Music Reviews



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Artist: Apell (@)
Title: Reconstituted
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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I recall reviewing Apell's previous record "Beaver Street & Byond" a while ago and thinking it was a quite cool, fresh and original disc, so when I saw his new record in the pile, I was compelled to give it a spin. My feelings are re-confirmed and even though my exact memory of the previous record is blurry, I am pretty sure this one is a slight departure from it. "Reconstituted" is still as eclectic as it gets and very influenced by 70's funky grooves and bass lines. I can't help it but to think this would be great music for yet another Shaft remake or something like that. The spirits are high and even though he's an Aussie it would seem like he grew up on the streets of the city of angels.
Apell loves to mention two of his biggest musical influences (Brazilian DJ Amon Tobin and the colorful Parliament-Funkadelic leader George Clinton) but obviously the amounts of electronic music, trip hop grooves, downtempo vibes and pop/rock hints and references (there's a cover of a Neil Diamond tune and one of a Beatles tune) are a pretty clear indication of the fact he's drawing from a lot of places and influences (Massiva Attack, Prodigy, Miles Davis, King Crimson etc).
Mostly an instrumental record, there are a couple of vocal tunes featuring his long time collaborator Rachael Hawkins and some Australian Idol 2007 dude singing about Bush.
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Artist: C/A/T (@)
Title: The Great Crisis
Format: CD
Label: Crunch Pod (@)
Distributor: Crunch Pod
Rated: *****
Unless you’ve got your finger on the pulse of every artist out there that releases new music (and who can possibly keep up with THAT!) you’re bound to run into something you’ve never heard of before that has been around a good deal longer than the latest release you’ve just discovered. Such is the case with C/A/T. For the woefully uninformed (such as me) C/A/T is Ben Arp from Eldorado Hills, CA, and he’s been making Industrial music since about 1998 with 8 commercial releases since 2004. Arp founded the Crunch Pod label which C/A/T is on, of course, along with a handful of other recording artists such as Caustic, Uberbyte, Manufactura, and others. As for C/A/T’s music, it can be compared somewhat to David Thrussell's Black Lung and Snog as well as Velvet Acid Christ and similar projects.

So, what is the downlo about C/A/T’s THE GREAT CRISIS? Well, first of all, the music is predominately instrumental with occasional passages of sampled dialogue. The first track, "Evidence 294" sets the tone with a bit of synth-sequenced beat-driven speculative epidemic paranoia ushered in with some nice electro-effluvia. "Evidence 699" is a VAC styled stomper. "Encounter X41" has a warped, distorted twisty kind of kind of bass line that’s pretty cool. Drums like banging on garbage cans. Real back alley dementia. "Encounter X32" has more manipulated sampled dialogue but otherwise sounds a bit routine. Both "Escape" tracks (Wooded Area and City Area) are a couple of the strangest tracks on the CD. Where the sampled dialogue comes from is an enigma to me. It certainly seems to have a dystopian outlook... .bad news accompanied by maniacal cyber-beatz. Both "Battle Data" tracks are apocalyptic exercises in sonic destruction and mayhem. By the "End of the Recording", you’re doing a helicopter fly-by over the scene of the carnage. The "Untitled Bonus Track" is kind of an epilogue; a repetitive near wistful melody over a distorted drum track. All in all, not a bad outing.

Since I’m unfamiliar with C/A/T’s other releases, I have no basis of comparision, but there are a few things I might have done differently. Change the beats up a bit. Dispense with any standard sounding kicks or hats. Go deeper into atmospherics. Still, there don’t seem to be a lot of people doing this kind of music and when something like this comes along, a quasi-rivethead like me definitely digs it. THE GREAT CRISIS is brief at 45 minutes but still worth checking out, and makes me curious about Ben Arp’s other releases.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: "Table For Six: All Quiet? #3"
Format: CD
Label: EE Tapes (@)
Rated: *****
Throughout the years (already 20 and counting), EE Tapes has been presenting several compilation series, where sounding names and new values cohabit in editions that, in their own way, have gained a rightful place in the European underground history. That is the case of "Table For Six: All Quiet?", from which the third issue was recently released by the Belgian label.
The concept behind this series is quite simple: six artists/projects present their work in an autonomous way, although contributing, in the end, to a solid final result. A common point between its contributors is the sound "aesthetic" of their tracks, which can – somehow – be pointed as "ambient", filtered through different visions and methods. This means a wide range of interpretations, from post-industrial dark ambient to well-learned Eno lessons. Nothing new around here, only guarantied emotions – and that fact deserves to be underlined.
In that sense, it’s never easy to point out "highlights" in compilations like this one. Nevertheless, it’s inevitable to mention the tracks by the certified Anemone Tube (great melodic sound, as usual) and Frans de Waard (noise collages, in its most minimal and subtle version), as well as the pleasant surprise advanced by... (ad)vance(d).
It probably will not be a member of your CD collection’s top 10, but here’s another fine goal for the EE Tapes catalogue, though.
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Artist: LOVELY LITTLE GIRLS
Title: Glamorous Piles & Puffy Saddlebags
Format: CD
Label: Apop
Rated: *****
Apop seems to have become the refugium peccatorum for all the no-wave orphans or those who missed the ephemeral glory of Skin Graft. Heaven knows where all these mutants (Skarkrau Radio, Duchesses) come from, somebody must have thrown LSD in waterpipes for real. Now, this octet is SLIGHTLY more controlled than its label mates, but we're still in a highly demented territory. Six tracks in less than 20 minutes of cubist mock-rock which reminds of Beefheart here and there, but with a deranged vocalist in an exalted Jello Biafra mood. What makes Lovely Little Girls quite unique is the care for complex arrangements (layered vocals, refrains, etc.), creating quirky prog-no wave hybrids with even some Eastern influence. "Wretched Substitute" (great title!!) and "Lady Shoes Remain Attached" are impressive psychodramas of melodic detours and anguished explosions, full of theatrical uneasiness. The perfect visual counterpart is offered by vocalist Gregory Jacobsen's paintings and drawings, a tormented underworld mixing "Alice in Wonderland", Dix, Wolverton and various sexual disturbance case studies (check www.gregoryjacobsen.com and glamorous-piles.blogspot.com).
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Artist: ALFREDO COSTA MONTEIRO
Title: Anatomy of Inner Place
Format: CD
Label: Monotype
Rated: *****
Four untitled tracks and a sober grey on black layout, and one is lead to think of Francisco López... and the thought wouldn't be entirely out of place. Renowned improviser Costa Monteiro (Cremaster, I Treni Inerti, etc.) explores the hidden sonic world of household objects, with sombre macroscopies made of arranged but untreated field recordings. With López, he shares a similar fascination for volume dynamics and juxtapositions, which is present in all of the tracks: low hums (air passing through pipes? A fridge motor?) are streaked, here and there, by piercing noises and feedback, eventually dissolving in deep drones themselves (track 4). While experiments of this kind could well leave the listener detached and eventually bored, Costa Monteiro apparently manages to raise magnetic storms and tectonic shifts from the most common and harmless objects surrounding us: home is where the hurt is.
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