Music Reviews

MOLNIJA AURA : Utopia Suns

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 19 2011
Artist: MOLNIJA AURA (@)
Title: Utopia Suns
Format: CD
Label: Tophet Prophet (@)
Rated: *****
Right after his collaborative effort with Fausto Balbo, Andrea Marutti returns with a brand new collaboration that bring him crossing his knobs with Davide Del Col, some of you may remember for a couple of wonderful works with Ehran and for his work as Ornament. This album brings together a couple of musicians quite renowned for their recent dark ambient past but differently from what one may expect this' much more than that. Infact even if they've kept their dark roots on board, they overabundance of space synths paints the atmosphere of a strange space color. Even if this record has nothing to do with that, it reminded me of Brian and Roger Eno in their Apollo album, probably the space imaginary made me wrote this, but later while giving a look to the layout I've noticed they've put space satellites everywhere, and maybe I'm not that wrong. There's a a great use of melancholic litanies pulsing underneath and during the first listening it didn't emerged completely, later when I've had the chance to give the proper attention to the work it surprised me. I've been listening to this work at night while trying to catch some sleep and believe me, there's no better soundtrack to meet Morpheus' embrace. e sleep and believe me there's no better soundtrack to meet Morpheus' embrace.

CALOMITO : cane di schiena

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 19 2011
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Artist: CALOMITO (@)
Title: cane di schiena
Format: CD
Label: Megaplomb, AltrOck (@)
One of the most interesting avant-balcanic-fusion-jazz-rock ensemble from Italy, we've left them with one interesting debut, but here comes the second episode of their saga, some of the actors are the same, while some characters are new with the logical consequence the global sound has changed a lot. Somehow Calomito left their mediterranean warm behind their shoulders and moved toward a avant-prog direction. Don't follow it all too literally otherwise you'll think we're dealing with Emerson Lake and Palmer meeting Bregovic, these guys from Genova have a really different sound. Consider they own an incredible technical skill and beside having improved it more and more, the new additions reinforced the precision and the complication of the songs' frameworks. Sometimes they're so clean (I think it also has so much to do with the recording) they just risk to sound surgical in a too complicated way, not that they sound math like many of those jazz core bands, but it's not an easy architecture. At the same time some tracks have still that evocative power I remember they used to own, 'pappa irreale' is a good combination of musicianship and melody. Calomito has that vintage sound that has to do with the fact they deal with traditions, it's one of their best weapon, above all for everything is so clearly intentional, but at the same time they're non-stop working on structures and songwriting without just imitating the past that unfortunately is where the majority of the bands playing vintage inspired materials sometimes falls. Put your nerd glasses on.

Igor Bardo: My Sweet Nightmare

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 04 2011
Artist: Igor Bardo (@)
Title: My Sweet Nightmare
Format: CD
Label: Some Place Else (@)
Rated: *****
Well, sweet dreams could consist of travelling the world and the seven seas, but what what are sweet nightmares made up? The talented Russian musician and sound artist Igor Potsukaylo, known for being one leg of the quite renowned project Bardoseneticcube together with Vladimir Manevtsov, whose style embraces both shamanic techno and the harshest lung of electro-industrial body, introduces to his ones.

His butterfly net to catch possible sonorous translation of his nightmarish overturned hyperuranium as well as listener's consideration has threads, that sound electrically excited by an appreciable collagist work of effected vocal samples, unnatural sci-fi sounds, field recordings (it's nice the whirling sound experience entitled Nightmare ending with the sound of a wake up alarm and the noises a frightened person just awaken with a sense of confusion), instrumental sketches, cryptic choirs or obscure mantras (such as in the scaring crescendo of Religion or the impressive The Gnostic Mass, featuring Aleister Crowley), reflections on history (you'll be really scared by that sort of march Igor manages to assemble by combining heavy thuds and the recording of one Hitler's speech - ...and the extolling fomentation of his brainwashed supporters as well...-, who gradually turns into something ghastly, able to induce a baby into a desperate cry, in a track which cannot be entitled but "The end of the end"...and definitively a nightmare disturbing many wise people's sleep...), metallic tumbles and water plops, explosions, jazzy breaks (the one of the track "Expirience"- what a tragically whimsical title! - could remind some obscure breaks by Amon Tobin, played in a brothel patronized by many opium smokers!) and emotionally powerful stage mutations, mixed together with a devilish taste for visionary humour, just sometimes buttoned inside an hallucinated bundle of esoterical references, ritual dim lights, crepuscolar sets so that the listening experience of this album could result in some good air-conditioned astral trip, which could dive your mind into the surrealist scene of a movie by Maya Deren or Jean Cocteau.

Don't be scared: you're not going to become mad after listening to Igor's sweet nightmares. Igor could arguably introduce himself as "Your best friend" (the title of the last track), but I cannot rule out the possibility such an occurance could be considered a nightmare as well! It made me laugh the play on words the Finnish record label Some Place Else made on the typical caption "All rights reserved", meaningfully transfigured into "All rites reversed"!

Music From the Film: How The West Was Once

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 01 2011
Artist: Music From the Film (@)
Title: How The West Was Once
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Well I'm back again with another batch of CDs to review and Music From the Film's 'How The West Was Once' is up first. When I first get a CD to review, I have a habit of just glancing at the title and popping it into the CD player so I won't get any pre-conceived notions of what I'm about to hear. I thought I was going to be listening to some kind of remix of music from a 60s Western. HA! Whatta joke! They got me. There is absolutely no relevance whatsoever here to any 'boots 'n saddles' movie music.

Music From the Film is the name of the project and 'How The West Was Once' is the title of the CD. Main man Gary Young (drums, bass, keyboard, banjo, glockenspiel, organ, horns, circular saw, guitar, cooler, turntable, sound wands, AM radio, zither, whistle, springs, drill, koto, dulcimer, guiro, bongo, maracas, chimes, rubber bands, aluminum, whizzer, and Tibetan singing bowl), and co-conspirator Arthur Harrison (theremin, cacophonator, pseudorandom noise sequencer, and vocals) are from Upper Marlboro, MD. From the instrumentation, maybe you can imagine what this might sound like. Then again, you'd probably be way off base. Since I seem to be Chain D. L. K.'s go-to guy for the outré, it was only natural this CD would make its way to me.

When I first heard 'How The West Was Once' I absolutely hated it. 'What the hell is this fucked up shit??' I actually found myself saying outloud. I couldn't even make it through the whole CD. But fortunately (for most artists) I never do a music review on a one-pass listen. Sometimes it's a mood-thing; you're just not prepared for certain types of music and it's easy to slough off when it's not what you're expecting. Yet I'm always willing to give whatever is presented the benefit of the doubt, as an additional listening (or listenings) is essential. These artists (most of 'em anyway) work hard on the music they present for sale and review, and deserve a fair assessment. Then again, there is something valid in first impressions, and it is your hard-earned dollars (or euros, rubles, yuan, yen, whatever) that are at stake.

So, the second time around I was a bit more prepped for what I was going to hear. What that is is a hodge-podge of musical and sonic elements that do have some kind of format but also seem to be randomly cobbled together in an abstract and disjunct manner. Sometimes you'll hear sounds like a beverage being poured next to randomly plucked strings and a theremin with it's modulated pitch in the background, some cloppy percussion and clatter, the sound of some metal being twisted, and turntable manipulation. Next thing could be an out-of-tune guitar riffing over modulating oscillator tone with a drumkit thrashing away in the background.

You're really going to need an appreciation of the avant-garde to dig this stuff. It tends to make a band like The Residents sound commercial. It's also really hard to assess whether it's good or bad; I felt somewhat ambivalent about it. On one level I appreciate what they're doing artistically, but on another I found much of the random jammy aspect of much of the music distracting and lacking in cohesion. Overall, there is a lot of wackiness going on in 'How The West Was Once'. A prime example is the nearly 14 minute (mostly lengthy track on the album) 'Sin and Suffering Enterprise Adam' when they mix samples of a black female radio preacher quoting from the bible and intoning about 'the mission of these two men who boldly went where no man has gone before,' with insane oscillator modulation with an intermittent descending (dulcimer?) out of tune plucked string thing, punctuated by vaguely rhythmic cymbals and drums and other sonic effluvia in the background including occasional Gregorian chants. The joke gets old quickly though, and becomes tedious in spite of the fervor madam preacher works herself up into over the course of the piece. This track might be the exception because of its length, but 14 minutes out of 53 is a significant portion that just can't be overlooked. I would have given it 5 minutes tops.

Fortunately most of the rest of the tracks on this album are briefer excursions into dementia. Occasionally, Music From the Film creates an intriguing little ditty like 'Drinking with Kirk' that mixes quirky percussion with pseudo-gamelan melodics, horn farts, electronic squeals and other random noises. This is the kind of stuff The Residents often tried to pull off but always sounded too controlled and contrived in my estimation. Here, MFTF seem to make it work effortlessly, as if it was just the result of some live and inspired improvisation. (I have no idea whether it was or wasn't.) Still, this stuff is so far from mainstream anything, that you will absolutely require a high level of 'weird tolerance' to appreciate it.

I have no idea whether Gary Young and Arthur Harrison were inspired by Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, but there are time it sounds like it, along with 50s sci-fi movie soundtracks (it's the theremin) and a little Autechre and Nurse With Wound on the side. There is undoubtedly an inspired method to all this madness, and it may take a while to fall under the spell of Music From the Film. There are passages on 'HTWWO' that I enjoyed immensely, yet there are other things that I found incredibly annoying. Maybe it's their propensity for these out of tune plucked strings (which is probably intentional) that just seemed to grate on my nerves.

The album is most definitely a mixed bag, and sounds a lot more organic than electronic in spite of the prolific use of electronics. The timing is often a bit off-kilter, an indication that most of it was played live rather than programmed. There is a high 'nerd quotient' too, as evidenced by numerous Star Trekian references, and from the photos of these guys on their Facebook page, I don't think I'm off base in that respect. They actually look quite serious, and somewhat like your high school science teacher.

If you're the type of listener who craves bizarre with a capital 'B' you're really going to want to check this stuff out. But be warned, it just may test your limits. Music From the Film's first two CDs ('Playfully Abusive' and 'World War Tree') are available at CD Baby,, and This one, and a 7-inch ('BIT' b/w 'CRUSHFACE') are not, being limited, and you'll have to email them at or pick it up at one of their live shows if you happen to be not too far from Maryland. First though, I'd advise checking out a few tracks on their MySpace page to see if you're up for the challenge.

Earthmonkey: Alms of Morpheus

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 28 2011
Artist: Earthmonkey
Title: Alms of Morpheus
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
From the opening track, I was quite surprised by what I got. When I got the disc, Earthmonkey was billed as a collaborator with Nurse With Wound, so that put me in a particular frame of mind. Earthmonkey put me in a quite different frame. The opening track, 'Scene Not Herd' has an almost jazzy feel to it that makes you move whether you wanted to or not. In fact much of the disc moves along with a nice slow groove. It isn't until 'I'm Just a Naked Man Screaming Here,' about 20 minutes in, that we get any real vocals and the addition of some grinding electric guitar. From here is gets funkier and more disjointed, but always holding together with a solid rhythm. Eventually we come back to the soothing jazzy sounds of Earthmonkey, tacking back and forth between dissonance and peaceful, head nodding grooves. It's hard to explain but it's damn good. Disc 2 takes a similar trajectory, but has a more improvisational feel to it. Alms of Morpheus is an epic 21 minute track with beautiful female spoken word that sounds like it is describing how to make a string butterfly on your fingers (a la cat's cradle). But then 'Earthmonkey's Boom Band' hits the scene. This has a much harder edged feel, with vocals that reminds me a lot of J. G. Thirlwell / Foetus. This is what I would expect the live version of Earthmonkey to sound like. Overall this was quite enjoyable. If Beta-lactam Ring Records were interested in recruiting people to the experimental side of music, this would be one to push pretty hard. It isn't too out there, as some of their releases can be (and isn't that why we love them?), but it is incredibly well done and accessible. One last thing about this set is that Earthmonkey did not skimp on the music. Where some albums are a 2 disc set only in name, they would have had a hard time cramming more music on these discs. Disc 1 weighs in at around 77 minutes. Disc 2 weighs in at around 79 minutes.

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