Music Reviews



Stephan Mathieu & Janek Schaefer: Hidden Name

 Posted by Andrea Vercesi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 15 2006
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Artist: Stephan Mathieu & Janek Schaefer
Title: Hidden Name
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
After meeting at the MUTEK Festival in 2002, sharing the bills on various festivals all over the world and a previous collaborative effort in 2003 along with Radbound Mens and Timeblind ("Quality Hotel" out on the Mutek label), Stephan Mathieu and Janeck Schaefer decided to spend some days together in the home of a classical composer in the English countryside and there they recorded a huge amount of material that they later reprocessed and assembled in York Music Research Center. Basically Mathieu plays all the instruments and Schaefer does all the field recordings and in most of the tracks you can recognize both artist's distinctive trademarks but sometimes the symbiosis works so well and results in a new, unorthodox glitch-psychedelia. The highlight here is the sixth track called "Quartet for Flute, Piano and Cello", where you can hear pops and crackles of a worn-out vinyl over a complex sound patchwork somehow resembling Ehlers' "Plays" series. Due to its amazing sound quality it surely sounds better through loudspeakers rather than headphones. Recommended.

RODRIGUES/RODRIGUES/MARSHALL/SANTOS/OLIVEIRA: Kinetics

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 06 2006
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Artist: RODRIGUES/RODRIGUES/MARSHALL/SANTOS/OLIVEIRA
Title: Kinetics
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources
Rated: *****
Besides being responsible for the hyper-prolific label Creative Sources, Lisbon improviser Ernesto Rodrigues sometimes pops up in its catalogue with recordings of his own. Here he plays violin and viola together with Guilherme Rodrigues (cello, pocket trumpet), Oren Marshall (tuba), José Oliveira (percussion) and Carlos Santos (electronics, and author of the particularly beautiful layout). Let's say that these 8 untitled tracks, recorded in Lisbon in 2004, are some of the best collective albums in the CS catalogue, in my humble opinion, "Kinetics" being a perfect title for such an animated performance. I will just mention the first track, with its tight interplay of jerks and overlaps, breath overflowing and deep rumblings; or the second one, with whispered vocals, soft noises and electronic hisses; or the chaos running amok in track four. Very nice record throughout.

CHIESA/GUIONNET/PETIT/LA CASA: Belvedere

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 06 2006
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Artist: CHIESA/GUIONNET/PETIT/LA CASA
Title: Belvedere
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources
Rated: *****
"Belvedere" is one of those site-specific improvised records that you tend to expect from soundmakers like Guionnet or La Casa, but it's surely quite different from the Afflux project. Recorded in 2003 in Villa Adriana, home of the late René Quinon, to whom the disc is dedicated, it features Guionnet at alto saxophone, Petit at guitar, David Chiesa at double bass and La Casa at microphones and mixing desk. The latter's "sound catching" activity was particularly important, as various mics were placed both inside and outside the house, to transform it, to quote Guionnet's liner notes, into "a sort of abstract and tentacle-like belvedere plunged into the acoustic space of the place". The performance is portrayed in this single 71-minute track. What does it sound like? Guionnet utters some painful high-end squeals throughout, while both the guitar and the double-bass opt for more minimal and sparse gestures, or subdued drones, and outdoor bird recordings are merged into the whole. I have listened to this record a few times with the highest possible attention, and I honestly find it very irritating. Sometimes in a constructive sense, sometimes not. It is often mysterious and even intimidating, but also has dead weight moments when it just sounds dull and repetitive. It is obviously a matter of subjective perception [duh!], but I think that 71 minutes of this are just too much; what is puzzling and mesmerizing in the first minutes gets boring when repeated for half an hour or so. At the same time, many passages are excellent. After several listenings, this still leaves me confused and dissatisfied.

ROLLERBALL : s/t

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 05 2006
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Artist: ROLLERBALL (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Wallace (@)
Rated: *****
After several full-length, some 7"es and many tours, Rollerball are back in town with a new self-titled cd on Wallace. Let's cut it short by saying I've just this and another record titled "Behind the barber" but I must admit I love them, honestly I think they're one of the most underrated bands of the last decade. This digi-pack features another extravagant and delicious cocktail of heterogeneous influences with which this band from Portland creates little gems. Acid folk, poppy-psychedelia, free sketches drew with an incredible intensity and "phatos" is what makes the difference in most of their songs. The singing is top notch as always, above all those of Mae Starr (the vocalist in most of the tracks). Funny, depressed, dreamy, melancholic and if it was an "all you can eat" I'd comment "the banquet is damn tasty and rich". The production is rough here and there, but really good (I can't say if a more refined mix and post-production would have improved the release or not) but it's hard to find the Achilles’ heal of this collection of songs. Freaky extravaganza with a "pop-stimmung" and for what it worths, I've played it in the car and my girlfriend was not even complaining as she usually do. Some may think to a more organized and "songwritten" answer to Jackie O' Motherfucker or Alexander Tucker but this music is less country-folk and deals more with varied influence than with the root of American tradition. Recommended.

Marvin Ayres: Cycles - 12 Sketches For Recycling Piano Harmonics

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 03 2006
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Artist: Marvin Ayres (@)
Title: Cycles - 12 Sketches For Recycling Piano Harmonics
Format: CD
Label: Burning Shed (@)
Rated: *****
The British Ambient/Avantgarde artist Marvin Ayres has released another experimental CD and the title gives you already an idea on what he has worked this time. For this release he has placed two grand pianos in different locations with different rooms, hall and reverberation effects. One piano got immaculately tuned in a big orchestral studio, the other was out of tune in an empty room. He has done several experiments with the key sounds, speed, kind and conditions and has recorded only the harmonics of the chords. The recordings of both pianos got merged and reassembled. Marvin could so "win" several resonant overtones and subtle quartertones – a real psycho acoustic experiment which he couldn’t ever expected has happened. So the here presented sound collages are hardly to understand as real compositions, this is a real acoustic experiment after a lot of work and effort. Nobody – including Marvin – could ever expect how this experiment would have been sounded before – so here is the result of Marvin’s very own world of static noise collages. A real companion to his "Scape" CD.


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