Music Reviews

Cut The Light: Aphotic

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 16 2018
Artist: Cut The Light
Title: Aphotic
Format: CD
Label: Black Mara (@)
Rated: *****
"Aphotic" is the debut album of Cut The Light, a project from Crimea whose dark ambient is mostly based on processed field recording aiming to create a somehow uncomfortable environment. Some tracks are very long and use this element to enhance the attention on sound details as the musical framework is based on stillness.
The first track, "I", starts as a noisy drone which is the background that ties together the other samples until the second part of the track based on samples of orchestral music, or so they sounds, reveals a sort of narrative behind a overall meditative structure. The field recordings of "II" are the base from the crescendo of a sharp drone which ends when it's time to focus the attention to the evocative noises of the final part of the track. After two long track, "III" is the first example of the second side of this release: short tracks divided in two or more sections where the focus is on the evocativeness of the samples. "IV" is a short interlude and introduction to "V" where a sort of slow melody slowly emerges from the static background. "VI" is the most static and canonic track of the album. "VII" reveals how can be reversed the canonical form: a static background based on drone and a moving foreground based on samples, exploiting the field recordings to create a repetitive pattern and focusing the movement on the underlying soundscape. "VIII" starts with a quiet and almost static background and ends with a sharp crescendo. "IX" closes this release with a short crescendo of a drone.
It's unusual that a debut album reveals a rather formed personality untied to his influences, so this is one of finest release of the genre that could be heard this year. Not for everyone but it's worth a listen.
Artist: Sigillum S
Title: The Irresistible Art Of Space Colonization And Its Mutation Implications
Format: CD
Label: Transmutation LTD
Rated: *****
Sigillum S two years ago celebrated their 30th anniversary (one year later, because they started in 1985) by releasing three albums printed on CD, LP and tape. That moment was important for them not only because they raised the glasses to salute three decades of sonic terrorism and sound research, they also celebrated a new band member: Bruno Dorella. Bruno, owner of the label Bar La Muerte, is also member of the following bands: Bachi Da Pietra, Lava, OVO, Ronin and Wolfango. He started to play live with them but with the new album "The Irresistible Art Of Space Colonization and Its Mutation Implications", it's the first time that we have the chance to check how he helped Eraldo Bernocchi and Paolo Bandera to redefine their sound. As usual, the titles of the new album are recalling to me the works of people who had an impact on visual arts or culture in general: I mean people like Ballard, Burroughs, Cronenberg, etc. We have titles like "Occult Storage For Pan-Dronic Glossolalia", "Wrong Proto - Matter Gravitation", "Genetically-Engineered Insects", "When Comets Become Organic Households", "Through The Endless Streams Of Satellite Euphoria", etc. Musically Sigillum S always evolved and if on their beginning their music could have been defined as ritualistic and industrial, since early 00's they started to include into their music also elements of the sound that they had on their side projects. Eraldo played and collaborated with many people such as Mick Harris, Bill Laswell, Tony Wakeford, to name few and explored different genres from dub to guitar drone (as on his album under the Blackwood moniker). Paolo with Sshe Retina Stimulants, NG5361, Komplet his other projects and collaborations always explored the folders of noise electronic sounds. In my opinion, the album where they started to redefine their sound has been "23/20". It was featuring sound contributions from long time Sigillum S collaborators as well from artists they estimate. People like: Bill Laswell, Toshinori Kondo, Professor Shebab, SH Fernando and WordSound, Martino Nicoletti, Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari, ZU, Xabier Iriondo, Ephel Duath, various members of Crisis , Mark Solotroff, Thomas Fehlmann, Gudrun Gut, Andrea Marutti, Claudio Agostoni and many others. Anyway, let's start to talk about the new album. On this one, we have a sort of orchestral sound effect as we have several kind of sound layers, as well as several influences and I hazard to say that we have also a sort of melodic structure that wasn't really used before. All these layers are dosed in the mix, creating the effect of a whole orchestra using unconventional sounds. The kind of rhythms, ambient sounds, noises, vocals may sound familiar, but they have been used in a different way. Take "Through The Endless Streams Of Satellite Euphoria", for example: we have a dub bass, synth treated bleeps, a semi dub drum (I might be wrong but this is one of the few times that Sigillum S are using a real drum) and then a trumpet like sound. The first time I listened to this track I immediately thought about 23 Skidoo and I don't remember I ever thought about them while listening to Sigillum S. Sigillum S have been ritualistic but they never been "funk" and this has been a great surprise. We have the tracks mostly based on drones and noise and we have the ones where rhythm has an important part and it could be a normal drum, a treated one mixed with synthetic beats, it doesn't matter, because the tracks evolve and change one from the other. This is another thing that I liked a lot: the variety of atmospheres and sounds. A perfect example of what I mean could be the closing track "Celestial Heliocentric Cultures", which is the one that I felt connected to the cover made by Petulia Mattioli, because it gives me the impression of being influenced by Tibetan music but played by a mutant which filtered it with industrial soundscapes. It's like the cover: a Tibetan monk walking on a metallic landscapes made by an unknown species. The album will be out on the 14th of September on CD, LP and tape.

C.3.3.: Ballard Of Reading Gaol - The Cacophonietta

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 09 2018
Artist: C.3.3. (@)
Title: Ballard Of Reading Gaol - The Cacophonietta
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
C.3.3. is a personal project from Paul Jamrozy, co-founder of TEST DEPT, and this release is centered upon Her Majesty's Prison Reading and based upon the history of the location and the Oscar Wilde's poem which gives the name to the project. So the center of this release are the spoken words of "Ballad of Reading Gaol" which introduces the listener to the four movement of this release which is intended as a commentary also the present situation in UK, and the poem talks about the situation of a prisoner.
The first one, "Blood And Wine", is a rather sad track based on a synth stings upon a really slow and doomy beat while the second one, "Iron Town", is more reminiscent of his past as it's based on the circular form of TEST DEPT with metallic beats and samples of the prologue with an overall noisy framework. The droning background of "Gallows Tree" set the emotional elements of the return of the spoken words which reveals the actor's ability of Jamrozy. "The Devilís Own Brigade" is the more elaborated movements as it includes beats, samples to evolve in a quiet drone which introduces the sad ending words. "Pit Of Shame" is a coda which reworks "Blood and Wine" in a more atmospheric way. Two bonus track, "Acousticon (Segregation Mix)" which alternates noisy moments to more ambient ones and "Panoptix (Vermin Mix)" which is more centered upon the rhythmic element.
It's an interesting release which tries to include the message into a musical frame which has to express the feeling of someone closed in an unfair situation. Obviously, without the words a large part of the work is missed but it's the sign that the musical part is not a filler. It's really worth a listen.

Catherine Christer Hennix: Selected Early Keyboard Works

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 06 2018
Artist: Catherine Christer Hennix
Title: Selected Early Keyboard Works
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Empty Editions/Blank Forms
These are unreleased works dusted off from rehearsal tapes recorded for a 1976 concert. The fact the concert also featured works by La Monte Young and Terry Riley is a reasonably strong indicator of what to expect, but since these pieces are so heavily rooted in the sound of tunable electric keyboards, there’s an extra layer of melodic context and more familiar electronic experimentation here. Young or Riley’s works might be described to exist in their own vacuums, and while these works too form a sort of self-imposed splendid isolation, there are flickers of the outside world- a world of Rick Wakeman and the Radiophonic Workshop- that seem to seep through.

The two parts of “Mode nouvelle des modalités”, running for just over half an hour, is a sombre and lengthy bit of Rhodes-based improvisation and impulse work with quite a pure vision to it, split roughly into a lonelier-sounding first part and a warmer, dreamier second.

“The Well-Tuned Marimba” is a complex exercise in high-pitched melodic sounds- marimba settings on the keyboard more fully surrounded by sine wave generation, live electronics and a sheng, all deliberately merging and blending into each other’s space so that it becomes impossible to unravel the sound you’re hearing. The high drone that builds underneath is genuinely unsettling, and the overall displacement effect genuinely powerful- early ‘plinky plonky’ tone disguising a very bold piece.

“Equal Temperament Fender Mix” invokes mentions of Radiophonic Workshop again, serving as it does as a prime example of the 70’s vanguard of experimental atmospherics, a nearly 25-minute long piece exploring the new worlds of loop and reverb and echo and decay through extensive tape manipulation. As a melée clears towards the end, we are left with unrelenting arpeggios that are slightly reminiscent of Philip Glass.

A fascinating unearthed collection of 70’s experimentation. With hindsight it sounds quite familiar thanks to the wealth of similar music that has been made since, and time and the evolution of ambient has perhaps deprived it of its edge, but in its original context it was certainly worthy of more attention than it ever received.

Three Free Radicals: Travelogue

 Posted by Marc Benner (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 01 2018
Artist: Three Free Radicals
Title: Travelogue
Format: CD
Label: Improtest Records
Rated: *****
This album is described as a collection of free improvisations. I will start by saying that it is a pair of talented individuals and the music on this album is quite enjoyable. The only issue I have with it for my own personal tastes is that it is all over the place, it is good but it doesn’t have a consistent theme.

Experimental music should be challenging and this is for me because I often look to either chill out or put on something heavy when I’m listening to this genre of music and this goes back and forth. If you listen to this type of music and can switch back and forth between repetitive drones and guitar strums to noisy guitar fuzz then back again then this is a great album for you. I just could not find a consistent pace to get into it for myself.

I guess reflecting back this isn’t a bad review, and maybe this just wasn’t the right space for me at the time. I recognize the talent and effort put into this album but I felt slightly uneasy going through it.

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