Archive | August 2015

(New Album Review) The Soviet Space Programme- Space Is Hell

Space is Hell by The Soviet Space Programme, the brainchild of prolific North English poet and musician Thomas Jude Barclay Morrison, is a conceptual one-off hinged on a ghastly alternate-history– suppose Ivan Ivanovich, the dummy sent into space twice by the Soviet Union about a month before Yuri Gagarin’s historic orbit and the true first “man” in space, was in fact a real man forever expunged from Soviet record. Suppose this real man met a fate not as comfy as that of Ivan and Yuri’s celebrated homecomings…suppose he never came home at all.

All this serves as the launching point for an absolutely blistering hour and fifteen minutes of droning guitar sludge undercut by the eerie whispers of radio chatter slowly slipping into the abyss. As Ivanovich drifts further and further away from his last remaining connection to Earth, the vaccuum overpowers the signal more and more until it eviscerates it altogether. This ingeniously morbid concept album comes highly recommended to all fans of drone doom, fuzz-heavy psychedelia, and noise.

(New Album Review) Paul Hares- MSC DTH

The Big Ear Tapes family continue to outdo themselves in putting out weird beauty from the experimental deep end of progressive pc music with MSC DTH by the Balakovo-based producer Paul Hares.

MSC DTH is a mystic, free-flowing collage of samples and hip-hop beats warped in a musty echo chamber– releases like this really highlight the limitations of the arbitrary label “vaporwave”. The weirdly writhing lo-fi textures here will indeed be familiar to fans of Daniel Lopatin’s Eccojams, Vol. 1 and everything in its wake, but Hares has obviously gone much further into abstract zones. The raw but effulgent textures of MSC DTH flow from tape-manipulation-eruptions to meditative drones with a beguiling dream-logic. You won’t want to miss this one– it just might be destined for classic status down the road.

(New Album Review) Daniel Barbiero and Cristiano Bocci- Nostos

Nostos,  the upcoming release from the Assisi-based label Acustronica by American double bassist Daniel Barbiero and Italian sound artist/electric bassist Cristiano Bocci, lives up to its name by charting a return to the skeletal essentials of the experimental music tradition; this fiercely beautiful album is just eight solo performances bowing and plucking double bass, later disemboweled and distorted by electronics. All that is needed is a single player and some careful sonic manipulation to give birth to a jagged electro-acoustic storm aurally reminiscent of one of Michael von Biel’s string quartets.

There are so many interesting tones that one can only create with acoustic instruments– the distinct growl of the double bass is weighty enough by itself, and when processed to reverberate and cave-into its own shadow, it becomes more ferocious than an electric guitar. Even more essential to the electronic component of the album is the way that the awesome textures of these pieces create harmonies and rhythms within their echoes. There is a garish beauty to these experiments– for a slashing immediacy that meshes with a haunting resonance, Barbiero and Bocci’s collaboration stands out from much modern classical in recent memory. Nostos is slated for release September 15th and comes highly recommended to all fans of modern classical and electro-acoustic sounds.

Other works from Daniel Barbiero and Cristiano Bocci:

“Three Quarks for Muster Mark 2 28 i” by Daniel Barbiero

 

“The Elephants’ March” by Cristiano Bocci [interpretation of a performance on bass clarinet by Francesco Diodato]

(Re-release Review) Ujjaya- De Retour

Ujjaya (“victory”) is the moniker of Hery Randriambololona, a Malagasy multi-instrumentalist and sound artist based in Montigny le Bretonneux, France. Randriambololona’s overall style is an shamanic ambient primitivism that was strongly influenced by his careful study of North Indian classical music, though his choices in instrumentation have been borrowed liberally from a wide range of cultures. De Retour was unknown outside of Randriambololona’s closest circle of friends for sixteen years until the Spheredelic netlabel picked up what was originally a private issue cassette and gave it a much needed remastering in late 2014. This forgotten gem is available for free on the Spheredelic website.

Like his cornerstone influences Jorge Reyes and Jon Hassell, Randriambololona’s overall aesthetic and approach organically bring listeners into the animistic spiritual space of the ancients– the voices in these musical spaces take on the qualities of beings and elements, transcending the separation of humanity from the rest of nature. However, though Randriambololona utilizes unusual instrumentation hearkening back to ancient tradition in order to manifest this affect, his pieces are often mostly anchored by clear, melodic lines on electric guitar and richly textured, billowing synths. Like much of the work of Steve Roach, the sonic landscape of Ujjaya is a cosmic fusion of ancient tradition and electronic meditation– the lost howls and footsteps of ghosts find a special resonance here. A track like “3000 Ans” has an enfolding beauty as humble as a row of trees bowing slightly with the wind. This one comes highly recommended to all fans of deep ambient sounds.

“3000 Ans (3000 Years)” by Ujjaya

(New Album Review) Kris Dubinsky and Warmth- Nature in Its Forms

Amsterdam’s Shimmering Moods is gradually building an impressive catalog of ambient techno sounds. Of particular interest is Warmth (a Spanish electronic musician who goes by Agus) and Kris Dubinsky’s languorous, richly-textured collaboration Nature in Its Forms, which divides its time equally between exploratory beatless ambient and flowing, temperate dub techno. Whether beckoning us along for the slow-motion unfolding of “Sammanväxta Toner”, or on a techno voyage in the clouds like that of “Drawing Circles”, the duo have crafted enveloping, atmospheric electronica. This one goes a little lighter on effects than the capacious work of dub techno production virtuosos like Tamás Olejnik; however, it has a certain sweeping, dreamy quality to it that can lift you off the ground. Olejnik’s Singularity would be best-suited for an urban skyline at night– Dubinsky and Warmth’s Nature in Its Forms naturally lends itself to the forest scene on the cover. Highly recommended to all fans of deep techno sounds.

(New Album Review) Gianluca Piacenza- Dream

Gianluca Piacenza is a classically trained pianist from Italy who just recently self-released his debut, Dream. This assured debut was created with acoustic piano, digital and analog processing, and electronic textures from synths and field recordings. Though Piacenza’s pieces do show the influence of figures like Nils Frahm and Max Richter in their use of repetition, they diverge from the work of other modern minimalist composers in that they focus more on melody in a wandering, impressionist manner. Moreover, Piacenza’s incorporation of electronics is mostly meant to make a delicate, soft-tone backdrop, as though this is intended to be the faint echo of the lead voice– in a way, Piacenza has more in common with Ryuichi Sakamoto than Nils Frahm. This one comes highly recommended to all fans of modern classical music.

(New Album Review) Pleq and Giulio Aldinucci- The Prelude To

Pleq (Polish producer Bartosz Dziadosz) makes rhythmic electronic music positioned at the fringes of ambient music and sound art for its melancholy aesthetic and samplings from modern classical sounds. He is also an extremely congenial and open-minded collaborator with those who focus completely on ambient sounds, as evidenced both by Adrift, his 2012 meeting with Hakobune, and now The Prelude To, a collaboration with Italian sound artist and musician Giulio Aldinucci just released on Twice Removed’s younger sibling, Long Story Recording Company. Aldinucci (whose work focuses on incorporating field recordings with digital and analog synthesis) also just released the excellent Spazio Sacro; the guy’s on a roll and I’m very curious to see where he will venture next! The Prelude To (which began as a one-off for a Home Normal compilation) also features three engaging remixes by Olan Mill (Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenko), Christopher Bissonnette, and The Green Kingdom (Mike Cottone).

The Prelude To is beatless ambient where, here and there, a bright ray of light and chilly gust of air will sometimes shoot through the thick fog of blurred tones made up of distorted field recordings, acoustic instruments, and synthesized sounds.  This is not to say that the end result is muddled– the intuitively harmonious collaboration at the heart of  The Prelude To has produced soundscapes in which Pleq’s loops and faded white noise and Aldinucci’s ringing, slowly-ascending drones orbit so closely that they form a seamless whole. The sum of this collaboration is something halfway-between the arctic ambient of Biosphere and the meditative sound art made by contemporaries of Aldinucci like Stephan Mathieu. This one comes highly recommended to all fans of ambient music and sound art.