bigover.gif If it helps, imagine the AmbiEntrance November Overviews to be a sumptuously laden Thanksgiving spread, piled high with assorted flavorful dishes lovingly prepared by various family members and friends. They're piled high and steamy hot... mmmmmmmm. Let's say a word of Thanks, then dig in...

Aube: Metal De Metal   (Manifold - 1996) (8.4)
When your friends ask "what are you listening to now?"... you can tell 'em truthfully, "Metal, man... metal!", though it's of the quiet, experimental variety forged by Japan's Akifumi Nakajima, perhaps better known as sound sculptor Aube. Mentalite' Du Metal begins with soft clatters, evolving through a drone-and-warble stage, then culminating in what sounds like an alien assault of high-powered sonic ripples. Long-running Suppression shifts and shimmers with unidentifiable iron-y (maybe they're copper-tones?). The atmosphere of Calx is cut into slivers by the continual, rhythmic slice-and-dice of tiny metal blades, while the soundwaves of the intriguingly noisy Unite Plate thrum and distort, bending into lower registers. The odd textures of Metal Du Mentalite' sounds like a cross between wind-chime and an atonal music box as recorded by a faulty, sputtering microphone... but interestingly so.

Metal De Metal is appropriately packed in a metal sleeve which really cool, but unfortunately likely to scratch the disc. Sonically, not for everyone perhaps, but those who like such experiments are bound to enjoy. Read about Aube's newest and equally enigmatic (though water-based) recording, Ricochetentrance reviewed this month.

Richard Bone: The Eternal Now   (Quirkworks - 1996) (8.3)
Richard Bone calls this his most personal work, and that's easy to believe; even the more pensive pieces of The Eternal Now brim with warmth and forward-looking hope. Zone One radiates in a wondrous expanse of wafting synthwaves and spiraling keyboard noodles. Amidst virtual rainfall, Zone Four is a sweetly melancholy affair, with wistful strings and ancient female radio voices. Similarly winsome, melodious Zone Six is accented with electronic whistling, bells, birds, and distant foghorn-like blares. Sounding like heaven ought to, Page Two is dreamier still, with fluttering harp strings and lush choral waves, whereas eerie Page Three slips into darker territories which are nonetheless lovely despite the mood swing. As Page Four concludes the disc, we feel a final destination has been reached.

Richard Bone is also this month's interviewee and his newest release, Ether Dome is reviewed as well.

Fognode: Urban Passer   (Infrasound Collective - 1999) (8.6)
Brian Siskind is Fognode. He and his friends of the Infrasound Collective of "Nashvegas, USA" have stirred up an entrancing concoction which blends a multitude of sounds and styles, often lurking in a darkened vein of illbient urban decay. Entertaining regional flavors are tossed in through various samples. The layers of string-released soundwaves and digital grunge which flow through Misanthrope (Gnashvegas Dub) are backed by cool beats and even cooler dub-styled basslines . Lovely and dreamy, Ocellus gently wafts in slowly resonating pedal steel guitar strings, tinkling chimes and resonant electronic haze. The blistering electronic grit, spaced out guitar effects and playful experimentation of Sympathetic Ring are set to Corporal Blossom's groovy bass riff, all of which fades into a droning chasm, then becomes a quietly echoey guitar interlude.

Very cool musical experimentations (in rock/electronic/jazz/dub/etc.) which very pleasingly mix straightforward instrumentation with more-ambient flourishes! I hope to hear more from Fognode and the Infrasound Collective; in the meantime, visit their websites.

Chris Kessler: Living in a Box   (Lynskytology- 1999) (7.1)
Living in a Box is not ambient; you'll find it under the keywords "Spoken Word", "Weird", "Experimental", "Humor" at its home on the IUMA website. It's more or less all those things, to some degree. The 53-minute-long, wide-ranging drug-related social commentary/satire is broken into 35 tracks, but meant to be listened to consecutively. Multiple characterizations poke fun at the media, law/government/military officials, drug users, alcohol/tobacco/prescription drug industries, etc. While the proceedings are swiftly paced, fairly well-produced and adequately acted, the scenarios range from bizarre to gross to fairly ridiculous... perhaps drugs and/or alcohol would help when listening? Many of its points are valid, but treated in a cavalier manner on all fronts, resulting in a message that's neither Pro nor Con. Obviously alot of work has been put into the production, but it's not my cup of espresso, but may be of interest to some; hear samples at the website.

Mara's Torment: Dreams Like Mine   (Rik MacClean - 1998) (8.2)
Canada's Rik MacClean blends musical forces of the Dark with the Light, creating subtle, haunting electronics, and sometimes peppier, beat-driven tracks. (See his newest The Barrier of Skin or his previous Across for Show). Before those works came these; a pantomime drug is a lovely duet of bells and boiling synth mutations. Ethereal keyboarding merges with big beats in beguiled. In musing, piano notes reverberate through a darkly washy backdrop. Dark-ish the reach slowly burns with spooky goth synth-organ and a sparse cymbal rhythm. Pounding drums stir the otherwise thinly placid soundwaves of closing track novacaine. While wandering amongst several approaches, MacClean's pieces remain in the shadows, mysterious and ephemeral without becoming threatening or ugly.

The Rootsman vs. Muslimgauze : Return to the City of Djinn   (Third Eye Music- 1999) (8.7)
The Rootsman's dub sounds have been reworked by Muslimgauze in this disc that was released only days after the death of Bryn Jones. The 67-minute disc (with 23 tracks from 1:59 to 3:48) is a bit lighter than usual Muslimgauze fare, what with all the islandic festivities in the air. An elastically surging bass and (of course) plenty of ethnic beats drive Rawalpindi. Cairo takes an extra-dancey approach which I find irresistible. Another personal favorite, Esfahan is empowered by a gritty organ(?) riff, wails, drumbeats and tiny chirping birdies. With a more subdued air, Oran reverberates with slower bass pulses and rhythms, and weird radiowaves flow through Dakar, along with a groovy vibe.

These tracks are definitely more about the music, than the politics, so those who are turned off by the strident messages of other Muslimgauze releases may find this disc more palatable. It's a limited edition though, so I recommend you get it when/where/while you can...

Various Artists: Electro Lounge   (The Right Stuff - 1999) (8.3)
Lots of fun, this one... assorted electronica-makers have revamped tracks from the '60s (and before), injecting modern beats and remixism with varying degrees of success. Überzone's energetic reworking of Hypnotique (Martin Denny) opens the disc on a strong note; wailing sax is pumped to the nth by driving electrorhythms. Dean Martin and Julie London receive a dose of modern coolness when The Rip-Off Artist updates the rhumba stylings of their Sway. The James Bond Theme strays disappointingly far from its original, losing its spy-powered spirit. A more-successful soundtrack adaptation occurs in the gusgus version of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, adding gritty percussion to the westward sounds. The spooky sounds of John Barry's Seance on a Wet Afternoon are admirably revivified by the Omni Trio, with drifting synth, stand up bass and newly-rendered beats.

Other remixers include such notables as u-ziq (applying his trademark drum-madness to Dean Elliot's Lonesome Road), Utah Saints (King Curtis' Watermelon Man), Luke Vibert (April Stevens' Do It Again), Q-Burn's Abstract Message (Yma Sumac's Gopher (Mambo)), Meat Beat Manifesto (Elmer Bernstein's Staccato's Theme) and Eat Static (journeying along with The John Buzon Trio's desert-jazz Caravan). If you need a splash of retro-fun to perk up your holiday festivities, this'll do it!

Posted November 27, 1999 | 1999 Overviews Index

AmbiEntrance © 1999-97 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).