Music Reviews



Suplington: Repeating Flowers

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 26 2017
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Artist: Suplington
Title: Repeating Flowers
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Youngbloods (@)
Supliington’s “Repeating Flowers” is a rich blend of digital ambiences, synthetic washes, mellow drawn-out instrument notes and effects, and an above-average helping of light multi-ethnic drum sounds. It’s a sonic bath, but at times a slightly disorientating one- while it doesn’t wander too far into dischord, there are some alien tones and odd juxtapositions here that make the release clamour for attention more than some do.

There’s a range of durations here, with “A Ritual Dance For Growth” little more than a 2-minute interlude, perhaps an unfinished idea, while “The Ocean As One Being” is allowed to breath for a justified and welcome ten minutes.

“A Place Of Fear And Realisation” is boldly simple, while “Spring Dance” brings live toms and deep drums into the mix in a way that feels natural and authentic. “Comforting Company” also adopts live drum sounds, but in a more regular and uniform manner than feels more like sample loops. The finger-snaps and gated vocal-like sounds of final track “An Infinite Loop Of Time” are a refreshingly upbeat way to mellow out, devoid of at least some of the melancholy that normally pervades this kind of soundscape.

It’s a smooth, fantastically coherent and ultimately rather beautiful 50 minutes of aural comfort, with just enough of the unorthodox about it to give it a memorable character.

(Oh and by the way, although I've listed it as "download only", it is also available as a limited edition cassette, but "cassette + download" wasn't on my options list.)

Yiorgis Sakellariou: Stikhiya

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 23 2017
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Artist: Yiorgis Sakellariou
Title: Stikhiya
Format: Tape
Label: Crónica
“Stikhiya” is a pair of soundscape compositions comprising layered environmental found sound with additional electronic elements that sound sometimes like arcing electricity, sometimes like industrial gas processing, sometimes like the interference caused by mobile phones on unshielded audio cables. Repetitive mechanical processes occasionally form firm rhythms, ignored by their sonic neighbours. It’s an uncomfortable inserted juxtaposition that changes this work from ambient to uncomfortable.

Despite being labelled as only “part 1” and “part 2” there are smaller sequences within, and abrupt and distinct changes that jolt your consciousness just as you are beginning to tune out. On their own the environmental sounds are often quite prosaic- empty, everyday spaces with distant road noises and indistinct plastic hits. It often feels rather ordinary and familiar. Only fleeting glimpses, such as the odd whistling tones in the final minute, feel ethereal.

“Stikhiya” has all the commonplace elements of a soundscape arrangement but unfortunately it fails to shine as a self-contained work due to its uninviting awkwardness.

Jaap Vink: S/T

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 21 2017
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Artist: Jaap Vink
Title: S/T
Format: 2 x LP
Label: Recollection GRM
Rated: *****
With the release of a double LP by Jaap Vink, the Recollection GRM series coordinated by Daniel Teruggi and François Bonnet, moves from the focus of releasing music strictly produced by the GRM group but extend it featuring composers who are not strictly affiliated with them, but whose approach and aesthetics are similar. Compiled with the help of the Sonology Institute in The Hague, this collection contains seven tracks recorded from 1968 to 1985. Born in 1930, Jaap Vink He attended courses in electroacoustics at Delft University of Technology and installed a pedagogical studio for electronic music in 1961 at the Gaudeamus Foundation in Bilthoven with the help of the Nederlandse Radio Unie (NRU). He was a staff member at the Institute of Sonology as a teacher in analogue studio techniques from 1967 until his retirement in 1993. Using oscillators, tapes, filters and modulators he was able to build up a sound that was rich and majestic. The opening track "En Dehors" is a magmatic drone made of many small frequencies and the effect created is just beautiful. "Objets Distants" has been recorded in 1970 but it sounds ahead of its time. It's sounding like travel through the space with hissing sounds, small feedbacks: a chaotic but yet controlled track that after seven minutes or raging sounds, turns quiet and minimal, playing with frequencies and feedbacks. "Stroma" is sounding like a strings orchestra which is on an astral voyage, where everything seems so distant and slow. The change of intensity and the multi layering is the key and Jaap Vink is a master in the process. "Granule" and "Residuals" pass from strong noisy parts to minimal ones and like the following "Screen" and "Tide 85" they play around the construction of multi tonal parts. I was amazed listening to this material and it recalls me also the same approach that nowadays artists like Boyd Rice on his "Children Of the Black Sun" had toward the construction of sound. Nice!

Robert Crouch: Sublunar

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 19 2017
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Artist: Robert Crouch
Title: Sublunar
Format: CD + Download
Label: Touch Tone
“Sublunar” has its origins in a collaborative live performance mixing sound, technology and movement, but the original sonic material has been reworked and repurposed into something which is ultimately much more static. The result is a collection of drones, found hums and atmospheres that almost extol the virtues of non-movement.

Opening track “Descension” is warm, with a reassuringly cosy hum. The breathing patterns continue into second track “Brick By Brick” but the tone becomes coldier, emptier, more windswept.

The misleadingly titled “Listen to the sound of the earth turning” is even more lightweight, a repeated single robotic note triggering in an evolving rhythm, an exercise in how a sound might be alarming and soporific at the same time. Halfway through, the repeating note fades and warmer hum-chords similar to the opening track return. To complete the arrangement, “Coda (Sailing Stones)” blows cold again, with sporadic noises like water droplets falling in an underground cave, and the slow arrival of a faintly synth-organ-like melodic loop as a crescendo of sorts.

Despite its complex and multidisciplinary origins, “Sublunar” as an audio product is stark and simple. It’s so mellow that it could easily find itself on a sleep playlist, and might serve well as an environmental setting, but it lacks distinctive features or ideas that would make it shine in its own right.

Deciduous Flux: Jupiter

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 10 2017
Artist: Deciduous Flux (@)
Title: Jupiter
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released


Colorado-based Deciduous Flux’s Jupiter is a theater-of-the-mind of sci-fi narratives from the netherworld of power electronics and early Industrial a la early Throbbing Gristle and Nocturnal Emissions. The planet Jupiter is the unifying theme of this album where each track excerpts major or B-movie films that mention, through dialogue, the largest planet in our solar system. One fun game is trying to guess which sci-fi movie or documentary is excerpted from each song. The only film excerpt I recognized was from 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Stylistically, this album is a refreshing listen. While Jupiter is electronic, it does not fit in any genre like ambient, dubstep or techno. There are drum machines, synths, chip tunes accents, acoustic instruments, and effects—especially on the film excerpts which are put through a lot of reverb and echo. Other close musical touchstones to this album is the work of Bryn Jones as E.g. Oblique Graph, before he became Muslimgauze, for its use of austere drum machines and reverb drenched instrumentals in tandem with treated audio samples. The major departure point between Deciduous Flux and other mentioned musical projects is Jupiter seems to embrace optimism and wonder, with a touch of humor. It took several listens for this reviewer to wrap his mind around the music because there are no conventional melodies here, rather narrative or soundtrack music to imaginary radio plays. The only exception is “Jupiter 8”, which is a quirky ode to hip hop meets illbient meets chip tunes meets sci-fi B-movie. As for the rest of the album, part of their netherworld quality can be attributed to Deciduous Flux’s creative process which they call ‘Automatic Recording’. Deciduous Flux member, Wesley Young explains, “(Our music) is similar to automatic drawing. Where you leave yourself open to your subconscious. Becoming more of an invocation or an evocation. Instead of having a detailed plan, one comes up with sounds on the fly at that moment and hit record. None of our music has been structured vocal samples. All of our tracks are raw instant creations with no rehearsals. You get lost in the process and there for it becomes more direct from the heart...As people grow and change, so many things will effect and possibly change those creations or the creating process. I believe automatic recording avoids this phase for the most part. When we are recording and we slip away, we become a single composition of sound and I believe there is a lot of channeling involved.” Deciduous Flux is music to get happily lost to and then eventually led to musical realms you would not discover otherwise.


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