Music Reviews

The Agromaniac: AM

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 15 2015
Artist: The Agromaniac (@)
Title: AM
Format: CD
Label: Ressonus (@)
The Agromaniac is a US-based experimental electronic artist who, according to the label, 'stays strictly in anonymity.' I suppose that may be why I hadn't heard of him (they do reveal the gender at least). The press sheet that came with the disc states that '80% of the sounds on this record were created using a human voice. Besides stunning industrial-techno tracks, 'AM' also offers a proper portion of atmospheric dark ambient pieces' and explains that it is 'loosely inspired by Harlan Ellison's short story 'I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.'' Sounds promising, so let's get down to the music. The disc opens with 'And When It Sang To Us, The Earth Shook,' which is pretty stripped down machine-like beats. However, this, along with the next few songs, are a bit too repetitive for my tastes. They seem more like sketches for songs, where you lay down the drum tracks and maybe a bit of synth and then plan to flesh it out later. Only you don't. Had this been the rest of the album, it would have been pretty dull; one of those moments where the idea was cool, but the execution was lacking. It's only when we get to 'Cain' that the compositions become a bit more complex and interesting. However, then we slip right back into the stripped down techno beats in 'Threads.' At times it gets a little weird; 'Growth' sounds like someone trying to create whale songs with feedback. But there are some high points to this album. 'Waste,' 'We Were Silenced,' and 'AM' are much more ambient, with lush drone that was quite pleasant. For me, this was a mixed bag. The Agromaniac is at his best when he really builds up the songs and creates an atmosphere. Of course, some people like repetition (think Plastikman and Sonar, for example), but I like a bit more variety so your mileage may vary. I will be interested to see how this project evolves, since there does seem to be some good potential here.

I-LP-O In Dub: Communist Dub

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 14 2015
Artist: I-LP-O In Dub
Title: Communist Dub
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Editions Mego
Rated: *****
Ilpo Vaisanen, one leg of the highly appreciated Pan Sonic artistic liaison together with Mika Vainio, has often grasped ska and Jamaican dub sonorities in many of his (both solo and collaborative) outputs, but the usage of Dub wrapping on this release is slightly different from the conventional way of transplanting the "language" of a genre into another artistic entity. You could imagine that Ilpo used dub as an algorithm to process the usual historical reflection about the adverse environmental and mental effects of any kind of -isms, where the choice of the reference to communism in the title shouldn't be considered as a specific target. You can guess such a concept by the plenty of references to old and contemporary entries in human history ("Uncle Ho Sticks", "Benghazi Affair", "Donetsk Disciples", "Donbass Hybrid" and so on); any -ism is the hardening of a seemingly agreeable value or word that gradually lead to the degradation and the brutalisation of the supposedly desirable idea of civilization those -isms were seemingly tryng to reach. "Hardness and strength are death's companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win", said Aleksandr Kajdanovskij in Tarkovskij's masterpiece Stalker and Ilpo's declension of dub seems to let stiff and fluid sonic entities, sliding frictionless echoes and heavily bumping attritions collide in order to render such a concept. The "sunniest" moments occur in the track with references to rudealis, a variety of cannabis that grows in the coldest areas of Siberia and Mongolia, whose natural behaviour has something to say to humans: the low temperature of the regions where it grows seems to persuade the plant to embrace other species and foster crossbreeds... Check it out!

Diatribes: Great Stone/Blood Dunza

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 14 2015
Artist: Diatribes (@)
Title: Great Stone/Blood Dunza
Format: 12"
Label: Aussenraum Records (@)
I had previously reviewed a collaboration between Diatribes & Abdul Moimeme and enjoyed it, so I was interested to hear this installment. The label describes the album this way: 'Diatribes deconstruct two classical roots reggae tunes from the 1970's. The sources are extended to an electro-acoustic approach resulting in two highly detailed textures of completely different character. Spring reverbs, noises, chords and even rhythm fragments appear and disappear.' Sounds interesting, but on putting it on the turntable, I found that the execution was not as engaging. This is reeeaaaally minimal. 'Blood Dunza' consists of snippets of drone interspersed by periods of silence. Flipping the album over, we have 'Great Stone,' which is a bit more engaging, but still heavy on the drone. As the liner notes explain, the whole point was to break the tracks apart, but in this case, Diatribes chose to go completely microscopically, breaking apart each component part and then subjecting it to a close examination. However, if you like really intricate, minimalist drone, this may be up your alley. This is limited to 300 copies on 180g vinyl.

Primeval Genius: Machinist In The Underworld

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 14 2015
Artist: Primeval Genius
Title: Machinist In The Underworld
Format: 12"
Label: Suitcase (@)
Rated: *****
Primeval Genius is the work of Michigan-based Anupadaka Godchild (aka Laura Jean Housley). The press sheet describes this music as "a surreal and esoteric style that is difficult to describe and equally compelling to hear. Post punk, no wave, post industrial, gothic, neo folk, drone, witch house - none seem to apply but all could be referenced throughout this 11 track journey of lo-fi avant pop music." But a shout out to John Zewizz (of Sleep Chamber) in the liner notes is what really piqued my interest. When putting this on, the first thing I am struck with was how retro it sounds. We have old-school analogue synth with drum machine and distorted female vocals that would be right at home with 1980's electro bands. Imagine if 'Some Great Reward' era Depeche Mode or Ceta Javu was much more bitter, teamed up with Front 242, listened to Master/Slave Relationship, and read a lot of John Dee and Aleister Crowley. Yes, there is definitely an eschatological bent to this music, with lyrics like 'I build machines fueled by human screams.' The vocals are chanted as much as they are sung, although 'Children of the Voices of God' has an almost sultry feel to it, which stood out from the other tracks. The songs are short and to the point, although they start to sound pretty similar. This album is limited to 300 copies on Clear Blue vinyl.

Dorota: Frik

 Posted by mad:dog   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 14 2015
Artist: Dorota (@)
Title: Frik
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
'Frik' is the latest concept album from the experimental Budapest-based trio Dorota and comes as a product of a 4 years long process comprised of 3 albums ('Kisoroszi - Saints and Spaces', 'Miss Favour', 'Nagyoroszi - Bad Nature and Occultism'), 2 films and an interactive website ( featuring texts, visual art and images all created by the trio. As an audiovisual whole, 'Frik' seems to be working towards compressing the identity of Dorota but if you temporally 'extract' these 3 albums from their overall project, they would still be working as a rich whole themselves. With dizzying chords to command your instant consideration and flirting with tribal rhythms overlaid with unprocessed strings, 'Kisoroszi - Saints and Spaces' bears noteworthy accents and percussion that seem cropped from ceremonial scenarios while 'Miss Favour' actually brings some melodic lines and piano touches along the way. But don't be fooled, Dorota is still playing so their thick sound still comes peppered with layered distortions, nervous guitar strumming and chilling recorded messages that could inhibit any impulse to dance. At a more insidious pace, 'Nagyoroszi - Bad Nature and Occultism' sometimes moulds into whopping passages disrupted by feverish violin disintegrations and cavernous vocals lingering on the brink of apathy. Overall, 'Frik' articulates a pretty fetching and expensive landscape that constricts and expends at its own will. It's the kind of ambient journey that allows you to plug in with your own inner scenery if only you would allow it. However, it does not come gently or softly on your eardrums as it pairs down soft touches with noise, prancing percussion and sample assaults only to drop a riotous diversity that is difficult to pin down. Or you could label it as being experimental simply because you do not know what else is left to say. All three albums are already available on the band's Bandcamp profile.

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