Music Reviews



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Artist: GUIDO MOEBIUS
Title: Dishoek
Format: CD
Label: Dekorder
Rated: *****
A busy bee with his studio and Autopilot label and promotion agency, Guido Moebius is back with his second solo album, after the critically acclaimed "Klisten" (2003). Even before seeing that FS Blumm is among the numerous guest musicians (offering their skills at drums, violin, trumpet, voice, clarinet etc.), I started to mentally draw comparisons between "Dishoek" and Blumm's enchanting "Sesamsamen", even if the former is more upbeat and explicitly rhythmic. But the kind of approach is altogether very similar: an instrumental blend of naive acoustic tunes, toy-like sounds and what could be an electronic backbone - though electronics, if ever, are more in the arrangements than in the sources. As with Blumm, this sort of modern, watercolored folk reminded me of a less complex Gastr del Sol, but some exhilarating melodic patterns could even date back to kraut godfathers like Neu! or Cluster (take "Kurbel", for instance). The magic of "Dishoek" lies both in its immediate accessibility and in the elaborate weave of the instruments, which becomes patent after a few concentrated listens (listen, for example, to the crescendo of "Twark" or the drifting beauty of "Schleswig"). An example of smart modernist pop, where the "easy listening" aspect is actually reinforced, not diminished, by the experimental slant.
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Artist: SOSTRAH TINNITUS
Title: A rain water stratum on the sea
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
First of all, let me say this is probably my favourite Mystery Sea cover ever... so beautiful it actually influenced my listening experience, as if the tracks threw an azure light around. Sostrah Tinnitus is the solo project of Italian painter and musician Mario Costa, also one half of Tvmvlvs Seraphim, and this is his nth full length work is a few months, following releases on his own label, on Umbra and on Beyond Productions (see archive). ST plays deep ambient drones using both organic and acoustic sounds and synthesizers - not far from Alio Die or some Monos, to give you a clue. The seven tracks presented here are all well done and consistent, but somehow I'm not always drawn in by the music. In some cases ("Catherine barometer", "Dream with clam-diggers") it has the force to stop the ordinary flowing of your thoughts and leave you mesmerized; but sometimes it just becomes (good, very good) background music. I have no quibbles about the overall quality, which is quite high, so it must only be a matter of subjective experience.
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Artist: HANNA HARTMAN
Title: Longitude/cratere
Format: CD
Label: Komplott
Rated: *****
The tracks you can hear on this cd have been commissioned by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and by the Deutschand-Radio-Berlin, this recordings have been unavailable until now. The essence of these two tracks is mainly based on concrete sounds that remind of an audio documentary. You can bet that this two pieces can get along pretty well with images, they create images themselves, therefore don't be surprised if looking at the curriculum of mrs. Hartman you'll discover she's worked to other commissioned music before (she's won some awards too). For who's into installations and contemporary art another interesting thing is represented by the fact this "sound engineer(?!?)" should have "exposed" a sound installation at the Goteborg Art Sound festival. Differently from many concrete musicians and above all differently from many releases on great label like Creative Sources or Metamkine, the audio-result is really close to a field recording, I mean the sounds move quietly inside the "amped landscape". As I've just said no sound source breaks in a violent way, everything has its "biological" evolution here, if such a caracheristic element is typical of music created to relax the eventual listener, well, this is the case. While "Longitude" speaks the language of sailing boats mixed with many sounds from the ocean, "Cratere" brings you on the top of italian volcano Etna (Sicily). The last track has the rare quality to recreate the real power of volcanoes and the scary sensation that the earth that you walk upon is alive and not always "that friendly". Althugh after what I've just wrote may sound contradictory, this release is both soft and above all relaxing.
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Artist: THE EX
Title: Singles. Period.
Format: CD
Label: Ex Records
Distributor: Konkurrent
Rated: *****
I don't think that a single review can stress the importance of The Ex in terms of ethics, art, DIY practice etc., but anyway, this almost complete collection of their 1980-1990 vinyl singles (a few works had already been reprinted elsewhere, so they haven't been included) is a welcome reminder. The Dutch band has always considered eps "pamphlets, statements, political comments on current situations, with music that mattered, reflecting the times in which we were living"; so it's no wonder that every single has a story and motivation of its own, from fundraising to public protest actions to one-off commentaries on contemporary events. The extensive booklet, besides featuring the original artworks, archive photos and detailed liner notes, explains how the eps were born, and is as interesting and moving and the music itself. Probably, music-wise, this is not The Ex's most representative work (nor it is meant to be), the featured tracks being generally more direct and less adventurous than the album ones. The first recordings still present The Ex as a snotty 3-chord punk band, but the evolution towards a more free-form and edgier kind of music is evident throughout. The "Gonna rob the spermbank" ep, for example, has some heavy and noisy mix of wave and punk which was years ahead of its time (1983), and the "Stonestampers" one is a good example of the revitalization of traditional songs which will give excellent results in the "1936, the Spanish revolution" project (but also in an affiliated band like Kletka Red). This is much more than just a collection of singles (period).
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Artist: PARADIN
Title: Flesh of Caverns
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Ben Fleury-Steiner has a nice series of releases under his belt, most of them on his own Gears of Sand label (which has recently released works by Oophoi and Netherworld as well). This cdr on Mystery Sea, a label Fleury-Steiner has been a long-time and enthusiastic supporter of, marks his debut with the Paradin alias, and the shift has a logical reason in the music it features. While using as a starting point some of the sources (effected guitars and synths) and techniques of the previous releases, "Flesh of Caverns" generally wanders into darker and even more abstract atmospheres. The drones are reduced to minimal glassy frequencies, but the skillfull job at layering and mixing prevents them from becoming too static. The three lengthy tracks rather embody the typical Mystery Sea kind of ambient music, with slowly (geologically slowly, I'd say) unfolding, but always immersive soundscapes. Particles of more recognizable sounds (as the electronic pulses in the first track, or the aggressive synth hammering at the end of the last one) are recognizable here and there, but they rapidly vanish underwater, into the oceanic whole. The title is definitely appropriate as well, evoking a fusion of organic and mineral qualities which could well define these three immersions. As Fleury-Steiner's forthcoming new work, mastered by Robert Rich, has been announced as more rhythmical and theme-oriented, I hope he keeps on producing this kind of nocturnal drones as Paradin.
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