Music Reviews



cover
Artist: Swansea
Title: Flaws
Format: LP + Download
Label: Self Group
Oregon trio Swansea’s album “Flaws” is a neat and tidy slab of ten electro-indie-guitar-pop songs with a no-nonsense approach. Verse-chorus structures, steady tempos, light synth patterns and songwriting and singing that plough their own path that’s somewhere between American indie and more quirky European flavours. The production is neither too crisp nor too muddy, with an overall sound that’s authentic if at times a little flat.

For what it matters, there’s an aspect of this release which is a little bit dated in pop terms. It draws comparisons to LCD Soundsystem, DFA, Soulwax, The Ting Tings etc. and a broad genre that had its zenith about a decade ago.

But it’s certainly a decent pop album in parts, with some good hooks. “This Time”’s twist from melancholy to extroversion is nicely pulled off. “Samurai” has a lovely bright groove that sounds like it’s only a quick remix away from appealing to Roisin Murphy or Goldfrapp fans.

The second side of the LP is more innovative than the first, with the energetic “No Power” and the vaguely prog rock “Cincinnati”. Final track “Be Brave” and digital bonus track “Blue Sky” both stretch out of the pop mould into more dreamy, languid and melancholic arrangements- the soft percussion on the latter being particularly interesting.

“Flaws” is pleasant enough and a perfectly good soundtrack for a quiet night in, but it’s lacking anything that will really make it stand out from the crowd.
cover
Artist: Gerstein (@)
Title: Live Radio Blackout 1999
Format: Tape
Label: Luce Sia (@)
Rated: *****
As it's usual for project that has a long history as Gerstein, which Maurizio Pustianaz started in 1984, there's a recovery of some unreleased recording which was drowned for some reason in a drawer. This time is a concert made at Radio Blackout and broadcasted in 1999 when he used only electronic loops, horror movies samples, treated vocals and manipulated frequencies to create his sonic journey.
As the first seconds of this first side of the tape reveal, there's a personal vision of experimental music that seems to have a root in new wave. The rhythmic pulse of synths are the framework of almost all track and creates a sort of familiar listening setting as the vocals, the loops and the samples create a regularity which could even sound pop as the third track suggest with some noise to create a curtain of experimental music above an almost dancey background. This side of the project is balanced by track as the fourth where all the influences of horror movies are clearly audible or the fifth where the listener falls into proper noise territories. The second side is opened by a track that could have been an almost pop track with an hip hop beat if the author wasn't able enough to impose his sound aesthetic and use this familiar setting to introduce his harsher sound on the following tracks until, at the middle of the fourth track, a section based on a regular beat and a synth pop creates a break for the final two track of this release where he explores more static sound forms.
Surprisingly varied to be presented as a canonical industrial release, this live performance reveals influences out of this genre and so this is a release that could be appreciated by a wide range of listeners. It's truly worth a listen.
cover
Artist: Durán Vázquez
Title: Hiku Komuro, Hikikomori
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica
On paper, you might assume an album structured from old Nintendo game sounds and 1990’s-era VSTs would be cheeky chiptunes- but this Durán Vázquez album is nothing of the sort. ‘Hikikomori’ is social reclusion and while the atmosphere here is insular, and isolated, this isn’t the sound of somebody playing computer games. This is tense drone soundscape work- beatless, hollow, resonant, drawn-out synthetic tones with washes and twinkles.

The work has two sides, LP-style. On the first side, there are five tracks, four of which share the same name, “Solus Ipse”. The first of these has a glass-like wailing tones at the top end are so harsh that they are sometimes painful, telling you this work won’t function as an ambient chillout affair, the second introduces gradually crescendoing notes of tension and confusion. The third is more mellow, with distant string-like ebbs and occasional fragile percussive sounds. Brief interlude “Koroshiya” brings a hint of ethnic flute tonality, before the final “Solus Ipse” revisits the earlier disquiet.

The second side is a single 26-minute work, “Segunda Natureza (trebón, paxaros, electrostática)”, where the retro-chiptune sounds are really heard. This is mostly a more playful piece, still essentially a drone base but lighter, with arpeggio patterns, 8-bit-style percussive moments and occasional single-step bass notes akin to having somebody in the next room playing a classic NES. Moods do shift throughout, with some sections more sombre and the latter sections more sparse, but this piece manages to feel both more unique and more inventive.

It’s an album of two halves in which the second half is more recommendable than the first, but overall it’s a noteworthy take on the solitary drone soundscape form.
cover
Artist: Damo Suzuki & Sound Carriers
Title: Live at Marie-Antoinette
Format: LP + Download
Label: Play Loud! Productions
Performed by a supergroup of sorts, fronted by Can’s Damo Suzuki and personnel from Schneider™, Pan Sonic and others, “Live At Marie-Antoinette” has a very traditional live prog rock album feel to it that, save for a handful of digital electronics, could have been firmly placed in the mid 1970’s. Four super-long tracks of pulsing guitar drones, spaced out FX floating over slowly shifting and speed-changing simple bass notes, this is indulgently retro stuff.

It’s only in certain sections, such as the grand finale of second piece “Stern des Nerren” or the nuanced distorted drone underneath “Die Leere füllen”, do electronics that tell you this is a 2011 recording (being released, for no given reason, six years later).

It’s generally well-performed, with a strong understanding between performers and a strong intuition for pace change and uniform threads through the improvisations- this is accomplished musicianship, evading the ego of virtuosity in favour of coherence and consistency.

Suzuki’s vocals have a broad range, at times growling like Satchmo, sometimes more like Jim Morrison, but in places it draws too many comparisons to suggest that it really has its own modern character. It’s a faithful, always nostalgic revisiting of the even-more-indulgent side of prog rock but unfortunately it lacks the character or modern twist that would make it stand out as anything more than a curio with big names attached to it.
cover
Artist: Federico Durand
Title: La Niña Junco
Format: LP + Download
Label: 12k
On “La Niña Junco”, Federico Durand deliberately limited himself to using one single synth- a vintage Crumar Performer- along with a couple of effects units, and that’s it. The result is an album with a staggeringly pure and simple tone- bell-like gentle melodies bubble softly over ebbing fragile tone loops throughout. This is forty minutes of consistently mellow and unchallenging prettiness.

As such, distinctions between tracks are subtle. “Melodia de felpa” has a slightly lullaby tone and “Rondel” has a bubbly closeness, while “Navidad en el bosque” feels more sparse and open, like standing in an empty cathedral with a synthetic organ. The strumming-like “Lluvia de estrellas” is a relaxed landscape, again underpinned by bubbles which fade supremely slowly as the album closes.

It’s simple, it’s spacious, and it’s elegant. With the softness playing against rapidly oscillating effects it has a slightly retrospective, faintly Radiophonic Workshop feel to it. It doesn’t command your attention, but if it gets your attention, you’ll appreciate it.
[ Next ]

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11...20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51...60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111...120] [121...130] [131...140] [141...150] [151...160] [161...170] [171...180] [181...190] [191...200] [201...210] [211...220] [221...230] [231...240] [241...250] [251...260] [261...270] [271...280] [281...290] [291...300] [301...310] [311...320] [321...330] [331...340] [341...350] [351...360] [361...370] [371...380] [381...390] [391...400] [401...410] [411...420] [421...430] [431...440] [441...450] [451...460] [461...470] [471...480] [481...490] [491...500] [501...510] [511...520] [521...530] [531...540] [541...550] [551...560] [561...570] [571...580] [581...590] [591...600] [601...610] [611...620] [621...630] [631...640] [641...650] [651...660] [661...670] [671...680] [681...690] [691...700] [701...710] [711...720] [721...730] [731...740] [741...750] [751...760] [761...770] [771...780] [781...790] [791...800] [801...810] [811...820] [821...830] [831...840] [841...850] [851...860] [861...870] [871...880] [881...890] [891...900] [901...910] [911...920] [921...930] [931...940] [941...950] [951...960] [961...970] [971...980] [981...990] [991...1000] [1001...1010] [1011...1020] [1021...1030] [1031...1040] [1041...1050] [1051...1060] [1061...1070] [1071...1080] [1081...1090] [1091...1100] [1101...1110] [1111...1120] [1121...1130] [1131...1140] [1141...1150] [1151...1160] [1161...1170] [1171...1180] [1181...1190] [1191...1200] [1201...1210] [1211...1220] [1221...1230] [1231...1240] [1241...1250] [1251...1260] [1261...1270] [1271...1280] [1281...1290] [1291...1300] [1301...1310] [1311...1320] [1321...1330] [1331...1340] [1341...1350] [1351...1360] [1361...1370] [1371...1380] [1381...1390] [1391...1400] [1401...1410] [1411...1420] [1421...1430] [1431...1440] [1441...1450] [1451...1460] [1461...1470] [1471...1480] [1481...1490] [1491...1500] [1501...1510] [1511...1520] [1521...1530] [1531...1540] [1541...1550] [1551...1560] [1561...1570] [1571...1580] [1581...1590] [1591...1600] [1601...1610] [1611...1620] [1621...1630] [1631...1640] [1641...1650] [1651...1660] [1661...1670] [1671...1680] [1681...1690] [1691...1700] [1701...1710] [1711...1720] [1721...1730] [1731...1740] [1741...1750] [1751...1760] [1761...1770] [1771...1780] [1781...1790] [1791...1800] [1801...1810] [1811...1820] [1821...1830] [1831...1840]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha