Music Reviews

African Ghost Valley & Billy Roisz: Angry Ambient Artists Vol.3

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 18 2018
Artist: African Ghost Valley & Billy Roisz (@)
Title: Angry Ambient Artists Vol.3
Format: Tape
Label: Forwind Press (@)
Rated: *****
This new volume of Angry Ambient Artists is a split release by African Ghost Valley and Billy Roisz and, in spite of the title, is more oriented towards noise and experimental music territories than classic, or dark, ambient ones. Noisy sources are placed in times to variate dynamics and spectrum to create movement so it's not neither ambient nor industrial music but a crossover with a certain level of personality.
African Ghost Valley open their side of the tape with a noisy sound, vaguely reminiscent of certain '80s synth music, of "9732 XE" opens the first side of this tape and introduces the listener to a sort of noise ambient i.e., noise music without the deafening mass of layers but with a layer of quiet drone which sometimes emerges and takes the aural scene. "MM 152" is instead suspended on his oscillation between silence, quiet drones and sharp tones which creates a tension toward the final noisy section. From an initial part close to silence, "OC 154 T" closes the A side with an accumulation of layers which end in the closing mass of noise ending in silence.
Billy Roisz instead occupies her side of the tape with one track, "Hidden Layers", which oscillates between abrasive moments and quiet ones, both developed upon noisy elements asking the listener to follow a musical development rather to be overwhelmed by mass of sounds.
Perhaps a bit too noisy for the usual ambient fan, but it reveals al least a research of personal perspective of the crossover between ambient and noise. Not only for collectors.

Ghost Flute & Dice: Kropsbygning

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 18 2018
Artist: Ghost Flute & Dice
Title: Kropsbygning
Format: CD
Label: Attenuation Circuit (@)
Rated: *****
The music of Ghost Flute & Dice is based on piano but, instead of being something closer to modern classical and its neo-romantic chichés, has a tie to the intuition of modernity where piano is considered more as rhythmic instrument than a melodic one. Moreover there's an use of effects and tape editing which creates a level of abstraction above the piano line mostly based on chords and looping lines vaguely reminiscent of minimalism.
The framework of this release is immediately exposed in "Emdrup": piano chords and effects creating odd resonances which are a proper layer above the piano creating some similar to the classic accompanying strings, but with a wider spectrum and elements of noise. "Kejser af Kina" is instead more focused with the rhythmic elements using the prepared piano and the reverse effect. "Glasvind" proceeds by accumulation while "Wrong is here" borders ambient territories as it starts with an electronic setup prior to the entrance of the piano. The layers of "Standardlösninger" generate an apparently complex sound but it's instead based upon variations of a fistful of melodic cells. "Pladearbejde" explores the string elements of the piano while "Undersult" the variations of sound masses. "No Name Nr 2" closes this release with a dialogue of the piano with his effect and noises.
Apart for some trivial moments where the experimental layer is a little expectable, the equilibrium within moments tied to tradition and to modernity is remarkable. Practically a release enjoyable by everyone.

forM: s/t

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 11 2018
Artist: forM
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Aubjects (@)
Rated: *****
forM is experimental electronic glitch artist Robert Newell, and this self-titled album on the Aubjects label is his debut solo release. Newell has been involved in electronic experimental music since the early 90s, and has been a member of Bob Hallucination, Headless Ballerinas Underwater, and perhaps most notably, Amalgamated. Of those three, the only project I'm the least bit familiar with is Amalgamated, who some passing acquaintance turned me on to some years ago. In taking a brief tour through some of Amalgamated's discography, I can definitely hear the connection, although Newell's forM debut is quite different than what Amalgamated seems to be about. The album is comprised of 14 pieces, all quite different from each other in tone and temperament, but unified by certain factors. One way or another there is a good deal of repetition, but not always. Some pieces seem highly structured while others are chaotic. Opening track "Fr0353" could almost be a sci-fi show theme with it's repeating melodic bubbly space synth over light mellotron chords in the background. The followup, "n30n" is a melodic haze of digital sounding synth pan-echoed to the nth degree. "00n0my" uses a repeating pattern synth melody and drumkit where in spite of a repetitious,rhythm, numerous rhythm embellishments develop as well as a whole lot of synth incidents and events. "Gran35" sounds like a cluster of musical Berbers taking a spin in a psychedelic dark ride, or maybe a Middle Eastern game arcade gone bananas. You could conjure up many different descriptions for these pieces, some wacky, others in a more serious vein, but most of them are quite intriguing, even if you can't really ascribe a theme or motif to every one. Unlike some experimental electronica, forM is pretty easy on the ears, so even if you're not a hardcore experimental enthusiast, you will probably find this very pleasing. I should also mention that Phillip Klampe (also from Amalgamated) is responsible for additional effects and sounds on this album as well as mastering and production. Limited to 75 copies in CDr digipak.

The Verge Of Ruin: Learn To Love Solitude

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 11 2018
Artist: The Verge Of Ruin
Title: Learn To Love Solitude
Format: CD
Label: Setola di Maiale (@)
Rated: *****
This project is presented by their members, Stefano de Ponti and Shari DeLorian, as "a research in sound and poetry" and, while it's not clear the meaning of this claim after the listening of this first release, sounds as completely focused on a idea of "writing as editing". This release sounds as developed by pasting fragments until the result is more than the sum of the parts.
The track starts in a relatively free form dominated by sparse sound mostly of concrète origin and percussion; after all this movement, there's a part based on drones of long tones searching resonances and juxtaposition. Then, the track begin to oscillates between static and dynamic moments so e.g., after a detailed drone there's an abrupt explosion of noise. Above all, there's the impression that, more than a sound research, there's an idea of musical movement based on short musical moments in direct contrast between them as a sort of dialetic without synthesis.
All those materials compressed in a so short span (the release lasts just over twenty minutes) means a demanding listening asking for a particular concentration. Not exactly a easy listening but it's full of subtle ideas that could have been perhaps more developed. However, it's recommended for fans of experimental music.

Francois Bayle: Tremblements

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 11 2018
Artist: Francois Bayle
Title: Tremblements
Format: LP
Label: Editions Mego
“Tremblements” re-issues two experimental electronic works from the end of the 1970’s, when the synthesizer was well on the way to stepping out of the avantgarde and the Radiophonic Workshop and into mainstream and pop music. But this arrangement of oscillators, sparkling bleeps, tweaks, bells and found sounds (footsteps, radio noises etc.) is firmly in the former category, with a certain air of theatricality in the deliberately rise-and-fall, stop-and-start performances.

“Tremblement de terre très doux” is a cycling 28-minute series of “climate”, “transit” and “landscape” elements, each one building from a flat soundscape- sometimes silence- into more frenetic sections of layered and high-pitched electronic waves that sound at times like a 70’s TV spaceship computer bank in turn launching, running smoothly then threatening to crash.

There’s less of a sense of revelry in second piece “Toupie dans le ciel”, which is described as containing 27 interconnected ‘cells’ each with a different theme of scientific measurement (distance, pressure, density etc.) though compared to the previous piece this distinction is much more arbitrary- the sound itself is a 21-minute continuous series of meandering, ‘blinking’ oscillators which switch constantly between two slowly changing minor chords, sometimes tending towards surprisingly high, tinnitus-and-dog-whistle level pitches. After eleven minutes we begin to hear lower, more metallic, scratchy tones, but the alarm-like bleeping promptly re-engages and never strays too far away. Things get a little warmer towards the end.

Speaking only for myself, I much preferred the first track, which brought with it a sense of fun, to the harsher and more immersive second piece. Neither track provides a particular ‘missing link’ in the history of electronic music, but fans of this stripped back, in-depth analogue electronic experimental tone will certainly find something to engage with in this.

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