Music Reviews



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Artist: Mock Grandeur
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Wide Ear (@)
Rated: *****
A green square on a brown cardboard without any ornament and titles which doesn't really describe anything (except of the ones with the initial letter of the names of the playing members of this fourtet) could let you think to a devotionally minimal project, but the 25 (it's not a typo, they really packed 25 tracks in this release) mockeries can be rarely matched to minimal jazz. They asymptotically tend to saturation in many of their debunking recordings, indeed. What they primarily seem to desecrate are the stylistic fences that often delimit the fields of many musicians and this is clear since the opening "TS" (involving T - Tobias Backhaus - on drums and S - Sascha Henkel - on guitar), an almost cacophonous loogie between noise and punk-jazz. The second mockery (titled "#4") desecrates the role of some instruments in typical jazz line-up: the absence of a bass gets partially replaced by the repetition of two tones on guitar, that doesn't really lead the melodic patterns, which lacks in the raging parade by the two alto saxophonists of the line-up (Benjamin Weidekamp and Christian Weidner). These are just two samples, but any of the other mockeries are somehow adventurous, unpredictable, intentionally flippant and often clumsy. Do not expect something soothing or banal music for likewise banal backgrounds, but an alternation of massive zits and small pimples, whose popping could eject quite odd combinations of tonal and instrumental outputs.
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Artist: Wagz
Title: Exile / Zodiac
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: none60
Rated: *****
One of the well-respected lady of drum'n'bass, the legendary Dj Storm, quoted the name of this Sheffield producer as a next big thing in an interview in 2015. She foresaw (and listened) very well, as Dan Wagstaffe aka Wagz dropped a (not really high, to be honest) number of good tunes (I particularly recommend the elegant emotionality of his EP "Last Breath" on Santorin). He recently dropped a couple of tracks for the catalog of none60, by which Silent Dust's label confirms to be a little, but appreciated sanctuary of atmospheric bass-driven music. Wagz made a couple of tracks for the 24th ring in none60 chain: the first sonic sparkle of "Exile" is a triumphant synth-brass, soon followed by gusts of computational breezes and artificial hi-hats, that he keeps on saturate anytime he adds a sound till the moment (after one a little bit more than one minute) he ignites the clapped pattern, featuring amazing clutches at the end of the fourth beat. In spite of a relative shortage of sounds, Wagz makes a warming track, that could be good as a starter, and transfuse more or less the same feature into the following track "Zodiac" by shuffling elements and adding a quite hypnotic vocal sample, some amazing knocks over a wisely programmed drum pattern.
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Artist: Aidan Baker & Gareth Davis
Title: Invisible Cities
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Karl
The four tracks on “Invisible Cities” mark the first collaboration between Baker and Davis, a hybrid of ambient soundscaping and very sparse jazz that’s constructed from ingredients that could be described as cliché- Davis’ sombre, super-slow bass clarinet work mixed with found sound exterior ambiences such as train rolling stock, rain, and city street sounds.

In relative terms there’s not a lot of variation in sonic identity between the four tracks. After the relatively straightforward “Memory”, things get a little more bass-heavy and the clarinet work adopts just a hint of extra pain and strain in “Sky”. “Signs” somehow how seems messier, while longest and strongest track “Desire” lets a long bit of solo clarinet begin a slow devolution into discord and soft distortion.

But, despite having just said there are some cliché sounds and a lack of sonic variation, nevertheless it all actually works. The pure bass clarinet tones are really quite captivating, and the mood, despite some harsh edges, is a definite relaxant. The simplicity at times is a definite virtue and it’s certainly an enjoyable listen, if not a wholly original one.
Jan 19 2018
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Artist: Coppé (@)
Title: Milk
Format: CD
Label: Sweet Rice
Rated: *****
The eccentric martian Tokyo-based artist known as Coppé relentlessly keeps putting out little jewels of electronic music, this time mixed with her beloved jazz influences (something she loves doing). After her 20th anniversary record of last year, her new album "Milk" is a collection of electronic renditions of jazz standards from the 20es and 30es such as "My Funny Valentine" or Gershwin's "The Man I Love" plus some original material. Aside from her rich sultry voice and her electronic production, several tracks feature live double bass by Jeff Curry and one track has drums by Zak Bond and piano by Fredric Viennot which adds to the overall jazz charm of this release. Other unique moments are the opener, which was recorded with 73 various microphones, and a few collaborations with MCs and other electronic producers from Japan and the US. When listening to some of these tracks one can't fail to draw a parallel between the smokey atmospheres of trip hop bands such as Portishead and electronic female-fronted artists such as Bjork, so if you can imagine what those two artists would sound like if they collaborated, you might have a decent idea of what "Milk" sounds like.
"Milk" is available on CD (with a sleek die cut cover art work), very limited edition vinyls (every copy has a unique design with color on color pressing and colored vinyl) and as a download. Check it out!
Jan 18 2018
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Artist: Sextile
Title: Albeit Living
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Felte
Sextitle are about to embark on a European tour, with a brand of energetic attitude-laden grungy punk-meets-synthwave that would lend itself well to the live-gig-in-a-smoky-room environment. Ten fast and punchy songs, most staying under three minutes, feature Brady Keehn’s reverb-laden, mostly-shouted vocals over a lo-fi arrangement of tight drumming, more freeform guitar clanging and electronic squeaks.

“Ripped” is a highlight, with the acid squeals interjecting between the lyrics to give it an ever-shifting energy. “Situations” has a slightly more laidback swagger that brings the songwriting to the fore in a positive way.

Other tracks, like “Floored”, are a little bit less successful and end up sounding like bedroom demos from mid-80’s Depeche Mode wannabes- certainly not awful but just a little bit too raw to be truly recommendable. Weird mixing decisions on “Das Cat” bring an extra weirdness.

Every track’s a thick ball of energy and attitude and it definitely feels better suited to live performance than a studio album. So definitely try to catch them on their early 2018 tour- though since the album’s 27 minutes long, I hope you get better value from the gig.
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