Music Reviews



Kirchenkampf: Lowland

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 06 2010
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Artist: Kirchenkampf (@)
Title: Lowland
Format: CD
Label: Cohort Records (@)
Rated: *****
Long time Chain D.L.K. contributor John Gore has quietly kept busy releasing his own music and that of others through his outlet Cohort Records. Even though he's been supporting the scene by releasing artist's music on Cohort and reviewing artist's music on Chain D.L.K., he was so shy or modest that he didn't even send us any of his releases until I asked him to. So here I am, finally, listening to our friend Gore's latest album. His main project, Kirchenkampf, is focused on a combination of radio waves and synth/sound effects. I'm not very familiar with his earlier releases, but I've read that they used to be a bit more extreme. "Lowland" is a very quiet, relaxed and subtle concentration of sounds. It's experimental dark ambient music that weaves in and out of the more noisy and more musical permutations of that combination of genres. There are seven tracks totaling 55 minutes of delicate soundscapes with the right amount of roughness around their edges to keep the listener from getting too comfortable.
The CDR release comes in a beautiful hand-folded, hand-painted, hand-stamped gatefold enclosures in vellum sleeves with a tree printed on it.

NEUROBOT: Petla Bohumina

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 02 2010
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Artist: NEUROBOT
Title: Petla Bohumina
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
I loved this Monotype release from the very first listening and before writing this review I've listened to this record many times. We're talking about laptop music and this trio infact features Jacek Staniszewski on computer and synth, Artus Kozdrowski on computer and adat recorder and Dominik Kowalczyk on laptop. Given the fact this music has been recorded between 2001 and 2005, this trio gains more and more respect for the high quality of the tracks. You can bet this' one hundred percent laptop music therefore expect: digital bleeps, loops, samples, unnatural white noise, weird sounds and that kind of sound aesthetic you usually have with such projects. At the same time this trio reaches an incredible intensity above all when mixing soft harsh digital noises with loops of blues singers or with simple melodies, litanies have been always kept under the surface but you don't have to strain so much to here them. Despite some melodic solution this release is basically serious music oriented and most of the episodes express a deep and thoughtful intensity and "What do we need to know?" is the perfect example of that kind of austerity. Differently from what I've just wrote may suggest this project's compositions are not so heavy but not absolutely to be confounded with quasi-ambient/IDM/abstract light music. Neurobot played that style of music that walks on the tight rope between academic abstract computer and post-industrial/installation music. Different layers of sound, serial loops, some sad melodies fighting with astral synth to conquer the scene, digital bleeps facing soft harsh drones and everything has been dragged around patiently but not so much to sound heavy. After ten years this music still sounds quite interesting and if you consider the tracks may result odd but also well assembled, you may get why I this work is definitely worth of a listen since it's definitely interesting.

Zeitkratzer: [old school] Alvin Lucier

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 01 2010
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Artist: Zeitkratzer (@)
Title: [old school] Alvin Lucier
Format: CD
Label: Zeitkratzer Records (@)
Distributor: Forced Exposure
Rated: *****
The first two releases of the series [old school], dedicated to the musical studies of some milestones of contemporary experimentation and composition, have been tributed to John Cage and James Tenney and have been considerably acclaimed by the growing public feeding their curiosity about the basic principles of avant-garde music and this third one, tributed to Alvin Lucier, known for being one of the founder of Sonic Arts Union in 1966 as well as for introducing new paradigms to the so-called concrete music througout out-of-ordinary scores and somewhat bizarre and "scientific" explorations of the acoustic properties of objects, organisms (one of his most interesting "score", Music For Solo Performer, was obtained by the recording of the constantly changing brain activity of the performer, whose alpha waves were amplified throughout a machine able to record the electrical activity of his brain, while another famous "composition", Clocker, was entirely obtained from the recording by a galvanic skin sensor!) and envinronment (maybe Lucier's most relevant and inspiring experiment related to envinronment is I Am Sitting In A Room, an intriguing experiment based on the cycled recording of performer's voice for a plenty of times in different environments whose noises were gradually amplified since the point they becomes the main voice of the performance, an experiment whose principles had some influences on the birth of experimental videomaking as well...).

Even if from one side some classical puritans still mutter when they've been asked to voice their opinion about these composers and from the other some pop addicts' stomachs can't take this kind of musical food lacking of the consumeristic "value" (or dis-value) of accessibility to the general public, Zeitkratzer is going to bring the listeners in the wonderful world of Mr Lucier, after the zeutkrazters met this creative sound physician in Dijon, France, and decided to perform some pieces of his rich and intriguing repertory at The Philarmonie in Luxembourg, the ideal place for such a performance, including two compositions, the opening Fideliotrio - a somewhat confusing piece for viola, cello and piano, where a single piano tone is played in two different dynamics while the parts for viola and cello plays a sort of glissando going in opposite directions, so that the resulting antagonistic tension induces some confusion in the listener, whose ears presumably are going to lose directions of sound, disquiting in the intertwining of mutual interferences....very funny! - and Violynn - the piece I enjoyed more based on a similar game of Fideliotrio, whereas the violin player perform between two speakers by which he could listen his own recording without perceiving his own intonation, but only the recorded-on-tape one, so that he experiences a sort of diembodiment! Really interesting experiment! -, Opera With Objects - a sort of exercise Alvin Lucier uses for didactic purposes in which his students at Wesleyan College, where Alvin teaches electronic music (even if he refuses such a definition for his sound researches...), tap on different objects that they find, exploring the timbre resonance of those objects, where the interpreter seems to be totally depersonalised in order to act as a sort of entranced medium for the playset arranged by objects during a kind of exploration of their intimate properties...-, Silver Streetcar For The Orchestra - featuring interesting experiments on amplified triangles! - and Music For Piano With Magnetic Strings - a piece where the piano plays by itself after it's "prepared" with EBows, small electromagnets previously used for electric guitars, placed on its strings so that what results is a somewhat-hypnotic series of stranded sound layers varying in density and texture as well, showing another feature of this outstanding composer, whose scores look more like to user's guidelines! -.

After enjoying these perfomances by Zeitkrazter's musicians, I'm sure you will not consider them just as a scientifc study on sound phenomenology, but as music as well!

Zeitkratzer: WHITEHOUSE electronics

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 30 2010
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Artist: Zeitkratzer (@)
Title: WHITEHOUSE electronics
Format: CD
Label: Zeitkratzer Records
Distributor: Forced Exposure
Rated: *****
The seventh stroke of the pointed Zeitkratzer lash has been added by William Bennet, one of the most inspiring pioneer of the so-called power electronics and industrial music throughout his provocatory project Whitehouse, whose name for all hungry listeners who are not so learned about the origin of this sonic species was taken from one of most notorious pornographic English zine as well as from the surname of Mary Whitehouse, one of the fighting Christian activist, which gained some notoriety for her puritan campaigns since the 70ies and so an easy target for Bennett & C., whose music could be considered as a sort of stage and "speaking" corner for his anti-toadyism and anti-moralist agreeably harangues standing upon his intent to forge what he defined "the most extreme music ever made", which was going to be earsplitting and violent either in its form and in its content.

Even if there's no use of strictly electronic devices, I'm sure Mr Bennett had appreciated both the extrapolation from his rich repertoire and the "orchestral" version by Zeitkratzer's musicians directed by the pianist Reinhold Friedl who have been able to preserve the surgical harshness as well as the powerful emotional impact of the original compositions and their ability in melting them throughout the aid of zeitkratzers' deep knowledge of amplification and microphone techniques which is evident since the opening piece Munkisi Munkondi (many pieces by Bennet's are entitled with African names as his fascination for African and Haitian music and culture had been attested by his attempts of integrating some sounds form that imaginary, particularly percussions, in its brutal assemblages ), taken from Bird Seed (an album recorded in 2003) and referring to the ritual sculpturing of wooden representations of local gods or protecters obtained from the painful scratches of each villager on primordial trunk, whereas amidst the clashing orchestral magma some ascending sounds reminding the typical screeching of whizzing cars are intertwined with amplified wind instruments looking like the harrowing moos of cows condemned to slaughtering or the frightened squawking of ducks before turning into fois-de-gras.

The opening sinister shrill sound of Nzambi la Lufua of the colliding hight-pitches, which gradually descends, of a trumpet and a trombone could remind the anguishing scenario of an agonizing farmyard before the moment of absolute silence (Bennett prefers to speak about "short moments of reflection"), detaching this track from the following one, Scapegoat, a magistral drone-like piece where dilated instruments seems to be scorched by tremolo and vibrato effects. The tremendous and devastating corporeity of Bennett's music has been highlighted by the following track, Faiground Muscle Twitcher, a sort of noisy representation of the spasm of a muscle just before an unavoidable pain whose ritualistic side hides in some hidden chidplays easily suffocated by distorted and high-pitched string sounds, whose abruptive end sounds like those reassuring words a nurse normall says to a fearful child after injection. But the most ritualistic moment of this performance, live recorded in Marseille in 2009, is Bia Mintatu, whose vortical ascension of asymmetrical loops, sinister noises and paralysing glissandi refers to a particular tribal African invocation in the form of litany, intended to propitiate the destruction of any potential enemy. The obscure and noisy lameness of the frozening final track, The Avalanche, is the perfect way to finish this immersive sample of orchastrated noise. Brilliant!

BACHI DA PIETRA: Quarzo

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 25 2010
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Artist: BACHI DA PIETRA
Title: Quarzo
Format: CD
Label: Wallace Recprds (@)
Rated: *****
Not so long ago we've reviewed their live vinyl + dvd, it was nothing but a morsel of a forthcoming banquet and here is the new full-length, it's the last episode of what so far can be defined as a lucky career. They've always had beautiful recordings but this time the production is incredible, so tip of hat for the sound engineer has shaped this diamond so brilliantly, it's impressing since every frequency is so boombastic you can't even believe the band is just a drum and voice/guitar duo, at the same time it's not too loud but just crystalline. The fact is that after a series of incredible releases this' just good, or at least I think despite some killing tracks this time the whole product is a little bit less ass kicking than the last two records. For those who still don't know the band we're talking about a duo mixing heavy depressive blues, Nick Cave, post-rock, some alternative noise rock influences from the nineties and influences from the best italian songwriters from the past. Maybe it's just a suggestion or just the inflection of the singer's accent, but for the first time I notice some similarities with Paolo Conte (by the way, they're coming from the same area), sure here the lyrics are more cynical, more bohemienne, but the sour/bitter view of the world is quite similar they just like of Conte's irony. Despite my comment on the fact this' just a bit less brilliant then the last two records, it features some incredible songs like in the case of 6, 2, 5 and it shows how writing simple tracks with just two basic instrument and a voice can be a display of talent for a craftsman and that's the case. Just a couple of piano notes added for the arrangements, and some additional feedbacks to complete the recipe. As I've said I prefer their previous materials but still a great band.


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