Music Reviews



Inversion Effect: A Brief History

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 27 2008
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Artist: Inversion Effect
Title: A Brief History
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Artificial Music Machine (@)
Rated: *****
Here’s how the press release that came with the disc defined the album: "Using both traditional and non-traditional instrumentation, they compose introspective soundscapes and lush, moody atmospheres." Evidently, Inversion Effect is a kind of supergroup of Artificial Music Machine artists (like a Pigface of experimental groups). This comes through in the music. At times, the music ranges from cinematic soundscapes ("Cavesong (Planetarium Version)" and "A Wife’s Hope," for example) to slightly noisy ("A Static Transmission," "Textural Interlude") to incidental music designed to heighten tension with clanking metal and sparse, shifting tones ("Puppets Part 1," Faces in the Hall"). The only track that didn’t quite work was "In the Shadow of the Vampire." The synthesized strings sounded cheesy and the piano theme became too repetitive. Even so, this is, overall, an interesting album. According to the website, "In 2005, the band composed an original score for the classic silent film Nosferatu, and performed it live at several theatrical screenings." I can see this band being able to pull this off and do well. If you like dark ambient that seems to tell a story without the need for words, this is one to check out. This disc weighs in at 57 minutes.

Numbers on the Mast: S/T

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 27 2008
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Artist: Numbers on the Mast
Title: S/T
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Artificial Music Machine (@)
Here’s how the press release that came with the disc describes it: "Utilizing an arsenal of sine waves and static, low frequency oscillators, pulsating tones, organic rhythms, subsonic reverberations, disembodied voices and heavily processed field recordings, Numbers on the Mast evoke otherworldly atmospheres and create a truly revelatory listening experience." That’s a lot to live up to; I don’t think that I would call it revelatory. The press release states, "Occult, mystical, and mathematical concepts found recurring expression in the group's work, along with subliminal suggestion and sound frequencies with trance-inducing qualities." Mystical is one of those descriptors that is often thrown around and I must admit that I did not really get that feeling. The music can best be described as noisy experimental. The tracks are all untitled. At times, the music becomes a bit too repetititive. For example, track one opens with a high pitched tone that sounds like something off of Star Trek which goes on for 6 minutes, wearing out its welcome pretty quickly. However, the track eventually settles into pleasant drone interspersed with buzzing, static, and warbling synth. Track 2 also falls into the trap of repetitiveness, with a shaker sound that seems to go on for far too long. The underlying elements are interesting, but it’s a bit to thin and sparse to really keep me engaged. It does eventually get more complex and interesting at about 10 minutes in, but by the time it got to that point it had already lost me. Track 3 is a bit more interesting, with circuit bent analog bleeps, bits of static, and fragments of distorted voice over a layer of shifting synth drone. Track 4 is also good, with pulsing synth washes that crescendo and decrescendo. In this track, they have escaped the trap of repetition to gain continuity. At 5.51, this is the shortest track on the album, which also may contribute to its strength. Most of the tracks try to cram too many ideas into a track, making it seem disjointed. Track 5 is a bit more chaotic, with deep resonating thuds of percussion, water noises, and what sounds like heavily processed wind recordings. Like the track before it, it has achieved continuity without becoming boring, even at over 14 minutes. Track 6 is also short, bringing in the closest thing to a beat in these tracks. Although interesting, it is not as strong as the preceding two tracks. Overall, this is a mixed bag. About a half hour of the disc is uninspiring but the second half is interesting. This disc weighs in at 74 minutes.

JOHN LUTHER ADAMS : Red Arc / Blue Veil

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 26 2008
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Artist: JOHN LUTHER ADAMS (@)
Title: Red Arc / Blue Veil
Format: CD
Label: Cold Blue (@)
Rated: *****
Generally I’m not a fan of piano works probably cause I’ve been listening too many bad or at least insipid piano works, anyhow some of my favorite contemporary music is written for piano, has been conceived in front of it or evolves around the idea of the instrument and that’s also the case of the oddest pair of all: Cage and Feldman. While as I’ve said many piano works tend to bore me to death, when that kind of releases is expressive I happen to get completely absorbed during the listening and John Luther Adams has captured my attention from the very first listening. I can’t say if "Alaska created the music or if the music created Alaska" as Mr. Adams is wondering in the lines of his biography, but be it suggestion or not, there’s probably a small portion of Alaska frozen in the music of this musician. While I’ve put the emphasis on piano, this cd features some other guest appearances of percussion and vibraphone and they’re not secondary at all above all the percussion infact in the economy of the third track percussion become the corpus of the whole composition. There’s a big ambient feel in the music of this composer but differently from other piano composers flirting with ambient music (for example David Cunningham) there’s no trace of keyboards, piano treatment or post-productive treatments of these recordings. Adams’ music is ambient under a really Satiesque perspective and not just due to the instrument, but also for the fact this composer is not anxious to demonstrate anything, the center of this music is just inspiration and like Carver’s writings surplus has been removed from these compositions. At the same time, despite having no thrills, this music has not much of the american minimalists’ influence, sure their shadow is there but nothing more than that (but which American –an not just them- contemporary composer can say he’s immune from that kind of influence?). "Red arc/blue veils" is simple but vibrant, melodic and intense, differently from what you may think of its simplicity this cd is far from wallpaper-music, it goes deep. If the snow of Alaska creates a quiet atmosphere, this music probably is able to re-create Alaska wherever you are.



SEVEN MILE JOURNEY : The Metamorphosis Project

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 26 2008
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Artist: SEVEN MILE JOURNEY (@)
Title: The Metamorphosis Project
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Fonogram-Agency (@)
Rated: *****
There’s no doubt Isis (or I’d rather say Neurosis) and Mogwai have become independent standards there days and I dare you to deny that. This Danish band demonstrates once again this thing makes sense and being really melodic oriented belong to the category of bands following the route of the Scottish heroes. Just Mogwai then? No, they’ve melted also a bunch of other ethereal influences and being from the north of Europe they’ve some reminiscences of that all Nordic taste you can detect in Sigur Ros thought they’ve no vocals differently from the island ethereal masters. Atmospherical evocative post-rock with a strong European accent infact while they’ve same evocative inspiration of bands like Gospeed You Black Emperor, they keep far from that coral/orchestral explosions which are one of the main qualities of the canadians. Soft glacial depressive melodies played really well so if they stick a bit too much to their influences, it’s also true they’re undoubtly developing a good songwriting ability. Like in the case of many of the bands I’ve mentioned during the review this music pays an heavy debt to Morricone’s soundtrack or at least to some of the most evocative soundtrack composers fo the last thirty years. Good recording, good technical skill, some catchy melodies... the only possible remark is that concerning the personality, they just need to develop little bit their language to fully become themselves but over all an ok release.


JACK OR JIVE: Kakugo

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Mar 26 2008
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Artist: JACK OR JIVE
Title: Kakugo
Format: CD
Label: Prikosnovenie (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Four years after "Absurdity" the Japanese duo Jack Or Jive is back with a new work titled KAKUGO. The album takes inspiration from Bushido's "kakugo" concept which tells to think about death differently: Kakugo" does not suggest violence, it tells us to think of death and don't do honor-less acts in everyday life. The album is divided into twelve tracks which during almost one hour of length create tense and melancholic soundscapes made of ambient electronic pads, experimental intuitions and characterized by the presence of the particular voice of Chako. Her voice isn't perfect but it is functional to the creation of the sort of ambience which translate into music people's sorrow. The track I appreciated most is "It can't be reset". A song which recalled me Cocteau Twins atmospheres but here the dreamy atmospheres are turned into nightmares.


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