Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Music Reviews

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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Beyond the Sound
Format: CD
Label: Oltre il Suono (@)
This sampler, subtitled "new ambient-electronic music from Italy", is the physical compendium to the excellent website Oltre il Suono, gathering several Italian underground projects and artists working in the fields of ambient (from dark to ethnic/ritual), experimental electronics and electroacoustic/concrete music. While the site has been constantly expanding, the cd-r, compiled by the trio Biasthon, features a selection of 11 artists, of whom I only knew Amon/Andrea Marutti. I guess that all tracks are exclusive/unreleased. Now, talking about the sounds, I really think it's hard to find such a well-assembled sampler. Music ranges from oppressive dark ambient (Amon, Maath, Nefelheim... ) to field recording manipulations and electroacoustic (Car, Logoplasm), from cosmic music (Regivar) to mesmerizing ethnic atmospheres (Ku), but these "tags" are often oversimplifications, since most artists seem to actually cross boundaries and opt for oblique approaches – see for example Anofele (who also collaborate with Car), Alessandro Fogar and Nimh (alias Giuseppe Verticchio, main responsible for Oltre il Suono, here offering a mix of live sounds from the streets of Teheran and abrasive analogue synth patterns). Throughout the whole compilations, emphasis is focused on pure sound experimentation, with almost no melody at all, except for a really brief hint at the end of Regivar's "Visioni" and the more "humane" approach of Ku – so expect gloomy atmospheres and often alien, disquieting sounds. A must if you're even remotely interested in deep listenings and aural experimentation, and a healthy portrait of Italian underground... Check this out and visit the site, where you can find lots of info about the artists, with sound clips provided. I hope a second volume of the cd will be compiled soon.


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Artist: Muslimgauze (@)
Title: untitled
Format: CD
Label: Muslimlim (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
And here we go again with Muslimgauze. Almost 150 releases in 20 years (this would be no.127). After a series of sold-out limited edition releases (such as the four LP box set called "Tandori Dog", a nine CD box called "Box of Silk and Dogs", the "Iranian Female Olympic Table Tennis Team Theme" CD packed on a table tennis paddle etc) for which there is a subscription plan with discounts available from Staalplaat, this untitled CD (Muslimlim 028) with a red-filtered picture of people around a fire on the cover, presents ten songs with repetitive low-freq dub/d'n'b electronic bass lines, minimal original percussions, some other more electro-percussive patterns, enchanting middle-eastern female vocal lines, occasional instruments that sound like an indian sitar or a flute and this pretty much constant distortion in the background. The entire album has this low-fi thing going. I don't know if that is a choice (you never know what people do or intend to achieve with their records when you deal with experimental music) or if it is just how these records were found/mentained/archived after his death. Besides the permanent thin statics in the background (like if you were listening to a poor quality radio station or to streaming highly compressed mp3 or real audio files...) there are distant things you almost can't hear and especially in the first song there are these extremely annoying interferences (the sound gets very loud all of a sudden for just a second and then goes back into a volume that you thought was normal level, but that is probably a lot attenuated if you consider these peeks that come and go as your normal 0dB level). Also the sounds sometimes peeks and distorts or goes to the left side of your stereo speakers for a bunch of seconds... It's very weird, but considering that the bass line pretty much seems constant it would make sense if they told me that it's been overdubbed or that those spikes are intentional... Anyway, this is it. I guess you can consider this to be the normal Muslimgauze playing with distortion as if it was another musical mean to experiment with, pushing minimal percussion patterns to the edge of saturation, using subtle disturbances as a tool to stress people's listening experience and pushing the limits one step further, or maybe I should say 5dBs up! It's hard to relate to Muslimgauze's discography in terms of "evolution" since we (or at least I) don't really know whether this record is old or new, if you know what I mean... But my last thought definitely goes to the Middle-East, where blood-baths in the name of a dead christian god, western civilization, financial power and world domination are taking place every day for the past decades and nobody cares. Nobody knows what Muslimgauze would have to say about it... And please let's not forget that that was the very thing his music was inspired by and was all about... Let's not think for a moment that Muslimgauze is just music In fact it's so much more than that, so much that lately, with all what is happening, he would probably be inspired for the rest of his life, if he only was still alive... Let's hope the madness stops and ALL people learn what respect is, how to use it and act with a little more intelligence to put an end to this useless and bloody conflict.


Artist: Jorome Noetinger & Lionel Marchetti
Title: Mort Aux Vaches
Format: CD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
1966-class Joerome Noetinger (member of Cellule d'Intervention Metamkine, Mimeo and founder of Metamkine label and mailorder) and one year younger Lionel Marchetti (musique concrete composer and improviser for a number of different labels, including Noetinger's Metamkine) have been working together since 1993 as a duo or with other musicians. This CD (for the Mort Aux Vaches series) is what they call «absolute permanent anything», or improvisation with electro-acoustical sources and devices made of pieces and trifles without an external PA. This whole record is totally improvised and is living around low thin cutting ultra high pitched sounds, sporadic weird and wild noises and other almost inaudible things... The spectrum (rather amplitude-wise than frequency-wise) of this record is wide but its majority is low in volume so you tend to pump up the volume until you get scared by some piercing loud screaming larsen... Even though it seems to be overall fairly compressed, ifyou don't have good ears don't even bother with this 'cause there is stuff around 15kHz that you probably won't even hear if you've been listening to loud rock'n'roll during your younger age... ;-)


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Artist: Thilges 3 (@)
Title: Polka
Format: CD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
16th Thilges 3 release and 6th release in Staalplaat's "Material Series" (please read the review of Heimir Bjorgulfsson's record "Machina Natura" in this section to understand what this series is all about and how it is presented to you): this one uses thin polystyrene sheets as the main material for cover and inlay card (so that is way the cover picture is simply white, cause so is the cover, just a plain white thin sheet of polystyrene!).
Thilges 3 is an Austrian trio that started performing live in 1996 experimenting with "live performance electroacoustic installations", which basically is a technology that uses analog synths instead of MIDI to allow different results, such as focusing on quadrophonic performances (instead of stereophonic) where the venue's size, walls, materials and other acoustical parameters define a new environment that, coupled with the listeners position and relative movement, allow for a new way of conceiving sound and rhythm patterns. All their performances are recorded and archived and only recently have they decided to make them public through a CD series consisting of 10 releases with similar 4-colour covers presenting a different concert (unfortunately narrowed down to a stereophonic recording); plus some other individual releases on different labels, among which "Polka". "Polka" is instead their first studio recording and the only instruments used to record it are a Doepfer analog synth and a Moog Prodigy. Like you may have expected they also are into visual arts.


Artist: Transgenic (trans-JEN-ik)
Title: Transgenic
Format: CD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
What at first sight may seem to you as post-core band Biohazard's new record, is in reality the newest work by the American project Transgenic, which is packed in a cool red safeguard specimen bag with a big biohazard symbol on it. So what is there so dangerous about this record? Well it is packaged with a sheet of prescriptions (common uses, how-to's, cautions, side effects and the like). It is supposed to be «used to treat symptoms of postrock malaise and other conditions such as extended drumsolos, jazzwank, shoegazing and studiotan». As by doctor prescription, you should also «not take sounds containing verse and chorus within 2 hours of taking this sound» and «not take 2 doses at once». Anyway... while I am going through my first Transgenic morning dose, I can tell you that it all comes down to pulsing experimental music with disturbing low and mid freq loops that serve to the purpose of trans-inducing beats and turn into obsessive repetitions with layers of sounds and other loops (vocals, noises) on top of it. 17 edgy hard-core experimental noise tracks with a sub-electronic soul and patterns of insanity (or sanity willing to cure to verse-chorus-verse insanity of modern popular music).



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