|06-21-2009, 03:16 AM||#102 (permalink)|
Barely Disheveled Zombie
Join Date: Sep 2008
Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres - São Paulo Underground (2006)
GENRES – Jazz, Electronic, Experimental
Sauna: Um, Dios, Três – 5:59
Pombaral – 9:30
Realm of the Ripper – 4:19
Olhosss... – 7:59
Afrihouse – 7:07
Black Liquor – 2:50
Balão de Gás – 6:59
Numa Grana – 5:00
More jazzy goodness, the São Paulo Underground debut album is a heavy mix of jazz and electronics, full of electric grooves and beats. The project was started by Rob Muzarek, whom I have introduced to the site prior with the monthly competitions (He headed Chicago Underground). However, this time around he finds himself influenced but the Brazillian scene (Obvious by the title) with a hint of post rock vibes every now and then. However, it is still primarily an electronics and jazz albums. It doesn’t hold a nu jazz vibe or continuity IMO, which is why I hesitate to label it as such.
The album begins with the title track, introducing the listener auspiciously to the electronic aspects that will litter the rest of the album. Glitched out beats that almost sound melodic, as well as general conversation tid bits layer the beginning, before other instruments slowly enter the track, beginning with a deep and laden guitar line, followed by a cornet, sax, drums and other such percussion. These instruments don’t really follow any lead, rather just doing their own thing. It’s fairly typical free jazz, with the electronics taking a backseat for now until it is used to draw everything together. The electronics later in the track actually improve the track in my opinion, as the free jazz gets a bit boring. By the end the electronics is the overarching instrument as it exudes a fairly simple yet distinct beat. The other instruments are phased out until this beat is the only thing remaining.
Pombaral is sued to showcase the talents of the respective musicians in its first half. Beginning with a trumpet solo before the drums and bass kick in. The best way to describe the track is ‘busy’, probably representative of the city in the title. It captures an almost afrobeat sound, with a tinge of latinesque vibes. Although the result is nothing spectacular, there are some awesome sounds and variations here and there, especially the reverberating distortion on the instruments every now and then. In the middle of the track the electronics come into play, an ethereal ‘gloss’ which shares the space with the drums and some beats. The brass is haunting, almost sounding like it is being played through a thick glass wall. The dubbed wall of sound has some pretty interesting aspects, and I love the way everything is held together in those minutes. After these minutes the upbeat and content sound is replaced by a morose and dark electronics burdened section. The beats just get louder before the main dirt is removed, and only feedback remains, which reintroduces the instrumentation to the track.
Realm Of The Ripper has yet another interesting beginning, a random assortment of electronically made sounds and an electric organ creating a mischievous and wicked vibe. It’s a pretty cool start to the track in my opinion. Various percussion is brought in to create some more depth, and the variation just adds to the interest. It’s probably the most experimental sort of this so far, without really feeling my jazz, but that doesn’t mean its bad. I quite like it, but it’s not for everyone, and this continues for 4 minutes.
Olhosss recaptures the heavy ethereal theme that was in Pombaral, however its intensity is increased, as well as the vibe now being positive in nature. Primarily drum/electronic driven, the post rock background of Takara and Mazurek shines through. This shatters slightly with the introduction of more glitchy beats and tripped out a tripped out brass section. It’s a great change, and sometimes you have to question whether it really is a cornet being played, however it does carry on for a bit though.
Afrihouse is a top notch track, controlled by deep bassy drumming and various other percussion, ranging from latin to afrobeat sounds. Mazurek lets the beats progress at nice intervals without forcing anything to take off. The end of the track is definitely a weird one though… The volume is slowly lowered to leave a psychedelic fog of noise before the drums are hit hard in a out of place attack of noise. Still, a nice track overall. Black Liquor is more out of place music, with a downtrodden trip hop beat leading the way, which doesn’t fit in the album at all really. It isn’t bad perse; it’s just out of the blue. However, it only goes for 2:50, so it’s not like it’s a long and grinding song. Some of the sounds and beats created therein are quite interesting though, as we tread through what reminds me of a dark carnival.
Balao De Gas carries over the base from the previous track before moving onto its own, a higher tempo beat with more Brazilian influences obvious. The drumming in particular is a nice change, using traditional Brazilian jazz percussion and constructs. It’s all a bit same same throughout the song though, and I didn’t really love it, but it has its moments. The album ends with Numa Grana, 5 minutes of muffled talking with feedback throughout.
Sao Paulo Underground is a nice variation for Maruzek from his Chicago Underground, and I love the comparisons one can attempt to draw with essentially the same base but different influences. It uses afrobeat/latin/Brazilian sounds well, and although the electronics could be used a bit better, it doesn’t mean that they are a detriment to the album. However, there are some moments where it just doesn’t entertain.
– Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres
|06-22-2009, 07:10 AM||#103 (permalink)|
Moodswings n' Roundabouts
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: At the corner of Dude and Catastrophe
|06-22-2009, 09:44 PM||#104 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2008
Only been through the first few pages of posts, but there's some brilliant material in here, for real. Already picked up most of the albums you've reviewed; you've got some great taste. Thanks a lot for all these gems, I'm excited to get through the rest of the thread.
|06-24-2009, 03:14 AM||#105 (permalink)|
Barely Disheveled Zombie
Join Date: Sep 2008
Hope you enjoy the albums.
|06-26-2009, 04:28 AM||#106 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Great review there. That Afrihouse track sounds like top-drawer stuff. Judging by the title track, the album doesn't exactly sound like my kinda thing. I'll have a look for it when I decide to explore a bit of free jazz.
|07-17-2009, 02:45 AM||#107 (permalink)|
Barely Disheveled Zombie
Join Date: Sep 2008
Chinoiseries - Onra (2007)
GENRES - Hip-Hop, Experimental
Introduction - 1:04
The Anthem - 1:49
Chop Your Hands - 2:04
Relax In Mui Ne - 2:14
Naughty Hottie (Interlude) - 0:39
Eat Dog - 1:13
Last Tango In Saigon - 1:31
Apocalypse Now - 1:16
I Wanna Go Back - 3:13
Full Backpack - 1:10
War - 0:58
Lesson With The Master - 0:50
Dark Sea - 1:50
Phuoc Dat (Interlude) - 0:53
Boundless Boundaries - 2:14
What Up Duyet? - 1:29
Welcome To Viet Nam - 0:37
Here Comes The Flutes - 2:11
The Vallee Of Love - 2:07
Smoking Buddha - 2:03
Clap Clap - 2:17
Bounce (Interlude) - 0:40
Live From Hue - 1:08
Where's My Longan? - 1:38
Take A Ride - 2:01
Raw - 1:42
The Ritual - 1:22
Cymbal Oelek - 0:50
The Third Sword (Interlude) - 0:37
One Day - 1:24
The Got Breaks Too - 1:52
Hope - 1:33
‘Chinoseries’ by Onra is A favourite from its finding my collection and a great hip hop album in general, with a pretty cool story behind it. Onra is a French who went to Vietnam (where his grandparents were from) as a cultural and heritage trip. When in Saigon, he purchased a whole bunch of vinyls, primarily old, most of which were poor quality, and started mixing and matching for this fantastic result. Now, I am hardly going to do a song by song review when he has a whopping 32 songs present, most of which don’t even break the 2 minute mark. The result is incredibly interesting, even if most don’t like the generally short songs and sometimes repetitive nature of the album.
‘Introduction’ begins the album quite inauspiciously for what has been promised. Its only contains the most subtle of hints at the sampling that Onra would use. The base beats have a hint of South Asia sounds but nothing distinct. ‘The Anthem’ on the other hand makes it blatantly obvious, with a classical folk tune mixed with high quality. It IS the Anthem for the album (even if it isn’t my favourite track from the album), and its good in that the beats don’t dominate the samples used, rather they work together with great balance.
‘Chop Your Hands’ is another fantastic track, grainy and crackling throughout, following a basic guitar line, it never does anything HUGE or breaks outs, but its quality lies in the subtleties present. ‘Relax in Mui Ne’ is another folky mix, with an elegant vocalist throughout. ‘Eat Dog’ uses a classic kung fu soundtrack to introduce the song, reminiscent of Wu-Tang ’36 Chambers’. ‘Last Tango in Saigon’ is another track that is favoured by its repetitive but short nature, which leads into ‘Apocalypse Now’, a fantastic little beat (I don’t know if it’s a reference to the movie, likely though). This is followed by the longest track on the album, I Wanna Go Back’, at a whopping 3 minutes and 12 seconds, which contains more general hip hop sounds rather than having the samples dominate. It is probably the grainiest and rawest track out of the lot as well, but it’s probably a bit long for the relatively small amounts of progression throughout.
‘Full Backpack’ and ‘War’ are another great pair of tracks, but they are short enough for the lack of progression not to weight them down too much (combined reaching only a minute), and in particular ‘War’ is a favourite of mine. Opening with a call out from an unknown person, it is a memorable track from an album that generally has a lot of great short moments, before slowly fading out. ‘Dark Sea’ uses some nice ocean samples to build a dark and foreboding surrounding.
‘Boundless Boundaries’ is a nice quieter track, subdued partially due to the quality of the vinyl. ‘Whats Up Duyet?’ opens as a fast paced old school Viet-pop song, before fading into an upbeat dream pop beat, filled occasionally with a discussion between a male and a female. ‘Welcome To Vietnam’ opens with probably the most clichéd tune you can pull out of Asia, before being pulled into a nice and simple beat based around classical Vietnam strings before fluidly transitioning to ‘Here Comes The Flutes’, which is full of weird and wonderfully abstract composition and percussion. The heavy metallic drumming in particular is a treat.
‘The Vallee Of Love’ is exactly what it sounds like as a sample, an upbeat lovey dovey beat that is nonetheless entertaining. ‘Smoking Buddha’ is another interesting track, where most things seem far off, due to the loud crackling, but the way it is mixed is pretty cool if you listen to the details. ‘Clap Clap’ signals the final of four consecutive songs over 2 minutes, but it is probably my least favourite track on the album. Here’s a hint, it involves clapping and saying ‘clapping’ . ‘Live From Hue’ opens with all the dramatic sounds you need before trailing into a heavier beat, which transitions into an sad vocal performance at the start of ‘Where’s My Longan?’.
‘Take A Ride’ is a relapse of a few ideas already traveled in the album, at a more subdued level (Surprising he could even reach that considering the originals were fairly studied anyway…). ‘Raw’ is a magnificent track, abstract, to the point of almost making you think your headphones are broken. Nothing is balanced, but that’s what makes it good. ‘The Ritual’, which is representative of the old festival dances and music performed at ceremonies that have become so easy to find in the modern day. ‘Cymbal Oelek’ is another disjointed track, which is fairly cool for its 50 seconds.
‘One Day’ is another traditional hip hop sounds, with the samples cutting in and out of the base beat, which I quite liked, almost forcing you to be in two minds at once. ‘They Got Breaks Too’ begins with an almost bugs bunny-esque theme break breaking down into a dirty groove, and opening back up to a folk-pop song being sampled. The album is sent off with ‘Hope’, a stereotypical dreamy sample, living up to its name beautifully, and it’s a nice ending.
‘Chinoiseries’ is a pretty difficult album to review purely because 32 songs averaging 1 minute 30 each. Obviously this won’t be everyone's cup of tea, due to lack of progression through not only the songs, but the album as well, and the occasional repetitive nature to the tracks. In all that though I found a hip hop album I liked a lot, which uses traditional sounds and ideas from Vietnam and various other southern Asian countries to paint a rich tapestry of the history/culture and beauty of Onra’s ancestor’s homeland. Cool album cover as well.
– The Anthem
– Dark Sea
– Here Come The Flutes
Sorry it took so long for an update BTW. Sorta winged this one
|07-22-2009, 02:42 AM||#109 (permalink)|
Barely Disheveled Zombie
Join Date: Sep 2008
Treny – Jacaszek (2008)
GENRES – Electronic, Ambient, Classical
Rytm To Nieśmiertelność I (- 5:26
Lament - 6:54
Orszula - 3:36
Żal - 4:58
Powoli - 5:54
Taniec - 5:05
O Ma Żałości - 5:32
Tren IV - 3:34
Walc - 3:12
Martwa Cisza - 5:14
Rytm To Nieśmiertelność II - 4:46
2008 was a ridiculous year for music in my opinion. Nympheas, Volksstrurm, Bersarin Quartett, Blackfilm, Dig Lazarus Dig, and that’s just to name a few. Over the year, the two albums of the year changed around, and as the year came to a close, the decision was mainly between Volkssturm and DLD. That is until one November evening, stumbling around random blogs to find the next fix, I came across Treny. ‘Dark Ambient, Experimental, Classical’, I thought I may as well give it a try. The album cover wasn’t exactly inspiring, but I am hardly the one to let that impact me too much. Downloaded, loaded into Foobar, press play. It’s a bit hard to describe the feeling, but there was little doubt that it was almost instantly my favourite album of 2008.
‘Rytm To Nieśmiertelność I’ caught me from the opening with its slow, haunting reverberating sounds, lightly mixed to catch the listener from falling off-guard. It builds up perfectly, beginning slowly, but with melancholy, as the intensity increases ever so slightly, before light plucking of a harp intervenes, sharp, but leaving a strong trail in its wake. Soon, a small string ensemble enters the piece, with two distinct performances, dragging you from one side to another. Light ethereal vocals are introduced, and although the basic beat from the start hasn’t changed, the sum of all the small parts lead to an amazing dynamic. The electronics are minimal enough to make the balance remain the same, but are great when they are present. They don’t interfere – Rather they evolve the sound.
‘Lament’ is introduced by a deep bass line, slightly distorted, fuzz flying through the background, as the strings begin to cry out, the harp plucked away in the background, yet at the same time, impossible to ignore. The ghostly vocals pierce through the wall, leaving the violins in their wake, the two instruments rarely used in conjunction. Whilst the song carries a distinct sombre and melancholic tone, it is one that doesn’t induce fear. It is essential listening for anyone. Throughout, the ears are never rested, a constant veil of feedback masking any hint of respite, before the ending comes, all electronics drawn back to leave a single stroke of a piano key.
‘Orszula’ is kicked off marvellously, various levels of electronic tones and feed back being used as a backing for a solemn and sparse piano performance. The track almost relishes its minimalism, content in the small things, rather than going large, before everything joins in at once. Light percussion, the small ensemble follow this basic melody, and still nothing feels crowded. ‘Zal’, similarly to the previous tracks uses electronics and piano to make the base, wonderfully distorted, whilst the vocals slowly emerge from the background, never quite the focus of the song until much later. Nothing is clean, most having some level of distortion or variation. The violins sound as if they are screaming, a marvellous performance.
‘Powoli’ seems almost more frivolous (For lack of better term), carrying a more aggressive, and at times, playful tone. Within this, however, is a dark and almost malevolent being. Extreme fuzziness, hints of talking, and other such oddities such as a heartbeat make it all the more interesting to dissect. Nothing seems in-sync, which only adds to the playful suggestions make earlier in the track. Amazingly, the album hasn’t put a foot wrong so far. ‘Taniec’ almost reminds me of an old classical composition you know you have heard, but can’t quite but your finger on, but with an electronic mix over the top.
‘O Ma Zalosci’ attacks the senses with a constant reverberating sound in your ears. Not necessarily loud, the tone and pitch offers no respite, before it softens, allowing the vocals to come into play. The song itself summons emotions of resentment and sorrow, yet there is nothing the protagonists can do about it. At times it almost reminded me of an old French film I once saw, and only remember some key moments and parts of the soundtrack, offering film noir ideas and suggestions. ‘Tren IV’ once again uses the harp to full advantage, creating a sense of floating, as you are left clawing at small widgets of noise. The construct of the piece really is amazing, almost seeming hopefully, without offering too much of an upbeat nature and beat.
‘Walc’ offers an almost under water attraction, before you slowly reach the surface. The sounds are almost random, both in their nature and distortion, and it quickly has become another favourite of mine. It offers so many minimal qualities, but at the same time, it isn’t purely due to a lack of noise. The beat is positive, and the vocals reflect as such. ‘Martwa Cisza’ offers up another piano based track, as the protagonist and antagonist meet for one final battle. The album finishes with a nice bookend in ‘Rytm To Nieśmiertelność II’, finishing the ideas presented in the opening track in a more positive light.
Chances are most of those who try out the album will be bored out of their lights. Admittedly, ambient music isn’t the ‘perfect music for any situation’. However, when it comes to special albums, personally I can crank them at any time and be happy. Treny is a special album in that regards. It almost doesn’t matter when I play it, it can be the perfect going to sleep music, or the perfect morning ‘after a drinking session’ music, or the middle of a bright or raining day. From start to finish it captivates, and easily gets the nod for best album of 08, which is a pretty tough race to win in my book. Fantastic listen.
- Rtym To Niesmiertelnosc I
|07-22-2009, 04:32 AM||#110 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Seems quite the album that. Alright, I don't know a lot about ambient music outside of a few Brian Eno albums, but I don't think I've heard anything that sounds like that before. Fascinating mix of classical and ambient electronic textures there, which I've never really come across before. I mean, damn, where do you find this stuff
Another one I'm gonna take a minute or two to look for in a bit. Great review, as always.
edit - Just found it on a blog. Someone's labelled it as drum 'n' bass