Music Reviews



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Artist: Z'EV/FRANCISCO LÓPEZ
Title: Buzzin' Fly / Dormant Spores
Format: CD
Label: Lapilli/Black Rose
Rated: *****
Third release from Lapilli, this time co-funded by Black Rose (run by ex-Contrastate S. R. Meixner), and as with the previous ones (a López 3" and Menche's "Drunk Gods") it's a total masterpiece. As time goes by I'm obviously becoming more picky with drone/electroacoustic releases but this one is exhilarating, and absolutely flawless. As expected, the disc is the result of a sound swapping which took place between 2003 and 2004, and well reflects what a collaboration of this kind should be: while creating a work which perfectly fits their trademark style, both artists have been able to blend their partner's sounds into their own textures. Z'EV offers a 32-minute composition divided into 5 movements, and dedicated to good old Tim Buckley, which could sound odd but not totally out of place: this is surely psychedelia in its own terms. The 5 tracks are intense and perfectly crafted examples of the unique style Z'EV has developed through the years (check out the recent re-release of "Production and Decay of Spacial Relations", and see how it was actually mature right from the start); metallic sounds, both percussive and droning, play a prominent role, but there are also less recognizable frequencies - shortwaves (Duncan came to my mind now and then)? López's field recordings? It's hard to tell, but the result is menacing. López opts for a more subdued approach, at least in the beginning of his 40-minute piece, which doesn't mean you won't find his usual crescendos of saturated frequencies, along with piercing metallic sounds (at times falling like hail) and slabs of metallic loops, courtesy of his partner's archive I guess. "Dormant Spores" finds the Spanish soundmaker at his best, showing the compositional maturity and complexity of all of his recent output. I could go on raving about this disc for pages and pages, but do yourself a favour and just get one.
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Artist: Deadburger (@)
Title: C'e' ancora Vita su Marte
Format: CD
Label: Goodfellas (@)
Rated: *****
Deadburger is one of the smartest and most interesting bands to come from Italy's underground scene of envelope-pushing avantgarde-electro-rock bands. Their sound is eclectic and mature and their lyrics are intelligent and thought-provoking. In fact Deadburger walks the fine line between definitely underground and potentially mainstream (since bands such as C.S.I., R.S.U., Subsonica have broken through mainstream media before) and add fruition-friendly meaningful words and mysterious poetry into the mix (like C.S.I. or Battiato have done). However if Deadburger were a product of the States, you know they'd be a recurring name on the bill of the ex-Tonic in NYC (r.i.p.) or of similar avantgarde-downtown-music joints.
I had heard a pre-release version of this record some time ago. The final version of "C'e' ancora Vita su Marte" (which is italian for "There's still Life on Mars") comes with a beautiful super-glossy art work and thick booklet with lyrics to complement the 22 tracks. The album also features a number of collaboration with prominent local instrumentalist which add that touch of collaborative magic.
I think this record has a lot of great songs and some fillers (but with 22 between songs and interludes it couldn't be otherwise) and could have maybe be more direct and immediate with a shorter and more selective track list.
However, the average quality of the songwriting is still really high and makes for a completely enjoyable record. I strongly urge anyone interested in original music to give this album a serious listen. If you happen to understand Italian you really have not excuse not to, but in either case you should!
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Artist: Uglyhead (@)
Title: From Time to Time...
Format: CD
Label: Automation records (@)
Rated: *****
Jake Alejo plus four live musicians, a.k.a. Uglyhead, play a mean fast-paced electro-core. After their debut full-length CD entitled "EP", Uglyhead is back with a live album on Automation records, fruit of three night of live recordings in a Burlesque club heavily mixed and post-produced in the studio afterwards. The sound is a little marshy and not all the instruments breath as openly as they could/should have, but that might also be a conscious choice in the studio or the result of the unavoidable leakage on a stage.
If you consider that this is supposed to be a live band, Uglyhead does a pretty good job at sounding like a machine-derived electronic creature. The drums in particular are processed in a way (or triggered) that they sound like a re-worked drum machine. Under a cloud of guitars, analog synth lines, bass and distorted vocals (consistently mixed in too low), transpires a lean and in your face mixture of electronic music, metal, rhythm-noise, industrial, breakcore and power-noise.
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Artist: HANS TAMMEN, CHRISTOPHER IRMER
Title: oxide
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Differently from some recent electroacoustic releases like Tripwire where you’ve the "physical" line up (drums, bass and sax) but the sound is completely embroided around silence, "Oxide" though being far from loudness is not silent all. Instead I’m tented to say there’s a bit of "rock" above if considered the context of this well known portuguese label and it has not to do with the music or with the guitar, but with the alchemy of the duo. A violin and a guitar that quite often get caught up in an intense "lovers’ quarrel" and I used the term lovers for even when Tammen and Irmer are going one against the other, you perceive they "share a mutual improvisational feeling". The violin sound is dry and natural while the guitarist most of the times filters the instrument through pedals and/or a computer, beside obtaining some interesting results, this altered guitar sound plus violin also represents the characteristical sound of these musicians. At some points it all was like listening some cold experimental electronic music and if you add the pitch sometimes got altered, you get the picture perfectly. Despite being a free/electroacoustic recording, as I’ve said I’ve found there’s a "rock" element in it all, be it the fact they’re really dynamic and noisy as some rock bands, or maybe it’s just they’re from the States and they’ve it in their DNA who knows. The tracks are mostly based on dissonance, but it all sounds almost organized, I think it has to do with the fact their work is synergic that means even when the scenario gets chaotic there’s some sort of interaction. While many releases on the label floats toward contemporary classic music, this’ more free oriented and "alternative-experimental" for the way in which they’ve combined filters, instruments and for the way they play. The last probably is the most interesting aspect and the main thing on which the duo has to evolve/work for the next future to avoid repetitions which could be behind the corner if they’ll keep concentrating exclusively on sound (not they did it on this release, it’s just a possible danger). But that’s the future, time is now and they did a good job so far.
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Artist: Gerstein (@)
Title: La Pomata Delle Femmine
Format: CD
Label: Purity / Noisebrigade (@)
Rated: *****
Originally issued on tape with two editions on Bekko Bunsen (1989)and Slaughter Prod.(1991), this is the first cd release of Gerstein's" La Pomata Delle Femmine". Those familiar with Gerstein's later wavey/synthpop excursions will be puzzled hearing this one because five of the six tracks here are deeply meditative piano improvisations - and the sixth one called "Lo Scarabeo Alato" is an amazing industrial piece with sounds taken from the movie "The Blind Terror" (WoW!) showing the harsher and more experimental side of Gerstein. All the tracks titles are taken from the Egyptian Book of The Dead and the cdr comes with a 5 pages writing about Egyptian Magic by Professor Enzo Abrile (in Italian language). There are also six bonus tracks recorded live in Tourin in a 1989 gig (no info about the titles of the song, the precise date or the venue). Good old days... PS. Sorry Maurizio for the massive delay!
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