Music Reviews

Hildur Gudnadottir: Leyfdu ljosinu

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 19 2012
Artist: Hildur Gudnadottir (@)
Title: Leyfdu ljosinu
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
Recorded live at the Music Research Centre of York University by Tony Myatt last January, by means of a Sounfield ST450 Ambisonic microphone and two Neumann U87 microphones, with no audience and above all with no post-production, this 40-minute lasting release by talented Icelandic cellist and singer Hildur Gudnadottir stands like an act of devotion to her musical vision, merged during her career into many artistic felloships - she's a permanent member of Mum since "Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy" and she could boast about important collaborations with Throbbing Gristle, Hauschka and Pan Sonic -. After 5 minutes of tuning in Prelude, starting with a do (C) on cello and various harmonic flexing, and the beginning of her entrancing vocal mantra, which becomes ethereal and hypnotical thanks to vocal overlapping, "Leyfdu ljosinu" (Icelandic for "Allow The Light") transforms into an authentic sonic theophany whereas there's a cyclic alternation of empty spaces close to silence and sonic saturations and the performer looks like a medium experiencing and translating of the divine, a purpose she manages to reach by overloading ths onic space with an increasing metaphysical tension, which immediately grabs the listener, who could experience a weightless-like feeling of suspense. Little by little, cello and additional arches sounds like expanding like clouds, and such an expansion looks like unstoppable and endless even when bow-strings sound like stretched to the limit and amplify tension and overwhelming catharsis, according to an ascending movement which could remind the sonorities of records like the collaboration between Sigur Ros and Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson for the soundtrack of "Angels of the universe" or Zoe Keating's soundtracks. Highly recommended!

Subterraneanact: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 16 2012
Artist: Subterraneanact (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Z6 (@)
Rated: *****
It's really difficult to recognize the points of departure of this collaborative project by Henk Bakker aka HEK (former member of Dull Schicksal with Lukas Simonis, Hajo Doom an Colin Mclure and one leg of Static Tics) and Jelmer Cnossen aka Malorix, but I think the drawn analogy between the computer (or ableton) assisted way they dissected, miniaturized, crumbled, aggregated and treated inputs from respective instruments - bass clarinet and drums - in order to discover their hidden and more extreme sonic potential and excavation, digging or any other possible activities concerning underground passages or tunnel (as well as any related biological reaction such as the stuffy feeling related to the rarefaction of air) is proper with their sound. You could feeling like some worker in the bowels of the earth for extraction of minerals or for the drilling of the rocks in order to create tunnels for underground trains while listening heavy matsuri-like bumps or hammering, saw-like cacophonic noises, sinister echoes, disturbing explosions and other sonic sketches with many somewhat imaginative episodes - my favorite ones are Specon 9 (where it seems there are sudden gusts from dark underground zones, mixing with clanking rods), Conlet (it seems that the track echoes the devastating whirling of a drilling blading while severing electric wires during its rotation, inspiring some dizzy feeling), Exart (during its listening I imagined some mad miner, who decided to kill a big community of underground bugs or rats with a plenty of sticks of dynamite...), Fiek and the final S-Scape (you could imagine the above-mentioned miner, who frantically looks for a way of escape after realizing that he destroyed its torch together with a plenty of rats!)-. This impacting Dutch project offers a little bit uncanny but very immersive listening experience.

M. Marchoff & MJ Caroline: Voxfields

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 15 2012
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Artist: M. Marchoff & MJ Caroline
Title: Voxfields
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
This release is a strange album. Completely constructed upon field recordings is far away from postcard-like sounds of some strange place but closer to evocative industrial soundscapes.
"Voxfields" opens this release with a factory's siren that underlines the oppressive soundscape made out of the field recordings. "Voxfields II" is a short interlude to the next proper track of this album "Voxfields III" with some sparse drones above a sort of rhythm constructed with small noises. "Voxfields IV" is based on metallic rhythmic sounds in a quiet environment while "Voxfields V" deals with metallic resonances. "Voxfields VI" close this release with a sort of dark ambient soundscape ending in a complete silence.
This work made by Marek Marchoff and MJ Caroline is perhaps too particular to be rated with a number between 1 and 5. Adventurous in this search of an industrial way of constructing a field recording album could be a revealing or a boring listening. It depends on the curiosity of the listener.

Stefan Paulus: Becoming-Dissolve

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 14 2012
Artist: Stefan Paulus (@)
Title: Becoming-Dissolve
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Earth Mantra
Rated: *****
The author of this release, Stefan Paulus, conveniently calls his sonic stuff by using the expression "psychogeography drifts", a reminder of the notorious method for investigation on surrounding reality as well as an eccentric approach to the studies of a place, defined by radical theorist Guy Debord, and while listening this contemporary sonic "flaneur"'s "Becoming-Dissolve" and in spite of the theoretical limits of such a method, which have been recognised by its inventor, some words by Debord himself look like having been echoed back by Stefan's sound: "When freedom is practiced in a closed circle, it fades into a dream, becomes a mere image of itself. The ambiance of play is by nature unstable. At any moment, "ordinary life" may prevail once again. The geographical limitation of play is even more striking than its temporal limitation. Every game takes place within the boundaries of its own spatial domain". The so-called "derive" resounds in the three moments of this becoming, a kind of narrative sequence of long-lasting field recordings which have been injected with entrancing sine waves, electronic rarefied atmospheres and humoral resonances so that it seems an emphatic cruise across a nebula of daily aural stimulations: the overwhelming solipsism combined with a certain feeling of self-alienating during a train trip in "Becoming-Endless", the glacial lethargy and the freezing surges in "Becoming-Imperceptible", the entrancing absorption of the ego within a natural landscape, emphasized by heavy rain, nocturnal chirring of cicadas and the blowing of strong winds over a wintry land, in "Becoming-Molecular" are the daydreaming stages of this suggestive dissolving. "Becoming-Dissolve" is available for free on Earth Mantra's net-label web-site.

Ergo: If Not Inertia

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 13 2012
Artist: Ergo (@)
Title: If Not Inertia
Format: CD
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
Even if Ergo sounds deeply rooted in jazz, the comparisons of their release "Multitude, Solitude" with sonic germs which have nothing to share with jazz such as Autechre, Sigur Ros, Steve Reich or Radiohead (some occasional listeners travelling in my car while "If not Inertia" was playing from hi-fi system detected even some similaratis with Colleen, Murcof, Efterklang, Sun Ra Arkestra - the most fitted touchstone in my opinion - or Kammerflimmer Kollektief) don't appear so orthogonal to me after the listening of this great album, the most recent act by this combo, founded by trombonist (as well as laptop musician) Brett Sroka, who decided to push his musical boundaries beyond jazz after some training years at Manhattan School of Music by embracing the wide range of compositional possibilities, offered by electronic devices and prompted by many improv and free jazz refluxes. It happened by chance that Ergo's music sublimed my reading of a passage from "Notes from Underground" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky during a dreary afternoon and you could imagine how I wondered when discovering they mentioned that great Russian storyteller (together with Charles Baudelaire, William Bulter Yeats, Joseph Campbell and Mark Gonzales - ! -) amidst their sources of inspiration. Metronome's sob in the initial "Sorrows Of The Moon", followed by wise piano strokes by Sam Harris, sets the mood with a sort of an anguished ballad, where Shawn Baltazor's drumming and Mary Halvorsen's guitar sounds like the adhesive tapes or the musical pebbles thrown into the mental pond where all tormented thoughts by some hard thinker gradually debouch. The sweet melody of a prepared piano sounding like a toy instrument and the ligneous creaks placidly carry the framework of the following track "Two For Joy", a sort of roving digression of melancholic brightening before the imaginary storyteller behind this musical tale starts twirling in the smoke again in the lovely solipsistic hyperboles of "Little Shadow" where trombone's convolutions ascends on steep and crumbly walls, whose bricks look like pressed by drums and piano, till the moment when in the moving title track, "If Not Inertia", those smoke rings seems to turn into something palpable and concrete, whose melodic piano dragging blurs with the lonely whistling, a background silent moan of the wind. The title-track acts as watershed of the album, as the second part better highlights the remarkable inputs given by two guest guitar-player: the talented above-mentioned Mar Halvorsen adds a certain obliqueness on the snare augmented by an electronic pulsation in "The Widening Gyre" and duels with the sliding trombone by Sroka just like they were cool-headed gun fighters in some desert place of the glorious Far West while Sebastian Kruger's acoustic guitar took part in the choral breezy melody of the final "Let's". The release also includes a film by Donya Ravasani on its "making of". I warmly reccomend a listening of this nice musical work out by Ergo.

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