Music Reviews



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Artist: ROSE ROVINE E AMANTI (@)
Title: Early And Unreleased Songs
Format: CD
Label: The Eastern Front (@)
Rated: *****
As reported by the title, EARLY AND UNRELEASED DEMOS isn't a new album by Rose Rovine E Amanti, but it's a collection of outtakes and demos (he also talks about it as a little joke). Damiano into the presentation you'll find inside the luxurious three panel folded cover talks about it like a collection of old postcards (the same visual effect has been chosen for the graphics picking up various photos coming from the early 20th century with the exception of band members' pictures and the Theo Van Gogh's one). The ten tracks included into the CD are mainly ballads with some particular arrangement (see "Punk Woyzeck which is a sort or musical comment to the samples picked from the Herzog movie titled "Woyzeck"), spoken into Italian language or in a fake English like the opening "Volgari e cafoni" (which is dedicated to the guys who "play into the neo folk kindergarten" as Damiano wrote), "Kristal Estonian light", (dedicated to his girflriend who saved him from solitude into in a difficult time), "Hai mai preso tu un cafè?" (which was an early demo) or "Candidato" (which has been influenced by early Bowie of Diamond Dogs and which is dedicated to false friends or dishonest politicians). At first reading Damiano's lines I was thinking I was about to listen to a mishmash of ideas or unfinished songs but at a second listening EARLY AND UNRELEASED DEMOS, reveals itself like a nice collection of decadent ballads which could be enjoyed by people who didn't already know Rose Rovine E Amanti work.
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anymore
Artist: AIT!
Title: Romanticismo Oltranzista
Format: CD
Label: Punch Records (@)
Rated: *****
Personal project of Tairy, founder of Punch Records, Ait! presents with ROMANTICISMO OLTRANZISTA a particular album conceived as a sort of post apocalyptic/nihilistic cabaret. The ten tracks, sung in Italian (but you can find all the translations into the booklet), underline thanks to the overall atmosphere and to the lyrics, the difficulty of living these modern times where boredom and a sense of despair takes a hold each day a little more. Musically Tairy doesn't care about genres, so he mixes experimental intuitions, surf melodies (on "Una dedica") and everything which could help into the creation of a tense atmosphere for his semi spoken word (sometimes it made me think about a sort of industrial version of an Italian band called C.S.I.). The lyrics have an important place into Tairy's musical concept so, if the opening "Uno spettacolo adulto" ("An adult show") is a two minute introduction which sounds like weird French cabaret song, "Dio" is a track based on a bass line and a growling sample and it helps into the creation of a personal pray to God and "Una dedica" is his personal way to rise his middle finger. Listening to the tracks all in a row you'll be overwhelmed by a sour taste into your mouth, just like you are unable to do anything. Tracks like "Il mondo è morto (trent'anni fa)" ("The world is dead – thirty years ago") or "Tempo morto" ("Dead time") don't leave open any possibilities to future, it is like decadent times are over, because we are already became zombies.
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Artist: THE GARLAND CULT (@)
Title: Protect Yourself From Hollywood
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: NinthWave Records (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
Quite interesting to recognize is the fact, that regarding this music project our very own magazine is one of the best informed resources. Maurizio Pustianaz, our honorable Italian Chain D.L.K.-God, has conducted through the years interviews and reviews regarding this and the main project EMPIRE STATE HUMAN. Even better to read is the fact that an interview with Aidan Casserly of THE GARLAND CULT done early 2006 offers already a lot of info regarding this album here, which I hold now by chance in my hands. Plus, to make all the praising hymns complete, Aidan himself has contributed to our magazine with some proofreading procedures.
Therefore I should admit in advance that I haven’t discovered stuff about this project as well as of EMPIRE STATE HUMAN before. As I mentioned before, THE GARLAND CULT is an EMPIRE STATE HUMAN side-project founded by the both ESH members Aidan Casserly and Lar Kiernan. This release also marks the return of the US-based Ninthwave label back on top of the international Synth-/Futurepop scene, and several more upcoming releases of this label shall prove this as well.
Coming to the facts, the first shock causes the conspicuous pink cover art and the use of some "veteran"-like letters, which remind me rather on some early-70ies "Saturday Night Fever" disco influences than on modern sounding Synthpop music. Okay, the music itself provides a well-balanced mixture out of Pop art, Synthpop and Electronica, while some retro-like influences can’t be discussed away. "Wonderland"-like ERASURE meets BRONSKI BEAT meats AUTO AUTO, well, something like this may works for a comparison. This product rises and falls – as so many Synthpop-productions - with the quality of the well tuned timbre of Aidan Casserly, who offers his vocals a register higher than a linear-A23-octave. At times dangerously near to Mr. Andy Bell ("Style"), but hey – with that sweet timbre it is required to sing at its best! That’s real talent – no doubt! The track "All Good Things" – available in two different versions – opens this CD and this piece marks to me already the highlight. Catchy as hell with a "singing-along-the-refrain"-attitude and some synth bass lines which work successfully against the melodic content – a real smasher!
"Impossible" then turns more into a dancefloor-compatible Futurepop track, while I’m not to much fond of the cover version on the 80ies classic track "Self Control", the slower provided original still offers a more thrilling mood to me. Another favorite to me is the carefree sounding "Pity Party", which slows down the tempo and sounds generally a bit darker. THE GARLAND CULT have chosen five different producers to help them out with the recordings on this album – surely not a proof for cohesion.
Their main producer is QUBIC and this reminds me to mention, that this is a DCD – on the second CD, entitled "QUBIC Goes To Hollywood" you’ll get 5 revamped tracks ("Impossible", "Style", "Monomania", "All Good Things" and "Self Control", which offer more food for the lazy DJ’s. All of this 5 tracks got remixed and drilled to satisfy your inner need for some dancefloor action – in that case if the "normal" recordings of the band aren’t straight enough to your taste. What’s to add? Well, this Dublin-based duo offers the right disc to fulfil all Synthpop-related expectations and this so-called side-project can easily reach the same success and request like the main project.
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Artist: ROBERT VINCS
Title: devic kingdom
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
I really don’t know where to start, but let’s do it by saying this’ a really particular release for many reasons. Saxophonist Robert Vincs assembled a fifteen tracks recording which combines different elements in a really singular way. If ECM would fly more often there "where eagles dare" I can even imagine Manfred Eicher would have died to put it out on his own label (not he’s not releasing nice records anymore, every once in a while it still happens... ) and considered the high amount of reverbs/delays used for "Devic kingdom", he probably would have fall in love with it. Due to some of the sounds, the recording has a strange "experimental-old school" feel... can you remember when many of those unconventional bands coming from the Big Apple were recorded by people like Eliott Sharp, Robert Musso, Bill Laswell, Martin Bisi or John Thirlwell. In some ways the recording revives that misty transition from "analog to digital studios" and I’ve had an hard understanding if that was intentional, but it goes really well with the music therefore any further consideration is useless. Being his solo release, you have Vincs’ expressive saxophone "setting the rules" in all of the tracks, but instead of "tyranny" I think what we’ve here is much more an "oligarchy" and a damn well assorted one since the other conspirators have an equilibrated relation with their band leader. This cd is an interesting example of how you can work with "fusion" in an intelligent way, sometimes the rhythmical tracks of "Devic kingdom" can remind early Material/Golden Palominos less bass/guitar driven and minus their post-kraut element. Anybody said John Lourie and/or early Lounge Lizard? Yes, but diminished of their acoustic jazz trio characteristic... who offers more?. Somewhere else you have this strong ethnic music influence (Playing with tears, Sanatorium lake) somewhere else it’s soundtrack-music (Saraghina, Not far from Hanging Rock), somewhere else it’s "just" jazz played with ambience, treated with electronics and emphasized on introspection and not on abstraction. This introspective journey thing is also what probably makes this release so "melodic" and so intense, this could be the avant-fusion answer to Peter Molvaer or Jean Garbarek even if in its conception (just conceptually) it’s probably closer to Fima Ephrom. The sound work is really good but as I’ve said, the central point of this work is its "melodically expressivity" reached through rarefied atmospheres, and if you need an example try "Not far from... ": it’s hard to not associate it to a disquieting movie like "Picnic at Hanging Rock", but the imaginary portrayed by Vincs could be that of Jim Jarmush’s "Permanent Vacation" (what a movie!). Vincs paints an intense and suggestive piece of art and he does it also exploiting some traditional elements (and what do you think if I say there’re also some aboriginal influences too?). This work’ strength lays in introspection.

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Artist: Next Life
Title: Electric Violence
Format: CD
Label: Cock Rock Disco (@)
Rated: *****

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Not unlike predecessors Ec8or or Atari Teenage Riot, Next Life's 14-track opus of short, aggressive keyboard-crunch attacks represents a combinaton of the ultimate of artiness in Electronica plus all the mayhem of the video gaming realm. The songs from this young Oslo-based duo (Hai Nguyen Dinh and Tormod Christensen), spare and stripped down as Scandinavian furniture, are all starkly minimal keyboard instrumentals hitting out in every sonic direction, accompanied by Metal guitar. In fact, their record company's website description of them as "Gameboy Deathmetal" is probably the most apt. Sounds that imitate cheap chirping telephones (track 10, "Circle and Star") or a screechy old dial-up modem (track 13, "The Way Out") make it clear that these boys enjoy making monsters out of junk tech. Meter and rhythm change-ups in these mainly 2-1/2-minutes-or-less compositions move fast enough to make you nauseous, but nevertheless most have a (dare I say it) jazzy or symphonic melodic quality, with progressions you can follow. Pure, frenetic speed is set off by a couple of twin slow tracks of twinkly synth bells, "Under Water" and "Storm" (tracks 5 and 12), recalling "Star 6 & 7,8,9" from the first Orb album -- a possible nod to Ambient influence. The CD comes with a short series of live concert video clips, a nice little bonus. Their puerile brashness borders on dischord, but Next Life are earnestly not trying to be unlistenable; they have immense future potential and there is complexity and method to the madness. In this case, you can take their enthusiasm at face value and come out ahead.
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