Music Reviews



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Artist: Abiku (@)
Title: Novelty
Format: CD
Label: MT6 Records (@)
Distributor: MT6 Records
Rated: *****
There are many music projects out there that really don’t need to exist; people doing their version of the kind of stuff that’s already been done, and done better by others in the past. The Baltimore-based duo of Josh Jaworsky and Jane Vincent, known together as Abiku, is NOT one of those entities. Although grindcore and sludge-metal combined with techno-electronics is said to be their root-genres, I think a better description would be experimental primal-dada electroclash. Jane and Josh predominately employ synthesizer keyboards and twisted guitar blasts, along with primitive old-school sounding drum machine in their music often giving the music a late 70’s, early experimental 80’s vibe. That in itself is not so unusual, but what makes Abiku interesting is Jane’s vocals. Often wailing, ululating screaming, it’s a primal expression that you don’t hear a lot of these days, except maybe in the metal genres, and then it tends to sound contrived, like the singer wants to give the impression she’s the bride of Satan or something. Jane’s vocals also sound a lot more genuine than anything I’ve heard in the screamo genre. I imagine it must be very wrenching to do, but she does it well. It’s not like ALL of her vocals are done this way; she tempers them with a sort of semi-monotone chant-singing that offsets her more violent expressions.

Since they’ve been around since 2002, Abiku have released a wealth of material, a lot of it on CDR which probably had quite limited distribution, making them a culty-cult kind of outfit that afforded them little exposure. What has impressed me most is that they’ve managed to stay together and keep Abiku alive for all this time. That has likely been due to their perseverance in live performance, managing to find venues that welcome their brand of fringe sonics. The more people you reach live, the more fans you’re going to attract. So "Novelty" is mostly a compilation of their favorite earlier stuff (circa 2002) re-worked re-mastered and re-recorded. It really isn’t radically different than recent material by them, and makes an excellent introduction to the band. With 26 short tracks (most are under 2 minutes, and only one is a little over 5) there is hardly room for ennui, and a lot of opportunity for variation. The ethereal bellish introduction of the first track, "Rift" gives you no clue what you’re in for, but the second track, "Action Toy" sets the pace, tone and temperament for the rest of the CD. A number of different moods, shades and expressions are explored, with cathartic releases aplenty, and impressions that range from being trapped in machine hell to experiencing a nightmarish carnival scenario, to just drifting in the ionosphere. The brief tracks go by so quickly that you hardly notice that the CD is over just before it ends, as ethereally as it had begun.

I can’t purport to wrap my head around what Jane is singing about most of the time, but I think it’s more gut feeling than trying to comprehend the lyrics on an intellectual level. There isn’t much in the way of processing or effects used on Jane’s voice, a plus in my opinion. The way she uses her pipes, there really doesn’t need to be. I’m not wild about every track either; some are easier to digest than others, but I wouldn’t have them change anything at all. Sometimes a really cool little slapping beat, like on the track "Feel" can make Jane’s acerbic and angst-wrought vocals sound nearly humorous. As for the music, it does owe a debt to synth-punk and electroclash minimalist outfits like Nervous Gender, Crash Course in Science, Adult and Add N to X, etc. Perhaps Abiku tend to sound less quirky-jerky and dizzy than the aforementioned outfits, but there are parallels. Every once in a while the band veers toward melody too, as on "Proclomotion". The majority of the music though is a lot closer to performance art than anything suited for the dancefloor owing to some of the chaotic rhythms and/or breakneck tempos they employ on rhythmic tracks. Still I wouldn’t doubt that they attract their share of slamming thrashers in a live performance environment.

Although this band isn’t for everyone, those who can appreciate thrash punk at one end of the spectrum and experimental electronics at the other end should dig them. "Novelty" offers a real smorgasbord of bit-size music courses, some of which snap back at you. I’d recommend tracking it down and seeing how much you can consume. I wouldn’t waste time though; the CD is limited to 1,000 copies.
Artist: JILL AKA PROJECTOJIL (@)
Title: Minimal House
Format: CD
Rated: *****
One year after his latest demo "Tale from the native" Gilberto Figueiredo is back with MINIMAL HOUSE, a new demo with six new tracks. This time he refined his sound by doing just what stated on the demo cover: minimal house. The demo offers six good tracks of minimal house music with warm synth pads, few vocal samples and sinuous bass lines. Gilberto this time focused his production on great sounds/atmospheres and succeeded into giving to the tracks a nightly touch that fits really well the genre. On his myspace you can check the second track "We like it".
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anymore
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Fairy World V
Format: CD
Label: Prikosnovenie (@)
Distributor: Anticraft
Rated: *****
We like to imagine that the Italian composer '“ recently re-emerged from the deeps of the infinite musical abyss by Gus Van Sant who choosed some pieces of him for the soundtrack of Paranoid Park '“ Nino Rota has awaken all the fairies with the help of the eccentric notes of "Il Giardino delle Fate" and subsequently the guys behind the French label Prikosnovenie temporarily compelled them to record their tunes in a studio in order to enhance human lives some times ago, revealing their spells and their enchanting choirs drop by drop as this magical series of compilations entitled Fairy World (..if you're lucky enough, you should find a special limited edition including a dvd, containing some live recordings from last year edition of La Nuit Des Fées and ten nice clips of musicians enriching the label roster... ) has already reached the fifth volume. And a warm welcome is given to listeners absorbed by Tolkien-like reverie as well as Celtic and Breton fables by the Russian symphonic 7-piece orchestra Caprice, able to immediately set the distinctive atmospheric aura of this collection with trembling, tinkles and dreamlike sounds in Sage: the sample of a laughing baby seems to evoke a narrative set as well as the notorious myth according to which fairies love to show themselves to little babies. The fairies' attitude to operate similarly as suffragettes is partially confirmed by the lovely Me and Rose by the lovely pop-folk English singer Mel Garside (formerly of the Medieval Babies), taken from the third album of her solo project Maple Bee; the title (and the song of course) could have some references to her personal biography, referring to Rosie, the small yacht on which she spent her childhood travelling across the oceans. A touch of Nordic taste has been thrown in the cauldron by the enchanting voice of Valvran (... have a look to the curious legend about this ravens according to Danish folklore... ), reminding to our minds other great Nordic female voices such as Mari Boine. More or less on the same frequencies, the "Nostalgica Avanguardia" by Italian Riccardo Prencipe's project Corde Oblique mixing folk Mediterranean elements and minimal classical music (reminding to us pianists such as Ludovico Einaudi or Max Richter) on melancholic lyrics drawing a desolate world and wishing the advent of a "new humanity" mediated from "synthetic fables and mechanical diseases" -!-. Back-reversed recordings, new age essences and fascinating fawnings marks the collaborative projects Lys, founded by the Czech violinist Ivo Sedlacek (signing also the 11th track entitled Sun, which reminds to us those session of music therapist intended for people with mental diseases) and Frédéric Chaplain. The fact that national boundaries faded away in this selection is clear from the astonishingly wide range of folk influences: flavorings from Japan (Crista Galli's Yama-Ho), Irish-Celtic (the ethno-meditative mixture proposed by Poussieres d'Etolies, Sava's nice mixture of medieval artifacts '“ an highlight of this sampler directly from Faun's leaders! '“ and the musical box-like harp textures by the interesting Moldavian harpist Alizbar), Balkans (Aman Doktor -Stellamara's reprise of a traditional old Turkish theme with the hypnotic vocals by Sonja Drakulich - and Star of the winds '“ an impressive nocturne partially mediated by Balkan choirs and sacred music from the repertoire by Bulgarian combo Irfan '“ guide listeners' minds towards Eastern musical landscapes... ). But there're also strange mosaics of sounds from different contexts: have a listen for instance to Platoun by Omasphere combining tribal chants, middle-eastern chimes, medieval and electronic music '“ a stand-out! -. The consuming pianistic reverie (Einaudi's anthems resurface to our musical memories yet... ) and the touching lyrical session of Last Dance taken from Luigi Rubino's "A Theme For The Moon" stands as a powerful ending for this emotional sonic chipboard!
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anymore
Artist: TYSKE LUDDER
Title: Anonymous
Format: CD
Label: Black Rain (@)
Rated: *****
Third release after their 2006 reunion, ANONYMOUS finds the trio in a sharp form and presents to their fan ten new tracks ("Panzer" is a cover of a Jesus And The Gurus' song) sounding more aggressive paragoned to the three new released on the last year mini "SCIENTific technOLOGY". The band as usual base their sound on the classic 4/4 e.b.m. rhythm but ANONYMOUS sounds someway different and you can find this difference into the subtle melodic harmonies they use: it could be a particular sample or a synth sound but on most of the tracks there's always different melodies that form a web that create the musical background where upfront mildly filtered vocals constantly duet with industrial sounding rhythms/samples. Tyske Ludder succeeded into refreshing and old formula of aggressive, energetic industrial e.b.m. sounds and this is good!
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anymore
Artist: ATHANA (@)
Title: L.E.D. Light Galaxies - Ambient:Exhibitions Vol. 2
Format: CD
Label: Westaudio
Rated: *****
With their previous release "Remixed 0508" it was difficult for me to catch the essence of Athana and to fully appreciate the guitar extravaganza of Alf Terje Hana. This new album L.E.D. LIGHT GALAXIES contains five new tracks and two remixes which present to the people who listened only to the remix album a total new band. Mixing dub bass lines, experimental sounds, field recordings and ambient solutions this album sounds like an experimental version of a Fripp record. Passing from the ambient dub of "Kalimba symphony (Tanganyika fly-by)" to the rhythmical obsessions of "The secret brain waves" Athana aren't afraid to dare by mixing genres and sounds. The guitar sounds of Alf Terje Hana seduce the listener and lead him through the rich soundscapes created by Øyvind Grong, Torgeir Nes and Helge Olav Øksendal. The two remixes are a Dennis DeSantis i.d.m./dub version of the opening track "Grim reaper leaves the planet" and a nice electro funk version of "The witch is spinning" (a track that isn't on this album). Check some tunes at www.myspace.com/dandylines.
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