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Artist: Hop-Frog’s Drum Jester Devotional (@)
Title: BETS OV, VOL. 1
Format: CD
Label: URCKarm Recordings (@)
Distributor: URCKarm Recordings
Rated: *****
Since these guys are news to me, I’ll open this review with a quote from their one-sheet- "Hop-frog’s drum jester devotional is the brainchild of one of the founding members of the hop-frog kollectiv, e.loi, aka Jeremy Morelock and features core members of the hop-frog kollectiv. After numerous compilation appearances and vinyl releases, Morelock unveils Drum Jester’s debut album, Bets Ov., Vol. 1 with psychedelic, Broken- Dub, MIDI-Eastern, Post-Asiatic madness like no other."

Okay, I can dig that, even though I’ve never heard of the Hop-Frog Kollectiv before. And you know, when I first started listening to this CD, I really kind of liked it. Very different. There was a group a long time ago called the Third Ear Band, a strange acoustic outfit that was one of the first modern groups to use a middle-eastern motif in their music. The first track here, "L’amour Du Nil" (I’ll dispense with the mix & version tags which every track seems to have) reminded me a lot of them, but with more radical percussion touches. It’s trancey, hypnotic, and even at 7:39 with not a lot of variation except the percussion fills in the middle is still not boring. After that though, things begin to get strange... very strange. "Eastern Spleen 3" showcases Hop-Frog’s Moroccan Jujouka influences, with some rather sloppy big beat kit drumming added (loops?) and a slide whistle break with a sampled voice repeating "You’re god is a bore... like a tortoise.." This got old pretty quick, and over six minutes of not much else happening I lost interest.

"Love In A Minefield" combines a reedy Indian shenai melody with some mild processed l percussion loops, then a bit of processed tabla with occasional worldless female vocals. Not bad... doesn’t go anywhere but doesn’t have to. "Devotional Desert" sounds like a trip to a Moslem city on acid. This is where things get really trippy. I swear I hard something like this on a soundtrack to a 60’s drug movie, or maybe it was an East of Eden album... Once again the trance element (not like "dance-trance", although you probably could dance to it) is solidly in place in the repeating patterns of the great cosmic awl. (Did I just say that?)

You know, I wish I had heard this album when I was in Amsterdam a month or so ago. I really would have had the means to deeply appreciate it. I realize now, that these guys must have access to some great weed or other psychoactive substances to produce this kind of music. Stoners are going to LOVE this album! "Another Intricate Gem of the Mouthfrothian Liberation Front" has some very good downtempo elements going for it, Thievery Corporation style. Simple guitar, bass, drums, sampled string, a burbbly synth effect with this exotic female choral vocal that is just right for the track. But like the first time you try a soup recipe, it needs a little something- maybe a different break, maybe just a shorter length. Maybe a tad too much fenugreek, I guess.

"Elephants Agony" has that oft used sampled native children chant heard in so many world music hybrid-crossover projects. Would’ve been okay if they dispensed with it after the beginning and filled in with more musical elements, but the loping, plodding rhythm was nice and elephant-like. Well, the song IS about stopping an elephant dead in her tracks, but with an overuse of repetition again, it bordered on "Listener’s Agony". It took me this long to realize, I could expect most all the tracks to be rather repetitive. At least the next one, "You Can’t Do That To Me, I’m An American" had a lot more going on so it wasn’t as much noticed. A trip to Afghanistan with industrial percussion, Afghani instruments, warped processed vocals and even a few unanticipated musical breaks. The nearly fourteen minutes of "Germ of Sorrow 2" takes you through a weird, unbridled 3rd world journey, with a lot of percussive anomalies. Now I’m beginning to grasp the "Drum Jester Devotional" part of the group’s name. Hey, pass that bong please, I need a bit more inspiration...

"Cherries of War" closes out "Bets Ov Vol.1." in a slowly slow musical mantra that seems an appropriate way to end this trip. I find it interesting that the Hop Frog Kollectiv have occasionally hooked up with the Current 93/ Rose McDowall crowd. It’s hard not to like em for that aspect alone, and I can forgive a few missteps if this is their first commercial outing. My advice (if anybody’s listening) would be to cut back a bit on repetitive spoken word samples, and if the songs are going to be trancey and repetitive, at least introduce more interesting elements, or add a couple of breaks. Although this album is a mixed bag, it’s definitely worth a listen. And if you happen to have some G13xSilverHaze, or NY Diesel to put in your hubbly bubbly, it will probably sound even better. I’m guessing their next effort will sound even better still.
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Artist: MOLJEBKA PVLSE/HOROLOGIUM (@)
Title: Kaukasus
Format: CD
Label: Beast Of Prey (@)
Rated: *****
I know that this is an old release, but thanks to Infamis, I'm trying to do a sort of Beast Of Prey special reviews set and since this release is still available I'll talk a bit about it. We already talked about Moljebka Pvlse about a month ago because of his latest release for Someplace Else. This album KAUKASUS see Mathias Josefson working on three tracks out of the seven you can find here, tweaking around the sounds provided by Horologium. If you already know him you should know his way of building hypnotic multi layered suites. The tracks made by Horologium are the ones I preferred on this release because they were able to blend dark ambient intuitions using vocal samples, synth pads, acoustic samples and particular percussive sounds, creating in this way an interesting mysterious ambience. The release is inspired by the highest mountains in Europe which have been place of conflicts ever since. The album is dedicated to this magical region, known for its natural beauty and cultural variety.
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Artist: BRANDKOMMANDO
Title: Pax Vobiscum
Format: CD
Label: Beast Of Prey (@)
Rated: *****
The intent of the new album by Brandkommando is clear starting from a picture where you can read on a sign "Bush is the international terrorist". The eight untitled tracks try to translate this terror into sound and if you usually listen to music using an headphone, well... take it off!!! Brandkommando digital distortion creates sonic terror by blending pure noise to samples and to treated vocals. There's no way out and the excess is the way to go. I'd lie by telling that this is pure chaos which only tends to create pain and suffering into the listener because there's also a certain alternation of chaotic and calm but still tense moments (the one I preferred) but you have to love the genre to get the message.
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Artist: POST SCRIPTVM (@)
Title: Raspad
Format: CD
Label: Tesco (@)
Distributor: Tesco Organization
Rated: *****
I usually tend to describe the sound of a CD as well as I try to fold out the emotions I felt during the listening session. This time I must admit that it's hard to explain the tense industrial atmosphere created by Post Scriptvm. Their music is based on clanging sounds mixed with dark ambient drones but the final result and it's atmosphere it's hard to being described. First of all the experience of listening the opening ten minutes of "Crepusculum" is a particular one, because its cyclic structure is mesmerizing. The duo is able to create an "organized chaos" which builds an incredible tension. Tracks like "Purge echelon" are able to create the noise of a demonic factory thanks to the metallic percussions, the humming samples and other undefinable sounds. The grinding sound is destructive but the tracks runs smoothly and this is particular for a recording of this kind. This is one of the few cases when post industrial music is really working and sounds like the soundtrack of de-evolution!
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anymore
Artist: ORGAN EYE
Title: Organ Eye
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Distributor: Wide Records
Rated: *****
Born in 2005 from the people involved with Osso Exotico and Minit because of a live concert, Organ Eye found their definitive organic with the successive help of Patricia Machás (also a member of Osso Exotico). Their first homonymous album contains two long untitled experimental suites which seem composed in trance. This "brain music" ideally link the experimental field with Krautrock thanks to the lysergic approach to sounds. The suites form an unique mutating work of the length of 45 minutes which like a snake who changes his skin, slowly crawls between the sounds. On the background the organ loops create a sort of liquid background while casual beaten objects duet with feedbacks. The tension and the noise level increase and when the organ become the main sound it seems agonizing, spreading its sound like blood. The second suite is based on the same approach but the sounds change a little (there are more bass sounds and the organ remember me the 70's improvisations). I appreciated the attitude but I wasn't that much on the same frequency...
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