Electroshock Records: Review:  
Electroshock Presents: "Electroacoustic Music. Vol. VIII"
(Electroshock Records 2003, ELCD 036)

16 tracks. Total time - 77:34.

Volume eight in "Electroshock's" compilation series is good but not stellar. Once again it culls recent electroacoustic compositions from American, Canadian, European and Israeli artists. Claire Laronde and Robin Julian Heifetz have become regulars of the series, but this time around their contributions are nothing special. Laronde's "Matiers [sic] de Piano I" deconstructs piano samples in a common way, while Heifetz's "Slings & Arrows II" unleashes a violent, chaotic swarm of sounds. The big surprise of this set appears right at the start; Lisa Walker's "Transients" is a beautiful electroacoustic piece that borrows from the post-rock ethos (long string chords softly ringing in the distance). Milica Paranosic's four-part "Lulla" and Jukka Ruohomaki's "Neuromancer Suite" provide highlights, mostly thanks to the balance they strike between melody and experimental architecture (a standard in "Electroshock's" productions). Hugh LeCaine composed a whole piece of music from a single drop of water falling into a bucket back in 1955 (it's called "Dripsody"). Keep that in mind while listening to Gary Di Bendetto's "A Drop in the Bucket", a piece that updates the technology used without adding anything new. "Chaos As Shelter", from Israel, concludes the set with "Death of Bellflower", a strange post-Industrial piece based on church bell sounds and screechy noisemakers. Like most of the previous volumes in the series, number VIII offers a mixed grill of styles and quality.

Francois Couture ("All-Music Guide")

What better way to close the batch of new releases from Electroshock than with one of their "Electroacoustic Music" series compilation? It's time for the eight volume and it gets quite freaky and experimental on this one. The songs are mostly from the last couple of years by artists such as: Lisa Walker (Canada) and her underwater violin performance with whale sounds; Claire Laronde (France) and her crazy pitched and improvised chaotic piano playing; NY-based Milica Paranosic (Yugoslavia) (also member of "D'Divaz") and her short four-compositions suite "Lulla" that portrays jazzy and vanguardish experimental work with a vivid folk heritage; Vivian Adelberg Rudow (USA) and the circus-ish sounds of e-space-ri-mental galactic nowave; Jukka Ruohomaki (Finland) and the escalating four-part airy and windy ambient-trance "Necromancer Suite"; Robin Julian Heifetz (USA) and the political improvisational experimental piece that symbolizes the tragic oppression brought upon the American Indians by the US government; Christopher Andrew Arrell (USA) and his voice-only experiment based on triggered sampled parts of speech in different languages including Italian, German, French, English, Spanish and maybe more I didn't recognize; Diego Minciacchi (Italy) and his twelve and a half minutes long sophisticated sonic mosaic of found sounds, field recordings, modulating waveforms, voices and synthesized sounds; Gary Di Benedetto (USA) and his experiment entitled "A Drop in the Bucket" uniquely based on the sound of a water drop repeatedly falling in a bucket for more than twelve minutes dynamically inserting differently pitched or different kind of drops samples and underlaying ambience noises; and Chaos As Shelter (Israel) (aka Vadim Gusin) and his "Death of Bellflower" song with prominent bell-sounding metallic sounds, oniric floor noises, low screeching disturbances etc. Another open window on the international variety of how electroacoustic music is perceived and interpreted.

Marc Urselli-Scharer ("Chain D.L.K.")

One thing can be said about "Electroshock Records" without any fear of contradiction, and that's they're one hell of an interesting electronic label. I'd be the first to say that not all their releases have hit the mark, that would be, frankly, impossible, but all credit is given to them for not sticking to a winning formulae. It's only recently I finished the mammoth task of reviewing their last batch when bang! another five arrive. Not that I'm moaning, anything from this label is always a welcome addition. This is another "Electroshock" Compilation. Electroshock Presents: "Electroacoustic Music. Vol. VIII" (ELCD 036). It seems an age now since I was first introduced to "Electroshock Records" via their first compilation. The quality of these compilations is still something that "Electroshock" should be proud of. Not only are they a cracking collection in their own right, but they feature music not found on the main projects. Artists often appear after they've shown their wares on some of the compilations, but they are mainly unique and very collectable. This time around we get an impressive sixteen tracks. What's good about this particular release is that, for the novice, there aren't really any marathons, no extra long workouts that could do more harm to new listeners than anything else. As is always the case as well with these releases, there's a wide range of electronic and ambient styles that merge, cross pollinate and morph. Some are scary, some are truly relaxing, and others are bravely experimental. I aren't going to pick any ones out because it's unfair, and also, it's very hard to separate as they all have their worth. Amazing!

Dave W. Hughes ("Modern Dance")

I have to admit that I usually find this "Electroacoustic Music" compilation series the hardest to listen to of all the "Electroshock" albums - mainly due to the extreme cutting edge nature of the music, and the problem of refining (in my head) what is music and what is just noise. And with "Vol. VIII" the problem doesn't get any easier. The album begins with "Transients", by Lisa Walker, a very listenable piece of shifting violin melodies backed by equally shifting layers of sampled voices and sounds, ambience and synths. Altogether a rather moody but memorable track. Next is Claire Laronde's "Matiers de Piano", which sounds like a slab of boogie woogie treated piano played by a dyspeptic robot. Next is "Lulla" by Milica Paranosic - this begins with mechanical birdsong and chiming voices backed by droning synths. Despite being discordant and jarring this is both atmospheric and exotic. "Racing Inside the Milky Way" by Vivain Adelberg Rudow follows, a pure mindbomb of discordant synth fireworks. Jukka Ruohomaki's "Neuromancer Suite" is next - a cosmic soundscape full of shifting drones, sampled sounds, swirling starstuff, mutating beats, overlaid with a whirlwind ghostdance of wierdness. Not recommended for listening in an old overgrown graveyard. And so the album continues, the remaining contributors include Robin Julain Heifetz, Christopher Andrew Arrell, Diego Miniciacchi, Gary Di Bendetto and "Chaos as Shelter" - all of them challenging to both the ear and the brain. This collection is a very mixed bag and should appeal to anyone with a passion for experimental music.

John Peters ("Borderland")

The eighth edition of Electroshock's compilations once again features some of the most challenging and enjoyable electroacoustic artists from around the globe. Here's a rundown on the contributors...

There are several North American entries this time around (4 USA and 1 Canada). Lisa Walker is the Canadian entry, creating beautiful space ambient music with a seductive drifting string section. Vivain Adelberg Rudow's contribution is a surreal and zany organ and electronics piece. Robin Julian Heifetz offers one of my favorite tracks, being an intensely thematic classically influenced orchestral piece. The music is dark, potent, image inducing, and is continually evolving and shifting gears, ultimately bursting the mercury for pure powerhouse aggression. Like Fantasia for the avant-garde. Christopher Andrew Arrell gives us a short sound collage track that is dominated by the interaction of multiple voice samples. And Gary Di Bendetto creates an ambient backdrop and heavy drones that provide the foundation for a splashing water sound art monologue. Interesting but it doesn't justify its nearly 13 minute length.

From France, I was pleased to see Claire Laronde return. Her entry on the last Electroshock compilation was my favorite of the set, and once again she offers a piece that stands alone among her fellow contributors. Her intricate piano work is a delight, drawing on classical and jazz influences, morphing the styles into something accessible but firmly in the avant-garde.

Milica Paranosic is a Yugoslav musician (strange that someone would still consider themselves as being from "Yugoslavia") whose entry consists of ambient music with a symphonic edge, intense orchestrations, playful pastoral scenes, and interesting vocalizations la Laurie Anderson. Jukka Ruohomaki (Finland) offers ambient explorations with a narrative feel, sort of like some cosmic urban landscape. Very subtle but lots happening. And speaking of urban landscapes, Diego Minciacchi's (Italy) entry is a sound collage work in which I felt like I was sitting by the roadside watching urban activities as they were being manipulated and distorted. Crowd noises, footsteps, the sounds of a railroad yard, heavy machinery, and a parade of sound efx that would land Minciacchi a job in Hollywood. Another one of my favorites. And finally, Chaos As Shelter is the moniker used by Israeli musician Vadim Gusis who presents an interesting drone and clattering sound piece. As usual, Electroshock has released yet another highly recommended compilation featuring a diversity of artists.

Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")

This is another compilation disc in the stable of Electroshock Records. It is difficult to write a review about a compilation CD and certainly when it contains minimalistic, electroacoustic, low-fi, experimental music. Lisa Walker from Canada donates the first track of sixteen on this album. She brings a good calm start that is followed by and experimental classical piece from Claire Laronde (France). The Yugoslavian participant - Milica Paranosic - brings her work in 4 tracks. Further more you can listen to contributions from people from Finland, Israel, Italy and four pieces from the USA. Christopher Andrew Arrell makes me think of someone who is playing with languages and is having difficulties to keep them apart. Gary Di Bendetto puts the longest track ("A Drop in the Bucket") on this album that is created with sounds of water. If you like calm, classical, ambient, avant-garde experimental music you must explore this new compilation album of Electroshock Records (and of course also all the previous ones).

Peter-Jan van Damme ("Darker Than the Bat")

Electroacoustic series, plunders the electronic musical hills and valleys of USA, Israel, Canada and Europe, bringing together a variety of artists that live and breath through their electronic machinery. Canada's talented Lisa Walker emits her considerable faculty on the superb opening, "Transients". A haunting collection of emotionally binding strings tear at the heartstrings as Walker sows a chugging drum-box beat into the mix, whilst an exquisite, highly-charged electro warble pulses throughout. Superb. Unfortunately, this is quickly followed by the over-indulgent mess that is Claire Laronde's "Matiers de Piano I". Laronde spent far too much time on this random disarray of deconstructed piano samples. Milica Paranosic and Jukka Ruohomaki both supply four-part interludes, which occasionally provoke through their balance of urban sounding landscapes of sound, although Ruohomaki's "Neuromancer Suite" fares better. Robin Julian Heifetz then goes on to provide a 10-minute semi-classical composition, with a claustrophobic, nightmarish feel. Not easy listening, as the spiderish piano bursts interlope with highly sprung strings and pounding drums. I found this intensely irritating, yet horrifyingly effective. Further lengthy contributions come from Diego Manciacchi and Gary Di Bendetto, who both delight in constructing atmospheric backdrops through sampled sound. Indeed, Di Bendetto's sampling on the self-explanatory "A Drop in the Bucket" is initially curious but, at twelve minutes in length, ultimately useless and uninspiring. Whilst the continuation of the series proves that "Electroshock Records" are to be applauded for allowing a voice to such experimental sound manipulations, this is not the best in the series so far.

Danny Tumer ("Barcode")

..and 8! We have arrived at number 8! After a years absence, to a most beautiful dubbed arrangement of Vol. VII dated 2002, and again resume our customary appointment with "Electroacoustic Music" the knowledgeable compilation by the Russian label Electroshock. Again on this album we find most interesting artists, and among the most interesting, there is, as usual Lisa Walker, Canadian, who opens the disk with "Transients", a lengthy and intense piece, highlighting the magic violin of Lisa which soars softly on the breathe of synth and bow creating a fluid background and a feeling of well-being. The second piece attributed to Claire Laronde, by now a veteran of these compilations, her "Matiers de Piano 1". It is a pure improvisation on the piano that passes through various phases, from the very discordant to the very distorted, that later returns manipulated and separated in an electronic setting …beautiful (It is all 'low-key' but comes off as a skillfully accomplished work!). The next four sections feature "Lulla" by Milica Paranosic, a New Yorker born in Yugoslavia. These four sections present the work with electronic equipment, female vocalization (like that of Lisa Gerrard of the "Dead Can Dance") and are akin to the melodic experiments of the avant-garde. It is impressive for its seeming simplicity and delicacy. Next is an American Vivain Adelberg Rudow with "Racing Inside the Milky Way". She also adapts the new melodic search which goes outside of synthesized quasi random intertwining that evoke vistas of cosmic sounds against a kaleidoscopic futuristic background. The Finlander, Jukka Ruohomaki, presents his "Necromancer Suite" in four tracks. A refined experimental electro that demonstrates rapid atmospheric change by inserts of sample, synth cosmos, urban sounds, noise and an unusual beat. Next is another American work, improvisational and schizophrenic, Robin Julian Heifetz 's "Stings & Arrows II" sythesized splashes that slip through bows, flutes and percussions with indeterminate speed and stops. On to another American, Christopher Andrew Arrell who with "A is for Andiamo" offers an experiment with vocal sounds-remember those courses in English, French, German, and Spanish on cassettes? - those for learning a language by listening to the voice dubbed on its tapes! But our Christopher Andrew Arrell has mixed the voices until a linear rhythm is created. And also it is humorous to hear. Next in line is Italian Diego Minciacchi and his "Who's Responsible is Here?" - a collage of sound which carries us to various settings. In part it can lead us in the direction of the imagination or, otherwise, the concrete. But this Italian unites all with knowledgeable modulation, samples and noise alterations- electronic and not… Likewise USA's Gary DiBenedetto's "A Drop in the Bucket" title could not be more explicit of this - actually the 12 minutes of this piece mark the drip of water falling in a pail, evidently experimenting with various sounds of the dripping water falling on diverse surfaces of water. The album closes with Israeli's Chaos As Shelter's "Death of Bellflower", where sounds of various sized bells are interlaced with noise and other external interference. By now it is obvious that it is useless to repeat the same thing that "Electroshock Records" is great and each of its compilations is always a step ahead of new sounds and new ways to create music - a little like all of its wonderful catalog. Polimeno Paride ("Still Born"). English translation by John Carbone


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