Music Reviews



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Artist: TALL DWARVES
Title: Fork Songs
Format: CD
Label: Cloud Recordings (@)
Rated: *****

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Another reissue of a Tall Dwarfs’ classic CD from the early 90’s, this Cloud Recordings disc also offers as a bonus the Dogma EP, thus totalling 20 songs altogether. We are travelling much over the same terrain as the former. After the aptly weird intro in which a speaker invites us to consider the original vynil version as a scientific demonstration of pick-up technology, the Tall Dwarfs lead us everywhere except on a straight line. Their home-made music is always faithful to the motto: "Life is strange". Strangely enough nobody after a while sees its strangeness any longer, but the Tall Dwarfs are here to bend it and twist it like consummate mirror-makers for an enchanted gallery.We become Alice in Wonderland once again, watch ourselves "Bleed for love", suffer from "Thought Disorder", engage in "Small Talk", yet say to ourselves "All is fine" and to our children: "Think small", just in case. Twangy, sometimes tinny, Tall Dwarf music seems always to point to a lurking menace somewhere behind our backs, as if the sun shone alright, but somehow this light was jarring, too. Get hold of the lyrics and find out how literate they can be, and poetic. Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate are spooky tunesters in the underbelly of pop, Tim Burton’s brothers Down Under. Only they draw their pictures with songs – not a bad way, if you ask me – and when all’s said and sung, we are not sure whether it’s a happy ending or just no end at all. "Dogma" EP is quirky and jagged. Tread cautiously but smile if you cut your feet, anyway!
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Artist: TALL DWARVES
Title: Weeville
Format: CD
Label: Cloud Recordings (@)
Rated: *****

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Please rewind back to the 90s, to a different time and place, to the peacefully creative shores of New Zealand. Feel free to let yourself become younger in soul and feeling, what have you got to lose after all? A couple of tall dwarfs will lead you strumming and singing into the happiest and saddest recesses of your inner heart; you may not take all this too seriously, but if you let them, I grant you will be affected!This remastered reissued of 1990 Weeville (originally out on the legendary NZ label Flying Nun) for the American label Cloud Recordings is just what it takes to introduce you to the lo-fi perfections of this NZ duo, who after being in one of the seminal NZ punk bands, went on to lead for a while the NZ assault to 90’s indie pop music. The rest of the world (some of it, at least) stood in awe and listened: how could a four-track equipment, looped rhythms (ingenious enough to be childish) and a folksinger’s voice show the way to a renewed pop ethics that had been swamped by then in overproduced sound effects? In fact, looking back on those times, it can be said that Tall Dwarfs, just by being outside all the trends of mainstream anglo-american pop music, had the privilege to be free and cultivate their own brand of streamlined pop-folk. Melodies could be simple and infectious, or ballad-like and sour-sweet: the lyrics were invariably touching, ironic and yet profound. Isn’t this light-hearted seriousness what makes pop songs relevant, after all?All 16 tracks of this CD are sparkling with ideas, and will have a way of winding their loopy (and loony) sounds into your ears. American lo-fi indie heroes like Pavement adored the Tall Dwarfs, and if you listen to this CD you too will understand why. I have always been hooked by them; don’t know why but I picture them as dwarfish elves in a Peter Jackson’s movie – if just for once Peter Jackson left Hollywood and shot the wild and melancholy low-budget B-movie we know we would love! Just listen to "Bodies"...
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Artist: KODI & PAUSA
Title: In one week and new toys to play
Format: CD
Label: Kormaplastic (@)
Rated: *****
Man, talking about freakiness, extravaganza or "music out of ordinary" the Kodi and Pausa project is a good example, nothing more and nothing less. I think the fact this cd can be good or bad is a detail, but I dare the average critic to label this cd as "the same ol' shit". Probably what I'm going to say has to do with the fact I've listened to Boredom's "Pop tatari" a couple of days ago, but I guess if ever pop music would have followed the path of these japanese kamikaze, this could have been the euro-pop answer to the demented genius of Yamatsuka Eye and friends. An improvisational cut and lot's of instruments to play may imply influences and ideas can move in this or in that direction, but it can also bring to a delirium where everything flows randomly leaving reminiscences of what lied buried in the subconscious coming out in the open with the consequent result you'll see fragments of subconscious scattered all over the place. Is Kodi and Pausa pure essence of chaos? Absolutely not, but here you've electronic music, free jazzy guitar incursions, shapeless cut ups/pastiches (Boswachter) as well as old electronic mixed with modern hi-frequencies computer sounds, this recording features also minimal keyboard experiments (that reminded me of the early and greatest Pram). What should I say about a defiant cartoon tune like "Flashy toilet"!?...this couple of musician probably has had problems during their childhood. Sometimes it's hard to judge the quality of a cd and when it's "In one week and new toys to play", the idea is that the "subject" is really beyond the boundaries of musical judgment...life is a nonsense.
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Artist: TROUM
Title: Objectlessness
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
This is the first Mystery Sea release selling out already on pre-order: I guess this speakes volumes for the underground cult that the German duo formed by Stefan Knappe (also mastermind of Drone Records) and Martin Gitschel has rightfully gained over the years. "Objectlessness" features two lengthy tracks of Troum's trademark mind-expanding guitar drones - for those familiar with their discography, they lie somewhere between the first and the second part of "Tjukurpa", i.e. their abstract, oceanic ambience and their more melodic side. What is peculiar about "(Pre)-symbolism" and "Echoes of a boundless existence" (respectively 38 and 30 minute long) is that, given their mammoth length and loose structure, they could well portray what the duo can create in an improvised session or live set. Some minor sound defects could have been erased by studio overdubs and re-working, but "Objectlessness" remains a faithful witness of Troum's evocative, mind-bending soundscapes. For those who have missed it, there could probably be some copies still floating around: try Drone or Self Abuse.
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Artist: THE SEVEN MILE JOURNEY
Title: The Journey Studies
Format: CD
Label: [fono'gram]
Rated: *****
Born a few years ago as a quartet, and recently expanded adding a fifth member, Danish Seven Mile Journey surely belong to the more emotional niche of so-called post rock. This debut album, which follows a demo recorded in 2002, features four lengthy tracks, or, better said, mini-suites of instrumental music, skilfully passing from intimistic, trance-inducing guitar plucking to epic crescendos. It's obviously all been done before (I was reminded of Explosions In The Sky, DoMakeSayThink, Mogwai, GSYBE and Giardini di Mirò, to name a few), but this doesn't mean much after all. Not all of the cd is memorable, but it remains a remarkable debut nonetheless - especially in a little masterpiece like "Passenger's Long, the Unity Fractions", with its majestic ebbs and flows. I'm sure that fans of the above mentioned bands would spin this quite often.
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