Music Reviews



Artist: Sliptbeat / Rumpistol
Title: Copenhagen Jazz
Format: 10"
Label: Auditory Designs recordings (@)
Distributor: VME
Rated: *****
Not sure whether the CD is fucked up or my player doesn't like cheap CD-Rs, but it doesn't matter too much because the original for-sale version of this split EP is actually released by Auditory Designs recordings on 10" vinyl (beautiful format)...I didn't get much listening out of this but from the few un-affected minutes, I could tell that Splitbeat are into jazzy downbeat lounge-chillout. They are a Danish duo that uses drums, electronica, rhodes, trumpet and vocal samples. The flip side is left up to the electronic artist Rumpistol, who I didn't get the pleasure to check out because of what I said above, but who I read offers a 12-minute-long track called "Crowds" featuring the talented Rasmus Kjærsgaard on tenor saxophone.Basically what we have here is an all-Danish product, three tracks, nice rare format, beautiiful relaxing music from Northern Europe, just what you need to cuddle up in these cold days.
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Artist: Sasha
Title: Involver
Format: CD
Label: Global Underground (@)
Rated: *****
I've already reviewed this record back in June when I was sent the advance promo copy by their promoter MSO so I won't be repeating what I already said. You can read my review by clickin on the name Sasha at the top of the review (http://www.chaindlk.com/reviews/?id=1317). It's a great album, very intense, very true. Finally a different type of DJ album, where the DJ really is a musician and a producer and doesn't just label and market himself as such simply because he installed Reason on his computer. Sasha is a complete artist, one who takes his art beyond the mere act of mixing a bunch of records together in one continuous flow of music, one who re-works, possibly re-writes other people's songs, a symbiosis of a remixer, a mixer, a producer, an arranger, a writer, a Dj. Sasha is all of this and "Involver"'s re-elaborations of music by Unkle, Felix Da Housecat, Grand National, Spooky and Ulrich Schnauss prove it! What is really outstanding and worthy of mention and pretty much convinced me to review this album one more time is the art-work and packaging that the final release of "Inolver" comes in. I've never seen anything as beautiful and original. You'll have to see it yourself. The CD is packed in between a bunch of glossy postcard looking photos with notes about the song on the back (one photo for every song) plus cards for credits, back cover, front cover and more. All of these cards are shaped like a square with its outside edges bent inward. All of this is inserted inside an equally shaped soft plastic unfolding shell... Truly unique and magnificent... and what do you know, this review turned out longer than the original one ;-)
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Artist: Juno Reactor
Title: Labyrinth
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Over the years, Juno Reactor has established itself in the mainstream collective unconscious as the voice of high-energy techno music. From the early days of the psychedelic-trance of Luciana’ and Beyond the Infinite’, through to the more recognized contributions made to the Matrix films, Ben Watkins and his ever-rotating menagerie of contributing musicians have carved a niche for themselves above and beyond that of any of their contemporaries.More recent works have moved towards a fusion of techno with world-music. This has been done more creatively than the likes of Deep Forest or latter-day Delerium, thanks in no small part to the inclusion of genuine artists from other fields, and not just a heavy reliance on sampled chanting and beats. The pinnacle of this approach was achieved with Juno Reactor’s year 2000 magnum opus, "Shango". A blistering slab of passionate and original techno music, it was a consistent blast of adrenaline. 2004 sees the release of the followup, but does "Labyrinth" have the chops to match its predecessor? The answer, in a nutshell, is no. Not that it’s a bad release, but as we shall see, it falls short of its potential. "Labyrinth" is a nine-track release that clocks in at just under an hour. It sports the same spectacular production that has been a Juno Reactor trademark since the beginning; the engineering and mastering are a beautiful marriage of skill that creates a full, smooth audio experience regardless of sound system. This album is going to sound amazing no matter what it’s played on: impotent computer tweeters, glistening Bang & Olufsen sub-woofers, it doesn’t matter. Ben Watkins knows what sounds good, and it reflects in the aural quality of Juno Reactor.However, when we look at the writing itself, it becomes quite clear that there is little to Labyrinth that hasn’t been done previously. The CD opens on a high-note, with Conquistador 1 & 2’. This moody epic blends Spanish classical guitar with organic percussion and efficiently poetic synth lines. Sound familiar? It should; it is essentially a continuation of the opening track to "Shango", the spaghetti-western inspired Pistolero’. Similarly, the song called Zwara’ is virtually identical in mood and feel to the track called Hulelam’ on the last album. Sadly, these three songs are the highlights of the album, despite their similarity to earlier Juno Reactor material. This lack of innovation is disappointing, and compounded by the inclusion of two songs that were featured on the score for The Matrix Revolutions. These are supposedly remixed, but not to an extent significant enough to make them sound like anything more than they are; backing tracks to a fight scene we’ve already seen.Overall, Labyrinth is an elegant release that manages to artfully transcend its component genres, just like Shango did; however it does so at the cost of a certain raw vitality that fueled earlier Juno Reactor works. It is a worthwhile experience, but the lack of innovation and the filler tracks are a letdown after the highs of previous work. If you’ve never heard Juno Reactor before, then I’m sure Labyrinth will stand out as a dynamic, fresh approach to what techno music is capable of. If you’re a longtime fan of Ben Watkins, then this CD will fail to surprise you.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: New Sound Theory volume 3
Format: CD
Label: BasicLux records (@)
Rated: *****
I missed volume no.2 of the New Sound Theory compilations and I guess with that I didn't realize this cool label from Atlanta, Georgia, had been slightly changing ita ways. This third volume seems to continue with BasicLux's ongoing drift toward dancier shores. Seductive, mood-setting, chilling lounge & club motifs that will warm up every dancefloor, liven up every lounge, and spice up summer nights at music bars all around the globe. The CD comes in a beautifully packaged jewel case with a carboard wrapping case and features music by Night at the Baracuda, Fairytale of a New Day, Wamdue Project (remember the 1999 top selling "King of My Castle" single?), Lumiere, Madison Park of course, Goldlust, Perfect Porject, Lenny B, DJ Kemit, OzOn, Mudfish, Paul T, Soulfeenix & BiTeR mc, GrooveOholics, Junkyard, Bokster.
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Artist: Tomo (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Daft Alliance (@)
Rated: *****
Japanese transplant electronic musician Tomonori Yasudo has his fingers in a few pies, like San Francisco bands Coconut, Window Window and Willpower (currently) and The Boy Explodes (formerly). But here, Tomo is on his own. You could call "Tomo" an experimental album, of sorts, but it raises the question of what really "is" experimental and what is just badly conceived and executed music. I’m pretty open-minded about experimental music, I’m not adverse to difficult listening experiences so long as they are engaging. On first listen to this CD, all my instincts shouted "trash". I gave it a second listen and was able to analyze it a bit more deeply to discover exactly why I didn’t like it. For starters, Tomo’s overuse of celeste and bell-like synths and other cheapo-preset sounds became old quickly. Most of the music doesn’t rely on conventional form, but that in and of itself is not the problem- the real problem was that very little ever seemed to develop. There are elementary snippets of melody, scales, sequences, triads, etc. along with the odd chord here and there played on top of awkward, clunky beats and sometimes breakbeats. It all tended to sound like a used Casio synthesizer that worked initially, but malfunctioned quickly after the guy you bought it from disappeared. It reminded me a lot of the idea tapes I used to make when I bought my first synth (an ARP 2600) ages ago. The only piece of music that stuck with me on the whole disc was "Ritual Of Bubble", a more structure and evolved piece that recalls Yellow Magic Orchestra’s better moments. Okay, I still wasn’t sold... Third play yielded yet a new perspective- "this is kiddie music for adults"! The cartoonish aspects of the compositions seemed to come to the fore. Okay, now I realize it’s supposed to sound cheap and twee. Did I like it any better? Well no, not really. Still sounds mostly like the kind of recording novice synthesists might make while they’re trying out their gear. But at least I can respect it. Can’t say I’d highly recommend it, but you can’t please everybody.
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