Saturday, September 26, 2020
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Music Reviews

Artist: KMFDM
Title: In Dub
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Operations of transplant of a genre into a completely different one often smells like an attempt of flirting to a different market, and this grasp of some of the most known KMFDM songs into dub grounds could be too condescendingly labelled in this way. Finding points of contact between industrial/rock and dub/reggae is not that easy, even there were some interesting attempts of melting together some elements of these two styles were done by bands like Meat Beat Manifesto, Swamp Terrorists or Pressure Drop (to mention just a few), particularly in the 90ies. In a recent interview, Sascha Konietzko, the lead of this punky industrial-rock band, that got famous for a style that never adheres to a purist definition of industrial music, besides the awesome covert artworks by Aidan "Brute!" Hughes (fostering his inspiration by means of Italian futurists, Russian constructivists and Golden Age comics), said he was remarkably influenced by dub and reggae while moving the very first steps in productions. Furthermore, he considered punk and reggae as strictly connected, not only for the common criticism against society in respective ages, but also for some technical aspects. Besides his words, the clearer evidence of some connections with dub (besides some tracks within the huge discography over more than 35 years of activism) is maybe their last album "Paradise", whose opening track "K-M-F", featuring Andrew "Ocelot" Lindsley, has been reshuffled and inserted in the tracklist of "In Dub" (...and that 'Bing Bing Bong Bong' vocal excerpt perfectly fits to the new dub-reggae suite!) together with a nice dub version of the title-track "Paradise", re-titled "Para Dub", and "No God", which didn't need any particular retouching as it was a proper dub song with an industrial-rock injection in the middle. Any possible doubts on the meaning of such an operation of conversion of KMFDM song files into a dub format will definitely fade away after the awesome level fo quality of some of these conversions: my favourite ones are songs mostly driven by the voice of Sascha's partner in art and life Lucia Cifarelli, that are "Amnesia" and "Superhero", while the dub version of songs like "Real Thing", renamed "Real Dub Thing", as well as the remake of "Bumaye" where both Sascha and Lucia used to shout on the mic, sound excessively sweetened to me, if compared against their sources, while the pretty surprising dub versions got out from songs that I couldn't imagine that would work in a dub shape such as "A Drug Against War" (retitled "A Dub Against War").

Deison: Substrata

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Artist: Deison
Title: Substrata
Format: 10"
Label: Drone Records

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Italy's Cristiano Deison is a musician active since the mid 90's in the noise / experimental / ambient realms. Many of his releases are collaborative works among them quite known names like John Duncan, K.K. Null or Maurizio Bianchi.
This EP is part 28 of the ongoing Substantia Innominata series by Drone Records.

Substrata features three new atmospheric compositions based on prepared tapes, metals, strings, wires and electronics recorded on different locations assembled and processed afterwards.
"Terra Firma (Pt. 1 & 2)" is a 16 Minute exploration of organic development, split in two parts. A soft, soothing ambience develops slowly until clear, crystalline sounds evolve and together with calm pulsating deeper sounds which shape together the picture of an acoustic stalagmite cave.
With "Prima Materia" he tries to describe "the primitive formless base of all matter similar to chaos, the quintessence or aether." A bold aspiration which leads to an more diverse soundscape but bearing the same smooth tranquillity. Starting with the same crystalline sounds embedded in a mysterious distant rhythm it shifts into soft ambient paired with distorted everyday noises. A collage which equally occupies the senses as "Terra Firma" and passes faster than the track length suggests.
Side B closes with an short afterthought, "In Vacuo Momentum", which plays with channels and sounds leaving the impressions of passing whales deep down in the Ocean.

Deison's compositions have an very organic feel to it, illustrated on the cover with what could be a spiderweb on a rusty fence hit by raindrops. The green, transparent Vinyl of this edition of 300 supports the artistic vision appropriately.

KMRU: Peel

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Artist: KMRU
Title: Peel
Format: 12" x 2
Label: Editions Mego
Nairobi-based KMRU (aka Joseph Kamaru) has joined up with Editions Mego to offer up a blend of electronics and Kenyan field recordings that is predominantly ambient. Contrasts run deep, as the colder-sounding electronic pads and drones blend with warmer, thicker textures, but the overall tone is stretched and slowed and minimised (with exceptions) into something both abstract and mesmeric.

Across six long pieces, totalling 76 minutes, a trusted format is followed. Different tones and notes are used, but each one is essentially a variant on the same velvety bed of fixed melody, with more organic elements sounding like they’re happening outside. “Well” is somewhat closer and tighter-sounding, while “Solace”, unsurprisingly from the title, feels more barren and melancholic, with a faintly breathing pulse under.

An exception to the generally minimalist tone is “Klang”, a much more room-filling arrangement with an endless feeling of building and waking that never seems to climax. It’s like an orchestra warming up, but an orchestra made of synths and city life, and it feels quite overwhelming after being lulled into the calm that preceded it. “Insubstantial” restores the calm after and offers the album’s most melodic loop pattern, albeit a faint one.

The title track is the last and longest piece, a slightly cleaner-sounding 23-minute slow progression around a two-chord pattern that pretty much sums up the whole release.

It’s not as adventurous or diverse as some might hope, nor does it have the ‘ethnic identity’ that Europeans or Americans might stereotypically expect from African music, but as a richly textured calm piece of ambient, it’s like a high quality quilt.

Artist: Siavash Amini
Title: A Mimesis of Nothingness
Format: 12" + Download
Label: Hallow Ground
“A Mimesis Of Nothingness” is a series of six dark abstract soundscapes where Siavash Amini derived inspiration from the photography work of fellow Tehranian Nooshin Shafiee, whose photographs were sadly not included in the promo package so I can’t comment, but as described in the accompanying sheet, showed not “the Tehran that everyone projected into their work” but instead “Tehran showing itself through tiny and giant overlooked places and objects”.

And there is certainly plenty of sinister undercurrent here. “Perpetually Inwards” is scarcely more than just a brooding rumble. “Lustrous Residue” feels somehow alien and dangerous, short stabbing percussive sounds and scratches carrying a sense of latent threat.

But there is also a sombre beauty too, as exhibited in pieces like the very melancholic “Moonless Garden”, which introduces hollow and more melody-driven string-like sounds and birdsong noise that somehow manages to avoid feeling cliché, perhaps because it feels chaotic and zoo-like rather than like a genuine landscape.

This conflict of moods is clashed together most dramatically in “Observance (Shadow)” where the soft choral-like pads seem to be quietly resisting the sharp-edged, impulsive, metallic and unpredictable screeching noises that come along to try and break them.

It’s 36 minutes of very dark portraiture, a kind of brooding semi-ambient yet one you can’t ignore thanks to the various unsettling tones and unexpected bumps. It’s far removed from the traditional images of Tehran and tells you something you didn’t already know, which is often the sign of a good portrait.

Artist: Doug Haire
Title: Campsites
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Arpaviva (@)
Distributor: CD Baby

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This collection of sound-pieces is the work of an very experienced recording engineer - Doug Haire from Seattle, Pacific NW, USA who's spent a long time of his life supporting experimental musicians hosting a radio show and recording exclusives for it. He is also a member of the Seattle Phonographers Union - a collective working and performing only with unprocessed field-recordings since 2002. Campsites is his first solo release since 2012's Removed And Haunted.
I imagine him now retired from session work, sitting by the campfire he could not resist to capture the moods and it's really incredible how he transmits the atmospheres with his field recordings which later on where supplied by decent drones. This reflecting on the reflection is executed with true mastery.
The overall calm sounds aided by the underlying subliminal drones lead inescapable to a loss of the sense of time.
The seven tracks are all subtle individual but work as a coherent whole, none is too lengthy and all mixing, mastering and production was done solely by Doug Haire himself.
I've found myself sitting suddenly in the last fading light of the day, mentally completely caught up in the moment - just like a campfire meditation - with engaged senses fully aware of the never ending surroundings. Campsites is as pictorial as a sound-work can be and leaves a lasting impression of an artists vision, offering his experiences to any open-minded listeners.


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