Sunday, September 27, 2020
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Music Reviews

Artist: Etrusca 3D (Spencer Clark & Francesco Cavaliere)
Title: Etrusca 3D
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Pacific City Discs / Discrepant
There’s a curious concept behind Etrusca 3D, where Cavaliere recites the names of various deities from the ancient Italian civilisation, at various intensities, and then the two loop them and use them as the core of electronica compositions that attempt to add further instrumental narrative to the chanting.

The result, however, isn’t nearly as reverential or ethereal as it is pitched as. Instead, it has to be described as playful. Pitching the voices up and down in a sampler has an old-school, 1980’s, ‘joy of sampling’ feel to it and in pieces like “Il Demone Blu” it feels like it’s channelling the early work of JJ Jeczalik more than it’s channelling any ancient Gods. This is reinforced by the analogue synths used for some of the melody lines in tracks like “Tuchulcha”, and the somewhat lo-fi treatment of the vocal sounds at times.

When it’s at its weirdest, such as in the lengthy textured dialogue of “Velathri”, is actually when it’s at its least successful, but when it gets a bit of a groove on, such as in “Vanth”, or lets the instrumental music meander in the foreground a little more such as in “Fulmini”, it’s a very enjoyable, almost foot-tapping listen.

So in terms of its conceptual target, it does seem like something of a mis-fire, but as a short (37-minute) playful album of light electronica, it still has a lot of merit.

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: Lovexpress (@)
Title: The Million Year Girl
Format: CD & 12"
Label: Furry Heart Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had been alerted to receiving this record from Furry Heart in Italy by label head Edwina who began to panic when it seemed like it wasn't going to show up because of my change of address. Lo and behold though it did, and both Edwina and I are very glad about that. Lovexpress is an Italian avant garde rock band, with three members, one of which I know. Luca Collivasone - prepared guitar, synth,vocals; Daniele La Barbera - drums, vocals; Lorenzo Chiesa - synth, samples, vocals. It's obviously Luca that I know as I recently reviewed his 'Rumpus Room' release. The one-sheet (actually a two-sheet) I received on the band and the album was rather minimal on band bio concentrating on the band concept and the present album. I did find out online they had a previous release back in 2017, but more than that, I dunno. Lovexpress (aka LUVXPSS) is an unusual sort of rock band. For one thing, Luca plays prepared guitar, the instrument lying on a flat surface, using a non-standard tuning, and played with a multitude of objects, lending a certain unpredictability to the music. Not that it doesn't sound like a guitar, but often more of an avant garde jazz sound than rock, although the music is still rooted in rock. Synths are (mostly) monophonic and generally minimal, with lots of quirky analogue sounds and not used in a typical synthpop way. Drumming is somewhat jazzy and punchy (certainly came across as punchy on the vinyl) and the songs...well, they're out there but not so far as to lose their effectiveness.

I think I can attribute the overall flavor to Mr. Collivasone, who seems to handle most of the lead vocals. A good portion of his vocals are spoke-sung, more like hipster poetry than any conventional pop singing, but he does melodic at times as well. 'The Million Year Girl' is eight tracks in the span of 41 minutes, fairly average for an LP. The opener, "Cracking Knuckles" sets the tone for the rest of the album- somewhat languid with abstract guitar, farty synth bass, modified half-time shuffle rhythm, and Luca's semi-deadpan delivery - "What in the world's come over me? You show me things I should never perceive. Holding your face mock(?) integrity, the unicorn leaps over crystal dreams...Bubble childs look after, double aromatic caster, cracking knuckles, disaster, goddesses of alabaster..." and more to that effect, with a good amount of guitar improvisation in the mix. I especially enjoyed Luca's "hibbity-bibbity-bobbity-boo" (at least what I call it) descending guitar riff on this song. The most memorable thing about the title track (The Million Year Girl) was the euro-siren synth , although the song is part straight-ahead rocker and part art oddity. "Summer of Love" works better, sounding very much like a psychotic psychedelic rocker at first with a very catchy, simple chorus. Gotta love the wah-wah on the guitar too. Where things fall apart a little is when the sampled broadcast material about the Manson murders comes in. Uh, that technically wasn't the Summer of Love (it was a couple years later), but whatever. I'm not keen on extended sampled dialogue anyway.

Moving on, some of "Do What To Do" reminded me a bit of Dali's Car, that Peter Murphy/Mick Karn 1984 collaboration, and that's not a bad thing. "Nothing" recalls the minimal wave of '80s bands like Ruins and Savant, not that many people remember them; largely instrumental and dancey. "Expanding" is like Per Ubu meets Revolting Cocks in the Butthole Surfers' basement. "Too Many Hangups" is perhaps the most normal song on the album, and consequently the least interesting. It all ends with "Voodoo," which seemed reminiscent of Stan Ridgway's Drywall project, and of course, he was Wall of Voodoo's original singer. Still, I liked the song a lot and it provided a satisfying conclusion to the album.

Although I found 'The Million Year Girl' to be an uneven album, there is a lot more good stuff on it than just okay, and as a limited edition on 180 gram vinyl (100 copies only), it's a worthy buy. When Furry Heart runs out of that, there's always the CD. Just one question for Luca- why no cacophonator on the album?

Artist: Internal Fusion
Title: Those Who Are Straight
Format: CD
Label: Oxidation
Rated: *****
The first thing you notice with this album, before you even put the disc in the player, is the packaging. As with other Oxidation discs, this one has some involved packaging. In this case, the CD case is glued to a wooden tile with a photo print and the opposite side has dried moss stuck to the wood. Nice. So on to the music itself. The label describes Internal Fusion as “one of the pioneering dark ambient artists with releases on Staalplaat, Désaccord Majeur, Kokeshidisk, and ta'lem.” Indeed, this French artist has put out some interesting work in the past, so I had high hopes for this one.

This disc consists of one 53 minute track, but you really can't think of it as one track. It is better to think of it as a series of interconnected compositions and there is a lot going on in this album. We begin with some stuttering spoken word that's heavily processed. Over time, there ends up being some noise built into it and someone bowing on a cello and rattling metal and chains. Before you know it, things have become quite noisy. This composition shifts gears constantly. At one point you're in noise and then the next thing you know you have synth lines similar to old Mortiis, which also then dissolves into noise. Slow plodding drum beats mixed with bits of piano tinkling and hissing noise. Everything is grist for the creative mill.

As I listened to this, I was reminded of a play I saw many years ago called La Ronde. The premise of the play is that the characters in it behave as if they're in a round dance. The play begins with two lovers. As one leaves, the story follows the one who leaves to meet up with a different lover. The next scene follows the second lover to a third lover and so on until the last lover is with the first one. This album seems to follow a similar trajectory and that's one of the things that I love about this album. Bits and pieces from the previous segment merge into a second segment which then follows through with a third and so on down the line until at the end we're back to - you guessed it - the distorted voices of the beginning. This is a wonderful album because it manages to keep things changing constantly while maintaining a sense of continuity.

Overall, this is incredibly well-crafted experimental and highly recommended. Get a copy while it is available. The moss edition is limited to 50 copies and the no moss edition is also limited to 50. This album weighs in at 53 minutes.

Artist: Jérémie Mathes
Title: Arkhaîos
Format: 10"
Label: Drone Records (@)
BUY from  HERE
Substantia Innominata is a special 10" series by Drone Records dedicated to artists exploring the intangible and transforming their ideas into exclusive audio works. Most of these have LP length and are limited, high quality pressings on coloured vinyl with special artwork and well known names like Illusion Of Safety, Daniel Menche, Bass Communion, (ext.) to name but a few sit besides nearly unknown artists. This release; Arkhaîos is volume 27, issued in black Vinyl in an edition of 300 copies.
Jérémie Mathes is an French sound artist from the Field Recordings, Experimental, Musique Concrète area with published works on ta'lem and Unfathomless and Hymen Records (in collaboration with Jérôme Chassagnard). Here he's working primary with processed field recordings, for this release made from sounds recorded in an abounded factory site generated with found objects, Tibetan bowl, small bells, percussions, cymbal, a bow, and a violin.
The tones of vacated, empty spaces and it's reflections used do not provide a comfort zone for the listener but while the soundscapes here are special the balance is well kept to distance them from bleak darkness.
Starting with an extended introduction of lonely resounds a slowly approaching intense drone makes up most of "Tómleiki". 19 Minutes filled with static movement, emptiness and an otherworldly view in an altered reality creep slowly forward into an unknown territory. On the other side the second piece "Yliaster" strengthens the impression of having arrived somewhere unknown. It settles down with a powerful 18 Minutes long flow capturing body and soul likewise; Time flies here - or just doesn't matter any longer. Mentally this leads into the underworld of the subconscious but luckily this is Vinyl only so the danger of getting completely lost after hitting the repeat button is banned right from the start.


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