Music Reviews



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Artist: I/O
Title: Polytone
Format: CD
Label: Fratto9 under the Sky/Ebria
Rated: *****
Sophomore full-length for the Italian quartet formed by Luca Mauri (guitar), Paolo Romano (double bass), Paolo Benzoni (drums) and Andrea Reali (voice and electronics), recorded in December 2005 and mastered by renowned soundmaker Giuseppe Ielasi. As expected, I/O have maintained their minimalistic formula, both in the layout (this time it's mostly white) and in their sound, self-defined "minimalistic rhythmic improvisation". However, my impression is that this work is slightly more focused, "rockish" and "regular" than their debut, but I admit I haven't gone back to their self-titled cd lately. The semi-structured, controlled improvisation of the quartet still mashes shards of funk, jazz, art rock and vocal experimentation (Reali's voice must be counted as an instrument per se), sometimes sounding like a curious bridge between '70's and today's avant music. The lesson of Starfuckers ("Infinitive Session"-era)/Sinistri is still the best possible comparison, if coupled with more retro-sounding jazz rock (Universal Congress Of?). Tracks that have made yours truly shiver: n. 6, with funky lines and a double bass line running in circles; and n. 8, with its desertic guitar lines and tribal drumming. Still, I don't think that this work can come close to the pleasure of seeing them live, where their creative energy is truly released, but that's the deal with improvisation-based material. Should they manage to really let loose the beast, they would become a HUGE band.
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Artist: MICHAEL RENKEL/SONJA BENDER
Title: 7ft._Konka
Format: DVD
Label: Absinth
Rated: *****
A new released from Berlin-based improviser Michael Renkel, this time a region-free pal DVD (recorded live in 2006) where he plays guitar and electronics, while Sonja Bender is in charge of video sampling. The DVD wisely focuses on the end result rather than showing how it was created in the live set, so I have no clue of how this was made, but let's say it's a great release: Bender's frantic, Schwitters-like cut-up of images, colours and shapes perfectly merges with Renkel's abrasive set of sounds, including some invigorating fragments of extreme electronics. The interaction between the two is remarkable, so the unpleasant "artsy videoclip with boring music [or the other way around]"-feel is luckily avoided. Though I have only seen a promo version, the packaging should be stylish as well, in the Absinth tradition. In its field, this is a keeper.
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Artist: TRIO VOPÁ
Title: Fauxpas
Format: CD
Label: Schraum
Rated: *****
Trio Vopá is Axel Haller (electric bass, paper, walkman), Roland Spieth (trumpet) and Cornelius Veit (electric guitar and effects), not necessarily playing always as a trio (i.e. there are duos and solos as well). The line-up description and the label should help you imagine what this sounds like: improvised free music of the electroacoustic kind, with barely recognizable instruments, curious noises flying around and intersecting in mid-air, etc. Instead of playing air guitar or air drums, you can picture the players on their knees, fumbling around with some bizarre objects. Right? While being on the extreme side of improvisation, the niche has become quite overcrowded lately; what makes "Fauxpas" better than most records of the same area is its overall energy and a taste for long, suspended movements that let your hearing breathe. Not exactly a memorable record, or one that I will probably listen to again in the next few months (the problem with 99% improv documents), but a nice one while it was on.
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Artist: SUPREME COURT
Title: Hypocrites + Saints
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Black Rain (@)
Distributor: Nova Media
Rated: *****
Formed back in 1996 by Marcus Tischer, singer of davaNtage, with Kay Härtel, Supreme Court in those days produced only one tape. After almost ten years the band (now formed by Kay Härtel, Enrico Kunze and Sebastian Nebel) started to work to their first full length "Yell It Out". After the collaboration "We'll f*** you up" and the "Wintergewitter Tour" with Feindflug, Supreme Court release their second album HYPOCRITES + SAINTS. The first print is a double set CD. The first CD contains fourteen new convincing songs of industrial e.b.m. where fortunately distortion and anger isn't the only ingredient of the recipe. Even if Kay's vocals are distorted on the album there's space for mid tempo tracks like "Come to me" or the following instrumental "Reality? Dream?". The whole album has a certain dark vein, which sometimes made me remember of the first :Wumpscut: or Hocico, where the band did his best by balancing the tracklisting alternating those kind of tracks with some other more based on ambience. Helped by Painbastard and Solitary Experiments on two tracks, Supreme Court made a good album which won't revolutionize the genre but it sounds powerful and honest. The second CD you'll find on the first 999 copies is a bonus album (a good one) which contains some rare songs coming from the first Supreme Court period and some remixes. Here's the tracklist:
01. Conditioning Drug (instrumental)
02. Fainting Faces - Remix by Retractor
03. Never Again - Remix by Lights of Euphoria
04. Fainting Faces - Remix by NVMPH!
05. Next Exit Extinction [adjustEd[it] by Amnistia]
06. Replace your Brain
07. Satisfy my Needs - 5uxen mix
08. Forbidden Touch [Rough Version 2005]
09. Szintiscanner [ Tape version 1995]
10. Reaktor Fermi [Tape Version 1995]
11. VEB Kondensator [Tape Version 1996]
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Artist: Orange Drink (@)
Title: The Widowmaker
Format: CD
Label: Hemlock Records (@)
Distributor: Hemlock Records
Rated: *****
Since there’s no category for lo-fi indie post punk garage bands on Chain D.L.K., this CD is getting put under the Experimental/Avant-Garde category for lack of a better choice... .. The band’s one-sheet opens with the statement, "If SIX FEET UNDER’s Claire Fisher ever had a favorite band, it would be Chicago’s Orange Drink." Isn’t that show a little dead, buried, and way past it’s defacto-hipness-endorsement prime now? If Claire Fisher ever had a favorite band that sounded like Orange Drink, it must have been the episode where her friend slipped her a drug that put her in a deep state of psychosis. I can’t for the life of me figure out what this band is trying to be- post punk, indie art-folk-rock, experimental garbage or what. There is no continuity between song styles, random weird junk comes between songs and it all sounds like it was recorded in somebody’s basement... on a cheap tape recorder. One song is frenetic punk basher, another is an acoustic guitar driven number about a handlebar moustache. Not quite the Violent Femmes... .They can’t really sing, but does that matter in the post-punk lo-fi indie garage music world? The recording quality is abysmal, there are coughs between vocals, ground hum from guitars, feedback, and all the amateur sonic atmosphere you can imagine a band playing around in basement in mom & dad’s house can muster. They list their influences as Guided by Voices, Neutral Milk Hotel and Beck, but fall short of any of them. They make the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound slick and professional by comparison. The weird thing is, these guys could be the darlings of certain college djs and outré garage-rock shows on radio stations like WFMU, KAOS, etc. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned up showing up on some movie soundtrack Three CDs from now they could be in amazon-dot-com’s top-ten in the indie lo-fi genre. But for now, I think they have to try harder. A LOT harder. I never did care much for orange drink... always thought of it as watered down orange juice with too much sugar added... leave a nasty taste in your mouth too.
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