mandag 3. september 2012


Ambolthue reviews has been quiet for a while. Projects, traveling, lovelife, and especially relaxation has been stopping me from being my old hyperactive self. Aging has also done it's trick I think. I feel like aged wine or tea these days. I'm not popping up with something new everyday, but when I do it's more special. I just hope I've aged well. Going back to writing reviews on music was this time triggered by a little youtube session with my favorite pop band, which of course is the Russian duo "t.A.T.u.". The duo split up in March last year, and in 12 years they released three fantastic pop albums. Yeah, I know the description of this blog states that I will only review or recommend experimental music, but to justify this article a little, their history (especially considering where they're from) with the lesbian story we all know about, that the band was put together through a competition, and their music videos, I'd say that they fit in well on this site.

Anyways, I'm not planning to sum up their career here, but rather focus on my enjoyment of their history. My fascination started with their story. It was a puppetry put together by Ivan Shapovalov in quite an exploiting manner. This is also a big reason for their huge breakthrough, though of course their music and great mix of beautiful and powerful vocals (which should get them to the same fame-rate as they would've had without their cotrovercy) has been important. Why did their story fascinate me? Well, the same reason why exploitation movies, horror stories and eccentric people makes me interested. It would maybe not have been so interesting if they were from somewhere else than Russia either. Russian is my favorite language, and when Russians does something, it always feel like they do it 50% more than what people from the rest of the world would do.

But MUSIC! The reason to stay with them. It's pop, but it hit a nerve that pop music mostly fail to hit. Usually you like it for a day, and the next day you forget about it and it's just frustrating hearing it over and over. t.A.T.u. on the otherhand has a power feel to it. Catchy songs with a great mix of Lena's beautiful feminine singing and Yulia's chick-with-a-strong-bone-in-her-nose voice makes it impossible for me to get tired of their sound. It's important though to check out the Russian versions of their albums over the versions intended for the english speaking market. Lyrics translated and changed from their original Russian versions loose a lot of it's power. Their english speaking originals are great as they are, so it has nothing to do with their voices and the english language, it just works better. A good example of this is "Белый Плащик/White Robe" from their 3rd and last album. Judge for yourself:

Russian version

English version

To me it's two different approaches in their music. It's either a punchy groovyness to their songs, or a ballady beauty. The videos above is a good example of the first one and on their first album we find the wonderful single 30 Минут.

Both of these songs gives me shivers and happiness the way good music usually do, and are good examples of what music videos should look like. They appear as strong women with personality.

There's not much to say about their albums as standalones really. The second and the third as a continuation of a great debute, and offers fresh new music with enough variety to not be too much like the previous album, but at the same time follow the recipe that has made t.A.T.u. what it is. But their approach and history has made t.A.T.u. more than just another popband. It's also dark and light, serious and unserious, beautiful and harsh, and lo-fi and hi-fi all together, taking the best from everything.

They've now split up as mentioned and has both started solo careers. Lena with a playful and smiling approach and Yulia with a more punchy and some would say "bitchy" style. I think this has been the reason why they've worked so well together, but following both their careers instead of chosing who to follow is what makes it interesting for me to actually keep up with them. They have not got the same great power being solo artists, though they both has enough of what made me love their duo in their solo stuff for me to keep following. Their first singles aren't as great as if they would have the other to put in what lacks, but it gives me a smile and is worth checking out. Yulia seems to distance herself from the past more in her "Didn't Wanna Do It", while Lena seems to look back at their history as a band with more of a "it was nice" attitude. Lena even put a smile on my mouth covering a pop-hit that has been truely annoying to me "Mr. Saxobeat". If you don't agree you may understand my enthusiasm with the band at least after reading this. Next time I promise to be back with something more gravly sounding and less commercial, and it will also not take years before I write more.

Lena Katina - Never Forget

Yulia Volkova - Didn't Wanna Do It

Lena Katina - Mr. Saxobeat

tirsdag 14. desember 2010

Various - With Friends Like These: 10 Years Of Pissing In The Wind

It's been a while since I last wrote, but this blog is not dead and I'm back with another review, this time it's a CDR compilation on Gold Soundz. The label celebrates 10 years, and the catalog has now reached GS#99, so that the compilation includes 99 tracks is probably not such a big surprise.

This idea has been used before, so I wouldn't say the concept came as a shock, but what actually did surprise me was the solid tracklisting Mr. Bjerga (label-father) had managed to put together. With this much variation and strange tunes put onto one disc it's important with a tracklist that works. How much time that has actually been put into the final order I have no idea of, but at least it sounds like it's well planned. I expected much more lo-fi, trash, grind/noise-core, scummyness and weird shit on this disc, but it's much more a fine collage than punch-in-the-face music. Each track works well with the next and the contrast between the tracks makes it easy to hear when the next track comes on, but what I noticed quite early was how it also worked as a whole. It's kinda like a cut-up mantra- Absolutely not pretentious in any way, but high standard all the way through, with stuff like Pål Asle Pettersen's noise concrete, NXP's glitchy and catchy loops, Cock E.S.P.'s 5 seconds noise jams, Bjerga/Iversen's noise-drones and Torstein Wjiik (better known as Kjetil Hanssen aka the guy who writes these reviews) with his half funny, full trashed lo-fi junk.

So why chose to go for this compilation? There are so many compilations out there and so many good tracklists, and as mentioned already, this idea isn't new, but what this compilation has that most other compilations doesn't, it's got the feeling of working as a whole, even with it's variations. I found it all to be very enjoyable, never gets boring, and if you pay attention to each single track you'll find some hidden gems that's truely worth the money. 99 copies only.

fredag 25. juni 2010

Jazkamer - Jazkamer

It's July and time for another Jazkamer release in their 2010 monthly series. The last disc being 73 minutes, it was fun to see this one being almost 4 times as short (19 mins). As promised in the promo for the series, Jazkamer has come up with a grind-/noisecore "album", and with 129 songs to choose from I bet there's enough to find the summer hit of 2010.

"129 songs, no index, no life", that’s pretty much all the info we get from looking at the cover. Iver Sandøy on drums, John Hegre on guitar, Lasse Marhaug does vokills as the cover says, and on the last tracks we get Jørgen Træen on drums as well. If you enjoyed their Art Breaker album from 2008 I bet this will make you happy. This time they're a bit cleaner in their sound production wise, but the insensitivity remains and each has their own distinctive sound. Less feedback and a bit more static than Art Breaker but hard to compare to any of the other Jazkamer releases.

It didn't take long from I put it in the stereo and till it was over and it was also hard to keep track on which track was actually playing, but with 129 songs (I haven't counted so it may be a lie) where all sounds more or less the same who cares other than the hardcore nerds like me? But even though I'd love to see a tracklist filled with fun and enjoyable titles the music is still in your face, humorous noisecore with good production value. Another totally different release in the series and of course, another fantastic one.

fredag 28. mai 2010

Jazkamer - We Want Epic Drama

Another month, another Jazkamer. I said earlier on that I originally planned to review all of these monthly Jazkamer-releases, but decided not to. I kinda want to go back on that now, so there may be a few random reviews of the older discs as well in the future, but now it's time to review the June-edition.

"A big-band noise extravagansa. The first studio recording of the Metal Music Machine line-up; two drummers, electronics and three guitars. Artwork by Justin Bartlett." This is what the website says, and I was prepared for something like their classic Metal Music Machine album, but I was wrong. Starts with heavy drumming, and though there has been some intense guitar, electronics, drum sessions on their previous monthly releases this is again something completely new. It's full on trash rock metal noise without being anything other than pure energy, and this disc is also the longest disc amongst the monthly-series so far at least, with two tracks spanning over 70 minutes. It acutally sounds like the second track could've been devided into two separate tracks as well, but that's not the point really. It's often hard to make a good record lasting as much as 70 minutes as it's not enough just to make good and interesting music, but it should also work as a whole, but if there are anyone that I trust could make it it's Jazkamer. With a harsh noise wall-, drone- or ambient-record it's often important to get the length to it for it to work. With more dynamic and organic noise it's harder and especially with rock-noise. I'd say the electronics are more like a mild spice to the whole rock stew on this record than a very dominating sound source, but it's always there.

Now why did I really enjoy this so much compared to other full on rock noise records? I can't really say why, but what hit me was that the sounds of the instruments were allways really clean and it never stopped evolving, though it at the same time were quite static in its sound. Organic and of course something different once again from Jazkamer. Already looking forward in getting the July-edition in my mailbox.

torsdag 27. mai 2010

Scumearth - Deranged Prototype

So the story goes: I had 20 minutes to kill with some sound and figured I should take a dive into my pile of unheard 3"es. There should be no reason for saying this, but for those who don't know the format, it's just a smaller CD(r) than the regular 5" discs that rooms up to 22 minutes of music, and from a random pick I ended up with a 3"CDr housed in a mini DVD-case with two 10 minute tracks, released on R.O.N.F. Records. It was from an artist I hadn't heard of before called Scumearth with a convincing title, "Deranged Prototype".

The first sentence I noticed were "Played and recorded live with no overdubs or computers", something I though would be interesting to fill my time-gap. Only a few seconds after I pressed play I was into it. It sounded very controlled, but still chaotic and improvised. Dark and heavy with an intro to take you slowly into the first piece, but it didn't really take long before it was a full blast. No overdubs but still very composed in a way, with enough layers to keep the interest up all the way through, and before I knew it the first track was over. A great piece that made me happy it was one more track to come.

And then the second track started with full on noise, but it's not what I would call a classic harsh noise wall track, but rather space-industrial harsh noise. Too much variation to make it a wall, and to be honest I did actually like this second track even better than the first. If it's so that this is live material, not edited nor fixed I'm really impressed with the steadiness of it. I like nothing more than to find harsh noise records that I feel I could put on over and over, and with this I did that. I actually walked over to the stereo while writing this review to put it on again, and now I'm back on track two. Reading a bit more within the info from the cover I see who directly or indirectly (as it says) has inspired the artist on this release, and with references like Pain Jerk, M.S.B.R., Merzbow and more pure gold artists, you've set gold’s that are almost impossible to reach, but this time I'm convinced. It's happy noise all the way through, a pure euphoric journey with loads of energy and interesting sounds.

If you're into noise, trash, grind core and other great stuff you should check out R.O.N.F. Records' website. There should be something for everyone there. And by the way, I also have a tape compilation with fresh-idea-experiments coming out there soon as Torstein Wjiik.

fredag 14. mai 2010

Bjerga / Iversen - Time Lapsed & Short Circuit (Two floppy discs)

These two reviews were written on discogs a while ago. Decided to rewrite them a little and put them here. Both releases are strictly limited, but rumours says they will be re-released sometime in the future as part of a box-set. More on this later (maybe?)!

TIME LAPSED (Originally written April 13. 2009)

Classic format, strange music. This is some of the strangest work I've heard from the fantastic duo, Bjerga/Iversen. It's only just over 1 minute long which made me think I was gonna get a short drone/ambient-piece, but it seems to be a speed-up of a longer track or something, which makes it hard to get a hold of. It's also short on the low frequencies, something I think would be better for a longer track. But it's definitively interesting, as this is one of the most on the side releases from this hyper-productive duo. Never have you heard them like this before!

Short Circuit (Originally written January 25. 2010)

Ok, what is this?

First of all we have the format, which is excellent in its way of being very little accessible. Then we have the "problem" that most people can't even get the file out no more as floppy-drives are no longer the most common thing on the modern computer. Then there's the size of the disc which does not allow very much of either playtime nor quality as it can only store 1MB which compared to the modern MP3-players would usually be 250.000 times less storage room. Needless to say it's a pain for most people, but for format fanatics, like myself, this is pure gold. And when it comes to the music… The last time I heard this duo on a floppy-disc it was something strange which almost sounded like a speed-up version of a concert or something. This time it's a static noise-drone with some people talking over. Sounds like a recording of someone talking during a very static sound check where the mic is being moved around. It's really hard to get into, but when you've heard it once it's hard to put it away without wanting to spin it again just for the fun of it. And glad I did 'cause the more I played it, the more I got out of it. It's not what I would concider a high quality release, but damn is it a great one! Fun, unpretenceaus and it's so damn short you can't get tired of it before its over. Another great floppy from the duo. Please keep 'em coming!

tirsdag 30. mars 2010

FNS & Svarte Greiner - Sound Of Mu 28 March, 2010 (Concert)

As you probably know if you already know me is that I'm usually to be found at almost all concerts held in Oslo within the experimental scene, and most of the time with a recorder in my hand. I finally decided to start writing reviews of memorable concerts as there's not many of those to be found no more, and my first concert review will be of the release concert for the new album of FNS (Fredrik Ness Sevendal).

This concert was held at Sound Of Mu on March 28th to mark the release of his new self-titled album "FNS" which was released on Miasmah. This is actually a re-release of the debut album which was originally released on CDR by Clearsnare in 2005, but this time it's a remastered and pressed CD and there's even a bonus track on it for this new release. Anyways, the guy behind Miasmah is the man behind Svarte Greiner, Erik Knive Skodvin who also played.

First off were Svarte Greiner (translates Black Branches) which is, as said above, the solo project of Erik K. Skodvin. Skodvin is hard to describe as anything but a truly nice guy, but as soon as he starts playing music, everything becomes darkness. It's all in the music as well, because what you see is a usual concert with the musician sitting there playing his music and using his ears and intuition to decide where to go next in the soundscape. He started out quite easy with only his guitar fading slowly into his line-up of pedals. Within the first 5 minutes I'd become part of the music and it sounded like it was the soundtrack of a slow and dark film (without any specific references here). It evolved and evolved and I enjoyed the whole thing, although I think the last part worked best, but that also may be because I had had the time to digest the previous material presented as well. It was dark and beautiful, but the amp used seemed to have a bad response to the lower frequencies played sometimes, so I'm afraid I lost my concentration a couple of times at the beginning, but as said, after 5 minutes I was part of the music through to the end. Lovely performance!

Then it was the headliner of the night, the man the release concert were held for, FNS. I've seen and heard his music many times before, so I was prepared of a good show, but this just blew my mind. In just a few weeks I've seen tons of concerts, but this took the cake and will be one of those memorable concerts I will look back at with a smile. Also here were it a bit too much amp-distortion in the very beginning, but that was quickly fixed. From playing hands at his acoustic guitar he went to use a bow, and as soon as the bow touched the guitar it was pure magic. This means that the last 90% of the show could easily be described as one of the most pleasant concerts I've ever been to, and I how well he manages to use the loops and keep evolving slowly but steady is just amazing. If you've heard either the FNS-album or his No Foly Bow from 2007, you should know what I'm talking about when I say he has control in his music, and it also worked live. I could've listened to this guy playing for many more hours, and hopefully it's not the last time I see him do a concert. I'm not sure, but I don't think I know any guitar players who does folky sounds as good as Mr. Sevendal. A true evening of joy.

Take a listen to some extracts from each of the concerts:
Svarte Greiner