Music Reviews



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Artist: Aerial Fx
Title: Same River Twice
Format: CD
Label: Other Voices Records
Rated: *****
Active during the first half of the 80's, Aerial Fx were a band from Oxford that were know before their Island Music deal as Exit 13. They incarnate the story of many indie band of that signed a deal with a major label just to be fired soon after. Aerial Fx after the 7" released on Island released their first album and only album in 1982 on Kamera Records (label that had on their catalog also The Fall, Palais Schaumburg, Allez Allez, etc). After a small line-up change they signed for EMI but because of musical disagreements with the label they never released a record with them. They continued until 1986 to play but at that point with no label, they decided to end their musical adventure under that name. The Aerial Fx's story seemed to end there but nowadays the vocalist/guitarist Chris Hufford (well-known in music industry as the manager of Radiohead, Supergrass and Gamma Hayes and active with his i.d.m., ambient project Anti Atlas) decided to allow the Russian label Other Voices to release some unreleased song from the 1980 and 1984 period. The CD contains twelve tracks ("Make it for you" is here both in the 7" and 12" version) which are in balance from post punk, new wave and pop (try to imagine a blend of China Crisis, Gang Of Four of the third album period and Comsat Angels) and shows a band that should have gained success and that make me curious to listen how sounded their first album. If UK new wave is your cup of tea check Aearial Fx.
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Artist: Marsmobil (@)
Title: (Why Don’t You Take) The Other Side
Format: CD
Label: Compost Records (@)
Distributor: Rooftop Promotion
Rated: *****
This is something very unusual for Chain D. L. K.- a purely POP album. We don't get much pop music here; sometimes popular artists within the broad umbrella of our 'out-there' variety of musical genres, but hardly ever pop or even alternative rock music. This is no ordinary pop album though; it is retro-pop (late 60s, early 70s) with psychedelic overtones, Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee-Gees, and Hollies like harmonies and a generally upbeat tone. If this wasn't that damn good I would be temped to toss it in the 'not qualified for this site' pile, or just give it a brief, token review. But truth be told, it's that damn good.

The mastermind behind Marsmobil is Roberto di Gioa, located in Munich Germany, although he was born in Milano, Italy. On this album di Gioia does all the vocals and plays all the instruments (keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, etc.) even though other members of the band (Matteo Scrimali, Ferdinand Kirner, Christian Diener) are listed on the MySpace page as band members. Roberto has an extensive background in jazz- he was the keyboardist for Klaus Doldinger's Passport; toured with Art Farmer; played with Bill Frisell, Woody Shaw, Mel Lewis, Till Bronner and a lot of others. But Marsmobil doesn't really have anything to do with jazz. As I said, this is psych-retro pop-rock that will transport you back decades to a time when all pop music didn't sound like crap, at least in my opinion.

On first listen (which was quite some time ago) I knew I was in for something different. The first track, 'Patience' begins with a pulsing bassline and pleasant vocals backed by those retro-pop ('Good Vibrations') harmony vocals. It's a slight tune but a nice intro of what's to come. 'Crazy Confused Colored Light' takes a walk down 'Penny Lane' and recalls 60s pop groups like the Cowsills, Peppermint Trolley Company, the Family Tree, the Lemon Pipers and dozens of others. It's a snazzy little tune with an infectious hook, a perfect piece of pop-psych. Even the 'Illusionist' shtick is forgivable. Damn! This guy knows his retro-pop'¦much better than Prince's trip 'Around the World in a Day'. 'Ordinary Boy' and 'Moon of Dust' take you even further into Magical Mystery Tour land. The Macca-esque piano-based 'Gonna Be My Day' drifts lazily along followed by the Lucy-in-the-Sky like 'Jane' with Bee Gees style harmonies on the chorus. These hooks just won't quit!

'Never Forget' has an early 70s funky pop bassline progression and reminds me of some group I know I've heard but can't seem to remember. 'Lolly' features a 'Daytripper' guitar riff and mystical keyboard plinks and arpeggios. It's the heaviest track on the album with a healthy does of psychedelia and fuzz guitar nostalgia. Di Gioa's guitar playing is lot closer to Neil Young than George Harrison on this track, but considering what most psychedelic bands of the time sounded like, it's pretty much on the money.

I have to digress here for a moment with a couple of contemporary comparisons. Two bands that seem to be mining similar terrain to some degree are The Apples in Stereo and New Pornographers. These are two highly rated (and charting) indie groups. Marsmobil holds its own with these bands. In fact, I find Marsmobil more engaging overall compared with the aforementioned bands, and I think that Robert di Gioa captures the sound of the time much better than either of them.

To get too deep into every track would make this an arduously lengthy review, but one more needs to be singled out ' 'Monday Tuesday'. This is a PERFECT pop song that should be in the charts. Its simple infectious hook is just too irresistible, too flawless. The rest of the album is filled with a myriad of delights that do not disappoint. In fact, the only weak track on the album is an instrumental called 'Helix Pomatia,' but at less than 2 minutes, it hardly a flaw in this gem of brilliance. I hear a hundred things in the music of Marsmobil, shades of David Bowie and ELO, Blossom Toes, the Move, Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee Gees, the Hollies, early Traffic, and even the Commodores. Yet, Marsmobil sounds exactly like none of these. It is its own entity. I'm sure you'll come up with your own comparisons. As for the cover of the CD, I don't know what the bikini bondage babe standing in front of that painting (Brueghel? Bosch? Somebody else?) has to do with the music but whatever it takes to get your CD noticed, I guess.

It's too bad that Marsmobil doesn't have 'Monday Tuesday' posted on their MySpace site. (They do have other songs from the album, and I highly recommend you go there and listen.) You'll just have to buy the album for that one. It's definitely worth it though. If really great retro psychedelic pop appeals to you at all, this album is A MUST.
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Artist: Philippe Petit
Title: Henry: The Iron Man
Format: CD
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records
Distributor: Beta-lactam Ring Records
Rated: *****
Performed on turntables with electronics, Henry the Ironman by Philippe Petit showcases deliciously crunchy electronic textures that drone, hiss, crackle and morph into new realms. With only 3 separate tracks (the first being 20min long mind you) Petit covers quite a bit of ground on this excellently mastered disc on Beta-Lactam Ring.

According to the liner notes, the album was recorded live in a studio. Its tricky to find exactly the right words to describe this sound, but there are hints of a saturated Kanding Ray and Jan Jelinek on Tierbeobachtungen, but many additional layers of noise that give it something of an industrial sound. Additional appearances by sax player Perceval Bellone and Chinese samples by FM3.

Get this for the astounding sound of Salaryman's Dream alone, and ride the wave with noisey delight through the rest of this excellent release.
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Artist: Lark Blames
Title: The Reins Of Life
Format: CD
Label: Ur Muzik (@)
Rated: *****
THE REINS OF LIFE is the second release for both Lark Blames and Ur Muzik and this should be a sign of something, because this album is really intense. Formed by Lloyd James (Naevus, Retarder) and Marc Blackie (Sleeping Pictures, These Papercuts), Lark Blames released their first album "Chimney" four years ago on Old Europa Cafe and now are back with six tracks in balance from noise folk (the opening "Cups), industrial noise patchwork ("Hospital"), industrial psychedelia ("Sunday" and "Church") and ambient experimental psychedelia ("Lunge" and "Nimbus"). Most of them are long suites born from improvisation sessions where layers of guitar noises create a thick background for rumbling drums or melancholic piano melodies. Now slow and intense (remembering a bit Skullflower) and then experimental and hallucinatory the album will lead you through muddy paths... watch your step!
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Artist: Neutral Lies
Title: A Deceptive Calm
Format: CD
Label: Boredom Product (@)
Rated: *****
Neutral Lies are a duo coming from Lille, Northern France, formed by Jean Francois Dean and Nicolas Delbarre. A DECEPTIVE CALM is their debut album under this moniker but they have on their back years of activity with different bands. Since 1986 they gathered experience with: Mr Collins, The Vegetable Men, Integrite Absolue, A Place Apart, Frenetic Convulsions, Process On and Concept of Xeno. On A DECEPTIVE CALM they focused their musical skills on a mix of synthpop, upbeat electro and melancholic mid tempos someone, at this point, would name Depeche Mode, but Neutral Lies didn't have exactly that goal, because their music is more influenced by electronic new wave (check tracks like"Nostalgia" and "Slough of despond") and a bit of 80's e.b.m. (on the label's note you can read the name of Absolute Body Control). With intimate lyrics that cover the high and lows of human soul (mostly the second ones), Neutral Lies added to an analogue synthetic sound, a vocal style in balance from melody and detachment that sometimes didn't convince me fully even if with different listening you get used to that and you start to enjoy the cool sounds they use.
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