Music Reviews



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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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Artist: WARREN BURT
Title: Harmonic colour fields
Format: CD
Label: Pogus (@)
Rated: *****
Recorded between 1996 and 1997, "Harmonic colour fields" was played using a Roland Sound Canvas synth, which the author wittily describes as "the world's best cheap solution for fine tuning microtonality (and they're not even paying me to say this!)", and the liner notes further inform us about the nature of these deliberately "static microtonal harmonic fields". While used to even extreme forms of minimalism and computer music, I admit at first I was a bit disappointed by this cd - probably because, of all possible sounds in minimal contexts, I have a sort of distate for synths (unsurprisingly, I find the hyper-minimal "11:21:23 (A drone on mom and Felix's birthdays)", with its more subtle frequencies, the most enjoyable piece). But as the listenings succeeded, Burt's doomy, slowly unfolding drones did suck me in. Very static music indeed, reminding of historical minimalism works like La Monte Young's or Charlemagne Palestine's ("Alloy", for example) in its monolithic nature, thus requiring a concentrated mood and a certain dose of patience to be fully enjoyed. The solemn, at times dramatic power of the electronic drones makes up for the initial impression of tediousness.
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Artist: POLYGAMY BOYS (@)
Title: The Pleasure E.P.
Format: 12"
Label: Beauty Case Records (@)
Rated: *****
I already talked about Polygamy Boys when I reviewed their split live CD with Sneak-Thief. THE PLEASURE E.P. is their third release and it presents four powerful mixes of electronica, e.b.m. and techno. The vinyl opens with the "Polygamy Boys Theme", a long instrumental pumping mix of dancing analog music just to close the first side with "Pleasure Patrol", a mysterious track that recalls some D.A.F. stuff because its structure based principally on a bass line and a drum. "Der Kommissar" opens the B side with a dark '80s e.b.m. track and let "The Un-known" close it with the dreamy vocals of Lindsay J. which duet with the hard drum/bass lines of the duo. THE PLEASURE E.P. sees the band at its best as the tracks are presenting different kind of influences but keeping the distinctive mark of the band. This isn't just dance music!
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