Music Reviews

Andrew Tuttle: s/t

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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May 29 2018
Artist: Andrew Tuttle
Title: s/t
Format: CD + Download
Label: Someone Good
Andrew Tuttle has collaborated or performed with a wide body of artists- Matmos and Julia Holter included- but can still be described as a “best-kept secret” of Australian music, rather than a truly established artist. Hopefully this release, his third album, will help change that.

It’s an unusual homemade concoction of banjo strumming, acoustic guitar work and synthesizer drones and atmospherics that successfully hybridises country music banjo tones into an electronic space. It’s always shifting, either in tempo or style, sometimes teetering towards energetic hoe-down knees-up territory (though thankfully not too close), and sometimes way off into sparse melancholic improvisations over single synthesized chords- whilst generally retaining a fairly bright atmosphere and never quite devolving into overlong grumpiness (“Reflections On The Twilight” is the closest it comes to this)..

“Transmission Interruption” exemplifies the whole work, so if you fancy checking out a single track on Spotify, perhaps make it that one. “Boarding Zone” has quite an expansive, Americana-type feel to it that makes the pulsing synths seem like a rare but honoured guest, helped along by a quite catchy melody motif. Some tracks, like “Garden Development”, have their edge taken away a little by slightly excessive effects processing. “A Winding River” has got shades of Mike Oldfield’s more laidback guitar meanderings at points, without the more showy Spanish guitar flourishes, before “The Coldest Night” wraps things up in quite a New Age-y fashion.

It’s a properly unusual construction, and at 33 minutes, it’s simply too short, in a good way. As an experimental fusion of guitar and banjo playing with complementary electronics, it’s a definite success, and Tuttle clearly knows his own strengths too.

Ana Dall'ara-Majek: Nano-Cosmos

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 28 2018
Artist: Ana Dall'ara-Majek
Title: Nano-Cosmos
Format: CD + Download
Label: Empreintes Digitales
Composed across a period of more than five years, “Nano-Cosmos” is a five-piece cycle of acousmatic pieces dedicated to insects, small arthropods and microorganisms. Fifty-three minutes of arhythmic granular clicks, glitches and sharp biology lab sounds running over long drones, tuned synthetic hums, irregular heartbeat sounds and electric growls, it certainly emphasises how alien the microscopic world is relative to what we would call familiar.

If you’re squeamish, don’t worry- despite being rooted in biology, sonically there’s quite a digital flavour to it, often sounding more sci-fi than organic, particularly in pieces like “Bacillus Chorus” or the expansive synth opening of “Pixel Springtail Promenade”. The biological aspect exhibits itself as much in the unpredictability as in the tones themselves.

“Pixel Springtail Promenade” is a notable highlight, a self-contained 15-minute work in many sections where the synthetic pads evolve into larger more orchestral sounds with a luxuriant quality that emphasises the dichotomy of the insect clicking noises- twisting into weirdness towards the end with a soundscape that to my ear sounds decidedly more like a frog chorus than insects.

Final piece “Xylocopa Ransbecka” is also an opus, accompanied by the hard-to-beat conceptual description: “features a carpenter bee and twenty doors, recorded in Belgium”. After a series of disorientating vignette-style sections, again more orchestral elements appear in the second half, building steadily to an almost conventional crescendo that then devolves into a digital equivalent where the insectoid clicking and glitching multiples exponentially until we approach white noise. It’s a fitting finale, both successful and strange.

Inspired by and sourced from a selection of very specific biological phenomena, this release really does seem to blur the lines between music and science- and the result is a nicely immersive bit of complex soundscaping that you really can get into.

MZ.412: Ulvens Broder

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 27 2018
Artist: MZ.412
Title: Ulvens Broder
Format: 12"
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
As the last releases of MZ.412 were reissues or live recording, "Infernal Affairs", released in 2005, was considered the creative swan song of the project which has taken Industrial under a more clever use of noise taking inspirations from the most peripheral rivulets of the genre and merging them with a certain personality. Now this EP announces the release of new full length and the first question is how is aged this sound now that the sound which was called 'Black Industrial' has spread its influence.
After an atmospheric intro with almost imperceptible voices "Ulvens Broder" explodes with a monolithic beat and a orchestral loop and a sort of sample from choral music that makes clear that, even without the novelty effect, their craft is able to raise the bar and exhume a sound at the crossroad between surgical precision and physical impact. "The Father Uncreated" starts uninterruptedly and it's more stratified track where noises are juxtaposed not to fill completely the audio spectrum but to create a menacing atmosphere or underline a precise moment of the track where the distorted voice evokes proclaims something until the final crescendo evokes something that rises from the earth. The B side if a reworking of "Algiz (Konvergence Of Life And Death) from "Nordik battle signs" which shows the evolution of their sound as it removes the sharp noises of the original to create more homogeneous passage from the instrumental part to the vocal line of Tomas Pettersson as the musical elements of drones and noises are developed on the whole track while the original was based on the dialectic between the almost silent part of the vocal and the noises of the music.
An event for fans of industrial music as what it could end as a nostalgic reunion reveals itself as another chapter of a journey which has changed the form of industrial. Seems that "Svartmyrkr" is a candidate for album of the year.

Strafe F.R.: The Bird Was Stolen

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 22 2018
Artist: Strafe F.R.
Title: The Bird Was Stolen
Format: CD + Download
Label: Touch
Strafe F.R.’s second album since returning from a 20-year hiatus is an exercise in contradictions. Truly experimental, it provides us with 14 unique and hard-to-read environments of metallic noises, heavy filters and tape effects, heavily gated guitar and guitar-like noises, pulses and processing- then crashes into them to various degrees with percussive surprises that are sometimes harsh and unpleasant, sometimes quirky bordering on comical. Even the press release skips from talking about vanilla fudge in coconut trees and finding Liszt sleeping inside a piano to the devoured liver of Prometheus. It’s one of those “really don’t know what’s going to happen next” releases, exemplified by the sudden appearance of heavily processed vocal on “Aconite” with a lyric in which the album title is found.

But among the wilful surprises, there’s a rich depth to be found here as well. Though constructed from unorthodox parts, “Prepper’s Home” is a fascinating bit of electronica with a truly emotive undercurrent that suddenly breaks into almost Krupa-esque jazz rhythms in its second half. “Pianosmoke”, built from an experiment in playing bass and guitar sounds through a loudspeaker inside a piano in order to stimulate the resonance of the piano, ends up being a very coherent and melodic work that with the right electronica remixes would have a lot of crossover appeal, while other pieces like “Flare”, though built of similar stock, have a darker layout and a more spontaneous and theatrical flavour. “Violet Sun” is a good example of a sparser approach, in which the processed guitar evokes feelings of some sort of alien road movie, while final track “Towton” throws furthest back towards the band’s 80’s roots with some very analogue, fuzzy tape flavours and Nina Hagen-ish vocal wails, right down to its abrupt halting end.

It’s an unpredictable, fresh-sounding and rich hour-long release which never drops the interest levels, and it’s certainly worthy of attention.

Visions & Phurpa: Monad

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 20 2018
Artist: Visions & Phurpa
Title: Monad
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
This release is a collaboration between Visions, the experimental project of Frederic Arbour, and Phurpa which is one of the most radical and arduous project of these days. The result is an expanded musical spectrum where time has the property to let all musical resonances express their potential to be a sort of trigger for meditation.
The well known low frequencies which characterize the music of Phurpa opens "Ascendance" but the contribution of Vison is audible after a few seconds as their rather minimalistic approach is evidently filtered and juxtaposed as applying color to a black and white musical picture. The dark ambient form of Visions is more prominent in "Fohat" as only Purpha's percussion are clearly audible in the final part adding a sort of religious mood to an overall meditative atmosphere. "Monad" is based on a frequency separation between the two project: Vision has the higher frequencies while Phurpa has the higher one but instead of be a trivial juxtaposition there's a real dialectic between the two musical streams and this is further enhanced in "Reminiscense" which closes this release with an impressive audio spectrum of rare evocativeness.
This release could be seen as an introduction to Phurpa's music as it's a lot easier listening to their music or as the addition of a spiritual element to the processual framework of Visions. However, it's one of the releases of the year for the genre.

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