Music Reviews



Lech Nienartowicz: Wzdłuż Pasma

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 03 2019
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Artist: Lech Nienartowicz
Title: Wzdłuż Pasma
Format: CD
Label: Kosmodrone (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
Lech Nienartowicz is a Toru-based creator of spatial compositions made of field recordings, noises and scraps of melodies. While he's already active in a number of projects in the field of glitch and improvisation, "Wzdu Pasma" is his first solo release and it's something in between ambient and musique concrète with a certain sense for montage in the structure of the tracks.
After the initial field recordings, "Pónocne Supy" is developed upon bells and a melody for flute; as the bells are doubled by cowbells and bird's singing, the overall result is as meditative, as the minimal melody is in loop, as structured, as there's other elements as noises and samples which has a spot in the track. The first part of "Nowe lady" is based upon vintage sound synth upon field recordings, used as textures, which are the backbone of the second part as a canvas for drone and samples to create a soundscape. "Dwa Kamienie" is a long track starting with a stratification of drones after which there's the juxtaposition of metallic sounds and a third part for abstract sound and samples emerging from silence; the final part of the track starts with a drone and it's developed upon field recordings moving in the aural field.
This is a rather hermetic release which requires an attentive listener that can fully appreciate the blend of organic and synthetic sound sources in a cohesive whole. Fans of experimental music will appreciate the sound construction while the others could be confused by an unorthodox music. It's really worth a listen.

Kuhzunft: Slotmachine

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 30 2019
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Artist: Kuhzunft
Title: Slotmachine
Format: 10"
Label: Gruenrekorder
Thirty tracks on a 24-minute, 10” release is not a misprint- although in principle it’s 90 tracks, in a way. Thirteen different artists have collectively offered up 90 sonic ideas, all given single-word names and all but one of them between 45 and 50 seconds long, and Achim Zepezauer as Kuhzunft has grouped them together into packages of three layers that are run concurrently, each package forming one of the 30 named tracks. It’s claimed that this is completely random- hence the slot machine theme- but at times you do suspect that a bit of curation or pre-planning has taken place, on the grounds that some of the tracks work very well together.

The sonic packages include some more traditional instrumentation- piano, harp, guitar, keyboard, and so on- and some truly leftfield elements involving warped found sounds, electronics and post-processing.

Notable results include the nicely mellow and buddly “Pearleaf Ploff Colorida”, the slightly Planet Mu-ish “Loving Coffee-Chirps Invasion” and the dark prog-rock-ish “Cry Come-out Flying”. “Lucky Godly Mantra” certainly sounds like an avantgarde trio that were performing in the same room, though I can believe (just about) that it wasn’t.

Others, like “Rain Pipe Love-Story” with its harsh piano and glitch-meets-rain sounds or “Deadline Planing Port”, are more abrasive clashes of ideas where the less-than-a-minute running time is probably a form of mercy.

It’s a quirky concept that seems to put both some of the fun and some of the genuine experimenting back into experimental music, and yields an interesting and frequently but not wholly successful set of results.

The idea of mashing together three words also brings to mind the what3words navigation concept, leaving me wondering whether any of these three sets of titles might accidentally (or perhaps deliberately!) point to a specific area on the surface of our planet. Later, if I get time, I’ll check...

UPDATE: After posting this review I was contacted by the artist, who pointed out that while the 10" release is not random, there is a website where several hundred of these short sonic layers have been collected, and you get the chance to listen to genuinely random overlapping elements over there, with many thousands of possible combinations. The 10" documents the website, I'm told, and not the other way around.

VV.AA: Merry And Bright

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 29 2019
Artist: VV.AA (@)
Title: Merry And Bright
Format: CD
Label: Zaftig Research (@)
Rated: *****
For a while, ever year Brett Lunceford would release a Christmas compilation on his label Zaftig Research. I believe the last one for a while was in 2008 then it came back in 2017 and now we have the 2018 version to review. I am not usually very good about reviewing compilations because it is tough to break down every single track but I wrote a short little blurb here about each one as I went through them, some two times to get it all in.

Conure: The Return of Ralphie is more sapling from A Christmas Story layered and chopped into an ever-growing noisy nightmare, excellent as expected from Conure!

Darmkwadraat: Electric Snow is a digital soup of synthesizer bleeps and bloops with a noisy edge on top. Great stuff from a pretty new act who as far as I can tell only has one release on Lage Landen Lawaai, which puts out super limited tapes. Lots of fun!

Dead Shall Not Have Died In Vain: Jingle Construct is the track I provided for this compilation, so I will not be reviewing it here ;-)

Goose: Sugarplum Dreams contains a beautiful winter landscape of drones and bells, you can hear the wind in the background and some bells jingling nearby, excellent mood music. A brief version of Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy shows up at the end.

Praying For Oblivion + Skullwall: Stockholm Syndrome brings together two harsh noise masters with a track of layered chaos. Both projects released a collaboration at the end of 2017 and much like this split they bring in the sound from each project and mix together very well.

Jan-M. Iversen: Christmas Morn brings a beautiful drone piece that is so intricately layered and musical. If you know how prolific Jan-Morten Iversen is you will not be shocked by the talent behind all of his music.

Orange: No Presents For Christmas is another one of Brett's projects, this time though he brings in the Power Electronics to punish our ears, good old school dirty vibes.

Narishkeit: The Ant Eater. Narishkeit appeared on last years Christmas compilation and they also have a release on Inner Demons. This project from the Netherlands has not been super productive but what they are putting out there is pretty great. The project has some mystery behind it but hopefully, we will hear more from them in the future.

Phog Masheeen: It Will Be Christmas In Hell is a weird loungy track with spoken/sung "lyrics" on top of it. I have not heard any of their other work to know if it is like this but it is odd and I'm not sure if I like it.

Weeping Wall: Five Minutes With A Ten Dollah Ho Ho Ho brings a "noise" track that I wouldn't call harsh at all, it is like a broken digital sounding wash of static. Not many changes in the track but I dig it. I can't find much about this project out there, hopefully, more will turn up soon!

Survey Control: Salamajarvi National Park is an excellent stark track that sounds like someone floating through space attempting to make radio contact with someone out there. Gorgeous outer space drones! Sounds a bit like Bad Sector maybe?

Stolen Light: Boxing Day where Brett brings in the layering of noise and recordings from home maybe? Layered professionally and masterfully.

Bardoseneticcube: Ambioz is another classic ambient sci-fi sounding track as would be expected from this project. Never disappoints!

C/A/T: A Letter To Santa sounds like what we have come to expect from Ben Arp after all these years, classic Rhythmic Noise, I am happy to see that Ben is working on new material again!

Collapse: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Revisited, the first part of that track name "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is a John Lennon song but I am not sure if that was the inspiration for the title. Collapsist is a project that I believe uses modular synths. Excellent repetitious waves of synthesizer sounds!

Overall this is an excellent compilation from Zaftig Research, I know Brett has more planned for the label which is very exciting for myself being a fan for years.

Original Past Life: Inference / Interference

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 28 2019
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Artist: Original Past Life
Title: Inference / Interference
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Tone List
Three-piece Original Past Life use a combination of improvisation followed by studio reworking to craft a selection of quite gritty pieces that build thick and electronic atmospheres, drones and manipulations around an instrumental core of guitar, bass and drums to give a result that only hangs my a thin thread of connection to the conventional music those instruments are normally used for.

Michael Caratti’s percussion work is fairly organic and live-sounding, complex drumming that provides an anchor to jazz and ‘normal’ music. Adam Trainer’s bass work is generally quite languid, exploring long notes and sustains that work at a slow pace that pulls in interesting ways against the drums, while Warwick Hall’s guitar seem to have freer reign to twist itself into odd noises, scratches and impulsive expression.

All three of performers are also credited for ‘electronics’ and in pieces like “Serpentform”, the original instrumental work (if there is any) is so heavily processed as to be unrecognisable in a totally digital-sounding environment of rumbles and pulses. In its calmer and less distortion-washed moments it has shades of a moody M83, while “Blessing The Barn” has dub-like levels of reverb that feel nicely relaxed, compared to some of the other pieces which, while never overtly angry, sometimes come across as agitated.

It’s a strong collaborative effort that never really feels like it has struck new territory, but is still rewarding with 43 minutes of moody texture.

Stolen Light: Self Destruction

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 23 2019
Artist: Stolen Light (@)
Title: Self Destruction
Format: CD
Label: Zaftig Research
Rated: *****
Over the last year or so I have personally started to move toward a more positive focused lifestyle. If you can find a way to talk about your feelings or find a way to vent them in some creative manner this seems to work best.

Stolen Light is Brett Lunceford who I have known, chatted, and been fond of his work for years. This time he has released an album title like Self Destruction it sounds like this could possibly be a cry for help, but to me the music seems as if it is a good way for Brett to get out some anger and frustration. The first track is titled "Frustration" and it lets loose a barrage of harsh noise precisely layered and focused for a 15-minute assault on your ears. I would shy away from calling this a harsh noise wall because it does have some feeling and texture to it unlike a lot of the nihilistic emptiness of that scene, however, it would likely appeal to that audience.

"What The Hell Happened To Us?" is the second track which starts off with a more quiet approach, it takes me back a bit to the 3" CDr on Inner Demons titled Voices. This track goes in waves of these field recordings with background noise textures, that pan from left to right, to harsh blasts through out the 30-minutes. Often times I see a 30-minute track and I wonder if my short attention span will kick in and I will get bored, but it is kept interesting enough and kept my curiosity piqued.

The final track titled "Memories Reclaimed" has a cleaner field recording session from somewhere with people talking, the discussions are not clear but different voices are there. There is a constant less abrasive sound over the recording this time which almost seems more cathartic than the two previous tracks, this is a good finish to a solid album overall.

As I said in the beginning, as I get older I find it important to find ways to vent your frustrations and move past negative circumstances. Self Destruction has shown a healthy way of moving forward.


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