Music Reviews



Ben Eyes: Fl00d

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 13 2016
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Artist: Ben Eyes
Title: Fl00d
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
I'm always too late when I try to speak about some of the nicest releases coming from Colin Herrick's imprint Time Released Sound. The strictly limited physical edition (just 50 copies) of this mini-album by Ben Eyes, a sound artist drawing inspiration from the beautiful region of Northumbria in the UK - one of my favorite areas of Great Britain -, sold out in 15 days after it was released, so that you maybe won't find the finely crafted 3" CDr, but music is what really matters. The title of this 20-minutes lasting sonic journey refers to the initial source of inspiration, as the hook in Ben's musical mind was the terrible floods that hit England in winter 2014, but it lately embraced a wider reflection on the moment that mankind is experiencing: in Ben's own words, "The idea that we have permanently changed our weather system through our own doing is incredibly thought provoking and cannot be ignored. The floods and storms were some of the worst on record and seeing places I know and hold dear destroyed by the weather made me feel both extremely upset and helpless. The work of James Lovelock was also a large inspiration behind this piece and his Gaia theory (the idea that the Earth is one whole complex living organism) is unfortunately now being proven correct. Through the pollution of our own delicate eco-system we have caused untold damage for many generations to come, possibly forever.". The journey on "Fl00d" begins on a set of field recording Ben grabbed in the enchanting Holy Island of Lindisfame in Northumbria, but little by little and recording by recording (taken in other locations such as Berwick upon Tweed, Craster and St Marys Bay, Northumberland, Whitby, Staithes and Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire, Barry Island, Vale of Glamorgan, Oxford Circus and Soho in London), the listener got gradually absorbed in an almost mystical reverie smelling like environ/mentalism, where entrancing female vocals emphasizes the ambient-driven spleen, which sound like echoing the cry of nature against human daily mistreatment. A digital version is available on label's Bandcamp.

Thomas Dimuzio: Amid Zero Echo

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 10 2016
cover
Artist: Thomas Dimuzio (@)
Title: Amid Zero Echo
Format: 2 x 10" vinyl
Label: Substantia Innominata (@)
Rated: *****
If you have spent any time listening to experimental music, you've likely heard of San Francisco-based Thomas Dimuzio. Even if you've not heard his work, he's likely had some influence on some of your collection through his mastering work. I'll admit that he was always one of those artists that I had planned to pick up eventually, but never got around to it. That's likely to change now that I've heard this release. Here's how the label describes it: 'These four drones open wide rooms for phantastic aural imaginations: like flying over endless grounds of unknown origin, sensing a heavy suction of extreme gravity, moving towards a black hole center... or driving into a totally dark mining tunnel with all the metallic ore and dust around.... These are drones that LIVE from the inside!' Sounds promising, and if there is any label that knows something about drone, Substantia Innominata, a sublabel of Drone Records, would be it. So let's get into it. Like all of Drone's stuff, this is beautifully packaged vinyl (two 10' transparent records, in this case). You're left to wonder what speed to play this at, since I could not see any indications on the records or the sleeve, but after some experimenting, settled on 33.3. 'Haze' kicks it off with a really quiet, gritty intro. The track makes great use of dynamics, giving you the feeling of waves washing slowly on to the shore. Only these waves are not made of water, but of mosquitoes and fear. The dissonance in this track keeps everything engaging. Flipping the record over, we get 'Dust,' which moves at a glacial pace, taking a long time to fade in. This drone is almost peaceful, with bits of sound that enter and exit without fundamentally altering the main composition. The shifts move slowly and you really have to listen to notice, but it manages to stay interesting. Finally, it ebbs and flows slowly out of earshot. 'Flash' opens with subtle grinding sounds that almost sound like distant radio voices over square wave drone. Like the previous tracks, this shifts imperceptibly over time, such that you eventually realize that you are no longer listening to the track that you started with. Also, you never quite know when the track is ending. It starts to fade out, only to return again, then fades once again. Finally, 'Shale' concludes with a much more in your face approach than we had in the previous tracks and with a more ominous feel to it. If this were a movie soundtrack, this would be the point right before the villain released the virus into the city. Pits of percussion punctuate the drone and give a sense of walking in a dark alley. Halfway though it shifts to a static-filled, pulsating drone that it quite nice. Overall, if you like drone music, this is definitely one to pick up. It's limited to 500 copies, so you'll want to get it while you can.

THE EX: THE EX At Bimhuis (1991-2015)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 10 2016
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Artist: THE EX (@)
Title: THE EX At Bimhuis (1991-2015)
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: EX Records/BIMHUIS (@)
Rated: *****
The renowned Dutch band The EX doesn't really need any further certification (including mine!) to demonstrate their skills on stage, but this extensive collection of some gigs they played at the Bimhuis, the notorious and appreciated jazz club in A'dam and undoubtedly one of the leading jazz club in the world, which collected some highlights they made over 25 years of performances which shaked the ground and spitted wise euphoria and positive vibrations in the likewise vibrant Dutch capital. Their amazing amalgamation of punk, jazz, afro (particularly Mulatu Astatke-like declension of Ethiopian jazz) and Eastern Europe folk music could disprove the idea according to which post-punk is just a sort of unuseful appendix of the nihilistic mood (for all those idiots who keep on match nihilism to punk...) and got grabbed during their most congenial dimension, the live stage, and include the almost legendary first gig they held in June 1991, which featured guests like comedian Herr Seele, Wolter Wierbos, Han Bennink and Ab Baars, three nights where they performed with the Ethiopian saxophonist Getachew Mekuria, who also performed with The Ex in his native country, two gigs of the 33 1/3 Festival - I really enjoyed the session "24 Problems" they made together with Brass Unbound -, ICP Jubilee, the October Meeting, the Ex Orkest - the four tracks of The Ex declension of orchestral music, which opens the second cd of this collection, are really super! -, a New Year's Eve party and a concert for children! The release includes a booklet where you're going to find some photos of those performances, some posters and an interesting article by Dutch journalist Peter Bruyin, who stressed the value of this release and the importance of The Ex's idea of music, which is going to provide further musical fruits as highlighted in the final part of his words.

Hans Joachim Roedelius & Leon Muraglia: Ubi Bene

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 10 2016
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Artist: Hans Joachim Roedelius & Leon Muraglia
Title: Ubi Bene
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Passus Records
Rated: *****
Electronic music lovers don't really need any introduction of the evergreen maestro Hans-Joachim Roedelius, who in spite of his age - he should be 81 at the moment and I really wish a long life to this living genius of electronic music, whose sometimes troubled history (check his interesting biography) maybe watered his flourishing creativity - keeps on spreading lovely sonic gifts like this lovely "Ubi Bene", where he joined his remarkably creative energy with the ones of DJ, studio musician and guitar player Leon Muraglia. Many moments over the 12 brilliant tracks of this new journey could sound like the revamping of the sound that Roedelius explored together with his historical partner-in-art Dieter Moebius on some of the very first albums by Cluster - particularly the quasi-synthpop output "Zuckerzeit" or the heights of folkish exoticism of album like "Sowiesoso" -. The excellent balance between Muraglia's sound design and the unmistakable forging of electronic pattern and astonishing piano-driven simple melodies by Roedelius is the most relevant aspect of "Ubi Bene", which resurfaces from the nostalgic breeze of the beautiful cameo of "She Had Always Loved Vienna", the lovely dialogue between the resounding nylon of a guitar chord and the shining tone of a synth-celesta on "Gently Falling Snow", the cheerful vivacity of "Red in a Circular Loop", the delicate miniature of "A Nostalgia for Lollipop" or the new age-like movements "A Reflection in Deep Sea" or the ethereal "Summer Breeze Turning", which get closer to the stylistic territories of Boards Of Canada or Ulrich Schnauss or to the moments when Roedelius sonic journey begin to get influenced by Brian Eno's style, as well as on more shadowed or experimental moments such as the 12-minutes lasting thrilling track of "There is a Huge Duck Standing Right Behind You" or the final "Surfaces That Appear To Change". The high level of expertise of its author makes "Ubi Bene" a unique specimen of the most genuinely human side of electronic music.

Genetic Transmission: Last

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 10 2016
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Artist: Genetic Transmission (@)
Title: Last
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****

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As the title suggest, this is is the last studio album in the discography of Genetic Transmission, one of the alias of Tomasz Twardawa and, almost incredibly, also the last realization of the IYHHH series that was conceived as a way to present unconventional Polish artist using also an unconventional artwork as a presentation strategy. This is properly the reissue of a CDR release collecting 15 untitled sound experiments using electro-acoustic sources. As all tracks are untitled they will be denoted with their number.
"1" starts this release with reverse played tapes of perhaps string instrument while "2" is focused on the rhythmic displacement of samples. "3" features small noises and "4" on metallic resonance; "5" juxtaposes drones obtained by electronic devices and "6" sounds as field recordings of waters where used as a background. "7" sounds as if noise generators were the focus of the track while "8" takes advantage of the effect of resonance. "9" is based on complex layers of drones, tapes and noises while "10" sounds as constructed from field recordings layered to underline their rhythmical properties. "11" and "13" uses a dry metallic beat to sustain the abstract musical foreground while "12" and "14" sequences industrial noises. "15" closes this release with a drone that evolves into a metallic mass and, after a quiet section, into a noise fragment.
Apparently lacking a narrative direction, it sounds as a collection of experiment unified by a fistful of elements as the metallic beats, electronic device's samples and drones. As the tracks are usually short, this musical property gives a sense of variety which removes that sense of boredom that could arise as the loop, and his rhythmic framework, is the proper base element of the track of this release. All fans of experimental music would hear it with a sense of loss for the end of this project.


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