Music Reviews



Nov 18 2017
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Artist: COH
Title: COHGS
Format: LP + Download
Label: Editions Mego
COH, more commonly found putting out instrumental releases, here gathers together 8 vocal tracks, some previously released, some unreleased. But rather than showcasing vocalists, these works include mostly quite modest, often spoken-word vocal elements into a soft-edged downtempo electronica of pulses, clicks and pads.

“Sleepwalker” is a particularly engaging oddity, a beatless and spacious arrangement with a lovely sub-bass pulse under Anna Yamada’s long pure notes, then an totally unexpected organ crescendo. “Alcohol”, with Noriko Taguchi, plays like a drunken child’s lullaby and final track, and “Curious Yellow” a sparse, melancholy piano ballad.

The sonic flipside of those tracks is “Love’s Septic Domain”, a darker and distorted affair with screaming and allusions to dirty hospitals, there to ensure you don’t confuse this release for a chillout album.

Don’t expect a pack of eight full-on pop performances, to put it mildly. Little Annie’s “46 Things I Did Today” is a beat poem set to blipping arpeggio patterns. Peter Christopherson’s whispered spoken-word on “Silence Is Golden” is barely intelligible under a bubbling bed of acid-tinged bleeps. Ann Demeulemeester is barely present on the light, piano-centred opening track “Exercise In Colour”.

It’s an interesting collection, diverse in a way that doesn’t necessarily imply incoherence, and should appeal to fans of Susumu Yokota et al.
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Artist: Felix Kubin
Title: Takt Der Arbeit
Format: LP + Download
Label: Editions Mego
Starting life as a soundtrack to a series of 16mm films on the theme of ‘work’, “Takt Der Arbeit” has expanded into a 4-track, 32-minute series of steady, light-industrial percussive environments with a slightly playful air.

“Musik für neue Büromaschinen” is an office soundtrack with steady organic percussion playing against a range of telephone and modem noises, with the odd Apple start-up sound and possibly a dot matrix printer in there for good measure. Principally it’s a novelty setting for some nicely virtuoso tuned and untuned percussion work.

“Geburt eines Schiffes” is a more sombre affair, slower plainer drumming underpinning gradually building sustained notes of tension, before an unexpected shift halfway through to an odd music concrete of old newsreel dialogue, sampled fanfares and a form of big reveal which gradually winds its way back to a new steady rhythm- perhaps the titular ship’s unveiling and first launch. In which case the final few minutes of sombre xylophone mood are harder to explain without the pictures.

“Martial Arts” is, as the title may suggest, a sharper affair, repeating xylophone(-ish) patterns with a faintly ethnic flavour over a more urgent-sounding rhythm that is interrupted somewhat less. On top of this are some old-fashioned electronic bleeps and wobbles to add just a smattering of electronica. Things get progressively weirder with shades of avantgarde jazz towards the end.

Final track “Uhren”, again as the title suggests, brings a sense of clockwork regularity and the reassuring effect of steady mechanics, with a glockenspiel or similar meandering some kind of musical code over the top consisting of distinct short note patterns which repeat and then disappear.

It’s a warm and very accessible collection of soundtrack pieces which would be very interesting to see with picture accompaniment, not dissimilar to the Cinematic Orchestra’s “Man With A Movie Camera” in parts but with less conventional melody and more rhythmic surprises. Top notch stuff and certainly worth a listen.
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Artist: Mother Of Mars
Title: Seed 2 Sky
Format: 12"
Label: Ransom Note Records
New York-based duo Vito & Druzzi, formerly (or possibly still currently) members of The Rapture, offer up their debut release under the name Mother Of Mars, and it’s a pair of ten-minute long, slowly evolving and arpeggiating synth-electronica which mixes tones of late-era Tangerine Dream or Jean-Michel Jarre with an extremely gentle house kick and some slightly African-tinged percussion elements.

The track structures are akin to minimal progressive techno but the sawtooth-tinged synth washes build into a sound that couldn’t be described as minimal, reaching an almost prog-rock noodling climax at the end of “Hera In The Valley”. While the first track is quite euphoric, second track “Seed 2 Sky” is subtler, with a little extra tension, though this washes away in favour of soft synth pads gradually, and a slightly vague synth lead line that has further hints of Jarre.

It’s a lush pair of tracks with an exceptional polish, a really exemplary piece of electronica that shows that it’s possible to layer these synth stylings in a way that sounds fresh rather than only an 80’s retro affair. It’s a sign that Mother Of Mars is definitely a name to keep an eye out for, here’s hoping there’ll be an album.
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Artist: Carl Michael Von Hausswolff
Title: Still Life - Requiem
Format: LP + Download
Label: Touch # Tone
Solely using data from emission spectroscopy on physical objects, pitch-shifted into human hearing range, “Stll Life - Requiem” is one single thirty-one minute piece that’s been divided into two purely because of the limitations of the vinyl target format.

The result is a slowly undulating and very gently glitchy analogue hum and drone that feels like it owes as much to the variations in the electric innards of the recording equipment or the power supply than to the objects being analysed, though I’m sure scientifically this may be unfair. The most intriguing thing about this is how there are some higher-pitched elements that seem to have very short patterns that border on melody.

There’s a lot of ebb and flow here- louder, more harsh-edged parts at times, barely audible near-flat waveforms at others (including near the beginning of the first part, where you begin to wonder whether you’ve accidentally paused the playback as you haven’t heard anything for a while).

Putting aside the science, it’s a very well-formed and interestingly textured undulating drone piece that’s really rather relaxing. The purity of the concept is to its credit and it’s a very enjoyable listen that becomes quite mesmeric when it has your attention.
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Artist: Exo_C (@)
Title: Laboyatta
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
Exo_C is the bicephalous entity by two young noise-shapers, exoterrorism (Belgium/HK, having some tapes on tape-label ThirdTypeTapes in his short discography) and French performer Eduardo Ribuyo aka C_C, born (and already gone?) on the live stage of "On fait du l'art!", a performative space/lab led by the same-maned artistic community in Lausanne (Switzerland) on 22nd October 2015. The brutal mating ritual of these two entities gave birth to an amazing performance, that Kvitnu described as "a noise poetry of distorted sonic perfection" and I could describe as something in between techno - but not so danceable to be proper techno - and industrial - but too well organized to be exclusively labelled as industrial -. I could say Exo_C's sound is extreme, as the regions of the sonic spectrum they like to manipulate are the extremities (stomach-hitting very low frequencies and hyper-piercing high frequencies), while everything that lies in the middle gets wisely sliced, shredded and annihilated. The performance (available on CDr or digital release) consists of 9 parts: a relatively long "Intro" (a sort of warm-up of their resounding machines), an "Outro" (you can't turn hard-boiling machines off too abruptly!) and some numbered Up, Dub and Song, whose succession feature its own logics. All Ups sound like a rudimentary preparation, all Dubs a set of slowly intrusive organizations of the electromechanical hits they forged and all Songs (my favorite moments of the Exo_C industrial process) the stages where the cycles of their forging become more fluid. Head-nodding stuff!
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