Music Reviews



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Artist: C.A.R.
Title: Pinned
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Chloé Raunet’s second album as C.A.R. is a blend of supremely confident post-punk swagger with electronica twiddles, steady-walking house beats and just a dash of synthwave. Slow tempos, rumbling long bass guitar notes and some surprisingly sparse mixing gives quite a bold overall result. Bleak lyrics are mostly spoken and semi-rapped with a controlled, sometimes semi-whispered temper, only occasionally twisting into singing on tracks like highlight track “Swaggart”, the faintly bluesy “Prism” or the more radio-friendly gradual progressions of “This City”.

After the slightly underwhelming opener “Growing Pains” leads into the richly textured Steve Osborne-produced single “Daughters”, the first half of the album has slightly brighter pieces, with the upbeat “Heat” and the properly quirky “Flat Out at the Sockhop”.

Tracks like “Strange Ways” are also very accessible, with a decidedly indie flavour, but there’s nothing truly impenetrable here, with every track keeping within at least the broader definition of a pop structure. The pared-back “VHS” is worth playing to Siouxsie fans.

This is mature and balanced pop music, introspective-yet-confident, earnest and cathartic yet not too indulgent. It won’t set either your heart or the charts alight but hooks or charisma but if you’re looking for something more grown-up and rewarding, there’s certainly an appeal.
Apr 19 2018
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Artist: Lossy
Title: Gated Soul EP
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Boot Cycle Audio
Lossy’s fourth release “Gated Soul” is a collection of four tracks (plus one radio edit) from the jazzier side of electro-house, with some relaxed grooves, crisp but measured beats, languid pads, and Rhodes-style piano work that sometimes borders on the cheesy. It’s feel-good vibe stuff that sits in that gray area where it’s danceable, but you could also lie back and chill out to it.

“Blues For Jekyll” is a strong walking-pace number with gated pads, easy chords and one of those lovely sine wave subbass tones that makes everything feel nicely pure and simple. At five and a half minutes long, a four-minute radio edit feels a touch unnecessary but there’s no harm in it.

“Last Raver” is a little more energetic, with soft breakbeats and some nice rolling synth flavours that give it a decidedly Orbital-like feel. The slightly Groove Armada-ish trumpet (samples?) introduced in the second half of “Hocus Pocus” are a smooth touch, one of those little touches that shows you’re listening to a confident composer who knows exactly what he’s after.

“To The Woods” finishes things off with an unusual two-speed approach where the soft synth-organ arpeggios and rich-sounding flute melody sound like they want to be a ballad, while the beat underneath feels more two-step and garage-pop, but it’s a combination that gets pulled off pretty well in the end.

A strong, luxuriantly flavoured EP of jazzy electro-house.
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Artist: Big Bold Back Bone (@)
Title: Emerge
Format: CD
Label: Wide Ear Records (@)
Rated: *****
The idea that a record can be the anti-epos of another one is quite fascinating and interesting. According to the description by the artists-run Wide Ear label, "Emerge" could be considered so against its musical twin "In Search Of The Emerging Species" (released by Portuguese label Shhpuma). Both of them got recorded in the same studio session in Lisbon and they last the same time (approximately 43 minutes), even if the latter featured only one immersive track (titled "Immerse"), while "Emerge"'s length has been split into seven shorter tracks. I only listened to some parts of "In Search Of The Emerging Species", and to be honest, the approach to the sound of "Emerge" sounds quite similar to me, in spite of the above mentioned differences. Both of them have been filled by drone-like sonic streams, roughly structured and performed in a way that could let you think the four members of Big Bold Back Bone (Marco von Orelli on trumpet and slide trumpet, Sheldon Suter on prepared drums, Luis Lopes on electric guitar and other objects, and Travassos on electronics) never played their instruments before, as if they were mysterious artifacts they found on the bottom of the depths they explored during their search for emerging species. The amalgamation they made often sounds like an easy debriding of fibrous tissues, where just some instrumental elements seem to have been completely resurfaced (Marco's trumpet on "Silent Stream" or "Tidings" or some shell-like percussions on "Sealust"). Electronics and percussions sometimes evoke the removal of water or air infiltration of some submarine vehicle after an immersion and can mirror other mysterious technical maintenance following an immersion and any related issue. If you consider this record in this way, you can also explain the reason why the last track "Ground Found" is the one which sounds more vaguely musical of this gradual surfacing.
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Artist: Christopher Ledger & Luigi Ranghino's Trio
Title: Cielo Intonato
Format: 12"
Label: CL Series
“Cielo Intonato” is a vinyl-exclusive set of sparse minimal electronica, with gentle rhythmic patterns treading with extreme softness under long, slow atmospheric pads and environmental sounds in a lush, mellow way. Luigi Ranghino’s Trio add organic and acoustic piano and woodwind sounds that give proceedings an exceptional elegance.

The main pieces are just three parts, each less than four minutes long, with the first setting the tone, the second adopting a slightly bubblier flavour, and the third a more conventional ambient affair.

The B side of the vinyl is taken up by an eleven-minute remix of the whole work by Ion Ludwig, who adopts a clubbier but still gentle approach that’s quite Ricardo Villalobos-ish in style- steady, minimal, progressive house where the elements of the original performance are looped politely over the steady drum machine bed.

This isn’t a release that vies for your attention, but instead is happy to sit on a wall and aspire to be beautiful sound art, flitting at the edges of electronica. It works well, it’s certainly very pretty, and leaves you wondering what it would sound like realised on a larger scale.
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Artist: Jemh Circs
Title: (untitled) Kingdom
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Cellule
Using the cultural appropriation attitudes spearheaded by Negativland and taking pop music and YouTube rips as the (possibly sole) sonic source, and mangling and mashing those sources with the experimental outlook of early Steve Reich tape experiments but using modern tech to pull those sound clips past the bounds of recognisability and far beyond, Marc Richter, as Jemh Circs, offers up twenty-four short, often awkward, sometimes impenetrable noisy soundscapes of short loops pulled into unconventional time signatures, processed found sounds and electronic glitching, many of them shorter than this sentence.

But there’s more musicality at play here than the ‘borrowing from YouTube’ concept may imply. The pitch shifting of choral noises into chord patterns in “(AA)” is well constructed and successful. Perhaps by appropriating string sounds from film soundtracks (I’m speculating there), pieces like “Lac Dali” have their own noisy take on an emotional symphonic atmosphere, while the title track embodies the entire concept quite neatly

There’s a fair share of more sparse and melancholic pieces, but plenty of noisy rough-edged pieces like “20/20” and broken-rhythm-experiment “L.V” to keep you on your toes throughout the 64-minute listen.

It’s a strong concept, well executed, and while the result isn’t necessarily a pleasant listen and you do find yourself wishing that some of the ideas could’ve been fleshed out a little further beyond the three-minute mark (I particularly wanted to hear more of “Metabolismus”), it’s a piece of work worthy of some attention.
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