Music Reviews

Artist: William C. Harrington (@)
Title: Urban Electronic Music
Format: CD
Label: Angry Vegan Records (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
1. The Overture

[random sample hold pinched cycles of faux bagpipes and tweeting electro-birds circling overhead - wooden branches of electric trees cracking in the wind – particles of sunlight brushing against insistent green]

2. God Bless the Miners

[tolling of industrial bells calling the laborers to work – action and time passes unnoticed – the divine intrudes on the consciousness and interferes with work – labor is the opiate of the Masses]

3. Enola Gay

[the hum of summer – the hum of engines – the hum of a tune – signs of summer – signs of engines – whistlestop]

4. Cuckoo to You

[electric beak and steel perch – silver forest and aluminum leaves – twist and turn and twist again]

5. Belles I

[on the back porch - moonrise]

6. Remnants

[I heard it – so did you – something this way comes – circus of freaks in buses – reality Ruth! – epileptic, schizophrenic manic depressive]

7. Jungle Birds

[path and undergrowth – signs of life – hidden safely – observant eyes – who has seen the wind – tendrils and claws – shake, rattle and roil]

8. Days Left

[direction to go – fork in the road – journey ahead – a ringing in my head – only my hair dresser knows for sure – sunlight draws a circle in my eyes – heat and haze and heart – hour glass and horticulture works the same ground as my hands]

9. Organ Song part I

[the body electric sings – sound the portals open – conversation ensues – communication seems possible – transmission is desired]

10. Belles II

[metal skirts of purest iron – brazen tassels swing and sway as they walk – they are the belles of the ball]

11. My Guitar

[repetition is the mother of learning – wisdom is the fountain of life – living provides examples of consequence – stay on the path!]

12. BOX

[precious fragility – the imposition of time and demand – attention dwells – think outside – a breath of fresh air? – six sides are enough]

13. One for Nick

[the saint? – the devil? – why only one? – traumatize and fantasize a willing reality – no chance for regrets – one foot in front of the other]

14. I Slept Through Vespers

[black and white – recrimination – somnambulant sisters – ring of cloth, ring of bells]

Artist: TWZ (@)
Title: It Hurts When I Breathe
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
A new self-released CD of this talented Swedish duo is out now, and – I can say this in advanced – it passes all expectations. Special limited available from their website, this edition looks like a 7 " vinyl single and features 6 new tracks, 3 remixed and revamped versions plus some various previews. This band has developed a lot since their last CD "B-Sides 0" and "The Sixth Extinction". Their songs now go mostly direct from the ears to the brain into the body, they’ve won a more straighter attitude. This CD opens with the title track, an instrumental and dark melodic piece filled with some Russian voice samples. "Continuation" sets the first mark and already with this track it gets conspicuous, how linear the band now produces their track. There is a hypnotic effect behind their synth play and bass lines, and I recommend a good pair of headphones to recognize the rich and detailed musically content behind this new pieces. It is nice to see that all following songs share this ideal and do not fall down in quality. "Clairvoyance" finally turns into a hefty stomp-feast by focusing on a tougher insert of some rusty drum patterns, but my favorite piece is "We Don’t Walk The Same Path", which simply features all good elements of the band, but it has against to the other pieces here the best worked out melodic content, especially when you listen to the end of this track. After this 6 new tracks follow 2 remix works on both tracks "Continuation" (slows down the tempo and features monotonous bass lines similar to some OBSZÖN GESCHÖPF works...) and "Clairvoyance" (less aggressive, it lays more concentration on the musically content...), and both offer welcomed alternative views of this tracks. Next to some preview works we have a revamped 2006 version of the track "My Friend Disorder", originally taken from "The Sixth Extinction" CD to conclude this CD.
I also don’t wanna say nothing about the fact that I could receive a special bonus album called "Prologue: Death’s Dance" featuring 4 extra tracks and the title track in two different versions. So make sure to check out the given details on the website of this band, they offer real friendship packages featuring all of their products to a fair price. Friends of Dark Electro/EBM will make their contact to purchase stuff from this up and coming act from Sweden.

Artist: COUCH
Title: Figur 5
Format: CD
Label: Morr Music (@)
Distributor: Wide
Rated: *****

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On the CD cover the name of the band from Munich is spelt with wood models of the five letters C-O-U-C-H, lined up in three rows. The keyboards/drums/bass/guitar band couldn’t be better visually described. Couch design their music much the same way: it feels regular, colourful, yet also wooden, sharp-edged, as though it were constructed out of Lego blocks. "Figur 5" is instrumental post-rock, competently played, based on repetition and gradual accumulation. I am reminded of a sadder, more introspective version of math rock, but after the first four tracks or so Couch seem to lose their way and play round and round with just the bare bones of an idea. Instead of building up momentum, they get tangled in the web they have woven and the sense of impending danger is completely lost. The CD closes with "Läss nicht nach", a nice example of Couch "figur", an arabesque precisely carved with guitar and keyboards, and yet a track that does not leave a particular emotion. Maybe it’s the sense of urgency that has escaped this CD. All the more pity, since the opening track had promised a touch more energy and direction, which gets stifled after the first three tracks. Let us not give them up, but "Figur 5" is successful only in parts.
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Title: Grey
Format: CD
Label: Southern
Distributor: Wide
Rated: *****

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Southern Records have reissued for the first time LoK’s "Grey" 4-track Ep (1983) and "Sirens are back" Lp (1984). More than 20 years have passed and LoK’s anarcho-post-punk may sound to some nostalgically dated, but it is also a timely reminder of a fiercely independent ethics and a desperately lucid commitment to the underground’s struggle against militarism, law and order values and the tyranny of economic oppression. LoK issued their handful of records for Crass Records and Corpus Christi Records and were one of the music underground voices against Thatcherite Britain. Their music is an impassionate mirror of those times, teeming with apocalyptic images, not just of nuclear weapons but of last-ditch stands, rebels and teenage proletariat. At the same time, their songs can still move, their melodies may not cover too wide a ground but they are insistent, sincere and creative, within the parameters of the genre. The basslines approach a Gang of Four style and LoK entirely deserve to be listened to even after such a long a time. Indeed, today’s political scenario was in a way foreseen by committed prophets of doom and rebellion such as LoK. Their imagery is always concrete, rooted in the material conditions of life in post-industrial Britain, which is the saving grace of most LoK’s lyrics. There’s cinematic poetry in scenes like this one, from "Another sunset": "Leaning over the balcony gazing at the illuminated seascape, now devoid of its once teeming life, you wonder why you decided to stay. Returning to the interior your cassette groans at its slow death, a dreadful parody of what was once music fills the room and your mind, reminding you of its former melody". The abstract language of apocalypse is always matched by references to individual choices, places and things, so that LoK speak to us as finally committed to humanness, despite everything. I confess that I am one of those who bought the original "Sirens are back" Lp at the time. I, too, am a child of those times, and of the times that have elapsed since. I am happy that LoK haven’t been entirely forgotten.
Title: A.r.c.
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Morr (@)
Distributor: Wide
Rated: *****

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This Bavarian ensemble (not a trio at all!) is by now an established presence in Europe, and this is the latest multimedia offering, on Morr Records. On the CD there is one long track, "a.r.c. - studio version" (nearly 20 minutes), while the DVD is the main reason to consider buying the package, as it presents one full live concert of the band (8 tracks, among which "a.r.c" itself) recorded in 2004 in Munich, plus 3 videos spanning 1997 to 2003, and three other bonus live tracks, with variable video quality. All in all, therefore, an excellent chance to get to know Tied and Tickled Trio, who have fused contemporary jazz with rock elements and electronics since 1994. Samplers and specially-built instruments vie with tenor sax, upright bass and trumpet in an effort to bring jazz into the digital age. Listening to the CD track might leave one thinking that jazz is a hard beast to tame, but the live concert at the Registratur in Munich shows a far less traditional approach, as well as the groovy dub rhythms and club feel that the Trio manages to inject. The video recording is especially worthwhile for the excellent sound quality, making it a really nice listening experience. Don’t expect the club roof to fall down or the crowd to tear down the place, by all means. In Munich they behave themselves, apparently. The video footage tries its best to bring movement by switching cameras, showing the musicians playing while being recorded on LCD screens, or cutting to the bar and the crowd. A certain rough edge is preserved and the video is definitely subservient to the music. This means you can put your DVD on, turn the volume up and enjoy the music without being glued to the video all the time. You can relax, find your own inner groove and be enticed by this "non-purist" jazz, as they define it on their website. Two videoclips, "Tusovska Dub" and "Revolution", are worth mentioning, too. The first video track is an odd space adventure where two bands of men fight over the possession of two Earth females; the home-recording feel is actually well suited to this strange, eery fable. "Revolution" is an animation film, in which a miniature busload of blue blob-like creatures is shown round the supermarket alleys to find that every revolutionary hero has given his or her name to a brand product. Cute ideas for an ensemble who obviously stays away from jazz clichés and embraces pop irony and postmodernity...
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