Album Review: Vulpine Smile vs James Bondage “Angelscrapings”

1285309282-1Label: D Minor Records

One of the most creative musical trends bouncing around today is the art of combining mismatched genres in a beaker, incinerating the beaker then sit back and revel at the astounding hybrid that comes out. Many of these chemistry experiments exist but some are much more daring than others. This collaboration by US based Vulpine Smile and Portugal/UK based James Bondage mixes elements of Big Beat, Industrial, Krautrock, Ambient and Noise with experimental smatterings stylized by an avant-garde flair. Atmospheric rhythms rattle inside your brain leaking out of the holes in your head. Harmonious onslaughts of factory noise and distorted electronic beats dart back and forth, raining fuzz and sparks in a gorgeous display.

This elixir is a widely influenced and extensively sampled composition. Different sounds from various parts of the spectrum weave in and out of each other, coming to fluid halts as they progress with the poundings of the beat counting the passing of time. Lines from numerous films pop up in randomly places that always match the current mood, whether it’s a high energy sonic mayhem or transcending psychedelic space.

The name of this album conjures up images of an angelic vibration that has had a tiny part of its essence scraped off to be used for divination. In this case the divination is an aural experiment and this metaphysical addition gives an ambient aura radiating a delighted sense of chaotic bliss. All the spliced sounds starting and stopping at first seem disjointed and out of place, but if you concentrate on the overall heavenly vibration you can find order in everything you hear.

Angelscrapings is a merge between the past and present. Its unique blend of old and new is a continuation of the present and an homage to the past. If H.N.A.S. ever made it to the electronic age they would have been making music like this. Analog atmospherics and early electronic noises hauntingly emerge from their graves and return us to a forgotten perception few have heard before. Twisting into the vortex with new sounds has generated a more enlightened insanity for the eardrums. A psychic round of applause for these two daring artists willing to push our sensory boundaries a little bit further and helping us gain a new perspective on music.

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Standout tracks: “Subterranean”, “Malingerators, Fudgerators and Drudge-Dodgers”, “Tune In, Turn On, Fuck Off”, “No Need to Panic It’s Only a Nervous Breakdown”

http://dminorrecords.bandcamp.com/

http://soundcloud.com/d-minor-records/sets/vulpine-smile-vs-james-bondage/

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

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

Album Review: SYNEK – Paradiba EP

Paradiba is a short and sweet preview of the foreboding world where SYNEK resides. Consisting of two original songs and one remix, it catapults us on a dark and menacing descent into blackness. The first track, “Fathom”, is a slightly disturbed symphony of industrial sounds saturated by metallic reverberations. They unceasingly bounce off each other until they crash into a point directly in the center of the tunnel we are falling through. The tunnel presumably leads to the center of the Earth but we have no way of knowing. It is simply constant darkness and a lifetime of plummeting.

“Paradiba” is a 13 minute minimalist measurement of atmospheric pressure that lifts us out of the tunnel into the light radiating from above and further. We continue to rise and gently float in space toward a set destination far beyond the galaxy’s horizon. Off in the distance sharp screeches of painful echoes can be heard, though they are not threatening. They still send a shiver down the spine as they inject a fearful strength into your nerves.

The third track is a remix of “Fathom” done very well, with layers of punchy noise strangling the dense clanking echoes into a beautiful and harrowing drone series. It captures the essence of a deranged descent into madness whilst creating a dreamy atmosphere that comforts the tortured mind.

This debut is an excellent starting point for such dark atmospheres. Hopefully we will see more from this artist very soon.

Rating: 4 stars
Standout Track: Paradiba

http://rano.bandcamp.com/track/fathom

Review: No-xygen and Mike Radice – From Darkness to Renaissance

Label: Eg0cide Productions
Catalog No: Eg0_052

The latest collaborative effort in the Dark Ambient cosmos has emerged from the atmospheric masters No-xygen and multi-instrumentalist Mike Radice. They have presented us with a soundtrack for the ultimate journey of humankind. Their concept surrounds our struggle to relinquish the darkness and dessication within us and be reborn in an enlightened existence.

These subterranean compositions feature catatonic orchestral progressions that flow in between avant-garde bursts of Industrial despair. With various tones from all over the globe, these movements fuse our anguishes together and give us all a common goal to reach for. Genres clash into each other as Drone intertwines with ethnic beats. The end result is a sui genereis affair that covers the entire atmosphere. From the deepest cave to the exosphere, waves of Ambient murmurs drape over everything, covering our souls with a comforting despondency.

The collaboration consists of four songs from each artist. They each take one end of the spectrum: No-xygen forges the difficult and sorrowful uphill climb out of dark times while Radice shows us the ethereal beauty that awaits us at the top of the mountain. Each song exhibits the yin and yang of their concept. They each contain sentient beauty alongside daunting torment. From this we learn that even though we are in dark times there is still beauty everywhere. We must also not forget that when we are reborn there will be still be desolate gloom to combat. As eternal beings we cannot live without one or the other. In order to evolve we must find the delicate balance between darkness and renaissance.

Rating: 4 stars
Standout track: Renaissance

http://www.archive.org/details/eg0_052
http://eg0cide.com/2012/01/29/eg0_053-no-xygen-and-mike-radice-from-darkness-to-renaissance/

Review: Lusruta – Roh EP

Label: Aesthesea
Catalog No: STC011

Drilling a hole deep into the earth, in search of new enlightenment, the underground rumblings of Lusruta emerge. The new EP is a departure from Solemnizing the Trivial, featuring electronic beats and speeds more suitable for the dance floor than your meditative conscience. The earth still quivers under the industrial mindset brought forth as pensive tones break through the wall of noise. There is an experimental edge to the sounds presented. Your inward travels are manipulated and you get tossed in a different direction. You end up in unexplored crevices of your mind and come out illuminated.

The two distinct styles of dark ambient and industrial trade off, forming a unique harmonious connection. They bind our complex feelings of peace and discontent and find a balance. It teaches us that we will have both sides within us at all times and that one cannot survive without the other.

Rating: 4 stars
Standout track: Habitude

http://aesthesea.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/new-lusruta-roh-ep-released-stc011/
http://www.archive.org/details/stc011

Review: Mystified – Remembering the Engine

Label: None
Catalog No: N/A

The ever prolific Mystified, AKA Thomas Park, has released what he is calling an “audio eulogy for American oil.” This is exactly what he has accomplished. By composing three tracks of droned-out industrial sounds, he has painted a portrait of a mechanical post-apocalyptic funeral. Rows and rows of disembodied automobiles lay before a solemn memorial, stained in oil leaking from the pores of the mourning mechanisms. A ghosted figure of the officiating priest hovers above this scene which takes place after the annihilation of human existence.

Park has created a harrowing image dripping with the bleak truth. His union of industrial noises and drone techniques form a extraordinary soundscape, laced with twinges of dark ambient moods. This music could be the soundtrack to the scene of a car crash or a bombed out war zone. The harsh truth is that this is what will play when there is no one left on Earth to make music.

Standout track: Dying Gasps of Oil
Rating: 4.5 stars

http://mystified.bandcamp.com/album/remembering-the-engine
http://mystified13.livejournal.com/
http://www.mystifiedmusic.com/

Review: mayfairgrin – This Delicate Confusion

Label: Webbed Hand Records
Catalog No: wh151

Behold, the fine line between ambient and industrial. This is such an unfamiliar line to most people that they easily walk right over it, kicking it into the gutter without a realization. Those looking for it know where to find it – lodged in a submarine several miles in the air, where the static remains in the shadows, lurking, ready to emerge at the right time. The static is not alarmed by the industrial beats jostling the background image. It rides the ambient swell over the clouds only to glide back down to Earth with a smile on its face.

mayfairgrin go on a journey of abstruse landscapes and they tell their story through interpretive electronic dances and underwater daydreams. They start off with a sonic odyssey located deep within a computer’s walls which slowly slides into trances and meditative states. After 20 minutes, your guide finally greets you and takes you to a spiritual electro-dance. The urge to close your eyes and fall into the recesses of the mind is hard to fight. This journey seems to get lost in its own maze at times, as its sonic interpretations of a myriad of genres start going around in circles.

Andrew Latham and company have certainly made staying up to watch the sunrise a new pastime. This Delicate Confusion is like being in the back room of a club with the door shut tight and only your sweeping subconscious can find the right sounds to go with the beats that seem to find their way through the walls.

Standout track: Delicate
Rating: 4 stars

http://www.archive.org/details/wh151
http://www.webbedhandrecords.com/wh151-mayfairgrin-this-delicate-confusion/