Saturday, November 27, 2010

Swarms – the silver hour : dark ambient

This album by Swarms (Kim Sølve, Petter Berntsen, Bjeima, qERiq, and others) has one of the softest openings I've heard, but one that swiftly turns into a menacing spectral apparition. Subtle, but in no way something you can chose to overlook, and absolutely frightening.

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] Buy it here!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

May the unknown welcome you with open arms.

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

Akem Manah – Testament Sealant Mound : Doom Metal

Testament Sealant Mound opens with something that might as well be the theme for a made for TV-horror film, and clearly this is the intention behind the album. The moods are reminiscent of Poe and Lovecraft, but a great deal heavier than you'd expect. The nine track album makes liberal use of double bass drums, growled vocals, wailing lead guitars and severe riffs, against a backdrop of classic horror themes. It's music for hanging out in a graveyard with a murder of crows flapping around your ears.

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] (to buy the album)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fat Worm Of Error – Ambivalence and the Beaker. Experimental/Avantgarde

Reviewed by Cthulberg.

Fat Worm Of Error first caught my ear a few years ago with their track Pesky Fly on the String Of Artifacts compilation where they appeared alongside other greats in the same approximate genres such as Caroliner, Sun City Girls, Hans Grusel’s Krankenkabinet, Smegma, Masonic Youth and Ritualistic School Of Errors to name but a few. While doing some random browsing, I thought I’d better expand my knowledge of FWOE and get this 2010 re-release of the limited edition CDr on Yeay! Cassettes (2006). I come pretty much prepared for anything when listening to music and so I was pleasantly unsurprised at the sheer number of musical textures used in constructing this album. Clearly a great deal of thought and preparation has gone into the making of this album as well as a huge amount of cultural ambivalence in keeping with the title. The album is absolutely riddled with abrupt noise transitions and you'll be pulled from one end of the scale to the other with mindnumbing frequency.
Some of the vocal experiments sound a bit cheesy, poorly executed and genuinely arbitrary in an underproduced way, which is to be expected and there are a lot of unmusical parallels to be drawn against the likes of Caroliner in particular, but the quality of the sound itself is a lot better than most Caroliner albums. There are moments here which would not be amiss on [insert random Caroliner album] and the vocal delivery on Tickles does eerily sound like The Hernia Milk Queen of 1880's ergotine fame. The comparison to some older European artists is not really amiss either as I can certainly hear some dampened echoes of Etant Donnes, Bladder Flask or Lt. Caramel in there as well as a disjointed bassline highly reminiscent of some old Lemon Kittens track whose name eludes me at the moment. I for one never tire of the kind of frenzied drumming where the percussionist sounds like he/she has been firmly strapped to his drumkit atop the worlds longest flight of stairs, forcefed half a bottle of scotch and sent on his merry descent into dysrhythmical cacophony. When this is successfully coupled with desperately flapping guitars, found sound of dubious origin, bleeping synthesizers, fancy sound effects, intensely moronic vocal flights from which actual meaning is as rare as gold in a ton of dirt, outright noise, a cello (!) and enhanced amplifier buzzing it’s all good in my book. Sometimes you'll be able to discern a regular melody forming, only to be whisked away a few seconds later which to me hints at the monumental abundance of potential invention inherent in this music.
The visual aspect of this release is also in keeping with genre tradition. It comes packaged in a slim-line digipack with a lyric insert and lush surreal drawings which complement the music exactly.
Ambivalence and the Beaker is a wonderful little album and if you enjoy difficult music which demands your attention at all times, being in the same amazing musical tradition as the Commode Minstrels, Severed Head In A Bag, Rubber’0’ Cement and so on, you will not be disappointed in the slightest. Gracenote has this album tagged as Indie Rock, which is quite possibly the best description one who has no concept of alternative music can give in two words. It’s independent. Some might recognize this as rock music if they slept with it for a forthnight and threw all their musical preconceptions out the window. My iPod-of-Doom-tag now reads Excellent Shit. And it is. I wouldn't carry it around with me otherwise.

Artist: Fat Worm Of Error

Label: Resipiscent –

Year: 2010 (re-issue of 2006 CDr)

Format: CD

Country: USA

Track list:

1. Ambivalence And The Beaker

2. Wipeless Two

3. Return Of The Thin White Dook

4. Mashed Potentate

5. Golden Nozzle

6. Touchless

7. Foaming Study

8. Shunt Creek

9. Broods

10. Fut Chuggo Dummos

11. Ratsong

12. Tickles

13. Ruined Herbivore

14. Ruined Appendix

Sunday, November 14, 2010

K100 – The vault of apparitions – Dark experimental

Reviewed by Batcheeba.

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.

Artist: K100
Year: 2010
Format: CD digipack
Country: Norway

Track list:
1: False awakening
2: Fevered and childlike
3: No light
4: Daybreak
5: Winters in the making
6: They tell me about their darkness
7: Insect sculptures
8: Contrours
9: Silent and in-between
10: Assembled from shadows
11: the room if reoccuring nightmares
12: Flies in his smile

Nick Olman – Smear Campaign : Dark Ambient / Industrial Ambient / Drone

Reviewed by Gird_09

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] (free listens) (free listens)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pineal eye II – minimalist experimental

Review by Batcheeba

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

1: Obelisk

2: 24.September

3: ...

4: Eustachius

5: A shadow in the cave

6: Set adrift

7: Towers of silence



Kuldvas - The Lightless Path: Ambient /Experimental/black metal

Reviewed by Gird_09

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
2 Uncertainty
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 băk-tîr'ē-əm - Experimental, dark ambient, noise

Reviewed by Batcheeba.

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
Label: Adeptsound
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)

Schuster - Breaking down into his oblivion : Experimental / Ambient / Drone / Dark Ambient

Reviewed by Gird_09

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] (Where several of the tracks can be sampled.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Subterrestrial : Camera Obscure / H-21 : Experimental Elextronics

Reviewed by Cthulberg

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

03 Fantasmagorie

04 Zoopraxiscope

05 Magic Lantern II

Get it here:

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.

Track-list ”H-21”:

01 H-21 I

02 H-21 II

03 H-21 III

04 H-21 IV

05 H-21 V

Get it here: