Sunday, December 12, 2010
The press release lists the genre as cinematic isolationism, and that description is as good as any. The oppressive mood on this album makes me think of Shutter Island. Not the film so much as the setting, that is, a mental hospital on an island isolated by a storm, seemingly there is something terrible going on and noone is willing to address it. The drawn out melodies are intensely dark and frightening and would be a perfect score for a black and white Jan Swankmajer adaptation of any number of the stories Kafka didn't dare to write down for fear of losing touch with reality. That's a film I'd love to see, and this is the music that should accompany it.
While the album might end up drowning in the sheer amount of dark ambient that is released these days it certainly deserves any attention this review can muster up for it. This is an excellent collaboration, and it makes me want to delve into both of the projects behind it (or Projekt4, which is the most commonly used alias for the individual behind Last Industrial Estate). Sadly however, this is announced as the final Wolfskin album, after fifteen years of activity...
Each little sound is allowed its own space in order to carefully construct an atmosphere. There is no overuse of anything, and nothing is muffled in any way. The balance between the various frequencies is quite simply perfect. The various instruments and samples that have been chosen are all just right and nothing stands out or disturbs the whole at any point. I especially like the way the extremely deep bass drums are just right, and adds a feeling of somber anticipation to the music. This only serves to accentuate the melodies higher up in the sonic range.
Portugal/Sweden(?), CD album, 2010, Malignant records,
1 Arrival [6:01]
2 Metaphysical [8:41]
3 Stonegates of Silence [15:24]
4 Criogenic [8:31]
5 Amidst the infinite skies [12:49]
Saturday, December 11, 2010
The music on this double album was originally released back in the nineties, and is released with bonus material now. It contains a remastered version of the original "blood music", as well as several tracks that were either unreleased or released on other recordings. Everything in a really tasteful eight panel digipack of high quality and design.
Blood music is a dark ambient classic, and it's easy to hear why. The landscaped music is dark and cram packed with atmospheric oddments and scraps of discarded civilization, with a heavy emphasis on the ambient aspects. There is nothing intrusive about the album, and the moods are the consistent focus throughout.
The music is mostly composed of long stretches of multi layered sounds with shit loads of reverb and a nearly tactile surface. Instruments are used in a sparing minimalist way to accentuate the atmospheres rather than drawing attention to more musical elements. As such portions of the music isn't music in the traditional sense, but an emulation of an astral field recording of melancholy – and a very succesful one at that.
The tracks are nearly impossible to separate with regards to composition and arrangement and make up a single (holistic) experience. That is a major bonus to me. As the album is slowly dying as a medium for artists I notice more and more that musicians are incapable of composing anything besides collections of single tracks. Albums should be about artistic consistency and themes, and this one is. Accomplishing a true album is often what separates the artists from the dilettantes – atleast to me. The bonus tracks are of course different from the original album, but that doesn't reduce the feeling of consistency discernably. Some of them are dirtier sounding and noisier, but in way does this decrease the focus on mood.
Of the two discs number two is for the most part great deal edgier than the first disc, and the way I see it also the most interesting of the two. It's more primitive and rough sounding, which sets it apart from most dark ambient these days - as well as disc one. In a way this makes it darker, and certainly much less soothing. The reason is of course that the material is older than the tracks on disc one.
There are few things that detract from my listening experience however. First of all it's too bloody long. There isn't much happening here, and that can be a little boring over two full discs. Unless you're a collector it's simply too much. Secondly it's not necessarily the most original of albums. The execution is impeccable, but I do miss more personality here. As background music it's excellent, but it's not music that stays with you after it's over. However that's probably not the point either. If you want a great background album while you're working or reading, or just relaxing: get it. It's perfect, and there's not really much more to say about that. Otherwise it's not going to knock you out of your socks.
USA, 2010, 2xCD album, Malignant Records,
1 Infinite Domain [13:28]
2 Twilight Eternal [10:21]
3 Purgatorio [8:55]
4 Descent [13:01]
5 Illuminate [10:51]
6 Absolute Zero [12:52]
7 Beneath the Sun [8:37]
1 Dervish [13:45}
2 Suction [13:19]
3 Head Shot [15:14]
4 Thin | Empty [6:21]
5 Virus [6:34]
6 Hollow Earth [7:03]
7 Summerskin [10:02]
Monday, December 6, 2010
From the very beginning I get the distinct feeling that this music reminds me of something, but I have no idea what. I've never heard anything like it. It's hallucinogenic, ritualistic, entrancing, unsettling and suggestive to the point of being hypnotic. My only guess is that it's triggered some deeply buried memories of something I've experienced under self hypnosis or a strange genetic memory. The music feels like home, but a home I've never been to before. The first track makes me feel like I'm lying under an endless carpet of stars, which is perfect for Nuit – and a pretty stark contrast to staring at the nuclear furnace that is Hadit (track 2) and even more so the scorching rays of Heru-Ra Ha (track 3).
Writing a review that explains both the type of music and the contents of that music is next to impossible. Gone are the dark drones and distorted soundscapes we usually think of when we hear the words "dark ambient", and in their place we have something that sounds like a blend of the Psychick Warriors ov Gaia and the trippier moments Pink Floyd, coming down after an unwitting experiment with "brown acid" and then a smattering of Etant Donnes. It's dark and primitive, but still manages to feel safe and warm in some strange way. Images of flames and shadows against a cave wall comes to mind, and the various rythmic implements used on the album underscores this feeling perfectly.
I do wish the voices were more audible however. While the muffled quality adds to the dream like atmosphere I feel that being able to make out more of the lyrics would benefit the listening experience. What little I can make out sounds like fragments from the Book of the Law, whose structures this release also mimics.
I guess you could say that my reaction is: intrigued, curious and I want to hear more. Much more.
Colombia, CD album, The Mercurius Collective, 2010
1 The Secret Flame (The Dance ov Nuit) 15:51
2 The Coiled Serpent (The Invisible light of Hadit) 17:13
3 The Throne of Power (The Mask of Heru Ra-Ha) 17:59
Saturday, November 27, 2010
A friend of mine who is a psychologist once took me on a tour of a psychiatric institution where he was working, and the celler was in a total state of disrepair – like something you'd expect to find in Arkham Asylum. It was a pure horrific beauty. In the darkest corner of the most run down part of the cellar was an old wooden door, and I said to him "if nothing is locked up behind that door I will be very disappointed". There was nothing there of course(?), but if there had been I'd half expect it to be the contents of this album. That is the way it sounds anyway, like something you don't want to be locked up with.
The sounds are frailer than butterfly wings, sinister as razorblades and more claustrophobic than the worst italian exploitation film you can imagine. While the the type of sounds used might otherwise have come off as cliches in the genre, the way they are arranged and produced makes the album sound as fresh as anything you can imagine. Nothing is overdone or obvious and each sonic fragment is allowed space to stand out on its own. In a way each single sound contains a whole story, and the album becomes a sonic "Arabian nights"-like structure composed of a swarm of flash fictions about horror, depravity, frailty, fevers and innocence.
Attention also needs to be directed to the incredible cover, provided by Kim Sølve. The name of the album is reflected perfectly by the colors, while the mood is reflected in the design. It's like the pencilled scribbles, stains and mildew you'd expect to find in a sedated schizophrenic patient's hidden dungeon. Quite simply unsettling, yet sublime and light to the touch, like a fly walking on your arm before stopping to clean its eyes and wings.
It is evident that these people operate in a whole other league from the rest of the dark ambient / drone scene. The artistic execution is quite simply on a different scale alltogether. Like a rainstorm compared to a garden hose. It's simply impressive. So impressive I just simply have to blurt out a few uncontrolled expletives: Holy fucking christ, it's good! Mother of hell!
Usually I would say that the length of the album detracts from the experience. As I have said before, fifty minutes is more than enough for most albums, and while this album clocks in at about an hour I actually want more. I don't find myself losing concentration, but rather I get irrate if something calls my attention away from the music. (Evidently this is not an album for the mtv generation at large...) In fact the final track, "He Came as Swarms" is so good I wish it were twice as long...
And I can tell you: I am never going to sleep to this album.
Norway, CD album, 2010
1 Asleep in Silver Residue [2:38]
2 Children Mimicking Shadows [11:20]
3 On the Threshold of Morning and Fevers [13:53]
4 In Between Silences [4:14]
5 He Came as Swarms [27:56]
http://www.trineogkim.no/shop.html Buy it here!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
We here at Kaliglimmer are saddened by the news that Peter "Sleazy" Christophersen has passed away in his sleep. Sleazy was the co-founder of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and Coil, and few individuals can claim a bigger impact on underground electronics. Until his passing he was working with former members of Throbbing Gristle under the name XTG.
Our thoughts go to his immediate family and friends. May he rest in peace, and his music live forever.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The strongest part of the music absolutely has to be the vocals, which reminds me of My Dying Bride both in style and theme. The growling is capable and the clean vocals are well executed and moody. The guitar is also good and supplies weight and melody. However the rest of the sound is a bit flat and the guitar and vocals often have to work almost alone to convey the dark moods this album clearly aims at. With more time spent on production this could have been avoided, and the album would've benefited from a heavier and slightly dirtier sound in general. This is especially true for the snares, which could need a great deal more power and reverb to really punctuate the beats. This is perhaps a matter of preference though, but the way it is the drums are too weak to really drive it home.
It's hard to pick a favorite track as they tend to be a bit anonymous compared to each other. The album is more of a total experience, and I certainly recommend listening to all of it one go to receive the maximum impact. The second half of the album is clearly the best half, and "Dark Millenium" is absolutely the strongest track with its flirtations with arabic music, sharp stabbing riffs, as well as skillfully composed atmospheric bridges. Without being too "far out" it manages to combine the heaviest portions of the album with progressive elements. Kudos, and more of that!
In general the album is an ok piece of atmospheric metal, but I'm probably not going to listen to it more than once. I feel that the album lacks the final inch it would need to go to convince me. A little darker, a little angrier or a little heavier and everything would be so much more interesting. As it is I would probably prefer going straight to My Dying Bride if this was the fix I was after. If the entire album followed in the steps of the aforementioned "Dark Millenium", or "Pandora" it would an entirely different thing however.
I don't doubt in any way that Akem Manah is capable of producing something really enticing though. It's just not there yet, but going by the last four tracks we could have something really worth while in store for the future. I'm also completely certain that if you're really into the genre the album would strike a nerve with you.
Belgium, self released CD album, 2010
1 Death at Dusk [0:24]
2 the Back Unknown [6:13]
3 Dead for Days [4:31]
4 the Testament of Sealant Mound [5:48]
5 Sacrilegious Ceremonies [2:32]
6 Dark Millenium [7:44]
7 Pandora [9:59]
8 Nightmares [8:43]
9 the Quelling [3:46]
http://akem.bigcartel.com/ (to buy the album)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Artist: Fat Worm Of Error
Label: Resipiscent – http://www.resipiscent.com
Year: 2010 (re-issue of 2006 CDr)
1. Ambivalence And The Beaker
2. Wipeless Two
3. Return Of The Thin White Dook
4. Mashed Potentate
5. Golden Nozzle
7. Foaming Study
8. Shunt Creek
10. Fut Chuggo Dummos
13. Ruined Herbivore
14. Ruined Appendix
Sunday, November 14, 2010
K100 is the solo project of Kim Sølve (Trine + Kim Design studio, Swarms, M, Delirium Bound) and this is his second release.
It's no secret that I am sceptical to anything Norwegian, and even more so when it comes to Norwegian "experimentalism". My experience is that more often than not Norwegian musicians in this area have a fetish for authenticity and it is rarely matched by substance. Or they simply fail completely.
So, what will my reactions to Kim Sølve's dark experimental release be?
Let me tell you, this is a much needed refreshment in the massive pile consisting of drone and dark Ambient, and I am glad to say that Sølve neither tries too hard or wants to be something he's not. Sølve masters the art of expression through sound, and he masters it well. The sound itself is the center of attention and it's obvious to me that Sølve has spent quite some time processing these tracks in his head before they came to life. According to the cover the tracks were made between 2002-2008. Just goes to show that good quality is worth waiting for, and indeed worth the while.
The CD contains 12 tracks. To my personal tastes that might be too much for any release - depending on track length of course. This is especially true for drone or dark ambient. Keep it clean cut, and keep it short is my philosophy. I would perhaps have preferred it if Sølve split this release into two, to keep the listeners interested. However the release manages to keep me interested all the way through, so he's certainly doing something right. Maybe it works because the tracks vary in lenght so much. The amazing thing with Sølve is that once you feel like you've figured him out, like you know what to expect, he feeds you little surprises in the shape of really interesting sound facets that are so subtle they make you want to dissolve into atoms and merge with the computer to have a closer listen. The production is really interesting as well. Yes, it's a little over produced, but it still gives the layers justice and attention. The music is based on electronic sounds with samples providing interesting depth in the background. So, well done. No wonder this is released on Neuropa Records.
“The vault of apparitions” guides you deep down, creating a tactile, meditative space. Sølve grants the listener time to explore the tracks, and that is a much missed quality in most releases. People tend to want to force too many elements into a short period of time, presumably because they desperately want to keep the listeners attention. In my experience this often results in the complete opposite, mind you. Sølve however, is not desperate. He takes his time building, not only each track, but the entire release into a mix of experimental and ambient . Slowly pulling you deep down with him into this calm trance like state. The mood is unmistakeably dark: In the press release he mentions "personal experiences bordering on rituals" and I see that as a perfect setting. Not rituals as in the occult, but as in a psychological ritual. This is not a challenging listen considering it's experimental, it is however very soothing and calming. While firmly based in drones the music also contains a variety of rythmic elements, and small details adding dynamism to the album.
The cover is really stunning, with metal textures and a clever, minimalist design with a key hole on the front cover, and the key on the inside. It's a fitting metaphor for what I suspect is Sølve's intention with this release. Again, a well planned and executed idea. Clean cut, no bullshit, just the way we like it.
Finally and most of all I want to applaud Kim Sølve for those subtle sound experiments, for his obvious faith in the idea, and for the laid back and self assured execution. I give my stamp of approval. This is indeed excellent work.
Format: CD digipack
Site: http://www.myspace.com/unreality0, http://unrealityblog.blogspot.com/
1: False awakening
2: Fevered and childlike
3: No light
5: Winters in the making
6: They tell me about their darkness
7: Insect sculptures
9: Silent and in-between
10: Assembled from shadows
11: the room if reoccuring nightmares
12: Flies in his smile
I'm starting to run out of ways to describe this kind of music. It starts off with deep drones, a raspy breathlike sound that shifts back and forth between the speakers and strings that fade in slowly – to become a massive presence. It's very atmospheric, if also quite predictable. The production values are high, and there are no flaws in arrangement. This kind of music could easily end up as a blob of low end frequencies, but Nick Olman manages to let each sound come into its own right. In particular I appreciate the way the strings (for lack of a better word, presumably they're actually a choir) remind me of the artfully crafted compositions of Ligeti, with microtonal drifts in and out of harmony. I like that.
Also the album full of subtleties and manages to contain soothing, and yet unsettling melodies and is in general very relaxing. The range of sounds used is greater than what I've come to expect from albums in this genre, and that counts as a big plus in my book. Additionally the various electronic instruments manage to sound vibrant and full of patina. Many people don't pay enough attention to how their instruments sound, and we end up with crappy soft synth strings and plastic sound drums - perhaps the main staple of bedroom studio syndrome. Not so on this album though. Check out the drums on "Primordial (Below Heaven and Earth)". They are about as far from plastic as you can get. With the exception of the strings on "Looks I could kill". If someone comes up to and asks you "Do you want a VSTi?", JUST SAY NO! (Or atleast, put alot of hours into making them sound like you said no...)
Big kudos to Olman for not falling into the trap that so many drone / dark ambient musicians do: the album is not 74 minutes jam packed with drones. It's total running time of a little more than fifty minutes is maybe ten minutes more than I would ideally prefer, but it's not so long you get bored. Take a hint from this people. Give people too much, and they get bored with you. Keep them wanting more. In addition the album may be based in drones, but it's dynamic and keeps changing. The album has a lot of content, quite simply.
In general the album is deftly executed and in fact full of surprises, such as the "rusty"distorted vocals on track two. "Ghost in the machine" is a rarely fitting title, as that is just what it sounds like. While deeply rooted in the traditions of the genre the album comes off as fresh and original. The first track is a bit predictable, but the rest of the album is interesting and exciting in every way. I admit I started off as sceptical (as always) but ended up convinced. In fact this might become one of my favorite albums in the genre...
USA, Self released, CD Album, 2010
1 the Deepest of Black Waters [10:47]
2 Ghost in the machine [7:22]
3 Primordial (Below heaven and Earth) [7:32]
4 Through a Corrupted Mind [5:39]
5 With Tortured Affection [9:07]
6 Looks I Could Kill [4:24]
7 Eternal Servant to the Departed [8:06]
http://soundcloud.com/nickolman/sets/smear-campaign (free listens) (free listens)
Sunday, November 7, 2010
II is the second album by Richard, there isn't much info on the web on this American musician. He has a minimalist myspace site and that's about all I could find. It seems Richard is a person who doesn't need much graphics surrounding his sounds. And once I start listening to his release, that all seems very fitting. The first track «Obelisk» is a minimalist and contemporary intro. Relaxing ambient very slowly moves it's way into a more experimental territory. It's a brilliant intro indeed and sets a very fitting setting for the rest of the release.
II has a certain element of melancholy lingering throughout, the sounds carries my mind out to sea. Under the sea, in fact, where everything is dark and cold. "24. September" functions as an audio driven submarine. Even though II is so filled with melancholy, I don't find it depressing. I'm guessing Richard is a man who has come to terms with his own demons and has found a way to channel his emotions. This is mature music because it's not something someone would be able to put together in 2 weeks. There is a lot of thought put into the composition and the sounds used, and I imagine quite a bit of concentration as well. II is very well executed. It really is.
I wouldn’t say it's difficult music, but it's not something everyone would enjoy. I do believe you have to be someone with a serious interest in sound in general. I am one of those people. "A shadow in the cave" is a brilliant track, it's more direct and also has a darker setting than the previous tracks, complimented with dirty noise elements and metallic sounding drums. Certainly moving into industrial territory, and towards the end, most definately noise. A fav track for me.
I really respect how Pineal Eye builds tension. Everything is so controlled, yet he manages to keep it flowing and soothing. The timing is perfect as well, nothing is overused or drawn out too far he knows exactly when to stop or to change direction in every single track. By now I feel safe in the room that is Pineal eye, as I am reassured he won't fuck up the remaining two tracks by doing something totally crazy. I am able to let go and enjoy the soundscapes, I am indeed "set adrift" by the time said track moves towards it's end.
As the last track, with the poetic title "Towers of silence" starts up, I am basically in awe of Richard and this masterpiece of a release. Electronic sounding bird noises swarms round my head and I find my self in a vortex of bliss. I LOVE this track. I don't want it to end. It's like Richard has injected some strange hallucinogenic into my brain and I am now totally submerged into the universe that is II. And as the track moves towards it's end, i slowly move towards the surface and takes my first breath of fresh air. All good things must come to an end, even the magical trip created by II. The good news is: You can press play anytime you want.
Finally I want to add that the cover is magnificent. Truly beautiful.
A masterpiece. Simply as.
USA, free download, 2010
5: A shadow in the cave
6: Set adrift
7: Towers of silence
Kuldvas claims to be a type of black metal. Not sure I can agree with that. It takes a wee bit more than distorted guitar and liberal use of tritones. Granted, the type of distortion used is classic and perfect, but the guitar playing is far from inspiring for the most part of the album, and the best parts are nowhere near black metal in any way shape of form.
The first track is a complete waste. The guitar is unsteady and feels a bit labored. I have to be completely honest and say that the overall impression is amateurish rather than experimental. Skip it. The second track is slightly more exciting and the guitar is somewhat sinister and the melodies have some atmosphere in them. Still I feel the track lacks depth, and sounds more like a demo from a guitarist to his band. It could be a good basis for a really heavy song, but the way it is now it sounds like someone's passing time. Sadly it is the shortest track of the album. I'm not going to write about every single track, but the impression you get from these two unfortunately counts the for the rest of the album as well. The music is flat and I really miss more instruments. Some drums certainly would be welcome. At times the guitar playing is atmospheric and skilled, at other times it sounds like something I could plunk out. And believe me, I can't play guitar to save my life.
Of all the tracks I'd say number six, Last Branch has the greatest potential. It's structured and atmospheric and could work well as an instrumental track on its own, or with some more layers added. Still, like the rest of the album it sounds unfinished. The final track, Beyond the Horizon, could also work well. It sounds like a blend between a ballad by Metallica and Stanely Myers' music for the Deer Hunter. It's a good ballad, and should be further developed.
After having made music for quite some time now I've learned that what sounds good when you're messing around with sounds in your own room doesn't necessarily sound good to other people. It might be fun to play around, but that doesn't mean it's a finished product.
I'd say that the person behind Kuldvas should recruit some more people and start a band, or atleast bide his time and gain some experience before putting out more stuff. I might be very harsh in this review but this album is not a finished product. The tracks are sketches and need alot of work before they should be distributed to the general public. Giving away music for free doesn't mean you can expect people to listen to just anything. As a guitarist he is obviously skilled, but nowhere near as skilled as to let the guitar carry a whole album, with some occasional experimentation to make it interesting. Come back later.
USA, free download, 2010
1 A walk in the day
3 Gone in forests forgotten
4 An incessant fear
5 Shadows in the mist
6 Last Branch
7 Sinking in the decay of sanity
8 Amidst the trees
9 Lost eternally
10 Beyond the horizon
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Bacterium is the first Adeptsound compilation. I have to admit that due to the huge number of compilations being released these days, I usually start the task of reviewing one with a slight sigh. More often than not, I find a bunch of helpless tracks by unknown bands that can't seem to land a deal with anyone. And to top it all off, I was having a shitty day.But I stand corrected. Bakterium is the kind of quality that will make me raise my eyebrow and go "well hey now... Now we're talking". From the very first track this release asserts it self as a solid and high quality compilation. No bullshit, no fluff, just to the point, hard hitting music for people into high quality dark experimental. Cheaomaschines sets a intriguing mood as the first band, it's an excellent choise by Adeptsound to have "culture" as the first track as it's an evoking in it self with soothing sounbdscapes. Column one blew me away with their interesting mix of genres in their track "Cindy, Loraine & Hank". By now I'm thinking it can't get better than this, but then DDAA completely blows me away with "Verdeter" with a dark, occult drone infected vibe. The vocals are out of this world and I will most definately be looking into their discography. I guess being around since 1977 will give you that nerve newcomers are so seldom able to express. A fav track without a doubt.
Track 4 by Dieter Müh "Bacteria 2" is a much more contemporary track, with subtle minimalist sounds lingering in the background. Then Maison Close shreds the vibe with their power electronic infested "Filoviridae Mutatis". Excellent dirty noise, combined with eerie samples they master the art of the genre perfectly. I love the production here, it's not too polished as much of what comes out of this genre is today. The layers are very present, and I know quite a few sound geeks who would drool over this track for sure. Brutal, yet controlled. Well done. Mnem - Invisible Organism". Not a track for everyone, but I love it. It's a meditative noisy drone trip with excellent atonal electronic sounds. I never grow tired of bands who are confident enough in their art to make music like this. This track pulls you into what I call the white light of noise meditation. Tres relaxing.
N.Strahl.N with "Plasma-Spaltung" is defenetly interesting, but the mastering is too clean. This sounds too much like the film score of a 70's sci-if film witch in it self isn’t a bad thing, but compared the the other tracks it's too clean, to pretty and has no nerve. The sounds are interesting, I can tell that there are some really nice sonic experiments hiding in the production. Dig those out next time. Next up is Josef Nadek with the track "Yersinia Pestis" is Hard hitting noise track complimented by dark ambient soundscapes. Oh, I really love some of the sounds they've come up with. I get a slight Sun o))) vibe at times actually, and my mind also wanders into Tetsuo territory. It's all good.
Schuster "The Scattering Of Bones - Place & Call (Klebsiella)" is track #9. A soothing aural chill out zone in between all the uncompromising noise tracks. Multi layered and very tactile, Schuster evokes mental images of long forgotten spirits. It's a very interesting listen as it is unpredictable in all the right ways. And again I really like the production on this, it's really quite crisp. Praying For Oblivion – ALH84001 comes in as track #10 and from the get go kicks it off with brutal power electronics. I like how Adeptsound obvsiously has put a great deal of thought into the progression of the track list. Praying for oblivion actually reminds me of Grammal Seizure except for the loud mastering he is well known for, and not so unforgiving. But certainly up there regarding quality. It ends abruptly however, mind the glitch, or intentional?
Next up is The Psychogeographical Commission's "Pathogenic Suspension". TPC is a band I really admire and I was pleased to see their name in the track list, as I knew at least of of the tracks would be good. "Pathogenic Suspension" is without a doubt a TPC track, but with a dark vibe. We found that dark vibe in their latest release as well, and it suits their unusual approach to sound. Soothing and calming with a little evil twist. Love it. Last but not least we have Sevan Oh with "Natural Unit", who has the, at times unforgiving, job of delivering the last track of a compilation. Did Adeptsound save the best for last? The track starts off with cut up samples looped on top of minimalist snippets of sounds. Very interesting indeed with a Biosphere kind of feeling to it. It's an intelligent track with a philosophical message "Will you be ready" It's the perfect ending to a really impressive compilation. I would say that this compilation is perfect for those of you who are in your 30's, who are sick of the mass produced shit the industry spews out.
Title: Bacterium băk-tîr'ē-əm
Cat No: ADSC001CD
Packaging: 4-fold Digipak with 12-page color booklet with a limited edition hand-numbered postcard
Ltd Edition: 300 copies.
1. Cheap machines - Culture (6:51)
2. Column One - Cindy, Loraine & Hank (4:30)
3. DDAA - Verdeter (6:09)
4. Dieter Müh - Bacteria 2 (Live) (5:32)
5. Maison Close - Filoviridae Mutatis (6:38)
6. Mnem - Invisible Organism (6:10)
7. N.Strahl.N - Plasma-Spaltung (Geburt) (6:50)
8. Josef Nadek - Yersinia Pestis (5:14)
9. Schuster - The Scattering Of Bones - Place & Call (Klebsiella) (6:23)
10. Praying For Oblivion - ALH84001 (2:35)
11. The Psychogeographical Commission - Pathogenic Suspenson (5:27)
12. Sevan Oh - Natural Unit. (5:29)
I imagine myself flying over the antarctic. Low, in a small aircraft. The sunlight is reflected off the cold snow and ice, and it's almost blinding me. Beneath the wings a vast emptiness is unfolding, and stretches on forever. No real features, but an endless white plain beneath an endless blue sky. This is the feeling I get from listening to the opening of Breaking Down into his oblivion. It's cold, it's minmalist and devoid of life (in a good way).
The first track of the album, "BD's lament", evolves so slowly you hardly notice time passing by, and suddenly you find yourself listening to soothing melodies supporting snippets of an obscure female voice telling me "He's breaking down to his own oblivion". The track may not be as dark as it promises to be, but that is certainly soon ammended.
The second track is by far the longest, at over 20 minutes, and gives the listener time to fully explore the universe Schuster provides us with. "I am living in my own corpse" is an ominous and perhaps depressing title for the track, but it fits. I fully enjoy the extreme minimalism of it and find myself breathing slower and easier. There is an unsettling element to this track however. By now we've clearly landed and are in fact spelunking in a vast cold maze. The tiny little squeeks in the background of this track makes me think of birds and other small animals. Ugly birds with blind eyes and no feathers on their stark red heads. Their shrill voices are accompanied by distant sounds of humans subjected to some unknown torture. Perhaps medical experiments. It's getting evident that we're no longer in the arctic, but somewhere underneath the wind blasted plateu of Leng, and this cavernous structure should be left alone. I love it. It's the perfect cross between Lovecraft and Biosphere. There is no doubt that this is my favorite track of the album.
The glitchy and syncopated beats that start "Your house is marked" catches me off guard. The change of style is quite surprising, but the track manages to fit in regardless. The mood and theme is the same as that of the first two tracks. Still if I had to leave out a track it would have to be this one. After this break of pace however "Manasarovar" is ready to calm you down once more with it's mongolian style drones and massive crash cymbals. Considering the fact that I've allready been teleported to Lovecraftian realms by "I am living in my own corpse" the mysticism of this track is highly unsettling. No longer in the arctic, but in a desert, surrounded by broken pillars and ancient ruins. Still the landscape is mostly flat and featureless, and I have a feeling of being completely isolated. The final track "Burdened" is a good ending to the album. Like the other tracks it has it's own personality but fits well into the overall scheme of the album. The desperation of the voice sample in the background adds depth to the track, and serves as a good reminder of the fucked up world we live in. If we ever needed one...
If I have to say something negative about the album as a whole I'd say that it's slightly long. I know people want as much sound as possible for their money, but I think anything that happes after fifty minutes is superfluous. It's hard to maintain full concentration for that long, and there are few albums that prove me wrong in this assumption. Personally I'd consider breaking this album into two different releases, and keep the fans wanting more, rather than giving them too much.
Australia, Adept sound, CD album, 2010
1 BD's lament [10:59]
2 I am living in my own corpse [20:40]
3 Your house is marked [9:05]
4 Manasarovar [9:01]
5 Burdened [8:38]
http://www.myspace.com/ltschuster (Where several of the tracks can be sampled.)
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Subterrestrial is a dark ambient/experimental music project from the San Francisco Bay Area, spawning ground of a myriad experimental music acts through the last 40 years (+) with an equal myriad musical expressions. Subterrestrial explores hollow earth and subterranean themes that appear in science, literature and religion using a variety of experimental musical styles as a vehicle.
I’m going to cover the two most recent Subterrestrial releases here, as the musical expression differs significantly between the two, starting with Subterrestrial’s third effort ”Camera Obscura”. Straight off the bat it is evident that a lot of preparation was involved in generating the rather complex electronic soundscapes which makes up Camera Obscura. The entire release is delicately executed and managed to keep me interested despite my inherent fear of tracks longer than twenty minutes. Sometimes forceful, bordering on noise – sometimes beautifully and pleasantly complex multi-layered reverberation with more than a little hint of feedback peeking through the veil of databent circuitry. Camera Obscura starts off (and ends) with short signature tracks, and we then get to the heart of the matter with three twenty five minute long slabs of high-grade experimentalism. The title track is the middle ground it seems, quite pleasant and full of details with much room to ”peer” into the soundscape, while Fantasmagorie is more abrasive and is definitely the most accurate portrayal of the psychedelic noisescapes as advertised by the artist. Zoopraxiscope starts out slowly, cautiously, building up tension quite effectively with much ebbing and flowing and is by far the most thoroughly ambient of the three main pieces. It reminds me a lot of some of the newer NWW releases (Space Music etc.) and is masterfully produced and realized. Bravo! It should be added that I have not been able to listen to this more than a couple of times and solely in headphones at moderate volume, so I cannot vouch for the people with audiophile stereo rigs. Chances are this will sound pretty awesome on a good rig though.
Tracklist ”Camera Obscura”:
01 Magic Lantern I
02 Camera Obscura
05 Magic Lantern II
Get it here: http://www.archive.org/download/SUB003_Subterrestrial_Camera_Obscura/SUB003_Subterrestrial_Camera_Obscura.zip
Next up is the second Subterrestrial release ”H-21” which according to the artist makes use of harsh 8-bit noise and heavily aliased exotic rhythms to explore the violent life and tragic death of Mata Hari, whose alleged codename was H-21. And rhythmical it is. Very sparse and barren music starts the release off with endless repetitions with a bare minimum of dynamics and depth. Quite the culture shock after the previous release then! Thankfully H-21 diverges from this vein and continues down a more traditionalist path of experimentalism with the next few tracks some of which manage to become quite harsh, for instance H-21 III, which winds up massively and is more reminiscent of the Camera Obscura-release in that there is much room to listen between the lines for most of the track. Track four manages to have almost conventional rhythmical patterns albeit bathed in reverbed low-bit noise to the point of incongruence. The release is brought to its conclusion in a track that is more loosely structured and a much more challenging listen that the other four. H-21 was not as rewarding to me as Camera Obscura, but still managed to pique my interest to some degree, mostly due to the fact that it is shorter, differently structured and another expression entirely.
I still prefer Camera Obscura though, which is highly recommended if you are interested in well-wrought ambience, which is adequately topped up with some top-notch experimentalism. Subterrestrial is definitely on my watch list from now on.
01 H-21 I
02 H-21 II
03 H-21 III
04 H-21 IV
05 H-21 V
Get it here: http://www.archive.org/download/SUB002_Subterrestrial_H_21/SUB002_Subterrestrial_H_21.zip
Sunday, October 24, 2010
We recently mentioned the Implicit Order in our review of the Mystified remix album, where they contributed four excelent tracks. It's a tough act to follow, but I have to say that their own release is even better. The first track starts with drones before going into a landscape of nostalgic melodies and slight distortion that makes me think of the summer rain trickling along multicolored stone walls in some iteration of an urban landscape. This fragmentary melancholy persists throughout the recording, showing us bits and pieces of something very familiar that still manages to seem very displaced. Cutlery laced with analogue strings and children playing in the background. Oddments sampled from documentaries and bouts of glitch, and simplistic analogue melodies that are followed by atonal choirs and minute sounds in buckets of reverb. It's a good mix of plunderphonics, found sounds and self composed pieces, all deftly manipulated into a whole.
The album is very short, but it's a good way to land after a day full of stress. There is nothing dark here, and nothing demanding. It's as if the world around you has been reappropriated and recontextualized to form a sonic chair for your relaxation. I say, try it on. I think you'll like it. When it's over I feel calm and strangely happy – contrasting sharply with the track titles and the Columbine connotations they contain. I'm certainly not dissapointed though. I guess murdering your class in homeroom doesn't have to be all dark and negative. All in all it's nothing ground breaking or ground shaking, but it's certainly something you should give a try. It's worth it.
The recording is available for free download here, and readily available. I just wish it was longer, as the entire thing ticks in at just around 17 minutes.
USA, CD Download, suRRism Phonoethics, 2010
1 Blind Youth
2 Dumb Generation
3 School Lunch
4 Dewy Fields
5 Murder in Homeroom
Saturday, October 23, 2010
The first track of this download covers more or less the entire spectrum, from ambient, to electronic beats and then further on to powernoise and pure noise mayhem. The impressive bit is how natural it all feels. The blend of powernoise beats and harsh electronic distortion is powerful and reminds me a bit of Merzbow's Aqua Necromancer, just more harsh. The track even manages to segue into a moody industrial "ambient" melodic part before it ends after a little more than twenty minutes of unpredictable beauty, and that is something I really didn't expect.
The rest of the tracks aren't as long as the first one, but they are perhaps even more skillfully composed, and make up an excellent blend of IDM and powernoise. It's hard to analyze the album in terms of theme or content, but it's certainly an enjoyable urban sound perfectly suited for a cold day in october. Especially a track like "Zygoma Boom" or "Salt. Wound. Sandpaper.", which contains all the distorted anger of the best in powernoise, and all the brain dancy joy of IDM. Comparisons to Converter or Noisex spring to mind. And then there's little bundles of dark fun, like "Ointment or so we thought", which makes me think of Aphex Twin on a nasty coctail of ritalin and benzo's. It's been some time since I've managed to listen to an entire album in this landscape without getting really bored, as the genre tends towards repetition and predictability. This album is dynamic and manages to stay exciting.
Something else I find very pleasing about this release is the way Absence Insolution manages to pile umpteen layers of sound in there without turning the result into a porridge of indistinguishable crap. Every single sound is audible and clear. My only complaint about the album is that the first track doesn't fit all that well with the rest of the album, despite being really good. Leaving it out would've resulted in a more focused experience. I also fear that many potential listeners can get lost in the lengthy noise ouvre.
Sadly Absence Insolution doesn't get the attention it would deserve. I've not forgotten would really have been something for Hymen, Hands or Ant-Zen to pick up. While I really appreciate the fact that it's a free download, it deserves a larger audience and support from a label.
If you're into powernoise you really need to give this one a listen. I'm serious. Smack it on your mpfree player and lace up your boots. It's not gonna revolutionize your philosophy or anything, but it certainly will make that walk through the city more vibrant. Three thumbs up!
USA, self released, album download, 2010,
1 I've not forgotten
2 Rape Sequence
3 Zygoma Boom
4 Ointment or so we thought.
5 Salt. Wound. Sandpaper.
6 Black Hole. Magnetic Pole.
7 the Inconceivable p.m.b.
8 Sorry I wrote this
9 Tender Longing
Friday, October 22, 2010
An European duo formed in 2008, consisting of Ann-Mari Thim (Arcana, Seventh Harmonic) and Xavier De Schuyter. De Schuyter has a past (and a present) in the extreme metal and rock genre and ventured into the dark ambient/neoclassical genre to explore something different. Horror/Forsaken is a double album with a horror theme inspired by Dark Wave.
I am not a neoclassical fan. I find the genre to be tedious, pompous and predictable. And I can't for life of me find anything interesting in Ann-Mari Thim's vocal work. Sure the girl can sing, but this is as interesting as watching paint dry. I think it's pretty obvious I'm not an Arcana fan either. It's my understanding that De Schuyter invited her to participate in this project to add atmosphere. In my opinion this release would have been better off without her. De Schuyter is perfectly able to create atmosphere on his own, and his vocal work combined with the soundscapes actually forms a soothing, and at times edgy listeninge experience. I can tell he has a passion for music. There is a certain humble approach that shines through, there is nothing pretentious about his work. And that surprises me with regards to his interest in extreme metal where «image is everything». My advice to De Schuyter is to have faith in his own talent and intent, and to drop the dead weight. He doesn't need the name dropping. He is strong enough on his own.
I will point out that the dark ambient elements of this release outshines the neoclassical/Neofolk elements by far. But I fail to see the horror element, and being a devoted horror fan I can say that with a straight face. Horror to me is «The Texas chain saw massacre,» not «House on the haunted hill» the remake. I'm more a «Last house on a dead end street» kinda girl. The horror vibe in this release is more your typical Halloween party, where straight people dress up once a year. To me everyday is Halloween, and as a dark ambient fan, I don't feel a connection to this release. If anything, this release makes me much more curious about De Schuyter's other projects because he has obvious talent, and I can tell he really wants to communicate through his
As to the production, I have to say it's a little too over produced. I would have loved to hear more dirty sounding soundscapes to give the release a much needed edge. There are tracks that certainly stand out such as «The descent», with just a tad more dirt and rust this could have been a very good track. I read in an interview that De Schuyter walks round town sampling sounds he finds interesting. I would have loved if those sounds could have been more prominent. They drown in a very digital production. The CD cover is true to the genre. It's a pretty design, clean and simple as it should be.
To sum it all up, if you are a fan of the neoclassical and the vocal works in style of Arcana, or if you enjoy pretty, uncomplicated dark ambient, by all means buy the CD. If you on the other hand are looking for something with a little more teeth, I'd say wait for De Schuyter next release to see if he has found faith in his own talent. I will be keeping an eye on him.
Style: Dark ambient, Neoclassical, Neofolk
Label :Black Drone http://blackdrone.com/
Format: CD, digipak
Released: 19 May 2010
Free download: http://voidwork.bandcamp.com/
2 The soulless city
3 People of the monolith
4 Marble steps
6 The serpents lullaby II
8 The serpents lullaby III
9 Forever in fire
10 Post -apocalypse
11 The decent
13 The black goat
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Halgrath is indeed ritual dark ambient, but instead of the more common humming I get so bored with in this genre, an ethereal female vocal lifts the project out from being your run of the mill dark ambient band up to a more unique and interesting project. The woman behind this Russian project is Agratha, and she certainly knows how to lure you into her world.
Throughout the tracks are highly erotic and ritual, and makes my mind wander off to some of the more selfish rituals you will find in sex magick. There is a certain intent, a sense of direction in the tracks which makes me believe this girl got her Crowley shit down.
Halgrath is an unknown project to me, and the cover is so important in making the first impression a good one. A cover should make us curious about the content, and it should reflect the genre in some way or form. Halgrath's cover is a total failure, it's damn right terrible. And that is such a shame because the musick is not. Please look beyond the cover, people. You won't regret it.
The soundscapes are very well produced, multi layered and at times unique. Halgrath has a nerve forcing it's way through all the tracks. Combined with various ethnic inspirations, organic sounds and meditative drums this will without a doubt pull you into a different world of imagery and sensations. According to her myspace, she is influenced by the spirituality of the universe, and I really do enjoy her balance between the soothing and the more unsettling moods. I can promise you this: If you lay down on the floor letting your breath be affected by this release, you will find that your body unable to let go and relax 100%. The unsettling nerve will keep you alert and aware. I love that. I really do wish Agratha played this card out with more intent, that would have made this release a real knife's edge and rather unforgettable.
Although I enjoy the occasional female vocal, I usually get bored with it rather quickly. I prefer distorted and/or experimental vocals, or male vocals just because a male vocal can be stripped down in a way a female vocal usually can't. Even though Agratha most defiantly can sing, my ears can't keep up their enthusiasm for the whole 10 tracks. Her most interesting feats are when she moves into a slight Diamada Galas'ish landscape more in the style of «The divine punishment and the saint of the pit», or the spoken word sections as in one of my favorite tracks «Euphoria». Don't get me wrong, this is indeed beautiful, soothing, sexual and fitting. I just wish she could have used her obvious vocal talent to be more experimental in between all the ethereal singing. It's a little too Dead Can Dance. Look to Ataraxia or Miranda sex garden for interesting and experimental female vocal work. You can add some texture, and still be true to the genre.
Agratha masters the art of patience. She doesn’t rush through the tracks filling them with uninteresting elements. She keeps it simple and clean. And I really love that as a whole. But for the 6th track «Spiral path», which is also the longest, I miss more experimenting and would have loved more of the previously mentioned nerve instead of more of the same. The slight noise elements in some of the tracks are so fitting, and just a tad more of that would have been perfection. To have some of the 10 tracks sans vocal would have been a good idea as well to keep the listeners interested in the vocal work, instead of growing tired by it. Or to shorten the release down to 6 tracks.
Halgrath obviously has talent, intent and will, and Agratha should allow herself the creativity to venture further. Just a little more nerve would have made this release quite outstanding. Mind you, it's really very good as it is. This release is perfect music for magick rituals, be it with others or by your self, or it can function as a soothing background music while on a long train ride as you eyes wanders over unknown terrain. In my eyes this release is worthy of Cold Meat Industries (Back when CMI was good mind you). That said ,Ambientaria Records has blown us away so far with their releases, so who needs Cold Meat.
I am really curious to see where Agratha 's next release will take this project. If she dares to venture into her own black abyss, I'm convinced she will come back out with something rather mind blowing. I can't wait.
Label: Ambientaria Records
Album Title: Liquid Mind
Genre: Ritual Dark Ambient
01. Shamaan’s Prarie (5:25)
02. Irae Seithoria (10:37)
03. Euphoria (3:38)
04. Her Winter of Loneliness (7:14)
05 Deep Underwater Darkest Tale (6:22)
06. Spiral Path (12:36)
07. Metal Scream (5:14)
08. Whisper of the Mental Hypnosis (4:07)
09. Dark Liquid Mind (5:44)
10. Palace of the Lustful Lord (5:40)
Monday, October 18, 2010
Review by Cthulberg
Following in the surge of bands reuniting after several decades, Ike Yard is no different and duly presents the first new material in 28 years. Ike Yard's cult-status-approved, self-titled album was released on Factory America in 1982 and surely must be one of the most austere and morose electronic records released. Should any of you unfamiliar with the previous output of Ike Yard, it mostly consists of barren soundscapes of modular synthesis basslines, sparse guitars and oddly paced syncopated drums with little or no deviation. The vocals are presented with a complete and utter absence of zeal and vigor, but still speaks to you at a level several times the recording one. The very essence of no-wave then.
Being a person to intensely enjoy such music I was blown away by the news that the "1980-1982 Collected" compilation on Acute (2006) was soon to be followed by first a 10 inch on Phisteria called "Öst" and then by a full-length CD on Phisteria/Desire. On "Nord" Ike Yard are one member short (Fred Szymanski) and is currently made up of Kenneth Compton, Michael Diekmann and Stuart Argabright, who I guess do way more programming now than in the previous incarnation of the band. I got to thinking that after reuniting in 2007 the guys must’ve really felt that they could add to their music rather than detract in order for them to get back in the studio and record. I’m seldom apprehensive listening to new music, but I have to admit that before listening to this CD for the first time I was mentally prepared to be hugely disappointed.
Well, I wasn’t. This entire CD, while in many ways different in approach to the original Ike Yard, still feels extremely familiar in all the good ways. There is a lot of warmth on this record and a few of the songs herein rival the impact their first album had on me all those years ago. Also, "Nord" is more of a varied experience and has more in common with Ike Yard’s debut "Night After Night" (12inch - 1981) in that is not an exclusively electronic record. There’s even the odd acoustic guitar and some pained vocals here and there without it sounding out of place. The whole album flows smoothly from start to finish with some tracks really standing out – Traffikers, Oshima Cassette, Citiesglit and Mascochistic. Desire could have charged ten times the amount for the CD and these four tracks would still have made the purchase worth it to me. In short, Nord is a really, really good album and certainly one worthy of following up the cult-status attained by the band nearly three decades ago. Now for some concerts, eh?
Denmark/USA, CD album, Phisteria/Desire, 2010
04 Oshima Cassette
05 Metallic Blank
06 Beautifully Terrible
07 Type N
10 Orange Tom
11 Robot Steppes
http://www.myspace.com/ikeyard http://www.phisteria.com/ http://desire-records.blogspot.com/2010/07/ike-yard-nord.html
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Bauhaus, Throbbing Gristle, Monte Cazazza, Skinny Puppy, Sex Pistols, Burzum and now SWANS. All of these are names that have been absent for a long time, and then reappeared. Beatles even released music long after their original demise, and Elvis Presley defied the grave to release new material as did Jimi Hendrix. Few events create more buzz than the reunion, or in this case, reactivation of a favored musical venture. Unfortunately they also usually create a great deal of disappointment, fan rage and the realization that there was a reason the band or name was retired in the first place. Bauhaus and Sex Pistols should've stayed dead. Skinny Puppy too I would say. But not all comebacks are bad. Monte Cazazza and Burzum are examples of projects that came back with something to say and the original sentiment more or less intact. Which one is SWANS?
I have been madly in love with SWANS for such a long time. When the band split up and released "swans are dead" it felt to me a part of music itself died. Counting the hours I've spent listening to their various releases, or searching for them in stores would produce quite a number. The messiah can piss on his father and fuck his mother up the ass - all I want is SWANS. I remember the first time I heard SWANS, what track, what time of day it was and where I was. When I heard Gira was reactivating the project my fanboy heart nearly stopped working permanently.
You can see the level of expectations I have, and please keep this in mind while reading the review.
My immediate reaction upon popping the cd in the player was "Yes this is SWANS." I had been afraid that it would sound like an Angels of Light album, under the SWANS name. However, after listening for a few minutes the initial enthusiasm diminished somewhat. Something was missing. The arrangements, instrumentation and musicians are clearly set in a SWANS context, but I couldn't free myself of the Angels of Light frame. In many ways it sounded like SWANS covering Angels.
I don't expect SWANS to sound like SWANS did in 1996, or 1983, or whatever. SWANS has always been about change and growth and I appreciate that very much. But thematically the band was always about extreme discipline, submission and self hatred - both in content and style. My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky is a little too garagy and the lyrical content on many of the tracks is more along the line of Gira's later outputs. I don't mind any of this, but I don't think it's entirely SWANS. The strictness and clearness of the production is missing.
Tracks like "You Fucking People Make me Sick" and Inside Madeline are the ones that come closest to the massively towering totalitarian music of earlier releases. Most specifically they remind me of some of the moments on "White Light..." or "Love of Life". All in all the four last tracks are the ones that sit best with me after the first listen, while "Reeling the Liars in" and "Jim" doesn't do it for me. The tracks that are good are really good however, and easily worth the money on their own.
I also have to say that I do miss the softness Jarboe provided, as a contrast to the intensity of Gira. While I realize that she was not present for the first albums, and that those albums are very good - she was there for so many years, and certainly a formative presence. I have complete faith in Gira's ability to pull it off without her, and I would in no way expect her to be a part of the reformed band, but her presence is still missed.
Chances are if you've never heard SWANS, or heard very little this album will impress you a great deal. However, if you're a huge fan it can go either way. You might love it, and you might be disappointed. There is however no doubt that the review I read the other day, which said this could possibly be the best SWANS album ever was dead wrong. This album can in no way compete with Children of God, Love of Life, Filth, Holy Money, Greed or any other of the now classical albums. I realize the comparison is unfair, but I have to be honest. I'm not sure I feel SWANS are back, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
USA, CD album, Young God Records, 2010
1. No Words/No Thoughts (9:24)
2. Reeling The Liars In (2:20)
3. Jim (6:46)
4. My Birth (3:52)
5. You Fucking People Make Me Sick (5:08)
6. Inside Madeline (6:36)
7. Eden Prison (6:03)
8. Little Mouth (4:12)
After tackling the initial (perhaps childish) scepticism towards a band with a name that might sound like "ass bar" I am pleased to note the sound manipulations on this album are of a quality you rarely hear. The sounds are so crispy clear, and forceful that the only fitting description is "impressive".
Corono Veli Aurei is inspired by a series of photographs by Manel O. Company. The photos show a world of monochrome desolation – devoid of humanity, but not our cultural artefacts. The music and photos form a whole, and if you close your eyes while listening to the music it's not dificult to picture dusty ashen grey cities, endless roads and telephone poles with nothing to do except stand around. By contrast the music manages to make Cormac Mc Carthy's "the Road" seem like an upbeat depiction of a cosy apocalypse.
The literary comparison is appropriate in more ways than one. The CD's inlay contains a series of texts, poems maybe, that help us interpret the various tracks, and the philosophy of the release. The music, and it's packaging is a great deal more intelligent than your average dark ambient release. It comes with a complete mythology and a vision, and you can clearly hear how much work the musician has put into the sonic half of this. I cannot stress enough how rarely we hear something as fantastic as this. Hardly ever actually. It feels like the first time I heard Biosphere's Patashnik, or when I discovered Strotter Inst, not just because the occupy a part of the same landscape, but because they are equally intelligent and effortlessly skillful in execution. Few musicians are self confident and skilled enough to produce something as outstanding as this. The detailed textures and sonic fragments are woven together in an intricate and inspiring way.
I'm also inspired in the spiritual sense, as many of the tracks and texts are anchored in mysticism. As the cover says "ASBAAR is a meething with our ancestors who speak to us in our dreams, and teach us how to run our lives [...]." It's perhaps a little like listening to ghostly whispers of yesteryear's culture and aspirations. No answers, but questions floating around, carried by the wind through broken windows and condemned structures. Tracks like Mana and Signa or Aum speak of a connection to something like a lost shamanism or atleast a respect for our surroundings – even urban ones, that we could all learn something from.
It's a severly cold october day outside, and little birds are pecking away at the food I have hanging on my veranda. Inside the sky is anything but blue, but the temperature is the same. The world is cold, and grey and very empty. Corona Veli Aurei is intensely sobering.
If I've ever recomended that our readers buy something, it has to be this one.
Spain, CD Album, Black Drone, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
While anxiously anticipating the next full length release “The Cruelest Month” by neo-folk legends Sol Invictus, what better way to wait it out than listening to a couple of tracks from that album. “The Bad Luck Bird” is available from Auerbach/Prophecy in an edition of 500 seven inch vinyls, the first such from Sol Invictus since the “Eve” PD-single off “Hill Of Crosses”. Both tracks are highly orchestrated songs, and mark a solid return to old form for Sol Invictus. With grandeur aplenty across the board, this release comes replete with all the neo-folk markings we’ve come to expect from Sol Invictus, but were to some extent denied on “The Devil’s Steed” (2005). “The Bad Luck Bird” is an absolutely impeccable song worthy of untold praise, “Stella Maris” is more subdued and placid, but nevertheless brimming with effortless beauty. The two moods compliment eachother perfectly. After the somewhat disappointing Orchestra Noir release "What If" a ways back, this was indeed a pleasant surprise. That said, it’s more or less impossible to find fault anywhere in this release, but I would perhaps like to point out that the label might have downplayed the cover artwork a little as it seems a little uninspired as opposed to the content of the record itself. Simply put, if you are a fan of the by now classic output of Sol Invictus in any way this single truly is a must-buy. And… if the album itself turns out to be of similar quality, then surely we have a new “The Blade” on our hands. I know I’m excited!
7 inch single, Germany, 2010, Auerbach Tonträger AB024
A The Bad Luck Bird (single version)
B Stella Maris
Buy single from (it is apparently still available!):
You can find Sol Invictus/TW on various places on the web. For instance:
PS: In other related news, Tony Wakeford is currently working on a project with Eraldo Bernocchi of Sigillum S called Owls. From what has been “leaked” so far, you can expect to hear a very eclectic blend of styles both parties have made their own since the mid 80s. It certainly sounds leagues better than the Wakeford/Stapleton split-album “Revenge of the Selfish Shellfish”.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
The second product to be released after the aformentioned conflict over the brand name Gorgoroth is Ov Hell's The Underworld Regime. Ov Hell was originally planned as a collaboration between Gaahl (vocals) and King ov Hell (bass), called God Seed. Gaahl bowed out however, and King ov Hell recruited Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir fame to do the vocals for the a new project Ov Hell. This knowledge, toghether with the cover of the album makes me fairly sceptical. Dimmu Borgir hasn't exactly won my heart over – you might say. Ov Hell has been dubbed a supergroup, which is no wonder considering the names on the sleeve, and the projects they've worked with. In addition to King ov Hell and Shagrath Ice Dale (Enslaved etc), Teloch (Umoral etc) and Frost (Satyricon, 1349 etc) have contributed extensiviely, while Silenoz, also from Dimmu Borgir has written some of the lyrics.
Thankfully however Ov Hell doesn't sound like Dimmu Borgir part two. Ov Hell is less infantile (with the screaming obvious exception of the track Hill Norge) and less over produced or over arranged. Still, it does retain some of the pompousness of Shagrath's more well known project – especially in visual design. The musicians are more than capable, and there is no way to fault the music, or production. To me the music sounds like a half breed child of Immortal and Dimmu Borgir, with Frost on drums, and that's all well and fine, if a bit redundant. I would much rather recommend Immortal's latest album "All Shall Fall", a much better album in the same landscape.
The tracks Invoker and Krigsatte Faner stand out as the most interesting tracks to my ears, as they have more drive and weight than the rest of the album. While tracks like Post Modern Sadist feels a bit too over the top. The progressive elements detract from the energy of the music, while the complexities aren't developed enough to merit attraction on their own. I'm glad most of the album leaves out the temptation to toy further with these elements. The final track, Hill Norge, however, is quite simply embarrassing and childish, and would've been better left at the scrap heap.
The result is something akin to pop-black-metal, and I'm certain it will strike a nerve with a great deal of listeners. Personally I don't feel it, but I think it's a simple matter of taste. I'd prefer more brutality and more credible "darkness" – for a lack of better words. It's definately not a bad album though and I'm sure I would have a different reaction if it were released a decade ago. Now however it feels a bit like something I've heard too many times.
Norway, Indie Recordings, CD Album 2010
1 Devil's Harlot
2 Post Modern Sadist
4 Perpetual Night
6 Acts of Sin
7 Krigsatte Faner
8 Hill Norge