Music Reviews



Sand Snowman: Nostalgia Ever After

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 01 2010
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Artist: Sand Snowman
Title: Nostalgia Ever After
Format: CD
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
I had not heard of Sand Snowman, and there seems to be little info on the band (perhaps this is listed in the liner notes, but I didn't get any in the promo pack). The band listing on the Myspace page is likewise enigmatic, consisting of A Disgruntled Hibernian, with vocals from Moonswift, Steven Wilson, Amandine Ferrari, Judy Dyble, Bobbie Watson, Nyx, Jason Ninnis, Jo and Jerome. Moreover, the MySpace page states that Sand Snowman sounds like 'A whisper in a world full of shouting. A rainbow in a raindrop. The shadowy corners of a child's psyche. Veganism. Van Gogh's "Sain d'Espirit". De Chirico's Metaphysical afternoons. Tall tales in small hours.....' Interesting descriptions, and to an extent it holds up pretty well. This is quiet music, consisting mainly of voice and acoustic guitar. At times, it is reminiscent of 1970's easy listening folk, but for the most part it is peaceful and calm. The voices blend together well, creating a carefully crafted sonic texture. None of the tracks really stand out though, partly because of its unassuming quality and ability to blend into the background. This seems by design though. The press sheet notes that Sand Snowman is 'countering the harsh noises and hectic bustle of this strung-out metropolis [London] with miraculous albums of mysteriously quiet music.' If you want music to calm you down rather than pump you up, you've come to the right place. Some comparisons that come to mind are Tel Basta and some of the older Miranda Sex Garden albums. This would also be quite at home among practitioners of 'apocalyptic folk,' for example Current 93's 'Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre,' although lacking that album's occasional dissonance. This album weighs in at around 46 minutes.

Hopen: The Shark’s Wife e.p.

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 01 2010
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Artist: Hopen (@)
Title: The Shark’s Wife e.p.
Format: Tape
Label: Automation Records (@)
According to his website, Childe Grangier, the person behind Hopen, creates his music 'Using architectures of hazard and chance, influenced by sounds, daily noises and music experimentation from Dub to Zappa, Autechre, Luc Ferrari, Subrosa label or Capillary Action.' This is a pretty accurate assessment as far as it goes. This is a lot of cut up music, with segments speeded up and slowed down and any range in between, as if someone was playing it on a turntable directly powered by the jerky hand of an elderly person with ADHD. Oh yeah, and the record would be scratched enough to continually skip at random intervals. The song titles are amusing, but seem to have an arbitrary relation to the songs, such as 'No Sleepy's Will' and 'Sir Fuck Twelve IV.' I have previously reviewed Hopen's 'Their Quasi Homes Are Real Holes,' and the comparisons I gave there (Zoviet France's 'Loh Land' and some of Hafler Trio's cut up stuff) remains intact. However, I found 'Their Quasi Homes Are Real Holes' to be a stronger release. What I enjoyed about that release was the sense of whimsy and dark humor that seem to be absent here ' 'Rathmines' is the track that comes closest to this feel. It's almost as if Hopen is taking himself too seriously on this release. Something about this album just isn't clicking for me. However, you can actually check out the album at the website and see what you think. This tape weighs in at around 28 minutes.

The Infant Cycle: A Mysterious Disc

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 01 2010
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Artist: The Infant Cycle
Title: A Mysterious Disc
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: The Ceiling (@)
This disc by The Infant Cycle is certainly a mysterious disc in that there is little to identify it as anything by anyone. No track listing, not even a way to identify the artist. Even the promo sheet has a 7 inch square hole cut out of it with only the artist, label, and title left intact. Track 1 starts off with a repetitive clicking/tapping rhythm that continues through much of the track. There are some slowly evolving drones beneath the surface that begin to take over about nine minutes in. The first time I listened to the track, it seemed to take place somewhat suddenly, but on repeated listens, I could see the transition. For the most part, it is a bit too repetitive and minimal for my tastes, but still a pleasant listen. Track 2 is a short track that features some square-wave synth and nice industrial atmosphere. However, at only 1.15 it ends before you have a chance to get too into it. Track 3 is likewise short, at only 2 minutes, but it is so low that you can barely hear the birds chirping in the track and it sounds like the artist simply drops the mike at the end of the track. I listened to it again at a much higher volume and it sounds like someone standing by the roadside recording birds as the occasional car goes by. Not much to this track. This disc weighs in at about 15 minutes.

Nadja: Under The Jaguar Sun

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 31 2010
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Artist: Nadja (@)
Title: Under The Jaguar Sun
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
The more I hear from Aidan Baker, the more I am amazed at his ability to be so prolific while creating wonderful music. For those who do not know, Nadja consists of Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff and 'encompasses experimental/drone, ambient, shoegazer, & doom metal.' If you are looking for doom metal, however, you won't really find a lot of it here, but you are unlikely to be disappointed. Overall, I would classify this as noisy ambience, along the lines of Inade, but with elements of traditional song structure creeping in. Let's check out the highlights of each disc. SUN1jaguar opens with a slow moving guitars and drums with vocals buried deep in the mix before finally falling apart at the end, also at a glacial pace. SUN2windstorm was for me one of the standout tracks on the disc, with heavy layers of dissonance before ending with machine gun snare drums and wall of noise drone. Quite nice, but the vocals don't really seem to fit. SUN4flood is a quiet, soothing piece with bass and quietly speaking, almost chanting, male and female vocals. But underneath the calming sound lie some rather sinister vocals: 'each and every day I tear out your heart that the sun might rise again ... each and every day I eat your heart that I might be like you'¦' Moreover, the track is punctuated with random elements of dissonance and feedback and eventually descends into pure droning distortion. This is what makes this album so enjoying ' the mixture of sweet and sour, of melody and dissonance that run throughout it. Disc 2 consists of five interlocking tracks that function well as background music. Strings mix with drone to provide a pleasant listen. It is still quite engaging in its own right, but the fact that it is meant to be played together with Disc 1 really limits what they can do with it. Each disc weighs in at about 60 minutes, so you definitely get your money's worth at any rate. It doesn't matter how it sounded when I played them together because it will be different for each person depending on how they choose to mix it. Suffice it to say that it is a great idea and it is a lot of fun. Like most BlRR releases, this comes beautifully packaged, in this case in a foldout box.

Margrit Rieben and M+M Chor: Brückengesang

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 31 2010
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Artist: Margrit Rieben and M+M Chor
Title: Brückengesang
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
According to the press sheet that came with the disc, this disc was inspired by the grand motorway bridge Ponte 25 de Abril in Lissabon. To come up with this, the M+M Chor, consisting of 36 individuals were each 'recorded separately without a guide track, which resulted in a gradual detuning of the voices that a choir could never produce as a whole. . . . The resulting layers of overtones sometimes makes one think of an angel's choir appearing in the background, and out of the monochrome emerges a thing of high complexity.' Now let's get to the music. As far as comparisons go, the one that comes to mind is Arcane Device and his experiments with feedback. However, this is a much more soothing endeavor, resulting in a kind of low hum not unlike listening to a bee's nest or the freeway to which this piece alludes. The main problem with this album is that for most people a track of 5-10 minutes would suffice. It is interesting, but it moves at a glacial pace, making it far too subtle for my taste. That said, it is nice to hear an experimental album that really is experimental every once in a while! This disc weighs in at about 46 minutes.


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