Music Reviews

Machinefabriek: Veldwerk

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 17 2012
Artist: Machinefabriek (@)
Title: Veldwerk
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
This interesting release signed by the renowned Dutch sound artist Rutget Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek is a collection of different past recordings (even if they have been enhanced by studio remastering), mainly available on small edition vinyl or cd-r with the only exception of the previously unpublished "Floor & Radio", which stands as the nth proof of the fact he can be considered quite atypical compared to other similar artists dealing with field recordings whom someone could mistake for ghostbusters or paranormal investigators while grabbing sounds with those powerful microphones and portable recorders. His talent in turning field recordings into more immersive stimulations than normal is particularly clear in some sonic journey reports he included in this release: the combination of sonic snapshots with frequency modulations and manipulated sounds could put the listener under the impression Machinefabriek's allowing it to take possession of his exterior and interior ear so that you could feel the whirling stream of consciousness and its continuous mingling with the unfolding of scapes from windowscreen during a long journey on train in Russia in the track "Rusland", based on the mixing of field recordings and parts of live performaces made in that country, New Meuse breaking its banks and flooding over listener's consciousness in "The Breaking Water", a track based on some recordings taken from the notorious Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, the kaleidoscope of images and sensations as well as a certain disquieting feeling of dismay supposedly caused by the incomprehensibility of a difficult local idiom in the two halves of Slovensko, a sort of travel diary whose assembling and recording has been partially inspired by Chinese sound artist Yan Jun, a kind of astonishment in front of the contrast between the apparent immobility of a wintry environment rich of sounds close to the threshold of inaudible (the crackle of the surface of the frozen lake, the gentle blowing of the wind through the leaves of the surrounding forest) and the sense of liveliness inside a building in that environment in "Floor & Radio", a bizarre track based on the contrast between outdoor and indoor recordings in Radolfzeil (Germany), where Rutget was working with Steve Roden and video artist Sabine Burger for Gallerie Vayhinger and the obscure ascension in the deep space amidst radio transmissions, engine noises of the vessel and a sort of amplified deep humming in "Apollo", a very long entrancing live soundtrack for Makino Takashi's film "In Your Star", screened at Tokyo's Uplink Factory.

Rella The Woodcutter: The Golden Undertow

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 14 2012
Artist: Rella The Woodcutter (@)
Title: The Golden Undertow
Format: CD
Label: Boring Machines (@)
Rated: *****
Beside looking like the salutation of a letter, "Dear Star", the first song of this Italian whacky bluesman, who baptized himself Rella The Woodcutter, could arouse the assumption according to which he might be the umpteenth chunderer suffering from the typical self-celebrating behaviour of some singer, due to those torn modulations on the last syllables which can remind some notorious market-appointed rock Olympians such as Archive or even Oasis due to the moody post-rock-like feebleness of the simple sonic weft as well as other literary clues. Even if the suggestion "The Golden Undertow" could be thought as a letter keeps on be fed by the intimate perspectives Rella displays, the musical framework seems to be more pinpointed during the listening: nearly all tracks, based on Rella's meaningful lyrics, which often looks like addressed to some past friend or lover, rest on sober weaving of guitar which sometimes debouches into very good dynamics such as in the sudden sitar and tambo jingles explosion of "Black Universe" or the daydreaming rhymes of "Five", "My Ship" or the moving title track whose atmospheres are close to the ones by Songs Ohia or Transmissionary Six with the exception of "Leave Your Home", which introduces B-side of this album with an hypntotical phrasing by a flute. Its naked terseness without too many gewgaws and even the roughness of homemade recording (I enjoyed that light distorsion added to voice by damaged microphone membrane) impart a touch of authenticity. The scenery of a group of nostalgic hippies evoked by the last track "Drugtime Family" could persuade someone to put left-over daisies (the ones which have not been put inside cannons and barrels yet) inside some wild lion's jaws. Please be careful!

Gultskra Artikler: Abtu Anet

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 14 2012
Artist: Gultskra Artikler
Title: Abtu Anet
Format: 12"
Label: Miasmah (@)
Distributor: Morr Music Distribution
Rated: *****
Gultskra Artikler is the electro-acoustic endeavor of Alexey Devjatin, currently residing in Moscow. Abtu Anet is his third release for the exquisite Miasmah Recordings, and it compiles two previously available EPs, Abtu and Anet, and gives them the loving devotion they deserve.

Listening to Abtu Anet is like visiting a phantom Ukrainian village, of an indeterminate era, and then diving into the hidden desires and R.E.M. sleep of its inhabitants. Starting off on a tuneful note with 'Berezka', a ringing folk melody on an acoustic guitar with a pagan undercurrent of distant horns and temple bells, the record quickly takes a turn for the fucked up with 'In The Middle of the Sixteenth Century,' a musique concrete piece of parlor piano and toppling percussion that sounds like rattling air ducts, that will make you feel like yr plasma has been replaced with Knox Gelatin.

The song/noise/song/noise template is adhered to, giving the sensation of drifting in and out of a reverie, but even the 'songs' are skewed: tape warped, embellished with static, zithers and bells, before settling into 'Pirat', probably the prettiest piece of the whole bunch - a dark walnut baby grand rings out a dusty Ravel dirge, with sonar bleeps from the very deep, providing a soothing bass rumble dissonance. There is no bedrock, here, nothing solid to build upon. This village flickers like static.

The noise takes over from this point forward, probably where the Anet EP takes over; at times it is nearly incomprehensible! Detuned harmonicas ebb and flow, vinyl ghosts whisper in archaic dialects (i wish i knew what they were saying), frequencies and fuzz percussion vie for attention, in yr ear ducts. It takes a special brand of cosmonaut to withstand such lunacy, but those that persevere will be rewarding with sensual, surreal images.

Much post-criticism will probably be heaped upon this record, seeking a coherent thread to help navigate Abtu Anet's convoluted labyrinth, but i feel like Alexey Devjatin's struggling with the same question the avant-garde has been wrestling with for 100 years: how best to combine recordings, machine noises, acoustic instruments, composition and improvisation into a tenable, viable whole. Looking for mastery, finding mystery. Alexey Devjatin proves himself to have a deft hand and ear, composerly instincts, but i feel like if he had a clearer notion of what he was driving at, to begin with, at least an outline if not a script, his records might be more coherent and palatable to a wider populace. Still, i listened to Abtu Anet at least a dozen times while putting these words together, and had unique revelations and experiences each time. This record is a must for noise fiends and experimental hounds, a perfect late-night brain burner! But if you are looking for familiar footholds like 'melody', 'lyrics', 'structure,' if you like yr music to go POP! then you better look elsewhere. Abtu Anet will give you bad dreams.

Anthony Pateras: Errors of the Human Body OST

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 13 2012
Artist: Anthony Pateras (@)
Title: Errors of the Human Body OST
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego
Rated: *****
In spite of the fact that music for movies is an element of utmost importance, now more than ever, the silver screen doesn't normally become a launching ramp for soundtrack composers even if it gets into a blockbuster, but on this occasion Australian director and screenwriter Eron Sheean rendered honours to the excellent work by his collaborator Anthony Pateras (maybe some reader knows him as a member of Candlesnuffer) for scoring of "Errors of the Human Body", an interesting psychological drama/thriller, set in Dresden, co-produced by Instinctive Film and High5films, whose plot mainly takes place amidst pipettes, centrifuges, burettes, microscopes of a medical laboratory where Dr.Geoffrey Burton (played by Michael Eklund) relocates in a research institute in Dresden (the scenery is the one given by the notorious Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics) in order to concur to the most important project led by its teamwork - a human regeneration gene -, which could solve its personal tragedy. Anthony manages to evoke such a scenery from the emotional viewpoint: besides crazy piano tuning, suspensive plonks and electronic morphing on sounds generated with the help of a specimen of the legendary ARP2600, there are many moments which are supposedly thought in order to emphasize the most dramatic moment of Burton's tragedy running in parallel with the typically equivocal fret and the anxious desire for a "miracolous" discovery belonging to the stereotyped behaviour for a scientist such as "Automatic 4", "Burton's Lullaby" or "River Elbe" (my favorite track of the whole album for the incredible state of suspense it can evoke together with "Infectious", whose grave movement renders the scrupolous activity of a researcher in an aseptic genetics lab) as well as really amazing stuff such as the viral groove of "XIJ" - the only danceable track -, more clinical and disquieting tracks such as "Burton's Syndrome", "Cellular Cloud 2" or delayed pulses of "Milk & Mice".

Larsen: Uncool cruel mouth

 Posted by Borys Catelani   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 11 2012
Artist: Larsen
Title: Uncool cruel mouth
Format: 10"
Label: Zos Kia Sounds (@)
Rated: *****
Larsen is one of those bands Italy can be proud of. I discovered them in 1999 with their split 7" Ep with Mr. Bread on Bar La Muerte (Bruno Dorella's of Ovo/Ronin fame label), and since then they have managed to work with artists like Michael Gira, Jarboe, Nurse With Wound, David Tibet and more. A nice curriculum but not only mere name-dropping because Larsen have substance. This new work goes along 2011 "Cool cruel mouth", a kind of Extended Play, and still features the addition of Baby Dee on piano and Annie Anxiety on vocals. One long track divided in two, a long rarefied journey, a sort of atmospheric soundtrack starting with some drones and reaching the best moments on Annie's vocals, I'd dare a comparison with the mildest Swans, but luckily Larsen have an identity of their own. Since I'm reviewing just the mp3's, I'm wondering how 25 minutes of music will sound on a picture 10" though, a pretty long run for that format to keep the sound good. Anyway, to be released May 2012.

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