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Old 11-15-2011, 04:53 AM   #161 (permalink)
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100 Albums of Assorted Importance

Yes I have done this before, whatever, let’s see if this one lasts a while (Not that I expect it to ever finish)
I’m not really going to order these because it’s pretty much impossible to value their general importance to me other than a select few, which change every few years, in which case they can’t be that important to me ANYWAY.

100. (Because I’m a twat) We™ - As Is

I’m never quite sure what to label these guys as for other listeners. Given one of the group members coined the phrase; I suppose we will settle on ‘illbient’ despite it being the apex of wankery for musical genre naming. The group of DJ Olive/Gregor Asch, Lloop/Rich Panciera and Once 11/Ignacio Platas produced ‘As Is’ as a debut album in 1997 after primarily being hidden away on compilation albums for most of the earlier 90’s. I was introduced to the album primarily through said compilation association, and as per usual, Bill Laswell was at least partially responsible for the discovery.

Anyway, what can be said about the album itself? It’s a ragtag mix of a whole bunch of different styles from a group trying to gain a semblance of identity, and to be honest, failing at it. The album hardly flows as the group tries to squeeze in their own styles, mixed in over 4-6 genres, while trying to pay ‘homage’ to the New York tweener illbient scene. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. There are, however, few albums of the genre that grab me as much from their opening track than Magnesium Flares does in As Is. A sublime trip hop/jungle fiesta for the senses, beginning with a healthy dose of desktop trip-electronic ambience, the introduction of the dnb elements just work so nicely in contrast. Two elements that don’t really fit together, and don’t even necessarily try to, create an exciting mix of authority and relaxation. Unlike a large majority of dnb, I feel the depth of repetition is in perfect balance; however this effect may simply be created by the divergent ambient form.

The rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to the starring track, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time letting it play through. Ease-In fuses dub with those same ambient forms for an appropriately trippy result while Dyed Camel Skin offers another highlight, another mix of world and trippy-goodness.
All that being said, the result is a bit cut and paste, and the following albums never quite live up to the expectations from As Is. Still, it’s one of the few ‘illbient’ albums that I bother with because it doesn’t get stuck in the rut that most illbient acts do – In this regard, the eclectic approach they’ve taken probably works in it’s favour.

I dunno, give it a whirl.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:34 PM   #162 (permalink)
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I really miss this thread!
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Old 06-29-2013, 09:23 AM   #163 (permalink)
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(Bumping this thread because I may just be forced to make another post in here sooner rather than later)
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:20 PM   #164 (permalink)
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It’s Been A Long Night

Well, since Trollheart challenged me to actually update this SOB, I thought it would be interesting to review where I’ve been, where we’ve come from, all that wanky stuff.

I can’t rightly say why I stopped posting here… I think it was mostly to do with the fact that I was sort of over all of the arguments when it came to ‘taste’. Well, maybe argument isn’t the right word, but there’s only so much you can really say about someone else’s taste in music, isn’t there. At the end of the day, I had burnt myself out reviewing albums, so there wasn’t much value in me hanging around.

In regards to MY taste in music… Well, I can’t say it’s anything like it used to be. I still love a variety of music, but it’s sort of centralised itself in ways I would have never imagined three years ago. I would like to blame this album in particular…


Sure, The Church, Amon Tobin and Dead Can Dance are still probably my big three, but I find myself exploring the realm of hip hop primarily nowadays. And damn it happened fast. The generic tag of ‘hip hop’ has already taken over my foobar playlist, making up approximately 26% of my 200 gb collection. Considering how recently it’s been a ‘thing’ for me, that’s insane. In conjunction with that, I’ve pretty much been focussing on new releases since 2011. I pretty much grab anything and everything as soon as it’s released. This partially has to do with some of my favourite classic blogs being shut down, from whence I received a lot of my older, obscure stuff.

Which means the coming back of potential reviews should be pretty interesting compared to the mish-mash of album release dates that my older reviews had. I’m still not sure on this front, I might go back to the old catalogue and pick out some favourites, or I might use the journal as a way to explore new music, we’ll see.

I’m still Niesmiertelnosc on lastfm, which is now a reflection of musical taste since rebooting it late 2010. I didn’t really use it in the early times since then, so most of my classic listening is buried in there. For those interested, my account is named after a fantastic track from this ‘back in the day’ album.


Either way, there are a few uploads from the preliminary reviews, with one track from each album under the ‘Compilations’ title in the second overall post if you’re interesting in giving them a proper spin.

At the end of the day, hopefully I hang around this time and bring you a few more enjoyable albums! We’ll see how it goes.
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Old 04-09-2018, 05:12 PM   #165 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarko View Post
Khmer – Nils Petter Molvær (1997)


GENRES - Jazz, Nujazz, Electronic, World

Tracks
Khmer – 4:59
Tlon – 7:53
Access/Song of Sand I – 5:51
On Stream – 5:01
Platonic Years – 6:34
Phum – 3:39
Song of Sand II – 6:12
Exit – 2:43

Well Norway just seems to be a bubble of talent at the moment… Nils Petter (Review upcoming) as well as a talented bunch including the likes of Eivind Aarset (Whom I introduced many of you to via the March Birthday competition on the general board), Trumpeter Arve Hendriksen and band Wibutee. All of these mentioned have been pushing some interesting boundaries concerning jazz and electronics especially.

Nils Petter offered up one of my favourite albums from the 90’s with the outing ‘Khmer’. Released in 1998, the album is an exploratory experimental amalgamation of raw jazz and various electronic styles, including house, dub and ambient. Molvaer’s distinctive style is beautiful throughout and ohffers a very interesting contrast to the back beats. The final result is a tasty morsel that should be sampled by anyone with a passing interest in jazz, nujazz, electronica, and music in general.

The title track ‘Khmer’ offer quite a bit of variety, reaching through its jazzy focus, as well as its electronic base, to some interesting world music samples. The light plucking of a string instrument, as well as the electronics and electric guitar are used to ‘symbolise’ some foreign aspects. The overall feel of the song is seemingly of Asian origin. This is most likely homage to the origin of the word ‘Khmer’, which was a civilisation near Cambodia which was most prominent in the early part of last millennium. The song is built around an Asian mood without every directly referencing so with instruments. Molvaer’s performance is stellar, initially succumbing to the sombre tone of the early parts of the song before breaking out to add his own touch and flair. It never loses its sombre nature or tone of respect.

Throughout the album Movaer displays his ability to convey different emotions though his brass instrument of choice. ‘Tlon’, starts off as a down tempo trip hop piece with Molvaer’s quiet and macabre trumpeting overlaying. Its beauty is in its ability to convey sadness and yet a sense of melancholy in the listener. As the beats increase, much like that of a beating heart, Molvaer’s speed increases along with it to an all out attack. The electronic aspects become more prominent, and yet never detract from the power of Molvaer’s trumpeting, as he pulls out some lovely ‘latinesque’ moments. There is quite an fascinating interruption to both the electronics and trumpeting as Aarset (Who was one of the back up players for the album) has a raw yet satisfying solo. As the song reaches its end, it’s almost a fight between the two styles as to who ‘owns’ the piece. It’s a lovely way to end the song.

‘Access/Song of Sand I’ immediately sets a dark approach, as the song seems deeper in pitch compared to the first two songs. Individual instruments are easier to pick out, trumpeting, drumming, guitarists, other various wind instruments, and the song truly belongs to them. Some marvellous tonal work makes this a true highlight track, as well as Aarset’s interesting and raw work. Molvaer spends a large percentage of the time adding nice depth to the piece but never truly grabs hold of the song himself. The piece is exquisite, and definitely deserves a listen.

The next track, ‘On Stream’, offers a more down tempo ‘earthy’ feeling, most akin to the title track. Molvaer’s performance is especially worthy of attention, as his slow and unrefined performance makes the piece truly memorable. He takes centre stage and the song is only better for it. It’s a hard song to describe; everything simply fits in well to add to the overall nature of the song and earthy and worldly feel. The song only gets better as it goes along.

‘Platonic Years’ continues the tempo of the previous track with the instruments; however, the piece has a great input from the electronic side of things. This makes the piece feel more spacey rather than earthy. There are quite a few nice touches here and there, such as the electric guitar picking working in conjunction with the tribal drumming. The occasional sampling of a drop falling into a body of water, and other such samples all add a nice level of depth to the song overall. For the first time on the album Molvaer’s trumpets sound distorted from the electronics, which add an interesting and nice quality to them. The songs pace picks up in the second half, making the piece even more upbeat compared to previous ones. Overall it is quite a pleasant song, and the spacey feeling offers something different to that which has been displayed on the album already, a good change in direction.

‘Phum’ is a minimalist piece on the album, consisting mainly of Molvaer’s playing and some interesting background beats. The piece is once again used to showcase Molvaer, and offers up a clean performance, riddled with interruptions from background sounds and samples, including a foreboding repetitive pair of sticks being banged together, as well as some new string aspects. The nature of the song is quite different from much of the album, as it avoids bombarding you with obvious noises and samples. Quite the dark and almost ‘scary’ track, it is definitely worth checking out in the middle of the album.

‘Song of Sand II’ is a continuation of the first SOS, and it opens with a very interesting use of glitch and Molvaer’s trumpet, almost trying to exasperate the sound of his trumpet while barely blowing any air through it. The piece is quite reminiscent of the first, for obvious reasons, but it is still a quality track. It just depends on how much you want to listen to a similar song again. The backing instruments and electronics are particularly nice and evident after a few songs without that depth. Molvaer also gets a few interesting sounds out of his trumpet, ones I wouldn’t normally expect.

‘Exit’ does what the name suggests. A nice ending to the album, it is minimal and offers just the bare minimum of what made the album special. Not entirely bombarding on the senses, it is a nice down tempo exit after the highs already experienced.

As I already mentioned, this was one of my favourite albums of the 90’s. It offers an interesting blend of jazz and electronics and world music, and was certainly a unique experience when I first listened to it. It was one of the first nujazz experiments for me and it is probably still my favourite. The group of musicians is simply brimming with talent, and deserves ample recognition for their performances.

TOTAL SCORE

9.2/10

– On Stream
- Khmer
– Song of Sand I
Bump

Someone bring this guy back!
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