martes, 14 de junio de 2011

ONDA SONORA 28-05-11ra


Track: Pulsar / Ecotono / Red Forest / Threshold
Album: Ecotono
Label: Utech
Track: The 3rd Man / Robert Crumb’s Natural Gait / The Magic Hands of Fernando del Rey
Album: On
Label: Ninja Tune
Track: Monk / Obsidian / Cumulus Crowds / Scrape It (Up) / Chant Bleu / Cyclone’s Center
Album: Chunk
Label: Mosz

Listen here:

martes, 7 de junio de 2011

Review @ In Place of Dreary Patterns

Oikos - [2010] Ecotono [*****]

By Josh Landry

For their first full length, Spanish duo Oikos have created “Ecotono”, an enigmatic guitar texture album of singular voice, compassion and heart.  They borrow from the maudlin over-emotionality and distortion worship of shoegaze as well as the filmic vastness and finality of post rock, but their music is somehow wiser, more universal, than your average specimen of either genre.  Oikos places a comforting hand on the listener’s shoulder, and presents a soundtrack to fond recollection of days of connection with nature and other human beings.
The soundspace they construct is an open, outdoor vista, and indeed may cause the listener to flashback to experiences of intense natural beauty.  The borders of a reverberant canyon are outlined by sound.  Like light patterns on the surface of the ocean, the sound is both texturally constant and endlessly shifting.  Distortion is ubiquitous, and though it has little sharpness and does not displease the ear, neither is it an indistinct wash of echo.  In this mix, there is sound at all levels of closeness and distance.  Oikos have proved themselves knowing craftsmen, capable of taming/tempering the violent and treble-heavy heart of the guitar amplifier.
Each of these tracks is a full spectrum swell, with gradual additive layering of volume, feeling, and timbral scope through vast, shimmering delays, echoes and feedback.  Oikos have evidently decided that any pause or ebb in sound would be counterproductive.  Rich, solidified drone pitch serves as anchor, and each song becomes a towering vertical construction.
Before this rising and thickening of the sound, notes and chords are sometimes left naked, in discernable metric rhythm and strumming motion (”Boreas”).  These are rare glimpses of Oikos’ musical logic, largely intuitive or veiled by effects for the greater part of the album.  In these moments, it is clear that these scintillating slabs of texture are built upon intelligent, subtle progressions and quasi-song-like forms, and my respect for the group only deepens.  Only in the final moments of closer “Jatavena” does the careful web of tonality destabilize into a storm of rough hewn metallic string noise, and even this is no dramatic derailing from the by-now-familiar trajectory, rather an expressive flourish due to intensity overflow.
For later tracks, loop-driven patterns come to the fore, density is lessened and the newfound sonic transparency only accentuates the depth and warmth of the sounds.  In the surprisingly minimalist and lo-fi “Red Forest”, mystery looms thick as thieves.  A clanking fuzz-textured loop builds a waltz rhythm that soon becomes the perfect frame of reference for the snakey meandering of a vibrant synth string patch.  The surreal simplicity of this basic sound is overloaded with embellished distortion harmonics, and the primal, plodding feel of the track is akin to a more melodic TenHornedBeast.
Essentially, “Ecotono” stands head and shoulders above the majority of guitar texture music, completely devoid of pretense, tired musical systems and overblown, wallowing melodrama.  A powerfully emotional recording that undoubtedly improves with repeated listenings, this album may even convert those who ordinarily find themselves less than enchanted with walls of distortion through the unusually tonal stylings of its drones.  Oikos has made a masterful addition to the already impressive Utech catalogue.
 Thank you Josh!

jueves, 2 de junio de 2011

Review @ ATTN:Magazine

Oikos – Ecotono

Cold and expansive soundscapes from a Spanish duo on Utech.
Jack is the enthusiastic yes-man/music sub-editor.
“An ecotono, or ecotone, is a habitat created by the juxtaposition of distinctly different habitats; an edge habitat; or an ecological zone or boundary where two or more ecosystems meet. It is a transition area between two distinct habitats, where the ranges of the organisms in each bordering habitat overlap, and where there are organisms unique to the transition area. An ecotone region provides conditions of both the types of neighboring ecosystems and thus supports a greater variety of life forms.”

Guitar: meet electronics and processing. What makes Ecotono so appropriate for its title is the way its components are simultaneously merged and kept separate. Thick surges of ambience and distortion carry plucked guitars – reacting to them, dictating them – yet one is never fed into the other. Even during its most intense moments, Ecotono never becomes a “wall of sound” exactly; it’s more like a mass parade of distinct elements, united by a single cause but never compromising their unique sonic qualities.
The “organism” that rises out of this interaction is compelling in itself. The atmosphere is often murky and cold (as is typical of much of the Utech roster), yet its more organic and relatable elements prevent it from delving too deeply into grimier territory. Melody is often present as streams of guitar and piano, with rhythm occasionally rising as electronic patters that gently nudge the soundscapes along. Ecotono is tethered to musicality in a way that allows for subtle breaths of warmth to gush into its most claustrophobic areas – the duo stoop to their most heartfelt during “Boreas”, with echoing guitar chords sending somber minor key shivers down dark and endless caverns.
The 10 minutes of “Red Forest” is perhaps the only occasion that the quality slumps down a notch. Piano, electronics and strings entwine aimlessly, muffled and muddy like unearthed relics, devoid of sufficient purpose to warrant their re-exposition.  Thankfully,“Threshold” veers the record back on track again with warped electronic loops and tar-black jets of static, while album-closer “Jatavena” turns the atmosphere on its head with a delicate surge of positivity and radiance – a flickering orange glow, like a dying light bulb spurting out its last few flashes of life. It’s a fractured image of a breaking dawn; a weary and temporary snapshot of harmony, haunted by the inevitable descent into the darkness that plagues every second of Ecotono.
Thank you Jack!

Oikos en Zann's Music!

-Oikos “Ecotono” (2011)
David San Martin y Rafael Femiano son los dos arquitectos sónicos que dan vida a esta criatura casi espectral conocida como Oikos. Su lugar de residencia es Madrid pero bien podrían ser las profundidades más cavernosas e inaccesibles de la psiquis humana. Es que, con su arsenal de guitarras procesadas y tratamientos electrónicos, el dúo nos sumerge en agobiantes viajes de descubrimiento y reflexión, hipnóticas letanías que se enroscan como serpientes en la mente, reptando lenta y pesadamente (podemos sentir su viscosa piel sobre nuestra propia carne), colocando huevos de inquietud y angustia. Esas cuerdas que resuenan como truenos lejanos, esos graves que generan temblores en el estómago pueden hacernos pensar en la palabra Drone y, ciertamente, algo de eso hay aquí. Por otro lado, esos evocadores arpegios empapados de delay, esas melodías tenues que se entrecruzan y, de forma parsimoniosa pero certera, van dibujando perfectas pinturas de soledad urbana, no estarían fuera de lugar en lo que comúnmente se conoce como Post-Rock. Y, aún así, ¿en qué categoría o género específico pueden colocarse estos siseos electrónicos, estas texturas de formas irreales y espeso contenido, ese sutil (casi subliminal) pulso rítmico, esa sinuosa movilidad dinámica, esos sólidos bloques armónicos que parecen respirar con vida propia? Ok, podemos sumar palabritas como Ambient, Glitch, Minimalismo, Industrial, Música Concreta y vaya uno a saber qué otras barbaridades pero, en última instancia, eso no nos dice nada sobre la fluidez orgánica y el efecto envolvente de estas composiciones. No nos habla de nuestras propias emociones como si lo hace el caudal melódico de estas siete piezas. Y es que, debajo de la intrincada maraña de experimentación sonora, lo que tenemos es un corazón (o dos) que late con dolor y una mente (o dos) agobiada por el peso de sus propias reflexiones. En fin, ni hace falta que aclare que no estamos hablando de material para animar ninguna fiesta ni de canciones para cantar en la ducha (quisiera verlos haciendo la prueba), esto es música que demanda extrema concentración y oídos afilados y despojados de prejuicios. El viaje puede resultar opresivo y doloroso por momentos pero les aseguro que vale la pena experimentarlo.
Gracias Fernando.