Music Reviews



Benjamin Finger / James Plotkin / Mia Zabelka: Pleasure-Voltage

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 03 2019
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Artist: Benjamin Finger / James Plotkin / Mia Zabelka (@)
Title: Pleasure-Voltage
Format: 12"
Label: Karlrecords (@)
Rated: *****
This release is the result of the collaboration between Benjamin Finger, whose "Into Light" was favorably reviewed a couple of months ago, James Plotkin, mostly known as a former member of Khanate, and Mia Zabelka, whose work in sound art is probably as important as unknown to the masses. "Pleasure-Voltage" is not a release based on a rather complex premise but it's simply, so to speak, a juxtaposition between the different musical language of the artist involved: ambient, industrial and sound art.
The A side is occupied by "Hostile Structures" which starts with a suspended atmosphere made out of the wide chords of guitar, the short notes of the violin and the piano using reverb to fill the sonic spectrum, then the second part features a dryer sound as the elements are in a quieter background while the third is almost ethereal approaching drone and the final part makes use of noises to create a precarious equilibrium between psychedelia, drone and EAI.
The B side is instead occupied by "Kaleidoscopic Nerves" which has a more linear structure based on reverberated tones and samples to obtain an equilibrium between a noisy background and a droning foreground, a stop and quiet notes of piano marks the beginning of the second part of the track that is a journey from a rain of notes to a wide drone horizon.
This is an impressive release created with already known elements and a widely used framework, but the quality of writing and the crafting of sound is of so high profile that could even give the impression to be innovative. It's really a work of art.

Klās’tĭk: Night's Highest Noon

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 02 2019
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Artist: Klās’tĭk
Title: Night's Highest Noon
Format: CD
Label: KrysaliSound (@)
Rated: *****
It's really difficult to sound original without falling in the basin of cliches or already heard or in the dangerous pools of stylistical nonsense, where the stable of sharks of revieweres angrily surf. This duo, named in a way whose pronunciation is pretty obscure to me, consisting of Berlin-based Andrea Koch (giving voice and a set of electronic devices and FXs) and Warszaw-based Masaya Hijikata (hitting acoustic drums on this record), invites joining to a very stimulating sonic journey, during which they overlap more or less modified vocal modulations (and sparse singing), jazzy drumming, metamorphic electronic entities. Complying with the obsession of labeling styles, I could consider their music a sort of ambient-jazz, a label that could be somehow confusing. Complying with the other obsession (sometimes necessary to render an idea of what's going to reach your aural nerves, to be honest) of searching for some vague references, the task becomes harder to be fully fulfilled. Some puzzling rhythmical patterns, that these nice guys let collide with computational blurs as in a gargling of a prolonged mouthwash (like the one occurring over the title-track "Night's Highest Noon") or the way by which they juxtapose the same vocal layers to saturate the sound in a sort of spooky transmissions (really amazing the one matched to a drum-driven crescendo on "Commuters"), vaguely resembles some experiments by some Japanese avantagarde musicians of the first years of current millenium (such as Bisk or Yoshihiro Hanno). Similarly, some quiet moments over the album could resemble some ambient classics by Steve Roach or Brian Eno and other ones get closer to holy music, but speaking in general what this bipolar entity assembled over three years of recordings (between 2014 and 2016) is significantly original and interesting. Mixing in their own words “from one side Japanese martial arts, Butoh dance and quantum physics time mapping drumming; from the other one choir music, artificial philosophy and disorienting computer sampling”, the definition of their bipolar sound could be easily grabbed by skipping the tracks till track 6 to be listened before track 7, a significant sequence between the blissful standstill of "Delle Marianne" and the chaotic futuristic storm of "Regina Coel". It's pretty rare a debut album pleased my demanding ears like this one did.

Felipe Araya: Punata

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 28 2019
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Artist: Felipe Araya (@)
Title: Punata
Format: Tape
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
We start off with “Punata,” a 26-minute track that, according to the liner notes, was recorded to mobile phone in Bolivia. From the very beginning, there is a rawness to the piece, as you hear conversations taking place in the street, and snippets of music. Suddenly, there is hardly any sound, with bits of wind noise the only clue that the tape has not stopped. There are sparse sounds of the cajon, Araya’s signature instrument, and other bits of noise. Everything is quiet, until a parade blasts through your speakers. The parade ends, to be replaced by quiet scraping and clinking metal and a slight rumble. One can view this as the juxtaposition of quiet moments of reflection and experimentation with the vibrant noise of the street. Back and forth, never staying with one side for very long. Turning over the tape, we are greeted with a peaceful flute followed by low beating on the cajon and clinking metal. Gone are the field recordings and loops. For a while, it has the feel of incidental music, but as the track goes on, it is dominated more and more by the cajon, with a heavy bass presence. This becomes increasingly animated as Araya scrapes and vigorously pounds on the cajon. With both tracks there is a good use of quiet passages to draw attention to the rest of the composition. If you enjoy field recordings, Punata will be up your alley, and percussion aficionados will enjoy a track featuring an instrument that is not often seen in experimental music.

L. Eugene Methe and Megan Siebe: Revisited, Revisited, ‎Revisited

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 28 2019
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Artist: L. Eugene Methe and Megan Siebe
Title: Revisited, Revisited, ‎Revisited
Format: Tape
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
There is no track listing, and the entire album consists of variations on “Brideshead Revisited (main theme)” by Geoffrey Burgon. OK. I was unfamiliar with Methe, Siebe, and Burgon’s work, so let’s just get right into this. This is pretty string-based music that avoids becoming typical orchestral works by tweaking the compositions ever so slightly. A bit of reverb here, some echo there, gives this a dreamlike quality. The composition ends, and the rest of the side of the tape is mastered so low that you have to crank up the sound to even hear anything. Maybe this is by design, but the liner notes provide no information and I kept worrying that there would suddenly be a blast of sound that would wake my neighbors and blow my speakers. Perhaps it’s just bleed through from the other side. Speaking of the other side, we have more of the dreamlike, processed strings, but this time with considerably more processing. Where Side A could be seen as playing the song straight, Side B is where they get a bit more experimental. Even so, the devotion to one specific theme becomes somewhat repetitive over time. It was pleasant enough, but didn’t really push the envelope enough for my tastes.

Noisepoetnobody: Fissure

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 28 2019
cover
Artist: Noisepoetnobody
Title: Fissure
Format: Tape
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed Noisepoetnobody’s work with Vance Galloway, titled “Uranium 238,” which I enjoyed for its “subdued experimentalism,” so I was interested to see how this would be different from that collaboration. In the liner notes, we see the following credits:

Eveline Müller: bowls, bows, blades, metal objects.
Noisepoetnobody: springs, strings, boards, e-bow, looper.

This gives some sense of what we are in for, and the music does not disappoint. This consists of two tracks, one per side, titled “Part 1” and “Part 2.” On first glance, “Part 1” seems somewhat chaotic, but as you continue to listen to the compositions, one can begin to see the structure of the tracks coming together. Crashing noise, bits of pounding percussion, gonglike bowls, and just a touch of feedback thrown into the heavily processed sounds make for an interesting listen. But this is not just something that you can put on and then read. Their use of silence and quiet passages continually pull you back in, demanding your attention. “Part 2” opens much more aggressively, leaving you to think that this is going to be a relentless wall of noise, but then suddenly pulls back. The rest proceeds much like Part 1, with a lot of clanging and more resonating of the singing bowls. Overall, this was a good time and would appeal to people who like it noisy, but not to the point of harsh noise.


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