ANDRÉ STORDEUR: Complete Analogue and Digital Electronic Works 1978-2000 2xLP/3xCD Sub Rosa
As you expected, with such a lengthy history in producing music; this latest compilation of work by Belgian composer Stordeur, is lavishly packaged on both vinyl and compact disc, covering the varying stages of his career in music.
Disc one ’18 Days’ covers the years 1978-1979; and as you can imagine is a pretty basic and experimental affair. Stordeur released this at the time with the objective of offering the public an alternative (in his own words) “to the so-called ‘cosmic’ electronic music played and promoted intensively by the mass media”. It is in itself quite space age in its reverberated delayed bleeps and sounds; and in a lot of respects, without form and desperate, with a touch of the Industrial for good measure.
Disc two; ‘Analogue and Digital Works’, draws on three lengthy tracks composed between 1978 and 2000. 35 minutes of ‘Oh Well’ seemed quite a fitting title, as the majority of it was nonsensical garbage that made little sense. ‘Chant 10A’ however, is a 17-minute field of droning Dark Ambient, that is as satisfying as the majority of this ilk and the best they can deliver; dragging the listener in for an emotive journey through pitch change. ‘Nervous’ closes proceedings on this chapter, irritating in its high-pitched electronic approach, grating on the nerves somewhat.
The final section of work ‘6 Synthesis Studies’ (circa 2000); is by and large the most experimental output on the entire release. Whether this is due to changes in technology is anyone’s guess, as Stordeur seems to have more at his disposal to play with. Musically though, some of the songs are a trifle cack-handed, such as the badly composed ‘Raga’ and ‘Karma’, just coming across amateurish in construction. The other tracks are an arpeggio nightmare, like this was Stordeur’s latest discovery; and boy was he gonna use it.
It’s clear that this bloke has been around for some time and has some moderate success over the years. Whether this justifies such a beautifully packaged historic memoir of sound is anyone’s guess; although I trust those who have followed him all these years will relish this for their collection. For me however, in all fairness it doesn’t entirely stand the test of time.
JAMES WELBURN: Hold LP/CD Miasmah Recordings
Abrasive drones and static open up this debut album by Welburn, with grinding bass providing a low-end punch to the rhythmical patterns courtesy of Tony Buck (The Necks). Gradually building like a pressure cooker, wave upon wave of pads ascend as ‘Naught’, in a punishing Dark Ambient mass of glorious oppressive weight and noise that cannot be denied.
‘Peak’ in contrast, starts high-end, accompanying a subtle bass-line providing the draw as the pads steadily fold and tumble down into a sea of ambient guitar. Light percussion assists the progression, as a breezing wash of air dissipates into the ether.
The up-tempo punkish blast of ‘Shift’, changes the album’s momentum once more; and whilst being a tad muggy, bends the head in this albums never ending ability to twist and turn on a dime; and makes more sense come the ever-so Swans-like ‘Transience’.
For the final two numbers, Welburn concentrates his efforts on staggered rhythms and guitar noise with ‘Duration’ (that is a complete riot from start to finish); only to be tempered by the solid wall of Dark Ambient that is the title track.
In total there isn’t a bad song on this album (not one). Cohesive and well constructed, Welburn manages to keep the listener on their toes from start to finish with a generous variation of ability and sound throughout. Without doubt this is one of the better releases to drop through my door in some time, with a culmination of genres that sit perfectly as bedfellows. Hunt this down at all costs.
ERLAND DAHLEN: Blossom Bells LP/CD Hubro
This is Dahlen’s second album, which follows on from his debut, ‘Rolling Bomber’. Opening up with ‘Snake’, we have a varying degree of backwards electronics and light percussion, which is pleasant enough in its approach.
Tempo is increased on ‘Pipe’ that draws on Space Rock aesthetics, with a spangle-ridden mash up of rhythms and instrumentation; not entirely my bag, but well constructed none-the-less. ‘Knife’, ‘Iron’, ‘Hammer’ and the title track come off best, with a varying degree of ambient and Krautrock splashes of sound. The latter holding a mysterious aura and is by far the best track on the album.
There isn’t anything on this release that is bad; in fact it’s constructed and performed professionally to a tee. There is an impressive array of instrumentation used on ‘Blossom Bells’ and not once do you feel that Erland is biting off more than he can chew. Musically as stated before though, this is not for me; but I do appreciate just how well this has been pieced together.
DATASHOCK: Keine Oase in Sicht 2XLP Dekorder
‘No Oasis in Sight’ is the latest improvised affair in Datashock’s lengthy tenure; and given the title of this latest album, its no surprise to hear the overt desert like snake charmer pipes and wails permeate the release.
A driven ethnicity of sounds from tribal rhythms, bells and instrumentation do make for thematically sound album; however, this style of music doesn’t do anything for me at all. Droning chants and what appears to be traditional throat singing, make an appearance over the top of subtle guitars; and whilst my cat seemed to love it, this just seemed like a very drawn out affair.
Datashock appear to be about 45-50 years out of sync musically; and I am sure this would have gone down well at many a festival in the 60’s, indeed the Summer of Love. For the most part, the warm rich musicianship is lost on me if I am to be honest. It’s well played, well pieced together and there’s no doubt as to the skill and talent everyone involved collectively has. I just don’t care to listen to such sounds; but whatever floats your boat, peace out hippies.
KE/HIL: Zone 0 LP/CD Tesco Organisation
Ke/HIL is the latest project from B. Moloch and W. Herich, who have now hung up their well-worn Anenzephalia coats; and it’s not surprising to learn that there are similarities between the two projects, albeit with key subtleties.
‘Zone 0’ pertains to a geographical urban location that is given on an accompanying map; and if the music is anything to go by, it’s going to be one hell of a journey. Opening up with ‘Work.Church.Poverty’ we soon learn what this project is all about, with electronic structured clatters, grinding Power Electronics and experimental noise; but clinically polished, like a stripped down version of their previous outlet.
In contrast, ‘Passage’ utilises drone and Dark ambient, as a sinister bedfellow to the nightmare PE of the squelching demon that is ‘Bridges’ and the decay-ridden throb of ‘Infirmity Anthem’; and splits the album firmly in two.
‘Ghost of Common Past’ steadily marches as a protest in true Industrial fashion that differs from its counterparts; whilst ‘Children of the Devolution follows suit, taking on a more musical approach, courtesy of cinematic pads that ride the waves on a sea of black ambient.
The end comes in the form of radio interfered ‘Lifebuster’, which seals the album off perfectly. Thematically speaking, ‘Zone 0’ is the epitome of what drives the duo that produced the visceral ‘Anenzephalia’, dealing with social conforms and the issue of control; and here of course is where the parallels are drawn. However, musically speaking, marginal differences in sound give Ke/HIL a life of its own and more power to two of the genres long-termer’s, moving forward with a new lease of life.
ANENZEPHALIA: Instrumentalities (Singles collection 1991-2008) CD Tesco Organisation
Of course, many a genre out there release actual physical singles; but I cannot help draw a smile at a release, with a title that almost certainly mocks popular music and the flimsy “culture” within which it resides.
‘Instrumentalities’ is of course, the swansong of sorts for this popular (relative to the scene) outfit, who for many a year have terrorised the underground PE movement with their visceral array of uncompromising aural brutality and surprisingly complex musicality, which will only be appreciated by their hardcore following. Compiling tracks that were released on 7, 10 and 12-inch formats gives the uninitiated a second chance at soaking up what these guys were all about.
Cold and threatening there is much on here to absorb and enjoy; although with titles such as ‘Mechanical Rape’ and ‘Mindcancer’, this will only be by their rabid and loyal followers. However, this is just how the upper echelons of artists within the Power Electronics genre like it, as this keeps a steady longevity with little dilution amongst its ranks to pollute the cause.
As with a lot of projects out there, it’s always sad to see something of such worth come to an end. Anenzephalia though, will always be remembered for their controlled rage and complex swirls of noise ridden angst; and it is indeed better they go out on a high, rather than whimper and fade like so many before them.
BRIGHTER DEATH NOW: With Promises of Death LP/CD Familjegraven/Tesco Distribution
Roger Karmanik has a new label (his own) and his first new album in eight years to celebrate with, in the form of ‘With Promises of Death’.
Unforgiving and uncompromising as ever, BDN are back with a blistering array of unwavering Power Electronics, which surge and blast out at full force with the ever present and familiar punk ethos to the vocal styling of Karmanik, who is on top form from the word go.
‘Hate is for Beginners’ is an entirely different beast from the opening title track. With an almost distorted beat rhythmicity carrying a wash of delayed vocals and machine-like hums and samples. Dramatically different once again are the wire distortions of ‘Tempting Murder’ and heartbeat pulses of ‘The Cover-Up’; the latter driving a simulated hypnosis that draws the listener in, with throttling menace.
The chamber echoing overdrive of ‘Incomprehensive Evil’, plays with Dark Ambient sensibilities, whilst the multi-layered ‘To Die Lullabye’ takes things one step further and gives a spark of light that eventually fades as you fall into a chasm of sound. A modest and surprisingly meandering ‘In the Shadows of Death’ is lifted by the final track of butchered sampling that is ‘End of the 80’s’; and the famed Roger Karmanik sense of humour is once more present as with previous BDN works.
It’s good to see this project once more rear its ugly head and to re-take its throne at the top of the PE tree; although a trifle more serious than a lot of the projects past, but necessary in staking Roger’s claim as a force to be reckoned with where this genre is concerned.