Recent Reviews – Aarktica, Carta, Sarah June, Remora, Northern Valentine

Nuova produzione in edizione limitata quest’anno per il newyorkese John DeRosa, alias Aarktica, con il suo “In Sea Remixes”: rivisitazione dell’ultimo progetto “In Sea” al fianco della Silber Records. Una musicalità speciale quella di Aarktica, onde ed oscillazioni sonore sono l’impasto musicale preferito dall’artista americano; nel 1999 la perdita dell’udito da un orecchio ha colpito la sua sensibilità musicale, con la collaborazione occasionale di alcuni autori, ha elaborato un percorso artistico differente e di un certo impatto.
Ecco allora la rivisitazione da parte di alcuni artisti di “In Sea Remixes”, diretta ad attuare un esperimento a più mani, infatti tra i partecipanti troviamo Rameses III, Summer Cats, Mason Jones, Yellow6, Keith Canisius, James Duncan, Remora, senza dimenticare il lavoro sulla cover “Am I Demon” di Danzing, grazie al supporto di Declining Winter, Pan (of Suckers) e Landing. Il risultato è una grande atmosfera creata appunto dalle quattordici personali interpretazioni, da un Drone Ambient ad un profondo beat diretto alla Dance interrotto da basi vocali a tratti un pò Boards Of Canada. Emblematici il brano d’apertura “I Am” con le sue sonorità glaciali; “Hollow Earth Theory” con la sua atmosfera bucolica dove il suono della natura trova ampio spazio d’espressione, “Young Light” con una melodia eterea avvolta in un canto sensuale e “Corpse Reviver No.2″ all’ascolto di una nenia, quasi inquietante, che si fa strada arricchita da elementi elettronici.
Un grande lavoro d’equipe quello sperimentato da John DeRosa, il quale ha diretto con nobile maestria la produzione del progetto innalzando al meglio la sua multiforme intensità.
~ Alone Music

All’uscita di un album ci si può aspettare la pubblicazione di remix di varia estrazione, sia come sfogo dell’estro dell’artista sia come arricchimento delle canzoni con suoni nuovi.
In questa circostanza, non tanto tempo fa, uscì “In Sea” del collettivo musicale Aarktica, una graziosa composizione di toni tenui e melodici a cui, di logica, dovrebbero far seguito remix dai caratteri rivoluzionari. Ma non è così.
Sulla falsa riga del primo i toni si mantengono monotonamente uguali a parte qualche traccia più jazz o minimalmente più elettronica: insomma, si tratta del gemello eterozigote del primo album: a tratti distinguibili ma terribilmente simile.
~ Loud Vision

Last, and most definitely not least, is ‘Index Of Birds’ (Silber, February 16) from San Franciscans Carta, the long awaited follow up to ‘Glass Bottomed Boat’ which totally rocked our world back in 2005. ‘Index OF Birds’ is more of the same, but that’s in no way a bad thing. It is utterly luscious, gorgeous strings back beautifully crafted melodies and all are accompanied by wonderfully laconic, understated vocals. ‘Building Bridges’ drifts in like the suggestion of a breeze but before you know it it has wormed it’s way in to your head and you find yourself humming it for days. The catatonically epic ‘Descension’ is another high point, a Slowdive like an excursion in to the dark depths of the soul beautifully accompanied by Lorealle Bishop’s heartbreaking voice. In all, a magnificent record.
~ Dan Salter, Echoes And Dust

Sounds of an out-of-print classic that is very much available. Gorgeous slowcore/post-rock album with its roots firmly planted in forgotten nineties subgenres languishing on used CD shelves somewhere in the midwest.
I can understand the obsession with vinyl. On a nice pair of speakers the music really does sound warmer and richer, the artwork on a nice gatefold record is something worth cherishing forever (Crawf showed me the Torche’s Meanderthal LP… AMAZING!), and the act of purchasing and owning a tangible recreation of an album lives up to the hype spun by independent record stores. I, on the other hand, do not have a record collection. Not because of a conscious choice, I just never got around to dropping the money on a nice turntable and speakers. I do own three records to date, Neil Young’s Everyone Knows This is Nowhere (a wedding present), Thursday/Envy Split EP (don’t judge me, released on Temporary Residence, limited edition), and a Woody Allen stand-up album I bought at a thrift store in Idaho (don’t ask me why). What I do have is a pretty rad CD collection. I am a CD advocate, for many reasons. It was the medium of my generation, the artists who adapted could do wonders with the mini format (The Magnetic Fields 69 Songs Box Set!? Get outta here!), and of course with the relatively cheaper format of releasing albums on CD guaranteed a bunch of crazy crap would eventually be released (although the LP owns the title of worst album covers. Nineties graphic artists just got cheap and lazy)
What I’m getting at here is that I can’t divorce some great records with the way I bought them, from dusty (inexplicably sticky) racks of used cds in the dank basements of record stores and pennies on the dollar for garage sale steals. These have been my most treasured possessions, even though they aren’t on vinyl. After listening to Carta’s An Index of Birds I can imagine this album being one of those finds. Everything from the creepy severed doll head album cover to the subdued color pallate, this is one of those albums I can see myself thinking “this looks intriguing”, buying it for 4 $, brining it home and being blown away. So, if you don’t find it in a dusty corner of a record store, consider yourself luck you found it here, on a dusty little corner of the blogosphere. Released on Silber Records, which has never let me down, An Index of Birds is a hushed, fragile, mostly instrumental record that marries charming ambient pieces centered on looped acoustic instrumentation with the decided post-rock march towards a climactic end. Carta take the prettiest moments of Low, the downcast shuffling rhythm section of unsung slowcore heroes Spokane, and the maritime steadiness of Unwed Sailor and processes them through the post-classical sensibilities of Rachel’s or this years amazing Slow Six. Gorgeous stuff, granted some of the more ambient tracks feel like segues, Carta knows how to write songs. Instrumental song-songs that have a purpose, direction, and determined end in sight. Although used sparingly, Carta uses vocals to counterpoint the general luminescence of their recording as a whole. The imagery on “Small Lights” creeped me out a little to tell the truth, and while “loud” isn’t beyond my list of adjectives, “Back To Nature” and “The Late Alfred M” do not hold anything back when voicing disappointment or near-threatening visceral song writing. The female vocals on “Descension” courtesy of Lorealle Bishop, posses the smoky, breathy emoting of Ida’s Elizabeth Mitchell. A standout moment on the album.
An Index of Birds, is a rare find these days, nostalgic but wholly original. A period piece of a faceless generation. A lovingly crafted musical statement. Silber Records, you’re doing it right.
~ Ryan Hall, Tome to the Weather Macine

Perdu de vue The Glass Bottom Boat paru en 2007 (mais enregistré en 2005), Carta revient sous un tout autre jour. Des années à composer et enregistrer dans leur coin, un line-up complètement remanié – finalement seul Kyle Monday, fondateur du projet, est encore présent -, les points cardinaux de Carta ont complètement changé. Si le groupe suivait l’étoile du berger Bark Psychosis en offrant de belles plages instrumentales vaporeuses empreintes tout d’un sentiment de mélancolie bleuté, An Index Of Birds suit un parcours bien plus alambiqué, avec des changements de caps, suivant des détours sur des chemins cahoteux pour flâner et des portions bien plus roulantes où les paysages défilent comme les idées dans la tête, voire une plongée claustrophobe dans la circulation d’une mégapole. On n’imaginait pas la bande de Kyle Monday capable de délivrer un morceau aussi noisy et percutant que Sidereal, de se heurter délibérém
ent à un mur du son sur The Likeness Is Undeniable ou carrément de foncer à tombeau ouvert (Back To Nature, instrumental frontal et obstiné). Ailleurs, les Américains distillent des chansons bien plus apaisées (Building Bridges) ou des instrumentaux cotonneux (le très “Hood-esque” Santander). Sous-titré You’ve Going Home In An Ambulance ( !!) laisse place aux échanges vocaux, à un traitement électronique discret, tantôt sur un ton dramatique et affecté, tantôt serein et onirique (comme l’odyssée de 11 minutes, Descension qui rappelle L’Altra ou The Halifax Pier). Entre ambiant, shoegaze, new-wave et post-rock, ce deuxième album frôle souvent l’excellence, mais ne laisse pas d’autre choix sur la longueur (presque 70 minutes !!) que de se laisser transporter au gré des humeurs du groupe, au risque de perdre l’auditeur en chemin.
~ Denis Frelat, Autres Directions

Come ogni Sabato passo a svuotare la casella postale di Ultrasonica e come ogni Sabato mi ritrovo nel viaggio di ritorno verso casa con qualcosa di nuovo da ascoltare.
Pesco dal mucchio e il primo cd che salta fuori è questo ‘In Black Robes’ di Sarah June, direttamente da Detroit. Play.
Fin dai primi sospiri e dalle prime note di ‘Cowboy’ si avverte una certa intimità, solo chitarra e voce per questo inizio che sa di piccolo club dove immagino di vederla seduta centro palco con il suo strumento e la sua voce volutamente sottile, quasi adolescenziale molto simile a quella di Allison Shaw dei Cranes. Candidamente malinconiche le note su cui poggiano i testi sono affascinanti e struggenti, può non piacere come viene usata la voce, gli amici a cui ho fatto sentire questo disco hanno storto un pò il naso… ma per me è la peculiarità che fa grande le sue composizioni, in questo folk che vira delicatamente verso una decadenza gotica (nella quale lei stessa si riconosce nelle note biografiche) riesco a sentire la genuinità e la spontaneità delle mani sullo strumento, il picking a volte ‘sporco’ sulle corde in una commistione di influenze derivate dal Jazz e dal Blues anche quando in sordina entra il contrabbasso ad incidere sulla ritmica del pezzo.
Una serie di intimi racconti, sussurrati che mi fanno venir voglia di tirar fuori dall’archivio i vecchi ‘Dogs’ di Nina Nastasia e le ‘Valli soleggiate’ di Kendra Smith altre due belle voci che in qualche modo si legano al percorso di Sarah June, tra ‘Cowboy’ in cerca di una storia in cui credere e ossute figure che ci ricordano che qui siamo solo di passaggio (molto gotico).
Personalmente è un disco che mi piace, che trovo piacevole ad ascolti successivi (senza esagerare) e che nonostante la marcata malinconia riesce a trasmettermi un senso di pace.
~ Ultrasonica

The easy thing to write about Moodring’s new album “Scared Of Ferret“, is that it’s a side project of two Rollerball members – Mae Starr (Vocals, Keyboards) and Monte Trent Allen (Bass, percussion). Rollerball is by far one of my favourite experimental groups, and it’s a band that releases one great album after another. It’s really hard to understand how they manage to control these bursts of ideas and make a solid album out of them.
That’s why Scared is no surprise with its quality. But that was the easy part. Now you try to go ahead and describe this truly brilliant album, consists of free jazz extravaganza, with spooky keyboard layers, tribal gatherings, doomy psychedelia and an overall Sun Ra cloud hovering above. Wait, I just did.
But that’s not enough, coz Moodring’s album is much more then a random collection of under the influence tracks, happend to be found in an album. First, I should say it’s a daring addition to the already daring catalog of the fantastic North-Carolina label Silber Records. For those who misseed them so far, make sure you’ll go to their homepage and click on as many audio streamed files as you can.
Second, It’s worth pointing out, that although it’s a rather bizzare album, it doesn’t lose its focus and keeps the listener hooked to the captivating collection of abstract ideas and colors, gathered together in an album, by these two Rollerball musicians, joined by Jesse Stevens and Michael Barun Hamilton. Mae Starr’s voice is always haunting, scary at times, and constantly thrilling. She has the ability to put shivers down my neck as a last audiophilic supper before the too-early grave. The sound textures are vary from free jazz, esoterica, Can-style Groove, Gong-style textures, threatning keyboard arrangments and psychedelic horror film soundtracks. If Alejandro Jodorowski was to make another movie in 2010, it would be a terrific choice to take Sacred as the perfect soundtrack for it.
I’m a sucker for bedroom recordings, especially when it sounds like it was done with zero efforts and a constant joy of creation and band dynamics. This is no exception. Rollerball is around for too long and thus they understand how to make the home audio equipment work for you.
This a truly bizzare album. It’s dark yet not too heavy, it’s simple but then again has complex arrangemtns, it’s solid but each track is a master’s work. The many conflicts ain Moodring’s albums, like many Rollerball albuims, is what makes this band so special and this album to a delightful piece of work.
~ Small Town Romance

“In Sea” ist eine Hommage an Terry Rileys “In C” und gleichzeitig auch der Verweis auf die ambientigen Kältelandschaften, die Jon DeRosa in wunderbare Gitarrenläufe packt und nebenbei immer wieder mit zuckerwattigen Shoegaze-Vocals versieht. Fabulöser Abschluss auch mit Danzigs “Am I Demon?”.
~ Daniel Krčál, Rokko’s Adventures

Vlor is a compilation of instrumentals sent around via snail mail to other musicians in the attempt to create a “chain-mail” approach to music. It’s interesting. Tracks drift in and out, neither ending too soon or wearing out their welcome.  Six-Winged has an ethereal quality, and its minimalism and experimentation meet to create a hybrid between post-rock and symphonics to create something genuine. The experiment is successful in its attempt to meld ambience, shoegaze, and soft electronics, but the record never really picks up. The work here is promising, but one might feel better inclined to pick up something less self-involved. Keep an eye out for them though, there are some great moments on this record.
~ Nick Gergesha, Hearwax

So, this one is interesting. Remora (Brian John Mitchell) has come up with an idea that is now committed to record on Derivative: play a short line from someone else’s song, loop it, and play over top of it. Thus the album name. Some of the derived segments you’ll recognize, some you probably won’t, but that’s OK. The music doesn’t depend on the samples as much as it builds on and departs from them.
“All Our Times Have Come” takes the signature melody from Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and opens with it. It’s played so slowly that you might mistake it for an accidental choice of notes if you didn’t get the memo on the album’s theme. (Seems also that Remora’s song titles come from the lyrics of the songs whose melodies have been appropriated.) After the intro, though, the song meanders way out into Flying Saucer Attack’s territory: droning, phased guitar chords. That’s how the album works generally. There are no percussive elements, save those created from sampled loops of guitar. The playing is expansive and modal. There’s a lot of reverb going on. Massive compression and sustain, too. The notes and chords go on forever.
Other sampled bits have reportedly been taken from songs by Pere Ubu, Journey, and Hefner, but you’d have to pay close attention to pick them out. There’s the sharp, repetitive melody that begins “Love Corrupt” that sounds vaguely familiar and the slow motion build of “Death Planes.” The latter m
ight be from Journey? Not sure… The most recognizable melody to fans of early post-punk will be “What Did You See There?” — which cribs the bassline from Joy Division’s awesome “Wilderness.”
Everything on Derivative gets spacey and spaced out, smeared against its own backdrop until the notes and chords set up point and counterpoint waves of sound. From cut to cut the songs don’t sound terribly different from one another. You’d have to take some time with the record to get its full depth. The point here isn’t to come away humming these tunes but rather to let the sounds resonate around you until they slowly fade away (“Highway Run”). Whatever drugs Blue Oyster Cult was into, I’m sure they didn’t imagine a re-working of their big hit to be so much like an opium dream.
~ David Smith, Delusions of Adequacy

The booklet for The Distance Brings Us Closer is full of icy blue shots of horizons with white clouded skies & orange tinted sunsets, a souvenir from the band’s visit to Iceland last year; & most of the sounds found within it can be described just like that, with a frozen beauty emanating from the speakers as one catches the wind of a glacial-paced snail over a snowed-in neach a few feet from your feet as the lazy sun barely lights the world around you to reveal a blue that can remind you of being deep into the ocean except you’re in the surface drowning in oxygen yet leaving breathlessly over the gourgeousness of such conditions.  The husband & wife tag team plus others decided to field record their latest hike in soundscapes with a stereo machine, live in the studio with barely a theme discussed among the practitioners to develop the five slowly evolving pieces that make up The Distance, but making everything being alive even if we’re talking about atmospheric rock that flows through like a cool arctic draft in the middle on the most demanding dry-as-shit desert summer; Northern Valentine keeps everything in sight, with eyes on their goal & focused on their telepathic improvisational skills, presenting tracks that hardly overstay their welcome like many a droning record does, & refuse to become air-conditioning wallpaper for the listeners by giving us enough personality to their formless, breezy sounds to make them stand out from so many instrumental bands that fight over who to bore next.  Northern Valentine don’t bother even showing up to the ring, they rather stay where they are & let their wintery tones connect them to the nature of it all, inviting listeners to their igloo; sharing aesthetically some with bands such as Windy & Carl, Labradford, & others from the Kranky stable, The Distance presents us a band who freshly displays a way of making instrumental music.
~ Marcos Hassan, Bad Acid

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