Music Reviews



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Artist: Wanker of the 1st Degree
Title: Retrograde
Format: CD
Rated: *****
Primarily composed of instrumentals "Retrograde" is a 16 track collection of neo-new wave electronica that leans more towards being what the Icelandic artist Josef Karl Gunnarson can pull off than what his machines are capable of. It is this very manual over ride that gives the music that honest quality that those of us who lived through the first new wave found so beautiful in the music. His compositions are simple and melodic affairs with the occasional abstract and clever technical incorrectness. They remind me of a cross between early Human League sketches and those low tech mutant underground tapes that were so rampant in the 80’s. Even when he does sing it has a robotic quality in the delivery. If you are lost in gothic darkness the mood may not be right for you but if you have eclectic tastes ranging from The Residents to OMD you will find this very interesting. Often going off on boomerang tangents that take you away from the established arrangements "Retrograde" brings you back to reflect on the reflections you were reflecting on.
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anymore
Artist: Brandon LaBelle (@)
Title: Live bootleg (book + cd)
Format: CD
Label: les presses du reel (@)
Rated: *****
It took me a while, several listening but above all a deep reading to review this work and sorry for having put it in the "music" section 'cause I'm sure it's quite reductive to label it as "music", differently from the previous works we reviewed, this book + cd focused on some recent installation/works done by Brandon Labelle is probably better contextualized if considered in the contemporary art field. This bilingual publication (french/english) contains provides an overview of sound installations and environments by the experimental artist-musician, featuring three essays and an interview, as well as a specific project, installations views, the artist's Museum of Instruments, and descriptions of the performances recorded on the included audio CD. As underlined in many pages of the book, the latest works of this artist are converging on two central preoccupations: public performance and radiophonic space. The book is really well done and filled with pics coming from the installations collected in this book and for the clear it is it's been not that easy trying to imagine the real power of these works and their live effects, but at last we're talking about installations. The cd contains "Phantom music concert" which features Jason Khan and Jaques Demierre, it's a two video projection in which the two musician on video are replayed as if they're involved in a concert and the same musicians later enter on stage performing with their own images. "Phantom radio broadcast" instead is a collection of radio memories read by two people sitting in a radio station while a cellist is playing while listening the songs recollected in those memories, another musician (this time Labelle himself is featured in the process) mixes all the elements adding some samples and other noises. In "Led nouvel (pirate drummers)" some walkers move out into the city armed with mobile phones with which they talk with four drummers in line in front of the Palais de Justice in Nantes (hey, this thing reminded me of the Revolution Summer thing and the whole drum-protests by the Washington punk involved in the Dischord scene). The drummers bang the drums according to the informations they receive and the drumming is mixed with the voices and the informations, while lot's of local residents pass by. In "CD=text" twelve minutes of sounds from twelve artists are played over headphones to various people who describe in words what they're hearing, the "song" is made out by putting together these voices in turn to create a chorus of voices focused on words and interpretations. It's interesting how the cd, differently from other work assembled by Labelle, this time is hard to be listened at if separated by the proper "contextualization" and by its "posology", the fact is after having read carefully hows and whys of every installation I think it's a logical step to consider this cd as the sonorization of the images featured in the book. With that I don't wonna say one can't/won't appreciate these "weird" compositions independently from their performative context, otherwise I would negate one of the most interesting thing written by Jorge Loius Borges: "the reader makes the book and not the writer", and trying to appear like as a pretentious relativist wonnabe, I would be contradictory for I really believe every listener should have his right to chose/listen/interpret/feel/twist reality according to his own will and resurface his/her "memories/ghosts" (am I naïve jungian enough?!). By the way, reading about every single performance and some description of the "modus operandi" I've been cast into a different prospective like when you happen to know Kubrick worked on "2001: a space odyssey" starting from several ideas one of which was the soundtrack/music... everything takes a different shape and the same goes out for these "audio memories". The funny thing is that in someway this cd features audio-reminiscences from performances quite often based on "audio memories" which brings out to a sort of mirror-game: in someway a recording is a picture of a moment that in the very moment in which it's been recorded... well, it's already gone. Can you remember "the invention of Morel" by Bioy Casares where the protagonist chose to become images like those projected on the island?...in some way we've arrived to the final paradox in which a recording becomes a "living object" itself. Sorry for having been so anal (and so stupid) the fact is that many works involving directly or indirectly Labelle duel with memory and the audio-experience related to it has always been one of my favorite topics. For example, consider this book contains a collection of radio memories from several people around the world (while reading Achim Wollscheid I couldn't but laugh in admiration for the then young audio terrorist!), it alone it's worth the reading (like the book "One Reason To Live: Conversations about Music with Julius Nil"). In someway it brings forth the most interesting point of audio-experiences, I mean it's hard (if not impossible) to discern where a listening can be separated from the original context. It also implies every single listening is different from those preceding it that's like saying the idea of something recorded becomes immutable is a lie. I know I sound like mr. know it all, I've discovered one of the most simple rules of life: everything is constantly changing I think it's better to approach this multimedia work as an art-object, as if it was the book of an exhibition and not a normal cd (but you're free to do what the hell you want with it, so please burn this after reading), I'm sorry I've always this problems while speaking about art but I always have this split sensation of repulsion due to the incredible amounts of wonnabes it draws and on the other side I feel attraction do to the fact if brings human impulse of "abstraction" into concrete (somebody would comments simply "cause art is the only important thing in this life"). Labelle is not a wonnabe and beyond the fact I'm not equipped (and not interested) to give a critical opinion or a stupid mark to his oeuvres, I think he's doing a great work 'cause in someway some of his efforts are going deep into interiority.
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anymore
Artist: CON-DOM
Title: The Eight Pillar - A Confession Of Faith
Format: CD
Label: Functional (@)
Distributor: Tesco
Inspired by the life and writings of Lawrence Of Arabia ("Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph" is his autobiographical account of his experiences while serving as a liaison officer with rebel forces during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks of 1916 to 1918), THE EIGHT PILLAR was the first vinyl album for Control Domination. Originally released in 300 copies, the album came with an accompanying booklet that was sold separately. This CD reissue has the original five tracks of the album and it also reprints the original booklet which has beautiful b/w drawings (they picture really well the feeling of the oppression perpetrated by humans on humans), writings and all the lyrics and it is a perfect counterpart to the devastating sound assault produced by Mike R. Dando. The cyclic noises and his powerful voice/lyrics will make you realize that this recordings are there not to be enjoyed but to be experienced. "Wisdom has built her house / she has slaughtered her beasts / she has sent out her call / from the highest places / whoever is simple / let him turn in here / whoever is senseless / let him turn in here / leave simpleness / LIVE / walk in the way of insight"
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anymore
Artist: METAL MUSIC MACHINE
Title: ANGELS OF DESTRUCTION
Format: CD
Label: Rustblade (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
MMM is a project derived from TEMPLEBEAT an EBM cult of the 90ies and they are deeply linked with the cultural milieu of SOTTOMONDO, in fact the best place to search and research in Italy "strange-fucking-good-things". MMM is a project to stomp and unchain our life from our daily life. It is easy to hear and to feel the energy of the band and their myspace is aimed to show it. There is techno-punk-EBM-industrial well mixed and above all well played live, in 2008 they had a part in Schalgstrom storm. Favorite track: 10, reminds me some 242 best tracks but with an Industrial appeal. What I like so much is the mediascape the band use to say about their art and thoughts (Saturno Buttò, Dark Spy fetish magazine, Matteo Bosi's art) all these elements aren't outside the music they play ARE entrails of their art; they use "simple" sounds but they burn behind it, there is force and also controlled depravation, both well tuned in this work.
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Artist: MERZBOW
Title: ANICCA
Format: CD
Label: COLD SPRING (@)
Rated: *****
It is a privilege to write down some thought about the GOD OF NOISE, Merzbow, aka Masami Akita. His art is so well known and extreme that every work is a must to have for NOISE Friends and for men of control working for hidden prisons. Another time Merzbow destroys reality, annihilates every slice of the air around him with special tools played/destroyed without compromises an with his deepest knowledge on signals and sound terrorism. There are no words to express the amount of violence and desperation he puts inside his recording system, but for sure this art is not made to think but just to be overwhelmed by the force of the artist. His competence is absolute and the modulations he is able to give to the wall of noise he created is the proof of the fact that for him the noise has no secrets anymore. This is another time not only sound experiments and noise music, it is a complex system of de-programming from normal sound/normal music/normal living/normal feelings; we cannot decode the real program set up by Merzbow, it is a secret we won't know ever. His plan and aims aren't yet clear, we can only try to find a meaning, an inspiration, in the fortress of noise, inside the noise weapons he is able to set up. Probably he gets through noise a status of reality we cannot see.
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