HEITOR ALVELOS: Faith CD Touch
This is Alvelos’ debut full length release after many a collaboration with label mates aplenty. Many of the sound sources have been collected through five decades; and now as a collection of treated field recordings Heitor has deemed them worthy of release.
Broken into twelve individual tracks, ‘Faith’ seamlessly flows as one long piece with varying degrees of tones and rolling air, forced out in ambient fashion. For the most part the change in pitch works well and slides well into the drone genre with ease.
Don’t expect any stop-starts, don’t expect to be blown away; however do expect to be drawn into a foreboding and sometimes oppressive display of bleak sub consciousness, where time dissolves as the varying degree of hums and sonic throbs swell around your ears.
The Touch label for the most part, has released its fair share of albums that could easily be categorised under the Dark Ambient banner; I just don’t think they really are aware of the wider genre. In that respect, some of the best DA releases I have heard have come from the label, with minimal efforts to reach out to that scene. You can stick ‘Faith’ in that pot as well.
DECODER ENSEMBLE: Fùr Aktuelle Musik CD Ahornfelder
Founded in Hamburg in Germany circa 2011, the Decoder Ensemble comprises of six composers producing a collection of Avant Garde curiosities that frankly are barely listenable.
Track one, ‘Nischenmusik mit Klopfgeistern’ bounces along with bells, whistles, electronics, scattered piano and screaming banshee yells; the end result being me sat in in my chair, laughing out loud.
‘Superimpose V’ crashes along with percussion and various sounds that sometimes belt out like one long fart, whilst ‘Flug P’ has a degree of ambient that works, but is ultimately interrupted by god knows what.
Being bizarre is one thing, but producing one long album of random instrumentation and chucking them round in a proverbial tub with purpose, must take some real effort; or missed medication intake. Whilst Decoder Ensemble have produced one of the craziest releases I have been exposed to in an age, it is one of the happiest and carefree examples of clowning about I have heard in some time; even if it is unadulterated pointless shit.
V/A: RE: Residual DL Parenthèses Records
Tagged as a Various Artists release, this download album is actually a collection of re-works and re-mixes of the collaboration between Peter Knight and Dung Nguyen’s RESIDUAL project that was originally released in 2010. In fairness I haven’t heard the original project, neither any work by the artists involved in this revival of sorts, so it is hard to engage exactly what the contributors have brought to the table.
‘Autumn Music’ comes across all Deep Forest in the hands of artist Lena. Tribal beats thud through the haze and set the scene perfectly for the guitar ambient of Phase Pedal by Tilman Robinson. Along with the misty glade sounds of Joe Talla, it’s fairly evident as to the overall approach of this release.
At the hands of spoken word artist Black Sifichi, the scene does change somewhat to the more peculiar and dark, but this is a brief respite even with the ever so slightly inky tones and subtle dance infusions of Dan West.
Masonik carry out the final throes of this compilation; and end the album in much the same way it started out. Not a bad listen in total, nor is it badly composed, but not one I will go back to; nor will it make me seek out the original source, as none of this really floated my boat.
TATTERED KAYLOR: Sombre Nay Sated CD Stasisfield
AKA: Tessa Elieff got First Class honours in Fine Art-Sound and has a fascination with sonic environments (not that the qualification makes a difference at all nowadays-in fact it usually hinders). This three-track mini-album utilises her obsession with field recordings and blends them well into an array of Dark Ambient that fluctuates with experimentalism.
Opener, ‘Waves’, flutters with obscurity folding eventually into a cavernous black hole, with deep resonating waves of engulfing thick air that suffocate and still the listener; allowing for subtle and inaudible spoken word to confuse and disorientate with ease.
The rainfall of ‘Taken to Booroomba’, sets a bleak picture where the natural audio plays out well to great effect (field recordings are rarely utilised effectively), and the natural ambience of the scene that is set, adds to the unnerving qualities of this release.
Closer ‘The Broken Return’, quite possibly utilises possibly the only natural instrumentation on the CD, with off-key drones that eventually slide into Elieff’s trademark rumbles. Whilst my overall impression is a positive one, Tattered Kaylor would benefit as whole from a bit more experimentation. That said; for enthusiasts of Dark Ambient such as I, this is more than promising on that front and well worth absorbing.
V/A: Forms of Hands 15 CD HANDS
The long standing Forms of Hands festival has just completed its 15th cycle and once again we have an accompanying compilation of all the artists that blasted out rhythms aplenty at the event. It’s a testament to the label and fans alike, that still attend and purchase music from the long standing record label, that everything still seems rosy in noise land; and they all deserve a pat on the back for this.
Opening up this release we have the dark techno pulses of Supersimmetria; an artist who impressed me with the ultra cool album ‘Kosmogonie’ recently. The thumping bass and beats immediately tempered with the obscurities of Norm and the pounding Wieloryb, who always sounds better with singular tracks than a whole album to trawl through.
With a sub-standard appearance from Totakeke and Maschinenkrieger KR52, it’s up to Ancient Methods bizarre electronics and the unstoppable Winterkälte to bring the quality; the latter displaying a cleaner new output that bodes well for a possible future release, with a more punk structure to punch the distorted beat of ‘Climate Change Denial’ through the speakers effectively.
Other tracks of note come from Sylvgheist Maëlström and Ah-Cama-Sotz, who bring something other to the table than the 4-4 noise that omits from other acts on the release; and display the welcome variation that the label on the surface, doesn’t bring to the casual observer. Overall this is a steady compilation that once again competently does its job well and whilst some tracks are no shows, there are some actual gems on here.
SYNTH-ETIK: Function CD HANDS
Frank Mokros has always been a prolific artist with his constant output of Totakeke and Synth-Etik; two opposing forces that displayed the harsh tempered with the intricate evolution of harmony. Over the years however and in particular with Totakeke, the lines have become ever so slightly blurred; and it’s good to just sit through a Synth-Etik album doing exactly what I expect of it.
‘Monsters Among Us’ comes to life in fluid fashion, with glitching noises and distorted ambience leading the beats into punching dance-floor territory; making way for the sparse and minimal title track to mechanically plod through.
The fast paced glitch of ‘Anonymous’ opens up the gliding modern electronica of ‘Rapid Succession’ and the cold hybrid of slicing beeps and crunchy snares of ‘Impact Parameter’; the latter displaying a clinical precision that is a welcome and engaging exercise in how to hypnotise a listener with purposeful beat singularity.
The rest of ‘Function’ follows suit with similarities in style and production that permeate through earlier parts of the release. This gives a constant to the album, as opposed to lack of variation, which would normally arise in these circumstances on other releases out there; and Mokros has produced a CD that sits well with the rest of this projects discography as a concise and rigid addition.
AH-CAMA-SOTZ: State of Mind CD HANDS
ACS is practically a legend given the longevity of the project and the numerous releases under this banner over the years. Given the time span it must be difficult to keep on providing something fresh; and whilst he has been guilty of following a similar formula on many releases (as have many), this time he has produced some subtle differences that give Sotz a fresh face.
Opener ‘And it Makes me Susceptible to Pain’ takes the projects trademark tribalism and folds it into a trip-hop aesthetic that glides and weaves, oozes and writhes with a new found confidence. The 2015 version of ‘Isfahan’ follows suit and is a blunt lesson in Herman Klapholz’s evolution and willingness to move forward into a brave new world.
The dance synth of ‘Solitaire’ may not be original by any means, but displays vigour and blends well with the familiar ambience of ‘Surrender to Infinity’, which harks back to previous affairs. Here, Klapholz turns retro and delves back into his ethnic tribal patterns that we are more accustomed to, with ‘Desert Heat’, before jumping forward to his new found sound on ‘Hotel Odessa’.
The rest of the album plays out in the same fashion; shifting from this modern approach to older key structures at will, heightening the evolution of the project as a whole. In short, Herman has produced one of his better and more engaging albums in many a year.