Music Reviews



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Artist: Hoppy Kamiyama + Bill Laswell
Title: A Navel City / No One is Out There
Format: CD
Label: Kanpai records
Rated: *****
With Bill Laswell's discography of almost 100 records in his name plus over 500 where he appeared on as producer/musician and with Kamiyama's discography of about 200 CDs, and with a combined presence in the music industry totaling over 50 years, I think this CD qualifies as an epic collaboration, doesn't it? Kanapi records must be proud to have released such a record, a record where Laswell's throbbing bass playing encounters Kamiyama digital mastery and is aided by Kiyohiko Semba's enchanting percussion/drumming, a record that obviously comes with an astonishing production and a humongously spatial sound, a record that appears on top of many others and disappears within the atmospheres and the soundscapes that it actually autonomously creates, a record that is polished, sophisticated, rapturing, immersive, self-contained and yet out-reaching, a record that blends a magmatic and magnetic orgy of subtle and deep low-end sub-harmonics with a brilliant and vivid visionary nirvana of vibrating harmonies, a record who delivers the grand and majestic apex of zeros and ones in their warmest form and pushes them through a tunnel of liberating and glorifying outboard's and plug-ins' summit knob tweaking, a record I could just ramble about on and on, for how beautiful and masterfully executed it is. If you are looking for new frontiers to bend the empty spaces between electronica, jazz, dub, you've found your trip-taking, space-bending, barrier-breaking, beyond-passing ally.
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Artist: The Saboten
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Kanpai records (@)
Rated: *****
The Saboten is Hoppy Kamiyana, Saguaro and DJ Force, three prominent and ground-breaking japanese artists, whose collaboration turns into frenzy and eclectic electronic music that goes way beyond what electronic music usually is and is contaminated with jazz, rock, punk and experimental music... Stuff like this is usually referred to as no-wave, except these three pioneer's rhtyhmical roots are to be found in the most electro/d'n'b areas of their production and their influences. The album is obviously very varied and multifaceted, but it lacks a little in continuity and results somewhat dismembered and unalligned. But if you are into lo-fi sounds which marry hi-fi beats and into experimenting with all sort of musical genres, criss-crossing between them with nonchalance, then you might wanna give this a try. I don't mind extreme and unusual/out of the ordinary, nor do I mind cutting edge or completely out there, I just think Kanapi can and has done better in the first run of releases.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Reinterpretations (a remix album of timeless Kitaro songs)
Format: CD
Label: Kanpai records (@)
Rated: *****
More interesting sounds from Kanpai come in the form of a remix album that tributes the work of Kitaro, a Grammy Award, Golden Globe and Artist of Peace Award winning japanese composer/musician known for his timeless spiritual music pieces, that blend "the ago-old and the space age", like "wordless poetry", they say of him. "Reinterpretations" brings together eright artists and their twelve remixes of his songs (most of them can be found on the 2003 "The Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai") and takes his vision for a new spin, adding dub colors to it, flirting with electronic flavors and marrying his sound with their sound in ways that are unique and personal to each group. AudioMoe (a.k.a. Moses Truzman), Turbotito (a.k.a. Filip Nikolic/Junior Senior/Djosos Krost), Inside the Sun, Peas, Timmy the Terror (a.k.a. Tim Anderson/Ima Robot), Appogee, Occidental and Stephan Hauptfeur take turns to get their best shot at it.
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Artist: Appogee (@)
Title: Unconscious Ruckus
Format: CD
Label: Kanpai records (@)
Rated: *****
I am excited as I start reviewing a bunch of CDs from this new label out in Los Angeles called Kanpai. They've been releasing some really dope shit lately, I must say, and the first one I picked out of the batch is Appogee's debut CD "Unconscious Ruckus". These dudes are based in LA and have been growing alongside Dntel (The Postal Service), Planktonman (Nortec Collective) and The Mutaytor, altough I must say they don't seem to lack anything in their approach. You can't really tell it's newcomers, they sound like they've been around for a decade. Their sound is pointy, full, well-produced, well-arranged, sophisticated sonic artifacts. No messing around, they know what they are doing, that's for sure. They shoot for the drumn'n'bass formula mainly, but let themselves be carried away with implants of electronica, industrial, rhythm-noise, rock and some ambient/idm. Particularly interesting is the use of acoustic guitars and vocals on some tracks, which definitely makes them stand out of the crowd for originality. Where else can you hear a fast-paced d'n'b beat pumping while buried underneath a Radiohead-ish ballad with an acoustic guitar, or a Beatles-like pop tune with an Autechre/Aphex Twin-like beat, or Lycia-like lush electric guitars with vaguely flamenco-sounding nylon guitars that try to keep up with a cut-up and frenzy beat. Most definitely an awesome sounding record! Well done indeed!
Artist: Batzz
Title: In the Belfry / Come and Die
Format: 3" MiniCD
Rated: *****
It doesn't happen very often that CDs with just one song on them are released and it happens very rarely that I like gothic music that is sent my way, but it happened this time. Packaged in what looks like a Xmas card, this 3" mini CD (less space wasted) delivers the lyrics and music of "Come and Die". Some of you might know that I stopped reviewing goth/dark a while ago because everything sounds the same and is mostly crap or, when you are lucky, a good carbon copy of the old masters of the genre... Well, altough you still can hear the echo of the Sisters and the Nephilim (if you consider the drums, the Peter Steel-ish vocals and the nice string arrangements and songwriting) or even the Cure or Lycia (for the lush chorused guitars), Batzz's echo is actually a pleasant one, one that doesn't necessarily lack in personality. It is hard to be original in the genre, but it's quite something when at least you can get personal, and that is what Batzz have done. Beautiful gothic music, just short enough not to bore me or anybody and offering you a good time with some deep vocals and almost unusually fast-paced and (dare I say?) even ever so slightly happy solar progressions. Very beautiful indeed.
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