Music Reviews



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Artist: Akiko Grace (Bill Laswell)
Title: Illume
Format: CD
Label: J room Jazz
Distributor: Columbia Japan
Rated: *****

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Among other things and other great musicians, Japan offers a long list of outstanding young female jazz and clasically-trained piano players that enjoy a pretty big following in their own country but often also come to New York to soak in and breath in that unique mixture of air made of ambitious sky-is-the-limit entrepreneurial attitude, yellow-cab gas emissions, great musicianship and awesome collaborations. A good example of that is Akiko Grace, who continues to collect praise and kudos from fans mostly in Japan but also overseas and who therefore can afford to collaborate with ground-breaking and genre-defying pioneer musicians and composers such as Bill Laswell, who takes these piano-only recording to a whole new level with his expertise and taste.
"illume"'s ten pieces are enriched by textured layers of rapturing electronics and electric bass parts that sneak into these sophisticated arrangements as if they were part of a greater scheme of things, with the same grace and unobtrusive elegance of all the other ethereal and floating soundscapes constructed around her performances.
With the exception of one track where Akiko Grace sings a whispery part, "Illume" is an instrumental record featuring gorgeous piano ballads who fly on the wings of Laswell's ubiquitous electronic approach.
A truly beautiful record.
Artist: L'EFFECT C'EST MOI (@)
Title: Tomber en heroes
Format: CD
Label: Forart
Rated: *****
I think that's the the debut for L'Effect C'est Moi (shame on me if I'm wrong). This should be filed under gothic/epic music mainly based on keyboards as you expect it too be. This definitely well played and well recorded and it reminds me of early Ain Soph during their Staalplaat days, but less esoteric and definitley more epic. As I've said that's a "keyboard is the key-word" release therefore if you're not into layers of old fashioned sound and fake classic piano sounds thi' not your cup of tea. Epical "march-alike" drum parts on war "apocalictic folk" rhythmical framework. As I've said that's probably a debut and sure there's a lot to be imrpoved above ll in the song writing but if your into the style I think you will dig it esily. the second part of the cd is he most apocalictic one and probably the darkest one but still homogeneous. I think they should add some vocals here and there above all when playing more melodic orinted tunes.
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Artist: STEFANO GIUST
Title: Linked
Format: CD
Label: Setola di Maiale (@)
Rated: *****
Like it or not together with Zu, Roy Paci, Stefano Giust is one of the most prolific extravagant-jazz (?)/306° musicians coming from Italy at the moment. This’ again an electronic release but a really atypical one above all for the creative procedure. All of the rhythms and loops have been played live on Yamaha keyboard and electronic pad and recorded via digital effect processor into a Yamaha recorder that means no computer has been involved neither in the performance nor in the recording. It's again a live recording but as I've wrote before, this guy is into every form of improvisation acoustic/analog/electric, and it obviously implies some tracks are more inspired than others but the whole record is good. Is also interesting how Giust's releases average length is around one hour, sometimes probably it weakens the global effect but I think it has to do with the fact he democratically votes for a "session" presented in its whole. "Changer" and "Plain" brings to mind some old electronic/analog releases on Warp, above all the most dub-influenced ones, there’re a couple of reasons, one is related to the instruments played but the other one to a common/heterogeneous background they share. I think if you're into 90ies electronic on Warp you should give it a listen.
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Artist: CAMOUFLAGE (@)
Title: Relocated
Format: CD
Label: Synthetic Symphony (@)
Distributor: SPV
Rated: *****
The name of this German Synthpop trio will always stay in a common line with their most recognized single hit like "The Great Commandment" or "Love Is A Shield". These are classics taken out of the 80ies, still alive and still often on airplay. Their biggest success indeed they could earn later on with better sales of their full length releases and sold-out concerts and tours. Also on "Relocated" this fine trio, luckily still consisting in their old formation of Heiko Maile, Marcus Meyn and Oliver Kreyssig, proves from the first to the last tone that they have nothing unlearnt. I would rather tend to say they moved towards to a highest possible status of quality regarding all important stages of production. The best point on this: it is still Synthpop in its classic form and meaning, there are only a few pieces tending into an Alternative/Rock/Pop outcome like "Confusion" or "Something Wrong" here. May also "We Are Lovers" and my favorite for the next SiCD release after the already announced "Motif Sky", "Passing By" can be easily filled into this, but to me personally these both tracks prove, that CAMOUFLAGE haven’t stopped to listen to the Basildon boys of DEPECHE MODE after "Violator". As I said, "Motif Sky" has received the vote to be released as a teaser in advance of this album – and I’m not sure if this was the right decision. I have found several more impressive tracks which also would do well as a teaser. Check back tracks the ballad-desque and slow "Real Thing", the real Synthpop pearl "The Pleasure Remains" or the long last piece "How Do You Feel?" featuring a special Gospel choir in the back. Well, you see already on this review, that there’s much more to discover on this 13 tracks here. For every Synthpop supporter a real must-have piece, CAMOUFLAGE are back and stronger than ever before!
This is a German trio musically based in the Rock/Pop/Alternative genre and with this release they definitively start their assault to enter high Media Control charts. If this will already happen with pre-released SiCD "What They Want" belongs – as usual – on the airplay of the song via radio and TV with an too expensive video (The MTV compatibility). I personally can not find anything interesting at this track, it’s nothing else than a simple Rock/Alternative song, luckily without any Metal-like headbanging syndrome. The promotional efforts are near to perfection I would say, it’s seldom that I’ve read a such a long list of responsible people for all parts like radio, TV, press and online promotion. Yeah, already the graphically art (done by www.18october.com) for this promotional CD and the packaging itself is worth to mention positively. This release has to have success and the management expects a lot. Already with the second piece on this full length here, "Alien Girl" the band proves that there’s also room for the electronic side of life. Some fine worked out synth bass lines made me already grab some interest. More impressive – because it keep almost all rocking elements out of the music – is the track "Cocaine", a real "foggy" Electro track. Yes, this band is able to create something special, something which can pick up people out of many different genres. If this will work and get the deserved recognition – the future will tell us. I of course prefer the more electronic-driven tracks and I tend to leave this review without any rating. With so many efforts and professionalism in the back the big success should be only one step away...
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