Music Reviews



FABIO ORSI : the new year is over

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 08 2012
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Artist: FABIO ORSI
Title: the new year is over
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
Along with Giuseppe Ielasi, Fabio Orsi is probably the most talked about italian musician that surprised me the most release after release. Differently from Ielasi, despite some different works, Orsi has more stylistic continuity infact if we have to draw in some comparison to picture what kind of artist we're in front of, he could be the italian answer to Aidan Baker. Even if both Aidan and Fabio are crossing a post ambient music field their approach is considerably different, infact the italian artist relocated in Berlin has a less depressive e more ambient feel that doesn't remind anything in particular. Release after release and after several collaborations, many of which see him involved together with Gianluca Becuzzi, Orsi developed his peculiar musical language and beside melancholia I'd add his modus operandi is high emotionally charged. This new triple cd came out on Silentes (if you've never given a try to this label you'd better check it) shows this guy is in full blossoming and after having seen him live (a less than quarter of an hour minutes blast) I can confirm he's a real talented musician. Even if I was afraid three distinct cds were just too much, after having experienced all of them one after the other I can truly say while they can be listened as three episodes of the same movie, there's no superfluous repetition and considering it's post ambient music it's surprising. Why do I define this music post ambient? Cause Orsi added an electronic percussive beat that animates the first cd, he's also add some dark passages that later leave room to dreamy and almost evocative feelings and everything well mixed in a really relaxed mood. I really don't know if this the apex of Orsi solo carrier but I'm sure this' one of his best works so far and like Aidan Baker it amazes me how he managed to maintain such a high quality considering they both are unstoppable under the releases profile. Believe it or not this' probably one of the few triple cd releases you can repeatedly listen without finding everything excessive. The general atmosphere of this album made think to this french sentence "le ciel bleu est plus joli après la pluie"

UNDER THE SNOW : the other room

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 08 2012
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available
anymore
Artist: UNDER THE SNOW
Title: the other room
Format: CD
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
This project involves Stefano Gentile himself, he's the head-chief of Silentes records, one of the most renowned italian label for what concerns ambient music, field recordings, soft electronics and anything in the likes. His cohort in this band is Gianluca Favaron who has a few ambient, experimental releases out on several labels. This' an equilibrated duo considering Gentile takes care of objects, guitar (he's already played guitar for other projects including his all star "band" called Maribor) while Favaron uses microphones, electronics and loops and both are credited for the field recordings. Considering one of the members is the man behind such a label I don't think you'll be surprised to discover the release has been somehow influenced by ambient music, but beside that obvious conclusion I wouldn't define "the other room" as an ambient recordings, this music has much more to share with minimalism. I guess the most learned now reading will be thinking by some means minimalism and ambient music have always been linked by an umbilical cord people like Brian Eno has never tried to hide. As said this' minimalist music to the bone and with a strong relaxing edge, don't expect something explicitly melodic, but no doubt this' a soft blanket to get asleep while catching a train of thoughts.

Matteo Uggeri | Luca Mauri | Francesco Giannico: Pagetos

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 04 2012
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Artist: Matteo Uggeri | Luca Mauri | Francesco Giannico (@)
Title: Pagetos
Format: CD
Label: Boring Machines (@)
Rated: *****
It's 4.56 AM, the trampling onto an icy ground under the heavystep of boot-covered feet breaks the silence and in the meanwhile the observer pushes off the slush and the smashed ice, he goes a few paces before stopping and staring at the enchanting fixity of a snow-white homogenous scenery in the middle of boundless steep slopes and the almost surreal nocturnal glow of the omnivorous whiteness, emphasized by gentle piano strokes, crystalline guitar plucks and soft plonks. So it begins the fourth and supposedly final act of the tetralogy "Between The Elements", based on an interesting concept, a variation on the typicial and almost cliched seasonal theme, based on tangencies and intersections between natural elements (Pagetos is the Greek word for hoarfrost, the meeting point between earth and water), developed by MB (Maurizio Bianchi), Hue aka Matteo Uggeri and Spyros Abatelios and musically dramatized by talented pianist Francesco Giannico aka Mark Hamn, guitar player Luca Mauri and cello samples by Andrea Serrapiglio this time. It's just gone half an hour, it's 5.34 AM, the temperature is falling and while the rime looks like covering everything, cold gets bitter and bitter so that it pierces the body without any wound by making it blue from cold, teeth are chattering (as suggested by field recordings), the mute melodies of "Calaverna" flows into the solitary contemplation of "Icy Leaves", whereas even the trumpet solo by Uggeri crystallizes while blowing on piano's wavering. It's 7.27 AM and the cold has become so severe than the silent hero of this winter tale takes refuge in a mountain shelter (you could hear noises which look like coming from inside of it), but just after one hour he cannot resist to the inviting symbiosis offered by the natural show surrounding him, so that the track "Cold Air" sounds like the highest peak of such an idyll, but after the entrancing lights of aurora, the light warmth of the morning begins the frost and puts an end to the temporary stand-by of frozen passions and compulsions, which dramatically resurfaces with their burden of frustration and suffering in the final track. I didn't devised a nice way to review this record by an imaginary timeline, but tracklist (and its imaginary plot) evolves on a time span between late night and first hours of morning, emphasizing the synaesthetic appeal of the listening experience.

Nurse With Wound: Creakiness and Other Misdemeanors

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 02 2012
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Artist: Nurse With Wound
Title: Creakiness and Other Misdemeanors
Format: CD
Label: United Jnana (@)
Distributor: Midheaven
Rated: *****
The five tracks that make up Creakiness And Other Misdemeanours will take you on a bizarre voyage, journeying through vintage arcades, through forests and across dark rivers, where jeweled crocodiles and pagan priestesses cavort along the banks, performing obscure rituals for unnamed purposes.

Creakiness... is comprised of rare recordings that span 14 years. "Creakiness" was originally released in 1991, as a split 12" with the group Spasm. For this outing, Nurse with Wound were Stephen Stapleton, Joolie Wood, James Mannox, and Tony Wakeford, and it is a five part sound poem of car horns and Warner Brothers cartoons, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cavorting around the stereo field in a dizzying array, smoothly segueing into a haunted house atmosphere of creaking doors and pagan mantras, and the unearthly beauty of heartfelt mysticism is doubly effective, arising from the goofiness.

"Twisted Mona" and "Mona Twisted" are actually two halves to the same coin, originally released as Salt Women Tragedy, the third installment in the Echo Poeme Sequence series, as a 7" for Klanggalerie in 2005. The original was notoriously plagued by pressing issues, so a proper re-issue makes sense. The two Monas are a meditation on the human voice, a subdued woman's voice incanting in German, slowly panning from left to right, while temple bells that sound like clanking boats give a ghost ship ambiance. It sounds like another world, an alternate reality full of magick and romance, the slow repetitions hypnotic and soothing, pleasant on the ears. It'll have you swaying.

"Little Dipper Minus Two (echo poeme sequence 1) has more siren's song, alluring and seductive, with swelling electronic feedback punctuated by quicksilver stabs of synthesizer, little puffs of steam, and the occasional barking dog. It seems like something is happening, there is some narrative work at here, but it is murky, undefined, mysterious. The ambiance seems to rise and fall in a random fashion, there is a sense of an inner logic, but the structure seems organic, frayed and trailing, yet hanging together, like an auditory ecosystem.

"A Perfectly Natural Explanation" finishes things off; a woman's voice simply repeating the song title, while broken radio static fills the left side of the headphones, and a submerged string quartet takes the right.

Considering the disparate sources of the various tracks, it makes sense that Creakiness would come across as a somewhat disjointed affair but it makes sense, after a fashion. Since the beginning, Stephen Stapleton has described NWW as "surrealist music," citing the likes of Dali and the Comte de Leautremont as influences, right along with fellow wreckers of civilization like Throbbing Gristle and Z' ev. NWW's music has always been expansive and unpredictable, and it has always had more of a sense of humor than the bleak misanthropy of his industrial contemporaries, which just makes the uneasy listening more unsettling. The secret sauce that makes Nurse With Wound's music work, is a familiarity with the roots of electronic music, musique concrete and early synth experiments, and the way that sounds are tuned and placed in the stereo field reveal a master's touch. Nurse With Wound are simultaneously high- and low- brow, goofy and mystical. Complex.

Stapleton's music is most definitely not for everyone, and i don't believe i've ever encountered an artist that has such a polarizing effect on crowds. Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table..., their infamous first record, will clear out a party faster than a dog fart, possibly annulling marriages in the process. The songs are long and avoid succumbing to the strictures of pop music, like harmony, melody, rhythm. They are works of abstract sound-art. For those disposed towards letting music infect their inner worlds, blossoming like phosphorescent fungal blooms behind closed eyelids, Nurse With Wound is essential listening.

Ikue Mori, Simon Balestrazzi, Sylvie Courvoisier, Alessandro Olla, Maja S.K.Ratkje: Treasure Hunt

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 02 2012
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Artist: Ikue Mori, Simon Balestrazzi, Sylvie Courvoisier, Alessandro Olla, Maja S.K.Ratkje
Title: Treasure Hunt
Format: CD
Label: TiConZero (@)
Rated: *****
Even though this collaborative release by a strong cast of musicians coming from different stylistical fields, recorded in two different sessions in Sardinia (in TiConZero studio, with the only exception of the second track, recorded live at Signal festival in Cagliari) two years ago, landed on my desk a little bit behind schedule, I'm still in time to introduce it to our beloved readers. This ensemble, made up of Simon Balestrazzi (besides electronics, he cares the preparation of a toy psaltery), Alessandro Olla (label manager of TiConZero, which started as a cultural association aimed at the renewal of musical language through innovative compositional and performative techniques before being a label), Ikue Mori (Japanese talented drummer, which entered in the history of music alongside Arto Lindsay and Tom Wright, the line up of the seminal No Wave band DNA, which coined a number of valuable tracks of that short-lived but important artistic scene, who's dabbling in sonic researches on laptop and drum machines at the moment), Sylvie Courvoiser (skillful Swiss pianist and composer, who collaborated with a plenty of great musicians such as John Zorn, Erik Friedlander, Mark Feldman, Yusef Lateef, Butch Morris, Tom Rainey and many others) and, last but not least, Maja S.K.Ratkje (Norwegian electronic, but above all vocal performer, whose funny vocal moulding is one of the pivotal element for the outcome of this "Treasure Hunt"), sounds like the overlapping of different stylistical maps, where each sonic scout's report converge to one game, whose aim is not really the finding of some trasure, but a metaphorical and somewhat ironic and foolish representation of the dramatic plot of contemporary man and its hectic desire for fulfillment of material needs, when it's too close to forlorn treasure hunts, so that you can imagine this odissey of the mind treads paths that Sylvie's piano retraces with heavy tumbles like in "Tokyo Map" where other elements sounds like squelched while they swirl, primes and emphasizes emotional bombs such as in "So Sorry", whereas the initial tension turns into ghastly peals (wonderfully evoked by Maja), paralyzing melodies and noisy electric storms, becomes a scenic element whereas field recordings or electronics dominate the sonic space such as in "So It Falls", "Anywhere Else" (significantly placed at the end of album, where field recordings which features some children's rowdy yelling, a solitary whistling getting over some confusing crowd's noise and other sonic clues look like marking a sort of blurred arriving point) or "Solanas", or coalesces with other elements of the ensemble such as in "Alive", where the pianist's touches sound like driving any emotional transmutation, wonderfully highlighted by Maja's throat - her vocal malleability as well as some weird or offbeat gimmicks (being my favorite ones those in "So Sorry", where she effects her voice in devilish delays, peeps and suppressed shouts, and in "Alive", where you can imagine her while turning into a gargling mermaid!) are really astonishing! -. The rallying point of the various geographical and emotional provenances has been well depicted by Multiforme's design which included the reproduction of La Carte du Tendre (Map of Tendre), an allegorical map of an imaginary land called Tendre related to the virtous path towards love, which was produced by a number of different authors, just like this protean "Treasure Hunt".


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