Music Reviews



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Artist: PERSONAL VINDICTA (@)
Title: Transience
Format: CD
Label: Frequenzwelten Records (@)
Distributor: SX Distribution
Rated: *****
A new label from the Bavarian area of Germany, and this debut CD of the solo effort by Tobias Weinmann marks the first release for it. Tobias is also the label chief of Frequenzwelten. PERSONAL VINDICTA play definitively the harder kind of Electro/Industrial music, several pieces turn into the Powernoise genre. No wonder, because Tobias’ first efforts under his old moniker SHOCKWAVE were strongly influenced by rough noise attacks and Industrial soundscapes. But with PERSONAL VINDICTA he also includes some more influences taken out of EBM, Electro or TBM genres – positive, because stylistically variety offers an enjoying listening. All tracks are instrumentals, but they are filled with several voice samples, from which are some very tough and heart-felting, taken of eyewitness reports of some atrocities happened in concentration camps at WW II. The tracks are mostly linear, straight and danceable arranged – nevertheless I must admit, that some included vocals would fit well. Several tracks, especially the Powernoise-influenced pieces lack a bit on their endless monotony. Sound quality, the chosen sounds and the whole production are very convincing – a bit more richness in the used ideas would be well. Therefore, the best track here can be named in "Vision Of My Life", a newer piece which shows some well worked out melodic synth layers. There is musically still place for some improvements and development, but it’s decent enough for a first release. The label in between is going to release soon another new signing and shows a lot of activity – there’s soon to come more.
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Artist: ::thinkstandard:: (@)
Title: The Three Enemies
Format: CD
Label: Skean Dhu (@)
Rated: *****
::thinkstandard:: is one Steve Molter. His newest release entitled "The Three Enemies" is based upon a poem by the same name written by poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894, pseudonym Ellen Alleyne). The CD spans the poems three stanzas "The Flesh", "The World" and "The Devil". It's a largely ambient release relying heavily upon unique guitar work ranging from soothing melodies to a much more caustic droning. Unlike a lot of ambient/experimental recordings this never at any point seems redundant. New tones and melodies drift in and out effortlessly while painting audio interpretations of the religious conflicts the poem itself represents. Of the three stanzas "The Flesh" and "The Devil" are my favorites. They seem to work the best as a pair as "The Devil" references "The Flesh" well, recalling previous themes and altering the context. Overall a solid, well-produced piece of brooding soundscapes that manage to cross a diverse range of emotions without becoming overboard or too "cartoony". Molter handles his sound designs well and casts them onto the platter with a delicate touch.
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anymore
Artist: TRESPASSERS W (@)
Title: The drugs we all need
Format: CD
Label: Somnimage (@)
Rated: *****
Dutch band Trespassers W have been around for a long time, releasing CD’s on a large number of independent labels, in this case Chicago-based Somnimage. Part of a trilogy of albums on Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’roll, this CD is the second instalment, and the drugs we all need aren’t just what our governments call "drugs". As usual, Trespassers W relish in stories and histories, be they Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky’s relationship or the story of silent movies star Asta Nielsen; even in this accessible CD we find a wealth of figures, historical or imaginary, a kaleidoscope of styles and imagery. Trespassers W have often conceived their releases as well-defined projects, theme-driven or thick-laden with references to our European heritage of art and culture, high and low. Singer and lyricist Cor Gout – the one with the deep voice – sings or tells or intones what are obviously richly textured lyrics. Therefore it pays to read the lyrics at least once. This does not mean that Trespassers W are not capable to rock and push, just that they combine energy, subtlety and thoughtfulness and consequently require attention from their listeners. I made the mistake to listen to this CD on a car stereo the first time and missed out on most of its virtues, except in the most direct songs, such as "roadmaster eldorado", suitable for car-rides, or "viva la corrida!". Otherwise I had to give the CD a second chance, give it the time to seep through, and it worked much better.Having said that, not all 17 tracks made an impression on me, as if the band wanted to enjoy themselves (rocking out in "the merry go round", for instance) while most of the listener’s attention was drawn by Cor’s vocals, which always stays well on top and isn’t enough varied to sustain all the emotions evident in TW music. The effect is somehow of a band who tries too much, which is strange since according to the band’s statements there was a lot of playing around and improvisation in the recording sessions. Brilliantly arranged songs like "candy floss" show the strength of the group. Maybe they have always too many arrows to shoot at the same time: they can go progressive, art-rock, rock’n’roll, literate cabaret. It’s kind of hard to let them all live together and thrive in a single CD...
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anymore
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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anymore
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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