Long-established Lithuania-based sound artist Gintas K has offered up a single-track 44-minute work Amnesia, and it is experimental noise work that really demands the listener’s attention. A controlled chaos of glitches, squeaks, and distorted percussive sounds, played out on a bed of rumbling drones and slow creaks and with garnishes of high-pitched hisses and noise washes, it’s a soundscape with a great deal of texture, that draws you in to listen to the details.
It’s not without structure or form though, by any means, and the relatively violent opening could misrepresent some of the later movement. There are comparatively more measured sections, such as around the nine minute mark- I wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘calm’, but everything’s relative by this stage. Particular mention is due to the bold drop around 27 minutes, which works as though the motor powering the melée is manually wound down, leaving a hollow ambient expanse which, when it winds back up again, feels consciously changed- more wooden, more mechanical but less of a metropolis.
Sometimes there’s pulsing and throbbing that offers up a rhythm, of sorts, though the other elements seem to go out of their way to avoid it (e.g. sixteen minutes in). There are moments that are alien, moments that are quasi-industrial, and at times it borders in the bizarre. The detuned honky-tonk piano sounds audible around six minutes in seem almost tongue-in-cheek, though later on it does contribute a more conventional abstract melodic element. The cut-up work around 37 minutes is expressive to the point of feeling vocal, one of several “how did they do that?” moments. The alarm clock tones just before the 40th minute are rather on-the-nose and signal the beginning of the final bookend of noise, providing a symmetry with the frantic opening. It’s not all gradual fades and progressions, either- with a little over one minute to go, the waveform drops off a cliff before a nearly-romantic postscript.
It’s a well-executed deep manoeuvre in experimental noise control, with a great deal of latent and hard-nosed beauty lurking under a noisy shell. It’s well worth cracking through that shell and exploring.
9cento9 is a solo alter ego of Marco Milanesio of DsorDNE which he invented in the 2000's. Most of the time used for experimental tinged ambient electronic works 'Reflected' is not an exception but an further exploration.
Recorded in May during lockdown in Italy and self-published via his own HUM_an Netlabel this is a fine example of today's independent production and release possibilities.
Reflected is worth listening especially in the quieter moments; interesting movements of electronic layers, carefully arranged beats supporting the moods and shades of harmonies appearing unexpected. Thoughtful Electronica reflecting the times we all have to go through. Self reflection, questionable future perspectives, a little nostalgia.
"Biochemical Reactions" as intro leads into a soundworld where nearly anything can follow, "Structure" promises a way before "Modern Discomfort" uncomfortably chimes in, "Core" dives even deeper before "Perpetual Sound" appears as mixture of soothing and stretching at once before "Slow Motion" as in a hydropower plant sets in.
The final track "Provides Energy" is a strange 10 Minute + outro which leaves me confused - Is it Irony to call it this? It's a troubling, discomforting ride to somewhere entirely else, a bewildering conclusion returning to the themes of "Modern Discomfort" but in it's very exhausting version.
No words can be as meaningful as words for those able to listen closely.
Siegmar Fricke is a long-standing contributor to the experimental electronic / dance music world. The German producer (who also works as a visual artist) began releasing music in the mid 80s and has produced many albums across a variety of styles including industrial, techno and ambient.
Funkwellen (translated as “radio waves”) is described in the press release as “melodic based sequencer driven work with…futurist appeal”. The album itself has quite a history. Originally recorded in 1994 at Fricke’s Pharmakustik Studio, the work was not released until 2008 when it surfaced as a free download in a different form with a slightly different tracklist. It has now been reassembled and remastered by Fricke, and this “definitive edition” is available as a 24 bit high quality download.
The music itself is quite brilliant. The whole record has been approached with a rare attention to detail and subtlety. Its melodies, grooves and robotic loops owe much to house and techno, but it also contains an underlying and ever-present arty weirdness. This is not “hard” dance music, but it marches forward with enough intent and drive for it not to sit comfortably in the “ambient” category. The beats often seem to be right on the edge of climax, but instead they gracefully hold back. This has the effect of holding the listener on the edge of their seat, energised and alert. The synth sounds are expertly jigsawed together. Angular and disorientating sequenced arpeggios mesh with warm atmospheric pads. Repeated samples of single words or short disembodied phrases in German or English come in and out over the top. By its nature this music is repetitive, but Funkwellen artfully pulls off the trick of creating subtle and sometimes barely-perceptible variation bar-by-bar. New synth parts and samples rise up and fall away whilst filters, reverbs, delays and panning are constantly being controlled to generate dynamic motion.
Funkwellen is evocative. It paints an ever-shifting mood journey. There is hopeful excitement and there is cold bleakness. Sometimes these feelings coexist. The palette of sounds is familiar, but its application is idiosyncratic. It will energise you, it will stimulate deep thought, it will make you feel something, and it will hold your attention.
If you like to think as well as to dance, and if you enjoy having your expectations subverted, then Funkwellen by Siegmar Fricke is album you should hear.
Funkwellen is available now via Bandcamp.
The self-titled debut release of Cernichov was actually recorded some time ago - between October 2017 and April 2018 - but got recently discovered and reissued by limited edition specialists Cathedral Transmissions from the UK (whose version is already sold out as of today).
It's 5 tracks, developed as the first collaboration from Bruxelles based David Gutman (who also releases experimental ambient and improvised music as Drawing Virtual Gardens a.o.) with Torino based Marco Mazzucchelli, are too refreshing to be called Dark Ambient.
There is constant movement, transformation and a sublimity in the use of sounds which makes it easy to listen to this as a whole. None of the tracks outstays it's welcome, in fact my favourite is even the longest one "Dissipated Poets".
The well constructed and mastered pieces are drones - painting a mood picture which is open to individual interpretation. As such they actually work as ambience too and very well.
As of now Cernichov are working on their second Album which should appear later this year and is definitively something to look forward to.
Established Israeli singer-songwriter and film composer Zoe Polanski, with help from producer Aviad Zinemanas, offers up a very lush nine-pack of leisurely dream pop with a shoegazey but generally optimistic feel. Slow instrumental patterns blending synths and acoustics roll quietly along, while Polanski’s reverb-laden vocal wafts like a cloud over the top. “There’s nothing violent about these musical flowers”, as a proper music journalist might say.
Though the term ‘ambient’ is referenced a few times, most pieces have a relatively conventional pop structure, like the folky radio-friendly “Pharoah’s Island”, the more synthpop-leaned “The Willows”, or the bright and almost naive-sounding lullaby-like “Ya’ar Bein Olamot (Forest Between Worlds)”. Even the more ‘out there’ pieces, like the nicely Tangerine Dream-like arpeggios and slow build of interlude piece “Humdolbt Current”, always have a rhythm at their heart, even if it’s a very mild one.
Highlights include the nicely infectious “Closer”- which, thanks to the slightly heavier percussion and faster tempo, is rather upbeat by this album’s standards- and by contrast, the more mesmerising simple patterns of “Slopes”. The purposeful synth chords of “Bubbles” hint at a little more attitude, but it’s a mood that seems to pass quickly.
I do have a sense that I would probably connect to the emotive vocals a little more if I could more confidently make out what the lyrics were. The treatment is so dreamy, so effect-laden and stuff, that sometimes vocally it feels like a string of loose vowels or Enya-style wordless vocalisations. Anyone who wants to really connect emotionally to the story side of this release might need a lyric sheet.
Polanski has been a supporting act for acts like Swans, Tame Impala and Alessandro Cortini, and you can see why that arrangement would work well. Lacking the cut-through melody, distinctive character or hooks that would make her steal the show, Polanski’s music is liable to remain the warm-up act, though musically it might be more appropriate to call it the cool-down act. But what a beautifully measured and refined output it is.