My review of the Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto and Bryce Dessner soundtrack for The Revenant has been posted over at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample.
For the most part, there’s a kind of ascetic, restrained feeling, a mirror to the film’s harsh, cold setting. There’s hints of single-fiddle folk-tunes, dragged out to contemplative, almost-stopped lengths, but there’s more fulsome moments, too. The ‘Killing Hawk’ cue mines the emotive vein popularised by Arvo Part – indeed, some of the string prods are reminiscent of that composer’s Te Deum, isolated moments of touched-nerve consideration, heard through reverberation.
My review of A. Dobson’s Lost Broadcast has just gone live at Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample:
Everything is so honest a tribute to synth-heavy, jazz-kit almost-prog-but-a-bit-cooler, Kraut-it-yerself music (crossed with a little Atari ST magic, perhaps) it’s easy to imagine the album has been stuck behind someone’s couch for a couple of decades. There’s a couple of non-period sounds on the tracks which keep the ear alert – it’s not all heated-dust synth action, as the dub-squelch-cum-Barry-Adamson swing of ‘Don’t Trip’ shows – but this is as close-to-source retro for this genre as you’ll find. This thing breathes angles and neon.
My review of The House In The Woods’ Bucolicahas been published over at Cyclic Defrost. I liked it so much I actually bought my own copy before I’d even finished writing the review.
The principle of Bucolica appears to be obfuscation; snatches to gain orientation. ‘Untitled Blackniss’ is the sound of waiting, as something large and mechanised – accompanied by the pan-pipes of the damned – comes. ‘Dark Lanterns’ offers a feast of winds and pregnant statis, while ‘Favershell’ is a soundtrack to a procession of the devotees of Dagon, heard from a few streets over. You can hear something either excellent or fucked is occurring just over there – but you’re uncertain you need to see it. It’s not going to make you feel any better, is it?
My review of Nagual‘s self-titled LP has been posted at Cyclic Defrost. I swear the people at that site must think I’m like some kind of Kurtz, going dark for ages and then sending strange proclamations downriver when least expected. Suffice it to say I just wrote what I heard.
Here’s a sample:
The track moves slowly, steadily towards the light until, a third through, a buzzy, busy sound (akin to a melodica or harmonium) comes through. It’s a Carnatic contender against the large-fisted drone, and becomes more insistent as the track moves, by turns sinuous and deadly, as if charming electronic snakes. The ear’s inability to discern actual instruments – was that a clarinet? – places the listener delightfully off balance a very vocal line swoops against itself, like Narcissus and his own reflection. Until, that is, the track becomes a riot of either buzzsaws or traffic noises, like a Tzadik album abandoned by a freeway, left to bum its way to Masada.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a review of Frank Bretschneider‘s Super.Trigger album for Cyclic Defrost. Here’s a sample:
Eschewing romanticism doesn’t remove character, though some tracks are more favoured in this regard. ‘Pink Thrill’ is all nerdly tetchiness, but ‘Machine.Gun’ is the clear winner. Staccato drum rolls imitate the track’s titular weapons while a frenetic background conjures the image of a gunfight held over the top of a Blaxploitation soundtrack. It crackles, and when the end comes – in an echo-chamber of steely ricochets – it’s triumphant. Worth special note too is the album’s attention to bass sounds. On some tracks – the opener ‘Big.Hopes’, and ‘Day.Dream’ in particular – there’s window-shaking kicks and tones that are so immense that it’s difficult not to fist-pump in celebration. Coupled with the appropriate atmosphere, such as the dubby, dark sound of ‘Over.Load’, it’s overwhelmingly great.