Music Reviews

Fatal Casualties: Filter

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 20 2016
Artist: Fatal Casualties (@)
Title: Filter
Format: CD
Label: Seja Records (@)
Rated: *****
Stockholm, Sweden band Fatal Casualties - Stefan Ljungdahl (synths/drum machines) and Ivan Hirvonen (vocals) began in 1986 and were active from 1986-1991. During that time they recorded a bunch of (unreleased) demos and did live performances. Likely their music then was only heard locally. After a 21 year hiatus they reformed and put out a an EP called 'Paria' in 2012, and followed it up with an album titled 'Psalm' in 2014. Prior to this endeavor they could be categorized as experimental abrasive dark electronica. Here on 'Filter' there are some abrasive moments but it is far less reliant on harshness than it is on weirdness. The album consists of 10 tracks, and no two of them are alike, except that they're all strange; really really, strange. When I first popped the CD into my player, from the look on the cover I was expecting another one of those cynical and serious Scandinavian synthpop bands. Boy, was I ever in for a shock! On the opening track, "home from home" it sounds like Ivan is singing a bluesy murder ballad from the bottom of a well. Then, an intense drone takes over heralding in some abrasive semi-pop electronics. It's like Suicide meets The Residents with nodding approval by Tuxedo Moon! Damn, this is bizarre. One moment things are full on and the next minimal with a few notes being played. Ivan's vocals range from a maudlin whisper to plaintively deranged. Track 2, with one of the longest titles I have ever seen - "Jag Är Inte RÄdd För Dig, Men Jag Är RÄdd För Vad Du Gör Med Mig," is a medium-slow descent into nightmarish madness. From what I could make out of the lyrics though, they seem to be sung primarily in English. Not the case with all of the songs though; some are in Swedish, and I believable there is a little Finnish in there as well. "drown" is done a bit in the more pop traditional dark electro mode instrumentally but this is quite far afield from anything commercial. Ivan's voice is often processed with effects, but not so much that it becomes electronic itself. To a degree I'm reminded of the Legendary Pink Dots, especially in some of their lyrics, as on "drown" ("Once upon a time in a fairy tale, we used to laugh...") full of dark whimsy, hinting at something possibly more sinister. It only gets stranger as it goes on. "kramp' has voices that sound like they were channeled from beyond over a semi-industrial rhythmic background. The nightmarish world on the majority of 'Filter' is not of the gruesome or horrific kind; it is much more subtle- disorienting, disturbing and insanity inducing. I can't say that I liked everything on 'Filter' but there is enough that makes this really unique and worthy. Fatal Casualties' fan base is likely to be a small but dedicated one.

Elektra: Elements of Fragments

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 20 2016
Artist: Elektra (@)
Title: Elements of Fragments
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Blowpipe Records (@)
Rated: *****
When last we heard of Elektra Dekker back in 2015 she had forayed into Madonnaesque electropop with her EP, 'Suicide Siren.' The thing about Elektra's music is that you never know what you're going to get, and 'Elements of Fragments' is nearly as far away from 'Suicide Siren' as can be. First, there are no drums or percussion on any of the four tracks, except for the title track. Accompaniment is minimal (Keyboards and synthesizers only) and Elektra's voice is the main element throughout. What I am struck with most about this EP is how much Elektra reminds me of Jarboe on it; the less abrasive side of Jarboe of course. I think Elektra has a better voice, but I have always enjoyed Jarboe's work, and perhaps that's why this resonates so well with me. Most of the tracks are rather melancholic, with the possible exception of the title track, "Elements of Fragments" which sounds like Kate Bush going off into experimental electronica. The words on that one are sort of spoke-sung like poetry, rather than the full-blown melodies of the prior tracks. There is a lot of emotional depth to this EP, and the minimal musical backgrounds only serve to enhance it. There are two additional bonus tracks that I missed out on - "Atlantinea" (Asian Mix) and "Skin" (Stripped Instrumental) which you only get if you buy the download. Interestingly, the tracks "IFeel" and "Skin" were recording and arranged in 432Hz as opposed to the conventional A=440Hz, just a semitone step down difference. Some seem to think 432Hz is a better, more natural and relaxing frequency, but that's something that's been debated for a good long time. Why not download these songs yourself and make up your own mind as to how they affect you. I suspect that 'Elements of Fragments' is a transitional work for Elektra, and who knows where she will go on her next release.

Gianluca Favaron | Anacleto Vitolo: Zolfo

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 18 2016
Artist: Gianluca Favaron | Anacleto Vitolo (@)
Title: Zolfo
Format: CD
Label: manyfeetunderconcrete (@)
Rated: *****
"Zolfo" is the result of the collaboration between Gianluca Favaron and Anacleto Vitolo, both of them known for many interesting release in the past years. While Favaron is probably best known as one half of Zbeen, this is the first Vitolo's release that I hear and I must admit that he was able to accompany his partner towards his most visceral release.
The field recordings of "Starting Point" open this release introducing the synthetically generated sounds and immediately the equilibrium of the two components emerges under the influence of noise. "Zolfo" is a journey from the initial noise to the final drone while "Infrasound" is based on filtered field recording and cymbals creating an atmosphere of attention and meditation and "Discourse 12" marks the gradual return to thick masses of sound which surrounds the listener. "Fold-in" is a quiet moment of musical rest based on minimal lines of sound while "Reflection" is instead a juxtaposition of many sound sources. "Oblivion" closes this release with a precise layering of sounds which creates a soundscape quietly ended by field recording accompanying the listener to everyday life.
A collaboration based on the use of an other language to break the boundaries of his own and results in an enjoyable release where noise is not synonym for masses of sound but for complexity. Recommended.

Luka Fisher: Mind Drone Business

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 16 2016
Artist: Luka Fisher
Title: Mind Drone Business
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Records (@)
“Mind Drone Business” is a 6-minute mini-EP, made up of three prototype ambiences that blend plaintive repeated guitar notes with mellow synthetic chords and richly layered and processed ambiences.

“Mind” is an arrangement of mostly traditional-sounding sparse guitar and piano improv over synth pads, “Drone” is a strong and more simple tense dissonance around a single note, while “Business” is a more complex layering of old telephone and modem sounds under a sinister loop apt for a sinister approach scene in a horror movie.

The seemingly deliberate lo-fi presentation of the artwork (complete with misaligned text and spacing in the booklet) strangely misrepresents music which is actually very polished, balanced and mature- and which is so incredibly short that it mostly just serves as a sampler or placeholder for a longer Luka Fisher album which ought to be somewhere in the works.

Athana: Invisible Colors

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 14 2016
Artist: Athana (@)
Title: Invisible Colors
Format: CD
Label: West Production As
Rated: *****
It's always hard to define or getting into to a new Athana album deeply and being able to write a review after few times you listened to it. For sure I could mention the fact that sometimes it reminded me the twenty years old Sylvian / Fripp collaboration, even if "Invisible Colors" is more dark and multifaceted. Maybe I could mention that its free spirit is able to bring you at the edge of different musical worlds that you can call: progressive, experimental, free jazz, fusion. Into this worlds you can hear the guitar gently weeping or crying out loud its pain helped out by the other instruments that sometimes create a spacey ambience (like on "The Elders Too") and then a strong energetic background (like on the opening "So Obvious"). I could mention also that for this album Alf collaborated with great musicians such as: Stewart Copeland, Gary Husband, Ivar Kolve , Giovanni Apprendi, Christian Hovda, Astrid Kloster, Tor Yttredal plus the guys of the band Torgeir Nes og Øyvind Grong. Sure, I could do that, but I'm note sure if I could give to you readers the right feeling I had. The forty one minutes of the album are able to catch you for the whole length if you give to the music the right attention, as well as leaving you indifferent if you don't give to it the right time and the right approach. For this reason I asked help to Alt Terje Hana and decided to make of this half review and half small interview.
Here's to you Alf Terje Hana...
On this album there is a dark underlying tone…the world situation is really going in the wrong direction and it makes me sad.
I also tried to bring in a bit from my early inspirations from the seventies: prog, heavy and all that (Gentle Giant, Zappa, Weather Reports).
Every song has an extra dimension. "Silent Warrior" is my take on looking out from the inside of the helmet of the “Mountain” in Game Of Thrones, or similar war guys. "The Elder Too", it's me going to an elderly home twice a week for two years, where my father staid until he died on May this year. I learned to respect the old people sitting there, with lots of stories and experience to tell. You can feel the timeline ticking away. It's also a bit inspired by Weather Reports.
Also I was so lucky to get both Gary Husband, and Stewart Copeland to join in (I´m by the way being invited by Gary to join his new project Gay Husband´s Trackers as his guitar player). "Berlin Spheres", is a result of a week in Berlin, just hanging and absorbing atmosphere. "Sea Of Change" is a cry for new directions to survive the insane leaders, that just care for ego and money. I tried to put in the call from the siren of the sea, that lures the ships to wreckage. Hope this will make it easier to understand my mysterious ways…
At this point, I think that you'll have all the informations you need to get into "Invisible Colors" and digging it as much as I did.

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