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Artist: SILT FISH
Title: Zabaranda
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore (@)
Hmmm... horror psych-folk from this Sheffield, UK duo. Bizarre folk songs which I'd probably compare, for lack of better examples, to Syd Barrett, but bear in mind that other reviewers have cited Pere Ubu, David Bowie, the Red Crayola and the Incredible String Band. I think somebody also mentioned H. P. Lovecraft (the writer), but I'd say that late Hammer films are a best comparison... less cosmic and more down to earth. Hey, this is pretty rural, actually. Silt Fish have a very peculiar sound, like it could have been recorded 30 years ago - also quite rich, considering it's only voice, guitar strumming, keyboards/synths and some programming here and there. But no modern lo-fi influences, as somehow everything sounds "seriously" and "properly" recorded in spite of its twisted nature. This seems to be lost in some sort of time-mist. The singing has a theatrical, cartoon-creepy and possibly sarcastic intonation which definitely marks the work, though it gets on my nerves at times. Crooked ballads, wicked nursery rhymes, the psychedelic folk version of a Tim Burton movie.
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Artist: GHOAK
Title: Someareweird
Format: CD
Label: This.Co (@)
I don't know much about Ghoak, except that the man behind the moniker is called Carlos Nascimento and, judging from the label, is Portuguese (Lisbon?). In the This.Co rooster, this is a good companion to Sci-Fi Industries, taking on IDM and rhythmic electronica but with a more twisted approach. Indeed, I like the second part of the cd better – more glitchy and experimental, with autistic skipping muzak ("a agressão da beringela"), obsessive scratches and loops ("colher de pau, puto parolo"), quiet arrhythmias ("dogs are not right"), some fractured melodies not that distant from Oval/Microstoria ("pato com manteiga"). The rest is quite well-done IDM in a Warp-ish style, that I can’t get to love that much - but this is surely better than many releases in that style that I've reviewed lately.
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Artist: ATROX
Title: Orgasm
Format: CD
Label: Code 666 (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Uhm, given kudos to Code666 for their open-mindedness, I guiltily admit that I’m always skeptical when a metal band goes "progressive", "crossover" or whatnot, especially when they play VERY well technically-wise and have a female singer. Which is Atrox's case. The band, fronted by singer and synth-player Monika Edvardsen (also author of the paintings featured in the cd), mixes post-thrash à la Meshuggah/Cynic, flat metal (including, alas, obtrusive solos), jazzy breaks and, mostly due to the singing, an (un)healthy dose of, say, quasi goth/wave/ethereal. I’m sorry to write this, but with a mix like that I’d almost surely hate the whole thing. And actually, the few parts I manage to appreciate are the Messhuggah-sounding ones. As for the rest, no way. I feel it lacks taste, cohesiveness and direction. I'm sure lots of people will love this to death, especially if they're into metal with very clean and prominent female vocals. To me, it's as painful as listening to fantasy power metal or the likes. Most of all, "complex" doesn't necessarily mean "good" - ok, the musicians may be ironic but some passages just sound goofy, irony sometimes can spoil the atmosphere, can't it. Sorry, I'm a punk.
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Artist: AIN SOPH
Title: Ars Regia
Format: CD
Label: Athanor (@)
Much awaited re-release, in the usual Athanor quality packaging, of Ain Soph's masterpiece, released by Zero Kama's Nekrophile on tape in 1986, then in cd in 1992. Still in their ritual/exoteric period, AS conceived "Ars Regia" as a sound document of alchemical rites and studies, and the 36-page booklet of this new version features short essays about magick, cabbala, sorcery, etc. - the "theoretical part" that was actually an important side of Ain Soph back in those days. Also featured are a historical interview for Maelzel magazine, by our own Maurizio Pustianaz, and a more recent one by Marco Deplano (Foresta di Ferro), the editor of this reprint. Sound-wise, though the cd has allegedly been remastered, the quality remains pretty much the same, with raw under-produced recordings; but the substantial beauty of the work is indisputable, with immensely solemn hymns like "Credo" or "Honorii ponteficis evocatio" or the ritual-ambient abysses of "Lapis niger", "Gradalis" and "Apathanathismos", gems only equalled by the contemporary works by Zero Kama and putting to shame most of today "industrial". This mandatory cd is completed by an up-to-date discography of the project.
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Artist: CLAUDIO ROCCHETTI
Title: The work called Kitano
Format: CD
Label: Bar La Muerte
Definitely one of the most interesting and mature releases to have come out of the Italian experimental electronic scene this year, "The work called Kitano" is a rich and tasty cd which could equally enthrall fans of impro-jazz, electroacoustics and turntablism. Rocchetti (with a background in straight edge hardcore and in digital terrorism dj'ing as a member of the Sonic Belligeranza collective) manipulates clusters of upright bass improvisations ("Existenz"), samples loops and cd skips ("Burned"), concrete noises ("eleven AM"), quiet piano passages, merging them in complex collages which seems to be run through by some strange fever. I believe the main strength of this work lies - besides its show of taste and compositional ability - in its evocative power, passing from nostalgia ("Petra von Kant") to all-out paranoia ("Lovesong") to subcutaneous anxiety ("eleven AM", "my love was sitting on the mortician's knees"), more often than not within the same track. There's often a sense of dusty past, of things forgotten suddenly re-vitalized but in a kind of ambiguous "detournement" - something I often feel when listening to Jeck's or Schaefer's turntablism tours-de-force. This ability to suggest atmospheres and emotional views prevents the experiments to become dull and self-assured, the state of tension is permanently kept. Even in its quietest moments, a sudden, concrete intervention - even minimal - comes like an unexpected crack to suggest that even that peace was a façade. And memory is like the main, uncredited instrument of this work.
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