Music Reviews


 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4850)
Jan 01 2009
Title: Armiarmak
Format: CD
Distributor: Arto Artian
Rated: *****
Basque musician Miguel A. García has chosen the risky path of skeletal, self-generated sounds: a feedback mixer, a couple of microphones capturing the performer's gestures, and a sine oscillator. Over the years, the improv recordings based on no-input gear have varied from exhilarating to utterly disposable, and after listening I can easily put García high in the first group. With recordings like this, suggestion is everything, and "Armiarmak" luckily creates some fertile emotional short-circuit with the listener. The frequencies in the opening "Suge arrosa", for example, eventually structure themselves in grating loops, reminding of string plucking, then the composition boils down to a static unrest, with sparse fog-horn wails. "Acuphenos" is melting ice and mist, rich in bubbling, muddy basses. "Eve" accumulates electrics shocks in a bruitist crescendo, leading to the glorious "side b" of the cd (yep, there's a flipside, apparently), featuring the painfully high frequencies of the title track, and the heap of audio debris, hisses and feedback of "Suge gorria". When, in the final "Itapoa (for Rafael Flores)", the sampled guitar of former Comando Bruno adds a more recognizable musical quality, it has an almost surrealistic effect, lost as it is in García's swarm of electronics.

Blipvert: stop:skronk:explode!

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4847)
Dec 29 2008
Artist: Blipvert (@)
Title: stop:skronk:explode!
Format: CD
Label: D-Trash (@)
Rated: *****
Back in the mid 80es the word was used to describe short but super fast paced high-intensity commercials which caused some viewers' nervous systems to overload (some might remember Max Headroom), but Oakland-based Will Redmond reclaimed the term at the beginning of this century. If that is not a clear enough indication of what you are getting yourself into, the title does say it all! "stop:skronk:explode!" is a ten track disc of crazed pieces made of short interruptions, skronky sounds and quick explosions. Talk about overload, you never get a break here, the blips just keep coming at you, just like D-Trash likes it. At times it sounds like a colorful and busy video arcade going insane or about to implode, other times it sounds like a bunch of people auditioning sounds from different sample libraries at the same time and with no apparent structure... In the most structured of cases an irreverent and cut up breakbeat glues it all together. There a tiny number of exceptions to the fury, but you'll have to patiently wait until at least half way through the disc for some resemblance of peacefulness (track 5 a soothing but still somewhat restless and disquieting ambient/lounge track and track 10 is a surprisingly relaxing and entrancing beat-less atmospheric piece that stands in net contrast with everything that just happened before it - think of it as the calm after the storm). It should be obvious that, if you are looking for consistency, you ought to look somewhere else, but if you do like to be startled with sensory overload look no further!!!
Will is known for his openness to experimentation. He lived in NYC and was part of the vibrant downtown music scene for a while. Once a member of NY-based avant-rock group PAK with Ron Anderson, he has collaborated with Elliott Sharp, Time of Orchids, Mambo Matins, Samsara, Muffinhead, DJ Squid etc). Will is one of those people that most Academics would conservatively dismiss as a knucklehead with a computer and too much time on his hands. Yet he really is a progressive Academic himself (NY and SF has a bunch of those, like the great Fred Frith for example) with two Masters degrees in teaching and music compositions and with works featured in places such as Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, NYU, Brooklyn Conservatory and so on and so forth. Whether you are impressed by that or not, is up to you, just give this a listen and decide for yourself.

LOVELY LITTLE GIRLS: Glamorous Piles & Puffy Saddlebags

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4837)
Dec 26 2008
Title: Glamorous Piles & Puffy Saddlebags
Format: CD
Label: Apop
Rated: *****
Apop seems to have become the refugium peccatorum for all the no-wave orphans or those who missed the ephemeral glory of Skin Graft. Heaven knows where all these mutants (Skarkrau Radio, Duchesses) come from, somebody must have thrown LSD in waterpipes for real. Now, this octet is SLIGHTLY more controlled than its label mates, but we're still in a highly demented territory. Six tracks in less than 20 minutes of cubist mock-rock which reminds of Beefheart here and there, but with a deranged vocalist in an exalted Jello Biafra mood. What makes Lovely Little Girls quite unique is the care for complex arrangements (layered vocals, refrains, etc.), creating quirky prog-no wave hybrids with even some Eastern influence. "Wretched Substitute" (great title!!) and "Lady Shoes Remain Attached" are impressive psychodramas of melodic detours and anguished explosions, full of theatrical uneasiness. The perfect visual counterpart is offered by vocalist Gregory Jacobsen's paintings and drawings, a tormented underworld mixing "Alice in Wonderland", Dix, Wolverton and various sexual disturbance case studies (check and

ALFREDO COSTA MONTEIRO: Anatomy of Inner Place

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4836)
Dec 26 2008
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Title: Anatomy of Inner Place
Format: CD
Label: Monotype
Rated: *****
Four untitled tracks and a sober grey on black layout, and one is lead to think of Francisco López... and the thought wouldn't be entirely out of place. Renowned improviser Costa Monteiro (Cremaster, I Treni Inerti, etc.) explores the hidden sonic world of household objects, with sombre macroscopies made of arranged but untreated field recordings. With López, he shares a similar fascination for volume dynamics and juxtapositions, which is present in all of the tracks: low hums (air passing through pipes? A fridge motor?) are streaked, here and there, by piercing noises and feedback, eventually dissolving in deep drones themselves (track 4). While experiments of this kind could well leave the listener detached and eventually bored, Costa Monteiro apparently manages to raise magnetic storms and tectonic shifts from the most common and harmless objects surrounding us: home is where the hurt is.

June 11: "Matter is Alive"

 Posted by Nuno Loureiro   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4835)
Dec 25 2008
Artist: June 11 (@)
Title: "Matter is Alive"
Format: CD
Label: EE Tapes (@)
Rated: *****
Coincidences do not exist, so it’s said. This consideration can certainly be applied to "Matter is Alive", the latest work by June 11, released on EE Tapes, both from Belgium.
When an album opens with a cover of Eno/Roedelius/Moebius’ "By this River" and, later, reveals an homage to Harold Budd ("Harold Budd (for Harold Budd) – can it be clearer?), it’s expectable to obtain a collection of soft, almost chill-out compositions, where melody, experimentation, (acoustic and analogue electronic) instrumentation and vocalisation meet (not collide) in a sound film that could easily be placed in 1980s Brussels. That’s what happens here (although June 11 comes from Gent – a minor detail).
In its different dimensions, "Matter is Alive" – produced between and 2006 and 2008 – is a homogeneous recording, full of quality and intention, guarantied by June 11’s numerous elements/collaborators.
It is a truly beautiful CD, that, in spite of its "old-fashioned" sonority (which places it away from the "state of the art" or the latest trends), brings back old and friendly ghosts. A must have item.

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