Music Reviews



Artist: Expo ’70 (@)
Title: Black Ohms
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
Expo ’70 is Justin Wright operating since 2003, and now stationed in Los Angeles, CA. Justin plays guitar, building ambient layers of sonic expectation/dronage taping into the vibe of the psychedelic 60’s. This style of music has been, and still is being, done by probably hundreds of musicians all over the world to some extent. Layers, loops, pulsing tones, echoes, squeaks, buzzes. It’s all here in spades. This is all a dreamer’s world, the music not presenting us with any nasty surprises volume- or timbre-wise. Just the harmonically consonant atmosphere of tranquility. There is nothing new under the sun but the real point is whether it’s any good or not, whether it accomplishes its purpose, which I surmise, is the opening of the doors of perception. I think it does, although I would suggest that quiet surroundings with a minimum of distractions, darkness, and a relaxed position would aid in the effect. The acoustic isolation of headphones may also help. Space music for the inner and outer mind. If you like this kind of spaced out drone music go for it. He gets some help from Matt Hill on the last track, also on guitar.
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Artist: Caaldruun
Title: Cloudface Mountainhead
Format: CD
Label: Fox Den Recordings (@)
Distributor: CDBaby
Rated: *****
Seven tracks of buzzy, droney, broken sounds, tones, sonic mayhem and subtle beats by one Eric Kessel using "burnt-wire synthesizer, circuit-bent voice, black box, last-man-on-earth guitar & minidisc sound recovery." According to the artist web site "Drawing from a background in Cultural Anthropology, works for caaldruun are concerned with constructing compositions which are based on reconstructed memories from travels to and within other zones of experience. The unstable nature of memories is exploited for its creative potential in creating original "auditory myths"." The artist makes his claim to South American inspiration here and one can see it; or perhaps hear it, is more accurate. It’s as if he were trying to tap into something "primitive" if that word may be used without pejorative connotation. He succeeds. Regardless of all the anthropological verbiage this is still an enjoyable journey into the heart and soul of the electron, of which we are all made, after all.
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Artist: Andy Haas
Title: The Ruins of America
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Distributor: CDBaby
Rated: *****
Andy Haas, past sax player for Toronto band Martha and the Muffins, and afterward avant-garde NY artist regales us with 15 tracks of processed sax, fife, electronics and prepared loops centered around the theme of a ruined America using the hymn "Materna" as a foundation. It all sounds a bit spooky and sad which probably gives us insight to his political leanings. Lament and mourning are all well and good but sooner or later you have to get over it and start making things better. I see this as part of the mourning process. Regardless of all the talk this is a highly imaginative sonic journey using all kinds of recording tricks to create a specific sound bed for each track.
Artist: Flesh For Frank (@)
Title: RAW
Format: CD
Label: Brown Coffee Records (@)
Rated: *****
Ten tracks from noise, cut-up artist Francois Marceau from Montreal. Armed with a laptop, some free computer programs and a crappy microphone he bewails the chaotic state of the universe with ditties like "Gimme a beer and shuddup," "Paranoid malfunction," and "noise under construction." Not just wall to wall screeching, but actual sound manipulation, just on the distorted, shredded side of things. It doesn’t hurt that he has a Frank Zappa sense of humor going for him as well. If that kind of thing interests you, go for it.
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Artist: Accomplice Affair (@)
Title: Samotny horyzont
Format: CD
A guitar-based dark ambient project by this Polish musician. Keyboards and other sounds are added to fill up the sonic terrain in an attempt to create atmosphere. For the most part it works, but as with a lot of music these days, this has been done before. There truly is nothing new under the sun, especially with Myspace and the Internet crammed full of aspiring musicians who have been ransacking the last fifty years of music history. Things improve with the fourth track which moves away from the chimey delayed guitar tones to something a bit more menacing, but we’re back again to the chimes again after that track. This may be the major fault of the disk. There’s not much change in guitar sounds throughout. A bit less subtlety might help in the long run. Subtlety can be good but there’s always the danger of flying right up your own backside as well. This is not bad, just not all that original. If you like musical wallpaper you’ll like this. Play it quietly on a Sunday afternoon when it’s raining. But I expect you’ll be sad when you’re done, which may be the point here.
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