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Author Topic: Music Review Trader  (Read 2106 times)

LuckyDee

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2017, 01:36 »

Artist: Mili
Album: Mag Mell
Grade: 5/10
Motivation: Beautiful themes suffering from very poor production choices

Another title takes me to an as of yet undiscovered nook in the musical spectrum. This time I’m presented with a cocktail of classical and pop music, in fifteen relatively bit-sized tracks. The songs retain the accessibility that pop music offers, while the chord progressions and structures lean more towards the classical themes. The combination works really well, and it’s clear that a lot of thought has been put into the composition. If only they’d done the same with the production…

First off, let’s start with the choice of musicians and instruments. We’re essentially looking at a four-piece band, with a singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer – which is odd, since keys play a very prominent role on this album. I’m going to go and assume that this falls under the guitarist’s and vocalist’s jurisdiction in their roles of ‘composer’. Another very obvious thing is that actual instruments are very much absent in this work. I’m unsure about the bass parts, but most of the drums and keys are electronic samples (of dubitable quality) and guitar parts are hard to come by. Add to that the fact that the sampled parts are either played incredibly tightly or adjusted to exactly fit every note and subdivision thereof, and this kind of sucks the soul out of the parts to the point where they might as well kick the drummer out and program the thing altogether.

The reason I’m not sure of the bass leads us to the second issue, namely frequencies. Each instrument sends out ‘information’ on a number of frequency bands, depending on which characteristic of the sound you want to highlight. Naturally, an important part of the bass guitar’s information is broadcast on the low frequencies, which on this production have been treated very poorly. This makes it hard to distinguish what’s being played and makes the composition lack ferocity.
Somewhere further up the spectrum the intelligibility of the vocals can be found, specifically between 3 and 6 kHz. Unfortunately, this band also contains a lot of information of other instruments such as guitars, keys and cymbals. And specifically the latter, further compounded by the poor sample choice, really screw up the mix. Listen to the last thirty seconds of the first track: the cymbals are nothing but a big hiss running straight through everything and severely compromising whatever else is trying to take up that space. But even without those, the vocals still don’t get the prominent role they should have.

These issues make further analysis of what’s being played a waste of time. Intricate composition is worth nothing if you’re not going to be able to make heads nor tails of it after the producer has either gone to great lengths to violate it or simply doesn’t have the skills and/or sense to bring out the best in it. I think the music itself could be pretty damn good, but definitely not in this person’s hands.


@Dr. Granola: Sorry if this isn’t what you’d expected. I hope I can make it up by presenting you with Auf Der Maur’s self-titled album. Somehow your submission reminds me of this.
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Dr. Granola

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2017, 06:49 »

Awww...
On one hand, I have a word for that issue where I can't make head or tails of what's playing. Espescially the cymbal hiss in the first track.
On the other, I just had my favorite artist get completely snuvbbed. Umm... It gets better I guess? I don't hear much of these issues in their more recent work at least.
I noticed you didn't mention any of the other tracks much. Ephemeral is my favorite track on the album, what is yours?
As for the recommend, I'll check it out. I'll get back to you in a couple days. Don't expect any thing comprehensoive though.
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LuckyDee

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2017, 07:20 »

I'd have to say Utopiosphere's the best track, great structure and chord progressions and relatively little interference from the production. And from what I can quickly glean from their more recent uploads, the quality has definitely improved in this respect, making for a much more enjoyable experience altogether.

Don't worry about all the technical bla bla. Listen to the work at hand, single out the things you like and those you don't and try to describe them as accurately as possible. There's no right or wrong, it's about forming and formulating an opinion.
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LuckyDee

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2017, 03:45 »

Artist: Murmuüre
Album: Murmuüre
Grade: 9.5/10
Motivation: A trip down the rabbit hole. Please throw me back in if you see me crawling out.

On the third attempt in this exercise I’m back on familiar ground. Murmuüre’s album is a highly eclectic mix of some type of metal – I’m not too familiar with nor interested in the different labels – industrial and soundscaping, delivering six tracks of roughly five minutes each. Reminiscent of work by Fantômas, Tim Hecker and an album by Hermann Blaupunkt I coincidentally recently covered for my local people, the songs appear not to be so much about telling stories rather than about creating specific vibes, exploring the borders of the musical gamut and zig-zagging across them. They mostly lack conventional structures, and with the surprising turns they take and the interesting choices of instruments and samples, there’s little to prepare the listener for an adventure such as this one.

Although the work might fall outside most people’s definition of what music is, it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into composition. Each song comprises a multitude of layers even though conventional instruments play a relatively small part in them. The intricacy borders on the insane, and that’s one of the great powers of the album. Apart from the inherently metal building blocks – guitars, bass, drums and someone screaming their lungs out – there’s a lot of synths, flutes and outright noise-based samples thrown into the mix, ranging from the sweetly melodic to the unsettlingly dissonant. Chord progressions are hard to predict in the best of cases, but hardly ever feel forced – that alone is a winning approach in my book. The songs keep on stacking one surprise on top of the other, making for a roller coaster ride that makes you want to brutally elbow your way back to the front of the queue even before the carts have come to a full stop.

The production is harsh and sharp to an extent that any conventional album would have been made completely indigestible by it. The drums and guitars slice straight through everything, but are offset brilliantly by the fuller sound of the synths and other supporting sounds. The vocals have been rendered completely unintelligible, and are used as another source of noise instead. There may be lyrics in there somewhere, but that’s not going to be something you’ll find out by listening. The stereo image – the sense of space in the music – is also used to a good extent, with stuff happening all over the place. The approach to production is directly related to the approach to composition, making the sum greater than its parts.

This piece, to me, comes close to being the perfect album to lose yourself in. The only real points of criticism that I have is that 1) Disincarnate, the final track, is a bit anticlimactic compared to the rest – although in my mind’s eye, I can see end credits rolling across the screen to this tune – and 2) THE ALBUM IS TOO FUCKING SHORT. THIS NEEDS TO BE THREE FULL LENGTH CDS AT LEAST. WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING ;)

Seldom have my ears been raped this pleasantly. Do it again.


@Uranium: thanks a million. Check out the referenced bands above if you’re really into this kind of thing. Since I’ve already asked thelaptop to cover Fantômas – potentially breaking his grumpybone in the process – I thought I’d dig up something else to have you immerse yourself in. It’s a title I’ve first heard about 20 years ago, which has been in my all-time top 3 ever since. I’m not going into the details of why this is so, I’ll leave you to (hopefully) discover these for yourself. Please enjoy Tool’s Ænima.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2017, 03:46 by LuckyDee »
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Uranium

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2017, 08:07 »

Tool - Aenima

I've always felt I had a love/hate relationship with Tool, a band that straddle the seldom-trodden line between progressive rock/metal and groove metal. I've not heard too much of Tool, prior to this listening I had only listened to other people's choice cuts from this album (normally Forty Six & 2 and Aenima) and to 10,000 Days and somewhat as I expected, my opinion of those extends to my opinion of Aenima as a whole.

Aenima isn't a bad album, by any stretch of the imagination - the riffs are meaty, the lyrics are pretty cool, the musicianship is real, real tight and the production is quality. Sounds weave between and around each other as one of the instruments creates a skeleton for the others to dance around, and the band pulls this off almost perfectly. The guitars take lurching turns inside single riffs, creating a pretty off-kilter sound that pervades through almost the entire album. Also a pretty sweet guitar tone, and the drumming is beautifully hypnotic, plus bongos!

The one thing I dislike about Tool is, sadly, one of its defining features - Maynard James Keenan. Specifically, his voice. It's a shame, too, because he's a talented lyricist and (from what I hear) is a stellar frontman. I just can't get over the actual sound of his voice, though, and the worst thing is that I couldn't explain at gunpoint what I don't like about it. Is it too whiny, too "weird"? I have no idea and it saddens me a little. Throughout the album, his voice is modulated in all sorts of ways and it takes different places in the soundstage of the album, which is one of the things I really appreciated about this album (but in a selfish sort of way - not only does it keep you guessing and treats MJK's voice as another instrument rather than the star of the show, it kept me from focusing on it too aggressively throughout the hour-or-so that the album runs).

The interludes are a mixed bag - some, such as "Message to Harry Manback" (apparently a belligerent phone-call from an unwanted guest of Keenan's? this was fucking great) and "die Eier von Satan" (which sounds super industrial, only very slightly marred IMO by the spoken word) are great and add to the weird feel of the album. Others are unmemorable and don't really do anything for me, and the persistence of these interludes, often one between every other or every two songs, also rubs me the wrong way.

In conclusion - Aenima's a solid album. Instrumentals are practically flawless and the chemistry between whoever's playing is so good it's almost bubbling. I feel it's kept back somewhat by Keenan's voice and the occasionally irritating interludes. I can't completely disregard MJK's voice here though, as the album would definitely feel weaker without it.
Overall, I'd peg this as a 6.5-7/10, possibly improving as I go back for more listens.
--
Man, it's been a long time since I've written a music review that wasn't a sarcastic paragraph or a single sentence of praise. That was real enjoyable, I'm glad I did this. I'm glad you enjoyed Murmuure as much as you did - it was an almost religious experience hearing it for the first time myself. Cheers for the recommendation! I'll be relistening to this, and exploring more of Tool as I get the time.
I'm a little busy at the moment, but I'll shoot you another album within a day or so.
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LuckyDee

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2017, 14:49 »

Awesome, thanks for your input man! I wish you would appreciate this piece as much as I do, but I know full well how a vocalist can make or break a record simply by the sound of their voice - it's exactly what makes a lot of metal completely unenjoyable for me. Glad you liked the experience though, it's a thrill I like exposing myself to and it's nice to be able to share this.

If you're up for another round, just feed me another title.
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Uranium

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2017, 14:12 »

Spied the Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble on your youtube playlist during a closer inspection, Here Be Dragons is great. Shame they removed practically all of their web presence ;_;.

I often hear people laud the Blade Runner soundtrack as Vangelis' magnum opus. They are, in my humble opinion, incorrect: 666, by Aphrodite's Child.
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LuckyDee

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2017, 23:48 »

Ok, this was not quite what I'd expected, but I'm game :) Be back with thoughts soonest.
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LuckyDee

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2017, 08:30 »

Artist: Aphrodite’s Child
Album: 666
Grade: 4/10
Motivation: Paradoxically good album considering that it’s mainly made up of poor songs.

As someone who grew up in the eighties, Vangelis is a familiar and respected name to me. First and foremost associated with synthesizer hits in the vein of Chariots of Fire, which later took a more orchestral turn with Conquest of Paradise, trying to place this album in his oeuvre required some serious effort on my part. As of yet, I’ll admit I haven’t succeeded, but fortunately whether or not I eventually do so is of no consequence to a review of this particular album. Originally a two LP title, it’s a 78 minute concept piece on the biblical Book of Revelation – highly progressively laid out even by today’s standards, let alone those of 1972 in which it was finally released.

Compositionally speaking, with concept albums like this one there’s always two types of structures to consider: the macrostructure, or how the album is built up, and the microstructures, or how the individual songs are set out. On a good title, both structures will have been given equal attention and will match one another. This is one of the main reasons I’m so impressed with Ænima: as the album progresses, the songs becoming increasingly varied and unpredictable while still maintaining an overall coherence in sound and texture. Whether or not it can be considered a concept album is up for debate, but at least I consider it so.
Examined on the macro level, 666 has been thoroughly planned. There’s a lot of songs with relatively short run times and enough deviation between them to keep things interesting, but still adhering to the main theme. It includes both traditionally composed songs (by pop/rock standards) as well as more experimental pieces. It also comprises a very big array of instruments and voices, which helps to convey the right atmosphere for the individual pieces. I’m no big Bible fan myself, but I’d say the big picture is an honest attempt at translating the story into music.

Unfortunately, that’s where the praise stops. Sound-wise, the production doesn’t sound too different from other contemporary albums – which is neither a good nor a bad thing. It just fits the sound of that time. The death sentence is spoken through the individual songs, which are repetitive, pretentious or both. This may have sounded a lot different to someone actively experiencing this album upon its release – and possibly tripping balls in the process – but by my standards there’s not a single interesting song on the entire work. Neither the chord progressions nor the lyrics are exciting enough to warrant repetition to this extent, meaning nearly all the songs would be better off being a lot shorter than they currently are. Literally no effort is put into trying to break the monotony. And especially with songs like , which is essentially a woman moaning varying configurations of about five different words over and over and over again for five minutes, this gets on my nerves in about a tenth of the time it’s being allowed to go on.
And when they finally take ample time to come up with something truly grandiose, such as the 20 minutes they spend on All the Seats Were Occupied, it doesn’t amount to much more than rehashing previous tracks and interspersing them with more monotony.

Had this work been carried out in about half the time it runs for in its original state, it would have been so much better. As it is, the album falls in much the same category as the Bible upon which it was inspired does: at some point in time it must have been a great idea, but what could have inspired people to think so is beyond me.


@Uranium, sorry if this isn’t quite what you’d expected, but I found the album very tough to digest and have tried to explain why as objectively as I could – as far as this is possible with an opinion, of course. The album sparked some link to the title I’ll offer you in return, although I’m hard-pressed to tell you how or why. It’s the first album of a double which has haunted me ever since childhood and, by its curious purpose, has withstood the test of time excellently in my opinion. Please enjoy the first part of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2017, 00:15 by LuckyDee »
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Tavana

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2017, 17:58 »

Your mentions of drug trips made me think about having you review the album "New Magnetic Wonder" by The Apples in Stereo, but I'm unable to find any complete album uploaded online. I may have to create my own.

EDIT: If you have any of the following accounts, in theory you should be able to listen to it for free. Otherwise I'll upload files to a private playlist or something.

Spotify
Deezer (some sort of streaming service?)
Amazon Prime
« Last Edit: November 27, 2017, 18:05 by Tavana »
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LuckyDee

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2017, 22:41 »

I have Spotify, so I'll have a look. You're next on the list!
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Uranium

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2017, 06:14 »

Ah man, shame you don't like it as much as I do - but I definitely see where you're coming from with the monotony; the album (for me) treads a fine line between repetition and monotony, I definitely understand how it could cross too far into monotony for people. Will give WotW a listen and get back to you. I've never listened to a musical like this before, so this should be interesting!
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thelaptop

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2017, 00:57 »

Artist: Fantômas
Album: Delìrivm Còrdia
Grade: 8/10 will kill again
Motivation: A soundscape that shocks with strong contrasts and ambient mood feels.

I want to say that I gave old LuckyDee that album to start with as a means of throwing him completely off because I knew that it was something that he'd, with great probability, not find nor listen on his own accord.  Joke's on me though, because now I've got to listen to something that I'd not find nor listen on my own accord.

LuckyDee was right in saying that this album is something that is more suited for passive listening than active listening, and here's why.  There is no melody nor motif the way that one more conditioned to "traditional" music can latch on to explore the development of the music using standard techniques.  While not completely synthetic in terms of timbre (much of the sound that appears can be readily identified with a real instrument counterpart), the soundscape evokes a stronger sense of a primal and visceral reaction than anything that is more cerebral in nature.

That is not a con -- I like that concept.  But it is hard to look for them personally.

The thematic exploration of the album (technically a single piece with multiple implicit movements) emphasises on contrast.  The contrast of loudness against softness, the contrast of melodic movement against ambient sound, the contrast of meter against free-time, the contrast of a primeval music form against a more structured one.  It is due to this nature of contrasts that it makes it much easier to appreciate the album through letting one's mind absorb the sound that enters and make sense of it from the perspective of evaluating a soundscape than a musical piece [steeped in music theory for construction].

Percussion plays a strong role in this album, and by that, I don't necessarily mean that of traditional drum-kit type percussion.  Guitars, and even voice, are played to their percussive potential, emphasising strong atonal beats that juxtaposes between maintaining a countable meter against one that is more complex in nature.  This, of course, adds to the primeval type feel that dominates the album in nearly its entirety.

But primeval feelings aside, the album still has its moments of conventional music theory-esque moments, but with more suspended chords and minor scale-like progressions, a framework that I think is common for the more fringe metal sub-genres.  The high tension that comes about from such harmonic structures increase the "evil" aura feel of the music, making it sound more foreboding and terrifying, as though some kind of eldritch horror were about to be released.  It is the kind of music one would likely to bring to mind when called to imagine the scene of a psychopathic serial killer about to go on its next big kill.  The contrast helps with this visualisation by characterising the interstices between morbid serenity and maximised ultraviolence.

What keeps me from giving it a full ten out of ten is the ear fatigue that comes from listening to this album.  There is too much tension that gets built up through the combination of soundscape techniques and harmonic structure that does not get resolved in an agreeable way.  For the purposes of the concept that the album is trying to convey, it works remarkably well, but for my personal listening pleasure, I find it hard to accept.  I'd listen to this album more than once, but separated by a fairly large time interval, and probably never in the dark, alone, at night, with that hankering homicidal feel so as to avoid committing crimes against humanity.



There we go LuckyDee, told you I'd have it done before the end of the month.  And now, I need to go rest my ears.  =P
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LuckyDee

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2017, 01:25 »

Wow, excellent piece right there. You're obviously deeper into the music theory than I am - which I kinda already knew - and I could learn a thing or two from that. And of course I'm glad you're impressed with the album. Mike Patton (whom most people will know from Faith No More) is the mastermind behind this, and I'm a big fan of nearly everything he does. I don't even think this is Fantômas' best work - check out Suspended Animation if you want - but yeah, the pure evil dripping off most every direction this album takes is really impressive to me.

I've grown pretty much accustomed to listening to less conventional pieces like this one, but I do realize it may be daunting to take it all in and still beg for more. Kudos to you for your effort, and good to know we're even as far as pulling each other from our comfort zones is concerned.

Insert album to continue.
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Sereg

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Re: Music Review Trader
« Reply #29 on: November 30, 2017, 22:57 »

Alright, found a video with the full album for this one. Please let me know what you think of Nightwish's Century Child.
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