Music Reviews



VITOR JOAQUIM : Flow

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 30 2006
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Artist: VITOR JOAQUIM
Title: Flow
Format: CD
Label: Cr˛nica (@)
Rated: *****
Cronica is back with a couple of releases, a better exposure and the usual good quality of their outputs just to say that if you haven't noticed that, Portugal like Spain is an epicentre for what concerns electronic music nowadays. As you can see from their back catalogue Cronica is not one of those label into "easy electronic" at every coast, but more 360° oriented and this cd is the proof of it all. Vitor Joaquim pushes on the pedal of experimental/abstract electronic music and the result is probably closer to sound art than to ordinary electronic recording. Cold inexpressive music right from the first intentions, Joaquim put every single layer trying to define gradually every chapter. A profusion of resonators, high frequencies and glitchy beats and synthesized vocals (be it a vocoder or a laptop) but the record is really tight and compact sound wise. "Flow" comes out from that experimental electronic music that floats nowhere in the middle of contemporary electronic research post Stockhausen and isolationism a-la late eighties early nineties. Probably it's just me but the closest reference that came to my mind was Main above all when the band post-Loop was completely lost in abstraction. This cd feature an interesting clip with which the music of Joaquim gets along really well, it’s a soft and simple computer work but it has a strange manga atmosphere while the global watching is stoning.

Motoko Shimizu: Attack of the 5-foot Woman

 Posted by Adhab Al-Farhan   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 29 2006
Artist: Motoko Shimizu
Title: Attack of the 5-foot Woman
Format: CD
Label: Quodlibet Recordings
Wow. This is really hilarious. LOL. I don't really know what the purpose of this release is all about. This is experimental music so go figure. The vocals do sound like Yoko Ono at times. Other than that this is just sounds, and mostly percussion sounds. The artist has quite an impressive resume and achievements. Do your own research about it. This is not some kid wanking around with sounds. This is actually an artist. This disc offers 1 track that is close to 30 minutes. Not a bad experimental release, it's just very new to my ears.

MANU HOLTERBACH: Aare Am Marzilibad

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 28 2006
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Artist: MANU HOLTERBACH
Title: Aare Am Marzilibad
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Erewhon
Rated: *****
Manu Holterbach is a young French soundmaker who has mostly worked with his self-built instruments (you can listen to his "harmonic glasses" on the very good mcd "Verres Enharmoniques: un", recorded with Sophie Durand, on Cloud of Statics/Cloudmirror), both in solo and in collaboration. This 18-minute 3" cd on Erewhon, on the contrary, is a nice example of pure audio-documentary, so to speak. In 2003, Holterbach locked a microphone into a bottle and placed them somewhere in the Swiss river Aare, then just minimally equalized the result. What you hear for circa 14' is the high-pitched sound of running water (with quite a deafening effect if you play it very loud), the occasional knocking of small pebbles and occasional gurgles and outside noises and voices. It's voluntarily minimal and "as it is", but the quality recording offers a detailed spectrum which adds nuances to the listening experience. The last four minutes offer some variation, with lower sounds, possibly outside sounds filtered by the glass... quite deep and mysteryous. Too bad this last part roughly succeeds the very static first 14 minutes, and is soon cut abruptly. But I guess that was the point: no editing, no fadings, close to no post-production. An interesting ep for those into pure field recordings, and surely a nice one to add to, say, Tsunoda, Toy Bizarre, Small Cruel Party, Loren Chasse, etc.

VV.AA.: Play Word

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 27 2006
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Play Word
Format: 7"
Label: Onomatopee
Rated: *****
This 7" vinyl, coming in a fold-out cover and limited to 275 numbered copies, marks the debut of a new Dutch label devoted to "poetry, typography and sound art". Four soundmakers (all Dutch if I'm not mistaken) worked on poems by one of the label founders, Freek Lomme, with varied results. Machinefabriek offers a piece of hard rhythmic electronica with unintelligible filtered vocals. Jan van den Dobbelsteen probably bows and scratches his guitar strings while reading Lomme's poem (he's the only one to actually include that in his contribution); on the flipside, the other guitarnoiser involved, Erwin van Looveren, pours out a wall of feedback with some guitar scrabbling buried in the mix. Finally, Freiband (Frans de Waard) works as usual in the minimal/glitch/noise grey area with a composition for scorching frequencies and a crescendo of microscopic glitches and pulses. This is unfortunately the only piece which really stands out, while the others are ok but not brilliant (Machinefabriek) or nondescript (the two guitar-based ones). I honestly find this is an interesting attempt, but the link between poems and soundworks is not particularly strong or engaging (i.e. not knowing this was inspired by poems, it would be mistaken for one more experimental noise sampler).

ROBERT HAMPSON + STEVEN HESS: s/t

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 22 2006
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Artist: ROBERT HAMPSON + STEVEN HESS
Title: s/t
Format: CD EP
Label: Crouton
Rated: *****
As Crouton is run by experimental drummer extraordinaire Jon Mueller (do check out his masterpiece "What's Lost Is Something Important..."), it comes as no surprise to find this ep in its catalogue. Steven Hess (who has collaborated with Pan American, Fessenden etc.) is credited as playing drums and percussion, and almighty Robert Hampson (Loop, Main, Indicate, Comae etc.) as simply responsible for the "mix". I suppose he has played electronics, or heavily re-worked Hess' material, but who knows. The nice see-through cover tells us nothing else. The 4 untitled tracks, clocking in at 19 minutes, are not far from what other drummers/laptoppers (namely Jason Kahn and Guenter Mueller) have explored over the last few years: mixing sparse, latu sensu "jazzy" drumming with subdued, but scarily intense electronics (loops, drones, resonances), Hampson and Hess create tense and disquieting soundscapes, in a coherent continuum with Hampson's Comae project, or later, more fragmentary Main.


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