Music Reviews

eRikm: Variations opportunistes

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 27 2007
Artist: eRikm
Title: Variations opportunistes
Format: CD EP
Label: Ronda
Rated: *****
Most readers probably know French artist eRikm for his solo- and ensemble- turntablism, but there's more to that and this cd shows how he's moving to new unexplored territories. "Variations opportunistes" is about scratching and recycling too, but this time the sources are digital, namely treated cd skips. You know the deal, right? The chug-chug-chug coming from scuffed, dirty or damaged disc surfaces. Don't expect any bruitisme à la Disc, though. eRikm starts from those short loops and, via electronic synthesis and various interventions on speed, amplitude, etc., creates ecstatic minimal pieces. The opening track, "Corrélation I", almost sounds like an answer for skipping cds to Terry Riley's or Steve Reich's seminal 70's works; "Corrélation II" is even more ethereal, burying the glitches under immense expanding drones. As the title suggests, the last track, "Générescence - Soustractive", is the quietest piece, reducing the sound matter to a gust of shortwave-thin frequencies, and adding a melancholic feel to an otherwise enthusiastic atmosphere.

Z'EV: Forwaard

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 27 2007
Artist: Z'EV
Title: Forwaard
Format: CD
Label: Korm Plastics
Rated: *****
More excellent Z'EV stuff, this time re-elaborating field recordings by our beloved Frans de Waard (Beequeen, Kapotte Muziek, Shifts, Freiband, etc.). As with the collaboration with López, the keywords here are density and complexity - it's a 6-track, 40-minute work but, as somebody has noticed before, it seems to last much longer (in a positive sense). I wonder if Z'EV has exclusively used de Waard's recordings or has added sounds of his own (my bet), for example in the fourth track, where the deep resonating drone and metallic scrapings seem typically his. But don't think this is a predictable release in any way: Z'EV surely knows how to blend different bits & pieces in organic and unique concrete music pieces. The whole "Forwaard" has a kind of meditative vibe, despite the noisy nature of many input sources; listen for example to the cyclic drones of the first track, or the dripping water and slow swirls of the following one. Ritual music without any fake-ethnic naiveté. Limited to a mere 300 copies, so get it now or cry later.

Z'EV/FRANCISCO LÓPEZ: Buzzin' Fly / Dormant Spores

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 27 2007
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Title: Buzzin' Fly / Dormant Spores
Format: CD
Label: Lapilli/Black Rose
Rated: *****
Third release from Lapilli, this time co-funded by Black Rose (run by ex-Contrastate S. R. Meixner), and as with the previous ones (a López 3" and Menche's "Drunk Gods") it's a total masterpiece. As time goes by I'm obviously becoming more picky with drone/electroacoustic releases but this one is exhilarating, and absolutely flawless. As expected, the disc is the result of a sound swapping which took place between 2003 and 2004, and well reflects what a collaboration of this kind should be: while creating a work which perfectly fits their trademark style, both artists have been able to blend their partner's sounds into their own textures. Z'EV offers a 32-minute composition divided into 5 movements, and dedicated to good old Tim Buckley, which could sound odd but not totally out of place: this is surely psychedelia in its own terms. The 5 tracks are intense and perfectly crafted examples of the unique style Z'EV has developed through the years (check out the recent re-release of "Production and Decay of Spacial Relations", and see how it was actually mature right from the start); metallic sounds, both percussive and droning, play a prominent role, but there are also less recognizable frequencies - shortwaves (Duncan came to my mind now and then)? López's field recordings? It's hard to tell, but the result is menacing. López opts for a more subdued approach, at least in the beginning of his 40-minute piece, which doesn't mean you won't find his usual crescendos of saturated frequencies, along with piercing metallic sounds (at times falling like hail) and slabs of metallic loops, courtesy of his partner's archive I guess. "Dormant Spores" finds the Spanish soundmaker at his best, showing the compositional maturity and complexity of all of his recent output. I could go on raving about this disc for pages and pages, but do yourself a favour and just get one.

Deadburger: C'e' ancora Vita su Marte

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 26 2007
Artist: Deadburger (@)
Title: C'e' ancora Vita su Marte
Format: CD
Label: Goodfellas (@)
Rated: *****
Deadburger is one of the smartest and most interesting bands to come from Italy's underground scene of envelope-pushing avantgarde-electro-rock bands. Their sound is eclectic and mature and their lyrics are intelligent and thought-provoking. In fact Deadburger walks the fine line between definitely underground and potentially mainstream (since bands such as C.S.I., R.S.U., Subsonica have broken through mainstream media before) and add fruition-friendly meaningful words and mysterious poetry into the mix (like C.S.I. or Battiato have done). However if Deadburger were a product of the States, you know they'd be a recurring name on the bill of the ex-Tonic in NYC (r.i.p.) or of similar avantgarde-downtown-music joints.
I had heard a pre-release version of this record some time ago. The final version of "C'e' ancora Vita su Marte" (which is italian for "There's still Life on Mars") comes with a beautiful super-glossy art work and thick booklet with lyrics to complement the 22 tracks. The album also features a number of collaboration with prominent local instrumentalist which add that touch of collaborative magic.
I think this record has a lot of great songs and some fillers (but with 22 between songs and interludes it couldn't be otherwise) and could have maybe be more direct and immediate with a shorter and more selective track list.
However, the average quality of the songwriting is still really high and makes for a completely enjoyable record. I strongly urge anyone interested in original music to give this album a serious listen. If you happen to understand Italian you really have not excuse not to, but in either case you should!


 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 24 2007
Title: oxide
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Differently from some recent electroacoustic releases like Tripwire where you’ve the "physical" line up (drums, bass and sax) but the sound is completely embroided around silence, "Oxide" though being far from loudness is not silent all. Instead I’m tented to say there’s a bit of "rock" above if considered the context of this well known portuguese label and it has not to do with the music or with the guitar, but with the alchemy of the duo. A violin and a guitar that quite often get caught up in an intense "lovers’ quarrel" and I used the term lovers for even when Tammen and Irmer are going one against the other, you perceive they "share a mutual improvisational feeling". The violin sound is dry and natural while the guitarist most of the times filters the instrument through pedals and/or a computer, beside obtaining some interesting results, this altered guitar sound plus violin also represents the characteristical sound of these musicians. At some points it all was like listening some cold experimental electronic music and if you add the pitch sometimes got altered, you get the picture perfectly. Despite being a free/electroacoustic recording, as I’ve said I’ve found there’s a "rock" element in it all, be it the fact they’re really dynamic and noisy as some rock bands, or maybe it’s just they’re from the States and they’ve it in their DNA who knows. The tracks are mostly based on dissonance, but it all sounds almost organized, I think it has to do with the fact their work is synergic that means even when the scenario gets chaotic there’s some sort of interaction. While many releases on the label floats toward contemporary classic music, this’ more free oriented and "alternative-experimental" for the way in which they’ve combined filters, instruments and for the way they play. The last probably is the most interesting aspect and the main thing on which the duo has to evolve/work for the next future to avoid repetitions which could be behind the corner if they’ll keep concentrating exclusively on sound (not they did it on this release, it’s just a possible danger). But that’s the future, time is now and they did a good job so far.

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