Music Reviews



The Use Of Ashes: White Nights: Flake Of Eternity

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 12 2012
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Artist: The Use Of Ashes
Title: White Nights: Flake Of Eternity
Format: CD
Label: Tonefloat (@)
Rated: *****
"Flake Of Eternity" is the final chapter of the trilogy "White Nights" by the stylistically iridescent Dutch band, born from the ashes of Ultra Movement-oriented Mekanik Kommando and named after a notorious album by Tom Rapp's Pearls Before Swine. Their daydreaming aura sometimes seems to concoct ith a subtle irony so that you could ask yourself if they keep on commemorating the use of ashes of that jeweller (his wife) sung by Tom Rapp who used ashes to clean coins and worship Gods or if they musically use ashes to invoke the souls of those dead bodies they came from! The sweet 60ies-like psychedelic-folk exhaling from some of their most lisergic and sunny tunes ("Being In Dreaming", "A Harmonics Secundus", "Look For The Sun" or the lovely "I Walk On A Beam"), which seems to come from the inspiration of a retired bomb disposal expert who spent years of his life in clearing Vietnamese war surplus after listening to Charlemagne Palestine seems to alternate with ideal punches setting traps for this dreaming state in a daze till its final atonement ("Hometown" is the nicest possible "farewell speech" to dismiss audience at the end of a concert!). The amazing crossbreed between improvisational folk and vocal experiments in "Little Garden", the amazing "From Nowhere To Nowhere" (an underlying quotation of Talking Heads' "Road To Nowhere" behind those field recordings which join the queue in a supermarket) and a sort of parody of radiophonic pop semantics in "XJ6 ... And The Radio Is On" (I don't know if the way of singing knowingly emulates Steven Wilson's honeyed style...dangerous for diabetics) accomplishes this anomalously oblique and lovely entrancing release.

F.ormal L.ogic D.ecay: CelebrAction

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 07 2012
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Artist: F.ormal L.ogic D.ecay (@)
Title: CelebrAction
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Selenophonia (@)
Rated: *****
This box is an anthology of the first twenty years of this musical project. Apart for his collectable value, is a 2cd pack plus 1 mini cd and other gadget as poster, the track are divided with a clear criterion. The first cd is for the first experiment and the more accessible track, the second is for the more musically structured track and the third is a noise experiment. So it's not a classic best of anthology but it should be regarded as a collection of unedited tracks and weird experiments of the early period of this artist.
The first cd starts with a bunch of track based upon recognizable records cited with humor and/or honor, "Gilda" with his beats marks the passage from the first almost easy listening tracks to the experimental part of this box set. "Koji Tano Tribute" is noise experiment with the first idea that will properly be developed in the mini-cd. "Woodworms" deals with layered sound of insects.
The second cd is of a completely different construction as is based around the long tracks: "Fragment from a recycled Empternity" is 7 part reconstruction of "Emptermity" release and is an always searching for a balance experiment around dark ambient ("part 1", "part 4", "part 6") and noise ("part 2", "part 3", "part 7"). "Devocalizzi" is instead the personal visions of sound poetry of the author and is, as these are tracks for the first experimente, not completely focused in his direction but quite enjoyable. "inFORMAL" is a series of J. Cage inspired experiment around everyday sounds (220V AC, Telephone ring etc) treated with the sense of play of the most eccentrics page of the american composer.
The mini-cd is greatly noise-oriented and different from the previous cd, unfortunately these are the only survived track of a much longer track as, even if this is truly heavy music, probably also the best constructed of this release.
This release is impressive in the variety of the experimental languages explored even if there's not a true part of this release that someone could speak about a masterpiece. However, for all fans of experimental sounds, this a good introduction for the work of this artist.

Andy Moor & Anne-James Chaton: Transfer/4 Inbound/Outbound

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 07 2012
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Artist: Andy Moor & Anne-James Chaton (@)
Title: Transfer/4 Inbound/Outbound
Format: 7"
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
The fourth and final release of the Transfer Series, focused on the themes of transition and transportation, which are viewed from a real (n one side of each 7" vinyl) and fictional (on the other side) perspective, opens with a sort of heartbeat so that it immediately could remind the association between rail networks and blood vessels with their complement of red and white corpuscles and coronary thrombosis (!), that some urban glamourish writers, poets and artists often retrieve, but "Inbound/Outbound", which has been dedicated to trains and underground by the talented English guitarist and composer Andy Moor (known for being member of the experimental Dutch band The Ex) and French sound artist Anne-James Chaton with the support of many guests, is far more haunting than the above-mentioned hackneyed metaphor: the dragged dub of the initial track "Metro" echoes the typical noises of a subway, whose amalgamation sounds visciously synaesthetic, Christine Abdelnoir's saxophone could be associated to an encephalic feeling during a journey on subway and the list of notorious metro stations of many metropolitan areas by voice of a number of guests (Carsten Nicolai for Berlin, John Edwards for London, Brodie West for Toronto, Dj Rupture for New York City, Mark Morse for Los Angeles, Denis Kaznachev for Moscow and Federico Bonelli for Rome), echoed by Moor like in a sort of litany, might be the reflection of a sort of daily liturgy or drama of people, who feel like trapped in this huge mesh, which appears so close to individual inescapable fate and the fictional dimension of personal realities. The fictional side of the release, "Not Guilty", got inspiration by notorious Agatha Christie's novel "Murder on the Orient Express", but the list of suspected murderers of Mr.Ratchett cannot but featured by a dreary and moody atmosphere as well as sonic clues which sound like recorded inside of a compartment of a coach.

Luciano Maggiore & Francesco Brasini: How to Increase Light in the Ear

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 29 2012
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Artist: Luciano Maggiore & Francesco Brasini (@)
Title: How to Increase Light in the Ear
Format: CD
Label: Boring Machines (@)
Rated: *****
Both the title these Italian sonic surfers chose for their second release on Boring Machines and the tuning sounds of the very first minutes of the two very long untitled tracks they assembled to increase light in the ear could remind those "therapies" with electricity some psychiatrists experimented in order to heal some mental diseases, particularly in the first decades of last century, an association which could come to mind by means of the buzzing, which is quite similar to the one neon lamps emit in hospital's wards. Afterwards, you will notice that these guys manage to "fray" this kind of electric whiz by stretching frequencies, occasional sharpening noises and inserting tones in order to shape the initial sonic stream; while the first track sounds focused on the insertion of mechanical cracks in the foggy, but somewhat bating flow, the second track looks like an eruptive process, based on the camouflage of an obsessive click/clock with three different covers of microtonal frequencies before the underlying loud bass tone, which sounded like a distant rumble, boisterously floods in the headphones. Even if this collaboration by electronic pioneer Luciano Maggiore - member of Phonorama, an improvisation ensemble with a turn out of some of the most talented Italian electronic musicians, one of the founders of the secret venue "Sant'Andrea degli amplificatori", whose sonic research's mainly oriented to the use of magnetic tapes, electrical devices, saturation levels through speakers and sound-data - and Francesco Brasini - hyperactive guitarist and sound researcher, who is hooked on self-building of prototypes of guitars, basses, analog effects and valve-amplifiers - has been introduced as a duo, it is clear that the amalgamation of their flows by Mattia Dallara on the mixing board is so essential that he could be considered the third element. Such a release could sound not properly an easy listening one for all those people who are not accustomed to the so-called post-serial avantgarde style, but I'm pretty sure the experience this duo/trio is offering might bring them many delightful moments and neuronal pleasure as well.

PAS: Flanked By Women And Pumpkins

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 28 2012
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Artist: PAS (@)
Title: Flanked By Women And Pumpkins
Format: CD
Label: Alrealon Musique (@)
Distributor: Plastic Head
Rated: *****
From subterranean corridors to ghostly '50s living rooms, NY 5-piece (and guests) PAS take you for an odd, auditory journey. Described by spokesperson Robert L. Pepper as "more soundscapes than "songs" in the traditional sense," there is still a dystopian sci-fi vibe that makes for a coherent listen.

Employing a battery of traditional band instruments - guitar, bass, drums, keys, trumpets, and percussion - PAS then illuminates these grooves with sonic bric-a-brac - found sounds, field recordings, and countless synthesizers. PAS flirt with atonal jazz, sound collage, doom metal, and '80s horror movie music during its sixty-minute duration. What could have been a stylistic clusterfuck ends up instead as an engaging auditory hallucination; a streak through the collective HORRORSHOW id of its creators. Don't get me wrong, this record is not cloaked in shadows and soaked in gore. If anything, its more polished chrome and burning red neon than cobwebs and candles.

The band claims that 'Flanked By Women And Pumpkins,' conceived during a tour of Poland in 2011, is "uncommercial". "There are no clearly defined melodies, no structural landmarks that give you any sense of traditional anchor," says Robert L. Pepper. The thing they may not realize is that many of us have spent the last 10 years blowing the dust out of our Eustachian canals with krautrock, harsh noise, drones, and field recordings. I have found, after repeated investigations, that 'FBWAP' falls nicely in line with the current Zeitgeist. Anybody that gets off on the endless grooves of classic cosmische jams, retro-futuristic techno, or John Carpenter-esque synthesizer scores, will find much meat on this bone.

I was all primed to hate this record, initially turned off by the glossy cardboard packaging, but the initial warm bass pulse of 'Electric Rain On Adams Bridge' seduced me. It comes off like a techno record, before degenerating into noisy crackling, then sluicing through some disembodied jazz. Its not as incoherent as it sounds; there is a universal pulse to this record. Its got a groove. It worked its way into my kitchen CD player for a week, before moving onto my headphones, making my trips to the bank and the shoestore far more futuristic and abstract.

'Flanked By Women And Pumpkins' was produced and mastered by Robert L. Pepper, dispelling the myth that a musician can't mix and master their own work. He has a deft touch; the recordings are full and well-rounded, and help to distinguish this record from the legions of bland noise imitators. Every sonic element is glowingly rendered in spacious reverb; all the pieces work as a whole. There are no jarring changes in volume, surprising considering the varied genres and instrumentation. The spell is never broken, and the listener is treated to 12 surreal, walking dreamscapes.

Purveyors of art-house classicism and bored-room jazz, take note. There may be clues here as to how 'high-brow' 20th-century Avant-Garde techniques can come together with current DIY-sweaty basement experimentation.

Uncommercial, my left ear. Go buy this.



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