Music Reviews



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Artist: BEATRICE ANTOLINI
Title: big saloon
Format: CD
Label: Madcap collective (@)
Rated: *****
"Sweets are my opium..." sung Shawn Brown (ex Dag Nasty-Swiz) in my fave Sweet Belly Freakdown (3/4 of Swiz) song and here we got some poppy sugar for you honey. Ok, with the coming of age and of cynism I've to admit I'm hesitant when approaching to many of these female musicians glorified for a second hand "petty romance" desire hidden in the backyard, but that's not the case, so go on reading if you’re into tiny and lovely tunes. If you're not familiar with Madcap consider they've an hi-profile lo-fi-poppy-folk-label with an eye open on american music. Beatrice Antolini is a good surprise, definitely able to write refined structured and well arranged songs without throwing it all on the average girl singer a la Cat Power like many nowadays, she went for soft psichedelia (post-Beatlesian) with an ironic feel. Piano, vocals and keyboards are the dominant tools to forge this minimal pop parade, thanks to her brilliant folk attitude she reminded me of Lisa Germano coloured in a definite post sixties salsa, that could also be a fishy coincidence considered one of the two label involved in the production of this debut is run by some Jennifer Gentle's folk (the "master of Sixties" landed on Sub Pop). This "big saloon" could have been influenced (or indirectly remind) some other 4AD female artist like Kristine Hersh or Belly but you know this "saloon"-singer thing is much more close to miss Germano and that's why I’ve put the accent there. A funny, light hearted portrait in a funny lo-fi formula.
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Artist: ASHER
Title: Directions
Format: CD
Label: Leerraum
Rated: *****
First of all, let me spend some words on the new Leerraum design: a white cardboard sleeve opening in a frame, with a printed insert showing a picture of moving ants. The number and position of the ants vary from one release to the other. This is a good show of how a minimal concept can offer a visually remarkable presentation... good job! I reviewed Asher's "Beautiful Degradation" cdr on CONV some time ago, which was roughly based on piano recordings via tape hiss and decay. This 3-track, 51' release is quite different and much more obscure, but no less hypnotic, based as it is on crackles, bass drones and slowly uncoiling high-end sine tones. If it's based on synth sounds, or on a digital treatment of field recordings, I really can't tell, but it's algid and blurred like a November mist. My only quibble is that the three tracks sound basically the same, with very minimal variations, so if you're not in the mood this could eventually sound monotonous.
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Artist: PETER REHBERG
Title: Kapotte Muziek by
Format: CD EP
Label: Korm Plastics
Rated: *****
As usual in the "Kapotte Muziek by..." series, the artist uses a live performance (here, a concert/workshop given in The Netherlands in 1997) by the Dutch collective to create a new piece of his own. Rehberg (aka Pita) reworks the raw sound sources in a way that is much more similar to his recent, and brilliant, solo disc on Mosz than to his diginoise releases under his alias. The 17' 30" track starts with a low rumble, to which he adds metallic scrapings, looped noise bursts and a cyclic rolling sound... The piece eventually caves in in a more subdued set of sounds, where even string plucking seems to be recognizable. A nice microsound track, only a bit dispersive construction-wise, but maybe that was the point.
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Artist: OVRO
Title: Mosaick the Serpent / Vipera Aurea
Format: CD
Label: Some Place Else (@)
Rated: *****
The name Ovro materialized on my way just a while ago, when I've been given a live Hæretici 7o74 where she was playing together with Niko Scorpio and now here's her new solo release on Scorpio's Some Place Else. There's a double booklet coming with this cd since you can read on the label's website it features two different but still linked works. Even if I've started listening to Some Place Else releases just recently I'm tented to say they could be classified as one of those label that's partially influenced by industrial music but in freaky way. What do I mean? I mean the release I've heard on this label could be compared to the most abstract, odd and psychedelic works coming from the early industrial scene alas I'm referring to NWW, Hafler Trio, the most experimental Current 93, Tibet, Stapleton and so on and that obviously means it could be scary/dark experimental music with an edge of psichedelia. The first half of this cd is drony, haunted with delay/echo-effects and it's the result of a duel between odd barely spoken vocals a la "I'm gonna enter in your head and go down to meet your inner self" and a soft dark ambiental scenario. The second part of this collection of tracks (that's the one titled "Vipera Aurea") is not discontinuous at all, nay, it's really homogeneous just a bit less discrete, cerebral and a bit more outspokenly physical. The vocal-loops increase and become more pounding while the music is less ambiental and definitely more scary. Good debut.
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Artist: Northaunt (@)
Title: Horizons
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
This CD weighs in at just over an hour, which gives enough time to sink into the soundscapes. Overall, there is a lot going on in this disc. Noisy elements are woven through a sea of heavy bass drone to create a complex tapestry of sound. It isn’t noise, but it certainly isn’t the easy listening kind of dark ambient until the second half. The disc is almost like listening to two discs – the first half is pretty aggressive in its use of noisy elements, while the second half is a bit more peaceful. Luckily, both styles are done very well.The disc opens with "Until Dawn Do Us Part," which combines noisy drones, clanking metal, and a simple synth line melody that creates an atmosphere that will continue throughout the disc. "Night Came to Us" is the longest track on the piece (14:17). Heavy bass drones with undercurrents of pulsing sound. This is the soundtrack to a threatening alien landscape. Dark stuff. When it ends, you notice it. This is one of the standout tracks on the disc. "Horizons" continues the noisy drone feel with a lot of clacking – like someone is dragging a can slowly down the road – that builds slowly over the song. "Night Alone" seems to mark a shift in the feel of the disc. It starts quietly and subdues the noisier elements that permeated the first half of the disc. This track reminds me of Troum - kind of peaceful. A nice change of pace from the more relentless noisy ambience we have had until now. "With the Stars as Witness" continues this atmosphere until we reach "The Wilderness," which brings back a bit of noisy elements, but not quite as aggressively as in the first 3 tracks. This track incorporates what sounds like source recordings of someone walking in crunchy snow layered with synth drones.There is also a video for "The Wilderness (Alternate Version)," which is mainly video of landscape with swirling clouds. It’s a nice touch and fits well with the music, but not terribly engaging. Overall, this is really good drone / dark ambient music – the kind we’ve come to expect from Cyclic Law. Another excellent release.
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