Music Reviews



Thick Wisps: (self-titled)

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 17 2008
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Artist: Thick Wisps (@)
Title: (self-titled)
Format: CD
Rated: *****
Earnest cut-up noise collage artistes Thick Wisps' debut CD has a lot going for it in terms of texture and stylistic range, although a bit undefined around the edges as to both composition and performance. The music itself is an all-instrumental, arrhythmic atonal wash of static drones, hums, random clicks and pops, and arcs of flanger and phaser sweeps that bespeak the infrastructural howls and rumblings of the innards of New York, and particularly Brooklyn, where this duo, made up of Giancarlo Bracchi and Juan Matos, is based.

The first and last of the seven tracks, the long "Organ Acumulator" [sic] and "Deluvio," were recorded "live" in-studio, without editing, which is a virtue any way you slice it in this ProTooled day and age. Overall a good first effort not yet up to the kind of gritty, witty electronic nihilism that the Wisps' New York predecessors Suicide were first known for, but then again why should everyone be required to even keep a beat (or have a "singer") in the first place? Put this on to hear the roar of a thousand long-gone Manhattan basement furnaces, or feel the inter-borough subway trains cut across your mind's eye.

Suspicion Breeds Confidence: The Fauna and Flora of the Vatican City

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 17 2008
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Artist: Suspicion Breeds Confidence (@)
Title: The Fauna and Flora of the Vatican City
Format: CD
Label: Gruenrekorder (@)
Rated: *****
First, a bit of self-disclosure. I have been familiar with Suspicion Breeds Confidence since he sent me a track for the Zaftig Research Christmas Compilation "Let it Snow!" back in 1999. I have followed his project ever since. Thus, I came at this disc with some anticipation and Schmitt does not disappoint. First, the obligatory comparisons. The card that came with the disc compares Suspicion Breeds Confidence to "Aphex Twin meets Mouse on Mars." The main ones that come to my mind are a more electronic version of Zoviet France’s "Loh Land," Rothkamm’s "Astronaut of Inner Space," and some of Coil’s older glitchier work.

This is a glitch-tastic album. Cut up field recordings meld with analogue bleeps and slightly broken beats with everything layered on top of a barely perceptible wash of drone. But this is not simply cut up music along the lines of Hafler Trio’s "Bang! An Open Letter." Rather, this disc seems intricately crafted and carefully constructed to get just the right bit in the right place like a sonic jigsaw puzzle. Plus, you have to love song titles like "Her Delicacy Shivered At The Absent Summer," "While Admiring The Quality Of Other People’s Lives They Probably Do Not Deserve," and "A Million Birds Should Know Something About Modesty." Of course, like most experimental albums, the song titles seem to have little to do with the content of the track itself.

This disc has a definite sense of unity. The only track that didn’t really work for me was "El Hipopótamo Crujiente." It became a bit too repetitive in tone, seeming to work mainly as an exercise in rhythm. Perhaps the standout track for me is "Willkommen Im Schachclub Plankton 2 (Kleiderordnung)" with its distorted voices and overall weirdness that sounds like circuit bending in your dreams.

If you have ever thought that there needs to be an experimental disc for beginners, this may be exactly what you are looking for. This is one of the more accessible experimental discs that I have heard in a while. That does not mean that it lacks in complexity, only that it is a bit less in your face in its weirdness. This disc weighs in at 75 minutes and is limited to 500 copies.

VV.AA.: The Best Of Polish Smooth Jazz... Ever!

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 17 2008
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: The Best Of Polish Smooth Jazz... Ever!
Format: CD
Label: Recycling Records (@)
Rated: *****
Recycling Records with THE BEST OF POLISH SMOOTH JAZZ... EVER! succeed into making a fresh hoax which actually doesn't sound like a joke. Presented as the best of Polish music (you can see different bands and singers on the CD cover) the album contains experimental electronic cut-ups of Polish music performed by unknown people. This sort of operation remember me what Negativland did (do you remember the sue they received by U2 for using one of their songs?): the original tunes are raped, reduced to the bone and like a phoenix they are able to born to a new life. Probably a better one judging by the photos of the original performers. Musically the tracks have a structure and a sense, for sure they do sound experimental but not too much compared to id.m. music. Maybe they are more accessible and fresh compared to some i.d.m. release. Loops and samples are creatively irreverent but they do sound great! If you want to try it, the album is also available as free download directly from the label's website thanks to their choice to embrace the Creative Commons rights. Unfortunately you won't be able to see the video of the AjB.M. track (which is only available on its integrity there) which has been created following the same technique used for the tracks: cut-ups of the video of the original song re-worked with porn inserts of what I think could be a "stolen video" of the female singer of the original band.

DRURY, CIROTTEAU, MATTHEWS : Bszent Hun

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 13 2008
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Artist: DRURY, CIROTTEAU, MATTHEWS (@)
Title: Bszent Hun
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
This trio's language is that spoken by many actual electro-acoustic musicians, they use it really well without leaving every possible "verbal" solution unexplored. Weapons this time are floor tom, objects, trumpet, electronics and yes, as you could have guessed yourself it's really abstract, above all if you consider also the trumpet is not involved in the emission of what you usually may consider a "normal" note, but this' not a peculiarity of this work since it's the lowest common denominator of the most of the releases of the genre. This cd starts really softly and grows (in every sense) with the passing of tracks, and it grows for good infact the fourteen minutes circa of Kyeur see the trio involved in taming what becomes one of the most expressive combination of Bszent Hun. Talking about a general change of dynamics of the release is pertinent if we focus on the whole central part, by the way don 't consider it just a dynamic progression for it would be a big mistake, infact they've been smart to put together a tracklist where they quiet down the atmosphere right when you need it. In general we can say the unvoiced playing of the first half of the cd is left for an electro-acoustic selection of jams that have a louder/stronger voice. In general the selection of sounds the play is quite sharp and low frequencies are less present but don't expect it to be a collection of sharp sounds as if Pan Sonic were involved into electro-acoustic impros.

Troum: Sen

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 10 2008
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Artist: Troum (@)
Title: Sen
Format: 12"
Label: Equation records (@)
Rated: *****
This packaging is so unique, we don't even have a proper category to file it under, so let me start with that: "Sen" comes in three different 2xLP versions, a picture disc set, a 180g virgin tan vinyl with a white record and a black halo and a clear vinyl with sepia haze only available via Equation records or the band. These amazing versions are designed by Eye.Lyft (eyelyft.com) and can/must be seen in more detail at http://www.chronoglide.com/Equation_mc13.html. I am in possession of the first, double LP picture disc set with velcro-fastened semi-circular gatefold PVC sleeve with a heavy-gauge 7" PVC wallet fastened inside and containing three 7" circular 2-sided satin-finish heavy-paper inserts and a sticker, sealed with a hand-numbered oval sepia sticker! Obviously the care that went into this is incredible. Needles to say it is visually absolutely stunning and unique! I haven't seen anything like it in years (Ant Zen and the vinyl-only Drone records used to make beautiful stuff like this, but not anymore... too expensive in this iPod era where the tangible has lost its value). Interestingly I also just noticed that Troum's email address ends in dronerecords.com, so there must be some connection I am not aware of... maybe they even are the founders of Drone records, which would explain the experience in graphically astonishing packaging (but probably not the choice of releasing it on a different label).
But let's talk about the music: Troum (which is an ancient german translation of the word "dream") is an ambient/experimental duo from Bremen, Germany, who also happens to be (previously) known as Maeror Tri. "Sen" is their second album, a re-mastered re-release of what originally saw the light as Staalplaat's 600 copies limited edition Mor Aux Vaches series (of which we have reviewed countless CDs in the past) featuring just one very long piece. For the purpose of this release that one long piece (which had been recorded in the VPRO studios at the end of 1999 in one take, with no overdubs) had to be split into four pieces (the four sides of the two vinyls). Musically completely engulfing and rapturing, these drones layer upon each other as they originate from multiple sources (guitars, bells, voices and of course synths) and build up to transcend to a more grand, lethargic and entrancing state by way of really long and slowly decaying reverbs and sub-woofer friendly frequencies and harmonics. The Cold Meat Industry-like post-industrial infusion blurs the lines between dark-ambient and experimental and expand into a hollow, somber and archaic, almost epic, magmatic universe of rumbling drones.
"Sen"'s four parts remind us of the original musical meaning of the word "drone" and re-define that for us with a contemporary clarity that sadly only a record of the past seems to be able to provide. Almost 10 years later this record still sounds timeless and gorgeous.


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