Music Reviews

Rigor Mortiss: Wbrewny

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 22 2019
Artist: Rigor Mortiss (@)
Title: Wbrewny
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
Rigor Mortiss is a Polish band from Pock whose music is a sort of post-rock mostly based on repetitive music cells owing to certain minimalism orient towards trance. However, at a closer listen, their music reveals also influences from ritual, or religious, music and ambient music and they include also an homage to Eugeniusz Rudnik, a pioneer of electronic and electro-acoustic music in Poland
After a resonant intro, "Dream Catcher", revolves around a rhythmic cell in a noisy way while "Cyborgernas Bon" is based on an arrhythmic pattern and it features samples from Rudnik's music thus obtaining remarkable sound nuances. "Incantations" is instead the first proper song of this release with the voice of Magorzata Florczak. The synth drones of "Vires Spatii" are a sort of rest as they creates a suspended and meditative atmosphere. The pulsating tone of "Sorgens Stigar" collides with the solemn voice of Hans Seved Åkesson. "Last Sirens" marks a return to more rock-oriented territories and "Escape from the Flashback" is other riff based track that is hypnotic until the voice of Maciej Stoliski doesn't awake the listener. "Cormorant Islant" closes this release with gentle synth with chant of seagulls.
The unusual variety, from a band whose music is based on a deliberate repetitive form, is obtained with the use of a developing line over a static canvas. Highly recommended for fans of post rock that would listen to this release for a really long time.

Felix Blume: Fog Horns

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 18 2019
Artist: Felix Blume
Title: Fog Horns
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Discrepant
In the spectrum of ‘art music’- experimental, avantgarde, postmodern, whatever other labels will loosely fit- aspirational and high faluting language is the norm, with listeners encouraged to recognise the deeper meanings and connections drawn out through the sounds and their either connection or disconnection with their source and their production process. So it comes as a breath of fresh air to discover that Felix Blume’s “Fog Horns” is precisely that- it’s the sound of some fog horns, for 33 minutes. And it’s excellent.

Side A of the LP is an 18-minute track recorded during a ‘fog horn concert’ in Piraeus port area Athens, a seemingly live recording in which various large ships blow their single note horns in normally long blasts. Out of the layering and call-and-response of simple tuned warning systems appears a form of drone symphony, the horns become bassoons and tubas performing a slow and accidentally complex improvised musical pattern. The tuning is largely complementary, but intriguing in its contrast. You quickly forget you’re listening to prosaic industrial sound and interpret it as an immersive piece of neo-classical.

Side B ‘remixes’ this material, and is where Blume’s work really starts. The tones recorded in the first piece are stretched, echoed and effected into much darker territory. The naturalism is ripped away and the drones suddenly becoming more sinister, the environment much more alien and intimidating. It’s in three five-minute parts but essentially works as a fifteen-minute drone piece with a strong organic component, building to the final part where tones are bent into string section style arrangements worthy of, and strangely reminiscent of, 2001 A Space Odyssey’s journey beyond the infinite. Although it’s from the same source material as side A, it’s an entirely different work deserving a different arbitrary genre label.

Having first heard Blume’s work on his powerful “Death In Haiti” release a couple of years ago, this “Fog Horns” release is less emotive, and arguably less imaginative; however it’s still a captivating listen.
Apr 15 2019
Artist: Angelina Yershova
Title: CosmoTengri
Format: CD + Download
Label: Twin Paradox Records
Established Kazakh composer Yershova has a strong list of collaborations under belt and has worked with symphony orchestras, However this release is entirely her own work, with Yershova credited as writer, recording artist, producer, mixer and masterer of her own destiny here, in an album that sounds close and introspective, but which avoids sounding small. The result is an incredibly versatile showcase for a multi-talented artist, with a lot of breadth of moods and styles.

Opener “Korgau” (for which there is a YouTube video) is an expansive work of scratchy and discordant string with an old-school experimental feel, supplemented by thick damp-sounding atmospherics and very sparse use of vocal chords, and it truly shines and is understandably the album’s lead.

It’s not averse to a bit of rhythm either. “Tumbleweed” introduces a lovely sparsely-laid rubbery bass note, and some familiar-sounding curt electronic glitch-click rhythms that don’t feel particularly original but which integrate well. The heartbeat and whispered vocalisations of “Kamlanie” that unfold into more urgent-sounding electronic rhythms definitely feel ‘done before’ but are nevertheless well handled. After that, “Jelsiz Jel” takes a decidedly modern trip-hop twist, before the title track hybridises organic instrumentation that teeters onto ‘world music’ with mellow drone atmospherics. This mood flows smoothly into “Khan Tengri” which brings shades of dark electronica and just a shade of what is possibly throat-singing into the mix for something darker and more suspenseful, before final track “Ecstatic Dance” channels quite a strong gaming-style sense of underscored drama.

As a curriculum vitae for film score, compositional or production work it is exemplary. And almost as a bonus, it works pretty well as a listening album too, bringing forth thoughts of soundtracks to picture and long-form story-telling. An album with real character.

Mark Vernon: Magneto Mori: Kilfinane

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 14 2019
Artist: Mark Vernon (@)
Title: Magneto Mori: Kilfinane
Format: Tape
Label: Canti Magnetici (@)
Rated: *****

Mark Vernon is a Glasgow-based artist whose work is inspired by the experience of radiophonic listening as an acoustic experience. "Memento Mori" is based on a vision of tape as a storage for memory so "Kilfinane" is the name of an Irish mountain town and the sounds where recorded there. The constructivist aspect of this composition is highlighted by the fact that the recordings were cut and spliced into the piece in random order so the listening experience is free from a narrative aspect. To further add an element of fragmentation the tape was buried to obtain a degraded sound which have a dialectic with the clean digital recordings which are the other element of this opus.
The first side of tape, called "unadorned" is made out of field recordings of the town and the result of the editing and the process is a sort of dialogue between the clean voices, presumably digitally recorded, and the dirty recordings of the everyday sounds so a sort of nostalgia for a place which emerges as a memory appears to the listener. The other side, called "embellished", is based upon radio archives so it covers, according to the liner notes, almost twenty years of the town history; while it could have been predicted as more verbose than the first side, it's instead sonically more elaborated than the first side as it almost features no dialogues and the field recordings from the community events creates the impressing than it was a more lively place than it is now.
A rather impressive work which requires a certain imagination from the listener to figure the criterion of the choice of the fragment and these days is important that an artist remind to the audience that we record thing as an aid to memory not to exhibit them on a social. Recommended.

Luc Ferrari: Music Promenade / Unheimlich Schön

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Apr 11 2019
Artist: Luc Ferrari
Title: Music Promenade / Unheimlich Schön
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Recollection GRM
Recollection GRM’s admirable polishing-up-and-reissuing mission continues strongly here, with the return to availability of two Luc Ferrari works, from 1970 and 1971 respectively, which have been remastered and cleaned up to the extent that while the works bear all the hallmarks of the 60’s and 70’s evolution of tape recording and found sound, the sonic quality sounds bright and practically modern.

“Music Promenade” is the overlapping of a variety of field recordings of human life in the late 60’s. It’s an abstract documentary of the sounds of then-modern life, snippets of overheard conversation, the sounds of both work and laughter, and more than a smattering of ‘needledrop’-style musical excerpt plopped in as obtusely as on the Monkees “Head” soundtrack. Originally described as “whilst walking, a man is struck by the violence of his surroundings”, it’s perhaps telling that with the exception of a couple of clearly violent arguments, most of this twenty-minute piece sounds rather sedate by the standards of city life today. In terms of musical history it sits contemporary to Ferrari’s “Presque rien No. 1” as a notable keyframe in the evolution of tape music and the dissolution of the boundaries between found and composed sound and art.

“Unheimlich Schön” is a much simpler work, focussed on intimately recorded sounds of a woman breathing and talking. Tape loops and delays create a primitive sense of isolation and abstraction. Over the course of sixteen minutes, you are drawn into a very personal-sounding environment that’s so raw that it is likely to cause some listeners discomfort due to its potential invasiveness- but which other listeners might well find sexy. It’s a striking piece that really gets you thinking about your own reactions to it.

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