[Music] Arturo Stàlteri – From Ajanta to Lhasa

This release comes as a very pleasant surprise! Arturo Stàlteri (Italian bio) is a pianist and composer of incredible ability whom I came across at least 30 years ago when finding a record by his early project, Pierrot Lunaire, who release a couple of progressive rock masterpieces.

This new album (and I’m not really sure if it is a reissue or something that was sitting in the vaults for 40 years) compares well with minimalist composers influenced by Eastern culture like Terry Riley, Philip Glass and La Monte Young.

This really is a minor treasure. I’d be very interested to see if Stàlteri has a few more hidden albums waiting to see the light of day.

[Music] Ellen Fullman & Theresa Wong – Harbors

Lawrence English of Room40 Records has never, not once, disappointed me in showcasing a magnificent new release. This one is a collaboration between Ellen Fullman and her long string instrument collaborating with Theresa Wong, who adds a warm layer with her cello.

From the Bandcamp website:

Harbors is a collaboration of composers Ellen Fullman (Long String Instrument) and Theresa Wong (cello), which draws inspiration from the soundscapes, stories and atmospheres that manifest around bodies of water that propagate exchange. Structured around the extended harmonics of the open strings of the cello, Wong and Fullman utilize subsets of these tonal areas to create distinct sonic environments within the piece.

Fullman’s Long String Instrument, a stunning installation of over forty strings spanning seventy feet in length, places the performers and audience inside the actual resonating body, transforming the architecture itself into the musical instrument. Wong has developed techniques that take the cello beyond tradition into a vocabulary more closely rooted in the sounds of the natural world. She captures material electronically, layering textures amplified throughout the space which form an immersive field where figure and ground are in constant flux.

The piece reveals an orchestration of shifting drones, aberrant melodies and glistening atmospheres. Harbors has reverberated many spaces around the world, including: Click Festival, Helsingør, Denmark; Transformer Station, Cleveland; MONA FOMA, Tasmania; Centennial Hall, Sydney Festival; The Lab, San Francisco; and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

https://room40.bandcamp.com/album/harbors

As I am now settled in Brno, Czech Republic, these reviews will start making a comeback, and there are plans for new projects afoot. More on that later.

[Music] Xerxes The Dark – Final Crises

At least for my taste, there’s not much better than hearing extremely deep, cavernous, and at some points, scary, black ambient. No, not dark ambient. This is black and bleak. Morego Dimmer (Xerxes The Dark himself) composes a lot of top-quality material, but I feel like he’s begun to hit the peak of his powers. I can say without hesitation that Iran is the place to watch for this strain of electronic music.

[Music] NERATERRÆ – Scenes From The Sublime

Our friend Alessio Antoni of NERATERRÆ is visiting us for the third time, and he brings along some of the finest composers in dark ambient music to collaborate with.

Some of the participants in this album include Alphaxone, Dødsmaskin, Leila Abdul-Rauf, Mount Shrine, Phelios, Phragments, Shrine, Xerxes The Dark, George Zafiriadis from Martyria and Yann Hagimont from Cober Ord. The variance of sounds and textures on this release corresponds well with the different paintings which inspired Alessio to produce this album. Such painters as Zdzisław Beksiński, Ilya Repin, Salvador Dalí, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Francisco Goya among others.

There is a ghostly quality that comes with the genre on each track, but they have more of a viscous feeling to them. They sound, and in a sense, feel, more substantial than others I’ve been hearing recently. There is no shortage of incredible ambient music going around today, but Alessio and his partners continue to impress and surprise.

[Music] Zan Hoffman & Hubert Heathertoes – Kaunastic Relapse of Idiosyncrasies: The Baltic Innoculation and other wayward ditties

Zan Hoffman and Hubert Heathertoes have been featured twice on this blog before (see here and here), and each time, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by their output.  The good lads continue their tradition of splicing together drone, field recordings, and an aura of pleasantly calming weirdness together for well over an hour of headphone bliss.

[Music] Various Artists – Witchcraft & Black Magic In The United Kingdom

Our friend and compatriot Raffaele Pezzalla (the legend behind Sonologyst, Unexplained Sounds Group and Eighth Tower Records) has made yet another masterful compilation, bringing together such acts as Rapoon, Michael Bonaventure and Daniel Williams to pay tribute to one of England’s quirkier periods – that of witchcraft in the British Isles.

I see the history of witchcraft from both a Christian and historical point of view which differs from what the liner notes say, but be that as it may, the compilation is solid, and I only regret I didn’t review this about two weeks ago, as it makes for great Halloween / All Souls’ Day listening.

[Music] Richard Pinhas & Merzbow – Rhizome

This release bridges the not-so-large gap between genres, connected by Heldon guitarist and loop master Richard Pinhas, and perhaps the most prolific post-Industrial composer of all time, Masami Akita (under his performance monicker Merzbow).

This is a live recording performed live during the Sonic Circuits Festival, September 24, 2010 at La Maison Française [The French Embassy] in Washington D.C.  The sound quality is superb, and as one would expect from two masters of their respective fields, their instruments of choice (guitar and loops for Pinhas, computer for Merzbow) ebb and flow into each other effortlessly.  This is a powerful release, and I hope it is the beginning of a long-term collaboration between both.

[Music] JOHN 3​:​16 – JOHN 3​:​16 / Visions Of The Hereafter

JOHN 3:16 are among the most powerful bands in dark ambient and drone music today.  Philippe Gerber continues to amaze with his catalog, but this release is particularly special, as I never had the chance to delve into their early catalog.

This release combines the first two albums by the band onto one cassette.  Both releases remind me not just of dark ambient music, but of the middle period post-Industrial and experimental music I grew up with.

Favorable is not a strong enough word to rank this release.  It’s quite powerful.

[Music] strom|morts – Levitating Terminal Rotation

strom|morts have a very odd, warped take on electronic music which at ones reminds me of the weirder moments of Aphex Twin and something you would hear in a B-movie soundtrack or special effects catalog out of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (think Delia Derbyshire).  And yes, this is high praise.  The sounds are disconcerting, uneasy listening, and that’s precisely what has impressed me most.