Author Topic: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere  (Read 6612 times)

Joe LP

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REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« on: October 23, 2011, 03:05:23 AM »
If you were to be  exiled to a desert island and, as an Austere fan, were allowed to bring with you only one work by the ambient master duo, you could hardly do better than choose "The Sound of Silence I" box set.

Commemorating the group's 10th anniversary in 2008, TSOS1 is designed as a standalone "music kit" showcasing the astonishing breadth, vitality, and  creativity of Austere's ouevre in their first decade of existence. The box set is subtitled "An Unnatural History of Rare and Orphaned Tracks"; still, it contains more than three hours of aural inventions that strongly evoke the spirit of the group's more well known released work--from their inimitable etheric floating atmospheres to "psybient" to dark esoteric  drones and ambient rock.

The box set is both sonic euphoria and beautiful, nostalgic, design. It consists mainly of  a 500 Mb San Disk (flash memory card) containing the rare/orphaned tracks in 320 Kbps mp3 format, an mp3 player and usb cable, a 3" and a standard cd rom disk (for the mp3 player drivers) featuring Zen-inspired artwork, a copy of the Austere manifesto and proof of authenticity, and a mysterious set of randomly-selected photos of the band members. As a work of art, this assemblage works wonderfully well--if you've seen Joseph Cornell's surrealist boxes in an art museum, you'll get an idea of TSOS1's effect on your Uncollective Unconscious. (And if TSOS1 one day gains a spot in some museum of contemporary art, I will not be surprised.)
 
Although the included mp3 player is serviceable, you will certainly want high-quality equipment to do the musick some justice.  I recommend transferring the tracks to a hi-fi device and listening to them from there while visually and tactilely savoring your prized Austere box (a unique one among a limited edition of 50).

The tracks are divided semi-thematically into folders, for example:
1. Drone Download Project - Austere's contributions to Stephen Phillips' Drone Download Project; fantastic drifting drones for unforgettable waking dreams.
2. Live - Contains the single track "Shadoworld", a unique and luscious psybient piece, apparently in praise of the "Shadow" superhero of 1930's popular fiction.
3. Compilations - material previously released in compilation albums; some highlights are the incomparably satisfying floating track "The Cuce" and the unforgettable "Big Bang Into Particle Acceleration", a triumph of sonic stimulation.
4. Unreleased - some of these unreleased but well-crafted tracks seem to be takes on material from the albums "Mirror" and "Fade".

In conclusion, the unique box set TSOS1 shows that much of Austere's best work remains "rare" or "orphaned".  Yet while this is an unfortunate state of affairs, it is more than compensated for by the heightened pleasure and appreciation of the group's genius among the magic box's lucky owners.

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2011, 07:14:14 AM »
I'm afraid this reads more like over-the-top self promotion than a review !
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ffcal

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2011, 08:48:16 AM »
I'm afraid this reads more like over-the-top self promotion than a review !

Maybe Lisa Franklyne, under a pseudonym?

Joe LP

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2011, 02:16:31 PM »
Self-promotion it it is not... it's just a "glowing review". I regret if it sounds like self-promotion. I'm only an Austere fan who feels that his favorite group has not gotten the exposure it deserves. If a "real" review must say something explicitly negative about the product (instead of just hinting at it), then here's the missing part of my review:

The mp3 player sucks--although it works, there's constant hissing in the audio.

The 3" disk with drivers did not work for my drive; I had to dig out an old cd-r card reader from my closet to transfer the tracks to my laptop... and this took me quite a while!

Some of the tracks sound "raw" and unedited, like they were recorded out of a small garage with a bus parked nearby.

The box definitely looks homemade and put together with scissors and glue from someone's bedroom.

The band suffers from an overactive spaced-out, possibly drugged-out, imagination. Their fans likely suffer from the same, and therefore their reviews should not be taken seriously.

« Last Edit: October 23, 2011, 05:40:25 PM by Joe LP »

El culto

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2011, 03:23:01 PM »
I'm afraid this reads more like over-the-top self promotion than a review !

I first thought i read an official press text for announcing a new release.

drone on

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2011, 06:00:36 PM »
As the sub-heading says: "Music Reviews and Only Music Reviews."  Perhaps that should be respected.  If people start criticizing and being suspicious of someone's review it's going to ruin it.  I have been tempted myself to comment on reviews that don't seem very objective, but held back because it is their opinion and they should be able to express it without somebody "reviewing" their review.  BTW, although I don't think you should have to defend your opinion, nice comeback Joe LP: I liked the "missing part" of your review!  ;D

El culto

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2011, 06:18:08 PM »
As the sub-heading says: "Music Reviews and Only Music Reviews."  Perhaps that should be respected.

I didnīt read "no comments allowed"

drone on

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2011, 06:58:04 PM »
No comment. 8)

ffcal

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2011, 07:53:43 PM »
I'd say that an extensive formal review posted anonymously with no previous participation that tends to read more like a press release is certainly likely to raise a few eyebrows.   Put another way, "hmmmm..."  On the other hand, maybe the listener simply cribbed from the press release itself.

Forrest

Joe LP

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2011, 08:16:04 PM »
Thanks drone on, you voice of reason! It's not everyday that I get practically accused of being a shill by simply writing a glowing review, so I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed until your post. I have bought several Austere items from the Hypnos Store, but only joined the forum yesterday for the purpose of writing my review. Recently, I bought the box set at a significant discount from Austere itself, who mentioned to me that it had so far not sold well, and so the review was my way of expressing thanks and generating some interest in the item.

All: It was not my intention to create such a fuss. I was just attempting to communicate, perhaps too zealously, my enthusiasm for the Austere box set. After all,  I was expecting to get only 'leftover' tracks of sub-par quality, but found some excellent music instead. I suppose the great difference between my previous expectations and my delight at being proved so roundly wrong made me a bit too generous of praise. In the future, I will try to limit my glowing reviews to the Buddha or Jesus Christ.

drone on

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2011, 12:01:18 AM »
Hahaha! 

P.s.  For the record, when I read that review I thought it was simply a glowing review, nothing more.  Guess I better be careful not to spew too much over "Martian Chronicles" so people don't think I'm gettin paid off as a Hypnos secret agent. 8)

Seren

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2011, 01:39:48 AM »
It has been an intriguing thread to read....

Joe, thanks for the review and I'd like to make a (hopefully) constructive comment - you describe the releases physical form and it's intent/purpose very well, but these words overshadowed your description of the music and I think that is what creates the impression of 'press release'....and the music is what people (me including) were hungering to read about.

Is there any chance you could give us some more thoughts/feelings/reflections on the music?








[invisible text]Drone on, the first cheque is in the post - second will be sent when review appears[/invisible text]

ffcal

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2011, 07:41:13 AM »
Joe,

I'd like to offer a few more constructive comments as well:

(1) Try to use less purple prose in your reviews--we've have a case or three of well-meaning imposters on this board;

(2) Try to avoid using the term, "musick," lest we think we think you are one of the Austere duo.

Forrest
« Last Edit: October 24, 2011, 07:50:10 AM by ffcal »

Joe LP

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2011, 09:17:26 AM »
Hello Seren,

Your comments are well taken. As a simple listener with no musical training, I try to avoid descriptions such as "meditative", "ethereal", "mind-expanding", which would convey the way I feel about the music, but which are plainly vague and devoid of substance. It's basically a non-communicable experience--or at least any words would sound silly from someone like me. Besides, the box set spans the whole range of Austere's work, which is pretty diverse; it affects me differently depending on which "persona" I happen to be listening to, and so even if I could describe my feelings adequately, it would make the review too long.

Perhaps the best I can do in this regard is to mention other music that I like and build recommendations from these, for example: if you like SOTL (especially "Avec Laudenum"), you'll like this music; if you like Oophoi, this work is highly recommended for you, etc. My apologies if all this sounds cliche or like something you could have just learned from amazon--that's why I omitted it from the review.

Incidentally, the Austere work might also be of interest to those (such as myself) who liked very much "The Martian Chronicles", and indeed thought it was a masterpiece. (Congratulations on that wonderful release!) But lest I be pointed out again for overly effusive remarks, I will end this post here, and also all further posting on this topic.

Scott M2

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2011, 10:09:00 AM »
Self-promotion it it is not... it's just a "glowing review". I regret if it sounds like self-promotion. I'm only an Austere fan who feels that his favorite group has not gotten the exposure it deserves. If a "real" review must say something explicitly negative about the product (instead of just hinting at it), then here's the missing part of my review:

The mp3 player sucks--although it works, there's constant hissing in the audio.

The 3" disk with drivers did not work for my drive; I had to dig out an old cd-r card reader from my closet to transfer the tracks to my laptop... and this took me quite a while!

Some of the tracks sound "raw" and unedited, like they were recorded out of a small garage with a bus parked nearby.

The box definitely looks homemade and put together with scissors and glue from someone's bedroom.

The band suffers from an overactive spaced-out, possibly drugged-out, imagination. Their fans likely suffer from the same, and therefore their reviews should not be taken seriously.

Actually, this addition does turn it into a balanced review and I quite enjoyed your writing for this part.  ;)

Seren

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2011, 11:40:04 AM »
Hello Seren,

Your comments are well taken. As a simple listener with no musical training, I try to avoid descriptions such as "meditative", "ethereal", "mind-expanding", which would convey the way I feel about the music, but which are plainly vague and devoid of substance. It's basically a non-communicable experience--or at least any words would sound silly from someone like me. Besides, the box set spans the whole range of Austere's work, which is pretty diverse; it affects me differently depending on which "persona" I happen to be listening to, and so even if I could describe my feelings adequately, it would make the review too long.

Perhaps the best I can do in this regard is to mention other music that I like and build recommendations from these, for example: if you like SOTL (especially "Avec Laudenum"), you'll like this music; if you like Oophoi, this work is highly recommended for you, etc. My apologies if all this sounds cliche or like something you could have just learned from amazon--that's why I omitted it from the review.

Incidentally, the Austere work might also be of interest to those (such as myself) who liked very much "The Martian Chronicles", and indeed thought it was a masterpiece. (Congratulations on that wonderful release!) But lest I be pointed out again for overly effusive remarks, I will end this post here, and also all further posting on this topic.

Hi Joe,

Words such as meditative/ethereal/mind-expanding would indeed convey what you feel and as a simple musician with no musical training I would take them with my own light (or strange) twist of perception to create my own comprehension of your words.

They may be vague and you may feel they are devoid of substance - but you are trying to touch the non-communicable experience you mention and wrestle it into some sort of order that might make sense to others and inspire them to listen to the music you are reviewing.

Reviewing is always subjective - the only choice I made for the short time I did reviews was never print anything about an album I either did not like, or, more likely, just did not get - if I can't say something good I say nothing at all - there will still be enough people out there who like what I don't.

Perhaps you could write the 'long review' and then take the sword to it, distill it, refine it, work magic with it until you feel it has a form you are happy to unleash into the world.

Most music evolves from or reflects that of other artists and referencing them in reviews (lightly) is always good - they often give the reader a scent or flavour to the words you describe as vague - Oophoi meditative is likely to be different to SOTL meditative and those who have listened to both will get it. Those who haven't might think "I'll give them a listen" so you achieve more than one outcome.

And like music - you let them out and let them go so that people can absorb them in their own way.




Thank you for the compliments re TMC - I am always interested in how the music touches people, what happens when they listen - it's part of what I do - Creating spaces/dreams/portals that take the listener somewhere else......

So if you want to write a review for TMC I would be most interested and if that review comes out of a larger missive you could PM that to me if you want.

Austere

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2011, 11:22:44 AM »
I'm afraid this reads more like over-the-top self promotion than a review!

Hello,

We can assure you it's not self-promotion. We didn't write it, didn't ask it to be written, were pleased someone was willing to take precious time to write it.

This is about a release from 2008... not coming up, not "out now", from 2008... three years behind us.

We never wrote a press release, no onesheet, never sent promos, nothing. Just had it put on the Web site. That's all.

Re: promos - if you want to count this, you can. We did hand-make 20 copies, NFS, in really expensive Chinese silk boxes and such... to send to friends and fans. Forrest - you were sent one of those 20 copies. Did you not like it?  :-\

We would write more, but these forums are just... not productive. We're finishing artwork for our upcoming release, and would not spend time promoting one from 2008.

We have work to do and plans for more, and no time to spend this silliness, esp. not a release from years ago.

So instead of trying to convince you, we'll just say the above, and you all can keep thinking whatever you want. It's not like anything we say will change a closed-mind. But for the record: didn't write the review, are flattened/flattered by it, and maybe it'd be better to just take it as a review, and focus your energies elsewhere? On that note... back to artwork - for an upcoming release.

Which won't be announced here, unless Mike@Hypnos does so, since he'll be making and selling CD copies. Peace and best fishes, A

P.S. Ask Mike at Hypnos if J. Pe is one of us. Simple, really.

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2011, 11:35:51 AM »
I was out of touch for a while and it appears I missed a lot here.

First, I can confirm Joe LP is not a member of Austere, and is a customer who buys CDs from our store.

I'll have to give some thought to where I come down on the matter of what constitutes a "review" and what doesn't. Certainly a rave review is still a review, as long as the person writing it approaches the task with an honest critical appraisal.

I don't think Joe LP or Austere should be too offended that people questioned whether this might be self-promotion masquerading as review -- bear in mind, as Forrest said, that we've seen that happen here before. I'll have to read through this a bit more carefully later and make sure nobody's been unjustly treated in this exchange, but I'd ask everyone to cool it a little and realize we're all here because we enjoy the music.

I'll also give some more consideration to this, but I think I may insist that real names or at least a link to public contact info such as a blog may be required to post in this "Independent Reviews" section. I think it would help clear up who's who. It doesn't appear to me that Joe LP did anything other than try to spread the word about some music he'd recently enjoyed, and if some forum regulars appear to have been skeptical, I'd ask everyone to bear in mind that it's hardly unprecedented for someone to show up here under a "sock puppet" account to post hype-filled reviews of their own work.

We'll sort this out soon. In the mean time, let's all get along. ;)
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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2011, 11:40:07 AM »
We will respond to this:

The mp3 player sucks--although it works, there's constant hissing in the audio.

Yes, it sucks. But we couldn't afford $40 players for a $40 box set. The 20 NFS custom, unique ones do have $30 players. But if you order this, the player is horrid. So why? You plug the SanDisk card into it, you plug it into any computer with the USB cable provided, then use the player to copy the musick off the card. Then give the MP3 player to a kid or keep it as a free SanDisk card reader.

The 3" disk with drivers did not work for my drive; I had to dig out an old cd-r card reader from my closet to transfer the tracks to my laptop... and this took me quite a while!

Sorry about that. The 3" drivers came with the MP3 player... and are worse than the player, which is awful. Please see above about how the player is really just meant to be used as a SanDisk card reader. We'll try to get that on the Web site, since no sense in wasting time! We tested the player - as a USB SD reader - on Windows 2K/XP/Vista and Mac OS X, and it was/is plug & play for us.

Some of the tracks sound "raw" and unedited, like they were recorded out of a small garage with a bus parked nearby.

Absolutely. We didn't want to "produce" or "master" these. They're orphans, and we felt they should be left alone. YMMV.

The box definitely looks homemade and put together with scissors and glue from someone's bedroom.

Also intentional... and yes, most were assembled whilst laying in bed watching TV. Couldn't agree more. The 20 unique ones - those we spent a lot of time on. These we wanted to look "hand-made". Why? Just to be different.

The band suffers from an overactive spaced-out, possibly drugged-out, imagination. Their fans likely suffer from the same, and therefore their reviews should not be taken seriously.

Over-active? Check. Spaced-out? Check. Drugged out?  Not so much any more, but check! And should we be taken seriously? No. Please, no.

What else... there was the "free pubic hair" that wasn't mentioned... the photos aren't printed on a "photo" printer, and could be better... the "manifesto" - pompous... but worth reading if only to see that "self-promotion" is not part of it....

Oh, and beautiful, wonderful photography on the front/back by Henk Zwerring, not by us. His work is brilliant, and sharing it with us was very kind of him. Most likely the best part of the box, frankly.

Lastly, we suck. Stink. Blow chunks. Horrid. Total morons. Really, we won't debate that...

We love feedback, positive or negative, of any sort. We're impossible to offend. Tell us we suck? We'll tell you how much more we suck than you thought. So thank you everyone! Cheerio! A

Austere

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Re: REVIEW: THE SOUND OF SILENCE I BOX SET by Austere
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2011, 11:45:29 AM »
Yes, we're shutting up... promise!  :o

(2) Try to avoid using the term, "musick," lest we think we think you are one of the Austere duo.

Or Coil, who we nicked it from, with Peter's permission (R.I.P.) who took it from A. Crowley, who wrote it that way to have a very specific meaning.

We just use it because we like that meaning. And referencing Coil.  ;D