Music Reviews



Artist: psi (@)
Title: The ___ who had begun his career as a useful ___ of the ___ court later became the ___ of ___ and the ___ of ___.
Format: CD
Label: Evolving Ear (@)
Distributor: Drimala
It's always nice to find out that you have interesting neighbors you've never met who are doing the very things you write about. That's the deal in this case. The Brooklyn, NY based experimental trio psi sent me this CD from not far away from where I live and introduced me to their individual activities as electro-acoustic sound sculptors. Jaime Fennelly (electronicist, improviser, composer) has been working with a choreographer/dancer on various shows and was involved in many collaborations as well as recipient of the 2002 Artist Exploration Fund from Arts International; Chris Forsyth (guitar player) established his name in the international experimental improvisational scene through collaborations with Ernesto Diaz-Infante, All Time Present, W.0.0. etc and was curator of the Bunker Annex Series at NYC's club the Knitting Factory and co-organizer of the yearly four-day Williamsburg, Brooklyn "Improvised & Otherwise Festival of Sound and Form"; Fritz Welch (drummer, percussionist, visual artist), previously with Wi77!6, Reel-Speed-Artist, Bushwick Trip, Irritating HorseEye, Poppycorn and Dioclese, Naval Cassidy, Hands of Orlak, organizes shows and festivals such as the Humansacrifice presents @ Momenta Arts 2002 and 2003 Brooklyn Free Music Festival. As you may gather, these fine folks are really and deeply into what they are doing so it should come as no wonder that by mixing their experience you'll likely get an out of the ordinary piece of weird and found sounds that would perfectly fit on Staalplaat's or Electroshock's catalogues. Screeching, sheer and sinister noises alternate with found sounds possibly result of field recordings (sound like a household) and with acoustical recordings of improvised free-form electric guitar. The whole thing is layered on top of subtle electric floor tones that turn into other static-fashioned material. It's all extremely random and yet planned out.
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Artist: KOJI ASANO (@)
Title: Absurd Summer / Piano Suite Vol.1 Fitness Club / Gondola Odissey
Format: CD
Label: Solstice
Lately I'm appreciating more Asano's work because, even if he deals always with abstract or concrete music, his latest works make me feel different kind of emotions when I listen to them and this is what a record should be. In my opinion the old ones were based mainly on intuitions or sound experiments, while the new ones are always based on experimentation and research but they've got their own soul and are more expressive respect sixty minutes of hisses. Over creative as usual, this time Koji sent me three CDs which compose the "spring 2003 collection". The respective titles are ABSURD SUMMER, PIANO SUITE VOL.1 FITNESS CLUB 1÷20 and GONDOLA ODISSEY. Let's start with what I've got into my CD player now: PIANO SUITE VOL.1. The work is divided into twenty short tracks (the longest one is two minute and half) for a total of about nineteen minutes and I have to admit that in such a short time it's able to create a thik atmosphere full of expression and feelings. Isao Otake, which plays piano in this CD, paints nice moments of apparently improvised music which are able to make you relax and join the flux of notes. The titles are absurd (I think they are like a joke) and describe the various moments of a few days visit to a fitness club (it should be a Japanese one because I don't know if you can find "Wheat Noodles" or "Broiled Eels" in other countries). For ABSURD SUMMER we've got to talk about his old works as this CD is based on treated sounds and it's structured on eleven movements for a total of thirty one minutes. The tracks are various and pass from metallic percussive sounds to over dubbed layers of treated noisy / ambient sounds. Here Koji create a sort of alien landscape where a noisy piano (most of the sounds seem coming from a distorted piano) is its soundtrack. GONDOLA ODISSEY, instead, contains four long tracks based on organ sound layers which change slowly. To appreciate this one you've got to get your senses loose and follow the flow. You'll find yourself into a disturbed state of sleepiness where creepiness grows each minute more. I don't know how Koji could describe it like a "landscapes of romantic voyage" but you know...different people, different tastes. Anyway, these three new works cover a wide range of feelings and sounds and you've got only to pick up the one you prefer most.
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Final Selection-"AntiHero"

This band offers a very strange yet elegant blend... ... ... ... ... cold atmospheres reminiscent of Diary Of Dreams and Mentallo And The Fixer, mixed in with a moody electro-pop and ambient-pop textures all into one surreal and dreamy creation. The sound patterns are some of the best I’ve heard in a good while (esp. the beginning reverb effect on track 4, "Smile"), linked together perfectly with melancholy synth lines, and a controlled drum line that never pounds and chokes the beautiful atmosphere within. The imagery within the CD is very beautiful as well, combining nature with stark human elements, with great use of color (note the emotive uses of blue and dark orange with much of the artwork) to create that additional feel of melancholy and warmth. The vocals top it all off, with controlled ease (everything on this CD speaks of perfect balance) and a breathy air, somewhere between the vocals of Lassigue Bendthaus and Adrian Hates of Diary Of Dreams. The vocals cut through like a river carving itself through the land, yet still flowing and rather peaceful throughout. The vocals at times, such as on the track "When You Turn Your Back to Me" create almost a trance in the listener. Through it as well are lyrics that are dreamily metaphorical and yet kind of poppy in their at-times simplicity, yet very poetic, much like the aforementioned Diary Of Dreams.
My favorite track along with "Smile" would have to be "Tears". The atmosphere built throughout the song is all I can really describe as dark ambient pop, kind of like Delerium in a way. Minus the female vocals of course. It has almost a classical feel to it, given the feel of the synth lines.
Overall, this is something very different, dreamy and distinct in its course. Everything from the art to the music to the website speaks of a sweeping blow in art that will make many bands scramble to catch up. Something definitively new and a band I feel may get even better as time goes on, growing into something that may truly escape category. Rating: 10
Jun 11 2003
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Artist: INTERLACE (@)
Title: Under The Sky
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Prototyp (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe


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Released one year after their debut album, UNDER THE SKY confirm Interlace as a great act who is able to flame the electronic/ebm scene with only two releases. This new MCD brings to the audience five new tracks along with four remixes of old and new tracks. "Under The Sky" is present with the normal and the "Club" versions, "Equus" (remixed by Headscan") and "Missing Link" (remixed by Oliver Beach and Akira Yamaoka, famous for his Silent Hill's soundtrack) are coming from the debut album while "Bells", "Pinioned" (beautiful and intruguing dark ambient atmospheres mixed with energy), "Victims" and "Icon I" are totally new tracks. The remixes don't change that much the original versions (only Yamahoka's brings to "Missing Link" new thrilling atmospheres) while the new tracks confirm the first impression I had of the band: good skills about melody and gear use and great impact even at a first listening. The songs have got different atmospheres presenting different dense dark layers (almost ambient) a la Clock Dva along with catchy melodic lines. I think I'll try to contact them for an interview... :)
P.s. There's also an European release of this MCD, printed by Dependent, which contains several other mixes, tracks coming from their debut album and a live track.
Jun 10 2003
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Artist: NUKLEON (@)
Title: EARTH RISING
Format: CD
Label: Cohaagen (@)
After a couple of years from his demo cd released through mp3.com Dan Burke a.k.a. Nukleon releases his debut album for Cohaagen Records. I already interviewed Dan at the time of his first release so if you need more info about him just check our archives section. Like on his debut CD his music sounds fresh with strong retro influences: you know, things like metallic effects on vocals, vintage gear sounds and so on. This EARTH RISING sees into its tracklist new versions of old songs such as "Reasons", "Sometimes", "Homewrecker" and "Jane" along with the new ones "Mars", "Escort", "One More Day" and "Lines" ("Lucky" and "Infidel"appeared already into compilations). New and old songs are coming from the same new recording session so there's no sound difference but this time FR/Action and Ganymede's David Friede took care or the mixing. As for "New Earth Orbit" we've got strong melodic electronic synthpop fascinated by space missions and human feelings and even if it sounds retro, the album doesn't sound outdated and for sure you'll find your favorite tune within these eleven tracks (the last one is an instrumental that starts some minutes after the end of "One More Day"). I'd prefer the sound a little more powerful and the vocals more in front but this isn't a real weak point so check this CD and wait for Nukleon's first video clip into the first underground synthpop dvd ever realised. Along with Dan you'll find other nineteen videos from Nasa, Gary Flanagan, Ganymede, Brave New World, Cosmicity to name few. Don't miss it... it's always a Cohaagen release.
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