Music Reviews



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Artist: hEADaCHE / Various Artists
Title: fULLY aUTOMATED: The hEADaCHE re:mixes
Format: CD
Label: Uncoiled Loops
Distributor: Metropolis
Rated: *****
Compilations are always a risky fair, loaded with bands both familiar and completely unknown, the listener can be either blown away by fantastic material or have their eardrums tortured for the length of the CD. The material can often be inconsistent thematically or have varying degrees of production quality. Fortunately, none of the these potential problems plague "fULLY aUTOMATED: The hEADaCHE re:mixes". The compilation consists of 14 remixes from a relatively diverse collection of bands all remixed by CEOXiME founder, hEADaCHE (who also provides us with a 15th track, a previously unreleased CEOXiME cover of Radio Head's "Exit Music {for a film}") . hEADaCHE levels the playing ground here. While the songs still maintain their original characteristics, going through hEADaCHE's blender-like maelstrom of beats and song reconstructions has unified them into a fantastically consistent CD that delivers the goods. Dance-floor remixes are more or less cast aside leaving room for more creative arrangements that are engaging, unpredictable and great for multiple listens. Bands featured on the compilation are Collide, Hypoid, Diverje, Soul Circuit, Croc Shop, Silvercord, LiveSexAct, Noxious Emotion, function13, things outside the skin, Bottomfeeder, Endif, Flood Damage, Five Star Reject and CEOXiME. Stand-out tracks: Endif "Ashes", Hypoid "Deprogramming Deposits of Fat" and Bottomfeeder "Maybe Someday".
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Artist: Stormdrain
Title: The Immovable Objection
Format: CD
Label: Subterreign Media
Rated: *****
San Francisco Bay Area based duo Stormdrain has been around for a few years now, and they've been able to gain some exposure in the past years with the inclusion of one of their songs in TV shows such as The Sopranos and Making The Band. "The Immovable Objection" is their third album and is presented as the album of their artistic maturity. Ex-Invisible records promo rep and Pigface roadie Scott Reyns and his trusty studio-mate Ninos Oshaana, have produced an album packed with exciting electro-rock tunes (some may call it industrial trip-hop, but that might be a little misleading in my opinion). Trip-pop would actually be a fair use of words to describe their sound, which definitely preserves the pop attitude in the catchy and meloic un-distorted (finally, how refreshing!) vocals, but the deeply-rooted electronic production and the heavy use of distorted rock (not metal) guitars, make it even more exciting, more powerful and, why not, more radio-friendly. In other words, by learning the lesson of those who have done it before and by keeping a viivid memory of those who didn't by choice, Stormdrain have been able to find a viable way to make commercially-valid indiependent electronic music with a pop feel to it. Well done! Buy it at a very fair price of $7.99 from their website!
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Artist: Bill Laswell
Title: Version 2 Version - A Dub Transmission
Format: CD
Label: Roir (ReachOut International Records) (@)
Rated: *****
I am assuming and hoping that Bill Laswell does need no introduction, since you might have spotted his name on half a thousand records, but I will spend a few lines to tell you about the exceptional musicians he has called up for his fifth release on New York's ReachOut International Records (or ROIR): Jah Wobble (popular session musician with collaborations including Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Radio Morocco, Higher Than The Sun, Evil is Even and many other - and of course ex-Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten's Public Image Limited, where Wobble played bass); Karsh Kale (awesome NY-based tablas player I had the pleasure to work with - also in Talvin Singh and Tabla Beat Science); Bernie Worrell (Julliard-trained musician - played with Clinton's Parliament & Funkadelic and with Talking Heads, The Pretenders, Yoko Ono, Gov't Mule and others); Abdou Mboup (Carla Cook and others). At this point you should have already realized what is going on here. ROIR very correctly states that this record is played by "a world-class group of musicians who know how to breath life into a musical whole greater than the sum of its parts". Long reverbs, groovy beats, deep bass lines, worldy percussions, awesome sounds. Quite simply: dub at its best!
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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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