CINDYTALK: The Labyrinth of the Straight Line CD Mego
The well respected and revered Cindytalk goes back to his roots on this latest offering; but starts off in peculiar fashion, as poetry combines with industrial noise and scattered fractures of electronic disorganisation, with ’Sea of Lost Hopes’; and the airy ambient of ‘Shifting Mirrors’.
Dark Ambient whirs amongst pitter-pattering rhythms on ‘In Search of New Realities’, folding well into the strains of Power Electronics on ‘I Myself am an Absolute Abyss’; and four tracks in, this latest opus is coming across as a fairly bleak affair.
The rest of the album shifts and turns much in the same fashion. I have always enjoyed the works of Cindytalk and respected the avenues he has ventured down; but here I would have appreciated just a touch more melody, which was a key part for me on previous albums, regardless of how restrained they were.
‘The Labyrinth of the Straight Line’ is by no means worse than older output; but it does lack background musicality, which appealed to those who prefer something more conventional. I like to think of Cindytalk as an artist that crossed the divide musically, allowing for people who liked opposing genres to come together; and this latest album feels a trifle soulless with the absence of actual tunes and long drawn out notes to latch onto.
KIM MYHR/LASSE MARHAUG: On the Silver Globe LP/CD Sofa Music
Myhr and Marhaug are both well-respected artists in their own right. This debut originated as a commission from the MetaMorf Art Bienale in Trondheim for them to collaborate on an 8-channel piece for 2016.
Set as a science-fiction story on a distant planet, the concept works well with the music itself coming across as sound waves picked up from a distant galaxy. Squelching radio frequencies scatter themselves over a rumbling, steady bed of bleak Dark Ambient, as machines grind alongside high fluttering beeps. The end result is minimal and well thought out for the most part.
It’s not all perfect. Sometimes the tracks themselves, took too long to get going; and this in turn left a tendency to become disengaged, only to be dragged back in when there was an immediate abrupt shift in sound.
As a whole though, this is a steady and solid piece of work, even if it will only appeal to a relatively small market.
SOOJIN ANJOU/ASKAT JETIGEN/ROBERT LIPPOK: Gletschermusik CD Folk Wisdom
As a conceptual source, ‘Gletschermusik’ (Glacial Music) utilizes the sounds and images of Central Asia’s melting glaciers; and this is a worthy cause to highlight to the world, in this era of devastating long-term climate change.
Musically though, this does little for me. Whilst appropriately using traditional instrumentation that fits the geographical area, it all sounds a bit hessian blankets and incense burners on snow topped mountains; and I cannot warm to it one jot.
When I think of glaciers melting, I think of frozen ambient pads drifting across a bleak landscape eventually dissolving away; and for me, this album doesn’t capture the essence of what they’re trying to accomplish.
However, I am sure there will be those out there that disagree with me; and whilst I couldn’t get to grips with this project, the music itself is accomplished and played well.
NEON: Ensemble Neon CD Aurora
The ensemble Neon comprises of many an established artist, of which Oren Ambarchi is just one; and with its bright bouncing artwork and enjoying a lot of his work, I was more than intrigued.
This however, is an ensemble of peculiar and nonsensical sounds played haphazardly; and it all comes off a touch Musique Concrete (a genre I abhor). Overall, it is a quiet affair that enables the various musicians to just randomly pic up an instrument and play something weird and non-musical at random.
Unfortunately, with this type of tomfoolery it lets down those involved and tarnishes their musical credibility. I could most likely replicate this by getting my mates around having them hit pots and pans whilst one of us blows a penny whistle badly.
This is nothing short of a pitiful waste of time, effort and planetary resources getting this produced on CD.
DANIEL RUANE: Lakes DL Proximal Records
The opening title track to this latest output from Danny, takes us on a journey crafted from field recordings taken from an explorative trip around Derwentwater in the UK. Anyone who reads my reviews will know I don’t care for field recording releases as a whole, with many just providing the sound source alone; and nothing more. Of course, those ‘many’ are not Daniel Ruane.
The blissful harmonies of ‘Lakes’ lure the listener into the abstract electronics of ‘Shatter’; a writhing mass of simplistic rhythms and bass that layer into a complex and steady surge; complimenting the light IDM bells and whistles of the obscure, ‘Hill’.
‘Glaramara’ is my favourite track overall, with orchestral instrumentation dragging at the heart strings; and providing a welcome shift in timbre between the staggered patterns of previous output and the shutter attack of ‘Gate’, as well as the thumping heartbeat of ‘Cut Trails’.
Overall, Ruane has once again shone a light in the general area of up and coming underground UK artists that go criminally under the radar in a lot of respects. I just wish the majority of his releases were available on hard formats as opposed to digital only.
IN VIOLET: Amber CD Bottle Imp Productions
Bottle Imp is one of those DIY run labels that produce a wealth of understated music; and the UK’s In Violet are no exception.
Packaged in a quality fantastic hardback book, In Violet have produced a mass of guitar rock with a touch of G!YBE over layered with rich vocals. Occasional electronics are interweaved within the mix; as are touches of Post-Industrial and Post-Rock with Goth twangs on the harmonics; that play surprisingly well with the nod to Seattle’s Grunge era.
Overall this is a fairly eclectic mix; and whilst not all of this is my cup of tea, there is enough on here that plays with genres I love. There is bravery in just making music where whatever transpires is fine; and In Violet are exactly that.
Not hearing the artist before, ‘Amber’ was quite the surprise and a good one at that. The undercurrent of commercialism plays well with an obscure counter-culture dirty construction. The whole Godspeed influence is something that saves this album for me; where I normally would have struggled with the other sounds on offer, should they have been played out on their own. For the collector, this is worth getting (if you can) physically, just because of the packaging alone.
OREN AMBARCHI: Hubris LP/CD Mego
With an extensive musical career across a plethora of well-respected labels, ‘Hubris’ is a continuation of exploratory rhythms and electronics that Ambarchi has delved into on many an occasion in the past.
Over the course of three tracks under the album title banner, a wave of simplistic, yet effective arpeggio patterns play ion a continuous loop allowing for a variety of instrumental sounds to creep in and provide necessary atmospherics.
Acoustic elements provide a quick interlude, paving the way for another section of understated beats and more electronics; and on the last track, computerised sounds are melded with a live drum ensemble.
Oren has created here, a pleasant and clever array of sounds that are easy on the ear; and the album is easy to digest in one sitting. There could have been a touch more variation to break it up a lot more, but as a whole this is a solid and enjoyable piece of work.