Music Reviews

Himiko: s/t

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 03 2008
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Artist: Himiko
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: D-Trash records (@)
Rated: *****
Japanese composer/keyboardist Himiko has been living in Alberta, Canada, where she has been making all sorts of crazed music. If you read her biography you'd never imagine what she is capable of, but this is her 6th album, and probably the most extreme of them all, right at home with DTrash records (but if you know the label it should come as no surprise).
Himiko is an electronics-empowered jazz trained piano player who blends her performing skills with high-powered, fast-paced, mind bogging cut ups of sped-up beats, distorted guitars and all sorts of other saturated sources. Little to no trace of jazz is left, unless of course you consider Zornian free-jazz, which I probably is one of Himiko's influences.
It's really quite hard to describe an album where so much happens in so little time and where so many influences and sounds fight for balance and attention. Sensory overload is the name of the game and if you are prepared and trained to take it, you should give Himiko her fair chance to fuck your brain up real good!

Unterm Rad: The Rake's Progress

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 03 2008
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Artist: Unterm Rad
Title: The Rake's Progress
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
Difficult, quite difficult release from the Chicago Heights-based Tympanik Audio label. I know that Experimental-Electronica can take a quite strange course, which seldom follows and satisfies your typically listening experiences. That’s something which fits on this solo-project of Mike Slansky, who stands behind this mysterious project with the German title. Mike is also known with some different other projects like REKT and AURAL and through some contributions for TEXTBEAK. Described with polemic, the music of UNTERM RAD is a sort of minimal and fragmented D’n’B-IDM/Electronica which mostly avoids any straight structures, with the both exceptions "Sick" and "On The Brink". 9 original tracks plus 7 remix contributions by acts like SYMMETRICAL SYNDROME, ATOMATIK 13 (whose member Alex Stilts has helped out with some additional programming...), DREAMS ARE MAPS or TEXTBEAK are featured on here. Personally I miss something which adds "ground", something on which I could use the term "remarkable" in the music of UNTERM RAD. I hear and recognize the unique kind in Mike’s very personal sound, but at least it includes nothing interesting I would be able to remember 2 hours after another useless try to pick up the content of this album.

Roy Montgomery: Inroads

 Posted by Andrea Vercesi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 01 2008
Artist: Roy Montgomery
Title: Inroads
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Rebis (@)
Rated: *****
The amazing Rebis label is back with this double collection of Roy Montgomery's solo works. Now, I assume that everyone knows Roy Montgomery and Rebis but for those who don't, Montgomery is a cult guitarist hailing from New Zeland who played with Dadamah, Hash Jar Temple, Dissolve and The Pin Group (a criminally underrated postpunk act) - surely he's a prime mover of the NZ experimental scene that spawned so many brilliant bands and artists (to name a few : The Dead C, Birchville Cat Motel and Dean Roberts). His solo works are always halfway between avantgarde guitarplay, somehow similar to Loren Mazzacane Connors' "In Twilight" , and feedback/drone rock (he's got a monster split 12" with Flying Saucer Attack on VHF). Rebis is a label hailing from Chicago that deals with unusual drones - and put out some riveting records by My Cat Is An Alien and Jazzfinger among others. This double collection gathers some long unavailable tracks along with some unreleased ones. Covering a timespan of more than ten years (fifteen? more?), the music on this collection falls under several driftings and variations but in every track you can hear the evocative ragas wrung from his haunted nylon strings. Just one warning for those who will approach Montgomery for the first time: he's highly addictive and you'll probably be wanting to hear more and more from this artist. Essential listening.

CLAUDIO PARODI : A Ritual Which is Incomprehensible

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 25 2008
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Title: A Ritual Which is Incomprehensible
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
With his second release on Extreme Claudio Parodi has introduced some consistent changes for what concerns instruments and style even if I find there’s a "trait d’union" linking this one to the previous release. Parodi is a complex and weird musician and I think the interview you can read here on Chaindlk may be of interest if you need a concise introduction, by the way after having approached Alvin Lucier, Parodi’s homage goes to Pauline Oliveros. We have another fragment of Tiziano Milani’s music sampled on this recording, but this time Parodi is really far from the dronical sound of his debut on the australian label, add to this for the first half of this work you have two almost "parallel" Turkish clarinet writing the whole narrative plot. I think in someway the composer has tried to play mimetically adopting some peculiarities of the "old lady" to which this recording is dedicated but at the same time he wanted to avoid losing his own identity and there’s no doubt the result is obtained. As I’ve said at the beginning of the review the instrumental sound is nothing but one of the changes, the whole style of the music bring much more in a contemporary classic territory if compared to the debut album. I’m sure if you appreciated "Horizontal mover" you’ll find some similarities not just related to Milani’s samples but pertinent to the whole atmosphere of the work and to the fact Parodi’s music in both of the recordings brings the mark of stillness. In the middle of the second fragment of "A Ritual" you have a sudden and unexpected break where silence gets heavier than a ten tons hammer and I don’t say that just from a compositional point of view, if you put yourself in the shoes of the listener as I’m sure you will you can easily imagine how much it feeds "apprehension". It’s basically in the third part of this cd and in the coda that abstract electronics grow dying everything in such a nightly tonality I’m sure Nurse With Wound wouldn’t have despised. Strange work... unquiet... the coda alone makes you feel lost in space.

Blanketship: Teen Sounds

 Posted by Mike (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 23 2008
Artist: Blanketship
Title: Teen Sounds
Format: CD
Label: Gigante Sound
Distributor: Gigante Sound
Rated: *****
Teen Sounds is a pretty remarkable album. It's contradictory in many ways. The sounds and songs are often somewhat dissonant but yet very pleasing to the ear. They are quite dark yet also uplifting and enjoyable. Finally, the album is somber but comedic at the same time.
I was thoroughly impressed with the subtlety and complexity of this album from the first listen. The songs are composed by use of sampling, manipulation of tape reels and vinyl records, and also live instrumentation. The sounds are manipulated, distorted, arranged, and mixed in such a way as to make it almost impossible to tell where a sample ends and live instrumentation begins. The term "sound collage" falls short of conveying the sophistication of Teen Sounds, but is probably the most appropriate description.
Teen Sounds is full of memorable and haunting melodies, absolutely bizarre sounds, and distorted samples that you can't quite place. Blanketship, aka Jared Blum knew exactly what he was doing and where he was going with these songs. At no point does the album lose its way. The songs move in a clear direction. Blum's composition and arrangement skills are apparent throughout. Teen Sounds is extremely well crafted, original, and surprisingly accessible.
The mixing, by Blum, serves each song individually and the album as a whole. It's quite dense, with a powerful bottom end, but with clear highs that give the album a spacious sound. There's so much going on in these songs it would have been easy to end up with a muddled mix. But Blum makes excellent use of reverb to give the songs the width and depth required.
I had the pleasure of mastering Teen Sounds, a very unique, experimental, and rewarding album.

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