Music Reviews



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Artist: D'Divaz (@)
Title: D'Divaz
Format: CD
Label: Bruka 973-1
The theme of the tragic fate of Yugoslavia is like a red line crossing the creative work of the trio D’Divaz founded in 1998. The trio participants Milica Paranosic, Danijela Popovic and Aleksandra Vojcic are all Yugoslavian but the girls have been living apart from their native land for about ten years now. The Julliard School graduates reside in New York without ignoring their roots, though. They support their people not only throughout their work but also via charity concerts.D’Divaz is a unique band, because their activities cannot be filed under academic electronic music, nor can they be labeled as downtown music’ or the so-called club music. Their music has grown with the integration of both, evolving into a unique genre. This genre could be personified by the image of a crystal palace on the basement made of firm material tested by time. Their first and by far only album was released in 2000. The debut, nevertheless, doesn’t let to file the girls as novices’. They started their musical education already in Yugoslavia, continuing to study after moving to New York. At the moment Aleksandra and Milica work as teachers in Julliard School while Danijela is a pianist of the Girls Choir of Harlem. The creative energy of Milica who is the leader and inspiration for the group feeds the collective but the band’s integrity is the result of equal partnership between three outstanding individuals. There are at least a few elements that make the trio so unforgettable: their connection with the folk roots of their country, the free and harmonic expression of three female individuals, the harmonic mix between classical music, academic electronica and progressive avant-garde stylings and the last, but not least, the constant presence of strong civil position and humanistic roots.The album of D’Divaz wasn’t self-titled by chance, because it fully reflects the inner worlds of the participants as well as their emotional experiences. Even without any video image, the listener’s imagination will switch on the associations connected with the situation in Yugoslavia. One cannot exclude the political aspect when getting into D’Divaz’ creative work, because it works like a carcass that holds the artistic tissue of compositions. The album lasts a bit less than an hour, consisting of rather short compositions, none of them sounding the same. The mutated world of D’Divaz seems logical and structured in comparison with the objective reality. It’s filled with natural human drama. All music is intended to be performed on two pianos and is enriched by synthesized lines, and, in some compositions, percussion, drums and electric guitar, plus the obligatory injections of the superb free-floating primordial vocals in it’s electronic and instrumental flow. Despite the diversity found on this album, the tone is already set by the first composition «Crne Oci». It’s beginning sends the listener straight back to folky cries - the lengthy female singing is the prelude and the background for this composition. The stiff metallic strings with their thunderous sound announce the beginning of the generous summer rain - the insinuating piano lines, assisted by electronic noises. The beginning of the second composition «Go / Kolo» is quite insinuating as well, but you shouldn’t relax yet, the tension builds as we progress and when it reaches the apogee, it will evolve into a wonderful and completely scintillating dynamic melody.The next five tracks make up the series called «Nobody’s» which is shifting between polar moods - from quiet sadness to furious protest, from total numbness to sparkling inspiration. Everything is stirred as one single cocktail of tears, optimism and the intuitive hope.The longest composition on the CD called «Panasonic» is also the most colourful one as well as the most diverse. It’s something that could be called miniature instrumental electronic symphony. According to this definition «Panasonic» can be divided into parts. The first part is intriguing and exciting, taking on a «talk» between two pianos growing into real argument on top of synth washes and noises. Upon reaching a point where all discrete impressions and recollections flow into one single consciousness flux the music segues into the second part which is very lyrical and sad, where troubles of the past are revived and the bleeding wounds of the present open up for you to see. The third part denies desperation, though. It’s the impersonation of the inner force and of longing for life. The expression and unbelievable eloquence of the composition is reached by means of its dissonant scale.The next composition «S’X» develops in a slow and intriguing way. A half perceivable piano theme is joined by the mournful synthesizer drone, reminding of whales crying or the distant boat whistle, like a dam holding in the emotional waves. Gently flowing, thin musical lines slowly become twisted. A brief heady dance with its passion and significance reminds of Argentinian tango. It’s the culmination of this gem, the denouement being the same weightless melody that was featured in the beginning of the track. A generally the same scenario is used for the 11th and 12th compositions, only this time with greater sharpness. They’re called «Boo-bah / go» and «Saran» and essentially they are one single piece, because no intermission and no pause can be found in between. The main nerve of the music remains the piano, whose quietness is interrupted by the crazy drum rhythm that instigates explosive reactions. The composition is untwined like a shiny merry-go-round and the offensive movement never ceases until the very end. During the finale, the sparse and uneasy atmosphere takes on a quirky and clear stance, constructed from private experience and the rich cultural heritage of the people. The name of the final track, «D’Divaz», is self-describing. The composition resumes the album while stating the artistic credo of musicians. The coziness of the forest during daylight, the proximity of the all-understanding ground, the caressing of the wind and the fragrance of wild flowers are felt in this composition. The wisdom and beauty of nature are the basis for this music. Bird’s chirping is a guide of faith, the symbol of unity for everything that exists, the gentle voicing of the peace, concealing the hysteria of war - every kind of war, be it near or far, political or individual - it’s always totally senseless and unnatural. The atmosphere of the primeval purity absorbs all the troubles and pain of human existence. The ringing laugh of the performers as well as their native speech are the link between dream and reality. That’s what the final chord of this talented and diverse work is like. The unlucky fate of the D’Divaz’ native land are the leit-motif of all their creative work, but it’s inspired by the light and the warmth of ancient traditions. When listening to the disc one cannot help but feel the complicity with the once flourished nation. The pathos of D’Divaz is that of the burning national self-consciousness, never fading away even when being so far away from native land. Their music is full of reflection of general human character that touch every thinking person irrespective of his place of living.
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Artist: Dj Dan
Title: Roundtrip
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Kinetic Records (@)
I guess I was sleeping, but an explosion of techno-house releasing spree seems to have taken place pretty much overnight, and as small new dance record labels run by young Djs and club-goers and big fake-indie major-label subdivisions and sub-labels and sub-branches pop up like mushrooms trying to grab the coolest hit for their catalogues, at every release my concern about commercial and non-commercial stepping on each other, blending and becoming unclearly separated grows... In this case the line is pretty thin too, which, I have to honest does not make me very comfortable... Of course I understand that sampling Jon Bon Jovi riffs and making people bounce can be fun, but I also come from a place where quality has been totally forgotten and techno music is being made for money and for drunk assholes to dance on acid until 7 o'clock in the morning and then die in a car crash while trying to drive home. I recall a certain point in time where a desperate semantic attempt of classification was being made by calling the good stuff "techno" and the bad shit "tekkno", but now I don't know anymore, the line is fuzzy, maybe it is "teckno", maybe "tekhno"... I am all about mixing genres and crossing over, don't get me wrong, I am just afraid about where it is gonna lead us musically and qualitatively (and that's all I am dealing with, 'cause I'm not even going into politics). But and if there really is such a thing as "teckno" or "tekhno" then internationally acclaimed West Coast Dj Dan and his newest double CD "Roundtrip" is a good example of that.Former Olympia, WA, native design student, Dj Dan hooked up with DJ Ron D Core (with whom he opened the No-Doz club), the Bay Area DJ collective Funky Techno Tribe, Jim Hopkins of the Electroliners (with whom he co-wrote the classic "Loose Caboose"), DJ Carl Cox and XL Records, Angel Alanis and Brandon Riley (with whom he founded the Musique Multimedia Group and his own vinyl imprint In-Stereo Records) and many others and is now one of the most traveled DJ's around, counting residencies in the most prestigious clubs all over the world, stages shared with Bowie, Fat Boy Slim, Digweed, Moby, Rhymes, awards as Los Angeles' #1 DJ (LA Times), #7 out of 50 of America's Favourite DJ's (BPM), one of the world's top 100 DJ's (DJ Magazine) and of course remixes for Groove Armada, Filter, A Tribe Called Quest, Olive and Orgy (where he even went platinum with their cover of New Order's "Blue Monday").Even though on the first disc he spins west-coast style party-house pitching in hip-hop and dance/pop, in the second disc fortunately he goes back into a more serious frame of mind with darker and funkier beats and possibly even more of his CDJ 1000 sounds throughout the record (which by the way is a continuous live take straight from vinyl). Some of those sounds, field recordings from street noise and various ground and air transportation means also make up the intro and outro of his 2CD, which is justly entitled "Rountrip" and came out October 8th on young NYC outlet Kinetic records.Music doesn't make people smarter (arguably) but I sure hope a powerful and influencing DJ like DJ Dan will not contribute making them dumber either, by keeping that thin line a there as an actual line!
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Artist: PORTABLE PALACE (@)
Title: Emit
Format: CD
Label: Gravitonium (@)
Nicola Tesla, The godfather of electricity became the figure that served as an inspiration for the trio Portable Palace to create their «Emit» album. The album includes 8 compositions, united organically by the theme of electricity, presenting itself via sound on this record.«When I close my eyes the first thing I see is a plane dark blue background similar to the color of the clear starless sky. In several seconds this picture is revived by numerous shimmering green sparks, approaching me layer by layer. After that the right side is lit by a beautiful decoration consisting of two parallel systems of tight right-angle lines. These lines are brightly colored but the dominating colors are yellow-green and golden. The lines are immediately increased in brightness and everything sparkles with shimmering portions of light. This whole picture slowly passes through my field of vision...», - these are the words that Tesla used to describe his imagination in action while coining his next invention. And this is the picture that comes to life with the first sounds of «Emit». Head-spinning whirlpools, sea tides, sand dunes rich with shell pearls, whispering of the wind and the diversity of living world follow. Everything seen through alien eyes. The galactic evaporation of earthly dwelling, the round and spiky figures fill the space of «Emit». Various rumbles are seamlessly integrated with ordinary sounds wrapping the listener with the light shroud. Moon shimmerings of the daylight, the voices stretched, coming from the outside, The plasma spheres of raindrops - this is the vision of the world seen through this synthetic shroud.The spinning of atoms and molecules becomes audible. The secrets of creation are not known yet but each single second of «Emit» draws you nearer to the final solution. The last composition «Data Link» fades out - one pressing of the «repeat» button - and you’re in the beginning once again. The beginning of the CD, but not that of understanding. The understanding develops along the spiral and becomes clearer and fuller with each coil (or listening). Is it the Jacob’s stairway ultimately leading to God? «When an idea appears it is immediately finished off by my imagination: I change the construction, «switch on» the device while bringing it to perfection, making it alive in my head. In a similar way I’m capable of bringing the idea to perfection without even touching anything. Only then I give the final shape to this product of my brain. All of my inventions worked in such way...» - Tesla, the «inspired prophet of electricity» wrote. «Emit» stimulates the listeners imagination in building complex and whimsical constructions of biblical stairway and who knows, maybe one day comes the hour when this ideal image finally materializes.
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Artist: PORTABLE PALACE (@)
Title: POLUS
Format: CD
Label: Gravitonium (@)
The album «Polus» released in 2001 is a stunning example of psycho-acoustic music. Creators of the album - the trio Portable Palace do not limit themselves to just the acoustic media. Instead, they employ various chemical reactions and optical phenomena that nature is so rich in. The music on this CD is only one side of Portable Palace’s activities.Close the windows, leave yourself to your own devices, concentrate and insert this CD. This is the only way to notice all the nuances of musical compositions found on «Polus». The sound on the very brink of human perception, never fading out completely while never developing it into a crescendo, without any jumps or frantic rhythms. The long curve of otherworldly energy is constantly crossing the composition cutting out anew the settled outlook.So, the lightning must exist. The primordial energy of the Cosmos. It leaves its stamp in the eyes of those who have seen it, like a permanent photograph stuck in one’s memory. The real event with a definitive form gains mythological shades in the music of Portable Palace. This is not a punishment or a sign from heaven telling us about the imminent apocalypse. It’s the encyphered message to the world, concealed by its own shell. The strictly underlined electrical zigzag that has ripped through the sky and is now hurrying towards the earth with the need of a quick kiss. The visual flight of this rocket lightning lasts for a few seconds, nevertheless, it holds another dimension within itself, where the seconds will last for an hour. An hour of musical metamorphoses and transfiguration. An hour of an alluring diffusion of the sacred and the profane, the serenity and the passion, the suffering and the purification, the anxiety and the tranquility, the languor and the sweet bliss. Its falling is not useless, because the finale will occur as the union of all earthly elements. It will be the time of universal harmony and the final crystallization of the ideas but the listener is here to finish off this moment with his/her thoughts. «Polus» is only a way to the truth, but it should be traveled very carefully, not missing any little change.The cosmic sound of «Polus» is a concentrated expression of the participants’ inner worlds, a musical projection of three separate individuals - those of Alexander Kalin, Eveline Domnic and Dmitriy Gelfand, hence the three-dimensional feel and the fullness of sound. The cold suspension is laid on top of the squelching surface of the dwelled landscape as the air is filled with the enveloping mist of cavernous silence. The clearness and pastoral gentleness, run through electronic millstones, is turned into a diamond-field of coloured pieces, and each piece filters the magnetic light of celestial bodies. That’s why with all of its strictness «Polus» doesn’t feel empty and homeless. It’s akin to the initiation process after which the world is never the same again.
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Artist: The Glimmer Room (@)
Title: Tomorrow's Tuesday
Format: CD
Label: Neu Harmony (@)
Distributor: Synth Music Direct
With the exception of one track "Tomorrow's Tuesday" by UK one man band The Glimmer Room (aka Andy C.) is an instrumental, fortunately. The music is a visionary journey that has the organics of a movie soundtrack more than that of a record, in my opinion. It's synthpop music, melodic electronic music, ambient synthscapes, heavenly pads with creative drum patterns. I had to listen to it about 5 times 'cause the music was so sweet, laid back, relaxing and peaceful that I kind of lost the focus... Neu Harmony has a lot of records with the same base dna but this one (which among other things has a nice classical art work) is kind of more "happy" sounding (in lack of a better term). It really sounds like a Klaus Doldinger "The Unending Story" soundtrack at times, and even if I can't come up with another movie right now, I am sure that a lot of other movies might find this album a great match. The tracks float carried away by the soft but infectious beats in what might remind you of a Gary Numan or a Gary Flanagan album at times... If you like calm electronic synth music give this a try and check out their distributor's website (link above) for a lot more stuff...
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