailer sound track).
I really like this album because it finds a great balance between the electronic realm and an organic truthfulness that only real instruments can provide. To describe these textures with classifying words is hard: in a way it has elements of classical composition, but it doesn't have any classical instruments (except for the occasional strings line), obviously it is downtempo electronic music at its core, but it goes way past its purest and simplest form and it also doesn't have a lot of beats or rhythmical patterns that you would expect in that genre. It kind of flows through your life as if it were it's own self-contain sonic universe, taking in elements from a variety of genres and making it own. Sparse elements of glitch, french chanteusisms, dark-ambient soundscapes, sci-fi sounds, There are field recordings, obviously there is a lot of sound manipulation and there is a strong footing in the experimental world too.
Definitely a very mature record that enjoyed listening several times and exploring in depth, both sonically and mentally. Looking forward to part II.


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