Music Reviews



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Artist: L'ENFANCE ROUGE (@)
Title: Krsko - Valencia
Format: CD
Label: Wallace (@)
Rated: *****
Francois Cambuzat and Chiara Locardi are back and if you're european and you're thinking they're "new jacks", probably you have been living isolated on a mountain top. With such a name I'm sure there's people thinking that what we have here is some "classy plastic project from France", I'm sorry for you but while the band is of course refined and, yes, can also be said labeled as "classy", nothing is so far from being "fake" or "plastic". L'Enfance Rouge this time is pictured in the maturity of its aging process, they got back to violence and to the full vigor of their "fisique". The power trio (including Jacopo Andreini) is back with a depressed, dramatic full-length. "Krsko - Valencia" is "hard", not just for the fact most of the songs have been manufactured with that rock/noise-rock touch french bands had back in the days, but its hardness stands in the lyrics. "Killer-rock-ballads for desperate times", nothing is light hearted in here and that's the first impression you get from listening the cd or from giving a glance to the layout. A good record as always, I'm sure the fans of L'Enfance Rouge can go and break their money pigs since it's not deluding at all. "Hurricane Lily" with the islamic singing at the end deserve a special mention as "THE" real masterpiece. There're some interesting "highs" even if not all the tracks are equally as impressive/intense as the last one, that's the main point: some catchy episodes and some good, but not outstanding tracks. Depressed-rock maniacs and noise-rock lovers if you remember nostalgically how "independent" meant something during the early nineties...Cambuzant and Le Enfance won't disappoint you.
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Artist: TOSHIAKI TAKAYASU
Title: Nagare
Format: CD
Label: Authorised Version
Rated: *****
Toshiaki Takayasu is a Japanese visual/sound artist, here releasing a cdr on UK Authorised Version, coming in the typical clam-shell packaging of the label. Except track 3, a mind-halting improvisation on metal chimes, and the strummed strings of track 8, I think that the main instrument played here is an organ. Track 1 introduces the cd with a gentle and subdued (shall I say "lowercase"?) tonal playing; track 4 fragments the sound into tiny loops and frequencies; tracks 5 and 6 seem to record both the inside mechanism and the output of the instrument; and track 9 is a sustained drone. Track 2 is the most electroacoustic sounding, with microscopic recordings of unidentified rattles and hisses. This is an arid description of its contents, but what makes Takayasu's work stand above many other similar ones is his capability to create an intimist ambiance out of minimal sounds and gestures. "Nagare" is indeed quite a delicate work, but luckily one where fragility is a redeeming quality rather than a defect.
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Artist: TATE AND LILES
Title: Without Season
Format: CD
Label: Twenty Hertz
Rated: *****
Two teddy bears on the cover and a surreal statue of a fox-headed boy on a wheelchair on the back: what else could you expect from the collaboration of these two drone masters? Judging from the liner notes, Darren Tate has handed his sounds to Andrew Liles who has then structured and mixed the five untitled tracks. Some acoustic guitar plucking and a few accordion improvisations (by guest musician Kathleen Vance) are recognizable here and there (track 2 and 5), but most of the work is the perfect mix of sustained drones and natural field recordings you'd expect - which necessarily reminds of Monos' tradition, especially the finest moments of "Sunny day...". Brighter and almost bucolic moments alternate with powerful, awe-inspiring atmospheres - but all is graced by that sense of mystery and magic which is common ground between the two artists.
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Artist: PAWEL GRABOWSKI
Title: Cirr's Songs
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records
Rated: *****
Grabowski is a young Polish soundmaker now relocated in Dublin, with a couple of releases under his belt, on Laub and his own Silence Is Not Empty label. Grabowski may be young but he surely doesn't lack talent and a refined style. Both "songs" are based on subdued, far-away drones and concrete elements (dripping water, a creaking door...), and the artist knows well how to weave captivating and emotionally engaging soundscapes with those minimal elements only. Grabowski's approach to minimal music reminds of great artists like Mirror, Coleclough or Monos - my favourite ep of the new Drone batch. This 7" comes in a black cover with a photo and, oddly enough, on black vinyl.
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Artist: SMOOTH QUALITY EXCREMENT
Title: Wahid
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records
Rated: *****
US artist J. Greco has possibly chosen one of the worst band name ever, but thanks God his music is on a different level. Greco, who has collaborated with Ure Thrall, Alan Trench and Kris Force, has already released three full-length albums as SQE, which unfortunately I don't know. "Wahid", on side A, is a powerful blend of oriental percussions and drones coming from processed and un-processed instruments (flute, guitars) - imagine a more layered and refined version of Muslimgauze and you'll get a picture. "Epitaph 3", on the flipside, is more droning and less physical, a vast and quite sombre soundscape of reversed sounds and altered voices. Some of Troum's epic compositions come to mind here as well. SQE will certainly appeal all fans of ethno-influenced ambient projects like Ure Thrall, Asia Nova, Rapoon, and the likes. I admit this is not exactly my cup of tea in the ambient field, but the quality of this project is undeniable. Beautiful layout and b/w marble vinyl.
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