Cremator - Alpha Ralpha Boulevard 7.8
Cremator manages to create a number of particularly elegant moments on ‘Alpha Ralpha Boulevard’. Like many other interstellar travelers Cremator manages to use restraint to create a maximum benefit. Two sides present two separate worlds. On the first side there is an aurally pleasing polychromatic world. For color is an important part of the first part. By the time the second side comes around there’s an increased focus on the tiny details. Upon closer inspection the latter half manages to create more of a drone-like atmosphere.
‘Alpha Ralpha Boulevard’ immediately references specific aspects of progressive rock. This transforms into something considerably more active. Streams of sound begin to unfurl around the three minute mark. Playing around with the tempo appears to be another source of enjoyment. Where the song really takes off in the best moment of the album is at the fifteen minute mark. Everything releases to reveal a perfectly tragic crescendo. The release is one of the most satisfying moments on the entire album for everything before had hinted at it but not quite delivered.
On ‘Catmaster’ the finale things are much quieter. A few moments verge on pure silence. Here Cremator takes a more contemplative around. Rather than indulge in anything approximating rock structures (like the previous track) it remains grounded purely in electronic origins. Parts of it feel reminiscent of more recent work coming from the Spectrum Spools label. Quiet in the case of ‘Alpha Ralpha Boulevard’ means to pay attention.
Nodolby – Inception/Aftermath 7.9
Nodolby uses patience to full effect on ‘Inception/Aftermath’. These are patient pieces. With each one sprawling out to almost unreasonable amount Nodolby has plenty of time. Melodies actually play a large part in each particular piece. For the beginning of the songs there is a focus more on the large, on the general structure. As the pieces continue though Nodolby fills in the empty spaces with new sounds until the original superstructure is destroyed to reveal the microscopic events happening right on the periphery. Using a specific segment of sound helps to keep the entire process highly unified. Indeed each piece compliments the other, happiness with sadness. These are perfectly complimentary pieces.
‘Inception’ remains the quicker paced track. Beginning with a warm sounding drone it slowly blooms. How Nodolby adds additional details only increases this sense of warmth. Happiness spreads gradually until the drone itself is completely eliminated for a jumpy heavily edited smaller size. Little pangs play on top of this as the music appears to almost shimmer. Eventually the music dissolves away into emptiness. ‘Aftermath’ starts out considerably lonelier. Without any of the activity of the first track it feels much more isolated. Here Nodolby uses silence to build tension. By the end it resembles the beauty of Nobukazu Takemura’s ‘Scope’ project with little tones bouncing off of each other in a classical manner as an organ nervously makes its way through.
Altogether this is a tender little album. The small, the large, and the medium sized tones come together to create a coherent and surprisingly emotional whole.
Boron – The Beige Album 8.0
Boron makes no sense. NPR announcers are interrupted. Pieces of noise are injected for just the sheer joy of it. Other moments Boron repeats things for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Much of this is covered in early 80s grime. Cabaret Voltaire comes to mind on some of the more ‘groove-focused’ tracks. Industrial origins are highly revered on this album. Parts of it barely seem able to focus on a single idea. The mind wanders throughout the nineteen cryptic tracks.
Rhythm is an afterthought on many of these tracks. Certain levels of pulses exist on a handful of the longer tracks. The beginning ‘Nonsensebeard’ beginning with what might be an excerpt from ‘The Conet Project’ starts things off before devolving into industrial dross. ‘Hamburger Touchdown’ shows of the bizarre sense of humor Boron uses throughout the album. On ‘G-Rated Grope’ Boron goes down an even stranger route. Everything is calculated to the most absurd extreme. Random high pitched laughter, a laughably simple beat, it comes together to create a funhouse of mirrors kind of track. For the other side of the coin are the deeply immersive near-silent tracks. ‘Moons over my Panamax’ shows what happens when Boron becomes intensely focused. Nearly silent it manages to move thanks to the sounds almost just out of the listener’s perception.
It is a great deal of fun listening and re-listening trying to piece together the mad odds and ends that make up this album. Putting it all together is almost impossible. Yet Boron gives just enough details and smudges of sound to keep it interesting over and over again.
Jonathan James Carr - Well Tempered Ignorance 7.5
Jonathan James Carr bursts into joyous noise. With more than a sly wink to Bach’s ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ the two giant pieces turn the idea of order on its head. Bach’s piece is hyper-organized. On ‘Well Tempered Ignorance’ things are left to chance. Rather than have a strict structure Jonathan plays it considerably looser. Sounds are left to their own devices. Pieces focus less on a strict sense of order than on an immediate emotion response. Essentially let free they wander through constant evolving textures. As the two pieces proceed they show off their ability to find the heart of things rather than any clear percussive device.
On the first side things begin with a simple breeze of sound. Random scrapping begins the track. Eventually this sound disappears leaving only gentle floating. The sound becomes considerably denser. However this field, self-sustaining, dissolves into a more dramatic phrase. Frenzied it tries to find itself but ultimately loses. Out of the chaos comes a tender melody. Jonathan plays with this melody and plays with the listener’s expectations. Nothing is quite delivered ordinarily. Yet it is this approach that makes it more compelling. For side two things mellow out considerably. Intensity is not as strong on this side. Jonathan lets things enter a cool down side. The beginning feels like leaves falling to the ground. While the sound appears to be coming from on high the slow fall indicates it is losing energy. Towards the end it finishes with a gorgeous organ-like drone.
Overall this is a calm ride through drone. By focusing less on buildup and more on the decay of sound Jonathan manages to create something beautiful, autumnal.
Bastian Void - Fluorescent Bells 8.2
Bastian Void reminisces for the exploratory electronics of yore. On ‘Fluorescent Bells’ the textures owe a debt to early electronic musicians. The album’s inquisitive nature is buttressed by the attention to melody. For as abstract and weird as these pieces get (and they get pretty weird) they retain a sense of humanity. Sound for the sake of sound is one of the goals but not exclusively. Rather the goal appears to be merging the strange sounds with the beauty of the natural world. And Bastian’s steadfast belief in the power of electronics makes it a positive experience.
‘Atrium / St. Vincent’ gently introduces the listener to this sea of sound. From the gentle waves comes a ridiculously rudimentary beat. Upon the establishment of the beat the sound expands to an unbelievable degree. Low end on this song sounds amazing. Drone mixes with the melody as the beat continues as if on another planet. The opposite of this is ‘Respirit’ which is nearly tragic in its sound. With constant pinging it is a tense dramatic piece that appears to be almost defeated. By the end is where things get jaw-dropping. On ‘Fluorescent Bells’ the experimentation in the beginning gives away to a lighter side. Afterwards is the album’s heart and soul ‘Hyperbole Stasis Daze’. Here Bastian Void channels the spirit of Keith Fullerton Whitman. Slow gradual metamorphosis of the sound is perfectly calibrated creating a perfect cloud of sounds.
Overall this is a strong lovely tribute to a time when experimental and emotion were one.
Andreas Brandal - Staying Is Nowhere 7.0
Staying is Nowhere is the absolute epitome of brooding. There are no beats. Everything has a bleak, organ-like sound to it. Andreas Brandal gives it an almost religious bent to the sound. Despite the heavily electronic nature of the music it sounds unusually organic. Generally there is little in the way of traditional, hummable melody. Drones grow and morph in shape. Beneath the obvious repetition is a deeper level of intricate sound design, imbuing it with a sense of humanity.
Consistency is a huge part of the album. With every piece flowing into the next it feels like a giant piece broken into moments versus separate pieces. ‘From Behind the Stars’ picks up after the opener with a heavily focus on the low end. ‘The Yearning at Windows’ is positively creepy. What separates it is the use of noise in the beginning to prepare the sound. Next the actual sound is usually thin as if the sound is being transmitted from far away. After Andreas removes the low end it feels almost like an illusion. ‘At Home in the Interpreted World’ comes closest to a normal melody. Here too Andreas remains depressed. Brooding organ is punctuated by higher register sustained drones. This mixture makes it rather full.
The end ‘Such Great Secrets’ removes all hint of threat. It may be the ‘cool down’ or ‘relax’ moment of the album. Once the threat has been cleaned off it shows itself to be oddly calming. Glad that this track ends it. Happy that Andreas appears to use this plotting to create a full range of emotions which burst forth on this album.