Music Reviews

Darkrad: Heart Murmur

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 07 2018
Artist: Darkrad
Title: Heart Murmur
Format: CD
Label: Audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
Darkrad is a project of Jana Komaritsa, this project seems to have several previous releases which, I am sad to admit, were unfamiliar to me. I am familiar with some of the long form collaboration releases on Cryo Chamber (Azathoth, Nyarlathotep & Yog-Sothoth) which Jana has contributed material to and can say those should not be missed. I was also very excited to see this projects debut was on Cold Meat Industry which also brings a lot of promise.

This album which is titled Heart Murmur is an excellent unsettling but beautiful journey into synthesized ambient music. The occasional vocals are also a welcome addition that add an ominous layer to the music, we do not often get very many female fronted projects in this style but I would say Jana sticks out among all of her peers no matter who is approaching this genre.

This is a project I will be seeking out more from in the future. The main album is great. The bonus tracks which are pieces from other albums, as well as the remixes from Flint Glass & Mortaja do not disappoint either.

Hélène Breschand & Elliott Sharp: Chansons du Crépuscule

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 07 2018
Artist: Hélène Breschand & Elliott Sharp (@)
Title: Chansons du Crépuscule
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore (@)
Rated: *****
I am most familiar with Elliott Sharp from some of his collabs and releases with Tzadik artists which is very promising for my ears. I have not previously heard Helene Breschand.

This CD covers a lot of genres but is sure to please anyone into experimental music and perhaps anyone just looking for something slightly off the normal jazz paths. The vocals from Helene are in French and range from Trip-Hop to chants or even spoken word. Sharp does contribute vocals on two tracks “Le Langue Dans Ma Bouche” and “The Cuckoo” which is a cover of the Ramblin Jack Elliott song. The instrumentals primarily from Elliott are slow and chill at times extremely minimal, quite relaxing through most of the album.

This is not something I usually would have picked up on my own but I am super happy I took the time to check it out and it is a very enjoyable album by two very accomplished artists.

Barnacles: Air Skin Digger

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 19 2018
Artist: Barnacles (@)
Title: Air Skin Digger
Format: CD + Download
Label: ADN Records (@)
Rated: *****
Hot on the heels of the review of Barnacles collaboration with Maurizio Bianchi we have Barnacles (Matteo Uggeri) latest work - 'Air Skin Digger,' an album of 4 long compositions made using only 4 sound sources per each, all cannibalized from other works done in his more than 20 year musical career by Uggeri or with his band Sparkle in Grey, or with other collaborators. No digital sounds have been used in the recording, but only instruments such as viola, bagpipes, trumpet, guitars, gamelan, and unknown devices. The four tracks all have lengthy, but ultimately highly descriptive titles. 1. How a slave who perpetually defamed me and desired to have me killed, was himself eaten and killed in my presence. 2. Of the manner in which the savages ate a prisoner and carried me to the feast. 3. How the savages ate the second roasted Christian called Hieronymus. 4. My prayer to the lord God when I was in the hands of the savages who threatened to eat me. The artwork by Uggeri himself is an interpretation of the woodcuts taken from “True Story and Description of a Country of Wild, Naked, Grim, Man-eating People in the New World, America)”by Hans Staden (c. 1525 – c. 1576), which compliments those track titles.

Although there is a certain ritualistic ambience in the music (mainly due to the rhythm/percussion), it certainly seems to be an abstract interpretation in total. Track 1 has a rather somber mood, at least until the drumming enters the picture a little over 3 minutes into the piece. It's jazz inspired and polyrhythmic in stark contrast to to the droning ambience. Track 2 begins with repetitive looped guitar riffs later giving way to some indistinguishable samples (field recordings?) while a steady beat emerges, The looped guitar samples are manipulated over time in such a way as to be in sync with the rhythm where before they were just disjunct elements. Barnacles gets a real groove going, then stops all dead but the beat, and morphs it into something almost completely different. Remember from earlier - there are only 4 sound sources employed here. While you may be getting the impression that this music is improvised, it is actually highly structured. Track 3 sounds like the most ritualistic of the lot, perhaps in part due to the exotic flute sounds and bellish tones. There is a calm before the storm here with various sonics in play, but the tension is palpable as the rhythm begins to build in its tribal fury. It's more of a seething sort of tribalism than war-like manifestations, and you could imagine it as the background for some sort of sacred ceremony, perhaps where ayahuasca or some other natural hallucinogenic was involved. Track 4 begins with somber strings but it isn't long before they are supplanted by a driving rhythm and indistinct lengthy agitated conversation samples. When the drums die down we''re left with an interlude of lengthy dialogue sample and the return of sad strings. The drum rhythm creeps back in but its different this time; less driving and more ominous. Eventually, fade to black.

This is an enigmatic work to say the least, and that these compositions were made using only 4 sound sources is remarkable. Although this album may never end up being number one on your hit parade, it is something to turn to when you're looking for something completely different. Limited Edition of 300 CDs, but as of this writing, there were only 17 copies left.

M.B. + Barnacles: Sidereal Decomposition Activity

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 19 2018
Artist: M.B. + Barnacles (@)
Title: Sidereal Decomposition Activity
Format: CD + Download
Label: Artoffact Records (@)
Rated: *****
M. B. is Maurizio Bianchi, and Barnacles is Matteo Uggeri, two leaders in the modern Italian electronic industrial avant-garde. Bianchi (in case you didn't already know) is a pioneer of industrial music going way, way back to the earliest 1980s. To list his credits and collaborations would take more space and time than I have available. Matteo you may know from Sparkle in Grey, some of whose works I've reviewed here in the not too distant past. The first collaboration between these two came about in 2007 with the release of the album 'One Single Sound' . On this recording MB provides analogue noises, drones and melodies, while Matteo utilizes beats, keyboards, field recordings and Tibetan bells. Drum work is done by Simone Riva and Cristiano Lupo. As MB describes the music of this work: "Astral melodies are excavating in the eruption constriction, while a neurotic fall scratches extemporaneous sidereal manumissions. The salubrious dynamism is compatible with the invisible decomposition but a paranoic infinity recalls an overcast activity for a cosmic relativity. Unearthly diagnosis cheers the outward for a screaming Armageddon, grinding through our nocturnal energy in the consolidate universe."

The album is comprised of four long tracks between 8 and 13 minutes length. Opening track "Infinity Cosmic Eruption" begins with sustained cymbal(s) or gong(s) ringing out and some thumping around as well as some other unidentifiable bits of sound. Out of this comes a heavy rhythm on drumkit with a sustained harsh, cutting drone. Most of the harsh portions of the drone eventually subside over time replaced by some noisy electronics. Various electro-acoustic sounds can be heard, often echoed off, as the piece deconstructs in a piercing, whistling drone after the drums drop out. Title track "Sidereal Decomposition Activity" has loopy abstract semi-melodic electronics over a beat that sounds Native American. Over time the rhythm gets jumbled through sonic manipulation and loses its straight path morphing into something more freeform. All the while these improvised electronic sustained tones keep right on playing. There is somewhat of a psychedelic ambience to it all, and when the drums return in a different pattern, I'm reminded of some of the Krautrock experiments of the 1970s.

The end of this track with its spacey, echoey electro-drones moves seamlessly into "Astral Fall Dynamism" and I suspect that the ebow guitar is largely responsible for some of those sounds. Here everything is mixed into some type of strange brew with elements of electronics, plunked and rapidly fingered stringed instrument(s), amongst other sonic effluvia. It's a dense, abstract porridge of psychedelia obviously intended to be mind-blowing. As with the previous, the looped electronics/noise drone blends seamlessly into the next (and last) track "Unearthly Armagheddon Energy". Heavy orchestral strings, fizzy noise and a rudimentary rhythm that seems to turn into a chugging steam train. The string pads on this one remind me a lot of Tangerine Dream's use of them, but on which album I can't remember. Nostalgic, at any rate. The whole thing had me thinking of Kraut rock experimentation of the 1970s as a pastiche of the genre. I don't know if that was intentional or subliminal, but the ethos seems to be there. This is certainly not an album for everybody. There is no concession to commercialism in any regard, and although I wasn't hearing anything that I haven't heard before in one way or another, it still makes for an interesting listen.

Rowland Yeargan: Close Your Eyes

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 14 2018
Artist: Rowland Yeargan
Title: Close Your Eyes
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Media
Silber Media’s ongoing and always intriguing ‘5 in 5’ series- where an artist offers up 5 tracks with a total running time of exactly, and only, 5 minutes- offers up another interesting nugget here. Made up of five diverse sonic ideas, like working prototypes of longer works, “Close Your Eyes” distinctly feels like a sampler, but it’s a sampler leaving you wanting more.

Between the distorted drone noise of “Make Haste”, the optimistic layered-up piano of “Breathing In And Out”, the organ drone and throat singing of “Everlasting Heart”, the avantgarde-jazz-esque cymbal work on “Look Into My Eyes” and the synthetic semi-alien choral tones of final track “One Day Today”, this feels like a showreel for a film soundtrack.

A really intriguing listen, if something of a tease!

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