Reviews 2018

At the moment, most reviews are being written for the physical magazine, but more will be added here soon enough…

INTO THE SKY ‘Before the Storm’ 7″ (Kosmic Noise Records, Germany, 2017)

Already describing themselves as ‘ambient rock’ on the press sheet, the textured instrumental approach of ‘Before the Storm’ didn’t come as a huge surprise. However, it’s an affair that courts favour for its fairly sprightly nature and allusions to a number of artists once housed by Kranky or the likes of Hood and Flying Saucer Attack. Like so many others similarly attired, the smell of several dusty old krautrock records is never too far away, but there’s a contemporary indie sensibility at work that at least arrives from the side where the worst of what that suggests is largely avoided. I’m sure an album might afford them the opportunity to unfurl far more ideas, though. (RJ)

www.kosmicnoiserecords.com

RAFAL KOLACKI A’zan, Hearing Ethiopia CD (Zoharum, Poland, 2017)

Rafal Kolacki can usually be found in groups such as Hati, Innercity Ensemble or Mammoth Ulthana, each of them dedicated to the foggy corridors found between post-industrial, psychedelic and ritual music. Let off the leash, however, he arms himself with a recorder and documents environmental sounds. Those included here are from his travels in Ethiopia and, as you might expect, amount to street sounds, animal noises, chattering people and the like, not that dissimilar from countless other places apart from, obviously, the different language(s). Maybe I’ve heard too many such albums now, but most are akin to being unwittingly shown somebody’s holiday photos. I fully understand the rationale behind such releases, but I’ve heard so many now that I fail to find them engaging. Sorry. (RJ)

www.zoharum.com

MAHLER HAZE A Range of Solutions CDr (Personal Archives, USA, 2018)

The very latest album by Mahler Haze, a solo project operating from Belgium mostly given to excursions through the outer reaches of contemporary psychedelia sometimes informed by moods more often found amongst certain post-industrial artists. It’s a mix that mostly works well, especially in the instrumental setting this work generally emanates from. Over the seven pieces here, you might be forgiven for sometimes thinking Jesu or Cluster have been gently ushered to the VIP room as thick blankets of iridescent fug fold in on themselves in a steady jostle for one of the outer rings of Saturn. Skullflower don’t seem so far away either, but it’s no bad thing. Such reference points, entirely my own anyway, only paint a tiny corner of a space which commands deeper listening despite the fact that beyond such micro-releases (this one arrives in an edition of 50) Mahler Haze’s work is barely promoted or pushed. Way ahead of some of the nonsense received around here. (RJ)

RUTGER ZUYDERVELT with ILIA BELORUKOV and RENE AQUARIUS The Red Soul CD (Sofa, Norway, 2018)

The prolific Zuydervelt, known chiefly for his work as Machinefabriek, here collaborates with Belorukov from Saint-Petersburg and fellow Dutch sound traveller Aquarius on a soundtrack to Jessica Gorter’s The Red Soul, a documentary film released in late 2017 concerning the influence of Russia’s ravaged past on the nation’s present. Ghostly choir and folk song snatches from Russia, plus other such embellishments, slowly drift in and out of a slightly troubled sonic gauze of windswept tones, subtle knocking sounds, quietly chattering electronics, indiscernible murmuring and wheezing noises kept to a low tide. Each detail’s presence is kept understated before it ebbs quietly back into the distance, somewhat recalling William Basinski’s work in feel if not in execution. Having not yet seen the film itself each piece here conjures images of starkness, pensiveness and melancholy. It’s the sound of misery, failure and regret tacked to several wispy strands of hope. In this sense it the album works beautifully. I need to see the film. (RJ)

www.sofamusic.no

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