Music Reviews



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Artist: Les Nouvelles Lectures Cosmopolites
Title: Friesengeist – Part 2
Format: CD
Label: Musea (@)
Rated: *****
I had never heard of this artist or the person behind it, Julien Ash. This is part 2, but alas, I do not have part 1, so I have no way of telling how it compares. Nicely packaged, but the liner notes could be more extensive. For example, I really like the woman’s voice on some of the tracks, but there are four different people credited with vocals as well as one person credited with "ghost voice." If I had to classify this, I would put file it under neo-classical. The press sheet states that "his works evoke Michael Nyman’s style, without forgetting Pascal Comelade’s or Jean-Philippe Goude’s universes."Because this kind of stuff is difficult to review, I’ll try something a bit different. After a few listenings, I listened to the track and wrote a play by play action – here goes: Track 1 – Starts off with what sounds like a child singing, blends then turns to nice piano.Track 2 – Piano, guitar, and a woman singing in French.Track 3 – Piano with violin, kicks in with some drumming. Sort of a Muslimgauze feel to it, which fades out just as it was getting enjoyable back to piano and guitar.Track 4 – This is a bit odd – the singing is back but almost reminds me of a weird mix of pop and goth violin. Doesn’t quite seem to fit in with the first 3 tracks. I like the woman’s voice though. Then shifts into a different kind of track about 4.5 minutes in, as if they decided to put two different songs on the same track. The staccato violin plucking on this one starts to wear on you after a while, but then about 6 minutes in, we’re back to the original feel of the track. Track 5 – Back to piano and guitar. Not bad easy listening, but there are a few instances of static interspersed, which is nice. Bells at the end is nice, but almost doesn’t fit with the previous track.Track 6 – More nice neo-classical.Track 7 – At 15:34, this is the longest disc on the CD. Guitars and drums kind of remind me of old Durruti Column, which is never a bad thing. But then at 4:45 in, it abruptly stops, changes gears, goes to piano with spoken male vocals. Then at 7:45, it shifts gears again, loses the vocals and brings in some bells/brass percussion into the mix. I really like this segment. Track 8 – OK, but the chorus of people singing doesn’t quite work for me. Track 9 – Pretty good piano track.The main problem I had with the disc is that the tracks seem to go on past what they should. It is as if they arbitrarily decided a length for a track, but when the piece had been completed and come up short, they added pieces of another track. Don’t get me wrong – disjointed can be good. It just doesn’t seem to work in this case too well, probably partly because of my own classical training and partly because it seems like the sonic equivalent to watching television with someone who changes the channel just as things are getting interesting. I think that there are a lot of good things happening here, but unfortunately the band switches gears just as you’re getting into it.Overall, this is pleasant listening. With the exception of a couple of tracks, it would fit right in with the rest of your classical collection but nothing too groundbreaking on this disc. For my tastes, the segments that were the most interesting were the ones where they incorporated a variety of sounds. The piano / violin combo just doesn’t do much for me. Your mileage may vary.
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Artist: DAVID WELLS
Title: op.3
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: The Locus of Assemblage
Rated: *****
Scottish soundmaker David Wells has run one of most interesting cdr labels of the last few years, The Locus of Assemblage, which is now sadly over due to his relocation. Luckily, his own musical activity is going to continue, having recently released a collaborative split 3" with Paul Bradley (on Twenty Hertz, review soon), and a "Droneworks" ep before that. "op.3" has been his first self-released work, and, to be honest, it's also my favourite one. Not that the following ones were bad (quite the opposite, actually), but this darker, monolithic track is surely my cup of tea; I've been listening to it quite a lot lately, and it's always a nice 20 minutes to sink in. Wells only, or mostly, uses environmental recordings of water, and, I venture, some natural drones highlighted by reverbs and equalization: a minimal set of elements, but arranged with great skill. After its first more subdued half, the piece slowly billows to a powerful bass-heavy drone; not unlike many "ambient" untitled works by López, surely the best comparison for this work along with mnortham's darker recordings.
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Artist: ORIGAMI SUBTROPIKA
Title: Ultimatum
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: The Locus of Assemblage
Rated: *****
This 3" cdr has been out for a while, but it'd be wise to get one of the last copies before it becomes unavailable, due to the recent demise of The Locus of Assemblage. The Puerto Rican branch of the Origami empire is formed by Jorge Castro, of Cornucopia fame, plus one mysterious A182 - possibly Castro himself or one of his tools, but that's only my guess. To quote the press release, the ep "is based on US weapon testing in the waters surrounding Puerto Rico and the condition 'Vibra-Acustica' which has afflicted the local population", and the sounds it contains are quite scary indeed. "Ultimatum A" begins with piercing high-end tones, abruptly exploding into a wall of white noise. The piece later caves in, leaving only a disquieting aftermath of scattered particles and barely audible drones, elements which are further explored in "Ultimatum B", a perfectly arranged composition of audio debris. Not to be mistaken for a one-off divertissement, this is a great record of destructive but eventually elegant noise, which reminds of similar incursions by Duncan, López or Ilios.
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Artist: Tomo
Title: For Many Birthdays
Format: CD
Label: Daft Alliance
Rated: *****
San Francisco-based Tomo is the minimalist architect of an almost completely electronic soundscape, with more than enough sequencing, pitchbends, clicks, pops, LFO quaverings, flatulent time-stretch retardations and bouncing-pinball sounds to do Aphex Twin proud. On For Many Birthdays, his sophomore release for Daft Alliance, he crawls way up inside his headspace, leaving little room for the body, yet he emerges with a purely pointillist masterpiece that's all very rhythmic and not at all chaotic -- in other words, there is song structure that makes sense in every track. Maybe too abstract for some, but if you're the type who can sit staring out the window of a subway train and become flat-out mesmerized simply by watching varying brick patterns, wall textures, warehouse windows, pipes and odd pieces of garbage whir by, you can definitely roll with this recording. The title of the first track, "Time Is Me and It's Moving," certainly suggests as much. Others, like number nine, "Let Me (See) Think? See?" are just plain goofy and fun, with wacky vintage synth. The music doesn't remind me of (m)any particular influences, and I find that refreshing. As far as Birthdays is concerned, Tomo, here's to many happy returns.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Plutonium Showcase V. 2
Format: CD
Label: Plutonium Distribution (@)
Rated: *****
This new showcase of the Swedish Plutonium label is more than a simple label compilation, it represents the rich and active content of several acts of the Three-Crowns country. And so several guest appearances can be discovered here and all featured acts here do their best to give a convincing listening as well as a rich amount of diversity in styles. Things start well with the opener PROJECT-X and a special remix done by COBALT 60 on their track "Stay Awake" - not that expected straight EBM piece but still decent done. MORTICIANS, Plutonium’s very own recording act, comes next here and give us already a new piece from their upcoming next release. AUTO-AUTO are one of these uncountable Synthpop acts somewhere comparable with the known ELEGANT MACHINERY and several reminiscences taken of the Pop/Wave influences of the Eighties. One of the highlights of this whole comp follows then with the one-man act CRYO, recently signed to Progress Productions. Their track "The Pain" combines old school EBM structures with well sounding male vocals and mysterious sounding synth layers - marvelous played, definitively a track which makes me eagerly awaiting their debut CD. CJ Parker comes next and built a smile on my face regarding their Diva-like vocals and its content. WHITECHAPEL is one of the upcoming acts on Plutonium, a female leaded act combining almost Dark Electro with some harder rhythms - maybe the Swedish answer on acts like PSYCHOBITCH. DIN STALKER comes next with an instrumental piece and presents a convincing synth play, while the effort of PSILODUMP can’t grab attention. We are in the middle of the running time of this comp and some more or less average stuff takes part here. NORTHERN ELECTRIC is also one of the upcoming acts recording for Plutonium and they present here an old school influenced EBM piece with German lyrics. Next act is SADAKO’S FURY and they mix Electro elements with Rock’n Roll - uuhm, here we get good male vocals mixed with distorted percussion efforts - stuff which needs some habit. INSTANS is the lesser distorted Electro/Industrial side-project by SEVERE ILLUSION. Lesser distorted means here that this effort by both Ulf Lundblad and Fredrik Djurfeldt is more straight and linear. Distortion and destroying elements are still present of course, but for INSTANS it sounds more programmed and lesser influenced by chance. Also the vocals and its effect penetration differs from SEVERE ILLUSION, although I must say, that they could be better placed in the floating mix of this track. The north Swedish duo MICROBODY comes next with a hard old school EBM piece called "Consumer’s Decay". It is a hard and fast paced track which awakes some Punk reminiscences. ETERNITY RANGE is a side-project by a MORTICIANS member and they play a dark and slow form of Synthpop - a very beautiful piece. AKEUM SON is a French/Swedish connection and they also definitively explore the harder and darker side of Electro/Industrial. Comes then SEVERE ILLUSION with a new track which moves into a new and different direction than their latest releases. Minimal synth play, chaos and destroying elements are reduced to almost zero, surprise, surprise! Unexpected stuff and it definitively bound me at the headphones for some more rotations to get conformity in it. The duo of TWZ is also back here with an amazing new piece "Terror Cell" and their development in vocals and music is nice to see/hear. Follows then THE PAIN MACHINERY with a hard, fast and chaotic noisy track which differs a lot from the latest release "Hostile" - maybe this piece is a bit older here? Finally this comp ends with another instrumental piece of a project TRASHCANDOGCHOIR.
Also this compilation lives a lot from its exclusive content and the unexplored talents which seem to be so damned rich present in Sweden. Definitively a good initiative and I hope for some continuations.

Tracklist:

01 Project-X - Stay Awake (Insomnia remix by Cobalt 60)
02 Morticians - Overlords
03 Auto-auto - Dog
04 Cryo - The Pain
05 CJ Parker - Beutiful Boys
06 Whitechapel - Dead Channelz
07 Din Stalker - Ohne Zuschlag
08 Psilodump - Vuoksa
09 Northern Electric - Normal (neu)
10 Sadako's Fury - Once upon a time
11 Instans - Break the Glass
12 Microbody - Consumers Decay
13 Eternity Range - Goodnight
14 Akeum Son - The Infinite Power
15 Severe Illusion - In your hostile little face
16 TWZ - Terror Cell
17 The Pain Machinery - Empathy
18 Trashcandogchoir - Our Engines
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