Music Reviews



Nov 07 2010
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Stürmer IV
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sturm (@)
Rated: *****
Latvia's most influential dark Electronica-label Sturm comes out with a new and awesome looking DCD set, which presents once again the who is who of this genre hailing out this small Eastern European country. By having a more detailed look and listening the label roster, it once again astonishes, how far away from any hypes and how diverse the provided music got spread. It seems to be quite natural for the responsible people behind this label, that the listener gets thrown into styles of abstract experimental Electronica side by side with Neo-Folk influences and harshest Powernoise efforts. A genre boundary is seemingly a foreign word for them, as this label has to offer a lot of undiscovered and never heard before music stuff. 'Stürmer IV' finally sorts and collects the most influential acts out this country, and it too collaborates also with artists, which have decided to release on their own, or are signed to other labels. As I mentioned above, the package of this DCD set is a feast for the eyes. It's a heavy-weight digipack-like packaging, but a bit bigger than normal in size, consisting of a robust, serrated black cardboard work. The silver-colored script, for example used for the track list, which got hidden as a special gimmick under both CD's, and the imprints are offering a glossy and beautiful contrast ' in short, to hold this DCD set in your hands suggests a rewarding feeling to any listener. Which form of a downloading procedure can rival with this? Musically you'll get a relatively strict separation of music styles by the choice between a black- and silver-colored CD.
Starting with the silver edition, you'll get the rather straight, harsh and rhythmic music assaults with band projects/artists like ROSEWATER, which are maybe the international most recognized act out of Latvia. All of you listeners, who have thrown them into the straight Hellectro-like drawer because of their contribution to Johan van Roy's NTP-label will be astonished by this dark and haunting instrumental tune, which is filled with ominous voice samples and opulent orchestral-like string sounds ' relatively unexpected from them, but atmospherically thick produced. HEZZEL is another fine solo project presenting with 'Magnets' a straight-forward moving track, which has been the title-track of one of the previously freely downloadable releases of this artist (signed to the Russian Absetzer / Alter-X Promotion group). TETSUO SHIMA sounds from its name like an uncompromising Japanese Noise-artist, but offers a steady slashing tune somewhere comparable to SONAR meets ARZT + PFUSCH. To produce rather distorted and rhythmic oriented tracks on the edge between the Harsh-EBM and very near to the Powernoise genre seems to be generally a specialty for most of the artists presented here, the tunes of NAV SAULES, NARKOSE-X ('Masturbators', how delicious'¦), or G-SHOWER (what a band-name'¦) are some excellent references for this dedication. Also PIXEL HERO are thrown into this harder kind, although this has happened because of the choice of the contributing track, as this project normally produces C64-related Electronica music following veterans like KRAFTWERK, or DEVO. Another highlight I would like to point out with SYMMETRY OF ASYMMETRY, whose track is a real, classic arranged Dark Electro tune with reduced noisy ingredients, but with a hopeless sounding male vocalist. Another 'thumbs up' also for CYBERPUNK for offering DIVE-like minimal Electro/Industrial structures. 18 tracks not only to warm your socks in your boots, it is also stuff worth to listen to.
The black and second CD edition of this DCD set then offers the more abstract and experimental-minded kind of music, featuring some more or less known names like SCRIPTA SENSUS, KNAUZERS, CLAUSTRUM, or ANTARKTIDA. The music ranges between the darkest Ambient tunes (SEASNSFDSPAIR, SCRIPTA SENSUS, CLAUSTRUM, MACABRO), to ominous Ritual-Industrial tracks featuring confusing voice samples (SVAMPKOKS, KNAUZERS, POSTS), to seemingly uncontrollable sound experiments (CLAUSTHOME offering some abrasive drone sounds, while ANTARKTIDA convince with percussive metallic noises thrown in a monotonous environment). Stylistically very far away from any norm, here you'll find that stuff, you couldn't imagine to experience it. The music presented here is well-suited to get checked out under a good pair of headphones, while you should be warned, that also this stuff presented on this black CD isn't suited for the faint-hearted listeners.
What a diverse sound experience provided by these 36 artists and pressed on 2 full-length CD's! This one is remarkable and a nice introduction to all newbies to check out the dark conditions of the Eastern European territory. To live a life in Latvia must be a hard one, as you won't find any tendency for lighter and smoother sounds, as styles like Synth- or Futurepop are generally left out at the Sturm label. Released under Strumamndat No. 29, this DCD set is strictly limited to 666 numbered exemplars and you should save your bucks to purchase it directly from the source.

CD 1 : Black
1 SeasnsFDspair - Tai ZiemÄ
2 Scripta Sensus - DvÄseļu Putenis
3 Swamp Koks - Murgs Visupirms
4 Veerot - Shvakais Uzpariht Marsch
5 Knauzers - MelnÄ SÄga
6 Claustrum - Melanhola
7 BÄdu VÄstnesis - Å Ä·irotava
8 Antarktīda - Katorga
9 Macabro - Black Moon Rising
10 Darba Dienests - PornodiÄta
11 Mortarum - Sonar
12 ApÄtijas Process - Slave Boy
13 Celmlauzis - Nelifts
14 Posts - AicinÄjums
15 Clausthome - Sieben.Drei.Zwolf
16 Meld - Mechabuddha
17 V.S.K.B. - Aiz Muguras
18 AutogÄns - Par VÄlu


CD2 : Silver

1 Rosewater - Cerihbu Juhra
2 Nav Saules - Noizexperience
3 Anacodaine - PieskÄriens
4 Hezzel - Magnets 5:01
5 Tetsuo Shima - Plumbum
6 Pixel Hero - The Warp / Raiders
7 Purva Pihschli - Disciplīna
8 G-Shower - Maizes Dziesma
9 Narkose X - Masturbators
10 Tec 17 - NeÄrstÄjams
11 Symmetry Of Asymmetry - Burning Footsteps
12 Lenoras SapÅi - Stigmata Plague
13 W.O.M.B. - Dead Undead
14 Cyberpunk - Trust Yourself
15 Ls Tur - Trachrakts
16 Thinner - Curriculum Vitae
17 Oyaarss - Holeage
18 Audioscope - Lasting

GEN KEN MONTGOMERY : birds + machines

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 05 2010
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Artist: GEN KEN MONTGOMERY (@)
Title: birds + machines
Format: CD
Label: Pogus (@)
Rated: *****
Every time I receive a cd from Pogus it's like a small ray of light made his way through the darkness of my ignorance. This time it's the turn of Gen Ken Montgomery I didn't know anything about while he's an incredible biography as amusician. This collection of works ranges from 1980 to 1989 and the composition selected here offer some great contemporary electronic composition many of you could dig even if not coming from a "modern classic electronic" training. No Maderna or Stockhausen here given the fact the most of the track have een recorded or composed during the Eighties the sound is quite modern and at the same tim eI'm tented to say Montgomery was also filtering the sound of his time. Some composition are really close to sound like soft harsh noise or intellectualized power noise, some other have that learned electronic feel mixed with what could be quasi industrial music, the samples of birds and electronic birds voices help creating this strange atmosphere that is there from the first to the last second of the cd. What to say about it, but intentional or not the compositions recorded in Germany have a more serious feel, the atmosphere gets way heavier, be it they all have been recorded in Berlin but hard to deny that. Some other tracks remind me of the experimental electronic scene close to the border of industrial music: John Waterman, Coil, Francisco Lopez, Hefler Trio but sure take this comparison with a grain of salt. This' an incredibly heterogeneous collection of tracks for example consider "Crema di Roma" is a quasi drone-shaped track and the following pair of composition have a power noise and mechanic-rhytmycal beat. With the closing song we can taste Montogomery at the present time and it's still a tasty banquet since it resembles many steps of his early career with a contemporary aesthetic. Great work!.

DONATO EPIRO : Supercontinent

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 05 2010
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Artist: DONATO EPIRO (@)
Title: Supercontinent
Format: CD
Label: Stunned (@)
Rated: *****
This italian guy with a weird name is at his second release on Stunned records and beside several splits with artists like Black Eagle Child, Albero Rovesciato he also has the time to run an interesting cdr label Sturm und Drugs mostly weird folk oriented. As you can judge yourself not exactly a newjack and his curriculum is not explicit enough just give a try to one fo his releases, I think it's the fourth or fifth one I review and I still haven't been disappointed. Differently from his recent split vinyl with Black Eagle Child this tape presents his more freaky side and is in line with his previous cdr on the same label. It all means he's left his acoustic guitar back home in place for a banjo (or something with a similar sound) an analog keyboard, and many other acoustic and non-acoustic devices painting it all of a kraut/prog folk-seventies colour, but at the same time he's far from a vintage sound. Delays and loops have been dragged around like ghosts of past summer seasons during a sunny August day. While some parts of this record are heavily psychedelic, some others are a bit more obsessive and hypnotic in a more odd way and you can perceive this guy knows pretty well what's going on in today's musical world by his sound. The B side of the tape follows the same soft delirium directory and offers that kind of repetitive loop where lot's of projects tend to be dead boring, but he's nor boring nor that predictable. Donato Epiro has an incredible taste and goes far beyond the boarder of neo-psychedelia, to say it as the mighty Bad Brains would have said: "he's got the supertouch!!!".

DAFNA NAPHTALI / CHUCK BETTIS : chatter blip

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 04 2010
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Artist: DAFNA NAPHTALI / CHUCK BETTIS (@)
Title: chatter blip
Format: CD
Label: Acheulian Handaxe (@)
Rated: *****
Acheulian Handaxe equals radical improvisation and if you ever tasted one of their products you know the meaning of what I've just wrote, this duo shows they're stubbornly following the label's lane. On this nowhere headed route, Dafna Naphtali on vocals, electronics and sound processing and Chuck Bettis electronic and voice, have combined a series of really spectral solutions. I think a lot of the odd suggestion given me by this work has to do with the fact they both have used their voices and they twisted the shape of what was coming out of their throats, plus consider they developed every word really slowly and those delirious voices by Naphtali and you'll get exactly the picture. These odd, liquid vocalizations float and get pierced by some electronic beeps and sounds that give it all a next age dimension and bring the result right there in the outer space. This live recording in New York pictures what can't exactly be considered an easy to be digested performance, but at the same time this strange analog-electronic, bleeps, angel vocals, lyrical intersections, outer space yodels and overabundance of delays creates this strange "life after death" experience. An interesting release, not exactly dark, not just experimental and not simply effected-live improvisation, but all of them at the same time. Not always completely focused but definitely interesting.

Z'EV + JASON KHAN : intervals

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 04 2010
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Artist: Z'EV + JASON KHAN (@)
Title: intervals
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
If you consider I tend to have a soft spot for the majority of releases involving Z'ev, you can imagine how happy I was in reviewing this collaboration. Z'ev teamed up with Jason Khan you probably know both for his solo career and for his many collaborations. This cd features two long long tracks involving percussion for both and analog synthesizers for Jason Khan, the end result reminded me of a release by Norbert Moslang and Andy Guhl titled "Knack on" (release date 1982...and if you never heard this work you'd better look for it, every other comment is superfluous), same intensity, same deepness and above all same inspired performance...funny both of the records have been both recorded in Swiss, maybe it's the power of cheese with holes!. As I've just said both of the tracks have been recorded in the land of banks during april 2009 and present some dense parts and some skeletal section where you can clearly distinguish percussions and cymbals. If you ask me, I really think the importance of Z'ev in the economy of the sound is great or at least that's my personal impression since I find some typical characteristics I usually hear in may releases involving this industrial percussion pioneer. Beside the use of pauses, space, intensity, noises, reverbs and heavy odd sounds they manage to create with their percussions, Khan uses his synth to add all of the lacking colors of this recording. Strange to say that, but beyond the fact there's no use of direct melodies, I find this work so expressive and at the same time so deep in its apparent simplicity. This cd is so good.


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