Friday, June 18, 2021

Music Reviews

Ekolali: Om Sömn

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Artist: Ekolali
Title: Om Sömn
Format: Tape & Digital Download
Label: Constellation Tatsu (@)
Together with a bunch of new releases belonging to the label's Spring Butch of 2021, Constellation Tatsu recently pushed this interesting experiment/project by Swedish artist Mattias Lagerkvist in the guise of Ekolali on the usual tape format (together with the digital one, of course). You can imagine it as a superslow melodic lo-fi tune of those 80ies TV commercials, that also were poured by Boards Of Canada into some of their older tracks, or otherwise as a piece of possible background music for a sleep concert, as potentially suggested by the title ('Om Sömn' means 'About Sleep' in Swedish), filtered by the tastes of a possible lover of Terry Riley or La Monte Young minimalism with an interest in studies on hypnagogic states! Two pretty long suites ("The Exercise Of Sense Perception", lasting 20 minutes and 55 seconds, and "Of Necessity to Each Animal" - 21:46 -) on one side and the title track, a sort of potential combination of them (at least in terms of length, as it reaches 41 minutes and 36 seconds), on the other, that can also sound like an experiment, as besides the slowly lulling repetitions of the same tones, some other resounding entities, slight variations or maybe simple aural hallucinations can surface out of the apparently homogenous flatness of each suite. Have a try before, after, and during your resting/sleeping sessions.

Murcof: The Alias Sessions

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Artist: Murcof (@)
Title: The Alias Sessions
Format: CDx2 (double CD)
Label: The Leaf Label
Rated: * * * * *
What goes around comes around, so Tony Morley, head of the appreciated Leaf label, could have exclaimed when the orbit of the wondrous Mexican electronic music composer and performer Fernando Corona, commonly known as Murcof, crossed the one of the label, that launched his awesome sound art in 2002 by "Martes", that masterpiece that also gave certain visibility to the so-called Nortec Collective and the vibrant scene of Tijuana. The last spotting in my headphones was on the occasion of a collaborative release ("Being Human Being") with the French trumpet player Erik Truffaz, that came some years after "The Versailles Session", his latest on Leaf in 2008. Thirteen years after that output, he comes back with this new album, that like the previous one, was born under commission. Even if the commission came from the same company, the Swiss performing company Alias, masterfully directed by the Brasilian choreographer Guilherme Botelho, the two halves of the session can be somehow considered two different albums, as they refer to two different projects. The first cd comes from an adaptation of the music for "Contre-Mondes" (2017), while the second includes music made for "Normal" (2018), but besides this publishing detachment, the sound appears pretty unified and somehow consistent with the distinguishing marks of Murcof's sound: rhythmical patterns in between ambient-dub, minimal techno and IDM, a constant drifting over stylistic territories of avant-garde jazz, drone music, ambient, ethnic, glitch electronics, atonal percussive music, Berlin sound and classical music (with many hints to baroque style), where an approach that could be shallowly labelled as 'minimal' manages to condense many emotions, where almost maniacally aesthetic research can join and inspire the highest intellectual upheavals, including the current questioning, the general restlessness and the urgent anxieties as well as the spread feeling of existential stifling, that maybe makes this release even more dramatically timely. All those who already know will soon understand that these sessions are maybe the best and highly inspiring collection that the Mexican artist ever made.

Spherical Disrupted: 25 (Past / Future)

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Artist: Spherical Disrupted (@)
Title: 25 (Past / Future)
Format: CDx3 (triple CD)
Label: Audiophob (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: * * * * *
Already more than 25 years active in German Ambient- / Industrial music scene and also not at all an unknown project on our website here – but Spherical Disrupted have tarnished themselves perfectly from my personal music radar so far. Actually it has been their brilliant remix for Villaborghese available on their last “Remixed” release earlier this caught my interest.Nearly unbelievable that this one-man project of Mirko Hentrich has made it to such a huge amount of releases in its discography as well as with plenty of live performances on some highly recognized Industrial-/Noise-events like “Maschinenfest”, “Elektroanschlag”, “Schlagstrom” and/or “Summer Darkness”. this all has brought a high level of recognition.

Secondly, the foundation of the own managed Audiophob label in 2004 (with Mirko being the co-founder – Carsten Stiller of Alarmen represents the other responsible half...) and with projects like Mandelbrot, Zero Degree (also being active on ant-zen...), Wesenberg (yes, the rather Experimental-oriented solo effort of Krischan Jan-Eric Wesenberg – better known for his being in Rotersand or Straftanz and well recognized as one of the best producers / studio magician for mastering processes), or the Swiss-based duo of Skalpell, was at least a clever initiative to provide a professional audio resource.

The history of Mirko under his main project Spherical Disrupted once started in 1995 and so during the heydays, when underground music projects normally recorded tapes. Same it was also with Spherical Disrupted and the tape “Zerschellt, Zersplittert”, the very first release of this project. Thanks to this release, it was the right time to celebrate this anniversary and to give the listeners an overlook to some rare available recordings, highlights out of the long discography, long-out-of-print compilation appearances and also the possibility to invite some guests / friends for contribution purposes.

Therefore the fitting title “25” for this output, initially released during the end of the last year as a special 3CD box. Actually, this special box-set consisting of a carton box, three CDs in two digi-packs, three inlay prints, and as a special gimmick a "Granite hardware remix kit" (two stones), strictly limited to 100 hand-numbered exemplars only, is completely and long-time SOLD OUT.Both the CD albums, “25 - Past” (2 CDs) and “25 – Future” (1 CD) now can be purchased directly via the Audiophob website, several mail order services, or at Bandcamp.
I personally prefer to review this release as being as a whole item and so I will spend attention to both albums separately.

“25 (Past)”
As already mentioned above, the double-CD “25 (Past)” offers new and revamped versions of past recording, rarely available compilation appearances and remix contributions for other projects (Bloody Dead And Sexy, Experimentum Crucis, Yipotash, The Trial, KiEw, Mimetic Dancing, The_Empath, Xabec, Mandelbrot, Still Patient?) taken out several epochs during the 25 years.A lot of this tunes have been available on strictly limited, out-of-print releases, mostly on tapes for example, and do see the light to be pressed on CD format for the very first time. Some of them have been completely unreleased so far and to collect all of these old recordings, to polish and to transform them into the present was surely challenging.
For statistic nerds I recommend to have a detailed look to the website of Mirko,, under the tab “Oscillation” you can find a table with every track recorded is listed there alphabetically and where it has been released before. Move then towards to Discogs to explore the wide ranging release catalog of Spherical Disrupted.

Musically, Spherical Disrupted acts mainly in the wide field of Electronic-based Dark Ambient music. Mirko produces a relatively static form of dark and at times noisy Electronic music often accompanied with slow-stalking EBM-oriented beats and bassline work. The noise elements often occur through massive pitch shifting and filter frequency manipulations of changing in velocity, dynamic or harmony. There's definitely a high factor of a DIY mentality listenable, several tracks offer various FX manipulations seemingly live recorded and with a strong field recording behavior, “Solar Luminosity (Terminal Mix)” is a perfect example in this sense.One of the strongest moments I found in “Cavity Block (Not The :W: Master)” which reminds me on slo-mo Orphx combined with some lengthy tracks out of The Klinik / Marc Verhaegen's archives.
Another striking factor for the music composition process of Mirko seems to be his strong interest in astronomy as he often names his tracks after the discovery of remarkable objects and phenomenons out of this science area (“Through Homunculus Nebula”).

The second CD out of this “Past” edition then offers us 9 remix contributions fabricated by Spherical Disrupted for foreign band projects and friends, as per listed above. Best and rather IDM-related Electronica entertainment I've found with the breathtaking remix on The_Empath and the track "Second Earth (Down To The Ground Mix)”, for sure one of highlights here.The overall sound outfit of Spherical Disrupted comes out pretty much abstract and provides a strong hypnotic impression, although it and there gets monotonous and offers at times unnecessary lengths too.
But generally Mirko's music is an oppressive sound outfit and to me additionally the ideal sound environment to confuse the neighborhood.

“25 (Future)”
As initially described above, the “Future” edition of this fascinating release offers at least completely new tracks, new remix contributions and for the first time guest vocal appearances. We have here the track “Basalt” with Tino Claus out of the TC75 / Amnistia fame and not only because of Tino's timbre this mid-tempo track with its nicely installed bass lines sounds quite comparable to Tino's TC75 recordings.Also Jana Komaritsa of the Russian Dark Industrial project Darkrad (among other recording for Audiophob or earlier for Cold Meat Industry...) offers the listener a haunting vocal performance on this mutually composed track.

Generally it comes the impression that the first 5 tracks of the newer compositions of Mirko show a tendency to keep the music a bit more accessible which in case of tracks like “Crust” or “Comet” can be noticed within a higher level of Electro-/EBM-like beat- and percussion-elements.On the opposite, tracks like “Pluton” or “Granit“ are drowning deeply into the Dark Ambient genre and rather focus to express the oppressive mood.

Remix contributors can be discovered excellently with Slovakia's Dark Electro-duo Disharmony and their very calm and catchy interpretation on “Comet”. Again, their ability to mix smooth synthesized, piano-sounding fragments with dense and darker-minded layers still thrills and impresses totally. Also Mr. Wesenberg gives a lighter-minded remix contribution on “Basalt”, the mutually composition of Spherical Disrupted with TC75.

Well, at least 225 minutes playing time of variable and thrilling produced Dark Ambient / Experimental music with the tendency to integrate a valid amount of Dark Electronica available on three CD's totally available for a price of two releases should be a good reason for a purchase. Yes, the 100 hand-numbered exemplars are gone and should become collectible rarities.

Thomas Köner: Nuuk

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Artist: Thomas Köner
Title: Nuuk
Format: CD
Label: Mille Plateaux (@)
Rated: * * * * *
It's pretty clear that the people of Mille Plateaux are aware that this release by composer and movie director Thomas Köner, inspired by his frequent travels in the Arctic, is a proper masterpiece if they decided to re-re-release it, as they re-released it in 2004 yet (even if that re-issue on MillePlateauxMedia included a DVD with the visual part of the project, which gained a Tiger Club Award at the 34th International Film Festival in Rotterdam in 2005). Listeners have only to set the first bricks of their imaginary travel and think a little bit of the glacial context, as the rest of the journey will be masterfully led by Thomas's impressive recording, melting digitally processed field recordings, extremely low undertones, and awesome aural textures. Named after the capital of Greenland, "Nuuk" was originally part of "Driftworks", a 4CDs compilation released in 1997 by Big Cat, also including an album by Nijiumu, Paul Schütze, and the guessed collaboration by Pauline Oliveros and Randi Raine-Reusch, but according to many audiophiles, the quality of the Mille Plateaux edition of 2004 was remarkably higher. Such feedback could be given for this output as well, as the mastering managed to highlight the vivid rendering of not only the physical entities that your eyes could meet in the Arctic but also the freezing, the emotional annihilation, the cold embrace of Arctic desolation, and the step-wise ride to the declension of nothingness via sonic entities whose abstract concreteness a few artists in ambient-drone scene managed to reach (maybe a similar level of quality got reached by artists like Robert Rich or Brian Lustmord in those same years). Unmissable, if you missed it before.

Allegory Chapel Ltd.: Modus Operandi

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Artist: Allegory Chapel Ltd.
Title: Modus Operandi
Format: CD
Label: Oxidation (@)
Rated: * * * * *
This one goes out to the old school industrial people. The main thing that I get out of this album is incredible sense of nostalgia. Not because I've heard this album before (because I haven't) but because this is exactly the kind of stuff I remember from late 90s to early 2000s experimental music. I remember seeing this band's releases on such labels as Charnel Records, but never picked up any of their stuff. Too many albums and too little money. Allegory Chapel Ltd. is the work of one Elden M, but otherwise I don't know much about this project, so let's dive in.

The disc opens with "Caverns," which is an almost peaceful track that sounds like heavily reverbed water dripping in a cave. Over time, grinding drone and heavy bass take this in a more ominous direction. My kids enjoyed it when we listen to it in the car though. However, if "Caverns" is the track that leads you into a false sense of security, "Fertilizer Truck Diaries" is the one that drags you into an alley, clubs you over the head, and steals your wallet. This track features heavy amounts of high pitched hiss, a ton of analog filter noise, and is generally a nice, punishing wall of noise. There's a lot going on this track and it has a lot of complexity, which I enjoy. The channels are constantly shifting, and parts ut out, only to come back again in another direction. "Distributed Organs, Flesh Feedback [Instrumental]" has a nice heavily arpeggiated analog synth line with an old school drum machine beat. This track reminds me of late 80s industrial like Esplendor Geometrico or an even more sterile Front 242. This sound will feature heavily throughout the rest of the album. "Modus Operandi" is noisy drone with ground noise feedback, like there's a faulty mic in the system, and siren-like wails that gives you the feeling of a 1960 sci-fi movie soundtrack. "Come Forth" is an interesting track with a pulsing bassline and repetitive drum beat over some yelled vocals that sound like some kind of religious ritual. The repetitive drumbeat contributes to the incantation feel the track. You can't really get a sense of what is said, but you definitely get a feel for what's being done. "Cthulhu Rising [Omega Mix]" keeps the incantatory vocals, bassline, and drum machine going for more of that old-school industrial action. "ICBM" is a collaboration with Monte Cazazza that keeps the beat going with a pounding bass beat and arpeggiated analog synth. This would have been right at home in the clubs back in the 80s. Finally, we have "Love Will [Live On KXLU]," which changes things up with snippets of looped voice and sparse noise over heavy drone. Towards the end, the drone cuts out completely and we are left with layers of ethereal vocals that would be right at home on an old Projekt Records release (think Love Spirals Downwards vocals).

The bottom line? This was a fun trip down memory lane, and if you enjoy old school industrial, this is definitely worth one picking up and a good introduction to this artist. There's also a limited edition that comes with a metal triskelion, so if you want one of those, you should act quickly.