Music Reviews

Zbeen: Tonal Whiplash

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 16 2017
Artist: Zbeen
Title: Tonal Whiplash
Format: CD
Label: 13 (@)
Rated: *****
The return of the project of Ennio Mazzon and Gianluca Favaron is marked by an absence of reference on the label and the artist sites so it's something that has to be deciphered entirely by the listener. Wrapped in a cover art of other times where material and a certain craft was required is based upon cyrillic character and pictures from women's fashion magazine. It could be seen as a rather cryptic homage to certain avant-garde movement of last century which had a relation to society rather than only a concern for form.
As "Rest Energy" starts, it's clear how little is changed in the modus operandi of the duo as the sound generated by Favaron and processed by Mazzon are developed in structures where's it's the movement of the sound elements the focus of this release, so it's seems complex but are few sounds placed in different sound fields. "Marciulionis' Tash" is based upon fast noises and long tones. "Tea Cube" assembles quiet drones at the threshold of audibility, noises and tones in an attempt to demonstrate how listening is a search for perception rather than a dull contemplation. "Materia Prima" plays with the point where the sounds came from. "Decalcomania" use the same process to dynamics. "Seitan Core" is a relation between quiet and fast sound in the background and slow and loud in the foreground. "Sopa Coada" closes this the release with a noisy track whose central part seems also static in his quiet development escaping a sound wall.
This release even if difficult for ears used to derivative works based on trends has everything lacking in the average release: conciseness, dynamics, space. It's something like a return to the future.

St. Francis Duo: Peacemaker Assembly

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 09 2017
Artist: St. Francis Duo (@)
Title: Peacemaker Assembly
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Trost Records (@)
Rated: *****
Here's an album by two veteran improvisational musicians - guitarist Stephen O'Malley and drummer/percussionist Steve Noble, performing together here as St. Francis Duo. Both have a lengthy list of credentials. O'Malley's other groups and projects have included ÄÄNIPÄÄ,
Æthenor, Burning Witch, Ensemble Pearl, Fungal Hex, Ginnungagap, Gravetemple, Khanate, KTL, Lotus Eaters, Love's Holiday Orchestra, Nazoranai, Pentemple, Sarin, Sunn O))), Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine, Thorr's Hammer, and Vesuvio. He also founded the record labels Southern Lord in 1998 and Ideologic Organ in 2011. Noble studied with Nigeria master drummer Elkan Ogunde and in the early 1980s was a member of Rip Rig and Panic. Some of the projects he's been involved with include Alex Ward Quartet, Alex Ward Sextet, Alex Ward Trio, Badland, Decoy, Dikeman Noble Serries Trio, Franz Hautzinger Quartett, Free Base, Julie Kjær 3, Kahondo Style, London Improvisers Orchestra, N.E.W. (Noble - Ewards - Ward), School Of Velocity, The Brian Irvine Ensemble, The Mancini Project, The Offshoot and others. You would think that with all of those I would have heard these guys before, but un-uhn; I guess I live a sheltered life. Well, to be fair I think I caught Rip Rig and Panic on an episode of 'The Young Ones' in the 1980s but for the type of music we have here, I don't think that counts for much.

'Peacemaker Assembly' was recorded live at St. Francis de Sales in Philadelphia on May 19, 2014 by Eugene Lew and mixed by Chain D.L.K.'s own Marc Urselli. It consists of two, lengthy untitled pieces - Side A: 19:38 and Side B: 18:04. It was mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy in London, UK. What this essentially is, is amplified drone guitar and
accompanied with freestyle drumming. When you think drone guitar, don't be thinking Robert Fripp and/or Trey Gunn; it's much closer to the Velvet Underground's "Loop". Noise drone and controlled feedback with lots of rolling drums and cymbal shimmer by Noble. The drone is constant as there are no breaks, only shifts in shades and intensity without much pitch variation. On the other hand, there is plenty of diversity in the drumming. Although you might just think he's off on his own trip, Noble must be perceiving something in O'Malley's drones we're not as attuned to as he is and he runs with it. Perhaps repeated listenings could yield the key to it all, but three times was enough for me, and two too many for the cat, who fled in distress. This was probably best experienced live where the sound was all-encompassing, but perhaps at louder volume it could be simulated. For those who appreciate noise drone combined with free jazz percussion.

Gerstein: 32 Years Of Rain

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 09 2017
Artist: Gerstein (@)
Title: 32 Years Of Rain
Format: CD
Label: Der Klang (@)
Rated: *****
Now almost canonized in the history of italian industrial music, the project of Maurizio Pustianaz celebrates 32 years of music with a collection of tracks presented in almost chronological order and selected by the personal choice of the composer. The result is a journey that could be roughly divided in two phases: the song phase and the experimental one.
From the cartoonish atmosphere of "Poison" the first part of this release sounds centered around piano with the exception of more experimental "Phlegmaticus 3" with his use of echo and delay. With a track as "Hang The D-Evil" as final landing of a journey starting from the quiet and almost romantic piano of "Track 7" to the horror inspired "Putrefacto", Gerstein write a sort of industrial pop song closer to his musical legacy than expected and expressed with a certain irony. With "Take The Hold (1993)" starts the second part of this release centered on his new wave influences so "In The Shadow Of The Sun" sounds like a tribute even in his title and track like "Puke" and "Black Flag" reveals even some metal influence in the trend of those years. The most recent tracks, especially "Il Male" reveals a synthesis between the two forces: the pop song and the industrial piece.
Other tracks like "Cuts" or "The puke they are" were probably chosen as freak experiments as the first sounds as polished ambient pop tune while the second is a personal version of indie rock.
Quite a enjoyable collection of tracks that could be well received by newcomers if they have the patience to arrive at the end of this release and be carried towards a piece of our industrial history. It's really worth a listen.

176 [Chris Abrahams, Anthony Pateras]: Music In Eight Octaves

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 06 2017
Artist: 176 [Chris Abrahams, Anthony Pateras]
Title: Music In Eight Octaves
Format: CD + Download
Label: Immediata
Recorded back in 2005, “Music In Eight Octaves” is a single 50-minute relentless dual piano (or duel piano) hammering in which Chris Abrahams, pianist from The Necks, and the prolific Anthony Pateras have multi-tracked layers of rapid-fire piano improvisation, each layer focussed on a single octave. It’s an extremely maximalist approach, there’s no “less is more” here. Throughout the whole piece, individual octaves and pitch ranges ebb and flow but the manic pace never dips, and the overall result never drops to an energy level that could be described as anything less than frantic.

Blunt and challenging, and stark in its avantgardism, it’s a work that seems intended to explore the extreme of what soundscape it’s possible to create solely using fast-played unprocessed piano. As such it’s more intriguing for its attitude than for its content.

Anthony Pateras, Erkki Veltheim: The Slow Creep Of Convenience

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 03 2017
Artist: Anthony Pateras, Erkki Veltheim
Title: The Slow Creep Of Convenience
Format: CD + Download
Label: Immediata
A single, 50-minute drone duet between a pipe organ and an electric violin, “The Slow Creep Of Convenience” is a glacially slowly evolving series of tones that has hints of brass and of industry. Flexing in and out of dischord, it’s an unusual and generally uncomfortable environment, but if you allow it to wash over you for long enough, it becomes casually familiar.

It changes the bassline of your normal listening so that even some quite strained and complex tones become expected, but just before the 30-minute mark, there’s an abrupt shift in attitude towards a deeper and more tense ambience, after which the process has to start all over again. When the organ drops out completely a few minutes later is when you realise just how immersive this tone has been. A soft final few minutes transition you gently back into reality.

The pipe organ gives proceedings a slightly traditional feel, with a handful of discernible chord changes that skip you slightly out of your meditative state. The religious history imbued in those tones is hard to shake off even when presented in such an abstract form, so like it or not, this is a soundscape that will evoke memories of churches and solemnity.

A bold and very simple release which takes an idea towards its logical extreme, with a result that’s powerful and only initially difficult.

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