Music Reviews



Asher: Untitled Landscapes 1 + 2

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 11 2012
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Artist: Asher (@)
Title: Untitled Landscapes 1 + 2
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
After repeated operations of smoothing, bevel, trimming and shaving, Somerville-based composer Asher Tuil delivers this double digital release through Australian label Room40. His compositional approach sounds quite interesting and it's mainly related to the redifinition of the concept of home listening: the starting point was a set of recordings which has aleady been issued on "Landscape Studies", their repeated listening and treatment according to a generative process with random elements, focused on the aural perception from different listening points of the recording space, resulting in a set of tracks which are going to put your ears to a kind of hearing test, as they feature muffled and almost frayed harmonies which faces the audible threshold. This distillate is particularly diluted in the five tracks of the first collection of "Untitled Landscapes", whereas each track silently slips into listener's ear just like a point particle waving in the air reaches an alveolus inside the lungs or an H2O molecule in a wet atmosphere runs through any transpiring membrane, while in the 20-minutes lasting track of the second collection, frequencies sound suffocated by subtle white noises so that they look like those tracks deriving from repeated applications of overdubbing on tape recordings. Asher quotes a passage from Pessoa's The Book Of Disquietude (from fragment 224: "I seek and I don't find myself. I want and I can't. Without me the sun rises and sets; without me the rain falls and the wind moans. Its not because of me that there are seasons, the succession of months, time's passage. Lord of the world in me, as of lands that i can't take with me..") in order to give a conceptual framework and I think such an ideal association with that existentialist masterpiece could be well-chosen as I'm quite certain about the possibility some of you have already listened or composed in your own mind Asher's "Untitled Landscapes" as they sometimes look like some stuff casually sparked during an ordinary situation, instantaneous inputs which can provoke various chain reaction in your own mind just like those mental torments of a first-person narrator, evoked by some existentialist or diaristic novel. Check it out!

PBK & Zanstones : Mantis Fog Desert

 Posted by Arnaldo Pontis (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 08 2012
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Artist: PBK & Zanstones (@)
Title: Mantis Fog Desert
Format: CD
Label: Monochrome Vision (@)
Distributor: Monochrome Vision
Rated: *****
This russian label Monochrome Vision (www.monochromevision.ru) represent for me a beautiful reality into the independent musical scene of Eastern Europe. This scene is becoming during those years more interesting and rich. The Monochrome Vision offer a number of interesting works. I invite you to visit his web site where, in addition to a catalog, you will find a very nice interface that stands out, among many different labels of the electronic/gray area, for it rigorous and geometrical graphic approach, full of shiny white color and total black.

This kind of black & white "esplendor geometric " becomes also a graphic choice even revived on the covers of his albums. And I imagine also this choice want to emphasize the care and rigor of the label into his selection of their authors and materials. So I would talk to you today just one of those works produced by the strict Monochrome Vision. An album that is titled "Mantis Fog Desert" and is signed by the double name PBK & Zanstones.

I must confess that before listening to this album, I enjoyed the presentation in the notes written inside the cover where one of the two authors describe the other as an insomniac because of his need to experiment and continuously produce electronic music. For this reason I went around the web to learn more. And I saw that PBK stands for Phillip B. Klinger and Zanstones is one of the many pseudonyms of an old acquaintance of electronic experimentation, which is called Zan Hoffman.

Of PBK/Phillip Klinger and his works , unfortunately, I have not any direct knowledge. So I prefer to trust the words of Don Campau published on his "Living Archive of Electronic Music" (http://livingarchive.doncampau.com). Is an interesting website which I highly recommend especially to all those of you who loves the roughness and the analog low-fi music of "cassette-culture" and the experimental manipulation based on audio tapes. Into his Living Archive website Campau (who is surely an expert) describes for us, in excited way, the musician Phillip B. Klinger and also which tells of his sound experimentation as the fruit of long experience in fact started in the mid 80's. So I think we can trust to PBK. I report here for you, in a few lines, a little part of that presentation:

< ... I always admired , respected and enjoyed the work I had heard by PBK over the years. For the first few years I didn't even know his real name although it was embedded, but shrouded in his releases. To me there was a type of mystery in what he did because the sounds were so far out, alien like and strange. However, Phillip B. Klinger is not only an intelligent, articulate and eloquent spokesman for his art but is inclusive and a genuinely nice and engaging fellow. He has also made some of the most outstanding and creative work in the experimental, home recording field...>

In addition to the words of Campau then add the fact that, together with a musician like Phillip B. Klinger joins, into this album Mantis Desert Fog which I am presenting, another important name as Zan Hoffman/ Zanstones, who is not only a good electronic musician, but is also the founder of the label ZH27 (http://zh27.blogspot.it).
If you've never heard of ZH27, even in this case I think it is enough to visit the web area contains the catalog of this label and many works of Zan Hoffman, to get an idea of who I'm talking about. You'll find that the production of audio ZH27 and Zan Hoffman is nothing short of immense and continues without interruption for over 25 years.

It's hundreds and hundreds of albums. I thought that the union of these two authors, on the same musical work, was so sure index of quality music. And after listening to me has fully confirmed the initial supposition. Mantis Fog Desert proved to be fact, since first hearing, a long and beautiful series of 8 musical suites, consisting of a successful amalgam of electronic and noise, perfectly mixed and enjoyed listening to both, some peoples devotee of this musical genre or any neophyte that attracted for the first time from this type of sound.

This album, after repeated and careful listening, reveals a hot core of instinctive conceptual substance enclosed in a casing that is its musical form more aesthetic and technologically sophisticated. The album have 8 tracks. Half of these tracks is to last more than 8 minutes each. And the other half has a duration on average about 5 minutes. But only first 5 track are realized by all two musicians.
Into the next 2 track Zanstones works alone (titled are 'The Jor Bangla Effect' and 'Disentangling Bilot Kaf'), and also PBK plays alone into the last very long track (over 10 minutes) titled 'Paranoia Corridor'.

Their instinctive but concrete musical concept of working realize a sort of small, intense symphony for electronic and musical waves and noise, condensed into these 8 tracks. And it's amazing how, who can play either solo or in pairs, they create a dense sound and very intense. A sound with a great aesthetic appeal but also imbued with an air of conceptual and strange psychedelic substance intended for inner reflection. In this record there are no short tracks or fast rhythm, but only long musical carpets where every sound listening requires to find the correct time for a proper breath. All tracks are beautiful and elaborate, and build a labyrinth of sound around the listener. Labyrinth into which entry is easy but the output is difficult to find.

Each of these track reveal in fact a prelude sound and a sinuous development, with no clear conclusion, in the most positive sense of the term. Nothing is permanently closed into the infinite pathway of music by this strange and alien 'Mantis' who wanders through the mists of the desert. Nothing is developed to an end and nothing is locked between a beginning and another ending that are signs for a set a definitive cycle. On this journey through the desert, which is musical and conceptual, each cycle repeated and becomes theoretically infinite. They are cycles of day and night, light and dark, black and white.

Each piece of Mantis Fog Desert is thus resulting in a loop, and one being related. Loop for himself and about himself but also with the song that precedes and follows it. This disc may be the first chapter of a suite that becomes infinite. And you could become its slaves from the first listen. Because it is easy to get pleasantly lost in the dawn mists of this desert in the pitch dark religious listening of this mantis. Even happened to me to hear this record, several times in succession without having decided. It happened to me last night, while surfing the net and writing, for Chain DLK, this review.

It's been like if I lose on the way, listening to this album and thanks its sounds intriguing and fascinating, in a night journey made light of dawn blue leds in my monitor whit the many colors of the net. And I'm unaware of the lapse of several hours. When I stopped listening to this work was done daily. And the fog, with many mists of the dark night are gone. But the taste of dawn remained, as happens after any nice journey through the night.

I wish you a pleasant journey to you and I recommend listening to this Mantis Fog Desert. Enjoy your trip through the mists of night in the desert. I'm sure, the good electronic music of PBK & Zanstones that will accompany you until the next sunrise.

Tiziano Milani: Touch

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 07 2012
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Artist: Tiziano Milani (@)
Title: Touch
Format: CD
Label: Setola di Maiale (@)
Rated: *****
The focus of this release is the role of the electro-acoustics musician as an editor of other people way of playing. Tiziano Milani has constructed his work patiently editing the invited musician's recordings to adapt them to his musical vision and, instead of relying on the model of the most known pioneer of this process (Phill Niblock), he tries to develop a personal sound.
"Love Touch", the longest track of this records are positioned in the extremes, opens quietly with some sparse sounds of violin and piano add colors to the underlying texture. "Zen and the Art of Piano" features extended cuts from the piano sessions to constructs a dialectics between electronics, field recordings and samples. "In the Silence of a Vain Wait" is almost entirely constructed on resonances and filteres samples to create a meditative soundscape. "Primary Structures", the shortest track of this record, is based on small samples juxtaposed in a quiet oriental, meaning "in a slowly", way while "Dark, Dark my Light (16.1.8)", the longest track, close this record with a quiet and zen intro that remain impassible when the drony soundscape slowly gain volume and presence and guide the listener to a close dialog between the concrete recordings and the contrabass.
Quite personal in his development of a personal language based on the fondamental process of electroacoustic music, it's non an experiment to search new way but the statement of a form to develop (the only truly incomprehensible thing is the presence of the transistor symbol in the cover). Not only for fans of truly experimental music.

Don Preston: Filters, Oscillators & Envelopes 1967-82

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 07 2012
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Artist: Don Preston
Title: Filters, Oscillators & Envelopes 1967-82
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
Esteemed Belgian label Sub Rosa issues this bizarre audio-documentary about electronic pionierism of Don Preston, one of the key figure orbiting around legendary Frank Zappa's The Mothers of Invention, whose staid hippie-like figure behind old-fashioned synths has been immortalized in many clips. Known for his distinctive touch and his unflinching wonder for sonic research, he deeply influenced the stylistical path of that band and issues such as Uncle Meat or Ahead of Their Time, which marked Zappa's veering towards jazz as well as a more accentuated stylistical syncretism, are considired as authentic miliar stones of the evolutionary stages of MoI's sound and even if he was member of the combo for a limited time-span, his stamp was clear even after the arrival of Ian Underwood. Don Preston's vision was shining through his linear notes on Uncle Meat yet: "We're coming to the beginning of a new era wherein the development of the inner self is the most important thing. We have to train ourselves. So that we can improvise on anything: a bird, a sock, a fuming beaker. This is, this too can be music. Anything can be music." His prominent enthusiasm for possibilities given by electronic music devices, which remarkably widened expressive chances for musicians as well as the scope of investigation for sonic explorers, led him to enrich his creativity with deep listening of some masters of concrete and electroacoustic music such as Luciano Berio, Karheinz Stockhausen and Tod Dockstader while focusing on these magical sonic machines called synths - he developed a self-made instrument by combining an home-made synthesizer with various filters and oscillators - the one used for the assemblage of "Electronic", the first long-lasting track of this selection, recorded in 1967 - and gave his personal contributions to the enhancement and the integration in traditional line-ups of Mini-Moog, due to his close friedship with his inventor, Robert Moog. The placement collective imagination could assign to Don preston could prompt the association of some sounds to other elements of that scene - for example, the caterwaul-like whistle in the second track, the first of "Analog Heaven", a sort of mini-album recorded in 1975, included in this collection, could be mistaken for the whimpering of some groupie! -, but careful listener are going to enjoy, almost immediately, Preston's mindblowing style and tonal games whose dynamics could recall molly twist bracelets, as well as the attempt of giving to the compostion a certain cinematic attitude, in accordance with many musical researches of that age so that it's almost spontaneous thinking about those fish-eye, multi-coloured or filtered scenes when movie makers tried to represent some character's point of view under the effect of some mind-altering psychotic drug!

Rapoon: Disappeared Redux

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 05 2012
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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Disappeared Redux
Format: CD
Label: zoharum (@)
Zoharum releases the new album of Rapoon, well known moniker of Robin Storney, created after his influencing experience with Zoviet France. Properly speaking, this album is a reissue because it was released as a limited CDR edition and now is remastered and reworked and seven minutes longer, so the "redux" of the title is a joke?
"sunshine in the parlour" opens this album with a piano line while "Days like rain" is a more regular, if this term means something for one of the innovators of this genre, ambient track familiar to everyone who like this artist's work. "Lost caress" is a quiet atmospheric track. "Dust rattle" is a lesson on how a bunch of small noises could be cinematic. "The outside shadow" is a lied for piano without voice. "We walked in diamonds" is movement for violin loop. "Breath of ages" is perhaps the more reminiscent track of the author's past while "a clock in every room" is a ritual ambient exercise of style. "The declining of lace" is a quiet soundscape for resonances while "Snow legend" is a soundscape made out of voices and small noise. "Pig vampires" continues the use of small violin samples when "a pale blue door" is almost religious in his evocative soundscapes and "she never came" close this album with a piano lines as the opening track.
Honestly speaking, Robin Storney continues his musical journey under his usual influences, inspiration and musical style but the quality of his work is really remarkable and enjoyable for all his fans. One of the masters of this genre. Unrankable.


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