Music Reviews



Maybe Monday: Unsquare

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4383)
May 13 2008
cover
Artist: Maybe Monday (@)
Title: Unsquare
Format: CD
Label: Intakt records (@)
Rated: *****
In November of 2006 Larry Ochs' Maybe Monday improv group had a 3-night residency at Zorn's club The Stone in NYC and one of those three afternoons they all gathered in my recording studio to create "Unsquare". Larry Ochs on sopranino and tenor saxophones, Fred Frith on electric guitar and Miya Masaoka on 25 string koto and electronics joined for the occasion by special guests Gerry Hemingway on drums and percussions, Carla Kihlstedt on electric and acoustic violins, Ikue Mori on electronics and Zeena Parkins on electric harp and electronics. They all recorded live, together, over one hour of music, pretty much straight through, all first takes, no overdubs and more than a year later Swiss label Intakt released it for everyone's enjoyment. If you are familiar with the sounds of NYC's downtown music scene and the musical world revolving around Zorn, you should have an idea of what this might sound like. The interesting aspect of this record is the interaction between the three core members. Miya's oriental strings plucked lightly while Fred's guitar is making all kind of sounds, way beyond just plucked strings, and Larry's saxophones whaling in the background (or foreground). I think that the fact the three of them have been playing together for a while does indeed transpire in this recording, but the addition of the personalities and the sonic palettes of the special guests has taken this experience to a new level made of subtle complexities and new sounds, usually not part of Maybe Monday's sonic offering, which makes it all the more unique and worthy of a listen.

John Zorn: The Dreamers

 Posted by Mike (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4382)
May 13 2008
cover
Artist: John Zorn
Title: The Dreamers
Format: CD
Label: Tzadik (@)
Distributor: Tzadik
Rated: *****
Another AMAZING album from John Zorn.

I was tempted to leave the review at just that first sentence. But that might not be enough to pique everyone's interest. As it says on the album insert, The Dreamers is a follow-up of sorts to Zorn's The Gift. He employs most of the same brilliant musicians here, most noticeably Marc Ribot on guitar, Jamie Saft on keyboards, and Kenny Wolleson on vibes.

The Dreamers portrays a sense of, well, dreaming. Ribot's guitar and Saft's keyboard combine for lush textures and beautiful melodies. The compositions tend toward world music, jazz-fusion, and surf-rock, but don't fall neatly into any of these categories. Forcing these songs into genres isn't possible, but it gives you a sense of the feeling of the album. There is a complexity and subtlety in the arrangement of melody and harmony which pushes these songs beyond classification.

Fans of John Zorn's Electric Masada may recognize that this is the group performing The Dreamers. Along with Marc Ribot, Jamie Saft, and Kenny Wolleson, there is Trevor Dunn on bass, Joey Baron playing drums, and crowd favorite Cyro Baptista on persussion. Zorn himself joins in on alto sax.

Marc Urselli once again does an impeccable job of capturing the nuance of Zorn's detailed compositions and the performances of these exciting players. Scott Hull, as well, once again does a superb job of mastering so as to give this collection of vastly different songs and sounds a cohesive feeling and shine.

This album is a lot of fun to listen to. It's not an "easy" album per se, but it is a fun and rewarding listen.

John Zorn: Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse

 Posted by Mike (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4381)
May 13 2008
cover
Artist: John Zorn
Title: Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse
Format: CD
Label: Tzadik (@)
Distributor: Tzadik
Rated: *****
This is the best release of the year so far, and it'll be tough for anything to top it. (Though Zorn does have an upcoming release named The Dreamers, which just might do it.) This installment in the Filmworks series was composed for the animated film The Rain Horse, directed by Russian animator Dimitri Geller.

Zorn chose the trio of Erik Friedlander on cello, Rob Burger on piano, and Greg Cohen on bass. The trio is simply amazing. The way that they play off of each other is sublime. There's no other word for it really. At times they play complex runs around and through each other, but for the most part they leave room for one another to play astoundingly haunting melodies. Melody is the focus of the album. Zorn fans will know that this often not the case in his work. The melodies here are familiar somehow, but they're tough to place. Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse has an Eastern European feel, as would be expected (after all, it was composed for a Russian film), but it's also got touches of Middle Eastern and Western influence.

What struck me most about the music is how emotional and romantic it is. As I said, the melodies are haunting, but they are also catchy. The songs have terrific pacing. Mind you, there is no percussion on the album. The piano, cello, and most obviously the bass create the tempo for these beautiful songs.

As amazing as the songs themselves is the story of the performing, recording, and mixing of the album. The musicians entered the studio in the morning and knocked out all 11 songs by 6pm. If that weren't enough, engineer Marc Urselli mixed the album in three hours. For an album of 11 songs of this caliber to be recorded and mixed in one day is a testament to the level of talent involved. The energy of the performances was captured perfectly - the sonics are great and none of the intensity is lost. Mastering engineer Scott Hull did an outstanding job. The sound is soft yet energetic.

The best album I've heard in a long time. I bow to thee Mr. Zorn and company.

ZENI GEVA: Maximum Money Monster

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (4380)
May 13 2008
cover
Artist: ZENI GEVA
Title: Maximum Money Monster
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
After years of unavailability, eighteen years since its original release on Pathological Records, here's surfacing MAXIMUM MONEY MONSTER by Zeni Geva. Merging free jazz, hardcore and repressed rage the Japanese trio open the album with a punch in the audience's face thanks to the sixteen minutes of "Slam king", a track based on a couple of chords that is able to hypnotize and devastate at the same time. "Blaze" and "Black out", instead, in less than two minutes are able to pick you up and make you do a roller coaster ride through hard rock psychedelia ("Blaze") and obsessive industrial core ("Black out"). Musically, is like listening to an extreme version of Black Flag on acid and by the way guitars are treated you can understand the reason why K.K. Null collaborated with Merzbow later. I saw Zeni Geva live twice at the times of "Desire for agony" and I assure you that their nihilism was throbbing and alive, on and off stage (the guitar player that time was so angry for some reason that he beat his head against a wall of the bathroom). Thanks to this new Cold Spring reissue you can check their live sound on the three bonus tracks: "War pig" and "Skullfuck" (coming from this album) plus "Dead car, sun crash".

ROBE : the third cinder

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
 Edit (4370)
May 06 2008
Artist: ROBE
Title: the third cinder
Format: CD
Label: Snip-Snip records (@)
Rated: *****
Some months ago while on the web I've come into Robe's myspace page and I've been positively impressed both by their sound and by the most of their song structures. This release came out on Snip-Snip that's David Reed's own label and let's say there's a sort of connection: actually Robe' sound, from what I've heard so far, in most of the cases is darker and heavier if compared to the music of Reed, but here it all has become more "foggy" and confirms the impression I've had they like to dissolve the drones in a magmatic scenario. It all makes me think to the movies of John Carpenter or David Lynch, but at the same time differently from many of their previous releases "the third cinder" paints a more abstract portrait of this band from Columbus. A simple selection of sounds and mainly drones surfacing and disappearing in suspension as shadows sucked in the mist, if some of the first noises may give the impression they've been influenced by some of the early experimental industrial masters (I was thinking to Death in June when leaving folk back home), I guarantee later the environment develops into a bad dream gone worse. Beside the peculiarity of having this deep cinematic feel, Robe have an interesting approach to dark ambient and post-industrial music that I don't find in that many bands of the genre. If you've never heard anything of this band from Indiana, remember they're quite heterogeneous thus you have releases where they've heavy guitars revealing Justin Broadrick/Final reminiscences and other recordings you could easily file under dark ambient. "The third cinder" is probably one of their most ethereal work but there's no doubt from what I've heard it doesn't betray Robe's identity and offer a good way to be introduced to the sound of this band.


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha