Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Dark Pathways Vol. 1: Force
Format: CD
Label: Crunch Pod Media (@)
After their funny looking and powerful sounding release by Big Tex last year, Cali-based label Crunch Pod Media launches the "Dark Pathways" trilogy as a series of three various artists installments called "Force", "Eclipse" and "Variant", respectively. Volume one, "Force", was just given wings into the free world and presents us with fifteen emerging artists from the international experimental, power-noise, rhythm electronics scenes. I always say, and I'll say it again this time, that when labels release compilations like these, it'd be much nicer, helpful and informative if they really took the extra step and effort to provide their customers with bios and info about the bands inside the booklet (especially when it's not yet another sampler of the bands that are on everybody's mouth all the time) because these compilations are extremely important, very interesting and truly admirable for how they support the underground. The track list for this first free multi-contributors CD includes: Exclipsect, Monoid, Fixed, Monotone Corrosive, Kreptkrept, Codec, Free Death, Tyrophex14, Tarmvred, Synchysis, Pine Tree State Mind Control, Big Cat, Dai, Konstruct/de/Konstruct, Dichotic Symphony. All the tracks overall have the similar rhythm-focused noise-based industrial physiology and characteristics in common and are also instrumental for the most part, basically. Unlike many other compilations of this kind, this one sports an impressive quality (not just sound -which by the way is grand and greatly mastered overseas- but also composition-wise, sound-wise, songs-wise) setting the bar pretty high. Hopefully the next two episodes in line will be able to keep up and match the level of this one. So far we only know that "Eclipse" will focus on cold and harsh ambient while "Variant" will cover a wider spectrum of genres.
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Artist: Cool HipNoise (@)
Title: Select Cuts Showcase & More (Kingston - Havana - Lisbon)
Format: CD
Label: Select Cuts (division of Echo Beach) (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Select Cuts keeps driving their talent scout Volks Wagen green yellow red van down the roads of the worldwide dub nation, this time following the signs pointing to Kingston and Havanna and finally stopping in Lisbon, for a fresh new look on the international interpretations and accents of the dub language. Having shared stages with Mad Prof, Dreadzone, Zion Train, UB40, Lee Perry Fernanda Abreu, The Last Poets and having established and grown in and around Lisbon's Hot Club Jazz School, quite expectably Portuguese trio Cool HipNoise is heavily latino influenced and mixes dub with electronica, acid jazz, soul, reggae, African, Brazilian and Jamaican flavors, sounds and beats. This is a selection of tracks from their double-release third album "Musica Exotica I" and "Musica Exotica II" (previous albums, "Nascer do Soul" and "Missao Groove", were produced by UK's The Big Cheese Allstars Luke Williamson and by Germany's Mo' Horizons hip hop activist Ralph Droesemeyer, respectively) and it is produced and mixed by renowned brit Dj Manasseh."Select Cuts Showcase & More", as the title clearly suggests, is presented in a showcase fashion, meaning that there is the vocal version and then the same song in its instrumental dub version. And if you are wondering what the "more" in the title is all about, how about a cover of Nirvana's hit "Come As You Are" (those who followed the band through their first two albums and the re-release of their second, might know that they enjoy covering and remixing and have already done so with songs by Michael Jackson and Massive Attack among others)? Or how about collaborations of international artists such as The Last Poet, Marga Mungwambe and Orlando Santos?To be released at the end of this month as a CD and a five-song 12" EP with the Last Poets tracks and three non album cuts.If only Bush would find it in him to quote Cool HipNoise and say «Peace to you all. In Dub we trust» instead of thed shit he's been talking lately.
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Artist: Centrozoon (@)
Title: The Cult of: Bibbiboo
Format: CD
Label: Burning Shed (@)
Distributor: CD Street
First heard about Germany's Centrozoon in conjunction with one of their member's side project called Show of Exaggeration (cmp review on Chain D.L.K.). Centrozoon is a trio including singer Tim Bowness, painter/designer/musician Bernhard Wöstheinrich (synthesist and percussionist) and Markus Reuter (touch style guitarist). I don't know what Tim Bowness role is since I haven't heard one single word really (I do know that this CD, which is a real CD, not a CDR, was released under his own CDR label Burning Shed in the UK) but the work of the other two consists of intricate sonic textures of noises, free no-wave guitar improv and layers of synth-pads chords. As you can imagine the result is extremely unconventional and especially far away from what you might expect from traditional guitar sounds records. Discipline, research, experimenting and processing affect Reuter's guitar playing so deeply and radically that it's more like another keyboard that interacts with Wöstheinrich's generated sounds and manipulated waveforms. Ambient soundscapes performed with the ease, passion and fragility of real time experimental noise tweakers and intertwining lines of harmony and freeform fusion performed with the elegance, purity and casualty of a long forgotten jazz art that transpires from underneath the lid of vaporous electronics and artificial density. Only occasionally they resort to broken and slightly dirty beats. If you absolutely must have comparisons then I would say a mix of Torn, Fripp, Frohmader, Stockhausen, Roedelius, Hedges, Sverisson and Obmana should give you a pretty good idea.
The production process of "The Cult of: Bubbiboo" followed a pioneering and quite interesting route, involving Canadian guitar player Derek DiFilippo and group of people whose interactions and reactions were recorded in a specially created webforum. This is their third album as Centrozoon (a new album called "The Scent of Crash and Burn" has just been released too) and comes in a nice digipack with drawings and notes by King Crimson biographer Sid Smith. The beautiful blue-ish cover art work is of course by Wöstheinrich (also reflecting his composing work).
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Artist: Wolfsheim
Title: Casting Shadows
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (USA) Strangeways (Germany)
Distributor: Metropolis Records
After being introduced to Wolfsheim a couple of years ago via the Subout compilation, I started loving them immediately. But after buying Spectators’ and countless rounds of Kunstliche Welten" (Artificial Worlds) on my CD player, I sat wondering what would be in store on the next CD. More dance floor fillers like "Once In A Lifetime"? More ballads ala "Popkiller"? This one is a definite step forward, tossing away danceablility in favor of structure and disciplined playing, opting more for more subtle shifting sounds rather than the dynamic synth tour de force of past work. The way the synth patterns, along with bleeps and digital sounds, is one more to get your mind to dancing than your feet. And yes, classical "my baby hurt me" fare awaits, which normally I would complain about after 4 or 5 CDs of it, but it’s the one thing that can fit such music perfectly. "Kein Zuruch" is the high point here, an absolutely gorgeous song, with Peter’s vocals riding high and beautifully, using his charming style of German to carry just as much weight as the music itself. Their German songs always blow me back, such as "Kunstliche Welten" particularly their version with the Prague Philharmonic on the single. For those looking for another Spectators’ look elsewhere. For those looking for a group who may well carry the torch for a new generation of electro-pop, with an extraordinary sense of musical beauty, look no further than this CD. It is fucking marvelous, simply put, taking it's place with Alphaville's "Salvation" and Evil's Toy's "Silvertears" as one of my fave synthpop CDs. Rating: 10. If you can get your hands on a copy of the 2 disc copy of this CD, go for it! Also recommended are And One, Anything Box, Psyche, and of course Kraftwerk (to whom this is rather comparable).
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Artist: AAL (@)
Title: In Luce
Format: CD
Label: S'Agita Recordings (@)
This should be Davide Vallecchi's fifth release in a couple of years, and though the time span is short, the improvement in his music is dramatic. In the wake of his self-released cdr's ("Disc 1" and "Inherited and partially transmitted"), this new work seems to also incorporate the organic quality of his electroacoustic/field recordings-based compositions ("13" and "Dear Dead Days" on S'Agita), and this synthesis is a remarkable sign of maturity. "In Luce" is pure cosmic ambient for creatures of earth and breath. Vertigos of light (and Schulze's "Irrlicht" is the closest work I can think of as a paragon) and passages of shadows - never completely detached in the moments of ecstasy, nor desolate in the dark ones. And never static, turbulent in its suspension, in continuous mutation - to describe one single track would be like trying to pin down a cloud. As moving and enchanting as art (/life) should always be.
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