Music Reviews



Artist: Dweller at the Threshold
Title: Ouroborus
Format: CD
Label: Hypnos/Binary
Rated: *****
Dweller at the Threshhold's newest album, "Ouroborus", is an instantly captivating CD. DATT's music is absolutely the perfect soundtrack to a journey through space. With this mesmerizing electronica, which hooks you with the most minimalist compositions, I wouldn't need suspended animation to traverse the long distances between stars, merely this music and a window through which to gaze at said stars. Self-styled composers of "spacemusic", a genre that's been around longer than many might guess, unless they're alread familiar with this style, DATT present electronica that is ethereal and ambient and dark (as space is dark, not evil), music that slowly reaches you with its sounds of deep space, the song of the planets. Sometimes the music manifests as elongated washes of ambient, at other times a more note-after-note progression. At no time does the atmosphere break. DATT is easily one of the best artists - space music or music at large - I have experienced of late. These tunes are epic and reaching and engrossing in a major way. This is the very sound of your journey through the reaches of outer space translated into music. Incredible.
Artist: Nicki Jaine
Title: Of Pigeons and Other Curiosities
Format: CD
Label: Shaman Records
Nicki Jaine's "Of Pigeons and Other Curiosities" is a moody, shadowy piano driven river of poetry in motion. The lyrics are one of the strong points of Jaine's music. She sings of gothic things like ghosts, etc., but also explores the sadness of the soul. The instrumental aspect of the compositions are rooted in her spooky piano playing (which hints heavily, at times, of slow motion cabaret/burlesque) but often employs string instruments, increasing the texture and mood. Soft and slow though it may be, tempo and intensity wise, there is nonetheless a heady dose of energy and vivacity coming out of the throat of this unique singer, whose alto stylings betray a spirit resigned to the slings and melancholy of life. There is hopelessness but also staunchness of the soul. In some ways, Jaine conjurs the image of a brooding, lonely vixen somehow denied her earthly birthright. The music supports her with its thick atmosphere that sometimes comes from something as simple as the just-right strokes of the piano keys. Powerful.
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Artist: OVO
Title: Cicatrici
Format: CD
Label: Bar La Muerte/Ebria Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe (Europe), SunShip, Radon (USA)
Rated: *****
Fifth release of OvO's, after "Assassine" CD, "Vae Victis" MCD, the collaboration CD with Rollerball and the 3" one with KK Null, and an impressive, ongoing series of tours and performances... For the first time, Stefania (voice, guitar, violin, toys, hair - also in Allun) and Bruno (drums, guitar, bass, pedals - Bar La Muerte boss, and musician in Ronin, Daniele Brusaschetto band, etc.) stick to OvO's ideal line-up, i.e. a duo, with Bill Horist and Fabrizio Modenese Palumbo (Larsen, (r)) as discreet host guitarists in a couple of tracks. So, this time, no winds from Jacopo Andreini, no double-kicks from Capoccia, no additional insanity from the Rollerball tribe. These recordings are a kind of snapshot of their live playing, and a sum of their souls: no-wave (from early No New York to '90's Skin Graft area), noise-rock (Sonic Youth "Confusion is sex"-era in "Ombra nell'ombra"), hardcore-punk ("La saponatrice di Ferrara"), extreme metal, folk, electroacoustics (Stefania's bowed dreadlocks in "Efesto"), harsh noise ("Phiphenomena")... But don't think of a patchwork, as OvO eat and digest everything in their own peculiar style (yes, for once it's true, no one really sounds like them) and compose a sturdy, coherent album. This is a great quality indeed in a sea of redundant records: though caustic and unnerving in its nature, "Cicatrici" is a cd you can listen to in a row without getting bored, and then back again. Carnal, dark but also wickedly childish, OvO play some perfect disaster reports: the title, meaning "Scars", sounds as no joke.
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Artist: ERBE/MANN/POLANSKY/REPETTO/WOLFF
Title: Trios
Format: CD
Label: Pogus (@)
Rated: *****
Chris Mann (voice & texts), Douglas Repetto (computer, electronics, recording) and Larry Polansky (electric guitars) recorded a several hours long improvised session; so did Repetto and Polansky with Christian Wolff (piano, bass, percussion, melodica) some months later. The recordings were then sent to Tom Erbe, who had the delicate task of selecting, editing and mixing down the final result - these "Trios". He was actually quite successful in creating organic-sounding compositions - before reading the notes on Pogus website, I thought these were real-time live recordings. My main problem with this work is the vocal part. Mann's light speed, indecipherable speeches - curiously reminding of one of Clouddead's voices, the Donald Duck sounding one - are just too similar throughout the cd, thus becoming indistinct as a sound component. I don't think even a native speaker can get what he says, and the cd lacks any textual reference, so it's hard to enjoy any "literary" relevance of the performance. But that's actually not the point - the voice just doesn't seem to match with the other instruments. Whose performance, by the way, is quite engaging: noisy improv-electroacoustics with a sharp edge, tense and menacing. The last track, without vocals, is unsurprisingly the most successful one.
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Artist: DIE FABRIEK
Title: Quatro-Erogenic-Occupy Theme's Part II
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records (@)
Rated: *****
The second part of the cd released by Moloko + in 1999, this new work by Belgian collective Die Fabriek took two years in the making. First off, the packaging is CRAZY. AFE has always had a taste for elegant, if not elaborate, covers for its cdr releases, but this is probably the most complex and outstanding one (not considering the Teddy Bear box - but only because that is food for psychiatric research): a vinyl envelope with a toy-like cardboard top, housing a sleeve made of "alien skin" plastic (a green-brown textured material) with a stenciled DF logo, plus an inlay card, anti-alien stickers and a set of close encounters-related postcards (my fave was the "alien abduction pregnancy test" ad)... plus the cdr, of course. Whew... if it took so long to describe it, imagine what must have been like to put it together! On to the musical aspect: I'm sadly not familiar with DF's production over the years, but these veterans have covered industrial, musique concrete, kraut rock, plain weird stuff etc. Anyway, this must be one of their most accessible releases, because it's full of "proper" music... yep, and quite melodic too. Beside being the layout designer, Hue - mind of the Italian electronic projects Sparkle In Grey and Normality Edge - has participated in the recording adding beats and mixing samples provided by the DF core group. I think his hand shows in the more rhythmic tracks, like "Spacewalking" (a great opening, sort of space-shoegaze-electronica) or "The comet dance". But as a whole, the work could be only labelled as (modern) kraut-psychedelia; think of a mix of LA Düsseldorf, Ash Ra Tempel, Pink Floyd and Boards of Canada and... no, you won't get close anyway. Lots and lots of trippy guitars: strummed, flamenco-ed, delayed, looped... This is my main problem with the cd - I'm generally not a fan of 70's psychedelia, and at times I find this a bit over the top for my tastes. But it's successfully assembled, and if you dig your electronica trippy and sweet, you'll find this work a gem. It surely evokes ancient times when aliens kidnapped people for sexual experiments, but also had some kinky appeal.
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