Music Reviews



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Artist: Philip Clemo
Title: The Rooms
Format: CD
Label: All Colours Arts
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Philip Clemo, but the packaging already gives you some indication of what you are in for. This is pretty peaceful ambient music that reminds me quite a bit of artists like Harold Budd and even some Vidna Obmana. According to Clemo’s website, "The Rooms, is a hauntingly beautiful progression through different sound rooms’ or spaces’ featuring artists such as Clive Bell, Theo Travis, Simon Hopkins, and even a Prague string quartet." I’ll admit that I don’t really get that kind of feel – when I read this I expected it to be very different styles, feelings, etc. On this album the music all seems to blend into each other, but in a good way. If you were looking for something to put on as background for a quiet, romantic evening at home, this might be a good choice. For me, the standout track is "The Place," which has a nice complexity to it, as if a free jazz quartet had collaborated with a drone ambient artist. The last track, "Taking a Hand (In the Company of Angels)," is the only track with vocals, but it fits well, not really overpowering the overall feel and her voice maintains the ethereal quality of the preceding music. Overall, this is a very pleasant listen. The disc weighs in at about 52 minutes.
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Artist: Hopen (@)
Title: Their Quasi-Homes are Real Holes
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
Rated: *****
There isn’t a whole lot on the label’s website about Hopen but it seems to be a project comprised of Childe Grangier and Bruno Gillet. The label describes the album thus: "This album is a black cloud, it is about lesbians, sick father, noises and passages... Dark horses invading at the same time houses, holes, stages and lives. My darkest theater... " True, if you want a nice rant about being a lesbian, Hopen has you covered in their track "Vorrh," which is actually quite interesting. First off, let’s talk comparisons. The ones that come to mind immediately include Hafler Trio’s cut up stuff and Zoviet France’s Loh Land. What Hopen brings to the mix is a kind of whimsy. This is the sound of a toy store after dark when all of the humans have left and the toys come alive to create their own orchestra. Now take the soundtrack made by that orchestra and run it though processing, slowing it down at times and speeding it up, then cutting it into pieces and randomly reassembling it. That is about the best way I have to describe this. And it is done rather well. If you like your music to be more incidentals than melody, you need this. This disc weighs in at about 46 minutes.
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Artist: Babylon Chaos, Lambwool, Le Diktat (@)
Title: Shi
Format: CD
Label: OPN
Rated: *****
I had not heard of any of these bands, but it is an interesting collaborative concept. The three bands collaborate in different arrangements throughout and each act has one track to themselves. Here is how the label describes the division of labor: "The melodies are provided by Lambwool . . . Le Diktat brings the rhythm to the table . . . and Babylone Chaos has long been an avid proponent of chaotic, oppressing climates and deals in suffocation and saturation." As with any collaboration of this sort, the end result is likely to be a bit schizophrenic. Let’s take the first three tracks as an example. For some reason the first track, "Made in Phnom Penh," reminds me of Geography era Front 242, not so much in style but in overall feel. It has a slow beat and minimalist atmosphere, only really slowed down, like if you played a 45 at 33.3 speed. Then it changes up a bit with "Hill," which features a nice piano theme mixed with just a touch of noise and some beats. "Black Wave" sounds like someone with a drum machine, sampler, and scratching turntables. Despite the varied tracks, it does seem to maintain a kind of internal coherence. For me some of the standout tracks include "Dreary Day (The Day After Version)" and "Tokyo 4:AM," which both highlight the use of atmosphere and melody. Overall, this is an interesting release and a good introduction to these bands. This disc weighs in at 53.53.
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Artist: The Bodies Obtained (@)
Title: From the Top of My Tree
Format: CD
Label: Finding You Attractive (@)
OK – here is a lesson to promoters. The press release compares the music to Brian Eno, The Residents and Fad Gadget and drops an allusion to Throbbing Gristle. I am a pretty big Residents fan and Throbbing Gristle is one of the top 20 bands that kicked the world’s ass in my opinion, so I was looking forward to this. However, it wasn’t quite what I expected. To paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen, I know the Residents and Throbbing Gristle and you are no Residents or Throbbing Gristle. If you come looking for that, you will be sorely disappointed. So now we know what we don’t have; what do we have? I have to admit that I didn’t find it nearly as interesting as the press release makes it out to be. This isn’t really radio friendly, but adding a little bit of distortion to voice does not really make an experimental or an industrial album. I suppose that the closest comparison from the press release is the Residents, but without the kind of whimsical feel to it or the biting social commentary. (Plus, let’s face it – the music is almost secondary to the theatrics if you’ve ever seen a live Residents show.) The Bodies Obtained approach this feel in "I’m a Stranger" and "Skin Stuck to Bone." But if I had to come up with a better comparison for the press release writer, I would go with Legendary Pink Dots – somewhat accessible, but just a bit off, and a variety of musical styles on the album. This disc weighs in at around 38 minutes.
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Artist: HEIMITO
Title: Pollux
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Eydition
Rated: *****
A new label is rising into the tehcno genre, it is called Eydition and Heimito is the first project of their roster to put out a release. Hailing from Remsheid, Germany and having a past as metal singer the guy behind Heimito started the project in 2002. Having no musical boundaries in his mind, he started to compose techno tracks with minimal structure but with many rhythmical/bass layers. The two tracks of the release (the third one is a remix of "Beteigeuze" by LMP), "Pollux" and "Beteigeuze", mix techno elements with ambient atmospheres (see the long spatial sounding synth pads) where the alternation of patterns is the key element that save the home listener from a club only oriented release. The obsessive and hypnotic structure works really well with this sounds and make of Heimito a name to follow if you love minimal techno with a bit of house influences.
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