Music Reviews



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Artist: DAVID WELLS
Title: op.3
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: The Locus of Assemblage
Rated: *****
Scottish soundmaker David Wells has run one of most interesting cdr labels of the last few years, The Locus of Assemblage, which is now sadly over due to his relocation. Luckily, his own musical activity is going to continue, having recently released a collaborative split 3" with Paul Bradley (on Twenty Hertz, review soon), and a "Droneworks" ep before that. "op.3" has been his first self-released work, and, to be honest, it's also my favourite one. Not that the following ones were bad (quite the opposite, actually), but this darker, monolithic track is surely my cup of tea; I've been listening to it quite a lot lately, and it's always a nice 20 minutes to sink in. Wells only, or mostly, uses environmental recordings of water, and, I venture, some natural drones highlighted by reverbs and equalization: a minimal set of elements, but arranged with great skill. After its first more subdued half, the piece slowly billows to a powerful bass-heavy drone; not unlike many "ambient" untitled works by López, surely the best comparison for this work along with mnortham's darker recordings.
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Artist: ORIGAMI SUBTROPIKA
Title: Ultimatum
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: The Locus of Assemblage
Rated: *****
This 3" cdr has been out for a while, but it'd be wise to get one of the last copies before it becomes unavailable, due to the recent demise of The Locus of Assemblage. The Puerto Rican branch of the Origami empire is formed by Jorge Castro, of Cornucopia fame, plus one mysterious A182 - possibly Castro himself or one of his tools, but that's only my guess. To quote the press release, the ep "is based on US weapon testing in the waters surrounding Puerto Rico and the condition 'Vibra-Acustica' which has afflicted the local population", and the sounds it contains are quite scary indeed. "Ultimatum A" begins with piercing high-end tones, abruptly exploding into a wall of white noise. The piece later caves in, leaving only a disquieting aftermath of scattered particles and barely audible drones, elements which are further explored in "Ultimatum B", a perfectly arranged composition of audio debris. Not to be mistaken for a one-off divertissement, this is a great record of destructive but eventually elegant noise, which reminds of similar incursions by Duncan, López or Ilios.
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Artist: Tomo
Title: For Many Birthdays
Format: CD
Label: Daft Alliance
Rated: *****
San Francisco-based Tomo is the minimalist architect of an almost completely electronic soundscape, with more than enough sequencing, pitchbends, clicks, pops, LFO quaverings, flatulent time-stretch retardations and bouncing-pinball sounds to do Aphex Twin proud. On For Many Birthdays, his sophomore release for Daft Alliance, he crawls way up inside his headspace, leaving little room for the body, yet he emerges with a purely pointillist masterpiece that's all very rhythmic and not at all chaotic -- in other words, there is song structure that makes sense in every track. Maybe too abstract for some, but if you're the type who can sit staring out the window of a subway train and become flat-out mesmerized simply by watching varying brick patterns, wall textures, warehouse windows, pipes and odd pieces of garbage whir by, you can definitely roll with this recording. The title of the first track, "Time Is Me and It's Moving," certainly suggests as much. Others, like number nine, "Let Me (See) Think? See?" are just plain goofy and fun, with wacky vintage synth. The music doesn't remind me of (m)any particular influences, and I find that refreshing. As far as Birthdays is concerned, Tomo, here's to many happy returns.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Plutonium Showcase V. 2
Format: CD
Label: Plutonium Distribution (@)
Rated: *****
This new showcase of the Swedish Plutonium label is more than a simple label compilation, it represents the rich and active content of several acts of the Three-Crowns country. And so several guest appearances can be discovered here and all featured acts here do their best to give a convincing listening as well as a rich amount of diversity in styles. Things start well with the opener PROJECT-X and a special remix done by COBALT 60 on their track "Stay Awake" - not that expected straight EBM piece but still decent done. MORTICIANS, Plutonium’s very own recording act, comes next here and give us already a new piece from their upcoming next release. AUTO-AUTO are one of these uncountable Synthpop acts somewhere comparable with the known ELEGANT MACHINERY and several reminiscences taken of the Pop/Wave influences of the Eighties. One of the highlights of this whole comp follows then with the one-man act CRYO, recently signed to Progress Productions. Their track "The Pain" combines old school EBM structures with well sounding male vocals and mysterious sounding synth layers - marvelous played, definitively a track which makes me eagerly awaiting their debut CD. CJ Parker comes next and built a smile on my face regarding their Diva-like vocals and its content. WHITECHAPEL is one of the upcoming acts on Plutonium, a female leaded act combining almost Dark Electro with some harder rhythms - maybe the Swedish answer on acts like PSYCHOBITCH. DIN STALKER comes next with an instrumental piece and presents a convincing synth play, while the effort of PSILODUMP can’t grab attention. We are in the middle of the running time of this comp and some more or less average stuff takes part here. NORTHERN ELECTRIC is also one of the upcoming acts recording for Plutonium and they present here an old school influenced EBM piece with German lyrics. Next act is SADAKO’S FURY and they mix Electro elements with Rock’n Roll - uuhm, here we get good male vocals mixed with distorted percussion efforts - stuff which needs some habit. INSTANS is the lesser distorted Electro/Industrial side-project by SEVERE ILLUSION. Lesser distorted means here that this effort by both Ulf Lundblad and Fredrik Djurfeldt is more straight and linear. Distortion and destroying elements are still present of course, but for INSTANS it sounds more programmed and lesser influenced by chance. Also the vocals and its effect penetration differs from SEVERE ILLUSION, although I must say, that they could be better placed in the floating mix of this track. The north Swedish duo MICROBODY comes next with a hard old school EBM piece called "Consumer’s Decay". It is a hard and fast paced track which awakes some Punk reminiscences. ETERNITY RANGE is a side-project by a MORTICIANS member and they play a dark and slow form of Synthpop - a very beautiful piece. AKEUM SON is a French/Swedish connection and they also definitively explore the harder and darker side of Electro/Industrial. Comes then SEVERE ILLUSION with a new track which moves into a new and different direction than their latest releases. Minimal synth play, chaos and destroying elements are reduced to almost zero, surprise, surprise! Unexpected stuff and it definitively bound me at the headphones for some more rotations to get conformity in it. The duo of TWZ is also back here with an amazing new piece "Terror Cell" and their development in vocals and music is nice to see/hear. Follows then THE PAIN MACHINERY with a hard, fast and chaotic noisy track which differs a lot from the latest release "Hostile" - maybe this piece is a bit older here? Finally this comp ends with another instrumental piece of a project TRASHCANDOGCHOIR.
Also this compilation lives a lot from its exclusive content and the unexplored talents which seem to be so damned rich present in Sweden. Definitively a good initiative and I hope for some continuations.

Tracklist:

01 Project-X - Stay Awake (Insomnia remix by Cobalt 60)
02 Morticians - Overlords
03 Auto-auto - Dog
04 Cryo - The Pain
05 CJ Parker - Beutiful Boys
06 Whitechapel - Dead Channelz
07 Din Stalker - Ohne Zuschlag
08 Psilodump - Vuoksa
09 Northern Electric - Normal (neu)
10 Sadako's Fury - Once upon a time
11 Instans - Break the Glass
12 Microbody - Consumers Decay
13 Eternity Range - Goodnight
14 Akeum Son - The Infinite Power
15 Severe Illusion - In your hostile little face
16 TWZ - Terror Cell
17 The Pain Machinery - Empathy
18 Trashcandogchoir - Our Engines
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Artist: Ptose
Title: ignobles limaces / Night of the Reptiles
Format: CD
Label: Musea
Rated: *****
Not knowing French or the history of this band is going to seem a little bit like wearing blinders while reviewing this release and keep me from commenting on their lyrical content entirely but that being said... This is re-release of two PTOSE recordings from the early 80's. The first, "Ignobles Limaces" was originally published by AYAA and was PTOSE's first proper studio record. The second, "Night of the Reptiles" was originally released on cassette only in 1983. The over-all tone of both of these releases is very "Residents-esque". Not knowing a lot about PTOSE's origins, I can't be sure if they were directly influenced by The Residents or if their similar tone is merely incidental. In either case, PTOSE handles their quirky melodies and arrangements with panache'. Quirky melodies, odd arrangements, heavily modulated synthesizers, guitars, out of tune leads, insane vocal styles abound in this release. There are moments wherein the vocals are in English but I can't, for the life of me, make out a single phrase. Nevertheless... this doesn't hamper the ability to enjoy the kooky nature of the tracks. Despite half of this release having been originally released on cassette, the audio quality is fantastic. Stand out tracks: "The Bogyman", "Eat Your Fish!" and "Like a Mouse".
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