Music Reviews



Figure: Exhaling Ammonia

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 17 2003
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Artist: Figure (@)
Title: Exhaling Ammonia
Format: CD
Label: Multimood (@)
Downtown New York guitar player Brannon Hungness a.k.a. Figure has been a busy guy for quite some time. He is currently playing with Kill Myself on Monday but his previous performing experiences include the Glenn Branca Ensemble (replacing Helmet's singer/guitarist Hamilton), Hammerhead (yes the rockin' Amphetamine Reptile band!), Oblivion Ensemble, Zeena Parkins, Elliot Sharp, the Virgil Moorfield Ensemble (that would be Swans' drummer). From such an active, prolific and eclectic artists you could expect anything, really. For example, how about a highly experimental album with a dark aura surrounding the subtle ambience and driven by an intimate touch, like if the artist is pouring his heart into the essence of these compositions? That is what you get. And if the pieces mirror Hungness' soul then of course you understand the hypothetical disclaimer which would state that you'll be dealing with harmonic beauty and disturbing ferocity, and all the stages in between.Being a guitar player, occasional acoustic guitars are almost a must, but the main sounds sources are to be found elsewhere. Sampling, tweaking knobs on synths and playing back field recordings is probably part of it. Very atmospheric disturbances made of chaotic noises building up and almost silent passages of tranquil melody all characterize this album, which I guess well represents the name of the label who released it too: Multimood, as in many different types of moods created with different types of approaches and instruments. Even vocals are occasionally to be found.I wouldn't recommend this album to somebody that knows Brannon from his tour with Hammerhead or to somebody that isn't prepared to question the way they have listened to music so far, but of course if you are part of that readership of ours that daily deals with loud experimentalism and eclectic audiophile arts you may very well find something that you like in here.

Hollowing - Aere Aeternus - Metanemfrost: The Obsolete View

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 15 2003
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Artist: Hollowing - Aere Aeternus - Metanemfrost
Title: The Obsolete View
Format: CD
Label: The Rectrix (@)
I must say I had high expectations after reading the description on Rectrix's website. I wouldn't say it is as unique as described but that doesn't mean it's bad or not worth your time, on the contrary. This three way dark ambient split CD makes come together Hollowing, Aere Aeternus (members of the Dark Sanctuary cult) and Metanemfrost.The former's offering consists of three basically different tracks. Starting out with a sample-based psychotic and paranoid repetitive experimental hymn and then turning to the more droning aspect of ambient, eventually swiftly abandoning ambient all together to attack you with thundering industrial rhythms, distorted material, pounding metallic beats and Teutonic percussive orgies.Aere Aeternus bring you four songs of claustrophobic noise conspiracy with occasional elements of neoclassicism (acoustic guitar), very mysterious and hollow at times.The latter are probably the ones I prefer in the batch. The variety of sonorities they play with in their five takes complements the dynamic moods that they evoke. Grand industrial orchestrations, rumbling subterranean noise pieces, underworld ambience, hints of very basic rhythmical structures, minimalist choking power electronics (is there such a thing anyway?).There's something for everyone here (that is everyone who listens to different shades of dark-ambient-industrial music of course) so give this a listen. There are some mp3's for download on the website and besides, the prices of Rectrix's CD releaeses are really fair and shouldn't make you wanna stall after just a couple of mp3's.

Show of Exaggeration: s/t

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 15 2003
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Artist: Show of Exaggeration (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: The Rectrix (@)
Distributor: Force of Nature
Unfortunately there are still labels out there shipping promos with no additional information about the bands, their music and their releases and when that happens with a CD like this one, where the front cover does not make clear what the name of the band and what the name of the record is, it can get real tricky to get the facts straight. So after some research I now know that "Show of Exaggeration" involves Philipp Muench from the project Synapscape and painter/designer/musician Bernhard Woestheinrich, one third of the very interesting German ambient-fusion project Centrozoon (I'd love to hear more of this trio, as allegedly they mix ambient electronica with free guitar improvisation and vocals). The two sound manipulators embrace a quite claustrophobic dark-ambient style and go down that route with all the confidence of who knows how to balance minimalist isolationism and noise materialism. If you like the Staalplaat sound give this a listen!
Besides being a collaboration of two musicians, this CD is also a collaboration of two US labels: New York Lower East Side's The Rectrix and West Kingston, Rhode Island's Force of Nature, so check out their two websites for more info (you can bring this CD home for just $10 in the US and $12 elsewhere).

KOJI ASANO: January Rainbow + Octopus Balloons

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 09 2003
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Artist: KOJI ASANO
Title: January Rainbow + Octopus Balloons
Format: CD
Label: Solstice (@)
Two recents outputs by the unstoppable Koji Asano, these are Solstice # 27 and 28, but I know there's a new cd out (a performance for tapes and sax) documenting his composer activity. "January Rainbow" and "Octopus Balloons" are, on the contrary, two more solo works of his. The former (1 track, 64') features free-flowing quasi-classical sounds (piano etc.) disturbed by a storm of hisses, crackles and feedbacks. The concept could be interesting, but somehow it doesn't work for me; the musical part seems to be mechanically generated by one of those cheap fractal composition softwares, and the noisy one just acts as a disturbance without adding any texture to the whole - the result is like listening to a boring, soulles cd through damaged amps. "Octopus Balloons" (1 track, 33') is definitely better, and relies on annoying sparse digital frequencies and low rumblings - the former manage to create a sort of alienating rhythm while the latter build a kind of minimal ambience. These sounds are similar to those of (worse) cds of Asano's, like "A second dam" or "Spirit of the wardrobe", but are luckily used in a much more effective way. The work could fall somewhere in between glitch and digital harsh noise, but maintaining the solipsistic identity so typical of Asano's production.

THE FOCUS QUINTET: 1-8 IN 1

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 09 2003
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Artist: THE FOCUS QUINTET
Title: 1-8 IN 1
Format: CD
Label: Sachimay (@)
Distributor: Pax Recordings
The Focus Quintet is Anita DeChellis (voice), Don DeChellis (piano, keyboard), Ernesto Diaz-Infante (acoustic guitar & voice), Chris Forsyth (electric guitar) and Jeff Arnal (percussion) - five friends who have performed together under various forms (duets, tours, etc.), now gathered to offer this 8-track, 56-minute work. Now, you've read the line-up's instrumentation, but try to forget it. Because this is very radical, flowing improvisation with a droning quality, close to electroacoustic or minimalistic ensembles (memories of Olivia Block, the Deep Listening Band or Osso Exótico have come to my mind); if you think of "jazz", try to think of its most daring and informal manifestations. The listening experience is very demanding, but equally rewarding: there's a mesmeric quality in these clusters of sparse notes, rumblings, scrapes and ecstatic vocal melodies; actually, Anita DeChellis' performance (Pauline Oliveros and Bjork have been quoted, to give you a hint) is one of the strongest points of this cd.


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