Monday, January 25, 2021

Music Reviews

Francisco López: untitled #346

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Artist: Francisco López (@)
Title: untitled #346
Format: CD + Book
Label: Krisis Publishing (@)
Rated: * * * * *
I get a fair amount of requests via email for reviews, interviews, etc., by artists, labels, and third party publicists and promoters, some within the parameter of Chain D.L.K. genres, and some not, some for digital only releases, and others where there is a physical product (but the party is either too lazy, cheap, or reluctant for some reason) to send me a physical copy. Most of these requests get ignored, especially the ones where there is a physical copy of the work but isn't sent to me. (As long as a physical copy is sent to me, I will review it...eventually, provided it falls within Chain D.L.K.'s genre parameters.) There are exceptions to this for certain works I find interesting, and feel that it deserves exposure that it might not have had otherwise, and such is the case with this one.

'untitled #346' is a sound work by Francisco López and a text by Salomé Voegelin, with an introduction by Leandro Pisano. Both work and text ask: “How sound can push us towards the limits of what we consider as listening? How sound art pushes us to investigate the threshold that separates the audible from the imagined, constructing sound worlds in which memory gathers in the imperceptible of matter?” This work was commissioned by the Fundación Juan March for the exhibition ‘Escuchar con los ojos. Arte sonoro en España, 1961-2016’.
(‘Listening with the Eyes. Sound Art in Spain, 1961-2016’), curated by José Iges and José Luis Maire (Madrid, Spain, October 2016–January 2017). The original environmental sound matter was recorded at the Fundación Juan March building (Madrid) in 2016. Mutated, edited, composed, mixed and mastered at Dune Studio (Loosduinen), Summer 2016.

'Untitled #346' is one long track running 43:20 in length, a soundscape comprised primarily of industrial sounds and loops, and perhaps some electronics. To those Chain D.L.K. readers who enjoy industrial and noise soundscapes, this should be familiar and welcome territory. Where there is sound (and there are spaces/places in this work where sound is definitely absent, such as the dead silence 25:37 for a couple of minutes until a very low sub-harmonic tone is barely discernible) there is more often than not repetition in the looping of sound segments. This gives the impression of mechanical activity, or life in the hum-drum.

There are actually several phases in 'untitled #346.' The first phase begins with some kind of light mechanical repetition, the impression of the operation of a small precision machine. The next phase is very light, low noise, indicative of a furnace pilot light; I definitely get the impression of flame -heated air. The next phase has some twisty squeaky foley sounds, perhaps hand manipulation of some plastic elements. This morphs into a steady drone with a timed repetitive small chain striking element. The next phase (overlapping the previous) is definitely repetitive-mechanical, until it is squelched by a huge ship horn, which is joined by a secondary one of a different tone. Overlapping this, a metallic mechanical loop (which could be a digging machine, or something to do with construction) repeats for a long time. Other mechanical elements are added along the way. The next phase is the (aforementioned) silence leading into the sub-harmonic tone. Following that lengthy quiet interlude, the next phase that emerges sounds like a subway, or at least subterranean in its distant reverberation. This phase ceases at 32:44 and the next begins with what sounds like rain on a tin roof, maybe even pouring down a drainpipe. The rain sound morphs into a sort of semi-rhythmic slapping, lightly at first but becoming more forceful until the rain sound becomes crushingly torrential. After that, there is a series of mechanical sounds to conclusion.

This is a most interesting work, but I feel as though I've only been able to partially explore it without Salomé Voegelin's text. Anyone can draw their own conclusions as to what it might mean, and truth be told, not everyone always reads the "liner notes" to every sound recording they hear and/or purchase. The premise and execution are laudable, but I feel as though it still needs some deeper elucidation, which I find myself at a loss to provide. Fans of Nurse With Wound, Dead Voices On Air, Einstürzende Neubauten, and similar artists should find this work appealing.

Francisco Meirino: A New Instability

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Artist: Francisco Meirino
Title: A New Instability
Format: 10"
Label: The Helen Scarsdale Agency
“A New Instability” was first presented as a 32-channel piece at Ina-GRM in Paris, who commissioned it. Now, it has been mixed down into stereo for more casual consumption- a two-part, thirty-minute gradually unfolding pseudo-drama of noise, drone and human atmospherics. In varying combinations- sometimes slow waves, sometimes more abrupt drops and switches- drones, hums and glitches are introduced and removed.

A kendo dojo in Switzerland provides the majority of the human sonic material, and the pull between crowd fighting sounds- even if only practices- and the resolutely sombre and arhythmic drone work provides the contrast at the core of the work. The fighting sounds sometimes seem quite brutal, though their usage and volume is so subtle that it’s hard to be sure. The fighting records remind me of CNSNNT’s’ “J”, even though that piece is brutal and this work is an exercise in softening the violence.

Side B offers up more in the way of short electronic bleeps that feel skittish and make proceedings feel more uncomfortable, and longer alarm-ish sine waves that provide an uncomfortable tension- amplifying the contrast between the percussive but ultimately safe fighting sounds and the digital drama happening alongside.

It’s an unusual work, and in stereo, curiously understated- experiencing it in a higher-channel-count environment could potentially have been very disorientating, whereas here, the disquiet is a gentle itch rather than dizzying. Intriguing soundscaping.

iou3R: SostreterrA

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Artist: iou3R
Title: SostreterrA
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Synth Vicious / Aloud Music

BUY from HERE or BUY from HERE
This is the second full lenght album by spanish post core / experimental / drone trio iou3R following last years exceptional 'La Serp EP' (see reviews). It's conceptionally split in two parts - a Terra (Darker) and a Ceiling (Lighter) side, hence the title which evolved from both.
The Catalan troupe shyed no effort to surpass any expectations with this, f.e. female guest vocalists hailing from the theatrical scene recorded and interpreted the lyrics given to them freely, which then got incorperated in the material brightening the soundpool evolving out of synths, theremin, guitars, bass, percussion and samples. All tracks are segued into each other so the constant mutations and movements catch the listener as a whole experience.
Starting with "NEVED", an claustrophobic intro, dark ambience is paired with a dynamic and errupting female voice before "Me'l Duré" amazes with a lovely vocal intro and rockish structures which turn into an unexpected crescendeo not too far away from classic post punk.
A shorter version of the preceding EP's title track "La Serp" appears - here the darker atmospherics take over once more, brightened up by spoken words but filled with an unbroken tension.
The 'Sostre' side starts calmer; nearly meditative piano sounds broadening the mood before melancholy leaks in and transforms "El Caos" into "Inspiri/Expiri".The final track "Arima Ito Duzu" features guest vocals by Karlos Osinaga (of Lisabö) - in Euskera, the eldest spoken language in Europe, while all other vocals are in Catalan, which leaves lyrically not very much clues for the rest of the world. Here iou3R are moving from a comforting alt rockish start to an postcore finale with an final emotional outburst as conclusion.

While 'SostreterrA' at first seems more accessible compared to their first 'Escornalbou' which kept the levels on a steady high it's strength lies in it's flow of diversity and contrasting sounds supporting each other. iou3R master musical experience, a variety of styles, development and attitude in one go and instead of getting lost in possible sidetracks they know perfectly how to keep a listeners attention.
As a whole this album is just 36 minutes in total length and this is all they need to impress sustainable.

The vinyl version is available in just 200 copies but considering the care they take in everything surely well worth getting if you're into timeless and crossfading-genres music.

VV.AA.: Inside The Univack, Vol. 6

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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Inside The Univack, Vol. 6
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Univack
The sixth six-pack compilation from the Univack label is half made up of the winners from a competition called “Progressive En España”, where a jury selected their favourite progressive house tracks from submissions. So in a genre where to be steadily unnoticeable is not always a criticism, there must have been something the jury heard in these tracks to impress, and if I had to guess I’d say it was production quality rather than originality.

Not Demure’s “Hang In There” ticks along until a nice toothy, decidedly synthwave drop, while Daniel Camarillo & Noil’s “Caresess” features a range of vocal snippets and effects that make it feel like a dub version that ought to have a full vocal version floating around somewhere. Orgymu5ik’s “Space” has large doses of ‘90’s progressive, adding a little urgency and then plenty of sci-fi atmospherics and reverb in the drop.

The three competition tracks fit in well with the other three tracks in the release. High On Mars’ “The Dark Bedlam” isn’t bedlam but it’s dark, with an entertainingly ravey stab lead melody arriving just before the three minute mark. Despite its name, “Symphonic” from Nasser Tawfik and Messier is quite unambitious and feels a bit routine.

Whosane! & Essio’s “Flying Spaced Tipsy Stoned” is the anachronism of the pack, thanks mainly to spoken-sung vocals from Eva layered thickly across the whole track. It’s got much more of a party vibe but it’s interesting to hear that get melded with moodier prog house elements.

It’s a very strong pack of tracks- unsurprisingly, since half of it was chosen by a jury- with an undeniable production quality. Only one of the six tracks seems to want to stand out, but as a DJ friendly reliable bundle it packs a lot of quality.

Endif: Falling Into The Sky

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Artist: Endif (@)
Title: Falling Into The Sky
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Manual Control Records
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: * * * * *
It has taken 12 years until Jason Hollis could decide to return with a new album of his IDM / Ambient-Electronica / Rhythmic Noise music alter ego Endif, his third so far. Since it has been a while back let's bring his earlier works back into your memory, when Jason has counted to best signed projects of such renowned labels like Crunch Pod (album “Meta” out in 2006) and Tympanik Audio (album “Carbon” out in 2008). Once highly praised and named in a same row with such outstanding projects like Terrorfakt, E.S.A., Alter Der Ruine, Pneumatic Detach, Cervello Elettronico, C/A/T, Caustic and/or Manufactura, Jason surely had his heydays in the mid-2000s, just in those days when the Rhythmic-Noise movement became relatively popular.
He now presents us under his own Manual Control label this new album which is sort of a collection of the things recorded in between. The time span of these tracks includes the years in between 1999 and 2015 and these tracks have been constructed in different cities (Reno, Seattle and at least Minneapolis, where Jason nowadays lives).
The first impression was a bit strange I have to admit and it took me a while until I noticed that artists tend to develop instead to repeat themselves over and over again. Same has happened to Endif plus it also has to be noticed that Jason seemingly produces differently than before, I guess the “Everything-on-this-album-was-sequenced-and-assembled-in-Fruity-Loops-edited-in-Cool-Edit-Pro”-times of the “Meta” album are gone for good.
“Modularism” is magic word of Jason's creation processes and the booklet gives some interesting summaries how each of the tracks have been constructed. It's a rather more glitch, experimental-minded Electronica outlet, much lesser straight oriented than on the both albums before. The often pronounced European Electronica influence with which Endif has been often confronted has almost gone, abstractly produced but still densely installed Ambient-Electronica-layers leading the scenario appointed by a massive and crunchy poly-rhythmic percussion feast.
Asides the dark voice samples in “Blind Angels” you'll get a real projectile-like bombardment placed into the wide stereo field blown through your head (use a pair of good headphones!).But since this albums extracts its content out of different time epochs, I strangely found the oldest one “City” with its massive interruptions of the complete song structure as being one the outstanding tune on here (“Antiquated time-stretch algorithms and photoshopped beats fillet superheated Moog blasts and Mono/Poly blips. It's a feature, not a bug” - so the info of the artist). And with “Dislocation” and moreover “Grain Of Sand” he finally returns into that area of a more accessible style, even if the latter one ends in a another anarchistic sound chaos.
What still impresses is the crispy and crystal-clear sound production out of Jason's studio, this meticulously mastered by Michael Dietel. Even if this album as a whole needs some more spins to get completely via the ear-drums into the brain, this is for sure one of the state-of-art albums in this rather experimental kind of modern IDM / Electronica-music.