Music Reviews

Henrik Nordvargr Björkk / Margaux Renaudin: Anima Nostra

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 05 2016
Artist: Henrik Nordvargr Björkk / Margaux Renaudin (@)
Title: Anima Nostra
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
This release is a collaboration between Henrik Nordvargr Björkk, with his remarkable career as a solo artist but mostly as a member of MZ.412, and Margaux Renaudin, better known as a visual artist. As reasonably predictable, the musical style is based on the form already codified in the previous releases as Nordvargr where musical impact is stemmed by an evocative constructed soundscape and, so, the main contribution of Margaux Renaudin seems apparently a refined artwork focused on pseudo ermetic symbols printed on grey upon black.
The rhythmic structure of "Sunyata" opens this release as a container for the ritualistic part focused on the use of the vocals. "Spiritus Omni" is instead a dark ambient track developed upon the sound layers typical of Nordvargr's style. "Mourning Star" is a cover of a track from "Infernal Affairs" whose atmospheric element is exalted and so "Kmt" with the vocals of Nader Sadek is closer to the most industrial oriented output of this band. "Runik Hexagram II" returns to more subtle sonic construction while "Gjallarhornet ljuder" is based on thick layers of drone whose mass is overwhelming. "Lavenement Du Neant" is an evocative ritual track whose charm is related to the french spoken word. The depth of the reverb used in "Maladia Skandinavia" is crucial in the closing of this album with a sense of being immersed in a spiritual space.
Obviously Björkk's music hasn't any innovation but, for a so codified style, sometimes the music is able to match the remarkable beauty of the artwork and is a reminder on the importance of writing. Recommended for Nordvargr's fans.

Sonovo: a line has two sides

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 05 2016
Artist: Sonovo (@)
Title: a line has two sides
Format: Tape
Label: Klanggold (@)
Rated: *****
Coming back after seven years of silence by means of a couple of tracks on a strictly limited (just 30 copies for his imprint Klanggold) yellow tape, lasting approximately six minutes each, could be compared to the announce of the discovery of lifeforms on Pluto after an astrophysicist interpreted the noise of his fart as a radio signal from that far planet. Anyway Sonovo, moniker of the smart sound artist and performer Andreas Usenbetz, came back by two impressive studies in minimal electronic music where he mainly squeezed a Microkorg and looped some samples as well as a field recording that Mark Baker grabbed at Peace Park in Hiroshima on the title-track "a line has two sides" on Side A. Both the popping micropattern on this track and, even more, the more regular one on the other half of the tape, titled "Serious Colors" - in spite of its opening, that could sound like the looped noise of a gastroesophageal reflux or the one that could come from the squeezing of something slimy! -, features a minimal approach and a certain sense of balanced elegance that could vaguely resemble the stuff coming from German label ~scape by Stefan 'Pole' Betke (not working since 2010, in spite of the high quality of its outputs) such as Pole, Jan Jelinek, Kit Clayton or System. We could forgive Andreas 'Sonovo' Usenbetz, just if he's going to release more lengthy stuff as soon as possible after this delicious tidbit. The way you'll figure, forewarned is forearmed!

Gunnar Lettow & Korhan Erel: Bad Falling Bostel

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Jun 05 2016
Artist: Gunnar Lettow & Korhan Erel
Title: Bad Falling Bostel
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
I got attracted by the name of this aged output within the huge pile of releases from Portuguese label Creative Sources before discovering the German guys behind its named it after the name of a small village between Hamburg and Hannover in Lower Saxony, Germany, they usually visit twice a year. What is more, Gunnar Lettow (prepared bass guitar, electronics, found objects) and Kohran Erel (computer, controllers) decided to title each of the twelve bizarre tracks they included in this output by likewise odd names of districts and almost unknown towns all over Germany - I could wonder in discovering the name of the inhabitants of cities/villages such as Dickfeitzen, Zacking, Grilling or Salderatzen! -. Their style, as you can easily guess, is experimental, as they mainly combine sets of microsounds, percussions, little electronic sounds and hits on many different objects that could easily tickle your imagination. For instance, I finally found a possible soundtrack for those educational posters I saw in many studios of dentists to explain the importance of brushing teeth every day, where grinning microbes set their building site to demolish molars while listening to tracks like "Heirengen" or "Urschalling". I could even match stuff like "Zacking" or Middefeitz" to the amplified noises of the digestive system of a woodworm after a bleeding bellyful of furniture! Check these funny experiments out to understand what I mean!

VV.AA.: 1961-2014: An Anthology Of Turkish Experimental Music

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 28 2016
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 1961-2014: An Anthology Of Turkish Experimental Music
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
The series of anthologies, which followed the seven volumes of "An Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music" (released between 2000 and 2012) and the subsequent "Early Electronic" collection (focusing on tracks composed between the 50ies and the 80ies), keeps on expanding over the geographical ones. Following the surprising Anthology of Chinese Experimental Music, the title of this new one about Turkish electronic and experimental scene could be a little bit confusing as the only aged track is the opening one of the first cd, but the importance of its author go beyond Turkish boundaries. Such a temporal gap could be mainly explained by the fact that the interest in electronic music arrived relatively late in Turkey, thanks to the academic teachings by composers, who got in touch with electronic devices out of their native country and Bülent Arel, the composer of the above-mentioned "Postlude From Music For A Sacred Service" (1961), was one of those eminent expats. In reality, he just received many mouthwatering proposals from foreign countries, including the one by the Rockefeller Foundation, which invited him to join the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, and Yale University, where he projected and installed its electronic music laboratory and taught from 1961 to 1970, before being recognized as one of the most brilliant innovators of looping techniques. Another key figure of this almost unknown 'exotic' scene, lhan Mimarolu, the son of the notorious architect Mimar Kemaleddin Bey (a famous face on 20 Turkish lira banknote), moved to the USA after a Rockefeller Scholarship and studied at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center as well, under Vladimir Ussachevsky; his contribution to music, in general, is also related to his record label, Finnadar Records, his precious contribution to the OST of Fellini's "Satyricon" and his role in the release of "Changes One" and "Changes Two" by Charles Mingus and its experience in the field of soundtrack and contemporary classical music is evident on the evocative track that got included in this compilation "Prelude No.17 [Istanbul Fog]". The boom of electronic music occurred later both within academies and universities (Cenk Ergün, Koray Tahiroglu, Mehmet Can Özer) and the noise-oriented avantgarde (Mete Sezgin, Nilüfer Ormanl, Utku Tavil), but the Turkish experimental scene is more complex and opulent than many could imagine. This anthology, compiled by Batur Sönmez and Erdem Helvacioglu and split into two CDs, tries to embrace such a complexity and multifaceted scene. CD1 includes more 'academic' stuff that often get close to serialism and concrete musique, while the second covers a wide range of ambient music, samplers, and even stuff with references to political issues such as the impressive "Democracy Lessons" by Asaf Zeki Yuksel, the gorgeous abstract glitch ambient of "The Monopoly Of Victim Status" and the traditional folk-spotted "I Want To Be A Suicide Bomber" by Sifir, but I'm pretty sure that many listeners will get impressed by the broad stylistic range of this selection and the quality of these mostly unknown (to the masses) Turkish forward-looking musicians.

Umpio: Opium Electronix Vol. IV

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 26 2016
Artist: Umpio (@)
Title: Opium Electronix Vol. IV
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Distributor: radionoise
An existentialist listen in an increasingly existential world, Russia-based Umpio's meditative Opium Electronix Vol IV edition renders the meaning of life, meaningless. A cursory visit to the Umpio website proclaims, “There's no scene like no scene!”, now how existential is that? Or let us take the project name, Umpio, which means 'Vacuum' in Finnish, we are constantly directed to The Emptiness. Listening to this album is probably what being a part of the SETI Institute must be like, scanning the vast, endless heavens for an echo of a signal from some sentient civilization. Sure, you get the odd, random burst of radiation fluctuations, the flutter from a distant quasar, or probe signals bouncing off natural satellites. However, if you listen to deep space ambience long enough , you eventually get struck with the realization that whether there are other sentient beings or not is moot, we are all pulsing along with the Universe in unison, regardless of cognizance, a blip in the infinite. Opium Electronix IV is a live recording (in Finland) of a noise session by Pentti Dassum, the front man behind Umpio, culled from improvised feedback noise, electrical contacts, radio static, and tape loops, among other equipment. The results straddle the line between noise and ambient and what at first listen seems like empty static yields microcosms of life during deeper listens. These noises ebb and flow like tides against a cosmic shore with chirps and hums not different from crickets and other insects on a beach at night. A case where art unwittingly reflects nature, we are all a part of the void and the void is within us. A not unpleasant listen that facilitates meditative thought and deep insights.

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