Music Reviews

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Artist: KJ Sawka
Title: Synchronized Decompression
Format: CD
Label: Wax Orchard
Rated: *****
Kevin Sawka is to the west coast what Jojo Mayer is to the east coast: live drum'n'bass at its best. Based in Seattle, KJ Sawka started out in the mid ninetees and gained popularity playing with Siamese, but today he runs his own show and keeps pushing the envelope with sweaty jaw-dropping club performances and collaborations with the like of Bill Frisell, Amon Tobin, Reggie Watts of Maktub, Michael Shrieve of Santana (who took him under his wing), DJ Logic and many others. "Synchronized Decompressions" is twelve tracks (plus a ROM track with three bonus tracks) of drum'n'bass and jungle breakbeats with samples and electronic sounds and occasional female vocals. The album flows pretty well although it should probably be a DVD. What I mean by that, is that watching a live drummer tangle together insanely complex breaks and tying them up with super fast beats is really exciting, but whether "Synchronized Decompression" can stand on its on feet is a whole other story. I am not implying it doesn't, but it just ain't quite as exciting as a live show or as some other better drum'n'bass records out there. For one, KJ Sawka's attempt at d'n'b songwriting grandness is lacking some of those solid sun-sonic bass lines that we love and that make the room tremble. On the other hand he often chooses the more atmospheric and electronic path over the strictly mid-'90es d'n'b, which gives it that experimental aura that sets him apart from all the others doing the strict thing, which is cool. The introduction of the vocal parts also gives into that new perspective and makes the album equally approachable for fans of Delerium as well as (of course) fans of Jojo Mayer, M'Lumbo, Amon Tobin, Jamalski, LTJ Bukem, Al-Haca Soundsystem, Censor, Squarepusher, Laurent Brondel, Dieselboy, Rony Size and so forth... Definitely worth checking out.
Artist: GF93 (@)
Title: The Bloody Bastard Remixes
Format: CD
Label: Mechanism (@)
Rated: *****
When I was still living in that thief-ridden country that Italy is, I hated the lack of bands and events playing electronic music, which is pretty much the main reason why I created D.L.K., but most recently, I'll admit, I've been getting a lot of buzz from the three-colored boot about new bands and even some live events... With new labels and bands popping out for hopefully more than just a few releases and with an off-set of almost a decade (I guess I was a little ahead of my time....) I finally get to review some music from there that doesn't sound like shitty pop-music clones or bad imitations of the german ebm bands from 20 years ago... This is not to say that GF93 and their new label Mechanism records falls into this category. GF93 has been around since 1996 and Mechanism I believe started around the same time. "The Bloody Bastard Remixes" is a collection of fourteen remixes of tracks that were originally released on their last record "OSR" in 2004 and on their previous third record "Convulse All Star" (2002). You are in for a treat made of saturation and distortion, where frantically cut-up and re-pasted sound bits deconstruct what once was and now re-is all over again. As it is true for the entire discography of GF93, powerful and scratchy guitar riffs play a role of foremost importance to convey the message and produce the sound. Mashed up by remixers from all over the world (where was I when the memo went out?), after one year of file-sharing based networking, this important band finds a way back into our playback systems, and even if it does so through an excercise of technicism, it does so with brutal bastardy and raw nerve, and with all the quality that their releases have accustomed us to. If you know the italian music scene a little, you'll notice big similarities with bands such as R.S.U. (Rifiuti Solidi Urbani), Deflore or Pankow, but if you don't know any of those groups, think of GF93 as the type of sound you'd appreciate if you were into Fear Factory, Flugschaedel, Pitchshifter, Cat Rapes Dog and bands like that: you will most certainly get some excitment ouf GF93!