CHRISTIAN SKJØDT: Squaring Circles LP/DL Tonometer
On Christians’ latest long player, we are once again supplied with an eclectic mix of high-end drones.
This lengthy two-tracker follows suit with a lot of his previous output. It’s a fine line between an invigorating listening experience and outright nonsense when approaching this kind of experimentalism; but more often than not, Christian manages to keep things on the right side of hypnotic and trance-like states to keep things interesting, should you have the due patience by the bucketload.
Recorded live at ‘Slow’ in Copenhagen in September 2015, it has taken quite some time for this work to see the light of day. Here I can imagine a raft of visuals accompanying this work (or at least, I hope there was). Either way this field of electronics always works best within a live environment.
As it is, it’s a sunny day outside and this surprisingly fits well with the quiet isolation that the world is currently undergoing and I did find this enjoyable overall. Scoring this will often produce varying results depending on the listener. I however, found the rounded warm undertones that flow throughout this release, a softener to the soaring pitches that that threaten aural comfort.
LARS LUNDEHAVE HANSEN: Recursive Abstractions MC/DL Tonometer
This latest work from Denmark’s Hansen follows a similar path trodden on previous output, providing a comforting, familiar continuity to his work. It’s a formula that works effectively well, through varying degrees of light and shade; as ambient pads, dark and light, compliment each other without one overworking the other.
Numbing tones occasionally pitter-pat amongst a breathing aural landscape. The numerically titled six tracks on offer play with a variety of emotions; occasionally throwing a curveball of distorted guitar noise into the mix, with cutting glitches to interrupt the momentum and solitude one feels whilst being submerged in the story being told.
Overall, this limited cassette (produced exclusively for Lars’ Canadian tour) is an aurally expansive and dramatic body of work that deserves a great deal of attention and praise; and is a prime example of the genre when it works at its finest.
LARS LUNDEHAVE HANSEN: Irregular Pattern Delay CD/DL Tonometer
With a limited European release, this latest album from Hansen was exclusively produced for the Japanese market.
Following a different path to the glorious ‘Terminal Velocity’, ‘Irregular Pattern Delay’ subtly grabs the listener through a more experimental approach than its older brother. More emphasis has been placed on sparse drones, reverberated electronics and fluttering delays (as per the album title) that gently throb and whir throughout.
As a whole this album sees Hansen display a degree of variation to his output, rather than merely relying on previous formulas of Dark Ambient and expansive pad work. Whilst I do prefer other output, this album is a strong affair overall, that approaches the listener from a different tack; whilst not being so obscure as to hinder that listening experience, through it’s peculiarities and obscure overtones that keeps the listener on their toes.
SLIPDRIVE: Cosmos Redshift 7 DL Self Released
It seems like a small age since I last heard anything from Keef Baker. Of course he has been busy playing live for other acts since sadly folding his main project (under his own name) and he has dipped his toes in other work; but it has been four years since the debut Slipdrive album ‘River of Heaven’, making this latest output long overdue.
Opening with ‘The End of the Beginning of Nothing’, you are immediately drawn into the loading bay where Slipdrive’s shuttle has been docked all these years; ready to embark on Baker’s journey through Galaxies unknown, to the tune of crystal clear synth lines that provide the interstellar pathways and direction of travel.
Keef as always, enforces on the listener his unquestionable skills with approach to melody and clinical precision of beat work. Just enough space is given between track layering for pads to slide and weave with dramatic hook-lines to snare and pull the listener along for the ride.
‘Cosmos Redshift 7’ has a duality to it. One that perfectly compliments the debut thematically speaking, whilst also touching on areas he has visited long before on his dissolved main output (with more than a touch of ‘Redeye’ to the mix). This is a joy to hear, but also begs a question as to whether he could be coerced into revitalising the past once more and picking up the mantle he discarded long ago now.
As a whole, this is unsurprisingly, a great album that displays maturity and attention to detail as with all of Baker’s works; and one you should hunt out at all costs.
[BASEMENTGRRR]: Destroy Everything CD Raumklang Music
I have always found [basementgrrr] to be a bit of an oddity musically speaking (let alone the name), where the lines between genres are clearly evident and don’t make comfortable bedfellows, due to the nature of styles colliding.
On ‘Destroy Everything’, there is clear evidence of this approach once again, where songs display an uncomfortable duality. Not quite Industrial, not exactly electronica, with undercurrents of Power Electronics structurally in the loosest sense of the terminology. However, credit has to be given in the progression stakes; where songs such as ‘Aeon’ delve into Prog Rock territory, without any other outside influence to cause a wobble on the path the track takes. It is clearly evident then, that [basementgrrr] can pick a specific genre when he chooses; and ultimately stick to it.
There is as much about this project that I like as much as I find uneasy to digest. I always find myself torn between momentary flashes of brilliance and a quagmire of sounds that don’t seem to gel; and this album epitomises that experience no less than some of my earlier encounters.
DIRK GEIGER: Dreams Die Quietly CD Raumklang Music
A surprising twist in approach here and an ultimately darker one with Geiger drawing on murky ambient as the bedrock to his latest release and as a lover of all that is Dark Ambient, this is a welcome listen personally as well.
Solitary Morse like bleeps echo through the ether, lighter pads are kept to a ghostly minimum; and the rhythms when they come, approach with a hypnotic tribalism. All the key ingredients for someone approaching a genre; not so much as becoming fully enveloped, but as to dip their toe in, so to speak. It’s this loitering at the precipice of the pit, that makes this album work more than if they had launched themselves completely into the depths of the genre with complete abandon; and provides an ultimately different perspective on the proceedings.
Long time fans of Geiger will most likely understand and appreciate this shift in timbre more than the casual listener; fully able to acknowledge the concept behind this latest opus. On the flip side of the chart, blue blood DA enthusiasts will still be able to enjoy the lighter aspects this album provides, respectively speaking; even if some of Dirk’s other output may be anathema to them. On both sides of the coin then, it appears Geiger has his bases covered; and I found this a refreshing album to indulge my senses with.
ACCESS TO ARASKA / ERODE / DIRK GEIGER: Reports From the Abyss CD Raumklang Music
Combining their talents and working collectively as one band, was always going to raise questions as to what the output would be when placing these three individual acts together as a whole; and the results are somewhat surprising given the IDM nature of at least two of these artists, to say the least.
The opening and title track harks back to an era of early electro Industrial with layered vocals and synths that are as dense as they come. The rhythms have a skittish and stilted nature to them, altogether offbeat; and an indicator of the difference between the three minds that have come together as one.
As expected there are melodies aplenty on display here, alongside variation into other areas of electronic music (that are more akin to their individual projects) running as an undercurrent and foundation, altering the standard Haujobb-esque motions that dance over the top of them; and thus making for an ultimately unique and enjoyable experience overall.
The latter half of the album contains remixes from other acts and provide an altogether expected but no less engrossing experience; with the likes of Displacer and Lights Out Asia drawing on their own strengths, which do ultimately have their individual footnotes firmly stamped all over them. I would have liked more output from the three main protagonists than drawing on mixes to complete the album; but the overall listening experience doesn’t suffer either way for it.
As a whole, ‘Reports From The Abyss’ has a multitude of facets that should appeal to listeners of genres that collectively huddle under the same umbrella.
[BASEMENTGRRR]: [HURT] CD Raumklang Music
The fundamentals of this third album from Ralf Gatzen are on point. Cinematic electronics and key attention to vocalisations give ‘[HURT]’ a form of gravitas I haven’t encountered before with this project; and the opening gambit, ‘Rituals’ is a prime example of everything Ralf can do well when he is focussed.
Momentary flashes of brilliance creep in throughout this album, which does have a more progressive approach to it than previous output. Consistency is less of an issue here, as for the most part there appears to be more of a concept at play; and that gives the album a rigid core, where the fundamentals are stronger overall.
I am still not a fan of the drum sounds utilised on [basementgrrr] as a whole; and more work could have been done in this area. It’s fair to say that some of the better tracks on here would have sounded colossal if he had given them some more thought (or indeed if it had just been ambient).
Overall, this is the best album I have heard from this project yet. Just a little more work on approach and sound sources, could provide an end result that is nothing short of monumental.
ARKTAU EOS: Catacomb Resonator LP/CD/MC Aural Hypnox
From an oversized CD wallet to the LP/MC/CD boxed set, Aural Hypnox really are making waves with their output now; and all are gloriously hand printed and customised as well.
The album itself is one long 37-minute track (broken up for vinyl with extra tracks on the cassette); and is minimalistic in its reverberated approach to the genre, which is for the most part, quietly ominous.
‘Catacomb Resonator’ comes across as one long sonic movement as such; and requires the volume turning up a notch to fully appreciate what is at play here. Sparse and desolate, there is a definitive flow that goes into rise and fall over its duration.
Whilst driving an ultimately different approach to previous work, there is much to become engrossed in here, even if it just falls short of previous output in the variation scheme of things; feeling much more akin to traditional Dark Ambient and lacking a touch of imagination because of it.
Overall though, this is a decent slab of DA and should be sought out if you are a follower of the genre as a whole; and my misgivings are only highlighted because of previous releases, which I would suggest you also listen to and compare.
AEOGA Obsidian Outlander LP/CD Aural Hypnox
The solo project of Antii Haapapuro has gained great momentum output wise, with a continuous flow of engaging Dark Ambient that grinds into motion with the gripping ‘Initiatory Boil’, teetering on ritualism with its rumbling percussive elements.
These clatters of sound make a vague appearance along the path this album treads; but subtlety is the key to this releases effectiveness and Aeoga plays to its genre hinged strengths. Layers of drones are unexaggerated, giving life to key waves of ambience as they gently glue themselves as one.
Where space is required, Aeoga dares to hinge here, on the lightest of touches that prepare the tale to come. It’s this attention to detail that makes this one of the better releases to come out of the Aural Hypnox stable; and one, which sits the artist along similar scales of artists from larger labels within the scene.
As usual the artwork is second to none; and the vinyl version comes in two editions (silver or gold print). Given the format, this also tells the tale in the length of this release; which ultimately assists in the impact (and its main strength) of the album as a whole.