Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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Music Reviews

Artist: Lyndon Scarfe
Title: Shoreline
Format: CD + Download
Label: Cue Dot Records

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Lyndon Scarfe might still be best known as the original keyboarder of The Danse Society up to Heaven Is Waiting. More recently he appeared as guitarist with The Black Lamps, an alternative rock band from Barnsley with roots in the post punk scene and as a solo artist in the minimal darker ambient realm with a.o. the highly recommended albums Music For A Lost Film Vol.1 & Vol.2.
Contrary to those he wanted Shoreline to be a result of more spontaneous and improvised working. He created a looped recording device which feeds the signal back to itself and decays and distorts this. On top of these results he added more layers to create the tracks we find here now. As they all where recorded during a short period of time (during lockdown end of May to June 2020) and are results of this process the result is even more coherent than his other well constructed releases.
The seven tracks which clock in at 53 Minutes are full of very distant layers and enough space for personal reflection without ever digging to deep or too long.
An ebb and flow of soothing and comforting sounds, no voices, no rhythms needed for a pictorial impression of standing on the shoreline (watching the waves, feeling the winds and time passing by... ) an idea which he admits had accompanied him while being captured in the middle of the UK.

This release was also available in very ltd. quantities as CD but sold out before the official release day - 50 copies only is somewhat a shame as there had been at least 51 buyers (with me)!

Artist: Edoardo Cammisa (@)
Title: Flux
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: LINE (@)
I was on the point of writing this review while listening to this release by Edoardo Cammisa (also known as Banished Pills), when I realised I had to stop typing to follow the suggestions by its author in order to appreciate the listening experience as much as possible. He or maybe Richard Chartier, mentor, curator and owner of LINE imprint, warmly recommends doing nothing but listen, as "Flux" is purposefully “aimed at contemplating nothingness and its manifestations”, so that it's recommended to do nothing while using a good pair of headphones and listen to the release at a mid-low volume level. The nine minutes lasting incipit "Towards a Flux" begins by one minute of snapshots rendered through field recordings, preceding a ghostly haze of distant pads, where other entities and field recordings of distant voices or physical actions resurface little by little (some of them sound more like captures of hydrophones), as if they were moments getting out of a mnemonic pool, before getting dissolved in the above-mentioned nothingness. The full-fledged "Flux" is a sonic trip of more than 40 minutes, where the suggestion by the author makes sense as its immersive effect cannot be really appreciated if you're doing anything else that could distract your mind from the sonic source. A rough reminiscence of a loop can be rendered by a sort of buzzing noise of some electric system, permeating the first third of the track, but many changes and many seemingly weird entities will appear within the fences evoked by this hypnotic buzz. The low level of volume of the first minutes can make you feel noises generated by your own body or slight noises from the environment and their apparent merge with Edoardo's "Flux" (forged by this list of tools, as reported on Line introduction: hydrophone, binaural and contact microphones, magnetic tape, broken walkman, sine and triangle waves) can be part of the listening experience as well. The frequencies, that will appear and draw cycles around the listening sphere of the audience over the track, can be imagined as fibrous parts that gradually detaches from the main core to wrap the listeners by other mental images and feelings. Do nothing and listen then!

Artist: KMFDM
Title: In Dub
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Operations of transplant of a genre into a completely different one often smells like an attempt of flirting to a different market, and this grasp of some of the most known KMFDM songs into dub grounds could be too condescendingly labelled in this way. Finding points of contact between industrial/rock and dub/reggae is not that easy, even there were some interesting attempts of melting together some elements of these two styles were done by bands like Meat Beat Manifesto, Swamp Terrorists or Pressure Drop (to mention just a few), particularly in the 90ies. In a recent interview, Sascha Konietzko, the lead of this punky industrial-rock band, that got famous for a style that never adheres to a purist definition of industrial music, besides the awesome covert artworks by Aidan "Brute!" Hughes (fostering his inspiration by means of Italian futurists, Russian constructivists and Golden Age comics), said he was remarkably influenced by dub and reggae while moving the very first steps in productions. Furthermore, he considered punk and reggae as strictly connected, not only for the common criticism against society in respective ages, but also for some technical aspects. Besides his words, the clearer evidence of some connections with dub (besides some tracks within the huge discography over more than 35 years of activism) is maybe their last album "Paradise", whose opening track "K-M-F", featuring Andrew "Ocelot" Lindsley, has been reshuffled and inserted in the tracklist of "In Dub" (...and that 'Bing Bing Bong Bong' vocal excerpt perfectly fits to the new dub-reggae suite!) together with a nice dub version of the title-track "Paradise", re-titled "Para Dub", and "No God", which didn't need any particular retouching as it was a proper dub song with an industrial-rock injection in the middle. Any possible doubts on the meaning of such an operation of conversion of KMFDM song files into a dub format will definitely fade away after the awesome level fo quality of some of these conversions: my favourite ones are songs mostly driven by the voice of Sascha's partner in art and life Lucia Cifarelli, that are "Amnesia" and "Superhero", while the dub version of songs like "Real Thing", renamed "Real Dub Thing", as well as the remake of "Bumaye" where both Sascha and Lucia used to shout on the mic, sound excessively sweetened to me, if compared against their sources, while the pretty surprising dub versions got out from songs that I couldn't imagine that would work in a dub shape such as "A Drug Against War" (retitled "A Dub Against War").

Deison: Substrata

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Artist: Deison
Title: Substrata
Format: 10"
Label: Drone Records

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Italy's Cristiano Deison is a musician active since the mid 90's in the noise / experimental / ambient realms. Many of his releases are collaborative works among them quite known names like John Duncan, K.K. Null or Maurizio Bianchi.
This EP is part 28 of the ongoing Substantia Innominata series by Drone Records.

Substrata features three new atmospheric compositions based on prepared tapes, metals, strings, wires and electronics recorded on different locations assembled and processed afterwards.
"Terra Firma (Pt. 1 & 2)" is a 16 Minute exploration of organic development, split in two parts. A soft, soothing ambience develops slowly until clear, crystalline sounds evolve and together with calm pulsating deeper sounds which shape together the picture of an acoustic stalagmite cave.
With "Prima Materia" he tries to describe "the primitive formless base of all matter similar to chaos, the quintessence or aether." A bold aspiration which leads to an more diverse soundscape but bearing the same smooth tranquillity. Starting with the same crystalline sounds embedded in a mysterious distant rhythm it shifts into soft ambient paired with distorted everyday noises. A collage which equally occupies the senses as "Terra Firma" and passes faster than the track length suggests.
Side B closes with an short afterthought, "In Vacuo Momentum", which plays with channels and sounds leaving the impressions of passing whales deep down in the Ocean.

Deison's compositions have an very organic feel to it, illustrated on the cover with what could be a spiderweb on a rusty fence hit by raindrops. The green, transparent Vinyl of this edition of 300 supports the artistic vision appropriately.

KMRU: Peel

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Artist: KMRU
Title: Peel
Format: 12" x 2
Label: Editions Mego
Nairobi-based KMRU (aka Joseph Kamaru) has joined up with Editions Mego to offer up a blend of electronics and Kenyan field recordings that is predominantly ambient. Contrasts run deep, as the colder-sounding electronic pads and drones blend with warmer, thicker textures, but the overall tone is stretched and slowed and minimised (with exceptions) into something both abstract and mesmeric.

Across six long pieces, totalling 76 minutes, a trusted format is followed. Different tones and notes are used, but each one is essentially a variant on the same velvety bed of fixed melody, with more organic elements sounding like they’re happening outside. “Well” is somewhat closer and tighter-sounding, while “Solace”, unsurprisingly from the title, feels more barren and melancholic, with a faintly breathing pulse under.

An exception to the generally minimalist tone is “Klang”, a much more room-filling arrangement with an endless feeling of building and waking that never seems to climax. It’s like an orchestra warming up, but an orchestra made of synths and city life, and it feels quite overwhelming after being lulled into the calm that preceded it. “Insubstantial” restores the calm after and offers the album’s most melodic loop pattern, albeit a faint one.

The title track is the last and longest piece, a slightly cleaner-sounding 23-minute slow progression around a two-chord pattern that pretty much sums up the whole release.

It’s not as adventurous or diverse as some might hope, nor does it have the ‘ethnic identity’ that Europeans or Americans might stereotypically expect from African music, but as a richly textured calm piece of ambient, it’s like a high quality quilt.


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