Music Reviews

May 14 2013
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Artist: Nuvo West
Title: Nuvo West
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows (@)
Rated: *****
Nuevo West born from the ashes of a Phoenix band called The Red Squares which disbanded at the end of 1983. Their singer/guitar player Sonic Mike Stephens and the other guitarist/keyboard player Roger Lee Chavous, decided to form another band when they met the bass player Walter Charchuck. Together they had the crazy idea to mix synth punk and country music. The drummer Greg David combined his drumming with the rhythms of a drum machine and dressed like Arizona cowboys, they started playing at art galleries and other unconventional places. Finally, Nuvo West were born. Soon after, they took their four tracks Tascam recorder and started to record their first MLP "Scary". The record was containing six original tunes of which three instrumentals. "Accidents don't happen in my world", "Dogs have their days"and "Little yellow pills" were sounding modern and pop: a sort of Devo meet Wall Of Voodoo. Lyrics were talking about the neurosis of the modern world with an ironic twist. The three instrumental tracks "Androids love", "Shades" and "Theme for alienation", were sounding more adventurous compared to the previous three and even more experimental. Melody, spacey atmospheres or post punk upbeat tempos were the main elements of those cool tracks. The year after, the band went to the studio again and recorded their tape: "Twankin'". Containing six new tracks, the tape sold twice compared to the MLP. Country music was the biggest influence for those tracks: the main tune is a clear example of that, thanks to that classic way of playing guitar and those double snare beats, "Desertate 7" starts with an harmonica and has a massive use of cowbell, "Shades of yesterday" is a melancholic instrumental with a bit of space atmospheres, "Love made a fool of me" is a nice pop song and the closing "The town the winter forgot & The night is over" (they are really two different tracks mixed together), are a nice synth punk song and an upbeat country punk one. Personally I prefer "Scary" to the second release as to me it sounds more inspired and less linked to the American musical tradition. Probably on early 80s mixing synthetic sounds, punk and country was something innovative but I prefer alienation to tradition... Anyway this, by Synthetic Shadows, is a really good remastered reissue which gathers all the releases recorded by the band and it also contains an insert with history and the lyrics from "Scary".
Artist: The 49 Americans
Title: We Know Nonsense
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Rated: *****
This funny release on Staubgold records moments of extemporaneous musical wit, which sound in the balance between plagiarism and parody, by an ensemble of musicians and non-musicians (but fully involved in music scene) which we won't call "a band, in the conventional sense", as suggested by one of his most known member, David Toop. In accordance with the references to the number of united stars/states in North America, we could consider The 49 Americans, a do-it-yourself supergroup joined together by Andrew "Giblet" Brenner, as a confederation of American musicians (including people like Lol Coxhill, Viv Albertine, Vivien Goldman, Steve Beresford, Max Eastley, Eddie Saunders, Bendle, Terry Day, Nag and Keith James)who don't really look for any kind of celebration or wax sculptures in spite of their amazing and amused activity and their clarion calls to meaningful non-sense and possibly missing 50th star (!) in the boiling British scene between late 70ies and early 80ies. They whipped stylistical rinds by a carefree attitude and a funny insouciance over their occasional appearances, so that you could imagine that they composed most of their songs (and their seemingly nonsense dandy/dadaist lyrics...) in total idleness and this pleasant reprint of their second full-length, previously released in 1982 by Choo Choo Train Records, which include 23 (it's not a mistake...they're really 23) bonus tracks from their first releases "Toop Young To Be Ideal" and "E Pluribus Unum", validate their bizarre eclecticism and the above-sketched attitude. A wholesome shake of references (I'm pretty sure you'll recognize many preceding and following musical acts while listening their somewhat lopsided pastiches and pastimes of doo-wop, swing, rock'n'roll, gospel, childplays, acapella, easy listening pop, jazz or whatever) has been combined to lyrical cinches, whose naif sublimation are really intriguing. Have a listen and these odd American fellows will manage to lift your mood up.
Artist: Juno Reactor (@)
Title: The Golden Sun Of The Great East
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
If we leave aside a couple of interesting remix collections, "Inside The Reactor" and "From The Land Of The Rising Sun" (the second part of "Inside The Reactor"), the phenomenal project by talented British producer Bew Watkins, which has gained a certain notoriety and a lot of approval for the fact he managed to put goa-trance, psychedelic techno, orchestral layers and ethnic music in the blender in order to squeeze highly synesthetic and powerfully magmatic condensed soups, has been out of service since 2008, so that many fans of Juno Reactor will be happy for this resurgence which sounds as a comeback as well due to some resemblances with his past works. The cover artwork itself could resemble both somehow profane/sacred references Mr.Watkins often recall, mainly justifiable by the intent of representing the deranged absurdity of the exploitation of religions for undermost purposes which marks human history than an act of groundless blasphemy (gas-masks into Nativity scene and rifles for little angels are really meaningful and bright ideas), and collage art he often recalls - think about artwork of his goa-trance explosive release "Beyond The Infinite" -, whereas the sound seems to be related to the frenzy whirling goa-trance of the above-mentioned "Beyond The Infinite" (particularly on incendiary tracks such as "Guillotine", "Final Frontier" or the frightening "Zombie", which got inspired by these monsters who became somehow fashionable for no other reason than the "gene mutation" or the imaginary evolutionary step from humanity to "zombietude" seems to be provoked by the brand new capitalistic slavery nd its inner inferences), flaming ethnic insertion of "Shango" and "Bible Of Dreams" (the catching heavy "gipsy" guitar strokes on "Final Frontier" could be the first clue), post-apocalytic nuances and a bunch of tricks he transplanted from music for the silver screen: the initial "Final Frontier" itself seems to include many references to the final theme of Blade Runner, whose contributing factor could be the inclusion of some horns who are not so different from the ones Vangelis used for that notorious soundtrack. Moreover Juno Reactor keeps on interlacing a solid narrative congruence together with an immediate emotional impact, which penetrates sensory system to the point that listeners could vividly experience the heat of flames, the mystical flight ofa prayer, the heartache of a mother, the terror of an air raid, the bewilderment of an orphan, the aloneness of a recluse, the pain of a whiplash by means of headbanging breaks, mesmerizing sequences, breath-taking sonic architecture and a remarkable effort on sampling and building of motifs. From the initial ignition of "Final Frontier" to the final woebegone anthem of "Playing With Fire", which could resemble the sense of tragedy of some moments of "Songs from Beuern" in the end, "The Golden Sun Of The Great East" radiates dazzling light to ears and brains.
Artist: Solar Bears (@)
Title: Supermigration
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
After the acclaimed debut "She Was Coloured In" in 2010, the epicurean stylish Irish duo of Solar Bears comes back on stages with an adorable album, which lacquers listener's earsdrums by means of fluoroscopic and somehow melancholic synth-pop tune as well as a certain dramatic hook and tastes sweet as honey thanks to the topping of ingredients which sound taken from an imaginary recipe book written by proper celebrity chefs of modern and contemporary music such as Boards Of Canada, Air, Stereolab, Vangelis, Death In Vegas, Giorgio Moroder and other knights of cosmic disco courtship, whose best insights seem to palpitate inside the artistic streak of many charming moments of this "Supermigration", a title inspired by Native American mystic culture and the legendary krautrock band Neu!. The lullaby-like piano introduction on "Stasis" resembles the beginning of late night old-fashioned radio-shows and precedes the amazing twist of "Cosmic Runner", where Solar Bears immediately hook listener's hearts and brains by means of an entrancing gyraton on electric guitar and gleaming synths and a tune which is very close to some similar stuff by Boards Of Canada. One of the best moment of the album has been reached on "Alpha People", a lovely synth-pop song sung by Sarah P, which could be described as an imaginary reinterpretation of Air sonorities by Love Spirals Downwards due to the similarities between Sarah P's voice and Suzanne Perry's one as well as the analogy with the style of the notorious French band, while the following "Love Is All", a sweet mixture of alluring synth-pop and electronic bossa nova, could resemble some moments of Stereolab. Its intimate coziness vanishes on the following angst-driven "The Girl that Played with Light", whose drilling guitar and progressive crescendo, which get embellished by absorbing reverbs, smooth melody and sonic preciosities, vaguely resembles above-mentioned Death In Vegas, whose masterpiece "Satan's Circus" crosses my mind on another synth-verdant track, "Komplex", even if under a more "angelical" guise. The opening intro "Statis" seems to be reprised on the deeply intimate jingle-like fathom interlude "You and Me (Subterranean Cycles)", while another substantial peak has been reached on the dazzling song "Our Future Is Underground", a subdued evocation of a shining memory, where present day magically irradiates the unforgotten luminosity by means of the mystical combination of guitar-driven lulling melody, joyful childish drumming and the voice of guest singer (and former Air collaborator) Beth Hirsch. The mindblowing cosmic ride of "A Sky Darkly" precedes the "bucolic" trot "Rising High", which get listeners ready to the engaging synth-disco of "Happiness is a Warm Spacestation", whose title summarize the bursts of sci-fi heat that are going to trigger emotional storms within nostalgic lovers of this kind of sonic juggernauts. The final bedroom rocker "Rainbow Collision" ends in style this psychedelic daydream, a proper musical trip which I cannot but recommend.
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Diffraction of Sound EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Protect Audio (@)
Rated: *****
The sixth installment from Protect Audio seems to surface from the crust between tectonic plates of contemporary techno, neurofunk and harsher drum'n'bass. The most interesting aspect is the fact this label is trying to refresh and enhance the quality of sound so that many liusteners will easily fathom while listeneing to the four effluences on "Diffraction of Sound EP" since the initial "Treibgut" (German for "marine debris"), the surprising track by Berlin-based duo Survey, where Hardy and SolHo melt perfectly sharpened breaks, venomous tentacular bass frequencies, ticking clicks and suffocating sounds with the alternation of a sort of unnatural breath and temporary apneas, which could let you think about the awakening of some sea monster after it got hassled by isles of floating litter. The somehow creepy atmosphere, which introduces the following Homemade Weapons' "Slivers" by means of explosions and spurts, precedes avalanches of crackling beats which becomes more and more engaging and viscous, while Shiver seems to apply himself with a broken clockwork, which he tries to resuscite by means of pumping inflations on "Displaced". An old-school aftertaste and a sort of broken samba mark Marukomu's "Iridium" out, which is maybe the track, where some spores of the previous tracks coalesce and eddy into a really absorbing tune. As I've already highlighted, the quality of sounds is one the most remarkable aspect of this release besides the panache of stylistical crossbreeding.
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