SML023B w.x – . – The Best of w.x, Part II

Download from:
Bandcamp

. is a 3 part series featuring the best material from w.x. Since 2007 Ian Witzel has been releasing music covering a varied selection of genres under the name w.x. He has since decided to retire that name and expand the horizons of his music. After 5 years and over 20 releases the time has come to lay w.x to rest. This compilation features an assortment of different styles and textures ranging from harsh experimental noise to the more ethereal ambient and drone.

Part II is a bridge between ambient and noise, crossing the dark abyss to bring unity to a variety of sounds. w.x was always transitioning when it came to style and technique. He always tried to forge a new path, combining different things to create sonic tapestries vibrating across the sky. On the second part there is a full display of his genre-bending material. Noisy experiments such as “Feedback Loops” and “On the Eve of Dusk” are nestled alongside the drone epics “Moth Corpse” and “Linear”. Then there are songs like “Grace Mutilation” and “Riding a Grey Cloud Across the Empty Sky” that morph into their own unique blend of distorted dreams. They all show the different states of emotion from an electronic point of view. An intense beauty drifts about the music, carrying you off to a haven beyond the horizon.

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Keep in touch as the final part is set to be released October 6th. Thank you for listening.

Tracks:
1. Grace Mutilation (03:26)
2. Forward, Together Forward (03:54)
3. A Few Steps Apart (07:27)
4. Moth Corpse (10:09)
5. Animalia (03:28)
6. Ambient 3: Feedback (04:19)
7. Static Moment (03:55)
8. Sound 6: Equalization (05:22)
9. Steps In the Refractive Explosion (04:52)
10. Feedback Loops (05:10)
11. Riding a Grey Cloud Across the Empty Sky (05:10)
12. Ambient 8: Siren Release (06:15)
13. On the Eve of Dusk (04:07)
14. Linear (09:05)

Album Review: Steven R. Hess / mise_en_scene – Non-Distinction

Label: Los Discos Enfantasmes
Catalog No: LDE 030

We all thought the days of cassette tapes were over but like vinyl it’s trying to make an artistic comeback. The economic world has no use for this obsolete medium; it doesn’t make enough money. Creative people who care about the essence and art of things rather than their dollar amount can still find a sense of joy in such outdated material. It brings back a whim of nostalgia, a distinct smell that only tape conveying past metallic heads can make. This vintage sensation creates a unique experience for the music featured on the tape. It is a transatlantic collaboration featuring Chicago drummer Steven R. Hess and Israeli minimalist mise_en_scene. The project was recorded and edited on tape with some sounds added later. The textures and deep vibrating motions circle and hover around, asphyxiating the listener with extended drones. A translucent cocoon is sonically woven around the body. Heavy rumblings sneak through the membrane and gradually make their presence known, filling the chamber like a soothing vapor.

These distinct artists have forged a delicate intertwining of industrial and organic noise, melding into one uniform whole. Waves of oceanic distortion crash into silvery drones, ringing beautifully for an eternity. The hums of machinery constantly whirr behind the subterranean growls protruding from the purgatorial underworld. All life suspended in mid air while an aural tapestry unravels a minimalist arrangement. Harmony resonating from the convergence point of two different worlds. A new perspective is presented as another chemistry experiment is performed. From halfway around the world a sensory collision fused this impressive display of sound. The density from such cavernous thunder weighs deep into the body; it absorbs it like some therapeutic balm. This intense release is a reassurance that there are still people out there willing to take great risks in music.

Rating: 4 Stars
Standout Track: E.g_3

http://losdiscosenfantasmes.blogspot.com/2012/03/sten-r-hess-miseenscene-non-distinction.html

SML023A . – The Best of w.x, Part I

. is a 3 part series featuring the best material from w.x. Since 2007 Ian Witzel has been releasing music covering a varied selection of genres under the name w.x. He has since decided to retire that name and expand the horizons of his music. After 5 years and over 20 releases the time has come to lay w.x to rest. This compilation features an assortment of different styles and textures ranging from harsh experimental noise to the more ethereal ambient and drone.

Part I focuses more on the noisier aspects but still includes drone pieces. It starts off with the very first w.x track, “Instant Replay Sequence”, originally found on the Vines for the Electric Pant Leg EP. It continues to cover sounds across the entire spectrum of the w.x catalog, including 2 songs from the last release, Hailstone. Dark sprawling epics coincide with noisy smashes of electronic distortion. Even though these songs were created years apart from each other they are able to coexist beautifully and help display some of the best this artist has to offer.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series. Stay tuned in the next couple weeks for the releases of parts 2 and 3 of this compilation. Thank you for listening.

http://wxsound.bandcamp.com/album/the-best-of-w-x-part-i

Album Review: JTrux – Death On the Seventh Day

Day 1: The bustling murmur of a busy downtown street. Glinting highlights of passing conversations sail past as the electronic hums rise formidably into an abrupt silence. Rounding the corner, you enter a sanctuary free from prying eyes of security cameras and chic pedestrians. The echoing sounds of the sun cascade over skyscrapers, enhancing the industrial squeaks and bangs from a nearby factory. The further you walk the darker it gets and the rhythms of the city continuously bounce of buildings before descending upon your ears. To escape the clamor you enter an abandoned warehouse whose long forgotten operations still secrete a haunting reverie of past noise. A broken window overlooks a never-ending forest and the setting sun in the distance. As the beats and high pitched whirs slowly quiet with the oncoming darkness, you lay your head down on the dusty floor to sleep.

Day 2: Hissing and buzzing of strange insects inside the forest. You take the first important step into the green depths. A somber elegy flows past with crackling rumbles and a saintly plucking of strings. The trees gradually come alive, releasing fast growing vines and blooming flowers that spring into existence before your eyes. Beauty is effortlessly born around you, only to die a few minutes later. Plants and animals begin playing a concerto as an overwhelming sense of loneliness drapes over you. You feel like the only human left on Earth and this natural concert has been specifically composed just for you. The swan song of insects darting in between leaf-covered branches scratching against each other, the quiet swirls of ambient photosynthesis. You can actually hear the forest growing. The night begins crawling in as only tiny shafts of light can break through the thick layer of leaves. Climbing a tree just in time to see the sunset, the music below slowly dwindles into a fantasy as the metallic sun rays force your eyes closed.

Day 3: Back on solid ground an exciting sense of danger prevails as you suddenly realize you are being followed. Everything you have ever run away from in your life is chasing after you at breakneck speed and its too much to handle. So you begin to run as fast as you can through the brush and undergrowth of the woods. The impending doom slows down behind you and a cautious relief sweeps over. Lost in the sprawling forest, a tense quiet is accented by the faraway drones of a factory somewhere on the edge of the forest. A soft watery flow is heard and dances around, confusing your senses. Ears filled with an imaginary substance clouds your hearing and there is nothing left to do but stagger through until you find whatever it is you are looking for. In the distance a glowing beam of light appears. It’s milk-white florescence illuminates the lazily darkening woods. Your ears become clear from the psychosomatic blockage and the crackle of a fire can be heard. Closer to the beam of light you see it is a giant freshwater pearl, floating in midair and emitting docile tones. They kindly suffocate your synapses and you drop to your knees in languid bliss, dreaming of floating orbs in the forest.

Day 4: Hours passed. The sun grazes past your closed eyes and you awake to a fiery world of iron and lava. Skeletons of former travelers sharpen swords on large decaying anvils. A rushing sound inside your ears grows ever more abusive before cresting and falling back to a sprawling spectacle of distant echoes. These echoes possess a strangled ethereal strand of hope, like a caged angel singing an imprisoned song. The siren’s call draws you away from the hellish awakening to a strange door amongst the trees. It opens to a world of bright white light and angelic drones so beautiful in their resonance that the all the darkness of the world fades away. Some unseen force lifts you off the ground and you begin to float, weightless, an amoeba lazily floating in a still pond. Years of grief and anguish are melted away from your sullen face and your eyes return to the wondrous luster they possessed as a child, before you lost your way. You are reborn, falling back to the Earth while the fires of Hell can be heard dying in the distance.

Day 5: Now an enlightened wanderer of the forest, you see everything the way it should be seen. Colors are more vibrant, the details of the forest ever more prominent. Bird songs ring like bells high up in the towers of the trees. A peaceful unity with the natural order of the world. But there is still a minute problem, something still scratching away at your psyche. You can hear it crackling away somewhere inside you while the rain drizzles and the sun sets. Orchestral waves of nature’s music crash around you as you sail through the forest, searching for meaning now that you have achieved total understanding. The drones continue to oscillate and the concerto continues to play.

Day 6: The slowly encroaching realization that you have been drugged. The enlightened feelings experienced the day before were nothing but tricks played by the forest. Something inside you is still lamenting, aching to be set free. Dark undertones slowly sweep in as you come to understand what this journey was about. It wasn’t an escape or a spiritual journey to find understanding. It was your body coming to terms with the fact that it’s dying. Your mind has continually set up roadblocks to prevent this inevitable. Your body struggles to run away from the soldiers of death and keep out of sight. Your soul has played beautiful music to give you comfort during this transition. The heart sits back and listens to its requiem, content on its demise. Realizing that it is better to accept it than fight it, you lay down amongst a twisted jumble of tree roots and close your eyes, letting the somber harmony of the piano take you away.

JTrux has given us an example of death. How the mind and body struggle with this eventuality and how the heart and soul make us realize that the experience is necessary and beautiful. Death On the Seventh Day is an inspired look on a subject we will all experience but few want to think about. JTrux’s meditative drones and grim noises exhibit a range of emotions providing comfort and peace no matter how scared we are. He has given us a piece of his soul so that our own souls can feel safer during that scary process when we close our eyes for the last time.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Standout track: Dusk III

http://jtrux.bandcamp.com/

http://www.thesirenssound.com/2012/08/23/jtrux-death-on-the-seventh-day/

Album Review: Schemawound – They Want to Make Your Body Move. I Want to Hold You Perfectly Still

Label: Waxen Wings
Catalog No: wwa0000

Schemawound is the brain child of J. Siemasko and employs a variety of electronic genres. Ranging from ambient, glitch and IDM to noise and industrial, his works has broken the genre rules. They stand alone as being completely unique, impossible to categorize. This has given him the freedom to expand his sonic horizons with every new release. Being confined to the strict criteria of a specific can often be a creative hellhole where you end up creating the same songs over and over again. Schemawound’s newest release They Want to Make Your Body Move. I Want to Hold You Perfectly Still breaks free from the musical canon, fusing genres together while simultaneously inventing new definitions for what we perceive to be music.

Grains of synthesis sprinkle on the ceramic counter as a lightly jarring ambiance pulsates through a fuzzy television screen in a beige waiting room. Meticulous drones crawl across the hospital floor. A completely clean and sanitized noise slithers through the air vents, wafting into the nearby surgical suites. The room becomes a foggy chamber, encasing you in fragments of sound ricocheting back and forth. Subterranean vibrations and high-pitched chimes descend from above like a flying saucer coming to take away our dead. The whole experience plays trick with your mind as time, perception and intonation morph into something new and frightening.

The songs fluidly blend into each other, seamlessly bound together by an intricate stream of ligaments and tendons. You don’t know where to begin or end; you simply continue. Life goes on and as one thing ends you drift into the next one without even realizing. The concise rigidity to this album is due to the fact that it was composed entirely from code on a computer program. The technical aspects are awe-inspiring. Such fastidious generation takes hours of precise calculation and detailed analysis. The end result is an avantgarde robotic composition that is devoid of emotion.

There is very little human expression; it all sounds so cold. The bleak empty cavity is instead filled with a revealing creativity. Siemasko has shown us the computer’s soul without its heart. It’s a very stark display. The entire ensemble has a very otherworldly quality making it strange and intriguing. The computer, though artificially powered, is still a living being. It’s thoughts might be programmed but it still has spiritual vibrations. This is a glimpse at the capabilities of metaphysical computer music. Deeper exploration will reveal entire new dimensions of music and sound to our senses.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Standout Track:

http://music.schemawound.com/album/they-want-to-make-your-body-move-i-want-to-hold-you-perfectly-still
http://soundcloud.com/schemawound/sets/they-want-to-make-your-body/

Ripple in the Heavens

When a strong atmospheric pattern sweeps over, the clouds are shaped into flowing ripples that reverberate across the sky. You can feel the vibrations in the air. The signal of the oncoming storm rises before you and soon the sky will darken in chaos.

Man in Nature

These pictures were taken in rural southern Illinois overlooking the interstate. The strands of light are from vehicles passing by. It a stark juxtaposition in such a natural environment.

Album Review: Swans – The Seer

Label: Young God
Catalog No: YG45

Okay, I’ve been dwelling on this review for the past few days now, trying to come up with the best way to describe this album. After sleepless nights listening to its entirety and a harrowing encounter with a possessed grizzly bear, I am finally forcing myself to commit my experience into words. No one said it would be an easy process but when an album burrows deep inside you and begins distilling intensely fermented sensations from your memory, a floodgate needs to be opened.

The resurrection of Swans has been a complete cellular rebirth, fusing sonic particles together into a powerful aural structure. The Seer is their latest foray into unexplored terrain, an expedition ripe with danger and torment. It is a reflection on the past 30 years and what has happened to our world, our society and our music. Most of us organisms have done some form of evolving in that time, progressing from a protective womb to a menacing iron cage. Our minds and souls may have a sense of matured freedom but our bodies are still imprisoned in the dog pound we call modern society, banging our heads against cosmetic counters and drive-thru windows. Michael Gira has given us another raw escape from materialistic woe, locking us in the panic room until we reach the ultimate revelation.

This 2 hour opus commences with Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low contributing to “Lunacy”, a sullen fervor that commands your brain cells into action. The cells awaken from their menial tasks and go over to the window to see the first stirrings of a synaptic revolution. This slides into “Mother of the World”, a piercing amber alert for our Mother Nature who has been missing in action lately while her planet gets destroyed. The stage is now set for a primal cleansing of the spirit.

Meanwhile, apocalyptic drumming descends into an onslaught of percussive abuse, howls of primal noise drone in tune with crashing guitars as the title track explodes on the horizon. This track is a half hour long droning jam, an ever-changing assault of noise and atmosphere. This culminates with Gira mumbling “I’ve seen it all” constantly throughout the song. You get the feeling that he has invaded your subconscious and has begun telling you the secrets of the world. All you can do is listen, wide-eyed and frightened, as you swim in the fluid tank buried under a layer of smoldering earth. The secrets bestowed upon you are not for your earthly body’s knowledge; the truth can be too hard to understand sometimes.

The initial dismay lessens as “The Seer Returns”, whose slow orchestral tremblings leave you drowning in misery. All the pent up emotions that brimmed to the surface during “The Seer” become art supplies for Gira. He paints our raw fallacies all over your body, exposing all your negative disgraces for the world to see. Overwhelmed by shame and disgust, you start to emerge from your protective synthetic cocoon that was woven from fake silk sold on clearance during Bargain Days. The real you finally begins to show itself and Gira acknowledges it, telling you that “you have arrived”.

What can best be described as the intermission is broken down into two parts. The first is a freeform battle of noise and echoes of murmuring voices. They keep you suspended in a desperate state but can’t harm you. They may still invoke fear but the level of intense hopelessness is nothing you can’t handle this far into your journey. The second part is in a slow and dark folk style. It is reminiscent of older Swans and is a nice break from the earth shattering intensities you recently experienced. This is merely the end of disc 1.

Disc 2 starts out softly. Karen O lends her sultry voice to the beautiful Ambient ballad “Song for a Warrior”. It is a very uplifting song meant to restore our positive energies. At the very end we are told to “use your sword, use your voice, and destroy”. This stirs up a mild twinge of outrage as we realize the decrepitude of our world. It shows us that we are each a warrior and need to fight for what we believe in. This gives us preparation for the despairs that lie ahead. “Avatar” is a portrayal of our enemy. The figurehead puppet master who secretly controls us behind a misleading facade. The song is like a march into a battlefield, bayonet in hand, waiting for your nemesis to appear. The whole time he is staring down at you throwing conceited statements of ownership in your face. A fierce battle ensues with epic guitar drones and a downpour of mechanical noise explosions.

You persevere through all hardship and prove victorious. Standing alone in a docile rainshower staring down at your slain adversary, a swan song begins to flicker. “A Piece of the Sky” is a transcending beam of light lifting you out of the darkness and onto a cliff overlooking a cloudy sunrise. More and more light slowly emerges from the horizon, washing away the pain and anguish. Every trying event has been a stone step in the murky swamp, leading a path towards the clearing. The edge of the swamp comes into view. Sunlight graciously pours over your face and provides a revitalizing warmth. The sky itself seems to sing. Bells echo from the distant hills. Serenity flows through every pore. The path leads around a glistening pond and twists around through the hills.

Past the hills you encounter “The Apostate”. A daunting visage of twisted mirror images reverberating back and forth for all eternity. It is the ultimate punishment for his crime. You sit down and have a drink with him. A traumatic story unfolds as this traitor expels his deeds and misgivings. The saga of sedition lasted hours and many drinks were consumed. After a while, the man seated before you morphs into the distinct face of your former nemesis. A delirium takes hold and you begin to question reality, wondering if you ever did find a way out of the swamp. Drums pounding, guitars screaming from all directions. The man across the table is most definitely the ultimate enemy. But how can you be sure? You start screaming “You’re not in my mind, get out”. He keeps taunting you and a heated exchange of words gets tossed about until you finally exterminate him from your mind. You become blessed. The horrors of the past can no longer harm you. All tests have been passed. It all fades away in a massacre of damp drums and a faint scream. Never to harm you again.

For being one of the most hellish rollercoaster rides ever it is a sublime masterpiece. I have never heard such beautifully frightful music before. This is a truly unique recording and will no doubt strike different chords with different people. Some people don’t like to hear the truth and will run away upon hearing such a compelling display of it. Only those who are strong enough to understand the way things really are can fully appreciate The Seer. Michael Gira is a modern day sage giving us a window into other dimensions. He has once again been our trusted guide through the depths of our catastrophic existence.

Rating: 5 Stars
Standout Track: A Piece of the Sky

http://younggodrecords.com/home/658457004524-the-seer-cd

Along the Path

On a short stroll through the park today I took some pictures of my favorite subject matter. Trees. Tall, majestic and green, they are an invaluable asset to our lives. As a closeted treehugger, I encourage everyone to go up to the next tree you see, give it a hug, and tell it thank you.

Album Review: Ephera – Home

Ephera is Australia’s newest electronic duo with a knack for chemistry experiments. By combining elements of Ambient, Dubstep, House and many others, they have created a recipe for a comforting home-cooked meal. There are 12 courses to this harmonious banquet, each with its own entertaining blend of solace and ardor.

The first course is an appetizing introduction with rhythmic sampling and atmospheric reverberations. It sets the mood and gives us a taste of the recurring themes throughout. These sounds are joined by the addition of wonky dubstep beats pulsing in and out as the later courses arrive. An interlude comes soon after with a lazy ambient swirl, gently letting us down easy before a brief intermission.

As we adjourn from the table, an Ephera remix starts to spin around us. We snack on nuts and chips while two songs are given a twist of Ambient flavoring. They are a welcomed change-up, providing both a social mixer and an introspective journey for us guests. Even though this is a break from the normal structure they compliment the affair in stunning ways. The remixes slowly fade out the window and the next set of courses waft into our ears. The ethereal melodies give off visions of sitting on the backporch at dusk, staring up at the dyed clouds soaked with the sun’s warm spectrum.

The final course presents a long dessert session full of sweet and pensive melodies. Introspective samples are dotted throughout giving us conversational material and things to ponder. We slowly drift off into our own thoughts as the music takes a psychedelic Ambient turn. This meditative solemnity is a great way to close the feast. As a guest at this remarkable opus of electro-forest ambiance, I consider it a rousing success. I give my cheers to our two gracious hosts and hope they invite me again soon to another lush dinner for the senses.

Rating: 4.5 stars
Standout track: Reprise

http://ephera.bandcamp.com/album/home

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