Music Reviews



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Artist: Troum
Title: AIWS
Format: CD
Label: Transgredient Records (@)
Rated: *****
While some may find the analog-origin of this material limiting (there are artifacts of the original tape recordings), I get the impression that Troum took careful attention to create an overarching and dramatic listening experience with AIWS. The crackles which launch the disc into the air also lend themselves to establishing a solid foundation for the analog soundworld that Troum inhabits, hinting at the journey ahead.

AIWS is the first full-length release by Troum since 2003. As per the accompanying notes, this is a collection of their own favorite works. Featured nicely are guitars, bass, voice, accordion, flute, sufi-songs... the list goes on. What is nice, however, is how seamlessly these instruments are woven together to create a tapestry of melancholic and sublime sounds that run a gamut of emotional and meditative states.

By track 7, Penthos (sorrow of mourning), one feels as though they’re watching an army trek across the fields of Siberia, or perhaps the listener is treading the path themselves. Very thought-provoking music, whose essence is difficult to capture with words. My favorite track on the album and a mere 2’46 long.

This album should appeal to a fairly wide audience, as the sound is ambient in nature but has hints of Rhys Chatham and Steve Reich, with the inward journeys of Godspeed You Black Emperor(!) or the scapes and arrivals of The Dead Texan, to boot. Kudos also goes out to the design for the disc, which makes AIWS a fine addition both visually and sonically to any collection.
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anymore
Artist: Bohren & Der Club of Gore
Title: Dolores
Format: CD
Label: Ipecac recordings (@)
Distributor: Play It Again Sam
Rated: *****
Patton's label Ipecac is known for scouting interesting pearls of music from across the globe, as in the case of Bohren & Der Club of Gore, a German quartet that definitely plays their own unique version of lounge jazz and slow doom without guitars, if you can believe that. Bohren has been around since 1988 and their debut release dates back to 1994. Ever since then, they've been stripping down their sound to less and less, removing the guitars and adding a saxophone (which doesn't come in right away and surprises you with all its Lynch/Badalamenti atmosphere and melancholy).
Their eerie and gloomy musical creations feature nothing but drums, organ, vibes, Rhodes, piano, sax and lots of reverb and venture down in the 20-25bpm range, about as slow as it gets (you can basically go get a coffee between the kick drum hit and the following snare hit). They reverse-engineer and deconstruct doom metal into this light (in sounds) but still heavy (in moods) blend that almost sounds like a cleaned up and completely undistorted and un-fuzzed version of Sleep, Thergothon, Boris or Sunn O))). Sinister but soothing, hypnotic and mysterious, depressing and enlightening Bohren plays without a doubt some of the most original music out there. Some have called it "horror jazz" (whatever that means), but make no mistake, there are no brushes (although some multi-rods), there is no swing and there are no seventh or major ninth chords here: "Dolores" is almost entirely in minor chords, and although there are identifiable melodies, they take a step back to let the overall moods shine in the dark light of "Dolores".
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anymore
Artist: Doomsday Virus (@)
Title: Drink the Kool-Aid
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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Albany-based industrial-metal/EBM trio Doomsday Virus rose from the ashes of a band called Twilight Mistress and they embrace the philosophy of a full throttle sonic attack of Die Krupps-type industrial beats and electronic bass lines supported by heavily distorted Rammstein-like guitars. Of course, as many bands of that creed do, they mention as influences the untouchable gods of the genre (Skinny Puppy, NIN, Ministry, KMFDM, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and so on and so forth) and although they are pretty good at what they do, I have to say I'd still rather go back to the classics (few bands of today even come close). Nevertheless if you are tired of the classics or looking for some new blood or a new spin of the old, their self-released "Drink the Kool-Aid" gives you 11 tracks of just that, packaged with a cool looking and original black&white&green artwork.
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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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