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AEMAE - Maw [Isounderscore - 2007]

Oakland California's Brandon Nickell is AEMAE, and Maw is his second album. Not having heard his first album, The Helical World, I had no idea what to expect. The press release describes this music as "electronic/noise synthesis" and "experimental", and it's fair to say that Maw includes those elements. There also appears to be a bit of Coil and Nurse With Wound influence going on here.

Pde, the first track, starts off with some almost Merzbow-like ear-piercing noise before changing directions to some chattering electronic sounds, sine waves and burbling. Though the piece never settles on a particular sound, it feels composed, and carefully structured.

Confound Me is a ten minute-plus track, which is much more drone oriented. The sine waves are still present, but there are also deep, bassy sounds, chattering, and muti-layering of what sounds like analog produced noises. Itís an engaging piece.

The rest of the album isnít bad either. Bad Entity reminds me a bit of Nurse With Woundís Soliloquy for Lilith, and Coilís sidereal music, with its shifting drone and sweeping effects. Spectral Psychosis starts off with what sounds like modified vocals, which morph into a buzzing fly sound. This gets tiresome and a bit annoying, but the track settles down and ends nicely enough.

The Bell Contour Memory is another strange track that is all over the place, yet feels carefully put together. Itís alien, otherworldly feel is somewhat reminiscent of Irr. App. Ext.ís Dust Pincher Appliances.

I have read that Brandon Nickell designs his own software to produce his music, and maybe thatís why Maw doesnít come off as a generic IDM release. Though the album is experimental, it doesnít feel stuffy or overly studied. That's an accomplishment, because clearly a lot of time and effort went into editing and producing this fine album.  

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Erwin Michelfelder
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