Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Infant Cycle – plays fender bass guitars and bird cages of unknown origin. Exclusively. : Ambient / Experimental / Instrumental

Reviewed by Gird_09

From the very get go this cd reminds me positively of the most ambient tracks by Loop Guru, a project I really love. It's intoxicatingly calm and soothing, and I might even add meditative. Not in the new age sense, but in a "I want to listen to this while solving intricate logic puzzles, because it would help me concentrate". This is not an album that will have you humming or singing refrains but it will lower your heartbeat and make your life ten minutes longer. In fact, listening to this album over and over for the rest of your life might be the secret the Taoist alchemists were after: the key to eternal life. Pretty neat huh?

The album title is quite descriptive of what you get. There's bass melodies in the bottom, and various other sounds floating around. I severly doubt those distant choirs I hear are bird cages, but who am I? Doesn't really matter. The music works, and I like it.

There are three tracks on the album, and they're all quite short. Well, the second one is anyway, the other two are of decent length. Perhaps I should call it an E.P. Maybe even a single? These categories are basically of theoretical interest only and I'll stick to calling it an album, cos quite simply, that's what it feels like. Despite the modest running time, it feels like something very complete. Couldn't have been longer, without feeling forced. It's right the way it is.

I guess that's pretty much all I need to say about that. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

2010, the Ceiling Undiscs, CD album,

1 Shiny Venus (over [6:04]
2 Shiny Venus (detail 1) [1:15]
3 Shiny Venus (detail 2) [5:38]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sönderriket – Rum för Avsked : industrial metal

Reviewed by Gird_09

According to our policy we prefer not to do music that isn't published by a label or netlabel, but we are willing to make exceptions. Sönderriket is one of those instances where this feels appropriate. Sönderriket is strange form of lo fi industrial metal with touches of crust and noise rock. The music is urgent and full of energy. The rythm section is punkish with a touch of rockabilly and the melodies are bluntly playful.

Industrial Metal is mostly dead. Not just dead, but desecrated, cremated and best left forgotten. Long passed are the days when die Krupps, Ministry and Front Line Assembly were at their prime. These days most industrial metal is so shitty it's not even worth pissing on, like the most ridiculous tracks by KMFDM. This music is different, and I hope this signals a new wave of innovation is a genre that more and more sounds like techno with guitars.

Granted, the tracks do sound a bit demoish at times, both in a positive and negative way. The vocals are too loud compared to the rest of the music, and the result is a loss of power. On the positive side the guitars and vocals are distorted in a lovely punkish manner. The directness of the music is a big fuck you to polished wanna be pop musicians.

If nothing else, you should atleast take the time to check out the first track, Självhjelpskoncentrat Ström av Medvetande and Skottforlossning, and the titular Rum för Avsked. These tracks are certainly the most interesting on the release, both in style, execution and attitude. Some tracks are sadly best skipped however. Om at Inte Kunne Välja Verklighet is simply horrible, and in no way fits the release. The same is for Angående Vetenskaperi and the vocals on Som av Jord (which is otherwise good). Leaving them out would have lifted the album significantly and made for a more focused experience. Maybe there is something uniquely swedish about stuff like that, cos to me it sounds like some horribly mutilated crap by Bob Hund or the less interesting tracks by Joakim Thåström. (Please, would somebody shut Bob Hund up, forever?)

The Swedish titles and language might be offputting to some, but still there should be enough to take home from this even if you don't understand squat anyway. Give it a go. You might be inspired.

Sweden, self released free download, 2010

1 Ström av medvetande [2:46]
2 Parasit [2:23]
3 Självhjelpskoncentrat [3:28]
4 Jon/cirrus, Cirrostratus, Cumulus [3:05]
5 Skottforlossning [2:27]
6 Om att inte kunne välja verklighet [3:16]
7 Rum för Avsked [2:49]
8 Angående Vetenskaperi [3:24]
9 Som av Jord [2:02]

Yurei – Working Class Demon : Progressive / Experimental / Jazz / Rock / Heavy something

Reviewed by Gird_09

Yurei is a japanese form of ghost, and the word literally translates to faint spirit. In other words we are dealing with a world of ephemera. This theme is carried over by the artwork on the album cover. The gray scale image of a faceless individual sitting on bench surrounded by snow is as haunting as it is alluring. The freezing temperature is tangible.

Yurei is the brainchild of Bjeima, whom we mentioned in our review of Delirium Bound, and is a form of dissonant progressive music not easily classified. The roots are firmly in rock, but there is enough jazz on this album to make me want to call it experimental. Toss in some really heavy drum portions, and the genre busting is complete. In light of this I am not certain what to make of the title. There is certainly nothing working class about the style of music, but there is certainly something deeply demonic about it.

The first track doesn't do it for me at all. I have to admit that. I don't like the vocals, and the music fails to stand out. The second track however convinces me that this is an album that could really grow on me. The inclusion of a xylophone into the mix of various disarrayed instruments and dissosicative beats adds a level of atmosphere I really appreciate. By track three I am sold.

At times the arrangements are truly brilliant, and the instrumentation is perfect. I like the way the guitar interacts with the bass, and the various melodic portions, and I really appreciate the way the album progresses. For each track it feels like your are drawn further into a maze with Pompel and Pilt-like properties. Like the evil button eyed devil worshipping version of Åse Kleveland accompanied by Kryztof Komeda and Tony Iommi. I am convinced, and find myself drifting through a gray scale world of modernist polish horror films. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but it does to me. This is dark rock unlike anything I am familiar with. (Admittedly I am not much up to speed on the world of rock since Zeppelin disbanded...)

The track Suicide Sitcom is by far my favorite, with its predatory bassline, distorted vocals and generally sinister mood. The dissonant melodies and laugh track samples make me think of a collaboration between David Lynch and Jerry Springer. I am ensnared.

Yurei has taken a huge canon of music, and stuffed it into a very small box, but somehow (possibly using Time Lord technology) the contents fit like an eyeball in its socket. There is King Crimson, Black Sabbath and even some Popol Ace here, but there is also Sonic Youth and Angelo Badalamenti here, as well as a multitude of other things – and all of it decidedly sinister and dark. I even hear some Morricone in some portions. Unpacking the album would take me a very long time.

The only things I don't like about the album would be the vocals on the first two tracks, as they are a bit flat in the mix – to my ears, and the fact that the guitar sounds the same for nearly all the tracks. A little more variation would be appreciated. The guitar dominates the mix, and at times it's hard to separate the tracks. For the rest of the tracks the vocals are excellent however, and just pompous enough to fit the music. This is certainly not for everyone though. If the bass had been slightly more prominent in the mix the interaction between the guitar and the bass would have been perfect. Like on the final track, Phantom Lodge, where the bass carries the track excellently, but could have used a touch more volume. But that is nit picking.

I'm gonna be honest, and say that I have no way of reviewing this album with the competence it deserves, but... I like it. It's really cool. I can be really verbose about it, but that's all you really need to know.

Adversum, 2010, CD album, Norway

1 Brukket [4:55]
2 Your Black Waters [6:38]
3 The Bird of Dread [4:40]
4 Steamhead [5:22]
5 Velvet Demon [4:55]
6 Bleeding Thoughts [7:12]
7 I am Champagne [5:12]
8 Suicide Sitcom [5:09]
9 Vendetta [6:18]
10 The Last Wave [5:31]
11 Phantom Lodge [4:51]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Phaenon – His Master's Voice : Dark Ambient / Drone

Reviewed by Gird_09

Let me first say how much I enjoy the cover for this one. At first glance I figured it was an attempt at imitating Dave McKean, but I don't think it is. While the technique might be somewhere along the same lines, the theme is so much more fragile. Where McKean is all about dreams (or nightmares) this is about paper flimsy vulnerability. I can appreciate that.

As for the music I am piqued by the very first sound. The first sound is important to me, as you may have noticed. The use of a choir-like electronic sound at a low bit rate tickles my curiosity, and draws me in. The music is minimalist without being too monotonous, due to the inclusion of random soundscapes.

The cover informs me that the music is inspired by Stanislav Lem's book of the same name, and allthough my only encounter with Lem has been Tarkovsky's (sub par) adaptation of Solaris this fact really helps sell the recording to me. Lem is a good reference and if the novel is anywhere near as strikingly ponderous as this album it's an impressive book indeed. The music is mostly comprised of long stretches of naked, icy devastation and there is an ominous feeling of watching the stars – while they are watching you back.

The album consists of four pieces, of notable duration, but they are so good I'm not going to go into my usual rant about releases being too long. There are exceptions you see, and this is one of them. I fact, I wouldn't mind more. The sounds utilized, the sobriety of the arrangements, the purity of the production and the vitality involved all come together to create something truly worth chilling out to. Preferably during r'n'r in a desolate cold war bunker somewhere in Poland... And it's expertly seamless. Going from one track to the next is effortless and smooth.

It's a good album, and if you don't believe me, follow the myspace link further down and check out previews. (Yes, you lazy-instant-gratification bum, you can scroll down two inches on the screen to get to the sweets... You need the workout anyway.)

I think I have to read that book though...

USA, CD album Malignant records, 2010

1 His Master's voice – part 1 – Neutrino Radiation [24:11]
2 Dark Energy – Silentium Universi [12:57]
3 Soul Virus – Interstellar Semantics [13:34]
4 His Master's Voice – part 2 – Ignoramus [24:11]

Saturday, January 15, 2011

False Mirror – Derelict World : dark ambient

Reviewed by Gird_09

Upon seeing the cover I instantly feel sceptical, despite the desolation and dereliction it depicts. The presence of the (presumably) Norwegian fishing boat triggers some cultural code in me and I shudder with trepidation. Abandoned fishing boats have been forever linked to highly politized news casts about the poor fishermen of the northern regions who have to leave their homes for want of jobs. Well fuck them all to hell I say. A single fish is worth more to me than the entire population of those backwater shitholes.

Anyway. I am glad to see that the music is miles away from the white trash Norwegian scum I associate with fishing boats. The very first sound on the album magnificently manages to tie a knot and connect the fishing boat to the utter bleakness of the landscape behind it. It sounds like ropes being stretched and pulled, but not entirely. It speaks volumes of postindustrial decay. Smash hit.

The music itself is not too original, if well produced and deftly atmospheric. It rapidly puts me in an appropriate mood, and I find my thoughts drifting off on a tangent. I used to follow a marvellous comic series by Antonio Segura and José Ortiz called Hombre. It's a post apocalyptic world, and in one episode there are these people living in a deserted ship far from the coast. It's a powerful image of ecocide, and I imagine the winds polishing the ship sides with whirling sand and particles could sound something like this album.

The release is certainly not beyond literary comparisons, as the cover contains a twenty page booklet, complete with a short story. In terms that are at times perhaps more familiar to P.B. Shelley than "modern man" the story recounts the apocalyptic events that rendered its author stranded in a dying world. Humanity has succumbed to a horribly disastrous storm that came in from the ocean, and a single survivor is writing down his final gloomy thoughts. It's all very optimistic.

It's an ambitious release, and the tying together of literary, visual and sonic concepts in a shared theme is not lightly undertaken. Concept albums of this kind is perhaps no longer seen as the intellectual masturbation it was turned into by Pete Townshend, but still lies well beyond the interest and apprehension of the casual listener. Thank Shiva I am not one of those casual listeners, and boatloads of kudos to False Mirror for going that extra mile. Be ambitious! Aim high! Mediocre people are a waste of skin.

I also think it's worth mentioning that the disc inlay contains information about the composition of the individual tracks, both in terms of equipment used and the arrangements. I for one appreciate that greatly, certainly in music as experimental as this as it tells me what I am actually hearing. I especially love the inclusion of the Metalrohr in the first track.

All in all I have to say it's a good album. The various field recordings gives it soul, which the music otherwise wouldn't have. It's atmospheric and well crafted. The only downside is its length - as I have said about numerous releases allready. When Beethoven's ninth was used as criterum to create a standard of 74 minutes on a disc it wasn't a challenge, it was out of need. 74 minutes is usually much too long. (Beethoven is an obvious exception of course.) The exclusion of the final track would have made a perfectly functional album, while that track could have been used for promotional purposes, shelved or released at a later date. In all honesty after about 45 minutes I start to lose concentration – in spite of the truly magnificent seventh track. Don't overdo it people. Less is more.

In conclusion: While my initial expectations garnered from the cover were slightly disadvantagous due to cultural background it does in fact suit the music perfectly, and the music fits the world outside like a bullet fits a bulletwound. It's no musical revolution, but it's certainly a good album.

Malignant Records. 2010. CD Album.Germany.

1 The Vent [6:32]
2 Constand Descent [3:21]
3 Wasteland [6:09]
4 Landfall [9:00]
5 Aftermath [7:42]
6 Uncertain Shelter [8:44]
7 A sunken Dream [7:25]
8 The Sea of Oblivion [25:05]

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Delirium Bound - Delirum, Dissonance and Death : Black Metal

Reviewed by Gird_09

With a cover that looks like something has been wrapped in black plastic bags this promises to be both dark and suffocating.

Delirium Bound is a band consisting of Kim Sølve and Bjeima, known from a shotgun blast of different underground projects. With regards to Black Metal Kim Sølve is mostly known for his cover designs from Trine + Kim Design studio, but evidently he's also a capable guitarist and bass player. Bjeima on drums and vocals also does a very convincing job. (I'm always doubly impressed by a drummer if he is also the vocalist.) In addition the album has guest appearances by Mannevond and Petter Berntsen, respectively with background from Koldbrann and Urgehal for the former, and Swarms and others for the latter.

Genrewise this is a stripped down return to old skool black metal in the vein of Darkthrone and their likes, while also reminiscent of Satyricon at times (specifically the guitars). There are elements of crust here as well as touches of early BM like Venom and Sarcofago. It's a far cry from the progressive metal of the more outré bands like Dimmu Borgir, and thank fuck for that. (While I don't mind progressive I mind progressive that's really reactionary and lame.)

Most black metal these days is incredibly boring, with a few positive exceptions. While I'm not certain this release will stand out against the background it's still a very good release and it does deserve listening to. The music is threatening and seriousness, and delivers on the promise on the cover. This is excellent music if you want to wrap someones face in a garbage bag, or perhaps even if you're the one on the receiving end of the bag.

A capable release, and hopefully there will be more to come. The tracks on the album are short and to the point, and I feel any reivew of it should be to the point as well.

Adversum, Norway, CD album, 2010,

1 Panic [4:39]
2 Coronated in Accidents [2:46]
3 God-faced dogs [1:52]
4 Delirium Bound [3:04]
5 Zippermouth [3:02]
6 Chiseled from Darkness [4:10]
7 Death Kings [4:05]
8 the Ominous One [3:02]
9 Knifepoint Departure [5:10]