Music Reviews



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Artist: ?ALOS
Title: Ricamatrici
Format: CD
Label: Bar La Muerte (@)
Rated: *****
?Alos is the personal project of Stefania Pedretti, who's also one half of the OvO duo (she was also member of the Allun). RICAMATRICI (embroiderer) is her second album which has been released three years after her fist titled "Ricodi indelebili". Mixing improvisation and visual art, ?Alos (which spelled backwords means "Alone?") on RICAMATRICI explore the emotions and the thoughts of a young lady who has to face everyday's life: she dreams of becoming a diva while with her needle she puts the final touch to a coat or to a skirt. Musically ?Alos use piano and vocal improvisation (sometimes sounding influenced by Diamanda Galas or Virgin Prunes) as well as field recordings, treated sounds (like on the opening "Tulle") and violin (check the tortured atmosphere of "Ricami"). Sounding deeply personal and sincere the album is like a recorded performance: try to imagine Stefania on a deserted factory (like as reported by the booklet's photos) allowed to running free exploring the sounds of the objects trying to feel the emotions of the workers that used them.
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Artist: Bruce Gilbert
Title: This Way
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
It’s quite normal music chronicles as well as reviewers and even audiences could sometimes be quite unfair to a number of forerunners and the art-punk UK band Wire could be rightfully considered one of the missing link in order to explain the stylistic passage between primordial forms of punk-rock towards the so-called post rock scene as well as some musical formula, which are over-abused nowadays, and their musical foresight could be arguably explained by the one of its single members. Maybe your ears have already had the possibility to know Colin Newman solo-projects - I still remember some of his most interesting looping and sampling workouts, issued on his own label Swim -, but one of the most innovative pioneer of that glorious formation has been without any doubts the guitarist Bruce Clifford Gilbert, whose experimental attitude and musical tastes deeply influenced Wire’s sound. 25 years after its first issue on Mute Records, Peter Rehberg’s Editions Mego decides to reissue the first documentary of Gilbert’s explorations as well as his first solo album, hieratically entitled This Way, with a remarkable improvement as U, Mu, U - an astonishing piece of musique concrete which looks like the simulation of a chuggy steam engine train - was not included in the tracklist of the previous edition and a well-done mastering by Russell Haswell. The raw description of the above-mentioned closing track should let you argue that This Way is not properly a collection of rock guitar lessons - don’t be neither surprised nor scared about that! -, the main core of the album being a sort of gray ambient/industrial anthem composed in 1984 under the commission of the renowned Scottish choreographer Michael Clark for a ballet production called “Do You Me? I Did”.

The intersections with dancing art could let you think about a sort of sequence of music and pauses, but luckily This Way is something really distant from that: the first part of the suite opens with an entrancing siren chant entwined with an heavenly drone quite close to the spotless and moody ones by Klaus Schultze interrupted occasionally by disquieting sounds and unexpected blasts of guitar and other analogue instruments, gradually evolving in an immersive industrial crescendo and frames from Swamp - showing off the coreographical skills by Mister Gilbert as it’s not so difficult to imagine a space getting gradually invaded by water…an immersive sound experience even though it’s rich of ageful sounds! -. Even if Bruce has said he’s never been interested in pure technique, I could not say there’re any “luddites” masked intent as This Way runs side by side with the stage and that’s the general impression you could have since the first listening till the final machinery rush. It surely lacks of complex dynamics, but it’s quite impossible Gilbert’s “dramatic” mise-en-form was forward-looking and not only intended for old codgers…it was 1984!
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Artist: PHRAGMENTS & KORINTH
Title: Mysteries Of The Greylands
Format: CD
Label: Greytone (@)
Rated: *****
After releasing their forth studio album on Malignant two years ago, Phragments are delivering the result of three years of work in conjunction with Korinth on Greytone. MYSTERIES OF THE GREYLANDS is a voyage through the deserted lands of an imaginative place where, as they say, "reality becomes myth and myth becomes reality. Where repressed longings lurk, waiting to be awakened". Musically the five suites of the album mix ritualistic ambiance, Gregorian chants, industrial noises and classical music samples where here and there melody surfaces (like the violin duetting with the choruses on "The mirror") creating a melancholy effect which breaks the mournful atmosphere generated by dark ambient sounds. Rhythm is rarely used and this choice turns this CD from an industrial album into a psychic trip that finds its opus into the thirty four minutes of the closing "The greylands". Track that mix minimal strings orchestra variations, cosmic atmospheres, choirs and some distant blasting percussions at its end. A bit minimal for an occasional listening but such a voyage isn't like taking the bus for a couple of stops...
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Artist: Talen
Title: Kingston Book
Format: 12"
Label: Mouthwatering (@)
Distributor: finetunes
Rated: *****
Kingston Book is the first of two “books” sealing the stylistic tunneling joining the Alps and the glorious Jamaica, built by the surprising Swiss dancehall collective Talen - a quartet made up two djs - Aunt One & Bux - and two producers Bobphonic and Uppernoise - , based in Winterthur, which exchanged musical particles with two authentic legends of the Jamaican scene, Sizzla and Cutty Ranks, for their debut release. The opening track on A-side should not be named but The Vibes with Sizzla’s roars targeting “undercover cops investigating music” and “fighting The Vibes” he usually likes and spreads, a stylish blend of electrified Ragga tunes and highly danceable Rock’n’roll stepping, close to that musical formula which recently seduced big names such as Fat Boy Slim, while on the same side the frightening sound of air raid alarms announces a very good version by another renowned leonine music maker coming from the Vienna scene, Herr Stefan Moerth aka Stereotyp, tailoring the track in a distinguishable way, which is quite easy-to-recognize if you’ve already heard something about this refined producer or something from his own Crunchtime label, generally featuring a dry hard-dub beating on sharp noises and obscure sub-basses.

On the flipside, it’s Cutty Ranks’ turn on the gun-firing mic spitting a sort of angry war hymn in the anguished Sniper Sniper, a track which from the stylistic viewpoint looks closer to The Bug and Razor X productions whose turgor has been swollen by heavy bass tones, buzzing synths and metallic kicks, setting the climax before the great remix by Markus Kienzl (Sofa Surfers) whose obsessive rushing rhythmical pattern sloping in miasmatic downbeat pulsations and razor-slashes are elements able to bring dub in a clubby dimension.

On the 12”, you’ll also find the codes to download the bonus tracks as well, among which my personal favorite is the atmospheric and rolling drum’n’bass Sniper Sniper remix by the Austrian crew Alien Entertainment, even if you’ll easily fall in love with the elegant dubstep variant by Dillon Dug, the stomping bonus remix by Markus Kienzl - this time with distorted brass and a venomous punk’n’roll drumming on evidence - and the Alternate Version of The Vibes - a balanced hybrid between analogue and digital with a catchy tribal drums’ crescendo and other thrilling improvements on the percussive set -.

A second book - the New York one , the American counterpart of the Jamaican one, propelled by the N.Y rappers Oddateee and Sensational- has already been issued. When you’ll listen to this one, it will be almost impossible to resist the temptation of ignoring it. I personally undersign the recommendation by Talen: I definitively won’t fight The Vibes of Talen! Bombaclat!
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Artist: Laszlo
Title: Mr.Sunshine
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Lydian
Distributor: EPM
Rated: *****
After a remarkable career in the composition of music for Tv adverts and broadcasts all over the world and far-reaching stylistic researches, the London-based multi instrumentalist - he regularly plays a terribly long list of instruments, including drums, piano, guitar, mandolin, low whistle, dulcimer, bass and vocals as well) Laszlo decides to christen his own label, Lydian, with a self-signed release, Mr.Sunshine, giving a good example to music lovers of his in-depth compositional skills, deeply influenced by his experience and his musical acquaintances ranging from classical music composers - mainly Claude Debussy, Erik Satie and Igor Stravinsky - to modern legends - Ryuichi Sakamoto and Frank Zappa - and legendary innovators - Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, Akufen, Venetian Snares as well as the histrionic composer Matthew Herbert, met at the times when Laszlo worked as in-house producer at the Dairy Studios in Brixton, close Herbert’s laboratory -. Laszlo is not a neophyte at experimentations as he has always been in love with a certain musical syncretism and moreover he began playing with samples almost compelled by an injury in the summer of 2007 that left him with a broken arm and unable to play instrument for a logn period. Every cloud has a silver lining or I could better mention another English proverb sentencing that necessity is the mother of invention as after that mishap, Laszlo started to create weird processed instruments by manipulating samples of some of his past live exhibitions.

Laszlo’s wit reveals itself since the introductive title-track: Mr Sunshine is a playful track starting with a pleasant mandolin arpeggio, plucked guitars, sweet electronic sounds and scratched tonal instruments mounted on a structure influenced by modal West African guitar styles and kora playing of artists such as Toumani Diabete as well as modal Swedish jazz, while the following track, Zeitgeist, has a lot of points of intersection with Stereolab-ish modal use of voice (idyllic and dreamy “la-la-la”s coming from the throat of the London-based singer and songwriter Clara Uchima aka Clara Belle) as well as with the above mentioned Matthew Herbert’s attitude to use real objects and tools for the percussive part of the track (household items such as walls, dishes, pieces of wood as well as the side and back of mandolin, the back of the guitar and beatboxing together with weird sounds, idyllic flutes and splashy chimes mainly generated with the notorious Native Instruments Reaktor. The lamest tracks of this release are the remixes of Mr Sunshine: even if the Ragga Waltz mix provided by Laszlo himself shows its versatility with different styles, I don’t think this dance oriented adaptation was so necessary. Just a little more enjoyable the glitchier version by Todd Baker, reminding some fuzzy tunes by Jaga Jazzist, rich in “errors” and hiccupping speed variations, but with a listenable sweet melody. Anatolia - a title standing under favorable auspices as a tribute to the name of his newborn label, Lydian -, the most nocturnal side of Mr Sunshine is even my favorite one, is a lovely minimalistic piano-sonata close to Debussy’s Preludes featuring the smoky phrasing on the Egyptian Ney Flute by Niri Sadeh. Definitively a brilliant way to open a catalogue!
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