Music Reviews



Yiorgis Sakellariou: Everything Emanating From The Sun

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 24 2016
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Artist: Yiorgis Sakellariou (@)
Title: Everything Emanating From The Sun
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
"Everything emanating from the Sun which is Divine Love is called spiritual; everything emanating from the sun which is fire is natural.". Greek electronic music composer Yiorgis Sakellariou took the first sentence of these lines by which Swedish scientist, mystic, theologian and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg tried to explain the link between spiritual world and natural one - he used the term 'correspondence' or 'relation' to describe it - as well as the Divine in his essay "Life in Animals and Plants", a sort of revisitation of Christian belief of Creation by means of ideas, which were close to Neoplatonist outlook, as a title for this release, the first one of Corollaries, a new series by which Portuguese label Cronica is going to compile some works that got produced during the Active Crossover: Mooste, the last (but not least) residency of Active Crossover, a sort of permanent cross-cultural laboratory British sound artist Simon Whetham established in Tallinn, Estonia in 2009 in order to search new performative sound-focused strategies and possibilities for a series of workshops and sessions, where a selection of sound artist could check new working methods - an interesting idea that got hosted in many different locations such as England, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Norway, Argentina and Australia and got already documented by a compilation on Cronica in 2012 -. On that occasion, MoKS studios and space opened his gates to the brilliant Greek sound artist, known by field recordings fans for many interesting essays of digitally manipulated environmental sounds that he sometimes performed in completely dark places - I like to think he tries to emulate the "veil" of Pythagorean akousmatikoi, in order to let listeners focus on sounds without any other sensory distractions -; he didn't make this 31 minutes and 13 seconds lasting field recordings-based composition as an aural postcard of his experience in Estonia, but it seems that his amazing way of compressing and decompressing concrete sounds got inspired by an idea that Igor Stravinski expressed in 1941, according to which natural sounds cannot become music until they are put into order and organized as "conscious human act", even if he can't explain the reason of the time-stretching, the pitch-shifting and the filtering of the sounds grabbed at Mooste. According to his own words, "it is about effectively placing sonic events in time and not submitting to any kind of pre-fixed rules about recorded sound". The dilation over time intervals of sounds is maybe the most relevant aspects: the first similarity I noticed is the one with some experiments on overdubbing of tapes that many performers tried and if you play this composition by changing tempo, what could sound like the slowed noise of a train could turn into the obsessive mechanical hammering of a power loom for example. At the end of his introductory words, Yiorgis returns to Stravinsky's thoughts by stating that maybe the conscious human act that he required could simply be the act of listening: "this activity, potentially profound and meaningful, establishes a form of communication between the listener and the environment but remains a personal experience. Music, besides making a connection to the cosmos, additionally sets a relationship between human beings, it is a social construction. As a shared activity, music brings together composer and listeners in a transitory time and space.". His words could even summarize the spirit of Active Crossover...

Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer: Twine

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 24 2016
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Artist: Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer
Title: Twine
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
The sonic affinity between Taylor Deupree and Marcus Fischer was clear since their first output "In A Place Of Such Graceful Shapes" in 2011, which sprung out of four days of intensive sessions in the middle of a snow-covered frozen New York, just a few months after their meeting. The imaginary "plaster" of their debut release was remarkably influenced by their passion for photographic arts, while the sparkle of this new output seems to have been a series of looped tapes whose hissing effortlessly and harmoniously mingled with the crackles that resounded in the dim light of a room, where they retired after they spent the whole day in a studio for searching and recording new sounds during a visit to the west coast in the summer of 2015. The physical tiredness, which sometimes alters perception, didn't appear to be reflected by their hungry for aural findings of these sonic wizards, so that after 15-20 minutes of contemplation while the above-described loop was mingling with their creativity as well, it seems they understood that this input is what they were looking for in the studio during daytime. Unlike the above-mentioned debut album by this bicephalous collaboration, which strongly influenced the sound of Deupree's label, the "sensorial" focus is on aural perception more than on environmental aspects of sound, even if space and photography keep on playing an important role in the process - for instance, the mechanical noise of the tape machine you could hear on "Buoy" brought their mind to an abandoned dock they photographed in Iceland and its quiet knocking against the shore -. The name of this album, "Twine", doesn't only refer to the number of its authors, but mainly to the "symmetry" of its sonic sources: two mono tape loops, acting like knots or bridges, but also as a source of dynamics by means of their asynchrony, and four acoustic instruments (electric piano, bells and a couple of stringed instruments), which makes two different loops, recorded by means of microphones that Deupree and Fischer placed in the room. There are many projects, which focus on this sort of sonic fossilization, but the skills and the experience by Taylor and Marcus make the difference and turn it into a listening experience, which is going to feed and foster daydreaming.

Carlos Zíngaro: Live at Mosteiro de Santa Clara a Velha

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 23 2016
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Artist: Carlos Zíngaro (@)
Title: Live at Mosteiro de Santa Clara a Velha
Format: CD
Label: Cipsela (@)
Rated: *****
Well begun is half done, said a well known proverb and the Portuguese newborn label Cipsela - another label from a country, which is giving very good contributions to improvisational and contemporary experimental music, even if it keeps on being less visible than other scenes - decided to open his interesting catalogue by a renowned signature, the one by a key figure of improv European scene, the electronic composer violin player as well as talented illustrator Carlos Alves, better known as Carlos Zingaro. Besides the reverberation of the place, the Monastery of Old St.Clare a 14th century gothic ruined church in the city of Coimbra, where this concert was held on 25th May 2012 during the 10th edition of Jazz ao Centro Festival, adds to the music, the most remarkable aspect is the astonishing set of performative techniques by Carlos, where he seems to emulate a trotting race over ruined pavement on a horse-drawn carriage on the intermittent phrasing of the opening "Crushing Wheels" before soaking the strings of his violin in dramatically catchy screeches on the following "Portions of Life", plays sets of equidistant tones on multiple chords on "Twisted Chords", highlights the "strangulations" of a sort of obsessive sequence of silenced breaks on "Void of Night" before reaching the peak of tragedy and pathos on the beautiful solo of "Scroll of Fate". The premise that the label wrote in the linear notes, bridging Salazar's dictatorship and the contemporary financial crisis that Portugal is experiencing by emphasizing the importance of music in troublesome times ("What links the past to the present moment? A great deal, it turns out. Portugal is now living through another kind of challenge - our financial crisis- Is that crisis real? Or are we just toys in the hands of the FMI and Troika? We don't know. What we know for sure is that at least we can express ourselves creatively and freely, and we will not allow anyone to that take that from us."), seems to be a wise way to frame label's manifesto.

Robert Curgenven: Climata

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Mar 15 2016
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Artist: Robert Curgenven
Title: Climata
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Dragon's Eye Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
The website of Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, a park which tries to "implement" contemporary art in the beautiful natural environmental of West Cornwall, describes James Turrell's Skyspace, one of the most interesting installation in the gardens, by highlighting the fact that "the shifting balance between the interior and exterior light will provide a contemplative and hypnotic transition". This interesting installation could be described as a chamber with a more or less wide (round, square or ovular) aperture on the top of the ceiling, which can be an autonomous structure or can be integrated into pre-existing buildings. That lovely corner of Cornwall is the place where the Ireland-based Australian sound artist Robert Curvengen experienced this building by Mr.Turrel, whose usage and perception of space and light was mainly aimed to be a sort of filter in order to perceive the sky in an enhanced way, but besides the perception of space and light, Robert should have been impressed by its acoustics to the point that he asked for Turrell's permission to check some of his Skyspaces around the world in order to grab the external sound by means of a set of microphones and some custom-made oscillators in order to create slightly manipulated sounds and check the way they could highlight the resonance inside any Skyspace. Each of the 15 Skyspaces became a sort of diaphragm between the sound that Robert generated inside of it and the sounds from the outer space, but the aspect, which makes the final listening experience that got provided on this double CD by L.A.-based label Dragon's Eye Recordings even more interesting, is the recording technique used on Climata. The initial tones - vaguely sounding like binaural tones - are a by-product of a technique by which a set of oscillators got stimulated by the movement of the air inside each chamber against the air outside and their amalgamation emphasizes that above-mentioned "contemplative and hypnotic transition", which could be provided by Turrell's entities. The author suggests to play - back to back or simultaneously) the two 58 minutes lasting CDs on two different sound systems to enjoy the multiple combinations that could rise from such a way of playing.

Erland Dahlen: Blossom Bells

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Mar 10 2016
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Artist: Erland Dahlen
Title: Blossom Bells
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
The definition that a reviewer on Uncut zine gave about the surprising Norwegian drummer Erland Dahlen - a "one-man band-in-a-box sounds fuller and imaginative than many 'post-rock' quartets" - seems to be confirmed by his second solo output. Named after a set of bells engineered by the legendary instrument-maker Pete Engelhart, that Erland plays in many moments of this album together with traditional and less conventional instruments - including a set of cake moulds and springs built by Hallvard W.Hagen (one leg of Xploding Plastix), a sort of "percussion bass" by Harald Hougaardand and a wind up wood with elastic band built by Kenny Wollesen -, "Blossom Bells" rekindles the flame of the acknowledged oestrus of this musician, who manages to combine a penchant for new sound and a remarkable way of shuffling different styles. The way by which he sprays his drumming sessions by means of krautrock, ambient music, contemporary music, soundtrack-like music and drones into a blend of dark-spotted rock-inspired energy is so catchy that he wouldn't really need a so meticulous focus on sound, which is a detail that doesn't corrupt the genuine hooks and the pizzazz of his meaningful pastiche. Likewise his previous solo album "Rolling Bomber", "Blossom Bells" got exclusively played by Erland, but on this occasion he involved both Johnny Skalleberg, who partially recorded the album at Oslo Klang, as well as his long-lasting mates Xploding Plastix - Jens Petter Nilsen and Hallvard Wennersberg Hagen...besides the borrowing of the above-mentioned bizarre set of percussions, there are some similarities with their sound in tracks like "Pipe" -, who recorded the other half of the album at Coffee Fabric. Masterfully mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab, this musical pearl is a must-have.


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