Music Reviews

Mario de Vega : Live 03.12.09 Next Festival / Bratislava Slovakia

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 27 2011
Artist: Mario de Vega
Title: Live 03.12.09 Next Festival / Bratislava Slovakia
Format: CD
Label: Acheulian Handaxe (@)
Rated: *****
Like most of what I get to review, I had never heard of Mario de Vega, but the fact that it lists modified turntables, objects and electronics let me know what I was in for. The packaging is quite sparse, and there was no press release, so this was pretty much all I had to go on. Happily, de Vega does not disappoint. There are great moments of cacophony amid bass drones and high pitched feedback squeals. However, there are times when the bass becomes a bit too static and dull, where it takes over rather than providing a counterpoint to the other noise he creates. It isn't so bad on disc, but I am picturing myself at the live show where this took place and thinking that it would have been a bit boring at times. Overall, this would be a decent introduction to experimental music for the uninitiated ' not too challenging but not too bad. This album weighs in at 32.44.

Andy Haas : Paradise of Ashes

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 27 2011
Artist: Andy Haas
Title: Paradise of Ashes
Format: CD
Label: Resonant Music
Rated: *****
When I put this disc in the player, I was reminded of the classic exchange in the movie Spinal Tap, in which Nigel explains that he is working on a piece 'in D minor which is the saddest of all keys, I find. People weep instantly when they hear it, and I don't know why.' As Haas opens the disc with the track 'New Maladies of the Soul,' you get such a feeling. In fact, if I were to describe the entire disc, the word I would use is 'mournful.' Of course the saxophone lends itself well to such an endeavor. After all, how else would one describe a track entitled 'My Life Would Such Without You'? I had to do some looking to find info on Haas because there was no press sheet in the package (or it got lost on my desk) but according to an online bio, 'Andy Haas has performed, recorded and collaborated with many musicians who were at the center of the creative avant garde music coming out of NYC by the '90s, such as John Zorn, Fred Frith, Ikue Mori, Thurston Moore, Marc Ribot, and more.' That said, if you are looking for the kind of freakout sax of Zorn or the wall of noise that Moore can create, you'll be disappointed. I don't think that this pushes the envelope of experimental as much as I would like for most ChainDLK listeners, but it is pleasant listening and it does try to bring the weirdness. Maybe that comes from the fact that it was produced by ChainDLK's own Marc Urselli. But there are moments of randomness in tracks such as 'Enta Omri (You Are My Life)' with percussion and noise that doesn't quite jive with the saxophone melodies (in a good way). 'It's Only a Paper Moon' throws down an almost dark ambient soundscape under the sax as well. In fact, this was one of the standout tracks for me. Overall, a good, relaxing album. This disc weighs in at around 40 minutes.

Spheruleus: Voyage

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 23 2011
Artist: Spheruleus (@)
Title: Voyage
Format: CD
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
Drone music's intrinsic quality of abstractness doesn't lead most of its authors into the temptation of looking for concrete or narrative references to describe or just frame it, so that this album by Lincolnshire based sound designer Harry Towell aka Spheruleus could be considered an oddity by some reviewers, as Voyage has been inspired by an imaginary adventurous travel on some vessel. Such an inspiration has been foddered by Harry's intensive reading of some books related to the historical great sea disasters, such as Gareth Hardwick's "Of The Sea And Shore" or Gavin Byars'"The Sinking Of The Titanic", but his album doesn't refer to any particular sinking ship. The choice of the mentioned subject is going to give listener's thoughts a precise direction; therefore you're going to think to the meticulous operations of a worried fitter-out during the listening ofthe initial track "All For Sea" as well as the noisy scrap-iron giving the idea of some working on contraptions for recovering some parts after wreckage, the hiccuping shabby phrasing of a guitar, whose metronome seems to be replaced by the breathe of some member of the crew while mixing with the queasy smell of putrid algae, the mellow sound drops getting the sea-echoing drone rougher in the final one "Afterlife Of A Ship". As the ship casts off the moorings, the creaking of the planks, the diapason-like reverberations and the trembling frequencies which sound pushed by winds and currents in the following track named "Set Sail" could let you think the very first moments of the sailing before the anxious forecast of forthcoming storms at the sight of dark cloud-thicking nearby the horizon evoked by the following track "Cloud Swarm", whose rising suspense has been highligted by the russian pianist Alex Tiunisev's crescendo. The gradual bewilderment caused by the storm has been musically portrayed in the claustrophobic guitar-driven drones of the track "Losing Transmission", while the most dramatic moment of the ship's sinking looks like rendered frame by frame in the lovely track "She Sinks", which features again the collaboration of Alex Tiunisev. The following phases have been superbly rendered by Spheruleus, so that I'm pretty sure that the listener could have produced the same images making it a possible soundtrack to a doomed sea-voyage without the caption by the sound designer himself. Wear your headphones and have a safe journey!

Inner Vision Laboratory: Future Chaos

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 22 2011
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Artist: Inner Vision Laboratory
Title: Future Chaos
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
The forth chapter of the IYHHH series is, according to the linear notes, inspired by an almost pessimistic view on today's state of the world. The dark ambient soundscapes aim to descrive the crisis of global civilization and the primitivism arising from the ashes.
This album start with a dark ambient intro that slowly evolve in a soundtrack like soundscape. The second track (all the track are untitled, perhaps an intention to see the tracks as a whole) is an obscure drone evoking desert lands. The third track is based on synth line above an implacable rhythm. Small stroke of noise and loop decorate the static texture of the fourth track. The fifth track relies heavily on film-like voices to create the desired atmosphere. The end of the sixth track marks the change of mood of the album when a bright line of synth emerge from the soundscape as the seventh track confirms. The eighth track is a really calm soundscape in opposition to the oppressive drone of the first part of this cd until the martial beats of the second part of this track reminds us of the pessimistic thoughts underlining the work. the ninth track seems an interlude to the last track that close this release with a quiet and subtle drone.
This album, like other releases of this artist, relies more on the overall construction than on the artistic novelty or courage and this is sometimes a quality. Recommended for dark ambient fans.

Kasper van Hoek: De Valse Wolfskwint En Andere Fabeldieren

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 20 2011
Artist: Kasper van Hoek (@)
Title: De Valse Wolfskwint En Andere Fabeldieren
Format: CD
Label: HeilsKabaal Records (@)
Distributor: HeilsKabaal Records
Rated: *****
For those who aren't familiar with the artist, Kasper van Hoek from Groningen, the Netherlands, began his musical activities in 2003 making heavily processed field recordings. Over the course of some 25+ releases and 60+ performances featuring looped electronic music, noise, musique concrete and ambient he now creates his own blend of improvised electronic music played on his own custom-built string instruments. 'De Valse Wolfskwint En Andere Fabeldieren' is a compilation of tracks previously released on the CDr series "Frank 1" to "Frank 5". This album consists of tracks recorded during his time at the Frank Mohr Institute. The album includes studio recordings and cut-up field recordings but most tracks were recorded using his newly developed string instruments.

My initial impressions of this album were quite different than on the second listening. At first I found it uncomfortably noisy and quite abrasive...somewhat like being trapped in some insane machine shop. The second time around, it was a bit easier to digest, a fair portion of it anyway. The first track, 'Oldenburg,' is a difficult image to shake; a cacophony of industrial sounds that give the impression of an automated factory gone haywire. Things calm down considerably on 'Ook Alleen,' which is basically a rather placid drone piece with an ominous undercurrent. There are even parts where is sounds a little like a tambura, giving it a near meditative quality. 'Met Jan' is the longest piece on the album at 13:19 and it is a rather strange piece. It is mostly low-key drone, and somewhat subtle with a kind of moaning squeal and other incidental sonics of unknown origin; murky, surreal, melancholic. It merges nicely into 'Ode Aan Oscar Vanille' which continues the low-key atmos but grows in intensity and malevolence until explodes in a crescendo of panic which is sustained nearly til the end in its fearsome aftermath. 'Spoleto' gives the impression of a bizarre street scene on some dark wet night then takes the listener into very strange places that are just too difficult to describe. '.' (The track title is just a dot, or period) balances a droney looped noise with a few notes of plucked strings repeated in a pattern until another instrument sounding like (but probably not) a saxophone blows a sustained note in a similar tone. It sounds a bit mournful. This piece is rather quiet too, and other incidental instrumental elements also enter the picture. Seemed a bit too 'noodling' for my taste. Last track, 'Cinema Soluble' is a lot of string-scraping and squeals, and guitar-like dissonance. There is other clatter and uncomfortable sonic effluvia, and then a voice begins some kind of raving rant, drums begin a halting rhythm (sounding rather haphazard) and it just sounds'¦awful. I saw no point in this track at all. Merde!

There were some interesting things on 'De Valse Wolfskwint En Andere Fabeldieren' but overall, unless you really like avant-garde noise, you may be put off. Kasper's homemade electronic string instruments lend some depth and an arcane feel to his compositions, but I can't say I'm on board with it all.

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