Music Reviews



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Artist: FRANKLIN DELANO (@)
Title: Like a smoking gun in front of me
Format: CD
Label: Madcao/ File 13 (@)
Rated: *****
Their debut release was good, this one is way much better and is having a good resonance 'cause of the many u.s. connections it has. The italian readers of Chain dlk probably know this band has become quickly popular as "the band with the drummer of Massimo Volume", but for those who just know the last band, there's no other musical relation with Franklin Delano. The sound of this release brings near to those coming out on Perishable label and not just for the fact Rutili, Massarella and friends (Califone, Red Red Meat, Loftus, etc.) are appearing as guests here and there, but for the fact also Franklin Delano are reinterpreting american folk music to create something new. If on their debut Delano sounded really focussed on songwriting, on "Like smoking gun in front of me" the band has gone far away into an acid trip and started mixing elements from Califone, Jackie O' Motherfucker, desert rock a-la Calexico with fading drones that arise from the back of the scenario. Brian Deck was sitting behind the mixing desk giving it all an "american-sensation" as you can get from the title (the cd is coproduced with File 13 from Chicago). Differently from their previous album the band has put more emphasis on long instrumental passages cast into the framework of "folk ballads" with a good result. Everything is surprisingly good, let's say sometimes it works much better than many releases on Perishable, this cd is just a bit too long since sometimes it feels without a couple of tracks it would have been almost perfect. After their recent u.s. tour they've had some line up changes, I can assume the sound is probably changing again, but this' a good picture of their "lysergic" period: sometimes it sounds like a well done mix of Perishable's "folksters" and Kranky's "droners".
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Artist: NIELLERADE FALLIBILISTHORSTAR
Title: Halrum
Format: CD
Label: SNSE
Rated: *****
Sweden's NF are a mysteryous five-people collective whose first official cd, "Hackelsekista", was released last year on the black metal label Total Holocaust (proving that black metallers often have good taste and foresight for experimental music). "Halrum" is the result of four years of recordings and editings, and offers many impressive ambiences. NF mainly use junk metal pieces, scraping and banging on them, and adding manipulated environmental recordings throughout. The collective clanking leads to percussive pieces and moments of Dionysiac rapture ("Slusskammate", "Slaggvarp"), but the best parts are probably the creepy, droning ambient tracks of the core part of the cd, which really create a gut-wrenching atmosphere. The live scrapings remind of historical or more recent projects like Organum, The New Blockaders, Noise Makers Fifes and Lethe, but the pitch black atmospheres seem to be culled from Coil circa "How to destroy angels" or the "Hellraiser" soundtrack. Really a nice surprise from an up-and-coming name, and the cd actually gets better with each listen.
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Artist: IOVAE
Title: Civilization
Format: CD
Label: SNSE
Rated: *****
This is Iovae (aka Cincinnati's Ron Orovitz)'s second pro-released cd, after last year's "Quartervois" on Zarek, and a theory of limited run discs on Drone Disco, Chondritic, American Labels etc., including collaborations with Mammal and Burning Star Core. First of all, the cd looks extremely nice, with a b/w layout based on enlarged details of, I guess, an old engraving - minimal but very eye-catching. As for the sounds, Iovae is definitely a noisemaker - not overtly harsh and mean, but surely on the aggressive side of the spectrum. The recording is crisp throughout, but not much of the disc is really memorable for me. "Enlightenment" and "Grinder erupt", for example, are basically high end synth oscillations with some distortion, and that's it. Am I the only one to think that flat synth improvisations are a bit boring? All tracks sound like one-take recordings with minimum edits, and I guess they'd be nice live performances, but as they are they sound a bit unrefined. The opening "Formi", for instance, has some interesting shifts, but would have benefited from more layers or a more dynamic editing. My favourite track is the last one, "Ode to Schadenfreude", where turntable manipulation replaces the oscillators. Pitch shiftings, distortion and looping tecniques turn the original tune into a sort of menacing rumble - think of early Philip Jeck in a noisier version. Here the live feel is a plus and not a minus, and the piece definitely stands out from the more common noise tracks.
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Artist: CONTRASTATE
Title: False fangs for old warewolves
Format: CD
Label: Fin de Siecle media (@)
Rated: *****
"A really weird one", that's one the first impressions I got from the listening of "False fangs for old werewolves" and if you'll get this cd you'll probably agree with that impression. Contrastate should be "expired" for five years so far but if there's something that nobody can write or say about this cd is that it sounds "old fashioned" or "surpassed" (many of the songs are coming from the early nineties!). "Odd", that's a good adjective to describe the music of Contrastate. This retrospective should appear on the top of the want list of every dark/experimentalism listener but it could be of great interest for those looking for something that's "out of the ordinary" but with a great "phatos". Fin De Siecle Media wrote this band believed that "rather than trying to re-create studio material, new songs would have been specifically written to be performed live" and after I've read it I couldn't but think how intense their live performances should have been. A good studio work, many songs have a definite "isolationist-death ambient" cut, but there's also something really old that made me think of the early industrial/post-industrial projects like Coil, Current 93, Nurse with Wound and company, they don't remind of these bands (just the use of delays and some of the sounds) but they owe a lot to these people (who don't?!). Another interesting thing is that while their music is dead serious, Contrastate had/have a great sense of humor: while reading the notes included inside the booklet of this cd I thought they probably could have been the best people to hang out with but again it surprisingly "contrastates" with the feeling they create through their compositions.
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Artist: Little Plastic Pilots
Title: [s/t]
Format: CD
Label: Kanpai Records
Rated: *****
The debut CD of Little Plastic Pilots, brainchild of Los Angeles native and resident Sam Nelson, contains almost everything good about newer ambient electronica. A lot more emotional and introspective than, say, Lemon Jelly or Zero 7, LPP boasts an easygoing yet potent downtempo groove on tracks like the first, "Words and Letters In Color", and the fifth, "A Courtyard Full of Sun". The interspersed, minute-plus vignettes, such as "The Grumpy Chinaman" and "A Sam Is Born" give this disc a Moussorgsky-like "pictures at an exhibition" quality--you can just imagine little, secret stories unfolding.

Thankfully LPP is forward-looking enough in his sound not to revive too many trite 80s-style machine-musik artifacts, a retro mistake too many of his peers make. Nelson is developing a nice technique of rhythmically blending stuttering voice-samples and even some cheesy Speak-and-Spell syllables that occasionally add just the right hint of humor. Any more than that would be too much, but obviously he knows this, and stays on the correct side of clever.

This CD is already going in an utterly fantastic direction, but if the songs were somehow more sonically descriptive than they are, and the tracks a bit longer (or if there were simply more of the longer tracks), it would amount to nothing less than a sunshiny epic for the very near future. Which is when we'll hopefully be hearing from Little Plastic Pilots again.
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