Music Reviews



Artist: P.A Only (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Poizart Productions
Rated: *****
Previously with Ethnix (one of Israel's allegedly most well known ethno-pop bands), Toram Poizner, aka P.A Only, is now employing his experience as a producer/arranger/guitar/bass player to make music on his own. His first release features 11 tracks and a maturity that can only come from vast studio experience and years spent listening and making music. His outreaching, multifaceted, dynamic, sophisticated, complex and beautiful style touches all grounds without falling into the pitfalls of forced multi-style-crossover-wanna be productions. Yoram knows when and how much of each element to blend in and, by doing so, opens the door to a bunch of exciting sonic combinations and eclectic sound palettes. Seamlessly shifting his aim and drifting his focus from one element to the next, within the same song or from song to song, the album nicely flows, while en-boding a multiplicity of influences spanning from world music to pop music and from electronic/lounge music to club-friendly enterprises. In other words this album is for everybody, including but not limited to fans of Sting, Enigma, Radio Derwish, the Doors, Studio Pagol, Chemical Brothers, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Underworld, Paul Van Dyke, Muslimgauze and many others. His world of sounds expands and reaches out, so does his desire to "embark in a journey where time, space, nationality, religion, political stance or race have no meaning". Mostly an instrumental album, some songs will feature folk chants, spoken word or vocal contributions in Russian, French and Yemenite. Instrumentation includes a perfect blend of percussions, guitar, electronica, bass, drums etc. I think it is safe to say that Yoram succeeded in producing some of the finest contemporary examples of music for the "global village" I can think of. Truly inspired. Truly inspiring.
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Artist: Banabila (@)
Title: Hilarious Expedition
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Tapu Records
Rated: *****
The problem with most soundtrack music is that its intent is only to accompany a movie--the visual component that you don't experience while listening to a CD. Unless it's a movie you've seen a million times because you love it, and hearing the soundtrack serves to enhance it in your memory, you're only getting half the art. To complicate the matter, the music on the new two-disc opus of Netherlands-based artist Michel Banabila, "Hilarious Expedition," was composed for not just one, but a variety of film and theatre productions, using a small army of instrumentalists and vocalists. Pastiches of piano and organ instrumentals, orchestral passages intercut with backward loops, alternately loungey and dramatic instrumental pieces, sped-up tape, abstract sound samplings, street scenes (recorded in Rotterdam, Cracow and Prague), and dialogue presumably from the films or plays themselves, unfortunately do not add up to a cohesive listening experience. How can they?--unless this were a Nonesuch Explorer release entitled, "Sounds of the European Filmmaking Underground." There are simply too many influences for any but the ultimate eclectics to enjoy all the way through.

This is to say, however, that Hilarious Expedition is a very worthwhile listen--there are some great tracks to cherry-pick: "Salar's Dream," on Disc 1 with its sad Gypsy violin; the freaky, computer-voiced "Speech" and "My Brain Is Electric;" and the hushed, subtle menace of "Metals" on Disc 2. Most of the music is not "hilarious" at all, but downright somber and brooding. It is all extremely well-performed and -produced, but you won't find too much that you haven't already heard from Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack and similar fine purveyors of Ambient Groove.

I would only recommend a work of this scope and magnitude (nearly two and a half hour's worth) to serious soundtrack enthusiasts or the aforementioned eclectics to begin with. Those who have enough of the acquired tastes, not to mention the patience, will be rewarded by the gems of strange beauty you will find amid this tangled slag heap. Anyone seeking a cohesive album that makes sense from start to finish will be less than thrilled. If only everybody could appreciate sleeping under a stone bridge outside of Prague in a cold morning drizzle, waking up to an old, crazy street musician making funny farting noises by blowing through the wrong end of a trumpet. I myself definitely do, but I think I'd sooner watch the films first. (With subtitles, of course.)
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Artist: O QUAM TRISTIS (@)
Title: Meditationes ultimes
Format: CD
Label: Palace of Worms (@)
Rated: *****
While listening to O Quam Tristis I've been thrown back in the middle age. It's medieval folk with latin lyrics, if you're familiar with bands such as like Ataraxia, Qntal e Dead Can Dance ("Aion" era) you probably know what we're talking about. I like this album: it's solid, "focussed" but at the same time kinda heterogenous, it contains a various range of atmospheres. The most of the times the mix of electronics and traditional instruments is well done, some other times the mix of "eighties-oriented" keyboards sounds a bit strange together with that traditional vocals/instruments. Palace of Worms describes this record as "a modern interpretation of medieval and ancient folk music" and after all it's the best possible definition for a work like that. The most interesting thing of this release obviously is represented by the vocal parts (gregorian chant have been a real turning point in the history of music) since the male singers are good, but the female ones are even better. This' the third cd by O Quam Tristis and the band shows how maturity helps to refine the "modus operandi" in songwriting. The funny thing is that while one may expect an epic record with a completely ethereal mood, "Mediationes ultimes" is full of mid-tempo "danceable" tracks (Quoniam tu solus, Terrae for exemple). If you imagine a cd overwhelmed with evocative songs give it a chance since in the past some songs would have been a great soundtrack for a banquet.
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Artist: SILENT LOVE OF DEATH (@)
Title: The poet's senses
Format: CD
Label: Palace of Worms (@)
Rated: *****
Romanticism in full effect, from the name itself of the spanish combo to the lyrics and the artwork of the cd. Piano, Keyboards, acoustic guitars, violins, vocals "a la Ian Curtis" and some military rhythms (but not yet neo folk). This cd demonstrates decadece and new wave can still get along together very well. The packaging is really nice like the rest of the Palace of Warms' releses and all the new age/dark-dogmas have been respected, the sound is good and the Toledo brothers know how to write depressive ballads. Listening to the whole cd I noticed it's a bit too long and I think it's sad cause without a few songs "The poet's senses" could have been much more "heartbreaking". Even if every single ballad is really inspired, most of the tracks arrangements could be improved (that's a personal opinion). This last thing anyhow has also to do with the fact this cd has been recorded almost three years ago therefore it can be considered a really good debut. Dark-folk traditionalists can put the name Silent Love of Death in their agendas but if you're looking for a Sol Invictus, Blood Axis, Curent 93 oriented band, well you'd better listen the cd a couple of times.
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Artist: H2S (@)
Title: Le voyeurisme de l'absurde
Format: CD EP
Label: Black Orchid/Biostasi
Rated: *****
H2S comes from Italy, his debut release was a split 3" cdr with Cassetta Dinamica. "Industrial is the thing!" and if ever anyone has been labeled as "analog-industrial": you can bet this definition fits really well with the music of H2S. Analog synthesizers, drum machines used to give an "electro" atmosphere to distorted bass almost in loop. I got the impression that Fabio Degiorgi's music is deliberately obsessive as the sound of some samples gets sometimes mechanical like in the fourth track "Vulcano 3". H2S performed and recorded everything by himself and without any doubt he did a really good job since many "official" records sound much worse. There's that "eighties" flavor here and there, I think it has to do with Fabio's taste when using keyboards and drum machines, so I'd say it all is completely intentional. Sometimes the single track may sound a bit "long" but if "obsession" is one of the main plot of the cd, "the weight of repetitions" becomes part of the ticket. Gas masks landscapes, "ordinary life" viewed as "repetition" and s&m sex...who knows why but that's what comes to mind when listening to "Le voyeurisme de l'absurde". I think Fabio has to develop his music to the next level, but I wouldn't be surprised if after every release he'd become more and more popular, he knows how to do it. This' a collectors item since it's limited to 150 copies.
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