Archive for May 22, 2009

Environmental Meditations Reviews

Vital Weekly
The fact that Maurizio Bianchi is back is something that is known. I think the new age muzak he created right after his return should be seen as a false start, as since quite some time now, he returned to the world of noise and that is a territory that we can safely call his territory. Bianchi here teams up with one Maor Appelbaum, who is a member of various Israeli project such Poochlatz, Vultures, IWR and who has various solo projects Screening , Vectorscope and Plated Steel – not that I heard any of these. “This work provides profitable logicality to the futuristic aversions, subjecting the deprecared barins marketing to an elistist unpretentiousness”. In case you didn’t know. The music are six lengthy slabs of noise. Feedback crushes into each other, and is fed through a bunch of synthesizers and sound effects. At times things ‘mellow’ out just a little bit and goes into some ambient industrial area. It has that same unfocussed sound that is the trademark of Bianchi. It goes on and on, but it has something captivating. Quite alright this one, but it seems to me that the production could have been better. The sound has more potential than is shown here.
From Israel comes Igor Krutogolov, who is besides
a musician also the designer for Topheth Propeht. Apparently he is mostly known for his ‘klezmer core’ project Kruzenshtern & Parohod but also a ‘toy orchestra’ Igor Krutogolov’s Karate Band as well as various collaborations he has done with people like Chaos As Shelter, Agnivolok, Bastard Noise, Tidal and Darkwood. For ‘White’, which comes with a booklet with white pages (funny or arty) he plays bass with bow and strings, voice, keyboards, objects, flute and birds and gets help from somebody playing bells and someone delivering a tape of rain sounds. Divided into seven parts, this is however very much one piece. The musical theme’s re-occur in every track, the rain sounds return every now and then. The label compares this is to Colin Potter and Andrew Liles, which, especially in the case of Liles, I can see some parallel. The drone like sounds form the backbone of the piece and with irregular intervals, real instruments are added. Unlike Liles however, Krutogolov doesn’t dwell that much of sound effects, and rather uses them in a more natural sounding way. Quite hypnotic and engaging at times, this is surrealist music, with a built in tension that keeps lurking around the corner, and the listener is waiting for something to happen. Wether or not it happens I won’t reveal, but it’s a pretty strong CD. (FdW)

Cyclic Defrost
Maurizio Bianchi is an Italian noise music legend, who has been making records since 1979, and has amassed a discography of over 50 releases, both solo, and in collaboration with other artists. Maor Appelbaum is an Israeli musician/producer/sound engineer who has been involved in numerous solo and band projects.

Environmental Meditations sees the two collaborate on an album which is themed around the physiology of the human brain. The oxymoronic album title suggests both a looking outward to the environment, and also a looking inward, perhaps in contemplation. This is a demanding, dark listen – and yet one which offers rich rewards for the patient listener.

Across six long tracks deep waves of scarlet sound ebb and flow in rich stochastic movements. Sit down and listen to this with your full attention, and time is suspended – your very being is caught in the swell and roar of the sonic maelstrom. It’s almost as if Bianchi & Appelbaum have captured the sound of our own blood rushing and pulsing through our veins. I found listening to this had an almost narcotic effect – the paradox being that this noise could induce a state of deep relaxation in me.

Heathen Harvest
The story of Maurizio Bianchi is a fascinating one. I’ll give you a condensed version here because it’s worth telling. Maurizio, we’ll call him MB from now on, first started recording music in the late 70’s / early 80’s under the name Sacher-Pelz. He then signed a rather dubious contract with Whitehouse’s William Bennett who released two recordings on the Come Organisation record label under the new name of Leibstandarte SS MB which MB himself knew nothing about. These recordings were tampered with by Mr Bennett to such an extent that MB to this day disowns them. You can hear the results on the Susan Lawly Anthology 2 release if you can track down a copy. MB continued releasing music in vinyl and tape until 1984 when he disappeared off the radar. Legend has it that MB discovered religion and lived in a monastery for many years. Fourteen years later he resurfaced and has continued releasing music to this day. To try and list all his recordings is something best left for another day. He is considered by many in the know to be one of the great forefathers of Industrial music with his early works regarded as some of the finest you’ll ever hear. Search out EEs’T, MB’s own record label, for the ArcheoMB 1-5 releases which collates these exceptional works. Also worth considering, for your listening pleasure, is the Akifumi Nakajima (Aube) releases ‘Reworks MB vol 1 & 2’ on the Silentes Record label. One master paying his respects to another.

Maor Appelbaum also has a fascinating history. Once more condensed due to space restrictions. A well respected producer and sound and lighting engineer and multi talented musician he has been heavily involved in the Israel music scene for many years. He is a member of Poochlatz, Vultures, IWR amongst others and as a solo artist goes by the names Screening, Vectorscope, Lunisolar and Plated Steel. He is also a DJ and writer for Metal Hammer Israel and the web based A very busy man in other words.

‘Environmental Meditations’ is a collaboration between these two, feel free to use the word legends, artists on a recording that surpassed expectations. First though a little test. Decipher the following: ‘The hydrocephalic meditation comes from discriminatory in-coherences in the minimized environment of mediatic insubstantiality. This work provides profitable logicality to the futuristic aversions subjecting the deprecated brains marketing an elitist unpretentiousness.’ If you understood any of that then this release will have further deep meaning for you. I got lost just after the first ‘the’ at the start. I realise it must mean something but I’m buggered if I can figure it out. Thankfully you don’t need a University degree in English to enjoy the elaborate sound sculptures these two seminal, and highly prolific, artists have created. The six tracks on ‘Environmental Meditations’ are what I would class as Noise Ambient music. I’m not sure this genre actually exists but for this review it does. You see both artists have managed to record music that, although at first listen is a mass of disturbing and darkly horrific electronic assaults, actually becomes very meditative and reassuring after a while. Thus Noise Ambient. I happily fell asleep drifting off to its layers of discordant resonance’s…which probably says more about my state of mind rather the music itself. Underneath the massive squalls of phenomenal scorching electronic patterns, that continually evolve and transform, the faint patterns of melodic touches that lay submerged start shining through fighting for recognition. It’s these hidden features which make ‘Environmental Meditations’ so different from other ‘noise’ excursions you may have listened to in the past. By investigating the sounds more closely, preferably through headphones…or cans as they are sometimes called….the true mastery and ingenuity of these pieces becomes clearly apparent.

Which isn’t to say that ‘Environmental Meditations’ is for everyone. The initial force and thrust of the music as it rages forth on a torrent of electronic voraciousness will take many aback. Which would put you in the category of ‘wimp’ in my eyes. Sadly even reputations of the worth of MB & MA means little nowadays to the ever fickle music, and not very knowledgeable if truth be told, buying public. To have these two virtuoso’s together on a recording is an event worth shouting about. Be part of it. Experience it to the fullest. Enjoy the aural gratification whilst you can. The Legends live on. Exceptional and worth every dime or penny or whatever it costs you in the end.


It’s time again for a new release from the Israelian Topheth Prophet and this time the result is asthonishing … The last couple of weeks this CD has been in my player over and over again simply because everytime I discovered new layers and new dynamics. Whereas some CD’s are obvious the 2nd time around, this one is a little piece of constant magic.

This is a collaboration between the godfather of avant-gardistic noise, Maurizio Bianchi, and the quite active though still relatively unknown Maor Appelbaum. The latter is a member of the Israeli projects Poochlatz, Vultures and IWR as well as sole member of the projects Screening, Vectorscope and Plated Steel. And yes, there are even MORE projects in which he is involved …

But back to this release. Titles like ‘Synapse’, ‘Thalamus’ and ‘Hypothalamus’ (all parts of what is inside your head) as well as a little knowledge of what mr. Bianchi is all about, make it obvious that it’s not easy listening. These are noisey soundsculptures with a high production level, weird ambiences which definitly trigger your mind (as they are supposed to do).

There is actually a quite elequent release note to this CD. Written too beautiful to keep it from you. “The hydrocephalic meditation comes from discriminatory incoherences in the minimized environment of mediatic insubstantiality. This work provides profitable logicality to the futuristic aversions, subjecting the deprecated brains marketing to an elitist unpretentiousness.”

If we translate that to proper English the result is “This CD contains some gorgeous crossover between noise and ambient and it will make you think. Buy it!”

You know what? He’s right.

Connexion Bizarre
Maurizio Bianchi is a name I have heard many times, considered legendary among noise musicians, he has been recording music since 1979 and has an impressive discography including over 50 releases. Maor Appelbaum is an Israeli who works as a musician/producer and sound engineer who has been involved in numerous releases of his own.
Enviromental Meditations may be a “noise” album for the most part it was a very “relaxing” experience for me (at least most of it). This is also one of those discs you want to devote your full attention to and not merely use as background noise, otherwise you won’t get anywhere near the full extent of it.
“Synapse” starts with noise joined by what sounds to me like a wall of reverb. With what I’m assuming is a much quieter synth played next to the noise which changes it from confrontational to ambient. Towards the end the noise starts to dwindle out and let the ambient bits soak in. When the twelve minute mark hits there is a perfect transition into the next piece.
“Thalamus” is less noisey and the electronics are far more sophisticated sounding. rather than two opposing walls of sound we have organic sounding electronics that transform as they go. The is a noise quality to some of the frequencies in this track, as well as some of the backing noises, it does however have the same “ambience” quality of the previous track, just with a lot more seeming to be going on.
The third track, entitled “Mesencephalon” is the longest piece on the disc (clocking in at nineteen minutes). Harsher noises return once more in a cycle similar to the first track but anything but the noise and reverb that might be there is subtle. One thing I do have to point out is that this track, at least to my ears is extremely repetitious and 19 minutes seems far too long for it to go on. If it were to develop out in different ways it might be alright but I found myself wondering if anything different was ever going to come about.
My personal favorite track would probably “Hypothalamus” the final one. The album’s theme continues with it but there are layers of harsh noise that come and go leaving it a bit unpredictable and I think the textures used in this composition are the most interesting of the disc. Saving the best for last apparently.
In the end we have 6 tracks of what can perhaps be described as “meditative noise”. There is a lot of good here in sound design and layering though some of the pieces seem a bit long and repetitious after awhile. Overall, I think it’s a fairly good effort from both contributors and I would not hesitate to say it is a lot more interesting than most the “noise” polluting CD and CD-R format these past few years…

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aural pressure
Topheth Prophet aren’t the most prolific of record labels. This is only the 7th release since the labels inception in 2002. Quality not quantity seems to be their mantra. You only have to check out their back catalogue to see what I’m getting at. Releases by Chaos as Shelter, Grundik & Slava, Barzel (who appears here) and Der Blutharsch sums up their ethic to a tee. Everyone one of those releases pretty much essential listening deserving a place in your record collection. Well you can add “Noise.IL” to that illustrious list.

” Noise.IL’ features the following artists: Mortalmanifest, Drone Lebanon, Gedem, GAOP Vs Aboolele, Wreck & Drool and Barzel all of whom inhibit the noise spectrum of music. Some of these acts you may recall from previous AP reviews (GAOP Vs Aboolele and Barzel) whilst the others mark their debut on this site. But fear not… for not everything here will have you reaching for the glass of water and Hedex. Although you may like to keep them close at hand… just in case. It all depends on your own pain threshold. The music features the usual high frequencies and thundering blasts of electronic punishment with some unusual samples thrown in for good measure. Which actually makes it sound rather run of the mill. And which…if truth be told…it occasionally falls into. This cannot really be helped as there’s only so much you can achieve when you venture into creating music of the power / extreme electronic variety. Here’s some noise. Here’s some samples. Here’s one I baked earlier. Listen closely though and you’ll actually find some neat touches throughout the release. Very neat touches that separates this release from the usual V/A fair that gets released. Even though I’ve struggled previously with some the music by GAOP Vs Aboolele, their tracks contributed here put them in a new light. Mortalmanifest were a revelation. Absolutely adored their first track. Drone Lebanon impressed. Wreck & Drool had me doing just that. Gedem…. come on down. Barzel was… well typical Barzel in many respects… and for that I’m very thankful.

The question, I suppose if there has to be one, is: Why should I buy this when there’s so many other compilations out there like it? Three answers. First: “Noise.IL” is on the Topheth Prophet record label. Which is reason enough. Remember… this is the label that brought you the “Tel-Aviv Aftermath” compilation. Once heard, never forgotten. Secondly: The acts involved are diverse enough in style and approach to make this stand out. Lastly: Because I recommend it. “Noise.IL” puts Israeli noise music firmly in the spotlight. Shine on you crazy diamonds.

Alternative Zine
The genre of music I find most difficult to write about is noise; be it ambient, harsh, industrial, drone, power electronics, glitch, experimental or any other sub-genre out there. It’s as hard to write about as it is hard to listen to, it’s mostly a type of music you’ll get into late (after experiencing various different kinds, and mostly if you started off with Hardcore or Metal) and for a pretty good reason too… noise (in general) is as experimental as it gets, there are no rules or boundaries within this genre and as a direct result of this it can be very unpleasant to most people – having said that I can now try to tackle this collection on noise.

Israel has a growing noise scene with a growing number of artists, who from time to time organize noise nights/shows – such as the one recorded here on “Noise.IL”, sometime in the summer of 2005.
While not as large as the Japanese or anywhere near as large as the American noise scene, the Israeli scene is alive and kicking in various styles. Each one of the six artists on this nine-track album shows a different part of the spectrum, from easy-listening tracks such as the bizarrely dramatic opening track, MortalManifest’s “Fear establishment for Lucifer Jupiter”, or the foggy closing track, Barzel’s “Rebuild the temple now” (who weren’t a part of the live show), to harsh and complex tracks such as Gedem’s “My Bleeding Ears” or Wreck & Drool’s “Idle Petitions”.
There is no place to actually describe each of the nine tracks, for each is a separate experience and can be described in numerous ways; surprisingly enough, the album does manage to flow from one track to another despite the differences.

Highlights in my opinion are Gaop and Aboolele’s “Telemarketing the temple of hatred 2005” due to the combination between the buzzing background, low-pitch electronic drones and the high-pitched squeals, glitch, and narration which create an overall apocalyptic feeling, as well as Drone Lebanon’s “Zionistzermatism” where the religiously-connected speech is swallowed by a wave of electronics – as if the world itself is saying how insignificant one being (or on opinion) is, as if zooming in and out of earth.

Many interpretations can be come with this kind of music; each track is a combination of ideas, repetitions and variation, stripping down to minimalist primal beats and building up effects and layers to a wall of noise. One way or another, this is a fine representation of the noise scene here in Israel, and certainly pins the aforementioned artists on the map. A small proof for this is the reviews worldwide, a larger (and much more important) one is the existence of more and more noise artists, albums and events such as the one that resulted with this collection.

Israel is not the first country we think of when we talk about noise and dark ambient music. So this album has eight new names for me, all projects from Israel and Chaos as Shelter isn’t even amongst them!

The tracks range from minimal electronics over power electronics to harsh noise, and it’s definitly an album which gives you the oportunity to explore.

During listening I wrote down the tracks that impressed me most on a personal level, and – though there isn’t a real ‘bad’ track to be found on it – both numbers were collaborations between or remixes by Gaop and Aboolele. Coincidence? No idea, but it seems I DID discover something! *happyboy*

So I clicked to the website from the Topheth label and checked out the links to the pages from these and the other bands. Most both of them have one or more online albums available. Free and good.

I can’t emphasize it enough; This is a corner of the world where there is still a lot to be discovered and therefore it’s almost a ‘must have’ !

At the Gaop Myspace site it’s very well put into words: “sounds like noise .. power electronix .. dark ambient .. post industrial .. experimental .. avantgarde but its all of them combined together with a touch of sadness and a hint of hatred.” But this goes for the whole CD, not just his tracks.