Thursday, February 25, 2021

Music Reviews

Psyclones: Tape Music 1980-1984

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Artist: Psyclones
Title: Tape Music 1980-1984
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Notte Brigante (@)

As long as I remember Californian duo Psyclones - Brian Ladd and Julie Frith - where rooted fiercely in the American underground scene with their music and running their own (still ongoing) Ladd-Frith label. Collaborating with many other artists and labels in the wide fields of experimental music there was literally no chance in the 80's to miss them completely as you either had a track on a compilation or a release they where involved in if you where into the post experimental diy cassette scene interested at all. With Blackhouse Brian found even more attention due to the projects more handsome straight direction of early Industrial / Dark Ambient.

This compilation, lovingly curated by NB and mastered by Brian Ladd himself dives into the first Cassette Only albums & concentrates on the less industrial post punk freedom which was always a strong element in the Psyclones work. Particularly this reminds me even of American New Wave heroes Talking Heads or DEVO combined with the charm of the French Duo X-Ray Pop or the Belgian weirdness of Bene Gesserit.

There is a playfulness with all instruments at hand and an urge to find new ways in-midst the possibilities, sometimes leaned on proper song structures with dub techniques, vocals are aided by effects, detuned guitars, bass, early beatboxes, frequency modulations and a Laissez-faire attitude make up for an pleasant listening, often even a bit dada-esque.
Overall this compilation works more as a soundtrack "balancing between icy wave coolness and nonchalant neon funk. Insane Music for sane people, smokers, rain lovers, midnight movers and all those cats, that can’t cope with the pre-written consumer life reality" (Quote from Press Info, I just had to cite it).

My personal favourites are "Beetween Space", a moody outro of Side 1 with ambient leanings, loads of echo upon early keyboard sounds and "News Of The World", a track so minimal it's close to a capella with double layered vocals pushing the lyrics for once to the front.

The LP will be published alongside the full download in early March in an edition of 300 copies, pre-ordering is possible.

A Prayer For The Worst: Lullabies For Babies

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Artist: A Prayer For The Worst
Title: Lullabies For Babies
Format: CD & 12" & Download
Label: Lonely Demon Records (@)

Herr B worked several years on his solo project debut, at first as 'Children Of God' before he settled on A Prayer For The Worst. He finally accomplished it's debut due to last years spring lockdown and it got lovingly mastered by Friedemann Kootz who started to make himself a name in industrial / experimental / minimimal circles. Otherwise this is a complete solo work - even the design.
The soft pink artwork paired with an mediveal like image showing the revenge of the pigs is a hidden hint on the possibiltiy of everything getting turned upside down.

With "The Awakening" an electro ghoul lures you into this viciously soft journey through darker realms. With the aid of nothing but electronics and vocals a melancholic song cycle unfolds, soothing the listener into a comfortable mellow mood with it's addictive poison spread slowly. Not the darkest black but shades in different guises of grey are the main theme.
Midtempo minimal ballads, not necessarily with vocals, enter the stage one after another. A disillusion goes hand in hand with it, saving 'Lullabies For Babies' from gothic cliches and pushing all these melodramatic sentiments paired with irony and pragmatism into the post electro-punk area although titles like "Funeral March", "A Cry In The Desert", "A Lament" and "Last Breath" call out to a certain existentialistic point of view.
The melodramatic sentiments paired with implied irony and a pragmatic approach reaches a certain positive punk level in the heritage of Virgin Prunes, Fad Gadget, à;GRUMH...,Boris Mikulic a.o., paired with the expertise of someone who actually lived through it all.

Lullabies For Babies is a coherent and enjoyable listening. Many of the 13 compositions are rather short but carefully shaped, the vocals and lyrics are supportive without demanding full attention, the keyboard uses a palette between organ and classic synthesizer sounds in a minimalistic way. A surprising powerful and equally mellow debut fitting with it's subtle melancholy perfect in our times.

This album is one of the few independent productions that actually appears as LP (in soft pink Vinyl), CD (soft pink Digipak) and digital.

Cernichov: The Mold Legacy

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Artist: Cernichov
Title: The Mold Legacy
Format: CD + Download
Label: Dornwald Records (@)

The second album by Cernichov is a well developed organic noise ambience symphony in 6 chapters. Recordings started in 2018 and mutated since alongside the concept of a living dominated by organic rulers of the non-human kind.
"Those Sparkling Fires In That Eternal Void" would have made a great album title for this but I guess it would have been too obvious - Cernichov work more deep below the underground and in the hidden corners. The cover pic plays along with it, a bleak Death Metal image with an encrypted writing which could be meaningful.
Marco Mazzucchelli (Milano) and David Gutman (Bruxelles) - both electronics, sounds and the later also mix and production - continue here their successfull partnership I already praised last year for it's constant movement, transformation and sublimity. They developed their style further but kept what they can do best - multi layered soundscapes bare from cliches and repetition.
'The Mold Legacy' is well worth repeated listening; focused ambient drone music in a class of it's own, soothing the sub-conscious into a state of calm wakefulness.

Available as limited ecopak CD and digital.

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.

0x0: Nastrophy

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Artist: 0x0
Title: Nastrophy
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: HUM_an

Zero X Zero is a new project by Antonio Caputo and Marco Milanesio exploring dub industrial with partly added classical structures. Field Recordings are as important as Harmonica, Guitar, Cello, Bass and Synth.
The 4 tracks recorded at home and O.F.F. Studio, Torino during 2019/20 are an serious attempt at fragmented melancholy. Dissected sounds lead to more desolation instead more clearity and melancholy is reflecting itself with an uneasy feeling. The track titles do not give away much either and listening is a surprise.

In "Surgkung" a guitar entering the noisy arena dominates for a little while before getting lost in synthetic ramblings which could go on forever but don't. A straight, dubby beat opens "6602" which is set against a freestyle sound scenario where cello and guitar meet before they get lost again as the beat did.
The title track is the most challenging; an uneasy shade of oriental blues meets a heavy, drunken beat and analouge space sounds aid the impression of altered reality short before collapse.
The final track "6601" is especially impressive; post-hope, post-everything, post-darkness. A longish mainly accoustic intro leads seemlessly into a drone part morphing back again and concluding with a perfect mix of all parts.

In a way Naostrophy is a continuation of the DsorDNE/Onda Lunga release 'Inside' from March 2020 - but less ambient and more organic. For fearless souls only.

A pdf photo booklet is included.