Album Review: Lcoma – Evolve EP

Label: Inner Ocean

The faint ringing of a faraway alarm wafts over airwaves, dispersing an alert agitation to the ears it reaches. A continuous drone spirals its way out as the ringing ripples across the land. A change has occurred somewhere nearby and all organisms give off a sudden reaction; a biological response to the tough times that will soon arrive. The evolution of the planet takes one more small painful step towards serenity.

Lcoma’s Evolve EP is a cyclical story about the struggles of anxiety. All living beings in this dimension battle this ailment at one time or another and it’s always in a circular pattern. We start off feeling apprehensive and concerned. This gradually descends into a worrisome obsession. We begin to dwell on every miniscule aspect until all of it means nothing. A darkness washes over and the smothering stench of desperation overwhelms the mind. The progression of time brings us back into the light. A harrowing experience always end with a dose of wisdom as the world feels inviting and cheerful again, all fright vanquished. Further on down the road a new obstacle appears and the cycle begins again.

Evolve starts in a bleak dream state, a swelling ethereal loss of physical perception. The music transports you to another world, dark and eerie at first but soon comforting. Distorted particles caress the skin and send shivers throughout the entire nervous system. This aural out-of-body experience is new yet strangely familiar. It is a refuge for the soul to escape to whenever peril arises. This is replaced by deep tones of anxiety palpitating on the window. A floating sensation takes over; you are now suspended in a riotous wind. Various spirits and emotions try to pull you in different directions and end up ripping you apart. For one brief incalculable moment all hope seems lost.

By the time the eponymous track at the end appears, a wondrous process of regeneration has begun. The harrowing experience has come to pass and time begins its eternal task of healing. Docile tones enliven your molecules, repairing your understanding and clearing your mind. A mild enlightenment has just occurred as the circle arcs to its completion, ready to begin again. Every time we finish a circle we evolve a little more. As the drones fade and the guitar tremors all alone, we walk into the horizon ready for whatever may come next.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Standout Track: Evolve


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:

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

Album Review: The Developing – The Puzzle

Label: Trippin’ the Rift

Catalog No: TTRR011

The Developing has taken trip-hop to another level. I bet you all thought that trip-hop was dead and nothing new could come of it right? This album has just proven all you cynical skeptics wrong. The Puzzle features retro-fitted artifacts from the early 90s, giving a “stereotypical” sound to the untrained ear. Upon closer listening you discover a wide depth to the music that sinks deep into your skin. Elements of jazz and IDM are also swirled in to provide another dimension in the beat. The many sounds are layered so well that a harmonious whirr blows through the room, giving everything perfect unity.

The samples used are taken from a wide range of sources. From train horns to trying to start a car, The Developing has turned everyday sounds into symphonic accents for chilled out dance music. The use of these types of samples is nothing new but here there is a very unique character to them. I can easily see some hipsters writing this album off as a rip-off of classic 90s dance music. This is a complete misnomer. The Puzzle’s influences come from all over the spectrum and were mixed together in new ways to create something sui generis and personal. It may sound familiar but that is only your mind trying to link together what the music means to you.

The Puzzle is exactly what its name implies. There are 12 big pieces each composed of hundreds of smaller pieces. Upon each listen you will find new pieces and uncover different sounds. This is totally tuned to take the listener on a journey but only with the listener’s help. You have to be open to the idea of letting the music take you where you want to go. So rare is it that we come across music that gives us a blueprint and lets our imagination fill in the rest.

Rating: 4 Stars

Standout Track: Over Clouds

Review: Björk – Biophilia

It has been over 4 years since Björk has released a new album and over 7 since she released a good one. During this dormant period the love and adoration I had for my favorite artist of all time hibernated, buried in a crystal box under a layer of ice to be rediscovered when the metamorphosis of time melts the ice away.

Björk’s constantly evolving talent has always rekindled a deep respect and fascination with each new album. This was not the case with Volta. Though there were still amazing songs and unique sounds, the album as a whole did not revitalize the forces of the universe and usher in a new chapter of life. Biophilia has rewritten that chapter and illuminated the individual galaxies of our known universe with a heavenly voice dipped in silver ink, shining brightly inside our souls.

Ingenious compositions and concepts were employed to make this the ultimate organic experience. Specially made instruments show off the experimental cosmic side of her music but her reasons for using them tie her ideas to the earth. Every sound, every word, every variation of atmospheric pressure on this album is there for a specific reason and the concept would fail if it was omitted. This painstaking process makes it understandable why we have waited 4 years for new material although I must say it was worth it. Every second of waiting drifts into a fog once you hear the first chimes of “Moon”. The gaps of time are bridged and it doesn’t matter how much of that absurd time has passed.

Björk has once again made it known that she is going to do things her way. Which is totally fine by me. In 20 years she went from singer of pop songs to the most innovative artist of our time. She has flowed with the fluctuating waves of time and molded alongside them. She has given us many messages over the years but the one that resonates the most is this: Don’t get stuck in time. Always do something new and different. Every day is a new experience and a new chance to learn. Never stop learning.

Rating: 5 stars
Standout track: Virus

Review: Tardiss – Behind the Blind

Label: No-Source
Catalog No: NS028

As the beat arises from the abyss of the universe, ambient murmurs stretch across the sky. A spectrum of color slowly twists and bends like a kaleidoscope. These effects descend upon an unsuspecting city, bringing forth a new found beauty in the things we see every day.

Minneapolis based duo Tardiss take downtempo beats and mesh them with ambient undertones, painting a gorgeous portrait of a trek through the concrete jungle. The bustling city streets have been given theme music that presents us with an opportunity to take a second look at the things we see all the time but never take the time to really look at. Behind the Blind takes the fast and hectic metropolitan world and slows it down to a speed where we can fully appreciate it.

The tempos are very leisurely and allow the various audio samples to float in and throughout the beats. It puts the modern sense of speed into perspective. These days all we do is move faster and faster. We blip through time like it was merely a millisecond to us instead of an entire lifetime. We were put on this planet to appreciate everything it has to offer. People today are so busy that they don’t take the time to really acknowledge the sheer coincidental miracle that is their existence. Tardiss have given us a reason to sit back and enjoy one of the great powers our bodies possess: listening. Instead of getting lost in a traffic jam on the highway, get lost in your own head for 45 minutes. You just might learn something.

Standout track: Silver Fences
Rating: 4 stars

Review: Zachary Gray – Montréal I/II

Label: Camomille Music
Catalog No: cml008

North of the border in Canada resides Zachary Gray. He has just released his debut album after years of studying music. This debut album is a smorgasbord of various genres and styles. Even within the same song he goes from Ambient to Drum ‘n’ Bass, stopping off to say hi to the IDM crowd. The cluster of genres is done well, but as a whole it makes the album lack consistency.

Montréal I/II demonstrates very good drum programming and sample usage. However, some of the songs, such as “Rooftops” and “Re:”, are not mixed well. The sounds don’t have their own pleasant niche in the music and wind up getting buried. Melodies are being drowned by oblique samples and drum beats are thumping away the possibility of hearing some of the delightful sounds presented before my ears. This only seems to afflict a few of the songs and it takes away some of the charm of those songs.

The use of samples throughout is a little overwhelming. They are taken from a variety of sources and some of the subject matter is a bit bizarre. From sex to fat children, it almost paints a morbid picture of the world we live in today. The only problem is they are mere statements and do not do much to enliven the listener except to “be a good person.” This release is very Boards of Canada inspired sample-based dance music. There are a few gems that are very well done but the remixes at the end should have been left off.

Standout track: Valentine’s Day
Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: SineRider – Ambivert

Label: BFW Recordings
Catalog No: BFW105

Drift off to sleep with this walk at sunset. The calming atmospheres hug you and bring warmth as they slowly fade away, leaving you peaceful and relieved. You are swept away by the echoes and drift among clouds and pleasant sine waves. Wafting along, the stars unfold before you in a magnificent spectacle as you float with their shimmers and eternal glows.

SineRider has taken ethereal drones and infused some IDM rhythms into them. They mix beautifully and create a dream world abundant with the graces of the universe. His melodies are angelic, mesmerizing synth lines that guide and protect your body while your soul goes off on a short walk. The entire experience is a sweet and wonderful descent into a subconscious world. You can rest gently and carry on, knowing that the soothing tones will ward off all unpleasant vibrations.

Standout track: Sleepless
Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: adamned.age – Fragile

Label Camomille Music
Catalog No: CML007

Hanne Adam’s Fragile is a remedy for any disjointed soul. A true ambient adventure involving traditional instruments that can bring you back down from that ledge and soothe your every pain. She has created 8 atmospheric lullabies for the mind that won’t lull you to sleep. Instead, they center your brain and clear out all the cobwebs festering inside from years of modern day anguish.

By combining classical piano, drum machine beats, minor distortion and reverberated swells, adamned.age has given us a way to accept the terrors of our current age. This acceptance is only temporary, though. Once listening has concluded, you emerge from the cocoon she weaved for you with a burning desire to alter the world drastically. This feeling was present before but nowhere near as prominent.

These songs are true candy for your ears. Clicks and pops form the beats that bounce back and forth between your eardrums, using your brain as a causeway. There are moments throughout that are so beautiful I am almost moved to tears. It’s releases like these that remind us what music is really all about: an extension of our souls, meant to calm our tattered minds and make us whole again.

Standout track: Interstellarraum
Rating: 4.5 stars

Review: Entheogen – Tryptamine EP

Label: BFW Recordings
Catalog No: BFW102

Drum ‘n’ Bass melts with psychedelia in this 3 track EP. The beats are solid and the atmosphere is lush. The mood it creates is very relaxing yet tense. It’s like being in a nightclub chilling out right before the mescaline kicks in. There is a certain lack of consistency with the whole album. “Javanese Dance”, the first track, is a quick Drum ‘n’ Bass beat with mild electronic experimentation. The other two songs are more downtempo and much less beat driven. The latter tracks are also more appropriate for the concept the artist was trying to express. “Neuromodulator” (of which tryptamine is) has a very chillout vibe as is swirls around, floating six feet above existence and in time to its beats. “Trip to Mine” features samples from a man describing a DMT trip. If he was going for a concept or if it’s all a big coincidence it is unclear.

Standout track: Neuromodulator
Rating: 3.5 stars