Sunday, 21 August 2011

Ovil Bianca - Gravity=Love

I've had this one for years, and like many things I post here, I only find out the details about them when I'm making the post. Released in 2001 on avant/electronica label (K-RAA-K)³, it turns out that this is by a Belgian fellow called Tim Wijnant. He also released a subsequent album in 2003, which I'm now going to have to seek out, because there is some really excellent stuff on this one. The opening track 'Sermon On The Mount' was 10 years ahead of its time - it's blend of coruscating synth tones and sky-scouring drones is pretty similar to Emeralds or Cloudland Canyon. It builds in ecstatic, eye-shaking fashion, with roaring low end and powerfully disciplined distortion. This is balanced out with some wispy high lines, swathed in ringing harmonic tones. Gorgeous stuff - it should have been 10 minutes longer, but I don't think 20 minute drone epics would have met with quite the same level of acceptance that they are today.
This kind of cosmic overdrive is employed again on 'Casioland', in which tinkling minimalist arpeggios give way to the kind of gutsy techno distorted synth splurges that make you raise a fist in the air. Final track 'Daylight' is a dark, throbbing and atmospheric beast: surging sepulchral waves of bass underpin some distant and mournful wraith-like cries.
Elsewhere there are more experimental sound explorations: 'RadiIO' is a cut-up and phased blend of vocals, bleeps and synth that wouldn't have been out of place on an early Akufen 12"; there are Raster-Noton-like tone constructions, and some spooky and abstract creations with mumbled vocal samples. The whole album is artfully and painstakingly constructed, but is still highly listenable, and very engaging. A bit of a lost gem, really, and sadly out of print.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Zombi - Spirit Animal

Excellent grooving synth-prog rock-out from 2009. Obvious comparisons are John Carpenter and Goblin, but with a more toughened up and streamlined sound - propulsive drumming and metal/post rock bass drive along the layers of vintage synth sweeps and arpeggios. The tracks also tend to be longer than the aforementioned people, who generally composed shorter pieces for soundtracks. On this album are lots of epic instrumental songs that evolve and develop, change pace; ebb, flow and build to sometimes euphoric peaks. This duo has a great sense of melody to back up their obvious musical skill, and they aren't afraid to chuck in a suitable key change when necessary, which makes this a wholly satisfying listen, rather than just an apreciation of old synths and cinematic references. It's brilliantly conceived and performed, and hugely enjoyable. Also, highly recommended for driving.
Most of their stuff is frustratingly out of print and expensive on LP, you may still be able to find their excellent new album 'Escape Velocity' on vinyl. Also available on cd as well as various Ts etc - buy direct from Relapse