Music Reviews



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Artist: Pinkdraft (@)
Title: 2010
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
The sonorities, that this quartet made up of Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Nuno Torres (alto saxophone), Nuno Morao (percussion and objects) and Travassos (analog electronics) explores on this record, could maybe inspire odd images: after the breaking of the sonic eggshell on the opening track "Luminous Vacuum", the following "Wrong Obstable" could let you envisage a fatal exsanguination which got caused by a stuck zipper caught on chin or pubis, while the amazing "The Missing Train" seems to render the last ditches by an artificer, who tries to deactivate a time bomb which got bottled inside a receptacle whose cork was stuck. Likewise I'm pretty sure some listeners could imagine some ham-fisted attempt of drawing a musical box out of a suction pipe while listening to "Blended Strangers" or a surreal journey inside a twin bell alarm clock on "Heavy As A Floating Mountain", but the most interesting aspect of Pinkdraft is the theatrical way by which they wisely interposed reductionist audiomatics in betweeen improv and post-free jazz ramparts, where Travassos piercing electronic frequencies played a very important role as it seems to highlight (sometimes by slithering on the threshold of silence) the dramatic purging of this record.
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Artist: Jonathan|Christian (@)
Title: Beautiful Hideous
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Jonathan|Christian is Jonathan Mooney, former keyboardist of the New York based band The New Creatures (now living in Los Angeles, California) and Swedish artist Christian Granquist, having spent some time playing with the power-pop trio Day Behavior and now the keyboardist of Stockholm electronic band, The Atom. (Granquist is the vocalist of this project.) 'Beautiful Hideous' is the debut collaboration of this trans-continental project, and it's already garnered quite a buzz. When I first popped the CD in to play it blind (as I often do, without reading any accompanying material to get a totally objective sound experience) I though I was hearing a new Peter Murphy solo album. Closer listening made me think 'that's not PM, but it does sound uncannily like him'. But not always. Sometimes Granquist sometimes sounds a bit like Bowie, like on 'Before The Dark' a romantic gothy power ballad. Some of the lyrics are even sung in French. In fact, the whole album has a romantic-goth bent to it. The music isn't just keyboards and a drum machine; it sounds like a full band including guitar, although the keyboards are predominant. Very well-produced too. It's a grand style these guys have latched onto, as good if not better than anything else currently out there in this vein. Granquist's lyrics are superb, full of appropriate imagery, pathos, and high drama. It works very well with his voice. Mooney is a most effective composer for this kind of material too, as well as an excellent arranger and player. If there is a word for this album, it has to be 'atmospheric'; there is definitely a brooding mood throughout. Nowhere is that more evident than on their cover of Duran Duran's 'The Chauffeur'. Rather than sing the lyrics, Granquist chooses a recitation for most of it until the end, turning the song into something more'¦sinister. (Although I do like DD's video of the song, it might even be better with this version.) The one thing I wish they had done is a real uptempo rocker. I know they might have thought it would be a mood spoiler, but I don't think so. There are a couple of remixes on the album- one by Attrition's Martin Bowes ('I Walk This Earth Alone'), the other by Bryin Dall of Thee Majesty, 4th Sign of the Apocalypse, Dream Into Dust, A Murder of Angels, Loretta's Doll, etc (title track 'Beautiful Hideous'). Although neither are radically different, they do offer another perspective on the songs, and both are quite enjoyable.

If there is one track on the album that's an attention grabber (if not a hit), it's 'Fallen' with its killer chorus. That song alone should have big labels rushing to sign these guys, but you know big labels these days, a bunch of bitchy little girls. I'd be very interested in hearing what the follow-up to 'Beautiful Hideous' might be. I'd also be interested in seeing of there are any tours planned (a tough thing for trans-continental projects like this). I'd see them if they came to New York. So would a gaggle of goth girls I imagine. How could they resist the tragic romance of Jonathan|Christian?
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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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