Electroshock Records: Review:  
Electroshock Presents: "Electroacoustic Music. Vol. IX"
(Electroshock Records 2004, ELCD 044)

11 tracks. Total time - 78:30.

"Electroshock Records", the Russian Moscow-based label for various kinds of electroacoustic, experimental, avant-garde, chamber music etc., have released the IX volume of their Electroacoustic Music compilations at the beginning of 2004. A bunch of unknown names for me among the artists included here, internationally the most known probably being Carl Stone. There are artists from The Netherlands, USA, Mexico, Great Britain, Russia and Italy. Most of the compositions are longer, more than 8 minutes, the last one is more than 20 minutes. More of the artists have a massive approach to the electroacoustic music. Rodrigo Sigal's piece is a good example of this, rumblings of sound that continuously shift but never turn to just noise. Mark Cooley successfully joins clearly present country-ish guitar sounds and electronics. Simon Wickham-Smith's piece "jusKidding" is split in four shorter parts, in most of them presenting the more humorous aspects of the electroacoustics. Eternal Wanderers use a piano as a base for their cinematic composition. The piece that differs most from the others and which I like the most is the last one, "Rusalki" by Victor Cerullo, 22 minutes of more calm shiftings of big blocks of sound that occasionally burst out. Victor Cerullo is not unknown to "Electroshock Records", he has an album ("Visions") which is a homage to Andrei Tarkovsky released by the same label in 2003. Looking forward to hear it, very soon.

BR ("Vital Weekly")

Better than the previous volume, number IX in "Electroshock Records" compilation series pairs works from the academic fringe with pieces from the experimental electronica and ambient scenes. Contributors hail from the US, Italy, Russian, Great Britain, Mexico and The Netherlands, and all pieces are fairly recent (some earlier installments have included unearthed gems from the past). The CD begins with a recent piece by electronic pioneer Gottfried Michael Koenig; a welcome surprise and a strong (if somewhat anonymous) opus. Carl Stone and Mark Cooley provide highlights, the former with a delicate piece of ambient digital noise, the latter with a moody manipulation of a folk guitar theme. Vivian Adelberg Rudow's piece is a setting of a monologue by its namesake, Juan Balnco, Cuban lawyer-cum-composer. Balnco's accent is at times difficult to follow and his story is a bit naive, but Rudow's electroacoustic accompaniment makes it a vivid and repeat-worthy listening experience. Simon Wickham-Smith adds a touch of harder-edged electronics with a tricky four-part suite reminiscent of Alexei Borisov's music. The pompous, almost progressive rock atmosphere of "Eternal Wanderers'" "Sufferer's Dreams" is a questionable inclusion - its merits are few and its pertinence in this context nil. The disc concludes with a dark and captivating 22-minute piece by Victor Cerullo, an excellent addition to his "Electroshock Records" CD "Visions" released in 2003 and a potent representative of the label's continuing interest in the darker side of New Age.

Francois Couture ("All-Music Guide")

"Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music. Volume IX" (ELCD044) is the labels' annual pick of the "best of the rest". The artists in this compilation include Gottfried Michael Koenig, Carl Stone, Rodrigo Sigal, Mark Cooley, Vivain Adelberg Rudow, Simon Wickham-Smith, "Eternal Wanderers" and Victor Cerullo - his epic length "Rusalki" is my favourite track, a spacious cosmic soundscape that harmonises the spheres! While all these artists have their own styles, I think it is fair to say that the atonality and cacaphony found on some of "Electroshock" albums is also present here, along with a variety of atmospherics and ambient soundscapes which vary in their approachability by the listener. This is experimental music of the first order, so don't expect easy listening!

John Peters ("The Borderland")

The ninth in "Electroshock Records" electroacoustic compilation series once again introduces us to cutting edge sound artists from around the globe. Here's the rundown... From The Netherlands, Gottfried Michael Koenig's entry is an interesting blend of spacey atmospherics, sci-fi effects and whimsical sound patterns. Carl Stone (San Francisco) offers an outstanding space ambient piece with a focus on howling tonal effects that feels like a sonic rod pulsating between the ears and massaging the brain. Listening to this with headphones was just as much physical as it was a listening experience. Mexican artist Rodrigo Sigal gives us a hot cosmic ride with swirling alien electronics, freaky effects, voices samples, orchestrations and a healthy dose of avant-garde elements. Noise and clattering intermingle with a totally spaced out vibe for some creatively collaged fun. Lots happening on this one. Mark Cooley is a Missouri resident who starts off with a spacey and somewhat noisey sound-art pattern. But he soon does an abrupt transition to an acoustic guitar ambient Bluegrass piece. Wow... that was the last thing I was expecting! So I'm enjoying the guitar, but a noise pattern takes over and develops into a strange Residents-like bit, and then.... well, you get the idea. Cooley is really all over the map, but this is indeed interesting. Baltimore, Maryland based Vivain Adelberg Rudow's contribution begins with a tear-jerker melody and narration by Cuban Lawyer Juan Bainco, describing his experiences practicing law in Cuba. The music zooms through a parade of stylings including show tunes, Latin rhythms, carnival music, and much more. Pretty wild stuff. British sound artist Simon Wickham-Smith contributes a very cool spaced out string of pieces that are like a cross between "Forbidden Planet", Phillip Glass and "The Residents". Russian ensemble "Eternal Wanderers" open with a dark and slightly sardonic piano bit. But the piano is soon joined by spacey effects and we enter into a symphonic progressive realm with female voice narration in English. Very interesting use of orchestral, symphonic and spaced out elements. I'd love to hear more from these folks. Finally, Victor Cerullo (Italy) is the one contributor to this collection whose work I was already familiar with. Cerullo gets plenty of room to stretch out with the 22 minute "Rusalki", a heavenly cosmic space ambient journey. Put on the headphones... close your eyes... ahhhhhhhhh.... bliss. All the "Electroshock Presents" compilations feature some of the most creative experimental electroacoustic music, and always with the best production and sound. Highest recommendation on all of them.

Jerry Kranitz ("Aural Innovations")

Artemiy Artemiev is undoubtedly a generous and spirited character and his devotion to promoting new electroacoustic works through the "Electroshock Records" label is to be applauded. Particularly as many of the artists documented on Volume IX of "Electroshock Presents: Electroacoustic Music" series are cognizant of the ways in which sound-rendering can illuminate new portals for electroacoustic music. There's a spine-tingling charm to the way Gottfried Michael Koenig slides piercing tones up against droplets pooled in reverb, and Mark Cooley's "Recomposition #4" really sidles up to your ears and thumps you across the head, as more typical slice of electroacoustic music is rudely and deliciously interrupted by some detourned Fahey-esque folk finger-picking. English artist Simon Wickham-Smith, perhaps best known for his collaborative work with Richard Youngs, offers "jusKidding", which breaks down into four constituent parts, alternately busy and burbling, or buzzing with nervous, gilded energy. Perhaps received wisdom of electroacoustic music leads it into an area where dialogue with other musical currents is frowned upon. But with artists like Cooley and Wickham-Smith, all sound is grist to their mill, which is precisely the open-ended spirit more musicians - in all fields - should be embracing.

Jon Dale ("Grooves")

Artists from Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, and the U.S. contributed to the latest electroacoustic compilation from "Electroshock". Compositions date from between 1999 and 2003. Outstanding tracks include Gottfried Michael Koenig's "Polychrome", a collage of metallic hits, bubbling synth arpeggios, and brittle digital timbres; Mark Cooley's "Recomposition #4", in which introspective acoustic guitar strums and licks are interspersed with synthetic sweeps and electronic interludes; Vivian Adelberg Rudow's "Cuban Lawyer, Juan Balnco", with lawyer-turned-musician Balnco's thickly accented commentary about his career choices and compositional triumphs over an ever-shifting musical background; Victor Cerullo's "Rusalki", which roils with sub-bass electronic bellows, shimmering strings, and sorrowful choirs. "Electroacoustic Music. Vol. IX" represents the latest in experimental directions and could be a great source of frightening Halloween soundscapes.

Mark Vail ("Keyboard")

Probably one of the longest single CD's that I have ever reviewed and at over 78 minutes must offer good value for money purely looking at the time element, but what about the music? It features experimental instrumental music from artists around the world. Starting with the Dutchman Gottfried Michael Koening whose menacing music introduces a feeling of isolation that is perhaps enlivened by the sound of cooling winds. The American Carl Stone continues the ambient theme with textures and layering that defy musical normality, but it still has a strange hypnotic effect. "Friction of Things In Other Places" is by Rodrigo Sigal from Mexico and this piece is again lacking the normal musical notations that most accept, but its still a fascinating insight into how sounds can be put together to make a coherent whole out of incoherent parts. After the first three tracks of "difficult" to comprehend compositions, suddenly on the next by American Mark Cooley, normality appears to return. The first five minutes consists of riffs played on acoustic guitars which appears to be of a relatively standard nature, but of course it all changes when a little more chaos is introduced and then towards the end its back to the original theme. It is probably the most easily accessible on this album and I really like "Decomposition #4". You will muse at the backing track on "Cuban Lawyer, Juan Balnco" by Vivian Adelberg Rudow in which melodramatic music of the 50's is assembled to provide a differing counterpoint to the spoken words. Simon Wickham-Smith from the UK has four tracks, which feature very unusual compositions including Unsafeday that is almost built around sampled bits of words. Eternal Wanderers from Russia start with a piano duet played with gusto and then the electronic effects are added just in time for the spoken female voice to complete the package. But during the following 25 minutes changes are constantly made to retain your attention. The long finale is by the Italian Victor Cerullo where long slow moving sections of ambiences are formed into a desperate soundscape. This album is not for young minds only used to pop boy bands, but for a much more accomplished section of adult listeners.

Brooky ("Modern Dance")

Electroshock's latest sampler gathers eleven new artists in eleven tracks, each offering varying perspectives of samples within compositional constructs. Gottfried Michael Koenig's lead track, "Polychrome" appears to veer off a diatonic scale with random electronic tones circling within a carefully considered path. Wind samples are effectively utilized in the course of his ten-minute temperament that also carries with it a contemporary overriding tension. Mexico's Rodrigo Sigal's "Friction of Things in Other Places" is also notable for the seemingly random use of percussion effectively transitioning crowded voices forward and backward and also mixing in sampled techno rhythms. Marc Cooley's opening loop on "Recomposition #4" shows initially a fascination with deconstruction before gracefully transitioning into spectacular guitar and harp based themes. Simon Wickham-Smith's four tracks constitute "JusKidding" where more audio slice and dice is evident within the jarring static and controlled anxiety. Conjuring images of failed alien contact to my mind before the clattering of "Unsafeday" appears with a chopped vocal line descending into the creepiest last part three, "The Machine Says It". Russian composers, the Eternal Wanderers are represented by an ominous theme performed by two pianists on "Sufferer's Dreams", making it one of the standout tracks. Italian audio inventor, Victor Cerullo's twenty-two minute work convenes the disc with vast piece that waffles between atmospheric contentment and planetary mystery. Overall, there are many jewels in this clockwork ready to be heard and embraced.

Jeff Melton ("Expose")

Ninth volume in the Electroshock series, compiled and edited by Russian composer Artemiy Artemiev. It's a good international showcase of well-known and less well-known artists, and while electroacoustic/concrete music/contemporary composition are predominant, there's also room for deep ambient electronica, as in Victor Cerullo's lengthy "Rusalki". I was not familiar with many names, and artists like Gottfried Michael Koenig, Rodrigo Sigal and Mark Cooley are a nice surprise, along with more experienced ones like Carl Stone and Simon Wickham-Smith. They all offer crisp and engaging compositions. The only contribution which seemed out of place to me was Eternal Wanderers' "Sufferer's Dreams" (contemporary art-pop/prog), but as a whole this is a solid sampler.

Eugenio Maggio ("Chain D. L. K.")

This is already the ninth release in the Electroshock Presents: "Electroacoustic Music" series and is the labels' annual pick. Eleven artists assure a gathering of different approaches and 78.30 minutes of sounds to discover. There are artists from The Netherlands, USA, Mexico, Great Britain, Russia and Italy. Most of the compositions are longer, more than 8 minutes, the last one ("Rusalki" by Victor Cerullo) is more than 20 minutes. You can listen to the experimental "Polychrome" by Gottfried Michael Koenig, Carl Stone's atmospheric "Agung" or the relaxing "Rusalki". Others tracks to discover are "Sufferer's Dream" by Eternal Wanderers, "Cuban Lawyer, Juan Balnco" by Vivian Adelberg Rudow (who adds some words to the disc) or "Recomposition" by Mark Cooley.

Peter-Jan Van Damme ("Darker Than The Bat")


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