Music Reviews



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Artist: John Zorn
Title: FilmworksXIII: El General
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Tzadik
Rated: *****
Has anyone been on a such an amazing roll as John Zorn has been these past few years? The Gift, The Rain Horse, The Dreamer's, Moonchild, Lucifer: Book of Angels Vol. 10, The Crucible, and now he takes another brilliant left turn with Filmworks XIII: El General.
The liner notes to "El General" explain the long and uncertain journey of this album. Zorn was reluctant to work on this music because, as he explains, the soundtrack medium is becoming a bit worn for him, and also because he just didn't think he was right for the project. The filmmaker was persistent however (thanks filmmaker!), but in the end gave Zorn short shrift by only placing three of the pieces in the film and hiring another composer to score the remainder (naughty filmmaker). For all this, "El General" does not suffer one bit. The music has a completely fresh, and (to my ears) original sound. I can't say that I've heard music like this before from anyone. There's definitely Mexican influence (the film is about the Mexican dictator Plutarco Elias Calles), most evident in the use of accordion. But there's very little reference to traditional Mexican sounds, scales, and arrangements. Marc Ribot's electric guitar-work features prominently, as does Kenny Wolleson's vibraphone. This is an easy-going album, and light-hearted for the most part, but there are also moments and even entire songs which have a somber mood. The pace of the album is fairly steady throughout, which is not something found in most of the Zorn catalog. Once again Zorn relies on the incredible talents of Marc Urselli to both capture the performance of these songs and also do the mixing, in order to make sure they come across to the listener as intended. Urselli has now recorded and mixed most of my favorite (and what I believe are the best and most subtle) Zorn albums. So it would seem that Marc is on just as much of a roll as Zorn himself. Mr. Urselli has an amazing ability to remove all obstacles between the performance and the listener. He's able to give the recording such an immediacy and presence that the recording medium itself seems to not exist, as though the performance is happening anew for the listener each time.
Scott Hull gets the call for mastering duties and does not disappoint. It must be an extreme pleasure to polish these gems. I've listened to the Zorn albums mastered by Hull in countless different situations on systems of widely varying quality - the power, the nuance always comes across. Keep it up gentlemen!
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Artist: FREDRIK KLINGWALL (@)
Title: Works Of Woe
Format: CD
Label: Last Entertainment (@)
Distributor: Plastic Head
Rated: *****
Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The spirits of the dead", the latest Fredrik Klingwall album WORKS OF WOE is a real masterpiece of classical piano music. With the nine tracks of the album Fredrik created a convincing dramatic soundtrack where piano is the only instrument. Dissonance is still the way to go and every track convinced me totally. If you ever watched movies like "The cabinet of Dr Caligari" you should be aware of the kind of atmospheres that "The sleeper", "Alone", "Spirits Of The Dead", "An Enigma", "The Conqueror Worm", "The Valley Of Unrest", "The City In The Sea", "For Annie" and "A Dream Within A Dream" are able to rise. The mid tempo tunes pass to piano to pianissimo just to explode with a dark blast. Check some of them at www.reverbnation.com/klingwall
Mar 25 2009
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anymore
Artist: FLUX
Title: Safe + Sound
Format: CD
Label: Na-no Tuanto (@)
Rated: *****
Three years after the release of the singles "Electric woman" and "Protected" (both reviewed here and both included into this album), Flux are back with their first full length album titled SAFE+SOUND released by Na-no Tuanto (the band's own label) and Electric Fantastic Sound (a Sweden label that decided to go for digital only releases). The band formed by Asta (vocals) and two ex Neuroactive members (Vesa Rainne and Ville Brusi left the band in 1997, before joining the A Different Drum roster) present a great electro pop album that sounds minimal but functional. The ten tracks of SAFE+SOUND span from synthpop to sensual electro passing through old e.m.b. influences with easiness and taste. The album sounds strong and catchy and after two spins it will climb suddenly your personal toplist. If you love the old Client stuff, try this album and you won't regret it! If you are looking for it into the stores and you don't find it go to Electric Fantastic Sound (www.electricfantasticsound.com) and purchase it on digital format from Klicktrack, then you write your purchasing code to them and they'll send a physical copy (a normal pressed CD which contains also the video for "Protected") for free worldwide. Check some tracks and the video on the band's myspace page.
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anymore
Artist: Tibetan Red
Title: Ritual Breathing
Format: CD
Label: Antahkarana Records (@)
Rated: *****
The Catalunian artist Salvador Francesch AKA Tibetan Red, is active since the first 80s. When i first came across his work, digging among some post-industrial compilations, it was a sudden blast; it made me think of an extreme and noisier version of Zoviet France ( both the amazing tracks on 1987's "Freedom On a Vacuum" luckily are re-issued on cd by Gracia Territori Sonor ). On this cd, his latest, the title is quite explicative because "Ritual Breathing" is a trio of tracks that deal with the concept of breathing and all the instruments used here involve the use of air to create a sound. The first one is called "Ritual Breathing" and it's a 35 minutes slowly evolving and spacious drone. "Gompa" starts with a subtle airy drone and ends with some (supposedly)Tibetan chants. Tibetan Red's compositions in 2009 sound surprisingly brighter in comparison with his very first releases but they share a similar way of toying with our spiritual side.
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anymore
Artist: Brobdingnagian (@)
Title: TortureStainedDisaster
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Rusty Axe Records (@)
Rated: *****
First off, let me say that this is not music that crosses these pages regularly, but i hope it will appeal to the most open-minded among noise listeners. Brobdingnagian play a mentally deranged blend of depraved black metal and sickening noise/experimental.
The title track is a perfect example of the forementioned style, there are massive guitars played slowly over sheer analog noise background with filtered voice loops and an inhuman singing. "Poison Tongue--Bloody Throat" starts with an early, archetypal black metal voice on fast tempo guitars reminding the most fucked up moments on the first Stretchheads album -- then after 2 minutes and a half the music stops and there are 3 minutes and a half of silence -- and then again filthy vocals on heavy circular riffs. The whole album is recorded in a delightful lo-fi style. Highly recommended to those who liked Ash Pool ( Prurient's Black Metal spin-off ). Check out their myspace and buy their cd because Satan rarely sounds this intresting. Limited to 501 copies.
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