Music Reviews



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Artist: MILANESE
Title: Lockout
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu
Rated: *****
With several releases on Warp Records, MG77, Combat, Arcola and Planet Mu, Steve Milanese for this second release on Planet Mu is refreshing his grime dubstep style and songs with the vocal help of Ben Sharpa and RQM & Oliver Grimball. The album contains twelve songs (the double 12" has only five of them) that sum his activities of the last period: there are a couple of mixes he did ("Take This Love" for Unique 3 and "Shake Wut Ya Mama Gave Ya" for Booty Cologne) plus a couple of versions of "B Sharpa", three of "The End" (the normal one, the untold and the off mix), a couple of "Disclosure" (the normal one and the instrumental) plus other three ("Fun with robots" is a short joke with him playing with vocal effects, "Baby blue - remix" and the following "Wonderful world" are cool dubstep upbeat tunes with grime bass lines/rhythms/vocals). Most of the album deals with the same style and some of them stand out (see the good dub, almost reggae, mid tempo version of "The end - untold remix") but being a collection of tracks and remixes I'd suggest to check it first if you aren't and hardcore fan of Milanese... Some tracks are on his myspace www.myspace.com/milanese1
Artist: War Tapes
Title: The Continental Divide
Format: CD
Distributor: Sarathan Records
Rated: *****
The name of the band is War Tapes. I just saw them live in Chicago on tour with Vnv Naion. They hail from Los Angeles and kick ass. War Tapes consists of Neil Popkin, Becca Popklin, William Mohier and Matt Bennet. This band is very Joy Divisonesque and very fresh. The name of the album is the Continental Divide. We open with track one, " When the night unfolds", which is a haunting ode to the night that calls to you and grows on you. Goth rock to it's finest with a twist of angst. We move to track 3, " She lied ", which is a track that pulls at your heart strings and won't let go. One thing I can say as I went through this allbum is this band is pure perfection with perfect timing of their instruments and a style that compliments the music to a tee. Track 10 " For Eternity ." could very well be a Goth rock anthem for this new dark future. This band is full of wit, charm and has a great direction to be a big success. Cross the divide, start a war and record it on tape. ~ 4 stars Michelle Russo
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Artist: Domenico Sciajno et al
Title: Doves Days in Palermo
Format: CD
Label: Bowindo Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
A collection of duets between Domenico Sciajno and various others (G. Coleman [bass clarinet], K. Cascone [Laptop], R. Hayward [tuba], A. Wagner [clarinet], T. Lehn [Analog Synthesizer], G. Gebbia [alto sax], Tez [Laptop]) all processed through DS’s Max/Msp setup. The results are much the same as all the other releases using this format, your enjoyment of which will depend on your own particular set of values for this sort of thing. This is pretty abstract stuff but is useful to blow out the cobwebs for those of us who are just jaded enough to be bored by whatever we’ve been listening to for so long. The last track with Tez is the standout in my opinion.
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Artist: Domenico Sciajno
Title: Sequens
Format: CD
Label: Bowindo Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
A proper composition (composed in 1999 as an homage to Luciano Berio’s, 'Sequens') by co-operator of Bowindo Recordings, Domenico Sciajno, in four parts, combining composed parts with improvision (in this case the composer’s editing of original material). The description for the composition of the piece is as follows: recordings of the Berio piece were digitized and reedited by Sciajno (some places quite obviously, adding to the textural vocabulary of the pieces) along with the addition of a sequens of his own. The resulting composition presents us with remix essentially. I’m not sure if this is 12-tone or not, but it definitely sounds modern. Short fragments of notes in combination with long statements by various instruments (flute, harp, voice, piano, trombone, viola, oboe, violin, clarinet, trumpet, guitar bassoon, accordion, alto sax, soprano sax, contrabassoon). No melody to speak of. With this kind of musical expression you can approach it in two ways, through the written score in front of you (available on the artist's web site), or the overall impression created by the performance. Does it engage the attention? Does it give some kind of pleasurable stimulus (that’s the point of music isn’t it)? I’d say yes to that. The element of surprise is usually the way I deal with this style of avant-gardism. It surprises and definitely engages the attention. It’s music appreciation here folks and I appreciate it.
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Artist: Domenico Sciajno & Kim Cascone
Title: Hyaline
Format: CD
Label: Bowindo Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Another great Bowindo release pairing the longtime sound artist Kim Cascone on laptop with Domenico Sciajno with his Max/Msp processing. According to the dictionary "hyaline" describes something as glassily transparent. Take that for what it’s worth. Looking in or looking out would work here. Not really sure who’s doing what. Both fit well together creating deep tones, atmospheres, ambiences, rhythms, rhymes and reasons to listen. Like listening to neurons firing. Mysterious and spacey at times. The five pieces work well in either reduced or normal volume listening environments.
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