Music Reviews



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Artist: PARA (@)
Title: Ligo
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Another very interesting project from the Portuguese label Creative Sources, a well-established reference frame for lovers of so-called New Music and improvisational scene, comes from Para, a trio of young musicians made up of Greek-Austrian french horn player and performer Elena Margarita Kakaliagou, Austrian pianist Ingrid Schmoliner and upright bass player Thomas Stempokowski. After the harrowing solitary phrasing and the first intertwining by each instrument on "Heinz", which is the preface of "Ligo" (Greek for "slightly"), "Vulgo Eipa" opens the way for a really dramatic integration of a series of extended techniques and cinematic suggestions: Ingrid's convulsive tapping on very low tones keeps listeners in suspense before Elena's horn gradually shrouds listening sphere before the "barney" against Stempokowski's double bass, which could mistaken for an awakening fiend. Even if I don't really understand Greek, some words I understood let me think that Greek words by Elena on the following "ti ine?", where some resounding object could resemble the opening and the locking of a door, belong to a sort of explanation of what these musicians are performing. The lethargic "-1ð" precedes "Sandra", where the motif of the opening "Heinz" seems to get reprised, and "Canidae", my favorite track, where the instruments seems to imitate yelps, howls and barks and even the movements of a dog, while the sinister gabbling of Elena's french horn, the grim austerity of Ingid's piano chords and the writhing sounds that Thomas extracts from his double-bass on the final "Ihabkafoelagsen" could let you imagine the murder of a sleeper by means of the spring of an animated mattress. You'll find the very last death rattles of each instrument on the unexpectedly surrwal bonus track "Juvetsi me porta".
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Artist: Soft Riot
Title: Fiction Prediction
Format: CD
Label: Other Voices Records (@)
Rated: *****
Jack Duckworth is a guy who lived in Vancouver and that moved to London and during the 90s played into different bands such as Radio Berlin, A Luna Red, Savage Furs, Winning, Heavy Party, The Measure and Forgotten. His most recent solo project is Soft Riot. Under this moniker he released a tape (the self released "Hyperbolic Masses"), two digital releases ("Another Drone In Your Head" and "No Longer Stranger") plus a vinyl album available only through mail order from Volar Records ("No Longer Stranger"). Other voices wanted to make Soft Riot's music available worldwide and compiled a compilations of tracks and made it available in tape, vinyl and CD. Each of these releases have a slight different track list as "How Can You See Them" and "The Soundtrack To Hansel And Gretel" are only on the tape, while the extended versions of "Cinema Eyes" and "The Commuters" are only on the CD. Soft Riot's music takes inspiration from the old synthesizer-based film soundtracks, minimal synth and synthpop. A lot of tracks are built like a tale where music underlines the moments of the lyrics. Check for example "The Commuters", where the vocals are almost recitated and the melodic parts explode just to give a dramatic sense to it. Arpeggios and lead synth lines compose fragmented melodies and give to the listener a sense of dark uneasiness while the melodies give that pop access to the lot. The mix of experimentalism and accessibility are the key formula of Soft Riot's music and for this reason it isn't of immediate enjoyment. Try to imagine a mix of early Gary Numan with less catchy melodic hooks and you'll have pretty much an idea. You can make an exact idea by checking the whole release here http://othervoicesrecords.bandcamp.com/album/fiction-prediction
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Artist: Nouvelle Phenomene
Title: Glory Of Romance
Format: CD
Label: Other Voices Records (@)
Rated: *****
After the single released on the last summer, Nouvelle Phenomene are releasing, always through Other Voices Records, their debut album "Glory Of Romance". As I wrote on my previous review, they are from Budapest, Hungary, and the line-up is formed by Santa Angela, Santa Fanni, Dziba Zsolt and Peter Buza. With their music they pay tribute to the glorious days when Steve Strange and Visage partner Rusty Egan began to make a name for themselves as a nightclub host and DJ respectively at "Blitz" in London. The opening "Au Fond De Mon Coeur", even if it's personal and catchy, because of its atmospheres will make you remember "The Damned Don't Cry". Human League, Visage, Ultravox are all in the band's dna and helped crafting eight great songs that sound sensual, Mixing danceable songs like "Cruel Game" (that would be ready to be used on a fashion commercial, looking at today's attitude) to melancholic mid tempos sung in French and English (check the beautiful "All Away" which is another instant hit), Nouvelle Phenomene did a perfect album for the lovers of these sounds... like I am. Pop melodies, great synth sounds, lushy pads and atmospheres make you will hang a disco ball on your room and let yourself loose to the music. Check and purchase it here http://othervoicesrecords.bandcamp.com/album/vox-21-cd-glory-of-romance
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Artist: Kofe
Title: Balance
Format: CD + 12"
Label: Other Voices Records (@)
Rated: *****
Kofe were a Russian band active during the mid 80s which recorded only two records and disbanded in 1986 due to different point of view between the band members. Meaning coffee, the band's name was picked up to underline the differences from the previous generation of rockers that was used to consume alcohol. They were original in many ways as you can listen on this reissue of their second album "Balance" just reissued by Other Voices Records in LP+CD and CD. They were playing a sort of synth wave that on different tracks was transcending toward cinematic atmospheres thanks to the use of vocal samples or to tracks like the opening and the closing tunes (I'm sorry but all the titles and in cyrillic and I can't name them) which are sounding like radio transmissions from the cold war... well those were the years. They had a hit out of this album, the song "Zero" had video which was broadcasted on the Leningrad TV programmes Pop Antenna and Spinning Disk. Kofe gathered the synthwave look and iconography and even if on a track you can hear echoes of Duran Duran's "Planet Earth", they weren't afraid to experiment with sounds and effects. Using noises, samples and modified vocals they were able to make fresh and inspired analog electronic wave. Great release!!! You can check it here http://othervoicesrecords.bandcamp.com/album/vox-20-cd
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Artist: Kill The Precedent
Title: Dialogues With The Dead
Format: CD
Label: Minus Head Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sacramento, California outfit Kill The Precedent is a hard band to pin down- mostly a METAL band, but what kind of METAL? Speed? Thrash? Death? Hardcore? Punk? Industrial? Actually, no one sub-genre fits; they slip in and out of all of them (often within the same song), and there is no definitive category. Obviously guitar-based (there's three of them in this seven member outfit) with dual dueling vocalists (Sean 'The Ugly American' Smith and Jason "Twig the Exfoliator" VonWussow) you'll be getting your money's worth in terms of sonic assault, and then some. 'Dialogues With The Dead' opens with the hard charging 'Questions for Weapons', blazing guitars, aggressive vocals, just what you might expect. 'Some People' kicks it up even a notch higher, faster, meaner, relentless. The band downshifts a bit for the anthemic 'Free Reign (Everybody's Dead)' ' 'HEY, HEY HEY, Everybody's dead, Everybody's dead hooray!' kind of a zombie celebration of sorts. After the radio dial twiddling opening of 'Goodbye Lullaby' the song speaks of a sense of camaraderie in a death row sort of way. 'Ghost Stories' is classic machine gunning speed metal (and yeah I think I hear actual machine guns in the mix). You gotta love the lyrics though ' 'The path of least resistance will get its turn, A parallel of coexistence, set up and ready to burn'.

There's a fair amount of Ministry influence here on 'Dialogues With The Dead' but KTP make Ministry seem tame by comparison. These fuckers take industrial metal to a whole new level, and their live shows are, well, unpredictable to put it mildly. The singers could show up dressed as butchers, airline pilots, hip hop zombies, hospital doctors, or god knows what else. Don't get the idea they're a joke band though; fun yes, but they're not kidding. True, they don't take themselves too seriously, but it's a crazy fucked-up world we live in, and they're making the most of it by not taking themselves too seriously. There are plenty of pluses on 'Dialogues With The Dead'- the injected dialogue samples, the sparse but effective electronics, the infectious and raucous choruses, the non-stop frenzied energy, the seemingly endless supply of nifty riffs, what more could you want? There is even an atmospheric semi-ambient finale ' 'Unhappy With The World''¦but it ain't over yet. The CD contains a hidden bonus track at the end ' '10172005 Goodbye', a boozy slowed down metal drinking song that might be equally at home at a Dublin pub as at Ozzfest. Speaking of that, KTP ought to get invited to the next one, I'm sure they'd go down a storm.

A word about the CD cover with its occulty weird séance front and mock ouija board rear- it really has nothing to do with the music, it just looks pretty damn cool. (More interesting images can be found inside and on the lyrics booklet.) I can honestly say there isn't a bum track on 'Dialogues With The Dead' and it's really well recorded and mixed. Kill The Precedent has become my new favorite metal band. Maybe they should be yours too.
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