Music Reviews



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Artist: Jacuzzi General
Title: Dreams Of The Tropics
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Paradise Palms
This is the first time I’ve reviewed a towel, and unsurprisingly, ChainDLK’s system doesn’t list “towel + download” as a known music format, but that’s what this is- a limited edition hand towel, where the download code has been printed onto the washing instructions. As a promo item I only received the MP3s, not the actual towel, so sadly while I would like to comment on the quality of its fabric, its absorbency and its resilience to frequent washing, unfortunately I can only comment on the music.

The music that’s reminiscent of towels. Specifically, large beach towels draped across sun loungers by a pool which you relax on while a DJ plays a steady and relaxing selection of steady, light electronic house which is kicky enough to dance to but melodic enough to wash over you if you prefer. “Dreams” epitomises this, even adding some birdsong for good measure, with a gentle hummable melody, while “Eurostar” is obviously intended to imply more of a travelling theme yet mood-wise it certainly leaves you inclined to sit back and let other people do the work.

“Pool Shark” refers to a different kind of pool, of course, with the EP’s only vocal sample, a spoken-word affair which is, like the track itself, slightly sleazier than the rest, while “Prelude” is just a touch more dramatic, with a nice building, synthwave-ish intro that will serve as a great set-opener for just a hint of the music-storytelling intro that the title suggests, without going too ostentatious.

A velvety sonic towel of gentle house, certainly not too musically threadbare.
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Artist: Marlon Hoffstadt
Title: Laws Of Attraction (Parts One And Two)
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Midnight Themes
“Laws Of Attraction” is being released as two separate 12” 4-track EP’s, one blue labelled, one orange labelled, but I’m going to lump them together here as they work well as an 8-track package, practically an album, of fairly gentle instrumental house music with a serious business-like undercurrent.

The first EP has a slightly more leisurely feel to it. “The Overground”, with its US-style vocal ‘we are…’ loop, is rather plinky-plonky. “She Is My Hero” has a gentle, particularly Balearic afternoon feel to it, before “131 MPB” [sic] raises both the pulsing and the tempo to give a nice arpeggiated sense of purpose. “Child Of The Universe” takes things in a slightly more electro-synthwave direction with a toothy lead line that seems to border on tongue-in-cheek.

The second EP adopts a more driving tone, with “Digital Desire” and “Parallel Thoughts” both tracing fairly straightforward techno-light patterns with Underworld-esque long synth pads over light drum patterns, a mood which continues with the slightly rumblier “I Ride With The Stars”. “Into The Deeper Vibe” ends on a high, a simple series of trance-tastic minor chords that strike that simple but emotive balance between heart and head that has driven the feels in dance music for a few decades now.

If you like your house music light, vaguely synthwave-y, clean and positive, these 12”s will definitely appeal.
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Artist: Francois Carrier, Michel Lambert, John Edwards (@)
Title: Elements
Format: CD
Label: FMR Records (@)
Rated: *****
The saxophonist Francois Carrier returns with a new release featuring his usual collaborator Michel Lambert on percussions and John Edwards on double bass. As we are talking about improvised music this is a live recordings from two different concerts: one at the l’Klectik Art Lab, The Horse Improv Music Club in London and the other at the 20th Festival Jazz Cerkno.
The first concert, done in 2016, is represented by two tracks: "Elements" which starts, after a quiet introduction with the bass sounding almost like a cello, with the alto sax conducting the improvisation with the rhythmic section sustaining it until the double bass begins to escape his rhythmic role to have a melodic one and so the sax use more melodic phrases and there's more use of silence in a second part where the percussion is used with remarkable restraint. "Roar of joy" is instead essentially an alto sax solo with the rhythmic section underlining the atmosphere rather than doing time beats. "Wilderness" is instead from the other concert, made in 2015, and starts as a prosecution of the previous track as it has more or less the same structure but, in this occasion, the sax lines are more continuous and less fragmented. The second section of the track is based on the interplay between the musician with small, even noisy, sound from the sax immersed in silence with quiet accompaniment by the other instruments until the use of the bow by John Edwards introduces the second part of the concert where there's the alternation between frenetic parts, when the sax use longer lines, and quiet ones, when the language is more fragmented.
The readability of the whole structure of the concerts denotes the amalgam between the three musician, so that there's no hint that this is an improvisation, and the idea of movement behind the performance. Recommended for fans of free jazz.
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Artist: Cæcilie Overgaard
Title: There Is A Home
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Clang
Danish composer Overgaard’s second album is a gentle collection of homely, warm electronica.

After the ambient opener “Mic Test One”, it’s the title track that really sets the tone. Soft, crisp, super-light percussive patterns and digital atmospherics combine with some mellow, freeform trumpet work from Tim Ewé to create something that’s richly familiar, but in a good way.

That gently beautiful tone persists for the remainder of this short (33 minute) release- a gentle retriggering piano giving “A Simple Mind” a very faint edge, Mathias Hammerstrøm’s very sparse vocal on “Skyggeplet” adding an extra layer of humanity, but generally sticking to the script of coldly pretty downtempo electronic chill-out, and being none the worse for it.

The press release draws attention to the unusual sampling approaches adopted here- with supermarket plastic bag hits being reworked as snare drums, modulating an engine sound to emulate a marimba, and so on- but the effect of this is remarkably mild, with the result sounding generally synthesized and coherent, and certainly not the cacophony of Art Of Noise-style raw found sound that may have been suggested.

An excellent release to settle things down to, comforting enough to firm up your mood like a warm hot chocolate but intricate and detailed enough to hold your attention as well. It’s very Winter-friendly.
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Artist: Andreas O. Hirsch
Title: Early Carbophonics
Format: 10"
Label: Makiphon
The Carbophone is Hirsch’s own invention and the first one was only constructed in 2015, so there’s a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the name “Early Carbophonics”- but despite being an acoustic instrument built with a wooden base and carbon rods, the tone of the instrument, and of this 26-minute mini-album as a whole, is so close to the playful weirdness of 1960’s experimental electronics that it really does sound like a throwback to what might get labelled early electronic music.

In terms of intention, it references the African Kalimba or Mbira, and the layered rhythms in pieces like “Octopus Promenade” do have shades of traditional African music, while others like “Balfolk” sound more like Eastern European folk instrumentation reworked into mesmeric repetition that borders on analogue techno. “Castle Moat Robot” would not sound out of place in a Radiophonic Workshop retrospective, while “Full Moon Hula Hoop” sounds like an attempt to construct a more modern, faintly glitch-steppy piece but solely using a wood-toned instrument.

Will the Carbophone reinvent music and invite retrospective compilations fifty years from now? I very much doubt it. But is it a pleasant and strangely nostalgic attempt to build something solid and new that rekindles the spirit of musical experimentation? Yes, it is that. And does it work? In a rather sweet way, it does.
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