Music Reviews



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Artist: MARK HANNAFORD (@)
Title: The Garden Of Forking Paths
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
Here we’ve another chapter of Extreme Antripodean series and a really good one indeed but quite different from Vincs. The lowest common denominator is still jazz music, but in some ways this work sticks much more to the context, if to you that implies "it’s canonic jazz", you’re on the wrong lane. Discerning the main elements of this improvisational effort is not that difficult since you get a well proportioned blend of "free jazz" plus contemporary classic music and the alchemy is good due to the fact Hannaford keeps far from easy mannerism and works hard on defining his own style. The first aspect you notice after many listenings is that the interaction of Hannaford with the rhythmic section is really equilibrated, which is one of the most interesting quality of this cd, above all if you consider the majority of the material comes out of improvisations. The aforementioned sentence is referred to the fact nowadays working in an idiomatic way (but let’s be honest... that also happens in "non idiomatic" impros) brings forth the risk to fall in anonymity, if this problem has to do with the hypertrophy of our recent musical history or with the fact in a massified society like this it’s hard to have an identity, I sincerely don’t know. By the way, Hannaford has built accurately his own personality and has chosen carefully the other team-players, that’s why he collected an interesting number of "sketches". "The Garden Of Forking Paths" made me think the afroamerican elements/root of jazz sometimes gets dissolved in the style (culture?) of many white musicians, not that you won’t find Monk, Mingus or Coloman traces in the genes of some of these players, but everything is "colder", "more suspended", subdued in a way that characterizes many white (and usually Europeans... unlike Hannaford) musicians. If it was not for the fact it’s quite far from contemporary compositions, I’m sure people like Berio, Feldman or even Cage would have loved this musicians’ taste for dissonance, but even if the abstraction is somehow similar, the speed is different alas let me say he could be "a swinging contemporary piano player listened at 45 rpm", does it make any sense? (I think so, but just if you consider the solo tracks like "All booze"). This pianist makes you believe there’s still hope for the for the future... nay for the present of improvisation while half of the jazz world survives with one foot in the grave.
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Artist: DAS PRÄPARAT (@)
Title: THX LD50
Format: CD
Label: Scanner / Dark Dimensions (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
After a 5-track EP "Mein Schmerz Trägt Deinen Namen", this German male/female duo returns now with a complete full-length album. DAS PRÄPARAT, consisting of Dr. Hyde and Nachtschwester K., continue in their style by providing a rebelled kind of Electro/EBM with charismatic vocals, musically somehow influenced by acts like WELLE:ERDBALL, old DORSETSHIRE or THE PSYCHIC FORCE. The lyrics are provided mostly in German always dealing with some human failures regarding the choice of wrong medicines ("THX", "LD 50"), diseases, scandalizing professional blunders, or illegal mortal help ("Psyche Amor") – at times very bizarre and drastically formulated. They like to stir up a filthy impression over their whole work, i. e. you’ve got always the feeling that they point out the opposite of things you would expect of being a patient, like sterility, anonymity, etc – a portion of disgust is always included. Also conspicuous is the fact that they have avoided on some tracks that genre-typically quantisizing of some instruments, mostly on the piano/organ-driven works ("Das war noch nie ein Liebeslied", "Da Vinci" or "La Croix") – they sound as they would have been live recorded, featuring the factor "human". Of course – and I guess I’ve said this already on their debut EP – this all is a matter of taste. Applause for sure still for their tracks "Euthanasie" or "Maschinenherz", both are real smashers, but generally the Electro/EBM purists may can find their efforts as being too Goth-infiltrated. Solid and satisfying for sure, this duo reflects both styles on this album.

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Artist: NAEVUS (@)
Title: Silent Life
Format: CD
Label: Hau Ruck! (@)
Distributor: Tesco Germany
Rated: *****
Fifth full length release for the project of Lloyd James and Joanne Owen, SILENT LIFE is bringing, after three years from the previous "Perfection is a process", more songs influenced by folk (less than usual) and post punk. The duo is joined by Greg Ferrari and John Murphy, with guest contributions from Rose McDowall, Matt Howden and David E. Williams. The eight tracks sometimes made me remember of early Nick Cave because of the distorted feedbacks provided by Greg Ferrari and also because the tension created by the tribal style drumming. To get my point try tracks like "Hasty bastard" or the following eight minutes long "The ballad of Benjamin Munt": here the feedback and the guitar riffs, along with the treated violin, create a strong structure which duet with the acoustic guitar and Lloyd vocals. Also the lyrics of the tracks sometimes made me felt the same feeling of the stories sung by Cave: stories made of lost men with no chances of redemption. "White love", instead, is a song on its own because of that little noise loop which go with the slow jazzy drum/piano duet. The album is closed by "Dominic song", a track deeply influenced by Joy Division/early New Order, maybe because of the feelings which the song is permeated with. Maybe it sounds like that because it is a tribute to a dead friend. Good album...
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Artist: Recoil
Title: subHuman
Format: CD
Label: Mute
Rated: *****
On August 14 the new album "subHuman" by former Depoche Mode member Alan Wilder is scheduled to come out on Mute and you are scheduled to buy it right away! That's right, fan of Recoil or not, you owe it to yourself to listen to this entrancing and gorgeous masterpiece. With an incommensurable attention to the detail brought on by layers and layers of unobtrusive arrangements that wrap around an otherwise truly intimate and minimalistic album, Mr. Wilder unleashes an album that explores the darkest parts of your subHuman subconscious. Leading you through this journey is him with the aid of the equally important trail-blazing mesmerizing voice, earthy slide guitar and heartfelt harmonica of Joe Richardson, who is Wilder's primary ally of choice on this record. I had heard some of blues man Richardson's music before and was blown away by his great lyrics and by his dark style songwriting, but taking that in in this context is even more piercing and poignant.
The uniqueness of this album probably finds its origin in the unlikeliness of a collaboration between a blues singer and an electronic music producer. These experiments are always very interesting and when fueled by the right attitude and enthusiasms, and by the right people of course, they have returned exquisite results.
Completing the team is UK singer/songwriter Carla Trevaskis who offers he beautiful voice's warm and delicate tone as well as a drummer and a bass player (even though their tracks have been re-worked a lot and made part of the entire electronic rhythm section).
The album is coming out on CD as well as limited edition gatefold vinyl and special collector's edition DVD package with enhanced stereo CD, 5.1 mixes, videos and so on.
Definitely one of my favorite releases this month if not this year!
Artist: Kluster Cold
Title: The First Halagenous Lights
Format: CD
Rated: *****

This album is taken whole and over flows with 80's music idea; the tone, structure and melodic progression. An instrumental synth-pop with a movie soundtrack twist. So outstanding with some impulse tunes. Italian Kluster Cold draws out a full substantial sound that injects emotions and pinned with the early likes of OMD and Gary Numan and a few other synthesizers pioneers, but KC stands alone in the 21st century from the other new synth-pop artists. The music ful-fills the role of a competent electronic artist that makes unpredictable and dynamic range compositions, tidy modulation, oscillators and synths cliches so forth. The track "Requiem" gives off a ghostly haunting funeral feel. "Existence" and "Minimal Season" resembles the very early of OMD. The suspense thriller tracks "In His Whimper Rain" and "Telephone Murder" shows off a dramatic crafting power delivering punctual art. "The First Halogenous Lights" album nurtures competent, honesty, and pretentious with uniqueness.
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