Music Reviews



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Artist: VV. AA.
Title: Funkwelten 01
Format: CD
Label: Funkwelten (@)
Distributor: Nova media distribution - Audioglobe
Rated: *****
The world is just too big and there are too many records, labels, bands or just names I'm not able to remember, but right when I hear somebody complains for the millionth time about the lack of good bands/projects and blah, blah, bah...here it is: a sampler with a bunch of good electronic musicians I've never heard before. "IDM": Intelligent Dance Music, can you remember? Once it was Warp records, later some other interesting labels like Rephlex, Hefty...Funkwelten could be the next one, why not?!. Ok IDM means a lot and nothing in particular at the same time, let's say that the most of the songs contained in the sampler have a beat (that doesn't mean a strong beat "Detroit-techno-style"), but the interesting thing is that the tracks have a sort of "trait d'union" that's represented by the "dreamy-trance-post-wave" atmosphere. Piano loops, sad melodies, keyboards/strings symphonies and bass loops, does it sound like something that could be on K7! or Compost? Sure! But it could a selection of the best artists on both of the labels. Reminiscences of Carl Craig's "piano works", emotions a-la-Peace Orchestra, nordic touch not unlike Gus Gus, Bjork or early Biosphere. I think it could be a great record to relax yourself after work and at the same time something they could dance to in a club up there in the deep North. The most of the tracks have a really high standard but For A Space, Satsuma and Echorausch (probably the most introspective artist of the whole lot) deserve a particular mention. In your cd collection it could be the cd next to Warp records' "Artificial Intelligence".
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Artist: CHRIS BROWN (@)
Title: Rogue wave
Format: CD
Label: Tzadik (@)
Rated: *****
It's always great to review a record on Tzadik, you never know what to expect, obviously something "not so ordinary" and Chris Brown is exactly that: "not so ordinary". This composer comes from the West Coast like Terry Railey and James Tenney and like them can be considered an innovator in the composing process as you can easily hear from this release. Chris Brown sound is different because he uses "different means, different tools and different approaches", that's a cheap explanation, but now you know why it all sounds a bit "weird". If I say besides being a composer and a pianist he's an electronic musician it can make you think to the latest Afx Twin (Draqs), or on the other side you'll think to something in the vein of John Zorn's "Songs from the hermetic theater", but "Rogue wave" is not like the most of the things you may have heard before. This collection of six works/compositions from 1984 to 2004 is a complex portrait of a composer striving to find his own particular way of expression. "Transmission tenderloin" could be a patchwork of radio transmission played/de-composed by two computers, in "Retroscan" a piano work gets processed live by an interactive computer program (it reminded me of the swiss electronic musician RM74). The title-track erupts into a sort of magma made out of electronics, scratching and percussion (nothing in comparison to "Cloudstreams/Bellwethers" in which the "Orchestra" is represented by a "five piece computer ensemble"). In "Flies" the atmosphere returns to what could be defined "the bastard son of chamber music and live-electronics". Probably the most "traditional" track (if you consider Railey and friends "traditional") is the last one "Alternating current", it has been composed around 1984 but as you can hear the mind of the "young Brown" was already incredibly fertile. It took me three or four listening to "catch this Wave" but with some patience I did it, well, that's the point: the music of Chris Brown is not "weird" but simply "personal" and innovative, it puts Chris Brown at the forefront of electronic composition while coming from a "classical" background (you can still hear it here and there). "Rogue wave" it's outstanding and you'll discover a new detail after every listening.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: A Tribute To Dead Or Alive
Format: CD
Label: Section 44 (@)
Rated: *****
If I think about the Dead Or Alive, a couple of things immediately came to mind: their distinctive icon, Pete Burns and their hit album "Youthquake". Similar to the Fixx tribute project, Empire State Human produced, always for Section 44, the Dead Or Alive tribute. Even if the band is still active, they produced only five album and they knew the international success mainly for the "You spin me round (like a record)" single and for the "Youthquake" album. In my opinion the main difficulty of covering D.O.A. songs is the fact that every listener would for sure paragon the vocals of the various bands with the peculiar one of Pete Burns. Another thing to count is that D.O.A. were already an electronic combo, so the arrangements must be well personalised to pass the audience's judgement. Well, after listening to the compilation a couple of times, I can tell that all the band passed the exam and some with something more than a good impression! I was really impressed by the version of Astromill (their "Isn't it a pity" is a catchy pop/new wave version and it sounds really fresh), Giallo, The Dignity of Labour, Electroluvs, Baxendale (their "Come home with me baby" is a killer. It seems a remixed version of their own track...), Ganymede (their "Lover come back to me" seems more a Kraftwerk/Telex cover), Empire State Human, Spray (which had the difficult mission of covering "You spin me round -like a record" and it sounds pretty similar to the original version, being also more pumped and fast) and Royal Visionaries which make "Stop kicking my heart around" play like an early Human League song. The tracklist has been selected picking up tracks coming mainly from the second half of the 80's band period (from the albums "Youthquake", "Mad bad and dangerous to know" and "Nude"). Another album you shouldn't miss! P.s. Visit www.doatribute.com for more infos and audio clips.
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Artist: HELLFISH
Title: One Man Sonick Attack Force
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
Hip Hop, acid house, techno, gabba, hardcore and various improvised craziness. This are the first terms that popped out in my mind when I listened to Hellfish's ONE MAN SONIC ATTACK FORCE. The album basically is a compilation of recent 12"s and remixes and gives an idea of Hellfish's way of dealing with rhythms. Having no problems into blending reggae moments with gabber and soul music, Julian Cobb (which is also the owner of Deathchant records) sometimes surprise the audience: like on "Iron hand - Steelfinger remix" where he taskes the original Speed Freak theme and mix the 70's soul beginning with sprays of rage or like on "Rampage@218" where he creates an intriguing ambient track which little by little turns into an experimental track based on rhythms and noise. Remixes seem to me to be more experimental, because the rhythmical section and the changes of sounds are more radical respect the original tracks. On his tracks Hellfish tend to develop an idea (even if you've got to think that each track is based on different influences and sounds) while on remixes he use all his creativity tending to give an anarchic printing to the track structure.
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Artist: JIM FOX
Title: Descansos, past
Format: CD EP
Label: Cold Blue
Rated: *****
Written in memory of composer and friend John Kuhlman, "Descansos, past" sounds like the sweetest dirge ever, where the pain for loss seems to be diluted in serene recollections. Written by Fox in May 2004 and performed by Barry Newton (double bass) and a cello quartet formed by Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, Jessica Catron, Aniela Perry and Rachel Arnold, the 15-minute composition developes around the dialogue of solemn, repetitive bass picking, and the driving power of the strings, literally lifting the piece to the sky. As with the previous ep, "The city the wind swept away", Fox has written some painfully emotional music, and I envy the sage outlook on living its suggests.
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