Music Reviews



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Artist: THE DEVELOPMENT OF SHAPE vs DANIEL HOPKINS
Title: Close to the edge
Format: DVD
Label: noground
Rated: *****
As announced right from its start, noground offers here its first video release, a 3" dvd-r with an 11-minute video track by label-runner Dan Hopkins and music from the UK duo The Delelopment of Shape, aka Steve Little (guitar) and Elvis Beetham-Wallace (drums). The artists have had an ongoing collaboration for live sets, and eventually decided to try and make it available as a "studio" release. Visuals and sound merge in a very effective and fascinating way indeed: the duo's desertic slow-motion instrumentals (somewhere between Dirty Three and post-Slintian rock) are an effective sountrack for Hopkins' stills of flashing lights, blurred landscapes and urban spleen - watching the outside world from a car window. Both intimistic and mysteryous, this short is quite an engaging experience.
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Artist: HOTELGAESTE
Title: Flowers you can eat
Format: CD
Label: Schraum
Rated: *****
A while ago, I reviewed Michael Thieke's "Leuchten" on Creative Sources. Here the Berlin/Rome-based musician (playing clarinet, alto saxophone and zither) teams up with two Canadian performers now living in Berlin too, Dave Bennett (guitar) and Derek Shirley (bass). Thieke's solo cd was full of good ideas and developments, but definitely on the harsh and solipsistic side of things (not a bad things in itself, mind it); this trio, on the contrary, presents a kind of more humane and warm improvisation, which makes this one of the most enjoyable works in the field of free-form music that I've listened to lately. The trio's interaction is quite typically based on the juxtaposition of microscopic, pebble-like fragments and restrained gestures ("Kein stern", "Moto"), but also on a fuller, more droning mass of sound, thanks to the use of e-bows and sustained wind playing. This gives birth to remarkable pieces like "Wintermusik", "Shiny" or the tour-de-force of "Sleepy lady", easily the most captivating track of the cd, where a jangling guitar, a discreet bass and what sounds like (but is probably not) looped electronics, create a wonderful suspended soundscape. In its cohesiveness and variety of inputs, this is a cd to be listened to many times.
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Artist: RUMPISTOL
Title: Mere Rum
Format: CD
Label: Rump Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
After two years from its first release, Rumpistol (a.k.a. Jens Berents Christiansen) is back with a new album titled MERE RUM. If the first Rumpistol album was a sort of lounge music of the future, MERE RUM expand the concept by dilating the atmosphere and focusing the tracks on the ambience created. Musically the eight tracks ("Teddy 114" is only on the CD version of the album) are always composed using a blend of i.d.m. rhythms, ambient sounds and dub solutions (see "Vintertog"). On this release Jens introduce in Rumpistol the use of acustic elements such as guitars, saxophones, glockenspiels and melodicas which give to the tracks a certain warmth and dreamy atmosphere. The last song of the CD, "Vuggelise" is about nine minutes and it is a sort of Danish folk song mixed with dub rhythms which stops, leaving the space to i.d.m. improvisations just to start again passing through ambient music. After a couple of minutes of silence there's also a one minute ghost track that, with its dark ambience, closes the album. MERE RUM isn't an easy listening album because it gathers a lot of intuitions and sounds but after some listening sessions you can find new sounds and rhythms that you weren't aware of. An album to explore little by little...
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Artist: AntiQuark (@)
Title: SkyDancer
Format: CD
Label: Pet Set Records
Rated: *****
This is the first time I've the opportunity to listen to Antiquark. The female duo formed by Ant (she's coming from the same city of mine,, Torino and she moved years ago to USA to study sharks) and Maren. Maren is also the singer of the Peppermints (see my review of their latest CD), she performed on several musical videos and she also have a job as a model. We have a different perception of what a model can be and it's so good to see one having good tastes about music :). Anyway... SkyDancer is their latest CD and it is a mini album containing seven new tracks along with four remixes of old tracks. The new tracks are a sort of electro extravaganza where dance beats meet experimental solutions under a punk attitute. I think that an important part of the the band's experimental attitude derive from the presence of Raul, their performer / postmodern dancer. He's the role model of the cover of the CD and he's the band's incarnation of the SkyDancer. The main track, in fact, is titled "SkyDancer (Raul our lady of love)". The four remixes see "Planet X" reworked by Marc Urselli (the other side of Chain D.L.K.), "Nulear suicide" (thanks to Tleilaxu Music Machine), "Loopoff effect" (remixed by Seven Lies About Girls) and "Chain mail" (remixed by Geoffro). The remixers tend to dilate the original track giving to them an industrial e.b.m. touch (Marc's one), a techno dancey mood (Tleilaxu's), an experimental gabber version (Seven Lies About Girls) and a electronic experimental version (thanks to Geoffro). Musically I can't compare Antiquark music to any other band, because of their attitude of being open to different form of music/art. I can only tell you that I really enjoyed this release and I can suggest you to give it a try.
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Artist: AGATHA (@)
Title: Greetings from S.sg
Format: CD
Label: Wallace/Vurt (@)
Rated: *****
Somebody once said: "Chicks up front!"...these ladies pushed even forward by putting "these chicks" on the stage. I've never been that much into "riot grrrls" and I've never supported female bands for the mere fact they were women, I think this kind of behavior is cheesy and also deeply discriminating underneath. After this unwanted and useless lesson of "hows and whys" (mercy upon me please!), let's talk about the real matter of this recording, the music. That's noise a la Amphetamine Reptile, Php or early Touch and Go, I'm not afraid to say the trio is in to make your ears bleed, a really good thing if you play music like that. The production is great (Fabio Magistrali sometimes is simply excellent), everything is hard as a band like that should be and they really know how to play. As I've already said "Greeting from S.sg" is a "de-ja vu" of noise music in the likes of Janitor Joe, Unsane, early Jesus Lizard, Hammerhead, Helmet and Big Black, although it may sound old fashioned that's the special of the day. "Greeting" is as "delicate" as a truck-driver could be, look at the shit they put on the front cover, isn't it lovely?!. I don't know if you care about their sexual gender, I imagine some people will talk about it, I'm sorry I did it too much myself. This' hard "Noise" well done and arranged in the way they did it back in the nineties.
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