Saturday, September 26, 2020
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Music Reviews

Artist: Black Tape For A Blue Girl
Title: Scavenger Bride
Format: CD
Label: Projekt Records
Can we expect anything but brilliance from this group? I was wondering the effect that the marriage of Sam Rosenthal and Lisa Feuer would have on the band,given it's themes of isolation and love betrayed. It seems to have given a new strength and edge to the group rather than staying in the same course. While not the tour de force of "As One Aflame Laid Bare By Desire,",it is a force to be reckoned with, a guiding light for an often redundant ethereal scene. Elizabeth is the songbird of deepest winter, with a raw sensuality to her vocals that may well siren call you into the stereo. Sam's piano/synth lines flow over his elegant poetry, painting the lost heroine and her tragic tale like a pained sculptor of emotion. Lisa's flutes are like hearing the voice of a lost lover in your mind, filled to the brim with melancholy and crushing emotion at the same time.
My favorite is "Floats in the Updrafts" which is also the shortest. I could have standed for this to be alot longer. And a guest appearance from Spahn Ranch on this one?!The guys vocals are actually quite elegant.
Also I reccomend the aforementioned "As One Aflame", which is too powerful to even start describing. But where is our old buddy Oscar Herrara?!? Rating:10

Artist: Dark Muse (@)
Title: Sounds from Beyond the Silver Wheel
Format: CD
Label: Fossil Dungeon (@)

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This is the debut solo project from Dark Muse (aka Phyll Smith of Eyescream Jewelry known for her unique one of a kind, hand-made jewelry). This is an audio journey into very dark ambient, minimalistic, ethereal music. It has a very otherworldly quality like the works of Robert Rich, Steve Roach and Patrick O'Hearn - all ambient electronic artists but also a very dark ethereal muse like quality and is thus very aptly named. The overal quality of her work is simply haunting. She states, "I have been creating sounds with voice, all my life & approach vocals in sound with pure emotion & raw power of experimentation ... While using my voice as an instrument, I am able to manifest textures & layers of patterns with depth.", and this is the secret to her sound. The only other dark muse I've heard who does this is Diamanda Galas but Dark Muse is not the harsh violence of Diamanda but the soft and darkly flowing haunting sounds of the siren call. I'm so impressed with this debut release that it's hard to believe this is a debut at all. However, it is obvious that there lies years of talent which has been awaiting the moment of release from this individual.
I simply am not aware of any other music, art, or singing like it. Completely original and extremely experimental yet with a strong sense of professionalism. Her vocals layer in such intricate ways that it will take several listens to sort them out. That combined with the ambient and experimental electronics create a force which has the feel of primal subconscious energy. If you like ambient, ethereal, or gothic of any type I would highly suggest you give this a listen as there are no comparisons.

© Copyright 8/2002 TG Mondalf. All Rights Reserved

Artist: BAD SECTOR (@)
Title: Retrovirus
Format: CD
Label: AFE (@)
I don't think I have to introduce Bad Sector, since Massimo Magrini's creature has been a relevant name in experimental ambient for quite some time. This release, on Amon/Never Known/Lips Vago Andrea Marutti's AFE, was issued in 333 copies and is probably sold-out by now, but you can probably find some copies in several mailorders... or maybe ask for a re-press... "Retrovirus" collects a series of tracks from 1987 to 2000, and shows Bad Sector's typical ability to build menacing dark ambient tracks using a variety of different sources (here, for example, a phasing sequencer, a bowed copper wire, vocal samples etc.) with a great sense of structure and composition, but also at the same time a distinct "emotional" and visionary quality which is often missing in realeases of this genre. The atmosphere is almost always gloomy and tense, which fits with the apparent virus theme, a relevant exception being "TCGT [scatter]", a perfect piece of soothing cosmic music. Very well done digipack sleeve in pro-printed cardboard, and adequately abstract-looking scientific graphics.

Artist: NIMH (@)
Title: Line of Fire
Format: CD
Label: Self-released
Nimh is the other solo project of Giuseppe Verticchio, who released the excellent "Distant Skylines" last year. This work has its backbone in synthsizers, mostly digital ones I guess, though the sound is pretty "analogue" in a lot of passages. Two long tracks (27' and 25') with a lot of inner variations and possible sub-divisions. Sometimes there are several layers with aggressive patterns, sometimes they are reduced to a dark rumbling drone - environmental noises and voices (is it Russian?) only help in creating a tense, breath-taking atmosphere of panic and siege. Judging by the cover the work is inspired by war sceneries, effectively evoked by these cold, corrosive sounds.

Title: Distant Skylines
Format: CD
Label: Self-released
Born in 1965, Giuseppe Verticchio began composing ambient music in the first half of the '90's, and over the years has been releasing a remarkable series of cds, both as a solo performer (under his real name or with the monicker Nimh) and as a member of the trio biaSthon, with Adriano Scerna (also known for his project Anofele) and Marco Ramassotto, musicians who also collaborate to the first two tracks of this amazing work. Verticchio's also active with Oltre il Suono, an excellent website for ambient and electronic artists which released an equally good sampler called "Beyond the Sound" this year (see archive).
"Distant Skylines", composed and recorded in 2001, is a superb work. The main sound sources are ethnic instruments (mostly Thai percussions and strings) and voices; both are sometimes digitally processed and transformed into unrecognizable, eerie sounds. "The Market-Place", "Village Feast" and "Children Memories" share this pervading presence of voices, which, mixed with the metallic sounds of the instruments, and a thick subterrean layer of noises (first two tracks), constitute a mind-numbing whirlpool: field recordings of common voices and chants are mixed into layers, looped and processed with an incredible ability and care for detail, and the effect is stunning. "Late Afternoon at Wat Phra Yai" is a beautiful droning piece: xylophones, cymbals, gongs, mantra-like chants... the most ethereal track of the work. "Keota's song" is a short (just a bit more than a minute), sweet track with a baby singing an alphabet song with background windchimes sounds.
Verticchio shows an excellent taste in composition - the cd assembles different materials but never loses its coherence and the long tracks (3 out of 5 are around 13') are never boring. Moreover, sound quality's extremely high, every detail is clearly audible and there are no flares in the mix - absolutely professional also in this aspect. But possibly the main merit of this work is that it starts with ethnic sources and does give the idea of an "outer" dimension without falling into cheap exotism or new age naiveté. This is, for real, a sonic experience of the senses and of the soul...


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