Music Reviews

Candor Chasma: Rings

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 07 2012
Artist: Candor Chasma (@)
Title: Rings
Format: CD
Label: Old Europa Cafe (@)
Rated: *****
A piercing sound close to a synthetic brass effected by some playful boxes belonging to the rich sonic equipment (arguably derived from wise modulations on VCO and LFO knobs knotting frequencies of some glorious sound machines such as Korg Ms 10, EMS VCS3 or the younger Doepfer Dark Energy), occasionally punctured by sharp squeals and loud electrical discharges, while a disturbed voice seems to describe such a sonic storm, in the initial track "Inside The Ether At 06.00 A.M." acts as a sort of tuning for the listeners in order to give them the possibility to intercept the transmissions these skilled sound forgers launched towards Planet Earth. Well, Simon Balestrazzi (aka T.A.C. and Dream Weapon Ritual) and Corrado Altieri (better known for his project Monosonik) supposedly never made extra-vehicular activity outside of a spacecraft, but the denomination they have chosen for their collaborative project, Candor Chasma - one of the most visible valley of Valles Marineris on RedPlanet, where an incredibly big canyon has been observed by Mars Observer -, evokes such a cosmic imaginary and highlights the alien kernel of such a potentially alienating (but wholly immersive) listening experience, so that the following track "The Third Void" could let revive those scenes of sci-fi movies where there's some undefined emergency in a spaceship caused by the mysterious interference of some entity, a flight of associative fancy, whose propulsive force has been boosted by sonic stimulation such as sort of alarm bells, jammed messages to some crew, gradual sonic saturations and its sudden blackout. Electric storms of "Chemical Analysis Of Ectoplasm" and dive-bombings of pulses and deafeaning explosions of "Hallucination Doors" precede the final suite "Apophenia", whose overechoed silent space, where Simon and Corrado inoculate some bizarre sonic freaks (I particularly enjoyed a sort of blade fluttering in a dense air and sudden high-pitched gusts), perfectly describes the phenomenon the title refers to, a distortion of reality based on connections of meaningless data, which someone uses to explain by speaking about the notorious perception of a face from a shot of the surface of Mars. Ultimately "Rings" uncovers possible psychedelic direction of the so-called post-industrial researches.

Maciek Szymczuk & Slowtion: Ways

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 05 2012
Artist: Maciek Szymczuk & Slowtion (@)
Title: Ways
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
Filing what this bicephalous project by Polish electronic composer Maciek Szymczuk and British musician Julian Coope aka Slowtion submit to listeners' attention is not so easy. In spite of the fact that their sonic streams where Maciek's wife Joanna sometimes drains some enchanting ethereal vocalizations - in many moments they have almost a "didactic" role...a sort of seducing guide through the stages of this "trip" - have been framed with possibly interesting references to an imaginary spiritual research aimed to represent the constant unravelling by most of human beings between clues, proofs and complexities in order to reach a contact with the so-called Absolute, the musical complexity due to its richness of supposedly unintentional cross-reference marks appears head and shoulders above any possible conceptual framework to me: even though it seems "Ways" partially represents the wide stylistical lawns and wolds Maciek Szymczuk normally fertilizes during his personal musical explorations and could be considered somehow "minimalist" as most of tracks are not obstructed with a plenty of sounds, you're going to listen many interesting crossbreeds of elements taken from diverse musical branches. In tracks such as "Northern Wind", "The Hills", "Step By Step" or "Windy North" there're interesting examples of bizarre hybridization between the so-called "click'n'cut" electronic style with movements and intuitions taken from post-rock, trip hop or dark ambient so that moments when past listenings resurface from some depth of musical memory are not so infrequent. For instance I had sometimes the impression of listening to the dried version of some post-rock bands or the sabbatic transposition of some post-punk voices (and in a moment I felt like listening a record by The Soft Moon broadcasted filtered by some esoteric sound machine borrowed from Sleep Chamber's studio!). The possibility to understand and appreciate the narrative concatenations of this record so that the final track, titled "Go Through The Green Gate", will sound not just like a good piece of dub-like ritual ambient but more as the final moment of a process (or supposedly as the very initial moment of a new one...), mostly depends on listener's sensitivity, both from an aesthetic viewpoint and from a spiritual one.

SRMEIXNER: Ten Thousand Ways to Die

 Posted by Barton Graham   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 29 2012
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Artist: SRMEIXNER (@)
Title: Ten Thousand Ways to Die
Format: CD
Label: Segerhuva (@)
Distributor: Black Rose Recordings
Rated: *****
SRMEIXNER's 'Ten Thousand Ways to Die' draws its inspiration from the old spaghetti westerns that were so bountiful in the 60's and 70's. However, Meixner has chosen to focus on the less obvious elements and themes of these movies, many being borrowed from behind the scenes or the subtle undertones and hidden meanings within the films, though there are certainly moments when you don't have to be as well versed in their subculture to pick up on their influence. The opening piece entitled 'Something to Do With Death' spends more than two minutes teasing the listener with brief fade-ins of the buzzing of flies separated with awkward silence. The wait is paid off when more field recordings of insects and animals and darkness and night begin to layer in, really transporting you to the desert, under a pale, moonlit night where the echoes of the wild begin to ring in your head until maddening, deafening; until you're certain you may just be eaten alive and picked clean. The piece continues to evolve out of this with some more quiet ambience and manipulated dialogue samples. The record progresses through 6 songs full of field recordings, audio manipulations, drones and the occasional lone melody. 'Once Upon a Time, The Revolution' invokes a brief foray into darkness with its tense, dramatic layers which eventually melt away into an ambience broken only by more modified dialogue samples, which are quite effective. 'Too Much Gold is Bad For Your Health' opens into a pretty little melody almost baroque in nature, giving fast way to light ambience. Parts of this piece have such openness that they leave the listener little to invest in, but don't get me wrong, what DOES exist in these spaces is both light and beautiful. 'I Am Your Pallbearer' is both one of the more sinister pieces herein and also one of the few obvious references to the theme with some mean harmonica work which makes you think of hopping open train cars full of straw and drifters. Beneath that comes and goes, among other things, some very fitting Native American samples. The entire album has a rather seamless flow and is a good, solid listen from start to finish with plenty highs and just a few lows. Not to mention being the last release on the Swedish label Segerhuva, 'Ten Thousand Ways to Die' has not only a fitting title, but I think is a great swan song for the label.

Koji Asano: Polar Parliament

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 28 2012
Artist: Koji Asano (@)
Title: Polar Parliament
Format: CD
Label: Solstice
Rated: *****
As I said while reviewing "Solstice Eclipse", a title who can be misinterpreted as a possible elegant way to wriggle out of the scene, Koji Asano's game is not over at all and "Polar Parliament", his 46th release, is the best proof this fecund Japanese sound artist could produce. I could say Koji looks like having polarized this release not only as he splitted it into two very long drones, so that setting two opposite polarities, but it seems that these two drones have different physical-chemical properties so that someone could imagine he carried out a rheological experiment or a sort of electrophoresis on his sound-machine's viscous exudates. The first drone has been built on tiny variations of a single sound, which could remind some listeners of their recent scaling and root planing to remove plaque from teeth, as it's similar to the sound produced by an energic brushing on teeth but it could also be associated to different images such a strong pressure during a convulsive drawing with a pencil on a sheet of paper or deposit removal from water pipes by acids; such an hypnotic sonic homogeneity has been just occasionally broken by extrusions which sound like surfacing this corrosive stream. The second movement features bubbling liquid sounds, which rises trepidation of listening experience till the moment when after some hits which are similar to the noise of locked doors they are transformed into something close to effected train chuffs or helicopter's blades, so that its dynamics are aybe more catching than the ones in the first movement. "Polar Parliament" could be interpreted in a different way as well, as suggested by some clues of the release: many reviewers had some troubles in explaining the choice to put the wheels of a garbage bin on the cover artwork as well as the one to enclose a packet of kleenex with a sized portrait of Mr.Asano inside. A possible explanation could be based on some references to the urban riots occurring in reaction to the way some governments controlled by bankers opted to afford financial, economical and social crysis and consequent "polarization" of societies so that those garbage bins could refer to the typical way protesters use to build barricades and that packet of kleenex an help by Koji against tear gas!

Marjolaine Charbin - Frans Van Isacker: Kryscraft

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 27 2012
Artist: Marjolaine Charbin - Frans Van Isacker (@)
Title: Kryscraft
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
It seems the listening space gradually takes on a dark grey hue in the first track, where tonal tumbles on keys of Marjolaine Charbin's prepared piano, broken by sudden piercing musical syllabes and high-pitched stridor by Frans Van Isacker's alto saxophone and violent hysterical outbreaks on piano as well as pauses where silence seems to be violated by sibilating sonic veils, till the moment when all voices sound like getting dumb and swallowed up by a bubble of silence. The listening experience these Belgian improvisational musicians build looks like centered on tenuous modulations of noises, which are close to the threshold of imperceptibility just like a stifled emotions whose repression can turn it in a deafaning shriek, which manages to talk to the listener and stimulating its imagination through intriguing and somewhat disquieting gauges of asphyxiating noises, sounds and silences in plaster. Some recordings seem to mirror and report a kind of sleep disorder as suggested by some sonic clues, such as the confused nightmare evoked by piano dissonance and a breathe close to the one of a strong snoring in the fourth track or the squeaking not so dissimilar from the one made by some rusty links of a bed base in the third track. Even if it sometimes could sound too odd and clumsy, Kryscraft includes many really immersive and interesting cues.

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