Music Reviews

Gaap Kvlt: Jinn

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 28 2016
Artist: Gaap Kvlt
Title: Jinn
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
his release from Gaap Kvlt, a mysterious Polish project, is inspired by the climate of the Moroccan deserts, hot during the day, very cold at night and so it's a two faces release. One part of this release is based upon drones while the other is based upon beats so the listener oscillates between ambient moments and minimal techno ones and this characteristic blurs the sense of boring that often arises with release too focused on the canon of a particular genre.
The drone of "Prayer" opens this release slowly developing, with the insertion of the sample of an oriental prayer, into an evocative sonic meditation. "Abu Kamal" is, instead, a rhythmic track closer to some minimal techno using the aural space to generate a sense of immersion into an abstract space. "Bou Rattat" starts as an ambient track but slowly adds hypnotic elements as beats and loops. "Peninsula" is a soundscape slowly evolving into a drone track. "Prayer 8 (Death)" takes the elements of the first to track but in an almost industrial way creating a track of great impact. "Larache" returns into minimal techno territories while "Tangsir" plays with the disposition in space of the samples. "Ovidius" tries to be an evocative track using synth lines to obtain a cinematic effect. "Vient" closes this release with a quiet track which uses gentle layers of quiet drones until the return of the rhythm reminds to the north Africa inspiration of this work.
Wandering between ambient and techno with a great production, it's the typical release to be heard with headphones to enjoy the various subtleties of the music. It's really worth a listen.

Underdark: Ynomrah

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 28 2016
Artist: Underdark (@)
Title: Ynomrah
Format: CD
Label: Wraith Productions (@)
Rated: *****
This new release by Wraith is a reissue of an old demo by Underdark, issued as a tape in 2011 by Evil Beasts. Ynomrah, reverse for Harmony, is a mixture of black metal and electronic without any ground-breaking moments but with a strong sense of personality.
Layers of distorted voices introduce the listener, with "Rise of Cthulhu", into the black metal framework of "About Pyramid" where the use of synth and electronics collocates this project into the realm of experimental. "Ynomrah" alternates fast sections with slower ones while "Necromantica" is a finale, it closes the A side of the tape, for voice and guitar. "Aklo" features two distinct vocal lines and synth insertions of great impact. "A Minute Before the End of the World" is an evocative track for guitar and electronics while "The Excess Ones" returns to a more canonical form. "Satanic Wehrmacht Inquisition" closes this release with a slow track that reveals a great attention for details.
This is an interesting release whose probable remaster unveils some details that could be buried in the original tape which take this release into one of the most courageous release in a genre in a perennial fight with cliches. Recommended.

David Toop: Entities Inertias Faint Beings

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 20 2016
Artist: David Toop
Title: Entities Inertias Faint Beings
Format: LP
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
It's not the first time that while listening to some outputs by David Toop, I vividly perceived the sensation that he's one of those swimmers who could never tread water in his imaginary "Ocean of Sound", as his relation with sound (with any kind of sound) seems to be almost symbiotic. He could turn or translate into sounds, that he mostly grabs from surrounding reality, is not limited to data taken from sensorial overloads, but also to the highest spheres of critical thinking, philosophical reflections, mental fugues or spiritual alignments or misalignments. This skill has not been invalidated by three periods of solitude, which seem to have inspired the sonic rings he drew on the aural grounds of "Entities Inertias Faint Beings". In line with his thoughts on the essay as mentioned earlier "Ocean of Sound", he stated that the music of this release already existed in the form of spores or dormant clusters of digital files and the way by which he woke these clusters up is utterly enthralling from the intellectual point of view. The description of one of the above-mentioned three periods of solitude could render the stunning slideshows coming from his intriguing sonic aesthetics: "The first was in Queensland, on Tamborine Mountain (an aboriginal name), so silent at night that I listened to recorded music - Japanese gagaku, Buddhist ritual from Bhutan, Korean Confucian music – as if drifting into cavernous black space. Stepping into sleep, I saw a hypnagogic image - a transparent swimming pool suspended over the mouth of a volcano. I read Stephen Mansfield’s book on Japanese stone gardens – “Successful stone arrangements seem almost alive, the elements conversing among themselves with an occult vitality, the call and response that has been noted between well-placed rocks resembling the chanting of Buddhist sutras”; daylight listening in chill air, hearing whip birds, butcher birds, noisy mynahs, kookaburra chatter, rainbow lorikeets; catapult elastic, I wrote, radio waves in a kettle, electric buzzers. On Queensland’s Gold Coast I gazed at a distant humpback whale breaching out to sea, watched Yasujiro Ozu’s 1934 silent version of A Story of Floating Weeds, listened to cicadas burst into life as a helicopter flew overhead.". A fascinating Plato-like sonic anamnesis produced by distillation and condensation of sleeping or just awaken beauty.

Gothic: Beneath the Snow - Piovono Ombre

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 15 2016
Artist: Gothic (@)
Title: Beneath the Snow - Piovono Ombre
Format: DVD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
"Beneath the Snow - Piovono Ombre" ("Piavono Ombre" roughly translated to English - "It Rains Shadows") is the third feature from Gothic, the simple name of the Gothic Multimedia Project from Italy, which started as a band led by James Maximilian Jason in 1989. From then until 2000 they produced ten music demos in a death gloom metal style. In 2004 the
GMP premiered its first proto-multimedia work - "Grim," consisting of a couple of CDs and a CD-R featuring drawings and a multimedia video melding music, graphic art and poetry. In 2007 they published something called "Anti-box," which was a multimedia reinterpretation of the aforementioned demos. Next, in 2010 they released "Clam Dolenter," an interactive film with music, art and poetry. "Beneath the Snow - Piovono Ombre" is sort of something entirely different, yet not, as it is an extension of what was previously done by the GMP, yet on a much larger scale. This is an interactive movie blending music, cinema, art and poetry. The interactivity comes from the choices the watcher must make during the course of the viewing which affects the path, or plot. One might liken it to some sort of video game, but not really, as there is no scoring points, no shooting, no winning. But like life, which is a series of choices, the thing you decide will affect what happens, and
possibly even the outcome.

The story opens with the protagonist, Alessandro Zamboni, a dull, lonely, unhappily married, middle-aged man at a seminar on Ambient Intelligence, which is rather boring. Zamboni is a corporate executive who prefers to attend these kind of events rather than face anything challenging. At the seminar he meets a former acquaintance, Gianmaria
Pagano, who is a bit of a hipster asshole. Pagano convinces Zamboni to go out that evening with him to meet some hot women. They end up at a trendy bistro bantering with two women and Pagano has the waiter spike Zamboni's drink. Later, the waiter comes back and tells Zamboni there's a phone call for him. Disturbed and puzzled that anyone could be calling him here (he didn't tell anyone where he was going), Zamboni shuffles off to answer the phone, and that is where, you, the viewer have to make the first choice - answer the phone or forget about it and rejoin your company. Whatever you do, nothing will be the same after that. Depending on what you choose, the movie takes the protagonist to a different environment with its own set of images and challenges. There is a 32 page booklet with the DVD that gives insight into each scene, and it's important to coordinate reading the booklet while watching the video if you want a deeper understanding of what you're
experiencing. It may not help you make any choices directly, but being informed is usually a good idea. Then again, you can just experience it blind, and it may end up making about as much sense as David Lynch's "Inland Empire".

Regardless of which initial path you take, down the line the viewer encounters more choices, always two, this or that. Depending on what you choose, the action, or scene goes in a different direction. Some are dead ends, sometimes literally. The text of the booklet encourages the viewer to make choices based on emotion rather than logic. I suppose I opted for a combination, depending on the choices offered. In this way, this work may not play the same for different individuals. Without giving anything away, you will encounter the art of David Bosch (who also acts as the protagonist in the movie) in drawings and paintings. Bosch's artwork is surreal, macabre and expressionistic, sometimes paying discreet homage to artists such as Dali, Munch, and others. Rife with symbolism, you could spend a good amount of time contemplating the pieces you encounter. Many of the scenes you will encounter are strange to bizarre, and the continuity could be called questionable without the booklet. The movie seems to be shot on video, so there is a low-budget look about it. The special effects are old-school; superimposition, negative colorization, grainy, split-screen, etc. You won't be seeing any expensive fancy-schmancy CGI effects here, which in a sense is a relief as that has become the staple of so many big-budget films today. The music is uniformly good, and appropriate, ranging from goth-electro-industrial to dark ambient. Most of the dialogue of characters occurs during the opening couple of scenes (before you have to make your first choice), and that is in Italian with English subtitles. There is nothing especially remarkable about the acting, but if there was, you might be tempted to form an attachment to characters that wouldn't serve you well later down the line. There are reasons for the main character seeming to act as bland as he does (initially), and the booklet explains it well. (It has to do with his indifference.)

Sort of like certain types of video games, once you have made a choice, you can't go back; no do-overs, no skipping. For example, when I made the initial choice to have the protagonist answer the phone, I found myself in a certain environment that made me wonder what would have happened had I not done so. I had to see the events play out to their
conclusion and restart the video from the beginning before I could find out what would happen had I chosen otherwise. I actually respect this aspect as it makes the viewer responsible for the choices made. There are times though that when you make a dead-end choice, you will be returned to the same choice screen (after the scene plays out) and you had better make the other choice, or you are doomed to repeat the same scene again. (The scene with the vagrant panhandler comes to mind.)

Some aspects I didn't particularly care for were scenes that seemed tedious- walking long distances in the snow with nothing happening, a long, long drive, running through a town, etc., and I felt they could have been made more interesting without detracting from the filmmaker's intent. Another was redundancy- showing the same images over and over. Perhaps I'm just too impatient. I also would have liked a bit more dialogue and character interaction after the initial scenes as it might have helped me to understand better what the protagonist was experiencing. Still, there is plenty of creativity over all, and a neat, enigmatic mystery to unravel. Some of the poetry in the book is in Italian, so if you aren't fluent in the language you will have to rely on some sort of translator or it will be lost on you. The experience can be as deep or as shallow as you choose, but more rewarding if you choose to go deep, and maybe best if viewed alone.

"Beneath the Snow - Piovono Ombre" is the result of six years of work, incorporating 28 musicians, artists, actors, graphic designers and technicians to put this together. For aficionados of the avant garde, this work will give you a lot to chew on, and its diversity (in a number of aspects) will likely have you returning to it for more.

drøne: Reversing Into The Future

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 14 2016
Artist: drøne (@)
Title: Reversing Into The Future
Format: 12"
Label: Pomperirossa (@)
Rated: *****
"A very hot day in the hills above Los Angeles… only possible to work in the mornings because of the sweltering afternoon heat, so all a bit frantic, but with a kink in time. There is no wifi-controlled air conditioning; the car is electric-powered and charging up. It has barely rained for months, (if not years) and the hoses are working overtime. Its an analogue session; Mark’s modular synth set up is working furiously and overheating. We are pushing sounds through and seeing what works… and things gradually take shape. The forms seem to determine themselves; how much control do we have? How much do we want? Some peculiar things start to happen and the haze bends. Some of the sounds seem alive and are quick to reform as we struggle to contain them, like trying to stuff snakes into a bag. The sounds moan and sing, forming their own phonemes.”. I guess these words got written by Mike Harding, being the other half of this bicephalous project Mark Van Hoen, mentioned in the third person; if you try to render the described heat and the set and the setting where this recording sessions supposedly occurred, you'll better get deeper into the amazingly mutating drones these guys wisely forged before delivering them to Anna von Hausswolff's imprint Pomperipossa. Anna herself described it as "a unique jewel". The vinyl format they've chosen required a split into two parts, but it should get perceived as a continuous track, where the initial set sounds like a rising crescendo: the heating fed a sort of tightness and a burden that got mitigated by slightly "airy" moments of the drone recurring like temporary flurries. Some short wave radio disturbed voices in the second part sounds like ghostly entities that are parts of the hallucinatory torment, inspired by a mirage, which suddenly turns into like a kind of report from a mystical experience, whose phonemes gradually begin to get more and more intelligible...

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