LINGOUF: Terre de Pierres CD Ant-Zen
Vincent Lingouf has been providing a steady consistent plethora of sounds amongst his hefty release schedule over the last few years, building up quite the back catalogue. Whilst many see his works as eclectic at best, I have always relished his albums for their original concepts and peculiarities, making each new release differ dramatically from its predecessor.
On ‘Terre de Pierres’ I did actually turn up my nose at the press blog. The mere mention of field recordings makes my blood run cold and I usually find a lot of music created in this medium a ridiculous waste of time. Luckily for us, Lingouf has utilised the natural sound recordings well. If anything, Vincent has mastered the craft of taking each sound and folded it into the programming in a way I haven’t heard before and many of his peers when taking on such a genre should sit back and take note; ‘Varionuguicaa’ being a prime example of this.
All in all, this album is a relatively quiet affair from start to finish. Cleverly pieced together into Individual electronic montages of individuality, once again this will not be everyone’s cup of tea; such is its obscurity even for this project. I do however take my hat off to him for yet again approaching his art from an entirely different angle and still remaining as barking mad as ever, even if the end result doesn’t quite match the excellence of previous releases.
SONAR: Cut us up CD Ant-Zen
Relentless touring and ventures into other projects are the reason why we have not seen any new output from Belgium’s Sonar in six long years; once again there is little to disappoint their enduring fanbase with this latest instalment of rhythmic, technoid hypnosis.
The driving force behind Ivens and Van Wonterghem’s success has bizarrely come from providing an unrelenting monotony. This may not make sense to those that haven’t heard the project, but believe me when I say this is the essential ingredient to most of their works. Distorted industrial beat is the main body to this output with subtle changes that filter through as a backdrop, moving the goalposts ever so evidently with slight of hand; most will not hear the evolution until the tracks are over and the magic is that you will have been transfixed the whole time. The upshot of this is that this is perfect headphone music for those that travel long arduous journey’s each day and just wish to shut off the outside world; ‘Cut us up’ is aural meditation media in some respects.
The only quibble I have with Sonar is that you can barely find anything that differs sound wise amongst their discography; they have got a formula and just stuck with it. As such there isn’t much to say about their output track by track, apart from you will know what to expect.
More power to them though for standing by their guns and just letting any other ideas display themselves within other projects; as such, Sonar has a purity all of its own.
PHILIPP MÜNCH: Mondo Obscura CD Ant-Zen
Here we have Philipp’s second solo output, following on from 2011’s ‘Into the Absurd’, which experimented with a variety of influences; ‘Mondo Obscura’ is no exception.
Along the way we have obscure electronic experimentation that brings together a whole host of styles, such as Industrial distorted beat, pop and cinematic ambient textures, not to mention generous intriguing ventures with vocals provided by friends and colleagues as well as his own. ‘Structure’ is the first example of this, with Kyoung-Hi Ro blissfully singing her heart out over the top of cleverly constructed rhythms and subtle unobtrusive pop music.
‘Raise the Pressure’ reminds me somewhat of early eighties electro, with some older Skinny Puppy traits, circa ‘Assimilate’ and an overall feel of Absolute Body Control musically; a nostalgic trip through analogue synth grade alternative music and thoroughly enjoyable to boot.
‘Way of Anger’ hits hard on old school Industrial, whilst ‘Sub Divider’ could have been played live on the old UK TV show ‘The Tube’, such is its association musically with ‘Blancmange’, which is the closest sound I can link it with. It’s this broad representation of styles that makes ‘Mondo Obscura’ such a pleasure to listen to as a whole, comprehensively outshining his debut solo output in one fell swoop.
A minimalistic album riddled with hooks for any discerning electro fan, regardless of which genre umbrella you stand under.
AXIOME: Ten Hymns for Sorbetière CD Ant-Zen
Subtitled with ‘or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Freezer’ (if you want it all in full), is the return of this project by C-Drik Fermont and Oliver Moreau (Imminent) after seven long years of silence without any new output.
Complex and eclectic electronics are the main body of this latest album; beats frequently fall over themselves and slide back into one another throughout this love affair with complex IDM and rhythmic structures.
More often than not, the ten tracks on this release burst into life in a nonsensical fashion; somehow though these formulate into a cohesive story along the way, producing an intricate and engaging picture, with pleasing electronic harmonies to gel the almost freeform eccentricities that could otherwise disengage the listener.
The real beauty with ‘Ten Hymns…’ is that with so many complex electronics going to war with one another it would fall apart if Axiome had tried anything slower. Common sense has won out with the composition keeping a frenetic pace from start to finish and there is no spare quarter given; even the mid paced numbers are rarely given time to relax, massaged with a subtle psychosis across their proverbial aural temples.
Definitely one for those with a penchant towards the experimental of Fermont, but with more than enough for lovers of Moreau’s alter-ego to latch onto as well; an engaging and interesting affair throughout for lovers of all modern electronica, that really comes into its own towards the end of the latter half of the album.
SABES: Diesel Charm CD Ant-Zen
Sebastian Mich found his feet as an acid/hard techno DJ and via the route of studying music technology he has ended up with this project, Sabes (you can work the title out if you think about it).
It’s fairly obvious from the initial icy streams of ‘Oil Tank’ crunching into squelching power noise at mid point, just where this album is heading in a lot of respects; however there is more to this release than sheer brutality alone.
‘Evolution’ is where everything really starts to come to life; swirling electronics and hypnotic beats are complimented with cavernous pads that raise the bar on an almost epic scale. There is more than a nod to the club scene on ‘Diesel Charm’, with ‘Melophobia’ being a prime example of this; punishing, brutal rhythms fall over themselves in abundance and it’s at this point Mich’s humble beginnings make themselves all too aware for the remainder of the album.
Let’s get something straight, this is an Ant-Zen release of old sound-wise and yes it has been done before; it’s been a while since I really launched something of this nature out of my speakers though and whilst this slots cosily between Asche and Winterkälte, therefore lacking a lot on the originality scale, there is something marginally heart-warming about the nod to those respective artists and the genre which this album resides in.
EXOCET: Consequence CD Ant-Zen
Album number three and two years on from the stable ‘Grotesque Consumer’ sees this project immediately begin where he last left proceedings with hypnotic beats and sonic blips and rhythms.
Now, it’s not a love and hate relationship that I have with this project, it’s more of a polite ‘nod and shrug’ which I should really explain. Technically this ticks a lot of boxes, sporadic rhythm sections, ambient atmospherics and the odd spurt of noisy distorted beat and on paper then this should be a an album that I truly relish.
Unfortunately I find myself drifting off when listening to Exocet. I can, more often that not find myself getting sucked in by purveyors of purposeful monotony (Sonar being a prime example) and in a lot of those cases it’s a necessary evil such is the nature of the genre, in fact that is generally the idea with a lot of acts of this ilk. The danger of traveling down this path is that whilst bands such as Sonar tick box ‘A’ and I regularly end up finding myself happily zoned out at one of their live shows, Exocet tick box ‘B’ which is marked up as ‘fails to grasp my attention’.
As stated before there is technically nothing wrong with this band or indeed their albums and I am sure there are a lot of listeners out there who absolutely love them and indeed I am not knocking them for what they do. I just expected something different from album one to three and it’s obviously a formula that many listeners want and expect and do not want any variations on a theme. I just personally struggle to raise any emotion towards ‘Consequence’ and even struggle to explain any of those feelings that could be deemed as negative. Competent, but not for me.
NÄO: s/t CD Ant-Zen
Now this is a nice surprise; opening with gentle harmonious electronics, live drums, guitars and an overtly industrial rock slant, this for Ant-Zen is somewhat different to any of the other releases produced by the label and sits firmly in alternative territory accessible to a broader audience.
More often than not post-rock influences arise amongst the rhythm sections and genres are merged as sometimes, subtle IDM isms are dropped into the fray letting this self-titled release truly breathe with a bold courageousness not afraid to show experimentation and a willingness not top be pigeon holed into any category whatsoever.
If truth be told this should be an easy album to review, but there are so many influences floating around this release its hard to pin this group down; I hear NIN, I hear Godspeed you Black Emperor, I hear tunes that wouldn’t be out of place on a shelf sat next to any number of obscure electronic artists, and you know what, I think that’s where the magic lies in this release. It’s like a breath of fresh air to what usually arrives through my letter box.
There isn’t really anything I could state that is negative about this album. I really do believe though that this artist would benefit with vocals scattered in amongst some tracks and sometimes the songs do feel a little sparse without them; however, this is a minor gripe of mine and nothing that should deter you from picking this album up if you want to try something a little different from start to finish. An impressive listen, an artist I shall be watching with great interest in the future and one that I truly believe could be special live on stage.