Music Reviews



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Artist: XABIER ERKIZIA
Title: Entresol
Format: CD
Label: Antifrost
Rated: *****
Basque artist Xabier Erkizia has performed with the likes of Mattin, Ilios, TV Pow, Eddie Prevost and Mark Wastell, and being on Antifrost you can start guessing at how "Entresol" will (not) sound like. Erkizia explores the shadow line between complete silence and all-out noise, with radical and unnerving shifts from one to the other. Most of "Entresol" is made of hisses, electric vapours, sounds of non-places. Reaching a more organic and engaging synthesis in the third and final track, with a sort of subdued storm, "Entresol" is a risky work. Now that - after years of fertile and contradictory experimentation - even lowercase sound has become a music genre, with its own topoi and cliches, it's hard to be surprised by these ectoplasms of sounds - and while surely captivating for a concentrated listening, the first two tracks are too loose and un-constructed to offer remarkable inputs. Mind you, this is not "bad" - it's just almost always "not there", not even as a mirage.
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Artist: Displacer (@)
Title: Arroyo
Format: CD
Label: M-Tronic (@)
Rated: *****
Follow up to his debut "Moon_Phase", "Arroyo" by the Canadian Displacer maintains the direction of the previous album evolving around it and developing more sophisticated atmospheres of sci-fi dark-electro music. Characterized by long chords of sythetic Vangelis/Parson/Jarre-ish string pads and underlaying Beefcake/Gridlock-ish minimal electronic constructions and beats, occasionally flirting with saturation and creativie muting/cut&pasting, "Arroyo" will transport you into a parallel dimension where ambient bends toward noise and electronic music reaches over into darkness. As an added bonus there are three remixes by Flint Glass, Dither and Gridlock side project O2. The CD also features vocals by Victoria Lloyd of Clare Voyant and HMB and mastering by Mike Wells of Gridlock.
Mar 17 2005
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Artist: Duuster (@)
Title: Habitat
Format: CD
Label: M-Tronic (@)
Rated: *****
France-based Dutch musician Duuster (formerly known as Element 11 on Unit/Possessive Blindfold records) mastered to put out his debut full lenght album at a time when people in the electronic scene were already aware of who he is and what music he makes, and that's mainly because he had left a mark in the scene with his previous split CD with CH.District, also released by the very attentive M-Tronic (most definitely one of the two best electronic labels in France, together with Parametric). "Habitat" gives further proof of Duuster's artistic maturity with a bunch of tracks that will make every heart that beats fast for the top-selling Warp artists beat even faster (and speaking of Warp, Funckarma also remixes one of Duuster's 11 tracks, and so do the americans Emotional Joystick, on Zod records). The sound is that signature IDM/ambient Autechre, Boards of Canada etc, the music is that of Duuster. Choose your chemical element!
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Artist: Leaftree & Downey (@)
Title: Wet Kisses
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: self-released
Rated: *****
Leaftree & Downey is the brainchild of artist/painter Downey Burns. I’ve never heard his music before so I’ll admit, he caught me off guard. I’d heard negative opinions about Leaftree & Downey’s sound, so I wasn’t expecting much when I got his fourth release, Wet Kisses, in the mail. When I pressed play on the CD player, though, one word alone came to mind: Charming. There is a quality about this band that is purely and simply charming.

Everything about Wet Kisses is light-hearted and fun. The vocals have a gentle, friendly feeling complimented by a light effects filter. The vocal melody is always slightly off, but adds to the music in a way that seems calculated and purposeful. The music is mostly piano/keyboard, light drums, and gentle, casual electronics flowing throughout, with a little harmonica and electric guitar for good measure. Wet Kisses leaves the impression that Burns lives in a relaxed world, and this is his attempt to bring a little of that relaxed world to his audience.

When I play Leaftree and Downey’s Wet Kisses my spirit seems to lift. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when I listen to this release. I do have a problem with Wet Kisses, though. The sound never really shifts. While I start with a lifted spirit, five minutes into the first track I’m ready for a new song. While not all the songs are so long, multiple tracks back to back share a similar effect. I honestly believe each track has the ability to stand on it’s own in a randomized playlist. The album as a whole, though, has a ten to fifteen minute life span before my light heart and mind become restless and ready to soar on to new sounds. The entire Wet Kisses release is currently available free to download and order (for a suggested donation) from http://www.leaftreeanddowney.com. This release does deserve to be heard and appreciated by the right ears and, especially at the asking price, I’d say it is worth the listen.
Artist: Loss (@)
Title: A Letter that will Never be Sent
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons (@)
Rated: *****
By now, I’m sure that those of you who have heard about this disc have heard the inevitable comparisons to Navicon Torture Technologies, but honestly, I think that this is a mistake. Although they are very similar in style, this disc is much more engaging than much of the NTT stuff I have. Perhaps part of it is that the overall feel of the disc is dark, yet the darkness does not completely overpower it. Simply the fact that Loss pulled this off when the disc was mastered by Thomas Garrison of Control (who seems to specialize in oppressive darkness) is a feat in itself! I never thought I would use the word "beauty" in a review of a power electronics disc, but here it is. This is beautiful. It has been a long time since something blew me away like this. The only problem that I can see with this disc is that it’s only 16:47 long. The disc comes packaged in a nifty red velveteen bag with a Loss pin attached. I’m looking forward to more from Loss.Let’s look at the individual tracks. 1. All the World’s a Stage (But I Just Work the Lights): Starts off a bit noisy with incomprehensible lyrics. Halfway through the track, the synth kicks in, providing a melodic counterpoint to the noise and percussion that had materialized without me even recognizing it. To me, this is the standout track on the disc. 2. A Letter that will Never Be Sent: This track continues much where track one left off. More of the same synth atmosphere and distorted vocals. Another good track.3. Repose: This track begins a bit quieter, a bit more atmospheric and almost peaceful. Halfway through, the distorted vocals and rhythm kicks in again. It is almost like it is two tracks.
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