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Artist: Alif Tree
Title: French Cuisine
Format: CD
Label: Compost (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Rated: *****
Altough he might sound just like another talented west coast downtempo-spinning Dj, Alif Tree is more than that: if were reading his resume you'd learn that he also qualifies as a a french cook, musician (guitar player, keyboard player, percussion player), singer, producer, sound-engineer, soundtrack/tv scores writer, dance ballets music writer, remixer, and radio host (in his bi-monthly radio show "Le Meilleur Des Mondes" the theme consists of combining the soundtrack of a movie with other musical selections, offering the listener "another way of seeing with ears"."French Cuisine" is a fine dining experience with a little bit of all of the above, where track names are followed by a references to food and a lot of samples and collaborations with singers and musicians will make you enjoy yourself, kick back and attempt to recognize who's who (you'll hear Shirley Horn, Anna Karina, Nina Simone, David Linx, Ana Carril of Mano Negra, Maurice el Medioni, Lili Boniche, Khaled). The CD also contains homages to Franz Shubert and Steve Reich.The beauty is to be found in balance. Balance is key. Altough a record of this sort calls for many technological angles and approaches, Tree underpins all the "digitaltreeness" with a deep understanding and sense for live performance and art, and constatly flirts and gambles with juggling urban vibes, classical-arranged parts, jazz-inspired grooves, world-reminiscent moods and multi-language lyrics. His website is supposed to offer recipes and menus combined with musical selections that will make for a unique dining experience: enjoy and bon appetit.
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Artist: Morgan (@)
Title: ...and the moon was hungry...
Format: CD
Label: Obscura records
Rated: *****

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Formerly know as Morgan Grace, the now addressed as just Morgan, is at her full length debut (after an EP), which was also produced by the Wizard of Oz (Liz Phair). Described as a "love child of of Trent Reznor and Blonde Redhead" I can definitely see where that's coming from, in fact the opening track is almost a clone of the typical NIN slow-distorted piano pieces' vibe. This CD is very various and gives her an opportunity to be all over the place and show her chops in different areas. Having been classically trained on the piano from the age of 4 with the Suzuki method (little theory, lots of ear training) and, more recently, on the cello as well (by Eels' cell player Ana Lenchantin), Morgan is definitely a hands-on woman, who played a lot in her record (besides signing of course) and who is in control and knows what she wants and how to achieve it (surely, in great part, thanks to the producers involved). Her vision of combining industrial-rock and classical music, must definitely be close to what this sounds like. Piano parts, cello arrangements, dramatic and operatic pieces, cinematic moods, ethereal feel, noisy beats, electronic textures, guitars and the whole nine yards are just some of the elements that make up for " ...and the moon was hungry...", a record that could be described as NIN meets Evanescence and Blonde Redhead. As for her vocals, she is very versatile and flexible, and as long as you like rich female voices such as the ones of Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Judith Owen, Amy Lee, Kate Bush, Kirsty Hawkshaw or even Yvonne Ducksworth, at times, then you'll definitely find your peace with Morgan.The CD also includes a live track. Morgan's keeping busy: she is now touring and recently landed a part on Harry Potter's trailer. She's also writing her first poetry book and hand-makes a line of custom merchandise (pins, dolls etc). Definitely what you call an all around complete artist.
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Artist: Stefano Panunzi (@)
Title: Timelines
Format: CD
Label: RED (@)
Distributor: S{d (Silenzio distribuzione)
Rated: *****

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Italian keyboard player, composer and producer Stefano Panunzi is not one who does things half way: disregarding all the constraints and restraints that a place like Italy puts on musicians' ability to play good music, he put together a great debut record (tracked between Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan and mixed/mastered in Italy) that looks, feels and sounds a lot more mature than what most debut records usually do.The eleven tracks of "Timelines" deliver a thick load of progressive influences blended in with electronica, downtempo, rock and jazz that fans of David Sylvian, Japan, Jansen, Barbieri & Karn, King Crimson, Mark Isham, Porcupine Tree, No Man, Marco Polo, Indigo Falls etc will surely appreciate. What sets this album apart is the fact that for almost every band I just mentioned there is a special guest appearance of one of thier members: Mick Karn (Japan, Rain Three Crow) kicks in the high gear on several songs of the album with his round, funky and remarkeably fusion extraordinary bass playing; Gavin Harrison's (Dizrhytmia, Porcupine Tree, Mick Karn) elegant drumming spices things up and locks in with Karn's performance; Haco (Happines Proof, Hoahio, Kam-pas-nel-la, Mescaline Go-Go, After Dinner, Guigou Chenevier) adds a sweet and soft female touch with her sensual Bjork-ish vocals; Peter Chilvers (No Man, A Marble Calm, Bowness/Chilvers, Henry Fool, Darkroom, Alias Grace) adds his string textures to a dreamy and ethereal track; Mike Applebaum (Randy Brecker, Stan Getz, Gil Evans, Leonard Bernstein, Ennio Morricone, Ivano Fossati) delivers a reverberated, moody, relaxed, rapturing, genuinely british-sounding flugelhorn performance; Sandra O'Neill (Alias Grace, A Marble Calm, Bernard Hoskin) and her vocal qualities take the opening track to the poppiest place the record goes to; Markus Reuter (Centrozoon, Europa String Choir, Pat Mastellotto), who readers of Chain D.L.K. are quite familiar with because of his amazing work with Centrozoon reviewed on these pages, plays his warr guitar (a touch-style instrument that very few play or know how to play). In addition to all the international guests, Panunzi recruited some of the finest locals, such as: Nicola Alesini (Glen Velez, Hans Joachim Roedelius, David Sylvian, Roger Eno, David Thorn, Harold Budd, Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri), who delivers a deep clarinet (and answering sax) performance that really reaches new heights when coupled with Stefano's intense and nostalgic keyboard playing; Daniele Iacono (Jovanotti, Tiromancino, Ron, Paola Turci, Niccolò Fabi, Aladnah, Daniele Groff) plays drums on a few tracks; and Giacomo Anselmi (Antonello Salis, Dario Deidda, Nuova Tribù Zulù) enriches the opening track with some good old acoustic guitar strumming and electric riffs as well. The list goes on and on: Fabio Fraschini, Nicola Lori (bass); Angelo Strizzi, Giampaolo Rao, Diego Mancini (drums), Giancarlo Erra, Nicola Lori (guitars); Rima (spoken voice); Laura Pierazzuoli (cello).It's very rare to find so much talent in one record, but Stefano Panunzi decidedly and pretty much single-handednly (no pun intended!) delivered a great-sounding, refined, sophisticated and very engaging album, the quality of which is truly amazing and impressive, and will hopefully instantly place Stefano Panunzi in the high-fly zone.