Music Reviews



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Artist: Idiot Stare (@)
Title: Welcome to Babylon
Format: CD
Rated: *****
Idiot Stare is currently a 7-piece LA-based band who has gone through all the trials and tribulations of a group with that many band members (which at some point or another included members of STG and Insight 23). After their 2003 remix EP "Ghost" (featuring remixes by SMP, Christ Analogue, Penal Colony, Inertia), Idiot Stare are back with their first full length album since 1997. Just by listening to their opening tracks "BabyLAon" or "Mainframe God", you can clearly figure out that these lads are fed up with all the bullshit of the city of angels and all the crap that is fed to us by mainstream media and so on and so forth. The disgust and rage translates well through their aggro-metal mixture of EBM heritage, industrial evolution and pop culture. The album would benefit from a better mix (out of context triggered cymbals are atop of a muddy wall of sound made of drums, samples, guitars and bass) but other than that and a few rhythmical inconsistencies (normal for a band that relies on live musicians) the message comes through loud and clear (the vocals are mixed well and upfront and you even if slightly distorted, you can always hear what Chad Bishop is singing). Stabbing Westward, Die Krupps, GF93, Hansel, Uglyhead, Dope Stars Inc., RSU are all possible influences.
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Artist: Tuner
Title: Pole
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Unsung Records
Distributor: RYKO Distribution
Rated: *****
Tuner's second CD "Pole" (after their debut "Totem") is a fascinating and mysterious voyage through a complex mesh of sounds, both abrasive and silky, and as with all things original, the key lays in the friction and the blend of all elements, the synaesthesia of the experience and the sophistication (or, at times, simplicity) of the approach.
Tuner is a transatlantic collaboration involving Austin, TX-based Pat Mastellotto (King Crimson) and European (Germany/Austria) Markus Reuter (Centrozoon), and both of them make absolutely sure to bring their special and personal touch to the table. While Mastellotto plays drums and percussions and does some very interesting spoken word poetry, Reuter plays touch guitar, acoustic/electric guitar, bass, keys and vocals. The album also features a lot of guests (mostly singers, but also players of vibraphone, theremin, wind organ, violins etc) among whom the one with the most assignments was Austrian singer and label-mate SiRenee, who lent her beautiful, soft and fragile voice to half of Tuner's tunes.
Tuner is a band that makes originality their new language and challenges everyone who attempts to pigeonhole them with genre-delimiting definitions to come up with new words to describe a genre-bending and style-defying new sonic palette that goes beyond conceptualized barriers of pre-packaged music knowledge. I am going to gracefully decline that challenge and instead attempt to help you understand what Tuner is all about with names you might recognize (such as for example Tool, who are probably one of the most fitting and strongest influences here; not so much for their fierce sound but for their innovative, dark and arcane approach). For those who have not yet been initiated to the Tuner sound, try very hard to imagine a band that is NOT a metal band but that sounds like a mixture of Tool, My Dying Bride, Peter Gabriel, Hector Zazou, Porcupine Tree, Nine Inch Nals, Brian Eno, Me'shell Ndegeocello, David Sylvian... I know it's hard, but try, and if you fail, you can redeem yourself on their website or their myspace.com/tunertunes page, where you can also buy "Pole" (which by the way comes packaged in a beautiful out of the ordinary jewel case).
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Artist: Rothkamm (@)
Title: FB03 (E Pluribus Unum)
Format: CD
Label: Flux records (@)
Rated: *****
NY-based German transplant Frank Holger has been long-active as an experimental music artist. His latest project was a trilogy of which FB3 is the final installment. I haven't heard chapters 1 and 3, but FB3 is basically a collage of found sounds, glitch electronics, concrete musique, rumbling drones and monophonic sine waves... It sounds as if there is a lot of granular synthesis and randomness involved and as if Rothkamm makes a conscious effort at flirting with ambient music without quite wanting to get there all the way, pulling himself back into the almost self-constrained yet total-freedom-enabling realm of avantgarde/experimental music. There is practically no commitment to melody or beats, though the sounds would well complement at least the latter, if they were place in a more IDM-type scenario, for example. If he didn't have his own label (Flux), I am sure he would have been a tasty bait for Staalplaat's recruiters.
Artist: Swamps Up Nostrils/Guignol Dangereux (@)
Title: Shitbreather
Format: CD
Label: krakilsk (@)
Rated: *****
Collaboration CDR by industrial noisebeaters Swamps Up Nostrils (aka Helmeticrononaut) and Guignol Dangereux. Six corroded metal-laden noise and techno shredded beats. Some distorto vocals for good measure. Not bad when you’re in the mood for some chaos in your life, or after a day of humiliation at the hands of a boss whose only reason for living is to give you a hard time and make you look bad in front of your fellow workers. The soundtrack for the day you kick his ass. Payback is a bitch. The disk ends with the epic Dangereux track "the noseman sonata" which regales us with a relentless beat that slowly changes as the piece develops.
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Artist: Mathon
Title: Muntsulej
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
Rated: *****
Everestrecords is a small imprint based in Bern, Switzerland, who releases music by Swiss artists who might otherwise hardly find exposure and representation due to the type of music they present or their insulated geographical position. One such artist is Mathon, who borrows the name from the small mountain village in the Swiss region of Graubünden, where he's probably originally from and which is one of those small remote places where people still speak and understand the slowly disappearing fourth language of Switzerland (Romansh).

Pete "Aurel" Leuenberger has been making the pilgrimage to the small 1500 m.a.s.l. since 2003 with different musicians every time: "Muntsulej" offers the views of Pete, Thomas Augustiny, Markus Koller and Roger Stucki, which basically is that of a stunningly gorgeous and deafening silent soundscape of rumbling drones, crackling noises (the fire?), lonely tones and subsonic textures. As a Swiss national who does a similar pilgrimage every year, I find it almost hard to relate to this sonic translation of what I know as a relaxing and dreamy landscape of snow, pine trees, rocks, patches of grass (thanks to global warming) and the occasional farm house or chalet, but, as they say, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder and such interpretation is personal and unique.
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