Music Reviews



J3M5: Point Of Origin

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 17 2019
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Artist: J3M5
Title: Point Of Origin
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
J3M5 is the work of California-based artist James Allen who also types 40wpm (yes, his resume is online). But we’re not here for that, are we? What we are after is his prowess at circuit bending and experimental music. Well, we’re in luck, because this is a wonderful piece that moves along well. “Point of Origin” consists of one track that takes the listener through a bass-heavy composition punctuated with analog bleeps and occasional subdued crashing noises, like a car crash that you hear from a block away. Through the whole thing, you have a bass thud that runs through the whole thing, hitting every other beat like an electronic heartbeat. The whole thing is constantly shifting, adding different elements, and evolving. At times, it becomes a bit more chaotic, like a machine that struggles to maintain balance. Overall, this is a good time and well worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 20 minutes.

Lyke Wake + Praying For Oblivion: Putrefaction + Rebirth

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 17 2019
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Artist: Lyke Wake + Praying For Oblivion (@)
Title: Putrefaction + Rebirth
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I have followed Praying For Oblivion’s work for ten years now, so I was interested to see what this installment would sound like. I was not familiar with Lyke Wake, however. This Italian artist has been putting out music on and off since 1981, including a split with Nightmare Lodge for Minus Habens. So let’s get to the music and see how this collaboration plays out. The disc opens with “Putrefaction,” which begins as a grinding lab of crackling noise with wind noises sweeping throughout. There is a hint of a melody that runs through the track, buried beneath the static, building until it comes to the forefront. It is a nice juxtaposition of pretty and chaotic. This is somewhat reminiscent of Loss’s “symphonic industrial” work. Very well done. “Rebirth” continues on a similar trajectory, with harsh staticy noise and slowly building synth lines, but with a completely different feel. This has a much darker, more ominous tone to it (imagine Aube meets Lycia). You are in a shadowy factory. Some of the hoses are hissing away as they spray noxious chemicals into the air. You are not really sure if you are alone or not. You probably aren’t. This disc demonstrates what I have often said about collaborations. They work best when they become more than the sum of their parts. I have enjoyed what I have heard from Praying For Oblivion and this makes me very interested to hear what Lyke Wake has been up to. This is an incredibly solid release, and well worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 19 minutes.

Chandrama Sarkar: Guilty Nebula Compound

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 17 2019
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Artist: Chandrama Sarkar (@)
Title: Guilty Nebula Compound
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I couldn’t find anything on this artist, but they have released a handful of cassettes and collaborations. This is the first I have heard of this artist, and without any background, we can get right on to the music. Chandrama Sarkar comes out swinging, with a noisy track that is filtered through massive amounts of reverb. Noise blasts alternate with cartoonish voices, as if it was a 33.3 album run on 78. You really can’t understand a word of it, but the tone gives the whole thing a whimsical quality that really makes it work. You come away from the whole thing smiling. The backing sounds grind and pulse continually throughout the track, giving it a sense of continuity, but also keeping it interesting as new elements are added to the mix. Overall, this is pretty solid and the voices keep it lighthearted, which is often lacking in the noise scene. This disc weighs in at around 16 minutes.

Astatine: Global Exposure

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 12 2019
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Artist: Astatine
Title: Global Exposure
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence
Stéphane Recrosio’s solo project Astatine gives us a curiously sketchy release here in “Global Exposure”. It’s twenty tracks of lo-fi ideas and noodlings that feel variously either accidentally or deliberately muted, muffled, experimentally mixed, or just raw. There are guitar pieces with vocals that border on songs, but they seem like insular bedroom demo versions, lacking in confidence or punch, and with awfully recorded vocals at times- but in the context of more consciously ambient works, they feel like they make more sense.

Most of the twenty tracks are short- only a handful top the three minute mark- but when pieces like “Monotron 5” are allowed to breathe, with their dark echoing ambiences and windy tones, the coherences starts shining through. “Etude125”, with its mixture of drone and distant radio signal style noises, is a highlight, as is the varispeed playfulness of prosaically named “Snow Loop #7”.

The mood also jumps here and there quite a lot, with angrier tracks like guitar-hammering “Muzrub” shaking you down and pushing the rather thin lo-fi production approach to its edge. By contrast, despite its endearingly frustrated title, “This Rail Junction Is A Disaster” is practically a guitar ballad. Some grungy pieces like “Decipher The Fall” fall a little flat, but details like unexpected drums in “L’Art De La Defaite” keep the surprises coming throughout.

Rawness and rough edges abound on a release that seems to epitomise the introverted solo experimental guitarist genre, but which absolutely has its strengths. This will strike a chord, quietly, with quite a few listeners, I expect, although others are likely to dismiss it’s thoroughly low-quality sonics as amateurish or ‘the wrong kind’ of lo-fi.

Thomas Brinkmann: Raupenbahn

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 06 2019
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Artist: Thomas Brinkmann
Title: Raupenbahn
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Editions Mego
“Raupenbahn” is a simple yet fascinating idea- twenty-one recordings (or only eleven if you buy the vinyl) of old mechanical industrial looms in action, presented as purist field recordings, but of material so rhythmic and comprising of so many moving elements that it is far from ambient and instead offers up its own form of accidental music.

Three of the recorded looms date from the late 19th century, the other two between 1967 and 1972, so whilst not the earliest examples of industrial rhythmic machinery, the older looms do come from towards the very beginning of what might be thought of as ‘industrial sound’. Many of the recordings clock in between 100bpm to 140bpm making them feel like precursors to (and potentially great rhythm tracks for) modern industrial or electronic music. The thumps and clicks in “Ruti / ód / PL, 1892” feel like the 19th century prototype for a 4/4 kick-clap electro beat, while “Lentz 2 MG” even feels like it ought to have Underworld chords and Karl Hyde lyrics applied directly to it. The double pounding pattern of “Grossenhainer EU lower floor” really does link industrial sound to industrial music.

The stereo effect in “Henry Livesy BO” is an example of the detail and care with which these sounds have been recorded, really filling the sonic space but without pushing it into the realm of an oppressive sound, even though visitors to old industrial museums might be expecting such sounds to be unbearably loud. That being said, certain pieces like the strangely tractor-like “Saurer 400 BO” are certainly noisier than others. Some recordings are relentless and somewhat flat, whereas others encapsulate the machine’s start-up and switch-off processes as well, some of which add neat little bookends.

At 70 minutes, the digital edition is an extensive pack and that’s perhaps too long a time to sustain avid interest in any pack of purely rhythmic sounds- so as a full-length listening experience it may be better in small doses. There are plenty of fascinating individual tracks though, that make this intriguing presentation of old genuinely-industrial rhythms certainly worth dipping into.

Passing mention has to be made of the artwork, of course; presumably there’s some excuse for putting a lesser-clothed woman on the cover. Titillation draws attention, obviously, but it totally misrepresents the sound product, and leaves some potential customers maybe having to explain to their wives or partners that it “isn’t what it looks like”.


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