Giovanni Fibilini: Giovanni Fibilini (Cursor Club - 1999) (8.2)
Perhaps an oddity on this page by virtue of being very "normal" electronic music, the strangeness factor appears behind the scenes... it is reported these tracks were recorded by one Giovanni Fibilini, "an enigmatic Italian composer who had a habit of disappearing... throughout his rather short and very odd life. He has been missing since April 1, 1998. Some people think he never existed at all."
Regardless of who put the "fib" in Fibilini, these tracks demonstrate a joyous, classic sense of neo-romanticism. Though not traditionally accurate in reflecting the style each title conveys, the straightforward electronic compositions (including Waltz, Tango, March and my favorite, the lovely accordian-like chords of Polka) are presented in crisp ringing tones without fancy processing, samples or e-percussion. Contact Cursor Club for more insight into this sweet, simple music from an unknowable source.
Jeff Greinke: Big Weather (Linden - 1994) (8.5)
After many hours basking in the lovely haze ofJeff Greinke's re-released Lost Terrain, these surroundings do feel a bit different. More tribal (including more rhythms, ethnic instrumentation and occasional chants) and more humid... not to mention groovier, and in the case of Hot Wire at least, cyber-funkier. Last Words interweaves distorted vocal strands into its rhythmic foundation. River Limba is a spooky cacophany of clattering bamboo and haunting female wails.
It's indeed a different beast; more primal, but accessibly tamed under the guidance of Greinke's masterly hands and sensibilities.
Legendary Pink Dots: Sing While You May (Brudenia - 1999) (8.5)
Russian-made Sing While You May is packaged entirely with Cyrillic typesetting, so unless your eyes are multilingual the track titles will remain a mystery (fortunately, I have an English-ized cheat sheet).I confess that this is my introduction to this productive and long-lived enesemble. I also confess that, while not generally ambient in content, I'm instantly intrigued by their eclectic and wide-ranging scope of artful rock sounds. Backed by lengthy musical arrangements of many flavors, Edward Ka-Spel's accented and perfectly unrefined voice is extremely effective in its flatly glib though emotive delivery of clever lyrical content.
I'm unsure when the tracks were originally recorded, though several seem to revel in an distinctly early-80's sound with a hint of the that era's New Waviness ala Depeche Mode or the Cure. Damien is positively Pink Floyd-ian in execution and style, sounding for all the world as if it could have been a brick in The Wall.
Semi-symphonic chaos erupts in The Golden Age (2:02) with a faraway female radio voice providing deadpan documentation. Softly stroked piano and violin merge with few whispered vocals of Lovers Part 2 which then expands into a gorgeous neo-classical study, electronically degenerating and visited by samples toward its conclusion. Supper at J's (12:32), a previously unreleased first version, is more electronic, with quietly speedy beats and a robotized voice lurking behind the rather ominous digital flow. The CD closes on two new sans-vocal pieces which explore freeform territory. The fine folks at Soleilmoon can help you out with this, and many, many other titles.
Mocean Worker: Mixed Emotional Features (Palm Pictures - 1999) (9.0)
With stylistic flairs from across the musical spectrum, Adam Dorn's energetic and expert blend of electronics and drum-and-bass sounds is bookended by the best cuts IMO... The spooky groove of René M opens this more-than-one-hour of masterfully rhythmicated electronics. The two closing tracks, Times of Danger and Boba Fett, grab hold and don't let go... The former is an action-packed spy-theme gone mad where brass interjections are tossed about over frantic rhythms and intense keyboard licks; the latter incorporates dark space themes and unusual sci-fi musicianship with a swiftly flowing beatstream to forge a celestial mindtrip.
Other notable tracks include Detonator, which explodes between
buzzing synth riffs and aggro jazz blasts and Counts, Dukes and Strays; Dorn's homage to classic jazz kings melodiously bops along on old-fashioned bass thrums
(though I wish that sampled voice would hold true to its promise of "one more
time"...). The riddim of the streets is clearly heard in Heaven @ 12:07, with its turntable effects and hip-hoppiness. Overall, a very, very good disc with a contagious sense of perky fun!
vox barbara: the five senses (little man records - 1999) (8.3)
This lovingly hand-packaged re-release contains literally home-made sound sculptures which Frank Smith originally recorded in 1996. Accompanied by rather bizarre text (some from the1797 futurist work "Ravings of a Madman", which inspired these pieces) and bound with a fragment of cassette tape, these strange, experimental soundscapes are often murky, occasionally rhythmic, sometimes chaotic but never ordinary.
Apparently the chaotic tones which uncurl and pierce the airwaves of Resonance are the re-processed (or, as Smith says, "contaminated") sounds of "insipid harp music stolen from the Internet." The driving throb of Smith's strum stick stirs the sonic stew of Liquidity which is flavored with moody guitar strums and occasional cymbal percussion. The truly ominous intro to The Stickiness of Colors is hard to shake off; it then leads into a radiating tunnel of sound, glowing with a pale light illuminating unusual textures. Learn more, and if you're MP3-ready, listen for yourself at Smith's vox barbara site.
Various Artists: Digital Dust (Rawkus - 199?) (8.3)
Billed as "the next dimension of breakbeat sound engineering", this
percussive comp manages to be heavy on the beats (and fairly high in
digital grunge) without pounding on the nerves; in fact, many pieces
(crown of brahma's five poisons, for instance) are quite subdued in a groovy slowbeat fashion. I like it!
a.x. by butz interestingly balances soft woodwind/orchestral passages with flurrious (occasionally becoming thunderous) drumming,
whereas tactile's scorn vs. tactile blends spacey electrogrunge with grittier rhythmic sounds. Daring to be dancey, dumbeat drops shimmery synth and funky guitar riffs into the drum and electronics stew of in the morning. Closing this rhythmfest, scanner (in non-intercepted-phone-call mode) lays metallic, tribal pounding over a softly melancholy string section.
Various Artists: em:t 2000 (instinct - 1995) (9.1)
2CDs covering a wide range of the ambient/electronic spectrum, including
such noteworthy artists as Woob, Scanner (from Robin Rimbaud's
telephone voyeurism days), Thomas Köner and A Small Good Thing.
Which is spookier? The eerie electronic drifts of Shockwaves by Gas,
or the symphonic-tinged melancholia of Miasma's Beads?
Disc two begins hazily with a mellow groove as Sine asks What's On
Your Mind, in an ethereal/lounge atmosphere. The neo-tribal excursion
of David Toop is followed by the spacious slide guitar of A Small Good Thing with Saguaro excerpted from Slim Westerns (still one of
While many of these acts are in the "Who?!" and/or "Where are they now?"
categories, the comp is an excellent sampler platter of the state of
ambient electronics circa 1995, and as such, comes highly recommended
from the AmbiEntrance.
Posted August 28, 1999 | 1999 Overviews Index