Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: New Sound Theory volume 3
Format: CD
Label: BasicLux records (@)
Rated: *****
I missed volume no.2 of the New Sound Theory compilations and I guess with that I didn't realize this cool label from Atlanta, Georgia, had been slightly changing ita ways. This third volume seems to continue with BasicLux's ongoing drift toward dancier shores. Seductive, mood-setting, chilling lounge & club motifs that will warm up every dancefloor, liven up every lounge, and spice up summer nights at music bars all around the globe. The CD comes in a beautifully packaged jewel case with a carboard wrapping case and features music by Night at the Baracuda, Fairytale of a New Day, Wamdue Project (remember the 1999 top selling "King of My Castle" single?), Lumiere, Madison Park of course, Goldlust, Perfect Porject, Lenny B, DJ Kemit, OzOn, Mudfish, Paul T, Soulfeenix & BiTeR mc, GrooveOholics, Junkyard, Bokster.
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Artist: Tomo (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Daft Alliance (@)
Rated: *****
Japanese transplant electronic musician Tomonori Yasudo has his fingers in a few pies, like San Francisco bands Coconut, Window Window and Willpower (currently) and The Boy Explodes (formerly). But here, Tomo is on his own. You could call "Tomo" an experimental album, of sorts, but it raises the question of what really "is" experimental and what is just badly conceived and executed music. I’m pretty open-minded about experimental music, I’m not adverse to difficult listening experiences so long as they are engaging. On first listen to this CD, all my instincts shouted "trash". I gave it a second listen and was able to analyze it a bit more deeply to discover exactly why I didn’t like it. For starters, Tomo’s overuse of celeste and bell-like synths and other cheapo-preset sounds became old quickly. Most of the music doesn’t rely on conventional form, but that in and of itself is not the problem- the real problem was that very little ever seemed to develop. There are elementary snippets of melody, scales, sequences, triads, etc. along with the odd chord here and there played on top of awkward, clunky beats and sometimes breakbeats. It all tended to sound like a used Casio synthesizer that worked initially, but malfunctioned quickly after the guy you bought it from disappeared. It reminded me a lot of the idea tapes I used to make when I bought my first synth (an ARP 2600) ages ago. The only piece of music that stuck with me on the whole disc was "Ritual Of Bubble", a more structure and evolved piece that recalls Yellow Magic Orchestra’s better moments. Okay, I still wasn’t sold... Third play yielded yet a new perspective- "this is kiddie music for adults"! The cartoonish aspects of the compositions seemed to come to the fore. Okay, now I realize it’s supposed to sound cheap and twee. Did I like it any better? Well no, not really. Still sounds mostly like the kind of recording novice synthesists might make while they’re trying out their gear. But at least I can respect it. Can’t say I’d highly recommend it, but you can’t please everybody.
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Artist: DJ Harry (@)
Title: Collision
Format: CD
Label: SCI Fidelity Records (@)
Distributor: SCI Fidelity Records
Rated: *****
You may not have heard of DJ Harry. The name is more evocative of someone you’d find spinning at the local bar on 2-for-1 margarita nite. But in the dance world, Harry’s shared tables & phones with the likes of Doc Martin, DJ Dan and Mark Farina, so you can say adios to those discount margaritas... Another thing about Harry- (and this is what elevates this DJ’s CD so far above those who come out with mix CDs that seem to scream "Let me show you what I’ve done with my record collection!!") He’s a producer, arranger writer AND musician. And, he’s based in Boulder, Colorado. ...Boulder??Yep, you wouldn’t expect a progressive house album like this to come out of Boulder, Colorado; then again, you wouldn’t expect a house music DJ who’s prior claim to fame was "The String Cheese Remix Project" to come up with an album as sophisticated as "Collision". 2001’s String Cheese only hinted at where Harry was heading- the funkified monster of "Collision" shows what he’s truly capable of after absorbing as many influences as there are here. The album opens with the title track, a bass-poppin’ dance-a delic party favor that pours the funk on thick and saucy with all the right moves to keep it interesting. Sliding seamlessly into "Tragedy In Blue", there’s a hint of downtempo as electric piano and a haunting synth line take over. It wasn’t until the 3rd track, "Monkfish", that I realized the similarities to William Orbit here, both in style and production. Snippet guitar lines interplay with melodic percussive elements that seem to zip in and out of the nether-regions, all building to a jazz-jammy climax of sorts only to fade away. It’s not only house music, it’s head music too!The real blow-away track on "Collision" is the only real song with lyrics, "All My Life", sung by Lisette, who’s voice resembles a laid back jazzy Bjork with a hint of Beth Gibbons. The reason why the song works so well is that it flows beautifully and effortlessly. The hook washes over you before you even realize it. Haunting and memorable, it has all the potential of a Sneaker Pimps’ "Six Underground" to become one of those classic little numbers that make you stop and say "whoa, who’s that?" By the time the mode of the music changes, you’re well into the next track subtly ushered in on a cloud of vibes.Throughout the rest of "Collision" Harry keeps the party going with a jazz-funk infused stew of great musicianship- standout guitar playing, groovy rhythms and heady electronica that jams into the wee hours. Be warned- if you don’t care for funky jazz, and prefer music borne out of the darkness, then you might want to steer clear of Harry’s place. But if you can dig that funky vibe, then you must be on a Collision course with the most refreshing progressive house-electro jazz hybrid I’ve heard so far this year.
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Artist: Madison Park
Title: Ocean Drive
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: BasicLux records (@)
Rated: *****
Sporting the beautiful and sexy singer DeAnna Cool (her real name, believe it or not) right on the front cover, "Ocean Drive" is the first single from Madison Park's "Boutique". Featuring seven different mix/remix arrangement versions and one bonus track "You Do Something To Me" (by Cole Porter), "Ocean Drive" brings you the talent and skills of some hi ranked producers such as Lenny B (whose credits include Britney Spears' "Toxic" and "Outrageous", Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble with Love Is", Cher's "Different Kind of Love Songs", among others), the Source and Tel Aviv's Wilson.With such personnel you may well imagine that the result is a little more clubby and night-spirited (as opposed to loungey and afternoonish), and if ATL Magazine wrote that they have "one foot in the lounge and the other on the dancefloor" they're pretty much leaving the lounge with this one... What's interesting to note is that they are sort of tentative, in a good way, of going the whole distance with their approach to house. Except for the Source's trance mix they rarely become as dancefloor-ready as much other material that populates disco clubs, and even with Lenny B's production they preserve a genuine electronica feel that is different from, say, Spears' chart-toppers.Madison Park is really going for it, promoting an even sexier and dancier image of themselves and their music. Altough I see the future of this duo in the European scenes, I hope their expectations will all be met! They deserve it with all their hard work.
Artist: Bleak Track (@)
Title: Starting To Dream
Format: CD EP
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Bleak Track is based out of San Franciso. This goth-punk/deathrock/alternative band is consists of Melody Bleak, Dave Ed and Jason. Imagine Siousie and The Banshees meets Sonic Youth. Female front singer Melody enticing strong vocal pulls out her emotional feeling that is very more intense suicidal and aggressive with beauty. This cute woman gives her all on the "Starting To Dream" five song ep. "The Letter" is one of my best favorite that is very dark, twisted, depressing and moody. "Starting To Dream" sounds morelike the early Siousie and the Banshees. The track "Fear To Follow" have a deathrock edge. And "Decomposing Love" have that late 80's and early 90's punk vibe that reminds me of Sonic Youth. Bleak Track is no joke. I can tell they really worked very hard by getting this product out to the public. They deserve more exposure, respect and be taken seriously. I'm dying to hear more from them.
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