Music Reviews

Artist: Kouhei Matsunaga
Title: Drawings
Format: 7" vinyl + Book
Label: Fang Bomb (@)
Rated: *****
Berlin-based Japanese composer, sound artist and illustrator Kouhei Matsunaga aka Koyxen Mattsunagnen seems to have constructed a bridge between his two main skills, the one with drum machines, laptop and synths, which has been extensively rubbed on an impressive number of remarkable collaborations (Merzbow, Asmus Tietchens, Sean Booth from Autechre, Mika Vainio and so on) and a number of very good releases on well-known labels such Raster-Noton, Skam Records, Mille Plateaux, Wordsound, Tigerbeat6, Important Records and PAN and the one with pencil, which has been exhibited for some cover artworks. Curvy black lines got plaited into settings where naked women, deformed suitors, ephemeral figures, donkeys, fowls, sketched birds and other animals come to light from mainly empty spaces. The connection with music on the attached 7" vinyl are strictly related to the suggestions it can inspire: for instance you could imagine that the rhythmical patchwork that Kouhei assembled on the initial "7" could emulate the movement of a pigeon's neck while some syncopated bleeps could come from the garrulity of a hungry seagull, the following technoid dub on "632_" sounds like cheeping over sinuous downy (and somehow feminine) sonorities or the final "540" could let you imagine an electronically-treated coalescence of twitters where the almost mechanical step of crumbled percussions could let you think about bird's act of ransacking into a cup of birdseed. A certain dadaist pulsating vein bonds Matsunaga's binary codes.
Artist: Wicked King Wicker
Title: Evolving
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Named after a quotation of a 1973 horror film on a handwritten letter that Daily News columnist Breslin received from American serial killer David Richard Berkowitz, New York-based extreme doom-hooked noise project by Jim Gibson and Logan Butler adds another headsquashing ring on their heavily thunderous chain. "The Devil Must Learn The Limitations of The Host" deserves an award just for his quirky and somehow guessed title; it cannot but influence listener's imagination while his/her eardrum got stricken by corrosive landslip of wobbling noise who dwarfs the voice to the point that it's really difficult to understand what he's saying so that you cannot but imagine those words could come from a pleading possessed man who tries to persuade his devil who is getting a hold of his body that he should not exaggerate by his bedevilments! The following "A Prayer For Death" where piercing high-pitched squeaks, noises of supposedly dying combustion engines and sinisterly rising limping whirls got carried in procession over an obsessively offbeat knock. Don't ask me the reason why listening to "Zen And The Art Of Nihilism" let me imagine about a mad electrician who torture a mouflon on a self-made electric chair while tinkering a tamagotchi, while the final "The High Exalted Nothing" makes me think about the reasonably rancorous reaction after an overrated festival of Neapolitan melodic song by expats in Little Italy, as the opening sample (did they record it from a pirate radio station broadcasting from a pizza store?) seems to suggest.
Artist: The Sexbots (@)
Title: Junk Sick
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Basically, Portland, Oregon based trans-disciplinary artist Ilima Considine IS The Sexbots, with a little instrumental help from DJ Ceez, Qmulus and Stereospread here, and 'Junk Sick' is The Sexbots 3rd album to date. (Junk Sick is a term for the vomiting that accompanies heroin withdrawal.) Ilima is a classically trained violinist and cellist but you won't get any of that here. What you WILL get is an aural feast for retro-art-pop synthpop enthusiasts, with Considine cooing, moaning, and sometimes even orgasming in her Asian little girl voice over Nintendo/Casio style electronics and beats that will make you stop dead in your tracks and say 'WHAT is this? WHO is this? Where did this COME from?' That's how it struck my jaded ears.

In 'The Only Thing' little bleeps and burbles, synth pulses and electronic swirls float around her breathy child-like vocals. More muscular synths and beats are the backdrop for Ilima's emoting in 'My Job is To Make Love to Strangers'. This is sythpop like you've never heard before- raw, emotional, sexual, personal and riveting. The pace slows down with 'Magic Eyes' as Ilima coos her lyrics backed by what sounds like a chorus of softly meowing oriental kitties. The cats come out yowling in 'Sickness'; the first real clue that this album came about through a rough relationship breakup. 'Boy/Girl' explores playful androgynous sexuality. 'Every Soul' is tragic, emotionally wrought tale of a friend's drug overdose. If that one seemed emotionally wrought, 'Try Me' is even more intense. 'Water Under the Burning Bridge' is a mix of sweet innocence and lovelorn regret; basically sort of a bittersweet love song. I didn't even mind the (brief) male vocals in it. 'Petting a Cat' is just too cute in its metaphorical sexuality. 'You Get a Taste' sounds like an Asian children's march with more of Ilima's boudoir vocalizing. 'Willy on Willy' seems like an attempt to exorcise the ghost of a lost lover, recalling 'Sickness' to some extent.

Vocally, comparisons of Ilima to Bjork are inevitable, but really, there's only a slight resemblance in style, but a perhaps a larger one in emotional input. Bjork's voice is robust and her range covers about three octaves. Ilima's voice on the other hand has a much more fragile quality to it. No doubt though her 'Sexbot' style is somewhat unique. It not only conjures hentai fantasies in which you get to play voyeur, but also speaks to a deeper emotional level. Live and on video however, I don't believe Ilima's visual performance is anywhere near par of her musical prowess. Given time and money (buy the damn album already, it's well worth it), she may synthesize and synergize them both. In any case, it will be interesting to see what The Sexbots come up with next.
Artist: Pinkcourtesyphone (@)
Title: A Ravishment Of Mirror
Format: CD
Label: Dragon's Eye Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Richard Chartier, who has widely considered one of the most prominent figures of the so-called reductionist sound art scene, recently raised the curtain up on his interesting project Pinkcourtesyphone by a series of releases with thematic interconnections. His third full album under this guise followed his relocation in Los Angeles, whose close connection with Hollywood secret sources of noir stories, hidden by a pellmell forest of mirrors, lights, roadways, temporary limelights and evanescent kudos filled the pool of sonic suggestions where the listener is going to swim while listening to "A Ravishment Of Mirror". The very first seconds of the long-lasting opening suite highlights this cinematic connection by a sample which could have been taken from the score of the most dramatic and schmaltzy scene of an old sentimental movie, which precedes a possible awakening as you can guess from the female vocal sample repeating "What was it you dreamed?": the following languidly amniotic sonic fluids could render the after-dream off-guard reverie, where your own breath and other sonic inputs sound like washed by frequencies that sleeper's brain keeps on generating. The opening suite seems to be ideally made up of three parts: the one I've just described is "Why Pretend", the second one - "The Desire Of Absence" - get closer to the entrancing ghostly sonorities by Tor Lundvall, while the final one - "Faulty Connections" - seems to describe a connected scene where the producer of such a reverie, where lithium and endorphine seems to join their voices, lets the sound of her walking on high heels resound into empty hallways while the contrails of that reverie got tragically stirred into menacing shadows. Your imagination is going to get highly stimulated by following glasses of cinematic laudanum that Pinkcourtesyphone serves with guessed dedications: almost silent buzzes liquefy time on "Pixels...Sometimes...Broke Your Heart" (for A., where A. refers to iconic pinkish Barbie-like billboard model, actress and singer Angelyne!), the outpourings of nocturnal cruising evoke out-of-time dimensions on "Falling Star", a track that Richard dedicates to Welsh actress Millicent Lilian "Peg" Entwistle, the first one of a long series, who killed herself by jumping from the letter H of the notorious Hollywoodland sign, while the endearing ambient tunes of the final "62,000 Valentines" have been dedicated to Tab Hunter, who received such a great number of Valentine's Day cards after the tabloid magazine Confidential picked on that talented young actor for his sexual orientation. Besides the firmament of (sometimes slightly ironic) references, the learned dosages of diluted sounds by Richard Chartier are going to provide a really immersive listening experience.
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 2013 - 2003 = 10 Years of 4mg Records
Format: Tape
Label: 4mg Records
Rated: *****
Coming from Slovakia and run by Imrich Vegh, member of Imiafan, 4mg Records is ten years that releases electronic music that sounds disturbing, catchy and a bit rooted in the 80s. To celebrate this event, few months ago, the label released a compilation tape titled "2013 - 2003 = 10 Years of 4mg Records". The tape opens with Kirdec and its "If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want To Be In Your Revolution (Dedicated To Emma Goldman)". The track already sets the quality level of the compilation which is high... If you love cold electronic sounds and bands like The Exaltics, this is for you (more info here Manasyt is here with "Mortal Transfer", an instrumental tune that mix atmospheric elements (the tiny bells sounds), distorted drums and melodic synth pads creating a cinematic effect. Imiafan with "Nocna Alchymia" bring a mid tempo based on a suspended atmosphere, cool analog synth sounds, tiny melodic inserts and detached vocals. Alien Skull Paint with "Buried" mix gothic atmospheres with a mid tempo electronic background. Medora Featuring Natalie Alva with "Unleash Your Dogs" close side A with a nice dancey tune based on a bass arpeggio, male/female vocals duets and a playful atmosphere. Monty Catsin is a pseudonym that anyone can use, so I don't know who really bring us "Modern Hero". Anyway, the track is a nice one that sounds like Devo without guitars. Boys Du Severe with "The Beat Of Neoism" are here with a retro electronic robotic joyful tune (think about an instrumental early O.M.D. track) and I don't really know when it has been recorded, because from the few informations I have about the band (taken from the Anna Logue compilation "Echoes From Our Past"), the band was active in early 80s and the recordings have been made my Monty Catsin. Since both neoism and Monty Catsin are both born under the same rules (collective shared pseudonyms and identities, pranks, paradoxes, plagiarism and fakes), I don't really know what is the right information about them. Anyway... Uj Latasmod Fuzio, the Gaspar Kornel's project is here with "Hasonmas" a track which mix early e.b.m. atmospheres and cold electronic a la Die Form. Lesbian Mouseclicks' "Life Is Precious" sounds dark, menacing and obsessive. It mixes a bit of techno elements (the rhythmic part in the middle of the song) and dark electronic sounds a la Clock DVA. The Trial are a Czech band formed in the late 80s that disbanded in 1993. Their song "Pull It Back" has been re-edited by Max One (sorry but I don't know him) and now it sounds like a mix of synthpop and 80s e.b.m. Makina Girgir close the compilation with "Derniers Mots", a cold track in balance from cinematic atmospheres and cold wave with its obsessive bass lines and fluctuating synth pads. Nice compilation that you can check here
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