And we’re super-late again, I mean, it’s not even funny anymore, I know.
But this time I take full responsibility for the delay. Due to the fact that I was moving to Berlin, I had zero time to write any review and to read the other editors’ work until just now. However, Lorenzo, Carlo, Andrea, Margherita and Francesco are really good at their job, and they excellently reviewed a lot of wonderful releases from the first half of month, totally compensating for my absence and lack of time.
So just sit tight and enjoy listening to what the Soul Feeder’s editorial team has selected for you this time.
By Michele Sinatti
Dis Fig – PURGE
Artist: Dis Fig
F0r this issue we gotta deal with Dis Fig’s – born Felicia Chen – debut album PURGE. Berlin-based, she is quite well known around for her intense noise sets, boiler rooms and various collaborations, such as the one with Tianzhuo Chen.
The album is very fluid and coherent in general, however, there’s a sort of dam at the middle that allows different flows to go in separate directions. The first half is very fierce. There’s a kind of tinny fil rouge that connects all songs of this side (I’m specifically talking about tracks like “Alive” or “U Said U were”), a wire mesh weave made of different intertwined materials, but of the same nature: noise, aggressiveness, intrusiveness. They all contribute to crafting a homogeneous and positively disturbing product like this one.
The second half is less biting. The listening permits the evocation of mystic thoughts. The atmosphere slightly shifts from hellish to something more oneiric-like. The emotions conveyed are anyway very similar to the ones you’re already feeling since the pace follows the same pattern and the same speed. Also, as you may have understood at this stage into Soul Feeder, what I always enjoy in these reviews is exploring tracks in search of new creative uses of lyrics or vocals, and here I definitely found what I was looking for. The combination of female voices with murmured vowels, whisperings and hissing is a clever way of intensifying the already concrete matter of this album. In the end, it unconsciously affects your brain and you’re going to be fine with it.
By Margherita Rho
Exploited Body – Threnody
Artist: Exploited Body
Released via TAR, this three-piece EP by the punk clubber known as Exploited Body, fka Noah Kin, is a tight piece of work. To begin with, it represents the definitive transition to an experimental club sound for the young producer, as the perfect follow-up to his last year’s raging EP Hostility.
Since his hip-hop oriented works as Noah Kin, his sound has become much harsher, and this feels like a true manifesto of his intentions as an artist. In terms of song-writing and structure, this new work also represents an important step forward.
While Hostility was in fact patently aggressive and strong, Threnody is less one-sided, having an aggressive temperament and gigantic sound but also a few slower moments, such as in the title track. But don’t worry, it’s still ultra-violent and heavy. As a matter of fact, Threnody is a massive monolith which will definitely roll over tender hearts.
Either as Exploited Body or as Noah Kin, this guy is a machine, very consistent. A huge selling point was honestly to hear him producing straight up ultra modern club music. Every language has its own rhythm and Exploited Body speaks a violent industrial tango, at the pace of its heavy stomps and hammering beats.
By Andrea Alfieri
Jaeho Hwang – Non-self 비자아
Artist: Jaeho Hwang
Album: Non-self 비자아
Inspired by Buddhism and aiming at the discovery of one’s own individuality, Non-self 비자아 is the debut EP of the South Korean visual artist and producer known Jaeho Hwang, released via CHINABOT, “a platform and collective created to change the dialogue surrounding Asian music”. The mastering is by Pal Hwang Dan.
Characterized by the use of traditional Korean instruments, such as the piri bamboo flute and stringed kayagum, it enhances the traditional aspects in modern music, as stated by the artist itself on his Bandcamp page, giving a weird eerie atmosphere to the listening. The album pace also benefits from this, creating a brilliant alternation between more club-oriented tracks, haunting post-industrial pieces and dark ambient suites. For example, while “Transience”is the perfect example of experimental banger, with its punching kick drum and groovy noise-textures, “On a Sad Relationship, Nami”, which features samples from the famous ‘80s South Korean song with the same title, it is a nightmarish slow-jam in which Jaeho corrupts the original samples through a series of glitches and abrasive filters.
Minimalistic and unusual, between industrial and experimental club music, Non-self 비자아 outlines Hwang fascination for both his South Korean roots and forward-looking sounds. It already has its own identity and its own room in the scene.
By Andrea Alfieri
Kelman Duran – They are afraid of her
Artist: Kelman Duran
Album: They are afraid of her
A new Kelman Duran mixtape is always good news, and They are afraid of her doesn’t disappoint. This project follows the release of 13th Month, one of the best albums of 2018 and a great follow up to 1804 KIDS, the first full-length work by the Dominican producer. 13th Month moved Kelman’s sound toward a very spiritual and ritualistic dimension, taking inspiration from native Americans’ music and culture.
They are afraid of her goes in the same direction, pushing it even forward. As a matter of fact, this project lacks the dancefloor-oriented kicks and drums that characterized his previous works, while it emphasizes spacious reverbs and dilated samples; which are the real core of the album, both the vocal and the instrumental ones. These features lead up to a really melancholic and thoughtful outcome.
The process of deconstruction of dancehall has always characterized the work of Kelman Duran, and this album constitutes the culmination of his research, so much that it often sounds more like an ambient music project. They are afraid of her is another great work from a producer who seems to always be able to outdo his previous releases.
By Carlo Casentini
MSYLMA مسيلمة – Dhil-un That Shajarat Al-Zaqqum
Artist: MSYLMA مسيلمة
Album:Dhil-un That Shajarat Al-Zaqqum
Label: Halcyon Veil
Rabit’s Halcyon Veil label has always been active in spotting interesting artists around the world. One of these is Saudi Arabian experimental producer MSYLMA مسيلمة. After an EP in 2016, the attendance of Cairo’s club-night Vent and a feature in 2018 acclaimed Zuli’s album Terminal, the mysterious Mecca-based musician returns with his first LP, Dhil-un That Shajarat Al-Zaqqum.
The title refers to Zaqqum tree, the tree of the sinful mentioned in the Quran. It’s a declaration of intent, for a distressing LP that recalls the Koranic mystique and the pre-islamic Arabic traditional poetry. Starting from these roots, MSYLMA draws a path through a human lifetime, going from a peaceful childhood to the problems and worries of adult life, without forgetting the chaotic onrush of growing during adolescence. In the end, the circle closes melancholically. Everything is suavely and emotionally sung with abundant vocalizing and chanting.
Despite the millenary tradition of the culture that inspires it, a refined production makes Dhil-un That Shajarat Al-Zaqqum an absolutely contemporary album. A wide range of electronic and percussions (featuring Zuli) creates fascinating soundscapes. Ambient drones, middle eastern melodies, haunting beats, solemn and ethereal organs, free dissonant guitar solos: it is an album that goes a long way, making it difficult to define genres and styles. The result is a very pleasant listening.
You may feel like being teleported into distant worlds or, looking at it in another way, it is just a journey through your lifetime. Even without understanding the lyrics in archaic Arabic, MSYLMA manages to drag you into its mystical narrative and get you involved.
By Francesco Cellino
Tanya Tagaq – Toothsayer
Artist: Tanya Tagaq
Label: Six Shooter Records
The meek and surreal walrus, with the head open and the brain floating in the peaceful arctic air, is not the only reason to be curious about this record. We are talking of Tanya Tagaq’s brand new release: it is called Toothsayer and it’s out this month via Six Shooter Records.
The Inuk Canadian-born musician, who among other things has collaborated with Björk in the past, made this EP to accompany London’s National Maritime Museum’s “Polar Worlds” exhibit. “I always liked the term soothsayer(…) and teeth represent protection and hunting in nature”, she explained about the name. It follows Tagaq’s debut novel Split Tooth.
With the five tracks she evokes frozen landscapes and the laboured breathing of those who live in these lands. Her voice moves with ease from higher frequencies to the lower and guttural sounds, reminiscent of katajjaq, the traditional Inuit throat singing. Around her, incessant percussion and experimental electronics outline evocative ambient textures. Noteworthy is the collaboration with producer Ash Koosha, in the touchy, piano-guided “Snowblinded” and in the gloomy and anxious “Submerged”.
In a certain way, a state of constant alert persists in all the tracks. It reminds you of how hard life is in the polar land of Nunavut, but it can also be seen as a political issue: climate change is at the door, and consequences for Inuit population and culture could be devastating. In the end, it leaves you with a melancholy feeling mixed with a sense of fascination.
By Francesco Cellino
The Caretaker – Everywhere at the end of time – STAGE 6
Artist: The Caretaker
Album: Everywhere at the end of time – STAGE 6
Label: History Always Favours The Winners
Leyland Kirby aka The Caretaker is a unique figure in the musical landscape. Among many aliases and 20+ years of activity, his most acclaimed project is The Caretaker. Started in 1999 and inspired by Kubrick’s The Shining, The Caretaker investigates issues of memory, time and dementia. His latest (and last, sigh) work is Everywhere at the end of time, a colossal project spanning over two years and six stages/releases, whose aim is to provide the soundtrack to the (fictional) Alzheimer diagnosed to The Caretaker himself. If throughout the first three stages we could hear The Caretaker’s trademark sound – dusty samples from forgotten ‘20s and ‘30s ballroom and big bands songs looped and covered in crackles and white noise – subjected to a progressive decay, from stage 4 the music slipped into the background, while what used to be audio interferences came to the foreground.
On STAGE 6, the process is taken to the extreme. Divided into four tracks of around twenty-one minutes each, it is the tragic and solemn ending for a musical journey which conjures the unsettling and the blissful as few other artworks did. During the first two tracks there is hardly any ‘music’ to be heard. Instead, we are confronted with a dense audio-fog dominated by static and noise, with ominous drones and orchestral fragments discernible in the background, and white noise occasionally popping in. Sometimes piano notes would briefly emerge, only to be drowned again in the audio fog. The third movement presents more vivid memories/music soaked in a melancholic tone. The last chapter, “Place in the world fades away”, is true to its name, and sounds like your entire being vanishing.
The whole EATEOT is about memory, and on this final stage we hear the memory of memories. We hear something akin to – or at least heart-breakingly evoking – the process of losing one’s grip on the mind and the world. There are abrupt moments of clarity, flashes shining briefly and disappearing. No drama, rather quiet desperation and the irremediable occurrence of fate.
We may not know how dementia feels, let alone how it affects people’s ability to re-evoke musical memories. What we know for sure, though, is that The Caretaker has blessed us with a rare work of haunting beauty.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
William Basinski – On Time Out Of Time
Artist: William Basinski
Album: On Time Out Of Time
Label: Temporary Residence Limited
There are not so many musicians able to play with time as masterfully as William Basinski. We may say time is the main driving force behind and within the American composer’s oeuvre, both as the conceptual backbone and as the artistic device through which his art unfolds. His discography, whether time issues are explicitly addressed or not, has always played with them: the recurring time of loops, the slow time of micro changes, the endless static time of drones, the often long time of compositions.
Now, on On time out of time, Basinksi goes even further. This work was commissioned for the 2017 installations ‘ER=EPR’ and ‘Orbihedron’ by Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand; it uses as source recordings the recorded sounds of two massive black holes merging, 1.3 billion years ago. Basinski had the chance (and the challenge) to bring the sound of gravitational waves to a new life, through a work that plays on time as well as with time. How do two collapsing black holes sound? How do you coalesce a process that dates back to a remote time into a single, relatively short, piece?
Basinski gives us a 40 minutes track in which the recurrence of loops is replaced by the unfolding of drones and subtle layering of elements, slowly and almost imperceptibly building a narrative arc and sharpening the sonic texture. There are no melancholic watercolours nor bursts of pathos to be found here. Rather, it’s all about ethereal and cold drones, darker during the first ten minutes, and then gradually opening to lighter atmospheres. Higher pitched sounds fill in the blank spaces of the initial sense of void, and sometimes orchestral-like moments come to prominence.
The album also comprises a second track recorded live during the art installation, the 10 minutes long “4(E+D)4(ER=EPR)”. This one is loopier and closer to Basinksi typical style, its delicate ambience on the verge between soothing and melancholic, evoking that state of sublime abandonment we have been so accustomed by the American composer.
On time out of time doesn’t expand its author’s sound palette nor it is a huge step forward. It is ‘simply’ another well crafted, immersive and conceptually strong record made by one of ambient’s undisputed master.
By Lorenzo Montefinese
Artwork by Francesco Battaglia