Music Reviews



DIFFERENT STATE: Through The Falling Eyelid

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 13 2010
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Artist: DIFFERENT STATE
Title: Through The Falling Eyelid
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum Records (@)
Rated: *****
After the last year re-release of Different State's 1996 album "Knar" I forgot how they sound nowadays as the split with Sigil have been released on 2008 and "Knar" is more comparable to Godflesh than else. Anyway... THROUGH THE FALLING EYELID is the newest full length of the Polish combo which now is composed by Marek Xavier Marchoff (tools, alchembient structures), Laura Marchoff (angelic voice), Jarek Szczyglak (guitar) and Keith Rudolf. Just like their tracks on "Spazmatic[k] Spell", the ten you find on this one present a wide array of atmospheres and sounds that span from the industrial ambient electronic atmospheres of the opening "Isolate: stone cold heart", to the retro electro industrial sounds of the closing "Manifest: through the falling eyelid", passing through the cinematic samples orchestration of "Project: verses without words" or the i.d.m./industrial experimentation of "Challenge: formal experimentation", the jazz/industrial improvisations of following "Damage: bleed from their souls" or the slow dub electronic industrial atmospheres of ""Signal: I'm out". Here and there you'll find light guitar solos or vocals that shyly contrast the paranoid atmosphere created. An album that needs time to be fully appreciated because sometimes it sounds fragmented but if you are in the mood for industrial experimental sounds, give it a try.

The [Law-Rah] Collective: Solitaire

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 12 2010
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Artist: The [Law-Rah] Collective (@)
Title: Solitaire
Format: CD
Label: Raubbau (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Active since the beginning of the century, the musical pineal gland by the duo made up of Martijn Pieck and Bauke Van Der Wal aka the [law-rah] collective - two of different Dutch twisted minds of the collective founded by Bauke - keeps on secreting superb distillates of emotional dark-ambient, giving a concise sonic account of somewhat borderline feelings. Solitaire is their 7th full release and for this occasion, it seems they squeezed the nostalgic and most abstract aspect of memory as they create a mosaic of translations of mental snapshots and hidden emotions into sonic as well as visual fragments referring to the solipsistic mental process deriving from the “rendering” of memories from the past, superbly interpreted even by Salt’s photographic lens for an evocative plumbeous artwork with the abandoned remains of a rural little house standing out on a leaden sky.

This cinematic journey starts with the atmospheric From Inside An Empty Room, in which a constant quivering tune and an uplifting some shamanic whispering slightly disturbed by the typical crackling caused by wind on mic membrane will elevate your soul through the wider spaces evocated by the [Law-Rah] collective’s sound sculptures. Just to set the mood, the filthy resonance on percussion and a protracted low frequency pitpat on gradually resurfacing creepy tonals on the synesthetical string crescendo of Lavender Scent, setting the mood for the sumptuous breathtaking symphony of When Blue Turns Grey. If you consider the general mood of the album, you could imagine this track as an attempt of giving a musical shape to unspoken desire gradually sliding into more restless sonorities, translating into music the understanding of ineluctability, a theme which seems superbly afforded in the following track, Silent Voices, starting with a slow waltz of piano, interrupted by an obsessive choir of obscure voices, following some bass tones and suffocating the initial sign of melody before it comes back again on the stage even if in scantier melodic phrases like a day-dream whose perfection has been raped by the somewhat frightening tunneling of reality. The dramatic peak of this recording is touched by Away From Home, the most worried track of Solitaire, whose conclusion with some grave piano strokes will bring listeners to “reality” through lulling oscillations. Being imbued with the right emotional set and setting, Solitaire is a record which is going to break the heart of all those who love this kind of musical experiences.

Bill Horist: Covalent Lodge

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 11 2010
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Artist: Bill Horist (@)
Title: Covalent Lodge
Format: CD
Label: North Pole records (@)
Rated: *****
For his new album "Covalent Lodge", Seattle-based guitarist Bill Horist (who also plays with Musicians of Bukkake and Ghidra) recruited some of the most amazing performers the new music scene currently has to offer, including amazing violist Eyvind Kang (John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Marc Ribot), Grammy winning dummer Matt Chamberlain, vocalist B.R.A.D. (ASVA, The Accused, MMOB), Steve Moore, Shazad Ismaily, Seattle Harmonic Voices, Jessika Kenney (Gamelan Pacifica) and many many others. With this caliber of musicians I don't think I should even waste any more ink (or pixels) on quality and musicianship. It's all there and there's plenty of it.
To musically describe an album this eclectic is however no easy task. It is minimal at times and orchestral other times, flirting with jazz chord progressions, classical ensemble arrangements, experimental/avantgarde improvisations. Bill's signature electric and acoustic guitar arpeggios are the common denominator and glue of this record and sometimes reminded me of Bill Frisell, other times of Fred Frith. To throw you off and tip your comfort balance Horist's deliberate finger pickings are augmented by a layer of choir that sometimes remind of John Zorn's vocal-only albums like "FilmWorks XXI: The Last Supper" or his yet to be released vocal-only piece "Song of Songs" that he's been performing for a few lucky audiences. In addition to all that, the haunting overtones and subtle all-encompassing melody lines of Eyvind Kang's viola and the worldly drums and percussions patterns by Chamberlain just make this whole thing so special and unique that you'll be hard pressed finding a similarly sounding album. Speaking of sound, it was beautifully recorded by my esteemed west coast colleague (and other member of Master Musicians of Bukakke) Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Boris, Kinski, Earth) at Aleph Studios. You really can't go wrong with this much talent on one disc!

Ben Frost: By the Throat

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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May 10 2010
cover
Artist: Ben Frost
Title: By the Throat
Format: CD
Label: Bedroom Community (@)
Distributor: Kompakt
Rated: *****
Successor this his critically acclaimed "Theory of Machines" album, Australian-born Ben Frost's new album "By the Throat" comes out on the same Icelandic label Bedroom Community and if I'd have to describe it with one word I would say: powerful! Definitely one of the most interesting releases I have heard in a while, "By the Throat" has humongous presence and weight and its massively enveloping sonic fabric is discomforting in the most comforting of ways.
It's hard to describe Frost's sound and even harder to draw comparisons, but I'd say that if you can imagine what Sunn O))) might sound like without walls of guitars you'd be in the ballpark. Frost's visceral and dark sound is rooted as much in the experimental/noise world as it is in the minimalist neo classical world (think Steve Reich, Manorexia, Jeremiah Cymerman, Alvin Curran). His compositions are built with equal part apocalyptic post-industrial drones and piano/strings interludes. It might make a great horror movie soundtrack, but a record this good would almost be wasted on visuals because it has a power to evoke visuals of its own. This music is about contrast and Frost has plenty of that. You go from ethereal sound fields, distant piano notes and gentle fragile sustained violin notes to glitchy distortions, sub-sonic pulsating bass notes and howling wolves.
This album, as most of Frost's collaborations, was engineerd and produced by fellow Icelandic Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk, Kronos Quartet), who did an amazing job at capturing, building and presenting the depth of Ben Frost's sound. The album also features performances by Amiina, The Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara, Swedish metal outfit Crowpath and composer Nico Muhly.

Gjöll : Sum of Transformations

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 10 2010
cover
Artist: Gjöll (@)
Title: Sum of Transformations
Format: CD
Label: Ant-Zen (@)
Rated: *****
The most remarkable transformation acting as an addend in this sum by the surprising Icelandic duo Gjöll, made up of the talented musicians Jóhann Eiriksson and Sigurður Harðarsson, is the stylistical turnabout of the band towards an interesting aggregation between dark-ambient elements and krautrock ones, combining an abstract evocatory charm with a deep awareness of the actual phase of human history. Some heavy thuds of delayed guitars on obscure jaculatories declaimed in the language of Vikings (don’t be scared as there’s an English translation on the booklet) in the introductory Natural Anarchy stimulate my imagination associating all these scenic/sonic elements to a sort of shamanic rite in the deepest cave of the known Icelandic volcano Eyjafjöll whereas the mentioned thuds sound like a musical transposition of the ashy explosions inside its belly. The track’s title as well as the conceptual framework of this release appears inspired by Free As a Bird: Natural Anarchism in Action, an essay by the American activist Pattrice Jones, suggesting some nonhierarchical and non-coercive organizational models taken from the so-called animal world as possible alternatives to actual governments., even if things such the famous Troubled Asset Relief Program might induce in arguing there’re some brain-injured monkeys occupying important seats of the Congress or in the bureaus of Fed. The thrilling tickling of a metronome with bumped accent on fourth step timing with your heart-beat while a creeping and disquieting drone sneaks into the cracks of listeners’ thoughts perfectly fits a track entitled Abandon All Hope. The most luminous addend of this sum is The Only True Philosophical Problem - it’s not a wise statement, but just the title of the song -, going on a tangent of delayed echoes, guitar glides and airy sounds close to the consistency Boards Of Canada gave to their sound in Campfire Headphase. By the way Gjöll’s way to shape their chaos looks even harsher and less ethereal than Sigur Ros’s one as it seems they arrive to different goals instead of similar starting point from the conceptual viewpoint - the feral nature of human society -.

Their soundscapes are not going to alienate or dejecting listeners, but look more like to a fertile soil Gjöll acting as patient and thoughtful farmers prepare for their thoughts and actions and after feeding you with luminous sounds they’ll tuck you in for the night with the gloomy atmosphere and a slow agonizing pulsating beat- wonderfully processed - of Tuckling In For The Collapse and that distinctive digital iciness of the intense Dérive - maybe the most entrancing track of the whole album -. A sort of vocal drone blowing superbly among circular sounds becoming gradually more and more obsessive by unexpected lathe-boring noises in Unity With The Earthworms - close to Origami Galaktica’s entrancing dark-ambient - seems to belong to some remote neo-pagan death cult, flapping your ears before the final majestic hosanna to nature, able with its powers to bare the insignificance of human beings by the swarming dark-ambient maestoso of At The Hanging Of The Last Of The Career Politicians - what a great title!!! -. A part of its almost oracular tones and its esoteric appeal, Sum Of Transformations could stand as the definitive portrait of a nature rebalancing itself against human typical lack of equilibrium, a process which open minded people will not face as a nihilistic assumption.


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