Music Reviews



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Artist: MICHAEL RENKEL (@)
Title: errorkoerper III
Format: CD
Label: Absinth (@)
Rated: *****
Tonight I've tried so hard to sleep but it's just so hot that I've been rolling in my bed looking for something to do. Right after the very first listening I was thinking "errorkoerper III" was one of those ghostly records people should definitely listen to at night. I know you may think it could mean it induce to sleep but it has nothing to do with boredoms. Sure this Michael Renkel release is one of those "performance" where barely nothing is happening but in a really Satie-sque manner. Well, if only the french composer could have had the chance to listen to records like this I'm sure he would be touched by the fact "inexpressivity" is finally embodied in modern music and in many living musicians. Ok, let's make a list: this record is inexpressive and "nearly" nothing is happening...yes, but this series of compositions mainly based on a guitar processed through different effects and a laptop is really intense. Renkel minimal embroidery is so accurately prepared that I'm not afraid to say he probably did it with the serenity of a Zen monk immersed in his meditations exercises. Exercises, exercises... is all what this cd is about? I don't think so, while its primary essence is experimental-cold-electronic-music its root is electro-acoustic but for God’ sake not disconnected like many releases of the kind. Bravo, bravo Renkel and give a try to the resto of Absinth catalogue 'cause the label is damn interesting!.
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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!
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