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Artist: THE CORTET
Title: HHHH
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds
Rated: *****
Brought together by pianist Cor Fuhler (hence the name), The Cortet features well-known names of contemporary improvisation like Thomas Lehn (EMS analogue synth), Rhodri Davies (prepared harp), and John Butcher (tenor and soprano saxophone). Throughout its five tracks, the album is as unpredictable and bumpy as the beautiful cover photo (which incidentally reminded me of the final part of Julio Cortazar's "Rayuela") suggests. Often using a variety of tecniques and devices (e-bows, close miking, preparations etc.) that blurr the expected sounds into para-electronic forms, the Cortet knows how to range from a subtle, rarefied zen playing (not unlike + minus, to name but one similar experience) to quite intimidating crescendos. The third and longest track, "TH", sums it up very well. This is the kind of improvised recording you'll feel compelled to listen time and time again, to discover new details and hidden beauties at every incursion.
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Artist: Andy Caldwell
Title: Late Night With Andy Caldwell
Format: CD
Label: Swank Recordings
Rated: *****
This is a highly competent selection and mix of funky and soulful vocal house, worthy of a more upbeat Cafe del Mar. "Brand New Day," Caldwell's own opener featuring Gina Rene on vocals, sets the tone of the mix with a keynote style--Brazilian flavor with acoustic guitar. Recent tracks from Holmes, Mylo, Jaswho?, S.U.M.O. and Liquid People are featured, as well as another Caldwell track, "The Waiting Game" (Ronan's Deep Moody remix). According to the CD's own liner notes, this is first (or one of the first) in a series of "Late Night With" mixes, each starring a featured DJ. The intent is to present a "transcendent set of house grooves...without the snare rolls, melodramatic anthems [or] big room drama." I suppose that's a noble aim, if one ignores the fact that big rooms are largely how House and all the other dance genres got started in the first place. Nevertheless the tracks, as well as the mix, are top-notch and not overlong. This disc is most at home being played at your pool party, whereupon you put the DJ system on autopilot so you can go get a drink and mingle (as I can attest firsthand).
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Artist: LES ANGES DE LA NUIT
Title: Ruins of Victory
Format: CD
Label: Static Sky Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Records
Rated: *****
With the license deal between German label Infacted Recordings and Static Sky Records, this debut release of this trio hailing from Fort Lauderdale, FL, is now free and good available on the US market. Two of the three men behind this band, Milton Sanchez and Anthony Stuart, are also responsible for the harsh and noisy output of RETRACTOR, a Terror-EBM act recording for the Polish Black Flames Label. Musically this both projects cannot compared at all, here and there I can hear out some similar structures, some same sounds, but that’s it. LES ANGES DE LA NUIT are servicing the wide field of the Synth-, Electro- or Futurepop genre, however you would like to name it. The vocals are of course without overdriven use of effect, they are clear and well placed in the mix – unbelievable if you still have the style of RETRACTOR in mind. Their strongest moments the band offers here with tracks like "Apocalypse", "Forever and a Day" or "Promise", which are floating well on current tide of the Futurepop genre. The melodic lines of these tracks will move through your ears in your brain and will remain there, very remarkable work. Also a favorite is the track "I Find Myself", the only one on which this band includes some distorted vocals. This album does globally well, but it is hard for me to figure out the differences to the wide mass of comparable productions. It swims with all current tendencies, but here is nothing really bad or that sensational good that this album could grab bigger attention. A satisfying and decent album, but away from being groundbreaking.
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Artist: LITTL SHYNING MAN
Title: Hart Of The Wud
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Sonic 360 (@)
Rated: *****
Extremely expressive and creative Littl Shyning Man's debut mini CD is an inspired moment of music. The six tracks of the CD move through folk elements well mixed with electro experimentalism and rhythmic paths. Chris Haworth created HART OF THE WUD taking inspiration from Russel Hoban's futuristic folk tale "Riddely Walker". Thirty minutes are enough for being hypnotized by the ever evolving movements of Littl Shyning Man. Most of the sounds born from guitar treatments and are enriched with hip hop rhythms, loops, jazzy solutions and much more. If you are interested in gloomy atmospheres and creative ways of making music, you could be interested in checking HART OF THE WUD. The EP is available online only as every Sonic 360 release.
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Artist: SYSTEM SYN (@)
Title: Postscript
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis-Records (@)
Distributor: Alive!, Metropolis Records
Rated: *****
2004 was an important year in the already long history of Clint Carney’s band SYSTEM SYN, because this year marks the dedication to some more success and attention with the previous release "Premeditated". Only a year later and with the move from Sector 9 Studios to the big Metropolis-Records, this project – now grown to three member band – returns earlier than expected. The success formula behind the music of SYSTEM SYN is for sure still the same. Produced and mastered by Ted Phelps of IMPERATIVE REACTION, SYSTEM SYN offer us their vision of dark Electro-Pop music mostly based on already known structures and sounds. It is surely wrong here to ask for such a big word like "innovation" behind Client’s main project of course, everything could be listened earlier before from other bands or from his own predecessor release. Nevertheless the good production and the outstanding compositions of Clint Carney with some very personal influenced lyrics are worth to remark. The vocals are well balanced in the mix and are present here without the misuse of some harsh effects. Some good pieces can be discovered with "Burning Out", "All the Human Things" and/or "Now", mostly outstanding for their rich melodic input in combination with Clint’s excellent vocals. Also superb is the slow "The Saddest Sound Was You" where this band finally decided to slow down the tempo and to give the listener a more depressive piece. On the other hand I have found some tracks like "If You Never Heal" or "Existence in Neutral" which produce some doubts about. Are these tracks really ready done? They simply provide a big minimalism and seem to be filling stuff compared to the mentioned tracks before. So we have in all a decent release which wouldn’t lack of quality when the band could decide here and there to claim more originality in sounds and ideas. Not a bad release for sure, but far away to call it outstanding...
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