Music Reviews



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Artist: LOVELY LITTLE GIRLS
Title: Glamorous Piles & Puffy Saddlebags
Format: CD
Label: Apop
Rated: *****
Apop seems to have become the refugium peccatorum for all the no-wave orphans or those who missed the ephemeral glory of Skin Graft. Heaven knows where all these mutants (Skarkrau Radio, Duchesses) come from, somebody must have thrown LSD in waterpipes for real. Now, this octet is SLIGHTLY more controlled than its label mates, but we're still in a highly demented territory. Six tracks in less than 20 minutes of cubist mock-rock which reminds of Beefheart here and there, but with a deranged vocalist in an exalted Jello Biafra mood. What makes Lovely Little Girls quite unique is the care for complex arrangements (layered vocals, refrains, etc.), creating quirky prog-no wave hybrids with even some Eastern influence. "Wretched Substitute" (great title!!) and "Lady Shoes Remain Attached" are impressive psychodramas of melodic detours and anguished explosions, full of theatrical uneasiness. The perfect visual counterpart is offered by vocalist Gregory Jacobsen's paintings and drawings, a tormented underworld mixing "Alice in Wonderland", Dix, Wolverton and various sexual disturbance case studies (check www.gregoryjacobsen.com and glamorous-piles.blogspot.com).
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Artist: ALFREDO COSTA MONTEIRO
Title: Anatomy of Inner Place
Format: CD
Label: Monotype
Rated: *****
Four untitled tracks and a sober grey on black layout, and one is lead to think of Francisco López... and the thought wouldn't be entirely out of place. Renowned improviser Costa Monteiro (Cremaster, I Treni Inerti, etc.) explores the hidden sonic world of household objects, with sombre macroscopies made of arranged but untreated field recordings. With López, he shares a similar fascination for volume dynamics and juxtapositions, which is present in all of the tracks: low hums (air passing through pipes? A fridge motor?) are streaked, here and there, by piercing noises and feedback, eventually dissolving in deep drones themselves (track 4). While experiments of this kind could well leave the listener detached and eventually bored, Costa Monteiro apparently manages to raise magnetic storms and tectonic shifts from the most common and harmless objects surrounding us: home is where the hurt is.
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Artist: June 11 (@)
Title: "Matter is Alive"
Format: CD
Label: EE Tapes (@)
Rated: *****
Coincidences do not exist, so it’s said. This consideration can certainly be applied to "Matter is Alive", the latest work by June 11, released on EE Tapes, both from Belgium.
When an album opens with a cover of Eno/Roedelius/Moebius’ "By this River" and, later, reveals an homage to Harold Budd ("Harold Budd (for Harold Budd) – can it be clearer?), it’s expectable to obtain a collection of soft, almost chill-out compositions, where melody, experimentation, (acoustic and analogue electronic) instrumentation and vocalisation meet (not collide) in a sound film that could easily be placed in 1980s Brussels. That’s what happens here (although June 11 comes from Gent – a minor detail).
In its different dimensions, "Matter is Alive" – produced between and 2006 and 2008 – is a homogeneous recording, full of quality and intention, guarantied by June 11’s numerous elements/collaborators.
It is a truly beautiful CD, that, in spite of its "old-fashioned" sonority (which places it away from the "state of the art" or the latest trends), brings back old and friendly ghosts. A must have item.
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Artist: MONOCEROS
Title: I Feel Apocalyptic Today
Format: CD
Label: Imaginary Non Existent Records (@)
Rated: *****
Third album for Monoceros, I FEEL APOCALYPTIC TODAY see Joan Malé redefining the sound of his project adding more guitar sounds to his i.d.m. atmospheric mixture. In this way tracks like "Escape From Gravity" or the following "The Rain Song" sound like a post rock electronic suite where light melodies clash into the roughness of broken rhythms patterns, creating in this way a suspended atmosphere. I FEEL APOCALYPTIC TODAY sounds like an awakening after the apocalypse rather than the apocalypse itself because it doesn't sound dark and desperate. Listening to its nine tracks (the tenth is a bonus nameless one which is 12 minutes long), I think about deserted lands where nature is starting to take an hold on cities' ruins. Mixing ambient, i.d.m. and post rock Joan is giving sound to a project which includes also a visual part as for each track exists a photo he took doing landscape photography in Empordà where he lives. The photos could be purchased separately while the CD is available as free download or pressed CD.
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Artist: KAHN/MÖSLANG/MÜLLER
Title: Signal to Noise vol. 3
Format: CD
Label: FOR4EARS
Rated: *****
Recorded live at Tokyo University in 2006, this third chapter of the "Signal to Noise" series (now at vol. 6) features the core trio of Jason Kahn (analog synth, percussion), Günter Müller (ipod, percussion, electronics) and Norbert Möslang (cracked everyday-electronics). Now, this is one of those rare live improv sessions where you can't really tell one performer apart from the other, and I mean it in a positive sense. While other expanded line-ups of the "Signal to Noise" adventure seem to open up the sound and make it more expanded and erratic, this trio recording focuses on rhythm. Don't expect regular beats, of course (I still dream of a techno album by Müller, but I digress), but rather a primordial pulse which disintegrates in a thousand particles, though never losing its flow. High-end bleeps, crackles and electronics gurgles seem to mimick bird chants (track 2), or collide before boiling down to a low-end swamp (track 3), only to reassemble in the almost steady beat of the final track. A great performance by an amazingly cohesive and sympathetic trio, possibly one of the best improv ensembles around today.
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