ALVA NOTO: Xerrox Vol. 3. 2xLP/CD Raster Notion

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ALVA NOTO: Xerrox Vol. 3.   2xLP/CD Raster Notion

Having not herd the previous volumes that accompany this album, did hinder me somewhat when approaching this work. However, any album should stand out on its own merits and it has been a long five-year gap between ‘Vol. 2’ and this one.

Inspired by childhood memories of films from the 1970’s including Tarkovsky’s adaptation of ‘Solaris’, there is a personal presence to this release that sometimes can be hard for others without similar experiences to latch onto. Musically then, is where this album is going to have to (and always should) do its talking.

Seamlessly flowing into track two, ‘Atmosphere’ glides into the sonic wall of drifting operatic pads that is ‘Helm Transphaser’. With a heavy leaning on Sci-Fi this plays out well, giving rise to a well of emotions and bass rich underlay that grabs the attention and takes the listener on an immersive journey.

‘2ndevol’ in contrast places subtle harmonics amongst a garden of glistening ambient textures that play into the hands of much of the Japanese market, that I have encountered within this genre; and folds into the utterly beautiful ‘Radieuse’ that captures some of the best moments of Fennesz, with wonderful rich tones and folding glorious atmospherics.

From the majesty of ‘Isola’, to the sombre ‘Mesosphere’ and the faded piano of ‘Spiegel; ‘Xerrox Vol. 3’ is a massive display of talent and spatial awareness of sound, that immediately had me hunting down its counterparts; An immense and impressive album from start to finish.

9.5/10

DASHA RUSH: Sleepstep CD Raster Notion

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DASHA RUSH: Sleepstep CD Raster Notion

Subtitled ‘Sonar Poems For my Sleepless Friends’, it’s not going to take a genius to work out the pace of Rush’s latest release and the concept with which she has chosen.

Cultivating a dream like atmosphere is where Dasha excels. The obscure background of swirling electronics on ‘Dance with Edgar Poe’ provide a bed for off kilter piano and her evocative vocals; whilst ‘Whispers and Albert’ drifts with a cold ambient breath.

Low-key electronica is the staple of ‘Sleepstep’; and whilst not being anything of technical brilliance, allows for Rush to speak with a subtlety and suave sultriness that overrides the need for anything on the high end of geekdom in the production stakes. When she avoids anything with rhythm, her ambient leanings provide something much more concise and engaging.

For me, where Dasha falls short is in the general construction of the songs on offer. Being of moderate length for the most part, there is something that feels ultimately unfinished with them; and most tracks stop abruptly as opposed to evolving into their true potential. The same can be said for song placement.

Overall, I can see the potential with what has been attempted and more emphasis should have been directed in the vocal area, where Rush provides an oily presence to her words, that seductively ooze attention.

7.5/10

FRANK BRETSCHNEIDER: Sinn + Form CD Raster Notion

frankbetsch

FRANK BRETSCHNEIDER: Sinn + Form CD Raster Notion

After the last release I heard from Bretschneider, ‘Super Trigger’, I expected great things from this latest album. There was previously a heavy leaning to the works of Funckarma that I appreciated greatly and a greater pressure to follow this up with something of equal competency.

‘Pattern Recognition’ as an opener, doesn’t tick any boxes for me, with a mash up of electronic nonsense that irritates as opposed to engaging the listener; as does ‘Crisis?, What Crisis?’. Given that these two tracks total a mass of 15 minutes, it’s a lot to endure.

Tragically, as I endured my way through the tracks (skipping most of them half way) it’s evident that Bretschneider has found a route up his own back side and produced a nonsensical album of electronic drivel, with a sea of pointless bleeps and perpetually annoying guff. There are artists out there that deserve the platform that Frank has robbed them of; and had this been submitted to myself for a prospective release, I wouldn’t have even taken the time to get back in touch.

3/10

GOMILLA PARK: Ununoctium 12” EP Raster Notion

gomillapark

GOMILLA PARK: Ununoctium 12” EP Raster Notion

In the age of heresy that is digital downloads, it’s brilliant to see a label knocking out 12” EP’s and also physical releases of great quality (for the most part). I will hold my hand up high and express now that I haven’t heard of Gomilla Park before, but will be hunting down previous works with immediate effect.

Opening up this brief but effective extended player, is the rip-roaring ‘Leibniz’ with it’s punishing overdriven bass line; with a pounding monotone rhythm section that punches holes in the air for a slicing ambient pad to tear a visceral scar upon the listener.

Up next is the unsettling ‘Ramon Llull’, with the odd flutter of demonic mutterings threatening to rage through a soundtrack of ominous electronic simplicity that lends to the sparse ambient leanings of closer, ‘Calculus’ well.

The beauty of this release is that it shows Gomilla Park’s varying degrees of musicianship to great effect. Capitalising on a knowledge of old school Industrial and modern electronica is surely a gateway to better things; and I hope that my excursion into all things by this duo matches up to what this EP has presented.

9/10

KANGDING RAY: Solens Arc CD Raster Notion

kangdingray

KANGDING RAY: Solens Arc CD Raster Notion

A thumping Industrial stomp sets the tone for Kangding Ray’s fourth album release on the excellent Raster Notion label. An ominous, dark and brooding tone that hints at greater things to come; ‘Serendipity March’ leads into the subterranean techno of ‘Evento’ via the way of interim, ‘The River’. Think of a pitch-black, covered in charcoal version of Faithless and you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

The atmosphere on ’Solens Arc’ further paddles its way amongst murky territories on ‘Blank Empire’, with a grinding bass line accompanied by a thumping beat and tribal tympani, whilst sampled breaths of air are exhaled through the darkness.

This latest album does somewhat gel together as one long solid set, if allowed. With the occasional interlude in the form of the futuristic electronica (‘History of Obscurity’) and the droning feedback foundations of ‘Crystal’, where cold, blank keyboard work hovers above the fray in desolate fashion, only to drop into an array of ambience and Industrial flabby beats.

Overall, Kangding Ray has produced an album of quality musicianship based on sparing minimalism, giving each element space to breathe; and provides the listener with one of Raster Notions finer moments in their immense catalogue.

9/10

ATOM TM: Ich Bin Meine Maschine-Remixed 12”EP Raster Notion

AtomMaschineRemixed

ATOM TM: Ich Bin Meine Maschine-Remixed 12”EP Raster Notion

Doing exactly what it states on the tin, comprising of four tracks this 12” EP leaves the original version of the title track right until the end, which is peculiar in itself.

Obscure, minimal Techno isn’t anything new, but sounds all the more clinical and effective, accompanied by emotionless German vocals. Here, Atom TM does effectively break down the track, with three other versions that are merely variants on a theme; whether that is the stripped and de-reverberated ‘Boys Noise Remix’, or with additional beat-play in the form of the ‘Linear Remix’. The ‘Function Remix’ feels ever so slightly dubbed up and suffers from being the weakest of the versions but copes well enough.

Effectively, unless you are a DJ or a die-hard collector there would be little on this release to go spend your hard earned cash on. There isn’t that much that can be said that’s negative about this EP, but then there isn’t much to rave (pardon the pun) on about either and would have benefitted from having at least, a different track to work with so that boredom (which inevitably sets in) is kept to a minimum.

7/10

EMPTYSET: Recur CD/LP Raster Notion

emptyset

EMPTYSET: Recur  CD/LP Raster Notion

Bristol based Emptyset follow up their ‘Collapsed’ EP with nine tracks of noise infused ambience on the experimental and underrated Raster Notion label.

Teetering on the edges of power electronics there isn’t a lot on this album that I haven’t encountered before (or actually own).  Usually this kind of work appears on labels that release pure industrial; I wouldn’t be surprised however if neither Emptyset nor Raster Notion is oblivious to the scene they are mirroring with this album.

For the most part there is little to separate the tracks, with most of them following a similar format of bass rumbles and mechanical percussion over layering dark ambience.  Construction of the tracks has been adequately produced and therefore ultimately sounds more professional than the nonsensical clattering that is evident on many a release by the under policed PE scene, where literally anything and everything is released no matter how accomplished or terrible; of course I would expect nothing but quality from the label that Emptyset have found their home with.

Overall though, ‘Recur’ is a decent solid display from start to finish, but just lacks that spark of originality to set it above many of those that have come before.

7/10

RYOJI IKEDA: Supercodex CD Raster Notion

ryojiikeda

RYOJI IKEDA: Supercodex  CD Raster Notion

I thoroughly appreciate concept albums, whether that is because they sound great or constructed well, or even if they’re just plain bad but the idea holds weight; Ikeda falls into the latter collective.

What we have are 20 tracks of data patterns, blips and beats that if were melded into actual songs would most likely sound like some of the most amazing mash up of Rhythmic Noise/IDM/Electronica/Industrial you could get your hands on.  Ikeda though, doesn’t care for this however and neither does his label apparently.

I could witter on all day about superposition, installations and meta-constructed quantum information just like his press release; and whilst I appreciate the fact he really thought about all this whilst (I use the term loosely) ‘composing’ this album, it doesn’t detract from the fact that in reality it’s complete bollocks.

4/10

SENKING: Capsize Recovery CD Raster Notion

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SENKING: Capsize Recovery  CD Raster Notion

On the whole I am really impressed by a lot of the releases on Raster Notion.  For me they are an alternative listening post for a lot of underground electronics and artists that I have previously not heard of.

‘Capsize Recovery’, introduces me to the world of Senking and his electronically dark soundtrack vision of the world.  On the whole, there’s a lot to like with a few drawbacks.  Concentrating mainly on the squelching sub-bass and low-end trance synth patterns, that give the occasional nod to dub-step, it plods along at a steadily pleasant pace; but where ‘Capsize Recovery’ falls short is with the rhythm sections that feel as though they have been programmed in as an afterthought, with little power or presence.

The other downside to this album is that there is little similarity between the songs.  Exploration into other sounds, other than the bass lines has been all but omitted, with the outcome feeling somewhat empty, with little to latch onto past the halfway point.  The upshot then is an album that could have offered so much more than what has been produced; focussing more of his efforts on creating more songs like the engaging ‘Tiefenstop’ would have been a start (and one which I would suggest you start with too should you give this a listen).

 7/10

FRANK BRETSCHENEIDER: Super.Trigger CD Raster Notion

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FRANK BRETSCHENEIDER: Super.Trigger  CD Raster Notion

After numerous successful underground releases, Frank Bretschneider returns with his latest collection of percussive frequency rhythms in the form of ‘Super.Trigger’.

‘Big.Hopes’ opens up in a tribal infused vein, with electronics sub-texts fluttering beneath the surface.  Altogether more complete however, is the glitch infused ‘Flicker.Funk’ with minimalist electronic stabs cutting ever so slightly into the hypnotic patterns that seamlessly fold over each other; altogether clinical, but engaging in it’s simplicity.

As things step up the pace somewhat, Bretschneider reminds me somewhat of the early works of Funckarma with this latest output, capitalising on the glory days of older IDM before every man and his dog sat down in front of a laptop professing to be the second coming of Aphex Twin.

‘Super.Trigger’, does follow a linear route throughout its 9 tracks with only subtle differences between each song as to separate them from one another.  With the focus squarely placed on beats there are just minor interruptions obscurely placed within each song to assist them in standing out in their own right.  The end result is a strong album that whilst avoiding anything too emotional, is engaging and involving from start to finish.

8.5/10