Music Reviews



Section 37: The Kudos of Serial Killing

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 14 2012
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Artist: Section 37 (@)
Title: The Kudos of Serial Killing
Format: CD
Label: Aesthetic Death (@)
Rated: *****
I really expected this to be power electronics along the lines of Slogun with the title. But when the album opened with something more like Consolidated or some other industrial hip-hop, I was surprised. The album then takes an abrupt turn into soundscape and spoken word, maintaining this approach into 'The Mind Bomb.' 'The Rogue Drone' takes us into the realm of industrial disco reminiscent of old Leatherstrip. 'The Profile' slows it down with spoken word over stripped down beats and minimal atmosphere. 'The Body-Bag Wrapper' kicks the rappin' beats back in and the album continues cycling through styles. According to the website, 'The concept being that each killer belongs to a style, or guild, and expresses his 'modus operandi' in his own style of music. - hence the album has a very eclectic style from metal to ambient to darkwave to Numanesque dance...with other stops in between. Each track is heavily sampled with real, and cinematic serial killers, stating their processes.' Overall this was a pleasant surprise. The title made me think that I was in for the typical yelling about serial killers in the typical manner. Instead this is a rather intelligent treatment of the topic in a way that is actually a bit more chilling for its subdued manner. The music is catchy and its variety actually adds to the charm by keeping it interesting. In a way, the listener gets a sense of the manic states of the killer with moments of clarity interwoven throughout. Well done. This album weighs in at around 61 minutes.

Trapist: The Golden Years

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 13 2012
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Artist: Trapist (@)
Title: The Golden Years
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Rated: *****
Eight years after their last release, "Ballroom" on Thrill Jockey, this intriguing Wien-based trio of eccentric virtuosos finally came back. Silence doesn't mean each of them idled away their skills: I spoke about "Hoard", a solo-release by Joe Williamson on Creative Sources as well as his collaborative project "Weird Weapon 2" together with Olaf Rupp and Tony Buck, while I enshrine both Martin Siewert's "(Fake) The Facts", an impressive project with three drone-like sessions played with Mast Gustafsson and dieb13, and Martin Dafeldecker's collaborative work with Otomo Yoshihide, Axel Doerner and Sachiko M on Neos jazz as well as his releases with Radian and "Too Beautiful To Burn", an entrancing collaboration with Martin Siewert, issued in 2003. Maybe my association could be influenced by the circumstance I'm delving into Chekhov's theatre and narrative techniques, but the first track of "The Golden Years" could be a reference to so-called Checkov's gun, a kind of "coup de theatre", based on an element in the narration which initially could be without any relevance, but whose importance will be clear later, so that the role of the gun in "The Gun That's Hanging On The Kitchen Wall" could be played by guitar: the initial guitar strumming by Martin Siewert looks like an alarm clock, which arouse drums and bass from sleep, and in accordance with this vision, drumming could reflect frenzied bustling with kitchenware about preparation of breakfast while bass echoes that buzz in the head, which is the obvious hangover from sudden and undesirable awakening. Then music evokes the logical change of scene, where the initial outburst of the awakening gets to its chagrin in the surrounding world, a sort of self-programmed suicide of desires and will, an inference which is in keeping with Chekov's tragedies, whose tragic end normally implies some suicide. Following tracks are likewise mindblowing: stretched dissonances, sloped melodies, gruelling sonic interferences in "The Spoke and The Horse" sounds like putting a spoke in an old and hobbling horse's wheel, whereas the following track "Pisa" follows in Trapist's footsteps left on the occasion of their exhibition at "An Insolent Noise" festival, held in that lovely Tuscan town, where they interchanged sonic instrumental crack-ups and swarms with moody melodies, which let listeners slide into the mindblowing atmospheres of the final track, "Walk These Hills Lightly", where bass gradually rises over other instruments by weaving a kind of dirge-like blues througout a web of shaded percussions, electric hums and flashes, very low electronic frequencies and occasional arpeggios.

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
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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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.


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