Music Reviews



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Artist: PAUL BRADLEY
Title: Liquid Sunset
Format: CD
Label: Twenty Hertz
Rated: *****
Bradley is tirelessly putting out new releases, and, when the quality is this high, prolificacy is welcome. His new full length, "Liquid Sunset", is probably one of his best solo releases indeed: its two parts remind of his most abstract guitar-based works, like "Sepulchral" or the first Dronework, but with the more serene and airy feel that was already present in "Anamnesis". The guitar inputs are thus transformed into warm floating clouds of sound, slowly lulling the listener - perfect evening soundscapes, just like the title evokes. And besides the inherent beauty of the work, one notices Bradley's increasing mastery of the tools of trade, as his releases keep getting more and more refined.
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Artist: NETHERWORLD & FIORENZA GHERARDI DE CANDEI
Title: Lost
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Penumbra
Rated: *****
Penumbra is a new sublabel of Oophoi's Umbra, releasing shorter works by ambient musicians. "Lost" is a single 22-minute track of Alessandro Tedeschi's extraordinary project (here at processed field recordings, loops and voice), with Fiorenza Gherardi de Candei at chant and lyrics. The experiment (i.e. adding sung vocals to an isolationist ambient soundscape) is quite risky, but the two artists luckily match very well, and Tedeschi has skillfully chosen how to distribute Gherardi de Candei's distant vocal melodies and the anguished spoken text which dominates the last minutes. I know the "mix X and Y" thing is lame, but try and imagine Mick Harris' desolate drones in the "Murder Ballads" series crossed with Lycia at their bleakest, and you'll get close to the atmosphere of this successful ep.
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Artist: Verplanken
Title: The Missing Tracks
Format: CD EP
Label: Marie-Line T Discovery (@)
Rated: *****
Way more inscrutable and abstract than their previous release Autopsy of a Dream, Verplanken's 5-song follow-up EP The Missing Tracks is to say the least something of a non sequitur. "Voyage" and "Island," tracks one and three, resemble nothing so much as an atonal wash of sound reminiscent of the Hafler Trio or Brian Eno's ultra-minimal Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks album. Unlike Autopsy, there are no drums or rhythms of any kind. Not at all a bad recording as far as sound quality goes, and if echoey synth and disjointed bass patterns float your boat; but make no mistake, these Missing Tracks are definitely not party music.

Fripp-like guitar treatments on track two, "On the Edge," do little to dispel the disappointment one feels at complete lack of kinship with prior Verplanken work. Instead of bouncing along while exploring a whimsical and amusing new planet, we're cast adrift in space.
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Artist: The Barbarellatones
Title: Beyond the Valley of the Barbarellatones
Format: CD
Label: Nocturnal Movements (@)
Rated: *****
Fans of legendary goth/glam-meisters Sex With Lurch should rejoice at Lurch instigator Robbie Quine's latest foray into Rockabilly territory, and can safely ignore the above star rating. Everyone else take note: while musically something short of the caliber of sonic shock value that the Cramps are known for (and not to mention the high camp of the long-departed Celebrity Skin), at least Quine's lyrics are provocative enough to give you a lot to think about. His ironic and iconic musings remind one of Brian Eno, a personage he name-checks in track number three, "Fire of Love." Quine's vocal delivery itself is a gentle and sincere Bowie/Ray Davies/Ian Hunter blend, albeit minus the considerable talent of each, and as Beyond the Valley... progresses, the songs get downright sentimental and syrupy. Indeed it borders dangerously on the maudlin, as Quine takes on a strong hint of Neil Young in "Tarot Cards" and "I Killed Love".

On the other hand, the raunch factor is turned up to the max on opener "Hellhound" and track seven, "Baby Wants a Corndog," bringing with it all the sleazy desires that only males (of both sexual persuasions) can relate to. But only the sincerely bubblegum-ish "Candy Store" makes the best use of the Barbarellatones' bizarre and eclectic intent to synthesize a new hybrid of classic American rock 'n' roll. More polish and better playing throughout the CD would do wonders for tracks like the cross-dressing ode "Wicked Wahine", and generally would make the disc's simmering eroticism "pop". Only the ending of the bonus track "Cobra Dance" hints at the performance venom (pun intended) this release is capable of.
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Artist: EN DECLIN
Title: Trama
Format: CD
Label: My Kingdom Music (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
First of all I must say that I'm not into the kind of sound En Declin produce, so I can only review them comparing them to similar bands of the international scene. Anyway... The Italian band formed in 1996 as My End and after some line up change and two demo ("Amaranth" and a first edition of "Trama") they got the attentions of My Kingdom Music. Their music is deeply influenced by Tool, Into A Circle and Soundgarden and you can hear these influences clearly on their new version of TRAMA. The sad atmosphere of their dark ballads (where the acustic guitars, the drums and the bass guitar are the principal instruments) are well created and sometimes the guitar riffs break the tension by adding some energy. I'm not a lover of the '90s bands of the likes of Alice In Chain, so I can't fully appreciate the songs of En Declin but I assure you that their music is really good if you have in mind their influences.
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