Monday, September 28, 2020
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Artist: 15 Degrees Below Zero (@)
Title: New Travel
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Distributor: Independent Online Distrubution Alliance
Rated: *****
15 Degrees Below’s recent release New Travel is an attempt at a neo-musique concrete sound that is built upon sampled sounds and melodies that are chopped up and reconfigured into a collection of cinematic soundscapes. While the album is very well produced and has an exceptionally good sound quality, it doesn’t really grab or excite you in any way. The problem with this record is that it is simply "typical experimental music." While this phrase may sound like somewhat of an oxymoron in that the goal of experimental music is to be untypical, what I mean here is that in the thirty years that have passed since artists started producing this type of cut and paste music a number of trademark elements have developed that are frequently used and have become synonymous with the genre such as chopped up improve guitar patterns, the random placement of electronic sounds and feedback, and distorted free jazz and lounge samples, all of which this album has. For example, the tracks "Circumference" and "Sunday Drive" for most part sounds like every song that Fred Frith has ever recorded. Though to give credit where it is due there are a few promising tracks on the album such as "Westward," which blends country western style guitar playing with a simplisitc ambient background and "Untitled Tube" which uses distorted guitar sounding samples and subdued ambient synths to a create a mood of hopelessness. These two tracks are the shining stars of New Travel in that they achieve something that many experimental artists can not, which is using unconventional methods to create music that stirs the emotions. If the whole album went in this direction it would have been something special, but unfortunately it did not and was thus dull and does not really offer much that has not already been done before and beaten to death by most experimental artists, which is a shame given that there is definitely the potential to do so.


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