Monday, March 8, 2021

Music Reviews

NOR_POL: Construction

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Artist: NOR_POL (@)
Title: Construction
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: * * * * *
NOR_POL is the result of the collaboration between ukasz Szaankiewicz aka Zenial and Jorgen Knudsen which is sometimes a guest in the former's releases. "Construction" is their first release and, while it could be categorized under the ambient genre, the music has a sort of organic feel instead of the usual electronic sounds linked to the genre.
The sonic organization of the first two tracks, "Durational (Jazz version)" and "C.PH.E Bach", is focused on acoustic instruments with the electronic component in an ornamental role. "Dangerous Chemicals" marks a section of this release with is closer to Zenial's music and it's centered on synthetic sounds and evolves from ambient territories to noisier ones bordering idm. The album ends with "Twice Less" when small clumps of noise introduce a voice as after a successful radio tuning.
This release has a precise musical movement from almost catchy territories to more experimental ones, so the listener is cleverly conducted towards this journey moreover if he's not accustomed to this sounds. A truly enjoyable gem.

Denis Smalley: Vues spectrales

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Artist: Denis Smalley
Title: Vues spectrales
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes
“Vues spectrales” gathers together three of Denis Smalley’s multichannel works from between 2001 and 2011, converted to stereo. (It also bolts on one older work “Vortex” from 1982, more about which later on.)
Each of the formerly-multichannel works is a roughly 15-minute, ambience-driven, atmospheric construction that are dominated by great swathes of space and patience. “Spectral Lands” is, as the title suggests, something of a landscape portrait, with moderately natural-sounding rustlings akin to bird noises and wind through trees, but with more alien and ambiguous sonics grafted in to increase the complexity.
“Ringing Down The Sun”, by way of contrast, feels somewhat more alien. Low metallic rumbles open, hollow bottle-like distant melodies follow but at such a low level that you suspect you might be imagining them. There’s a tale being told here- not with excessive drama, but with a few more percussive and unexpected twists- and it’s gently sci-fi, but with a dose of introspective sorrow.
“Resounding” opens with a bell, then silence, before adopting a variety of other quite church-like tones of hammering and reverberation for something which manages to remain ambient and sparse yet have a dose of theatricality about it as well.
The older work “Vortex” is markedly different. While there are still periods of breathing space, it’s much busier and at times more chaotic, with a decidedly Radiophonic Workshop feel at times, very much reminiscent of the Doctor Who soundtrack work from around or just before 1982 when it was created. It’s curious, but without offering up a strong reason for it having been dug up, or attached to a series of more measured and more recent works with which it arguably doesn’t belong.
As usual, Empreintes Digitales has unearthed some intriguing pieces from the archive, and while there’s no revelations or masterworks in here, it’s certainly a collection of interesting textures.

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.

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.