OZMOTIC: Liquid Times CD Folk Wisdom/SObject
Following on from the excellent ‘Air Effect’ split with Christian Fennesz (who also appears on this in collaboration on two tracks), OZmotic returns with an album that is purely their own vision. I was curious to see how this duo faired solely and whether the brilliance of the last album was mainly down to their mighty partner in crime.
Splicing an array of live instrumentation, OZmotic utilise sourced percussion and scatter them amongst a sea of ambient and IDM electronics. The end result is a satisfying mix that sits well on the ears; where complexity is kept to a minimum and can be appreciated more with minute fits and bursts.
As a concept, the music aptly carries the notion of interlacing cultures within a city of Diasporas; where humanity is surrounded in a reality without barriers. OZmotic cleverly folds layers of music from a variety of ethnic inspiration and wraps them up in a fresh, modern glue of electronic communal spirit.
As a whole I was more than impressed with this latest output, which comfortably follows on from the aforementioned ‘Air Effect’; and look forward to any future releases from these invigorating prospects.
COH: Music Vol CD Mego
With an extensive discography to his name, it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole this project of Ivan Pavlov. With an abundance of releases it should be of no surprise that he has his fair share of misses as well as hits; and I am happy to say that ‘Music Vol’ is more the latter.
Pavlov occasionally flirts with ambient music and this latest release is some of his best work, period. With an intimately close hum resonating throughout the album across the course of seven rich tracks, there is a unifying gel that ties one song to the next with subtle efficiency.
From the opening dense throbs of ‘Ether Fields Forever’, through to the sparse bleeps and whines of ‘Return to Mechanics’, some of the similar sounds that I have passed off as nonsense on previous affairs, work in this instance; and give life and sparkle to the brooding darkness that permeates the entirety of this release.
Minimalistic, yet efficient in grasping every note and wringing the maximum out of it, gives ‘Music Vol’ its own intriguing and unique characteristics, where it’s near impossible to not sit this curious venture out, end to end.
KOMORA A: Crystal Dwarf CD Monotype Records
An anxious machine head crackle, leads depth charge tones and electronic thumps on the doorway to bleak ambience, upon ‘Waking Up’; the opening gambit of this, Komora A’s second full-length release. Disturbing and ultimately aggressive, this is tempered somewhat by the throbbing generator that is the aptly titled ‘Drone of Reality’.
In an about shift in kilter, ‘Beats and Memories’ brings a welcome light of near IDM sub-textures and skyward sounds that make the listener look upwards for some form of salvation. It’s an effective piece that is a necessary moment on what is an ultimately oppressive album.
The aggravating glitches of ‘Inscape Module’ are an essential ingredient to this release, regardless of the irritation, as they catapult a narrative to the journey onwards into the ‘Drone of Unreality’; and ultimately the relief of ‘Escape’.
It would be easy to dismiss ‘Crystal Dwarf’ and the uninitiated could easily pass it off as a wall of noisy and somewhat pointless electronics. However, Komora A have managed to hold down a concept and genuine knack of storytelling that kept me engrossed from start to finish.
INFERNAL MACHINES: Rife DL Clang
The Demark based Clang label is awash with a mass of sound experimentalists. There are the odd few that shine, such as the impressive Wavemultiplier and Anders Holst; and some that fall way below the mark and are simply unreviewable. Infernal Machines fall somewhere in-between.
When this duo gets going, as in midway through ‘Is That a Light’, I can almost see what they’re trying to achieve; with a virtual hypnosis present amongst an impossible wall of layered electronics. Then it all falls apart on the clattering mess of ‘Ashen Lines’ and tacky electronics of freeform ‘Steady Jolt’.
Regardless of the obvious talents that Infernal Machines may have; these are hidden amongst a wall of self-indulgent musical theatrics that are as unnecessary as they are ridiculous.
GRIMBERGEN: The Passing of Time CD Self released
I couldn’t have thought of a more fitting title myself. Grimbergen, one of the solo projects of Nathan Clemence has been on a self-enforced hiatus for nigh on seven years; after his initial second album, was rejected by the label that spawned his debut, ‘A lonely Place’.
This has actually worked out for the best. In this period, Clemence concentrated his creative output on the noise driven ‘Now Wash Your Hands’. In 2011 efforts were made to get this project back off the ground and the setback has ultimately led to a better album than its predecessor.
‘A Lonely Place’ was a more than competent and enjoyable release, but also one that had its flaws bedded in influences from a steadily stagnating scene, coupled with Nathan’s choice of hardware. Whilst formulating a sound all of his own, this did give a cod sci-fi feel to synth lines that just missed out on being as bombastic as they should have; leaving the project sat without a lift at a musical crossroads, genre wise (a very lonely place indeed).
‘The Passing of Time’ has a natural, organic maturity, which leads to it being a more comfortable listen; and conceptually has a sense of purpose. Genre wise, this still sits on the edges of what he was initially trying to emulate; but benefits from utilising its individuality, rather than faltering into the mire created by an oversaturation of Neo-Folk and Dark Ambient acts, that pathetically stagnate whilst leaning on their right hands.
The Neo-Classical/Dark Ambient scene has a niche following and one that a lot of people simply cannot abide. Grimbergen has here however, produced an album that should interest parties from both sides of the coin; retaining enough for stalwarts not to turn their noses up at, whilst having a form of crossover appeal for those tempted to dip their toes in the water.
XOTOX: Essentials 2xCD Pro-Noize/Dark Dimensions
Way back in 2003, Andreas Davids released debut album, ‘Lichtlos’ upon the world; then going on from strength to strength, culminating in some of his finest work to date in 2013 (“Schwanengesang’) and a vinyl remix album (Redux). It’s a testament to the commitment of Davids and his creativity that he has been so prolific and successful.
‘Essentials’ isn’t the first ‘best of’ that Xotox has released (the other being ‘Hyperactive’ for the US market on Vendetta music in 2008); but it does feel more complete. This is mainly down to a few more years of musical output, a new master wash over older tracks and this being 35 songs in length.
Over the course of this two-disc affair we have club friendly mainstays such as ‘Mechanische Unruhe’ and the floor slaying ‘Pumpe/Düse’ to contend with; as well as older demo’s and a few remixes, as well as some later tracks post 2008. T he mix of old, new and rare, ultimately works well as a whole and consummately does its job (that being a best of) and I highly recommend this to those new to the fold.
Andy seems to have no end in sight with this project and more power to him and his creativity; given the medium he is working with, it would have been no surprise if he did run out of ideas. However, he has carved himself a name that will always be held high within Industrial circles; and for that genre, the title of this compilation couldn’t be any more apt.
NORMAN WESTBERG: MRI CD ROOM40
Westberg may be better known for his work with the legendary SWANS; and for me it’s a treat to hear the solo output of this great guitarist (I haven’t up until now).
Norman recently underwent an MRI scan over loss of hearing loss in his right ear; and this album conceptually follows the experience through a series of rolling guitar pieces. The end result is wiry and engaging reverberated affair, with a sea of delay providing a wash of ambient resonance.
Musically speaking, the title track is a sparse echoing affair that is overshadowed by ‘410 Stairs’; capitalising on the experience by letting individual guitar plucks create a harmony that was lacking on its opening counterpart.
Whilst not being maybe the finest example of what can be done with guitar ambient (Fennesz, springs to mind), Westberg has delivered a solid piece of work that does its job well. ‘MRI’ creates a cold, almost mechanical interpretation of the genre; and for me just lacks some more essential key harmonies to engage me as a whole. This is worth getting hold of however, as the disengagement is most likely the whole point of this release given its subject matter.