Music Reviews



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Artist: Kimmig-Studer-Zimmerlin
Title: Im Hellen
Format: CD
Label: Hat Hut
This trio of violin, contrabass and violoncello perform improvised pieces with a playful earnestness that combines a slightly impulsive aesthetic of plucking, stretching and percussive approach to performance with a wise appreciation of minimalism, space, hiatus, and the power of the pregnant pause. The result is a 45-minute performance, recorded in 2015 in Radio SRF2’s Studio 1, that commands attention in the same way that an irregularly dripping tap cries out to be observed.

Opening piece “Im duetlichen Morgen” is a self-contained work of rise and fall. Especially in the opening few tracks, in pieces like “Was Wiesel Wissen”, it’s as though the trio are wilfully attempting to make the smallest sounds possible that would still constitute playing, this is one of those releases that needs to be heard on headphones in a quiet room to be appreciated.

“Gib Mir Honig” adds a note of tension, the addition of longer bass notes adding the sinister sense of something approaching, which pairs nicely with the dynamic peak of the album in “Safran Im Februar” in which the bowing becomes more violently stabbed and the layering more frantic. “Out Of Reach” with its faintly droney bed takes us back through suspense towards a more sci-fi soundscape. “Hinter WÄnden aus Papier” threatens momentarily to wander into jazz, but restrains itself. “Hinüber Oder Vielleicht” is perhaps the most conventional of avantgarde classical pieces, toying with discord and variations in attack and sustain in a way that feels like a throwback to half a century of preceding classical improvisations.

The quality is exemplary, the performances clean and powerful and the musical focus tight. It’s a really bold and clear musical vision that commands attention.
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Artist: Zeitkratzer / Svetlana Spajić / Dragana Tomić / Obrad Milić
Title: Serbian War Songs
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Karlrecords / Zeitkratzer Productions
Prolific ensemble Zeitkratzer’s latest work takes traditional Serbian folk songs of World War I (performed by guest vocalists Spaji, Tomi and Mili) and builds a harsh avantgarde soundscape around them. Despite the relatively traditional arrangement of instruments (piano, french horn, violin and so on), at times this is a wall of rather harsh and aggressive playing that emulates discomfort and danger. It’s an hour of scratched strings, inhumanly sustained drone notes and slow waves of amplitude and pitch shifts with a pointedly analogue and unpolished timbre. Mellower moments like “When I Go To War” are the exception rather than the rule.

With a rather sombre and sincere packaging that is more than likely to confuse and potentially disgust people looking for authentic folk recordings, “Serbian War Songs” sometimes veers dangerously close to taking the profound suffering of 100 years ago and simply toying with it. That’s perhaps a little unfair and certainly not true of the whole work though, with longest piece “Assassination In Sarajevo” feeling particularly both bold and authentic, and some of the shorter works such as “Last Night Dorde Went through Valjevo” and “King Peter Song” giving the song core a more spacious and respectful setting.

“The Battle Of Makov Kamen” is one of the most accessible pieces, a duet with regular percussion and chanting that ends up sounding strangely like The Creatures in parts. Conversely “Salute to ivojin Miši” is the most difficult listen, a carefully staged and sharp cacophony that feels like it would work better as part of a theatre work rather than purely sound.

The dynamic vocalisation is really the star here- sometimes wailing, sometimes angry, sometimes a yoik and at times almost a yodel. The instrumental setting is fair but at times perhaps neither as sympathetic or as dynamic as it could perhaps have been, which is a shame as this release certainly had the potential to shine brighter.
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Artist: Negative Response
Title: Oblique Angles
Format: LP + Download
Label: Medical Records
“Oblique Angles” gathers together selected tracks that Negative Response released on cassette between 1981 and 1983. This is lo-fi proto-electro-pop with live bass and slightly Joy Division-esque twang guitar over lightweight drum machine patterns and squelchy, playful, Eno-esque analogue electronic wobbliness. There are vocals, which are sometimes a little weak, both in performance terms and low in the mix.

The almost waltz-like rhythm of opener “A New Beginning” is strangely compulsive. “Citizen Europe” drops in some foreign-language radio broadcasts to good effect. “Calm Before The Storm” is a more conventional and structured bit of early synthpop writing that in a parallel universe could’ve been something from the first Depeche Mode album. “Touch” is in a similar vein but sounds rather laboured, but things end on a high with the longer track “Utopia” that places spaced-out echo-heavy vocals over a busy electro bassline and some thick, organic, loosely out-of-time tom slapping.

The audio tracks have been lifted from cassette and the overall quality is audibly a bit fuzzy despite some valiant mastering. Despite being a compilation, to people new to Negative Response it plays like a 35-minute, 9-track lost early 80’s lo-fi album. It’s not a lost classic, but fans of that early 80’s evolving sound will enjoy it enough to justify it being unearthed.
Jul 19 2017
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Artist: Doler
Title: House Mantra
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Karmic Power Records
“House Mantra” is a natty little house track which loops a simple untraceable ethnic vocal sample with an Eastern flavour over a classic house structure of house piano, warm simple bass notes and 123bpm light beat with claps.

The vocal gives it a unique element but it still lacks the key hook or USP that would really make it stand out, but it’s a well-made bit of warm-up-friendly, inoffensive formula house. The input of other remixers, rather than just an original, instrumental and edit package, might have helped push it into more interesting directions.
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Artist: Dusty Tears
Title: Internet Hits
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Media
The overdue return of Silber Media’s 5-in-5 series, where a band cram 5 pieces into a total running time of 5 minutes or less, is a strong bit of post-rock-n-roll from Shane De Leon and Jamie Smith, experimenting with some succinct little ideas that, rather than being half-baked demos, are well-rounded self-contained pieces with hints of Henry Rollins or surf-rock blended with some electronic elements and an energetic sense of experimentation.

The two biggest pieces are “The Cobra Den” and “Gold Chains And Acne” that are expert demonstrations of how a pop song can be fully rounded without needing to hit the obligatory three minute mark. “Cockblocked By Spotify” is a fun little trip-hop ditty. Opener “Turning Seventeen” is an odd juxtaposition of guitar solo and languid, strangely They Might Be Giants-like vocal. “Gluten Free” is nothing more than a groove loop.

By the account of the press release this was quickly chopped together in some tourbus downtime, but you can’t tell. It’s one of the strongest 5-in-5s so far, and a great advert for both the band and the series.
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