MIWON: Jigsawtooth LP/CD N5MD
Balancing complex patterns with an immediacy of harmony, ‘Jigsawtooth’ provides an instantaneous hit. I appreciate the no-holds-barred level of entry, with no build, nor drifting around on a lengthy intro; and when Miwon leaps straight into pitter-patter beats and the fluttering emotive electronics of ‘Fuzzy Words, it’s an all welcome refreshing approach to a full-length release.
It is be all too easy to band about lazy terminology such as Ambient, or indeed IDM; but it is, in all its unchained glory. The occasional use of Disco synth and 8-Bit rhythm splices, add to the jovial nature of this album; that manages to draw a sense of beauty whilst not taking itself too seriously.
With a warm full production, there is a sense of an in the same room as you, studio feel that feels inclusive and sharing; assisting the listener in being receptive to all the subtle changes and fluctuations of timbre that scatter trough the speakers.
Altogether, this is an impressive return from Miwon; and whilst not revelling in the grandiose spectrum of the genre, the balance and shift of power between evocative and playful, provides a necessary lift emotionally when it matters most.
PATTERN BEHAVIOUR: Omens DL Crime League
From the duo behind Snowbeasts comes the latest album from Pattern Behaviour; bringing together their first two EP’s which have here, undergone a touch of expansion.
The opening title track portrays the oncoming portent well; with its gradual ominous build of layered electronics, that have glitter with stabs of light amongst its ever-present darkness. ‘Parasomnia’ drips with intermission tension, alongside ‘World’s Apart’; leading to the throbbing bass and soundtrack aura of ‘Conduit’.
There’s nothing over intricate or indeed overstated to Pattern Behaviour’s work; and in this instance it’s a welcome change from the many electronic albums out there that focus solely on complexity, rather than atmospherics. Touching on Sci-Fi that teases with Pop sensibilities, ‘Omens’ satisfies a space where background music fills out a room in which to divulge in other interests.
Whilst not having that one hit to latch onto, this latest collection has the essential knack of killing those lonely silences; when you just want some essential space and solace to think things through, without any overt interference.
PHALLUS DEI: Black Dawn 2xLP/CD Dark Vinyl
With an extensive musical career behind them and releases stretching back to 1988, you could be forgiven for thinking that a band like this is way past its peak. Far from it, if this new material is anything to go by.
Droning guitars are savage in their approach on opening track, ‘Slewed’. Industrial clatters and Dark Ambient fill out the backdrop of a cavernous production that adds to the brutality. In stark contrast, the Darkwave synths of ‘Starman’ provide their own drones, doubling up in a loop with organic instrumentation. The resulting hypnosis, becomes all the more peculiar once the Jazz lunacy of saxophones, blare out unexpectedly, providing a visceral, apocalyptical backdrop to the proceedings. If anything this was reminiscent of some areas of SWANS’, ‘The Seer’. Great stuff.
The threatening atmospherics of ‘Zauberwald’ provide genuine tension; as layered instrumentation build into a huge monolith of sound, with only the whisperings of lunacy and distortion for company.
With the spacious ambient of ‘Krieger’ providing the only break in the proceedings; it’s worthy of note that this still also manages to belt the listener with hammer-like doom precision, leading up to the guitar noise of the end game that is ‘Stigmata’, that provides its own horrors.
In parts, ‘Black Dawn’ is heavier than a sack of spanners. The true genius lies in Phallus Dei’s attention to harmony amongst a sea of aural bloodshed; providing an intricately layered slab of an album that is as impressive as it is destructive. It could just be the best new album I have heard this year.
IKON: Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends LP/CD Dark Vinyl
This is a re-issue of this Melbourne based bands’ 2014 album of the same name, with some added bonus tracks; no matter though, as I didn’t hear it the first time around.
I have heard a few tracks by this Australian four-piece over the years, but they never really hit the mark for me. Whilst banding about terminology such as ‘Post-Punk’ and artists such as Joy Division; simply put, they sound just like a Gothic Rock band, plain and simple, nothing more, with more in common with the Bolshoi than anyone else; with the exception that Tanner & Co deserved more acclaim than the cards they were actually dealt.
Whilst knowing their instruments and having a key sense of verse, chorus, verse, alongside a web of spangle driven guitars; Ikon never really set me alight, even when I was a lot younger and appreciated clubs that smelled of patchouli oil and clove cigarettes.
I am still sure they have a massive following and part of me can see why. They do everything they do well; but have always been a band that plays by the numbers, with nothing really special to latch onto; and in 2017, they bring even less to the table of any relevance.
S S S S: Just Dead Stars for Dead Eyes LP Hallow Ground
Two lengthy tracks make up this album of ambient noise from Swiss producer Samuel Savenburg; produced over a two week long artists residency at Lucerne’s ‘Sudpol’ in the summer of 2015.
‘Pt1’ draws on an engaging array of harmonic, emotive synth and pad structures that rise from a bed of harsh electronics. Mid-way through the blisters soar upward; leaving the listener floating amongst clouds of spatial drifts, that is occasionally interrupted by the storm below.
‘Pt2’ is an altogether noisier affair, more akin to some of the output from PE artists. This does have its moments of tension amongst the oppressive rumbles; with some genuine cinematic interruptions, that are more than welcome once things become a trifle overwhelming (due to the length of the track).
Overall, this is a decent affair that should appeal mainly to fans of genuine Industrial music, Dark Ambient and Power Electronics; showcasing a competent feel for all these genres, with flair.
MENSIMONIS: Clone Fever CD Opa Loka Records
Eclectic is probably too small a word for this duo and their purely improvised album of guitar and electronics.
Radboud Mens and Lukas Simonis, bring a history with them that scales countless workshops, playing to many a secondary school student for what appears to be years. The difficulties for me usually arise on what improvisation brings, or usually doesn’t (as is more often the case) to the table.
Overall, there is no doubt as to the skills both operatives possess as well as the many strings to their proverbial bows. It does take a while for things to get going; and when they do, there is a certain degree of enjoyment that can be attained once things go full guitar-ambient.
‘Clone Fever’ is ultimately a mixed bag. On one hand (as mentioned above), there was a lot to appreciate. But there is far too many interruptions at play, where the duo appear to just be messing around getting a feel for things; and therefor not entirely creating music, with one too many tune-ups for my liking. This isn’t bad, but it could have been so much more.
AGNES HVIZDALEK: Index CD Nakama Records
Hailing from Vienna’s experimental music scene, I am sure there is little that Hvizdalek is doing to actually promote their efforts with this release.
Clocking in at 47 minutes, ‘Index’ is one long track of Agnes’ voice stretched, staggered and torn apart voice. Literally.
It is infuriating, because there are moments here where you can imagine her working with a producer of actual music and coming up trumps with some of the ideas she has utilised. On her own though, it is just a pointless waste of my time, her time, the manufacturing plants machinery; and indeed, the planets resources.