Monday, October 26, 2015

Phillip Wilkerson and Chris Russell - “Vague Traces” CD

Subtle ambient dreamscapes

Two ambient artists combine forces here for “Vague Traces”, a subtle and dreamlike album of lucid waking-dream textures and deliberately amorphous sound washes. The opener, “Far Past”, is a gauzy drone that summons hypnagogic states quite nicely, as does “The Diamond Sky”, which layers gentle wafts of gentle tones into a swirl of fragile sound-clouds. “Across The Sun” sounds almost more urban, with distant dreams of automation in the background, like a narcotic awakening in an urban soundscape pre-dawn.

The rest of these tracks fall nicely in line with this feeling — drifty, narcotic, and softly-enveloping clouds of sound. But fairy dust or window dressing this ain’t — Wilkerson and Russell’s music is edgy and realistic, with hints of darkness alongside the contemplative fragility. 

“Vague Traces” is a sublime and beautiful work of art, and one that can be enjoyed best at late night or during early morning hours. I am impressed.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Csillagkod - “Silent World” CD

Deep and mysterious ambient

Transylvanian-born Oliver Dombi is Csillagkod (Hungarian for “Nebula”), and this is his debut full-length release of deep and evocative space/ambient music. The opener, “The Communication System Between Civilizations Of The Universe” is a fairly static collage of cloudy, layered drones and darkened rumblings, like a less-focused Lustmord, almost, Being a longtime fan of classic “industrial” sounds, I have no problem with that, but luckily Dombi moves along from there on “Silent World”.

“Empty Galaxies” lightens up a bit, moving outwards into the celestial heavens. Dombi really hits his stride with the evocative space music of “The Birth Of The Solar System”, which brings a melodic slant to his drifty and cinematic universe. “Water From Another Planet” is a sublime and beautiful journey, with swells of dramatic strings and tender plinkings, while “Kettoscsillag” is 4 minutes of reverberated chimes and dark undercurrents.

“Silent World” is a surprisingly mature and subtle debut, packed with mystery, emotion, wonder, and majesty. Csillagkod is an artist to watch, and this is a wonderful album.

Peter Pan Speed Rock - “Buckle Up And Shove It!” CD

Rough & tumble punk metal rawk shit!

Dutch punk act PPSR don’t mess around. They’ve been around for 20 years, and this new album is a seriously intense burst of energetic and frenzied punk metal madness. “Get You High” starts things off with a sound reminiscent of Motorhead and Black Flag’s bastard love-child. Pretty damned sweet. And speaking of damned — the band’s superb cover of the Damned’s classic “New Rose” is instantly recognizable and most welcomed. Influences like these don’t lie — Peter Pan Speed Rock know their shit. “Whatever Man” sounds like a maniacal Henry Rollins-era Black Flag, which isn’t a bad thing, either. The rest of the album is just as unrelenting, too.

This album is PPSR holding their influences on their sleeves while making some heavy, balls-out rock and roll without pretense. I can get behind that. Great stuff!

Paul Ellis - “Moth In Flames” CD

Light sequencer meanderings

Vancouver, Washington-based veteran ambient electronic composer Ellis’s 2015 release begins with the deceptively-titled “In Flagrante Delicto”, a light and airy ambient sequencer tune whose casual and decidedly non-threatening tones have nothing to do with any sort of offense, the least of which being sexual, as that title implies! Not sure if Ellis is being ironic here, but it’s a pleasant track, nonetheless. “Moth In Flames” is another casual and gauzy analogue synth exercise, as is the almost synth poppy “Birds Migrating Over The Prison”.

Ellis admittedly pays homage to the classical Berlin sequencer sound founded by folks like Tangerine Dream, Edgar Froese, and Klaus Schulze, and that vibe permeates his work on “Moth In Flames”. He brings a well-defined melodic slant to his spacey, drifty electronics, oftentimes bringing a blippy, retro kinda vibe that recalls the eighties synth pop heyday.

I find “Moth In Flames” to be a pleasant, if rather forgettable work of analogue ambient synth work, not adding a whole lot to the stew, but not offending, either.