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Topics - drone on

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81
Released this year on promising Swedish label Gterma, "Lament" is a follow-up of sorts (recorded 2010) to the 2007 Ramp CD album "Ceasing to Exist," where these two veteran electronic composers from Germany joined forces to create voluminous clouds of quite dark guitar and drone textures, far away from Stephen Parsick's previous Ramp efforts which focused on heavy Berlin School sequencing.  Instrumentation here is Markus on strings and loop devices, and Stephen on oscillators and loop devices.  Opening track "Weightless Particles" reaches stratospheric, heavenly heights with a floating soundscape and infinitely sustained guitar notes that bring to mind the great Michael Brook.  Nice!  "Hoarfrost" employs some Robert Fripp-like spookiness atop murky grey drones, similar in feel to Fripp/Eno's "Equatorial Stars" release.  This track didn't really work for me, unfortunately.  Title piece "Lament" fuses some excellent guitar textures from Markus with a gurgling electronic pulse.  Next up is the mammoth 24-minute "And All Which is Not," a deep dive into the abyss, rife with swirling electronics and really creepy guitar explorations.  Oppressive and definitely not for the faint of heart, this one would be good for a horror film, but too scary for home listening!  The brief "Lurk" continues in this vein, this time adding some heavily echoed Robert Rich-style metallic percussion sounds.  "Below Ice" had me so scared I had to turn on the lights and grab my teddy bear!  This one sounds like the tripods emerging from the ground in "War of the Worlds."  Final piece "Reign of Dust" is by far the best thing on "Lament," featuring the stratospheric vibe of the album opener and gorgeous hymn-like Frippian guitars.  A truly superb track that I wish had been longer.  All in all, this is a very experimental album that I think is too heavy on the dark ambient side, although fans of Robert Fripp's more atonal and challenging soundscapes might be right at home with the bulk of this material. 

82
Other Ambient (and related) Music / New Killing Joke
« on: October 26, 2012, 10:25:01 AM »
New album "MMXII" (2012), just got it yesterday.  New KJ albums are always a major event for me.  After first listen have to say I was really disappointed.  But I am listening at work repeatedly and I can see it growing on me.  It is more prog sounding than their last few, w/more keyboards and programming.  Many of the songs on first listen sound like Jaz just wants to prove he can still yell like a motherfckr, or the band wants to prove they can make a shitload of noise for old buggers.  Looks like he certainly did his homework on the conspiracy theories revolving around 2012.  Check out these song titles: Pole Shift, FEMA Camp, Rapture, Corporate Elect, Glitch (which is about a sun even knocking out all the electronics on Earth)...I have to say I like it, being a conspiracy theory nut myself.  They even give you Internet links for various topics on the lyrics booklet.  It sounds like they purposely went for a big apocalyptic sound here.  They succeeded in a way, but I think the production hinders reaching that goal in a pure way. 

The production (again on first listen) is horrid.  Somebody pro-tooled Geordie right to the bottom of the mix.  Somebody also pro-tooled drummer Big Paul Ferguson (one of the hardest hitting, thunderous drummers in rock) to make his kit sound wimpy and muffled.  It kind of has the effect of wrapping a 250 pound wrestler in cellophane and the result of him trying to punch his way out of it.  It sounds like they pro-tooled each individual instrument and it just sounds so NOT natural.  Have you heard "Duende: The Spanish Sessions"? Now THAT'S how to record KJ.  Just put them in a room, plug in and record.  Much more effective.  Bottom line: this album is so over-produced it makes Justin Bieber sound analog. 

The single, "In Cythera," I liked immediately.  Melodic, quite powerful song.  There are a few songs where the band rips off its own riffs from earlier material.  Have to give it some more listens to identify those songs, but yeah, it's funny how they sued Nirvana over "Come as You Are/Eighties" but they ripped themselves off here.  Maybe they should sue themselves.  Ha!

I know there are some Joke fans here so let's hear your thoughts!!!...

83
Everything and Nothing / Circumventing Discogs
« on: October 24, 2012, 07:25:01 PM »
I've noticed a trend recently where Discogs sellers are advertising their items on the site but completing transactions off site to avoid seller fees.  Seems like a big risk to take (getting kicked off the site) just to save a few bucks.  Plus the lost revenue will probably result in bigger fees later for those following the rules.  Any opinions?

84
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Any Hakobune enthusiasts?
« on: October 17, 2012, 12:51:53 AM »
I only have two discs by this Japan droner, Adrift and Away from the Lunar Waters.  What is his best stuff?  Looking to expand my collection...

85
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Mystery School on Weird Amplexus
« on: October 16, 2012, 05:39:12 PM »
Does anyone have the two Mystery School releases on Weird Amplexus?  I can't find any reviews or clips.  They came out 2004.  Any description/comparisons would be greatly appreciated.

86
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Oophoi 2012 remasters Databloem
« on: October 07, 2012, 03:21:58 PM »
I'm confused by the "remaster" tag on the new Practising Nature Oophoi CDR reissues.  Some of them I thought had already been remastered.  For example, "Mare Vaporum"--I have the CD edition called "Meditation" (on label Applaus) in which tapes were remastered by Karel Kourek around 2003-2004 (who remastered the other "Mare" discs which came out on CD on Nextera), but I notice there is a "2010 remaster" CDR of Mare Vaporum.  In 2006, Umbra reissued "Celestial Geometries" as a remaster of the original album plus included an extra disc of unreleased pieces.  Now there's a 2012 edition (two separate CDR's) of this set.  Are they really remastered again, or is this just simply a reissue of the 2006 edition??? 

Can anyone comment on if it is worth replacing my Umbra discs.  Is the sound quality significantly better?

Thanks!

87
Everything and Nothing / Director Tony Scott Suicide
« on: October 07, 2012, 12:39:06 AM »
Ridleys bro jumped off a bridge in August.  Bizarre story.  Anyone been following this?

88
I just received this Erik Wollo 3-disc reissue (Traces, Images of Light, Solstice) and while the music is great, I really think this set was WAY overpriced (by at least $10) at $40.00, for what you're getting: three cardboard wallet sleeves, no booklets.  I knew this would be something I'd regret not buying, yet around $30 would have been much more reasonable.   8) 

89
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Vidna Obmana Still Fragments question
« on: October 04, 2012, 03:05:17 PM »
Does anyone know if the live in Hamburg material on "Still Fragments" was also on the Hypnos 2-disc "Soundtrack for the Aquarium"?  I think I had Still Fragments at one time back around '94 but don't remember it.  There are a couple copies up for sale on e(vil)Bay.   8)

90
"Gramophone Transmissions" is Canadian electronic musician Blake Gibson's second album, which was self-released in 2011.  Pity that, because I would have loved to put this fascinating gem on my "Best of 2012" list.

The presentation/packaging on this release is quite stunning, with artwork and layout by Michal Karcz (who has done work recently for Steve Roach).  I was also intrigued by the thanks given to "Kubrick, Debussy, Bass Communion, VidnaObmana" for inspiration, which made me salivate to the sonic treasures I might find within.  I was not disappointed, and the influence of these artists of the surreal becomes readily apparent.   

This album was produced with source material exclusively from processed samples/loops derived from classical vinyl records and choral, mellotron and piano recordings.  This is not a new concept-- like minded artists like Janek Shaefer and Steven Wilson have forayed into this territory before (see Bass Communion's "Ghosts on Magnetic Tape").  But Gibson does it with panache and subtle intensity, where things never sound stiff, cold, or too experimental.  There is a sonic warmth to the proceedings.   

I would categorize this release as space music, as it presents almost an alternative soundtrack to Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey;" there are plenty of mental images derived from these soundscapes of Dave Bowman floating in the blackness, psychedelically-colored planetary landscapes, and the like.  But I also noticed and appreciated that the album would work equally well as the soundtrack to an American southwest desert, a la Roach. 

Opener "Drift" is a light and airy piece with piano and classical strings, albeit with a droning quality, and is quite hopeful sounding.  By the visceral "Dark Clouds Approaching from the West" and mammoth "Maelstrom (The Descent)", in contrast, the album moves into gleefully eerie and surreal spaces.  I've seen this album tagged with the "dark ambient" banner in some other reviews and, to be honest, even at it's most chilling and darkest, I don't think this is an entirely accurate or fair label to put on this music.  Album closer "Unforeseen Consequences" reminds me of the Steve Roach classic "Artifacts" and is a beautiful drifting piece and perfect way to end this excellent album. 

So, one of the best albums of 2011 (that I didn't hear until 2012)! 

P.S. headphones listening HIGHLY recommended to bring out the subtle nuances of this work.   

91
I bought a used cd (silver, pressed, etc) and while attempting to remove some fingerprints on the label side with a sponge and water, the outer layer started peeling/sloughing off.  This cd was made in the in the late 80s in the UK.  After peeling in spots there's a different shade of silver below.  Will this disc be unplayable at some point?  I've read that label side damage can affect the laser reading the data.  The disc plays with no errors so far.

92
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Albums that should be reissued
« on: September 02, 2012, 11:27:07 PM »
What are your most wanted reissues (that never came out on cd or sold out so quickly you missed it)?

Mine:

Abecedarians--80s band from l.a. area who did gloomy ambient rock, on the famous Factory label.  Caroline put out a comp cd in late 80s that goes for outrageous prices.  A double or even multiple disc set would be a dream come true.

Red Temple Spirits--another overlooked band, similar to above.

Shriekback--Jam Science.  Never released on cd.  A crime.

Swans--the early to mid 90s stuff on Young God. 

Yagya--Rhythm of Snow.  I'm still pissed this cd is unavailable, dammit!

Tangerine Dream--Legend soundtrack.

93
Everything and Nothing / Elizabeth Fraser playing Cocteau Twins songs
« on: August 21, 2012, 10:47:25 AM »
There are some videos on YouTube of ex-Coteau Twin Liz Fraser playing some recent live gigs and doing a bunch of Twins' songs, supposedly in support of some new solo project.  I watched a brief clip and I have to say it was awful to say the least. 

As much as I love Liz' voice and CT, she has a lot of nerve playing these songs.  She was the reason CT disbanded in the first place.  After she left she slagged them off like she didn't want to be associated with the name ever again.  CT were offered an astronomical amount of money to briefly reform for a show at Coachella and Liz refused to participate, disappointing her ex-bandmates Robin Guthrie (well, her ex-husband as well) and Simon Raymonde, who were more than willing to do it, and the fans.  She's a strange bird with issues, that's all i can say about her personally.  At least the other two are normal.   

The cynic in me is saying the money's running out and she needs to make an album now and sell something, and what better way to make a buck than start doing your old songs (that's another issue: the other two wrote the music!).  I don't have much respect for this at all.  Robin Guthrie is a real artist and never went out on the road and rehashed CT songs.  When her solo album fails miserably she'll probably be begging the others to reform.  If I were them I'd say kiss my ass, you had your chance.

Straight up, peace out (from a hardcore CT fan, from the heart)     8)   

94
Everything and Nothing / Kate Bush is cool
« on: August 16, 2012, 09:32:34 PM »
I always liked Kate Bush.  Thanks to YouTube I've been watching a lot of interviews and documentaries from the late 70s, early 80s.  What a lovely woman and fascinating person.  A true musical genius! 

95
It's been 16 years since a new recording from Dead Can Dance.  I can remember waiting in line at midnight at Tower Records for their last three releases (1996's Spiritchaser, the live album "Toward the Within", and 1993's "Into the Labyrinth).  So of course I had to get this one on the day of release (8/14/2012)!!!

The album is self-released by Dead Dan Dance but they got a distribution deal with PIAS (Play It Again Sam) so it is widely available.  I believe you can get it for $9.99 right now at Amazon.  The CD is released in a digipak with booklet containing lyrics and great cover imagery of some withered sunflower looking things.  The title "Anastasis" is Greek for "rebirth" (appropriate); in fact a few of the track titles are Greek (e.g. Agape, meaning Love). 

Of course the music industry is still (wrongly) categorizing DCD as "world" and "new age."  Ha!  True fans know they started out as a goth band on 4AD and incorporated ancient sounds and instruments into their music.  Unfortunately, I think with the more mass exposure to their music, DCD's music started to focus too much on this "world" element; almost everything was tribal sounding, and the guitars and orchestral arrangements got pushed back into the shadows. 

To me, "Anastasis" is a return to form to their rock and classical roots explored on albums like "Spleen and Ideal" and "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun."   

(PART Two of my review coming, to be continued--this is being written at work, and I gotta go!)  ;)

96
Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Speaker connection
« on: August 15, 2012, 10:16:53 AM »
I'm not a musician but I do have an equipment problem!

I have a pair of Tannoy Fusion 4 speakers.  The terminals on back of speakers are the "binding post" variety where you turn a screw to hold the speaker wires to make contact with the terminals.  In this case, my speaker wires are Monster Cable with the metal "pins" instead of bare speaker wire. 

It's a royal pain when you have to move the speakers or clean the back of them periodically and re-connect the speakers, because the cables/wires don't hold very firmly in the terminals and come loose very easily.  And of course if you got loose/bad connections you got bad sound from your stereo. 

Any tips to rectify this problem? Thanks!

97
It's hard to believe it's been 5 years since Numina's (Jesse Sola) last Hypnos release, "Shift to the Ghost"!   Previous to that, Hypnos released two other Numina titles, "Eye of the Nautilus," and his Hypnos debut "Sanctuary of Dreams" (a phenomenal, landmark release in the Hypnos catalog).  For me, SOD will always be hard to top.  The press release for the cryptically titled "The Deception of Reality" opines that this is the best Numina release to date.  I don't agree, but the album is nevertheless another example of Numina's excellence in the space music field. 

Effective album opener "The Illusion Transmission," clocking at 17 minutes, is like a cavern opening in the ether, with dark and ominous waves of spiralling synths setting the scene for this drift-fest (the album is predominantly percussionless).  Reminded me a lot of Roach/Obmana's "Well of Souls" opening track, minus the percussion.  Towards the end of the piece, the synths turn symphonic, with a yearning, melancholy quality that is very beautiful.  I wish this symphonic aspect had gone on longer than it did and been explored more in the second track. 

This is followed by another 17-minute track, the dreamy "Our Elegant Experience," which continues the move away from the dark opening of the album into a more serene and peaceful space.  Next up, the excellently titled "In Cerulean Haze," harkens back to the underwater explorations of the "Eye of the Nautilus" album.  A very pleasant track, although perhaps drifting a bit without direction for its duration, unsure of where to go. 

The fourth track, "Empire of Nothing", at nearly 20 minutes, has two distinct "halves", the first part twinkling and drifting pleasantly enough like the previous two pieces.  Slowly, a theme starts to emerge halfway through, and we are treated to the most haunting, visceral passage of music Numina has produced to date.  This is the kind of electronic music that gives you goosebumps and makes you want to crank up the volume and just disappear in the sounds.  A truly stunning track!!!

The final piece, "Translunary Return," is a fine closer, and probably the second best piece of music on the album, although somewhat anti-climactic after "Empire of Nothing."  It's hard to follow pure perction. 

I thought overall this album was very good and Numina fans will not be disappointed.  I think some of the pieces could have been a bit more dynamic/dramatic.  When you hear a track like "Empire of Nothing" it shows you what great heights this artist is capable of achieving, and I think some the greatest heights are still yet to come. 

98
Other Ambient (and related) Music / OMG --Edgar Froese!
« on: August 02, 2012, 12:54:17 PM »
Have you seen Edgar Froese lately? 68 years old.  He looks about 95.  There's a funny interview (2012) on youtube with him, the interviewer is a little girl about 12 years old!

99
Ishvara is a UK duo consisting of Matt Hillier (Ishq) and his significant other Jacqueline Kersley (they also work together as the duo Elve).  "Under a Hexagon Sky," released 2012 on their Virtual label, is a limited edition (300 CD's only) follow-up to their 2005 Virtual release "Magik Square of the Sun."  The project is supposed to be the more upbeat and electronica based work of Ishq and was originally started as a dance music project, according to the description on Discogs.  However, "Magik Square of the Sun" was hardly upbeat dance music, but instead the kind of of extreme chill-out one would hear on the most atmospheric Fax releases, with minimal beats interspersed between the floating waves of sound.  "Under a Hexagon Sky" is even quieter and more floaty, without a beat to be found.  This is ambient at its most extreme.   

On pieces like the beautiful title track, the duo piles on layers of pillowy, narcotizing electronic washes and nature sounds for an incredibly chilled experience, adding tasteful vocal samples (in this case I believe it's from the 70's TV show "Space 1999").  There is a hushed ambience to the album that puts the listener in a dreamy, otherworldly state.  "Springtime on Sirius" is another favorite track, playing out like a zen meditation in a peaceful garden in a galaxy far, far away.   

"Under a Hexagon Sky" is simply another excellent Virtual release, not bringing anything new to the table but keeping the ambientheads well-fed with its feast of sonic nourishment.   

100
"Flowering Mountain Earth" is the latest CD from Ishq (aka Matt Hillier), released on his Virtual label out the UK.  Limited to just 200 copies, this is a pressed CD in a very attractive digipak with artwork complementing the album's theme of some earthy mountainous paradise (Bali comes to mind) inhabited by indigenous tribes.  Hillier's done other music like this (most notably his Elve project) but this is perhaps his most "active" sounding tribal ambient to date. 

The album opens with the 22-minute epic "Mountain."  If I had listened to this without knowing who it was, I would have guessed Mathias Grassow straight away, without question.  It is a dead-ringer for Grassow's work.  This cinematic piece sets the stage with rain, bird, and animal sounds and slowly brings in a heavenly drone which increases in volume and intensity, as if the listener is slowly waking up from a dream and finding himself in a rainforest paradise.  Towards the end of the track we hear zither sounds, again very Grassow-like. 

Next piece "Jatoba" reminds me of Bill Laswell's "Possession: African Dub" project with Foday Musa Susso, where it sounds like the rains have ceased and the drones are now replaced with hypnotic, gentle African percussion, as birdsong echoes gently in the background.  "Rainmaking" brings in samples of native chanting, drums, flutes, and subtle electronic effects.  This is nothing groundbreaking but it is nevertheless so well done and effective.  "Myst" brings the electronics back to the fore with sweeping blankets of ethereal floating sounds, as if the listener is surveying a mountain from above.  Album closer "Cloud Forest" combines echoing birdsong, a calming stream, native cries, and more floating electronics for a perfect ending to this journey, reminding me a bit of David Parsons' "Yatra" album. 

Nothing groundbreaking about this CD (some might even call it "new age"), but it is done extremely effectively and is a journey well worth taking!! 


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