Music Reviews

NEUROBIT: The War Of The Worlds

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 18 2012
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Title: The War Of The Worlds
Format: Tape
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Rated: *****
Neurobit is an improvisation project by Bas Welling. He already released stuff on Retinascan, R.O.N.F. Records and Enfant Terrible. The sound is based on minimal suites made using 8bit sounds. Sounding at times a bit experimental or ambient, Neurobit will release on February for Enfant Terrible a tape titled THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Originally, "The War of the Worlds" was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series, Mercury Theatre on the Air, broadcasted on the October 30, 1938 and directed and narrated by Orson Welles. The effect that this broadcast had on people is history, because it caused panic on the audience. On the 6th of April 2003 Bas Welling (then called himself Dj Rioteer) recorded his version of this radio drama on a local Dutch pirate radio. Some tapes were produced and distributed but it was a sort of memory of a performance. Enfant Terrible decided it was time to make it available again, so the next month you'll be able to purchase one of the 100 copies (11 have a Space Invader art object). Musically, you'll find the original recordings of the 1938 broadcast with a sort of experimental improvised soundtrack performed by Neurobit. Analog noises, tiny melodies, bleeps and low-fi electronic effects are the sounds added and even if they aren't catchy per se, the whole project is interesting.

Matthias Muche, Philip Zoubek, Achim Tang: excerpts from anything

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 15 2012
Artist: Matthias Muche, Philip Zoubek, Achim Tang (@)
Title: excerpts from anything
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
The leitmotiv of this release signed by the Koln-based trio made up of Matthias Muche - talented trombonist and active media artist -, Philip Zoubek - inventive Austrian pianist, who likes to alter his instrument's timbre...what is known as prepared piano - and Achim Tang - experienced bass and double-bass player whose artistic path is rich of relevant collaborations including the ones with Oskar Aichinger, Wolfgang Pusching and dZihan & Kamien, a notorious duo for jazzy disco and so called downtempo house - seems to be the most antithetical explorations of improvisational music. The decision of leaving their 5 sessions untitled could suggest their will of leaving their music outside any possible conceptualization or "semantics", so that these excerpts could be described just for their tympanic exposition and their style and these three musical voices could sound both fused into sonic creatures which turn them almost undistinguashable and considerably isolated: the amalgamation is quite clear in the first two excerpts, being the first one a sort of 10 minutes lasting tuning where in spite of the slow tonal pitching and slight modulations emitted frequencies rarely emerges from the homogeneous melodic layers and the second an almost disturbing percussive ragbag, a mechanical rattle which sounds so noisy that makes really difficult to isolate each instrument - some of you could jump from their seat for the sudden change of range from almost silent tones to such a clashing noise...some nice spells casted on the mix! -. In the following excerpts, it's easier to appreciate musical individualities - I particularly appreciated Zoubek's prepared piano which is able to evoke some shinto ritual's atmosphere with intriguing damped hits and Muche's gasping blows in trombone's telescopic slides in the third one as well the general performative obliqueness of the fourth excerpt -, before the return to the initial tonal uniformity in the final recording, which seems to close the circles after these musicians opened them in order to cast some spells.

Sparkle in Grey: Mexico

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 14 2012
Artist: Sparkle in Grey (@)
Title: Mexico
Format: CD
Label: Afe (@)
Rated: *****
The first thing that you encounter with this album is the hand drawn cartoonish artwork. Those who are familiar with previous albums by Sparkle in Grey will be familiar with this style, but those who are picking it up may be inclined to think that it is a children's album. If only we were so lucky to have children who listened to this instead of Raffi and the like. On to the music itself - here's how the label defines the album: 'It is, therefore, hard to define the true nature of "Mexico", with its dark hues, but possibly not as melancholy as the previous works. The title speaks of escape, of shelter, a place anything but quiet, a land of contrast where desperate violence is generated by the economic gap.' I would classify this as peaceful post-rock. For example, you could describe this as a quiet Godspeed You Black Emperor. Piano merges with strings and guitar, but all of it is pretty sedate. There is some weirdness here though, such as 'From the Air,' which is a Laurie Anderson cover that depicts a crash landing. Overall this is quite pleasant - a good addition to the Sparkle in Grey catalog. This album weighs in at around 47 minutes.

Marianne Schuppe, Hans Tammen, Georg Wolf, Michael Vorfeld: Kärpf

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 14 2012
I had not heard of any of these artists, or even the label for that matter. The artwork is pretty sparse, giving the listener little to go on. The only clue that this is going to be a bit different is the fact that Tammen plays 'endangered guitar.' The album opens up with the 25 minute long 'Vrin' which is a mess (and I mean this in the best possible way) of improvisation and abstract vocals. This track is sometimes noisy and seemingly random and at other times reminiscent of some of Kronos Quartet's work. The vocals are sometimes operatic, sometimes shouted, and other times used only as just another sound source. Take some of the work of Textile Orchestra and then add a chamber ensemble that just finished partying with Hunter S. Thompson, take the stridency out of Diamanda Galas and make her sing opera mixed with scat and vocal recreations of analogue synths, and then tell everyone to do make their own album which will be mixed together at a later date and you're heading in the right direction of what this sounds like. This may sound random, but it isn't ' it hangs together quite well, but it is at times a beautiful cacophony. The music is interesting and engaging. 'Erixmat' combines spoken word and heavy bass drone, and 'täusche ich mich?' gets more minimal. The rest is a combination of these two. It's good, but nowhere near as good as 'Vrin,' perhaps because these are much shorter tracks. Overall, this album is an interesting listen and worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 58 minutes.

Chamaeleo Vulgaris: Reset

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 14 2012
Artist: Chamaeleo Vulgaris (@)
Title: Reset
Format: CD
Label: Acheulian Handaxe (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this project previously, but it is the work of Frederick Galiay on bass and Jean-Sébastien Mariage on guitar. The first track, PÅ«jÄ, is mastered incredibly low, making you wonder if this is going to be incredibly minimalist. When Skhêma kicks in with a single bass note it is startling because, if you are anything like me, you turned the volume way up to hear the previous track. Pshat gives a pretty good indication of what the rest of the album will sound like. Minimal improvisation with a fair amount of drone, scratches on the strings and the instruments, and sparse playing of the guitar and bass. Chod is a bit of a departure in that it is considerably more noisy than the others, but still far from a wall of noise that fans of MSBR and the like would call noise. Overall this is decent minimalist improv, but I must admit that it will not be spending a lot of time in my CD player. Evidently this is more of an installation piece, as described by the label: 'Both amplifiers face each other, both musicians are in the center, the public goshawk. The principle of the installation is to establish the most direct contact between the gesture and the sound, the string and the loudspeaker. The electric sound is an organic, acoustic matter in the full sense: guitar, bass and amplifiers (without any addition of pedals of effects or digital electronics), are not separated, but are the same instrument.' Maybe you had to be there. The album weighs in at about 64 minutes.

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