Music Reviews



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Artist: PAR JOHANSSON
Title: The Empty Palace
Format: CD
Label: Elektron Records
Rated: *****
Paer Johansson (b.1972) is a Swedish composer who has studied a theory of subjects including computer engineering, acoustics and Chinese Language and culture. "The Empty Palace", released with the imprimatur of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in Sweden, is a lengthy 70-minute cd containing seven electroacoustic tracks, four based on Lovecraft's cosmic horrors and two ("Notes on Chinese Warfare" and the title track) on Chinese philosophy and culture. The two interesting facts is that Johansson actually manages to create gloomy soundscapes which could well fit some Chtulu myth, without being dark ambient as one could expect; and that the Chinese-inspired compositions are as obscure and out-there as the other ones. Save for the very first minutes, which I have initially found a bit too academic, the rest of the cd is a successful mix of fractured sounds, analogue synth tones, sparse contemporary music and full-on noise. The temperature rises up to a climax in "Nyarlathotep", with sharp frequencies which even reminded me of John Duncan or Bastard Noise; but my favourite track is the last and eponymous one, where Johansson proves more effective in creating a complex and ominous tapestry of sounds.
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Artist: SKAREKRAU RADIO
Title: Feel Pee ep
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Apop Records
Rated: *****
It's surely not easy to guess what's coming next in the Apop catalogue of oddities, since it's releasing anything (uh, ok, not anything) from all-out noise to sludge-doom, from synth-pop to punk to - the case here - no-wave. This ep was recorded by this mysterious and quite unknown quintet (featuring indicative aliases like Funky Rapture Bucket Tooth or Pvt. Sprinkles) between 2000 and 2001, self-released in a probably awfully limited run, and now brought to new light. Neo no-wave may not be the hottest trend of the day, but it surely has a niche of faithful listeners, and this ep is definitely something they should check out. More often than not, Skarekrau Radio mix a skeletal rock/punk/post-punk structure (complete with occasional catchy refrains) with demented horns, cacophonic violins, and a whole mess of detours and losses of concentration. Some tracks, like the half-litany of "Du Drugs", "Indie Rockk Friend", "Cancer Crawl" and "Succulent Plant", lean more towards a mutated and naughty version of indie-rock (ahem), but the best comes when the guys really lose control, as in "Sun Ra's Interplanetary Music" (a truly out-there clash of cacophonic horns, shortwave noises and drugged singing) or "La La", a disjointed delirium of the above mentioned elements, aborted riffs and vocal spasms. Fans of everything Skin Graft, Six Fingers Satellite, Miss High Heel or Aids Wolf are invited to give this a try.
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Artist: MAX MOHR
Title: Trickmixer's Revenge
Format: CD
Label: Playhouse (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Max Mohr loves music. He started to play into a punk band when he was 17 and then moved his attention to the possibilities of the first computer based composition with Amiga 1000. He did different experiences (of a certain importance seems to be his six months period in New York back in the mid '90s) until 2000 when he released his first record on Playhouse. He released different 12"s until today when finally his first album TRICKMIXER'S REVENGE sees the light always for Playhouse. The long techno suites contained into the album show very well Max's concentric style: the tracks grow around a core, represented by a melody/rhythm thanks to the use of different layers of sounds that form a pulsating web. Focused on a sort of minimal techno style Mohr is capable of include different influences like on tracks as: "Lucky go wild" (where a certain electro dance attitude could be recognized), "Mellowmoon 2" (it is a different kind of techno because of its lounge attitude), "Schaben" or "On the run" (they are dark techno tunes really intense), while on "Old song" you can also feel a bit of '90s attitude. Interesting...
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Artist: KOJI ASANO (@)
Title: Baroque Ensemble No.1-No.5
Format: CD
Label: Asano Production (@)
Rated: *****
You never know what to wait for from a new Koji Asano album. The Japanese composer made us get used to surprises as he’s a skilled musician keen to classical music as well modern/experimental solutions. This time with BAROQUE ENSEMBLE No.1-No.5 he surprises his audience being present on the recordings only as a composer. Performed by the Ensamble Deneb (ensemble formed in 1999 in Amsterdam. they perform 18th century baroque music) the album contains five movements performed with flute, cembalo, violin, oboe and harpsichord. I’m not an experienced classical music listener so I can’t tell you nothing about their style but as far as I can understand Asano compositions are a sort of blend of modern (maybe dodecaphonic music) and classical music played by a baroque ensemble. The effect is pleasant and if you are an open minded listener you can be curious enough to check it out.
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Artist: RYTHMIC SYMPHONY
Title: The Mechanism Fulfilled
Format: CD
Label: Section 44 (@)
Rated: *****
An electronic recording with a very good production. I actually do not like its cover artwork but as far as the music is concerned, the audio quality is detailed and well balanced. I cannot say the same for the songs, due to the fact that they aren't neither synth pop nor ebm. I mean, they aren't catchy enough to be remembered and at the same time they sound too light to be considered underground. "Too afraid" is the most interesting song.
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