Music Reviews



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Artist: Communication Zero
Title: Transitions
Format: CD
Label: Mark XIII + UWe (@)
Distributor: Tripsichord
In a time where the blind pro-war public is attempting a foolish boycott of French products I am more than happy to review a great and powerful French album by an interesting and deserving French outlet, and I encourage you to buy this, not just because it's French and the French have shown some balls and brain, but mostly because it's a good album of power-noise industrial music. I find their description of the sound quite obscure and amusing («station-wagon beat industrial magnet») but if like me you don't really understand what a station wagon has got to do with industrial beats, then you might find it useful to know that Communication Zero sound like they have been listening to a lot of Dive, Whitehouse, SPK. The young Marseillais also boasts about some outsider-like influences in classical music (he does mention Maria Callas among his models) but don't expect string or wind instruments to play a major role in "Transitions". It's really more about hard pounding distorted power beats, industrial noises, obsessive loops, treated vocal samples and stuff like that. If anything you'll find a great deal of orchestration between parts to achieve a high impact effect and occasionally some cool vocal choir parts that sound antique and I'd say almost Russian or Eastern European for that matter, which provide for a quite interesting Laibach-like effect. The CD comes in a minimal but nice digipack.
Grenoble-based Mark VIII promotion/booking agency, label and music venue teamed up with Paris-based UWe (Uncivilized World - don't know what the "e" stands for...) to release this album, while they are looking for a new bigger place to re-open their well established local stage joint. I can't do much else but wish all of these fine people best of luck with all of these valuable projects!
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Artist: Love 666
Title: this is the new american national anthem
Format: CD EP
Label: Free Rock And Roll (@)
Love 666 is a CD I got with no cover and no additional info whatsoever. The CD only says that this is supposed to be «the new American national anthem»... If you are old enough to remember Hendrix high and chewing on stage while performing the anthem with his super distorted Fender, just imagine him doing the same in a waaaaay less composite and orderly way and with a ton more drugs in his body. Free R'n'R is a keyboard/guitar duo from NYC's East Village. Apparently they recorded this one 47 minute long track of guitar noise mayhem on a boombox. It's loud, it's long, it's love, it's 666, but most of all it's noisy, so try them out only if you dare.
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Artist: Freeform (@)
Title: Condensed (Finest Filets1997-2002)
Format: CD
Label: Nonplace (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Following Simon Pyke's own CDR label Freefarm's debut 100-copies limited edition release "Late Surfaces 1990-2000" (which collects unreleased material), "Condensed (Finest Filets 1997-2002)" is a Freeform tribute/retrospective/best of to be released by the German label Nonplace on April 8th. He's been making electronic-inspired music since 1995 (you'll find Freeform releases on Warp, Skam, Worm Interface and Quartermass) and his production embraces ambient/IDM as much as experimental and dub, to mention just a few of his music's aspects (check out "Phu Qouc" to get an idea of how "free" and abstract he can get, but don't be deceived by that because it'll be just one side). For that matter his moniker is not only a perfect art nickname but also a good description of the type of electronica he proposes. It's hard to pin point the time period the pieces are from, and I don't know if we are even supposed to, but it's easy to see how Pyke has experimented with a number of styles, shaping every one of his creations according to the particular vision his eclectic and multifaceted brain was focusing on and going after. Nonplace recordings' boss Burnt Friedman (Flanger, Nu Dub Players) has risen to the challenge of transposing the multi-dimensional world of this artist into one single CD by (re-)editing thirteen (only nine on the LP version) of his best cuts in a continuous mix. Very interesting record. Good entry point for getting acquainted with Freeform's music. Good collection for Freeform fans. Especially good buy for vinyl fanatics (since most of the tracks have never seen the light on vinyl anyway).
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: New Sound Theory vol. 1
Format: CD
Label: basicLUX (@)
As soon as I saw this disc in my mail it felt like this was gonna be the next best thing in our reviews section and I was right... This is the kind of record I elected for my next cross-Atlantic trip, along with Echo's and the Saafi Brother's "Liquid Beach". ;-) But enough about me and more about this great new compilation.
Released by husband and wife James and DeAnna Cool's new label basicLUX based in Atlanta, GA, "New Sound Theory"'s first volume is "...a sound for lifestyle"! It brings together fifteen of the best new acts of the smooth chill-out downtempo ambient electronica scene, each adding their own interpretative key to the theory, from nu jazz to neo soul, from deephouse to trip'n'bass. Artists include Chris Brann (of Ananda Project, Wamdue, P'taah), Soulrider, Stormchild, Bleu Screen, Madison Park vs Lenny B, Puzzle, Bryan Ogden, Auricle, JC Scott Project, Salah Ananse, Kaizer, KemeticJust and Abstract Foundation. So much new and affirmed eclectic talent on one record makes for a great buy, I'll tell you, because it's not every day that you find good and groovy lounge music like this. You can dance to it, you can vibe to it, it's great for every mood you are in (almost...) and it's absolutely terrific and cool sounding! I love it.
It's interesting to know that the CD came out with the help of unusual (for the music business that is) sponsoring partners, such as a funky and hip clothing/accessories boutique, a Japanese retreat spa/salon and an body/home accessories store (all in Atlanta) which further proves the kind of lifestyle integration that this project reaches out for.
By the way, if you are in the area, you may also catch some of the action live at the newsoundtheory sundays (log on to their website for full schedule of events)!
Except for just a couple of tracks that perhaps aren't quite up there I think, and except for the fact that such a compilation CD would deserve and has people expect more linear notes about each artist (mini bios, contacts etc), I'd say it's a great little gem of quality new sounds, and not just theoretically speaking... ;-)
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Babylon is Ours - the USA in Dub
Format: CD
Label: Select Cuts (division of Echo Beach) (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Get ready for some groovy and chillin' dub action with shades of green, yellow and red, if you know what I mean. This "all-exclusive collection of American dub flavors" bears the colors of a winner and comes to you directly from the streets of the most involved cities of the nation (including New York City, pictured in the cover in a quasi "Independence Day" scenario with a huge speaker hovering over the island and drawing a huge shadow over part of it, as well as in the booklet and in-lay card with Lady Liberty). Released by German Echo Beach's new sub label Select Cuts and compiled by XLR8R magazine journalist Ron Nachmann and by San Francisco's "Dub Mission" club night masterminds Dj Seb and Sep Ghadishah, "Babylon is Ours - the USA in Dub" is available on CD and 12" and collects some of the finest dub music with an American signature.
Organic Grooves founders Dj Sasha Crnobrnja (aka Cosmic Rocker, from Switzerland) and guitarist Zeb (from Italy) open the celebration with heavily electronic-enriched low-sub-bass-driven dub (the kind of dub I like the most!); Phase Selector definitely hoist the Jamy flag; Santa Cruz Dub Congress keep it up there with their spacey roots dancehall; Avatars of Dub initially go for the trumpets but really only get interesting when they later add the drum'n'bass ingredient to their recipe; Cuban turntablist virtuoso Tino (aka Tino Corp, featuring Jack Dangers and Ben Stokes) has a big bass line and adds long delayed samples of every kind; Mark Pistel (also founding member of the great political band Consolidated - definitely check them out! - and Meat Beat Manifesto collaborator) mostly comes from the electronic scene but definitely proves here (if his two records "Electronic Dub Collective" weren't proof enough) that he's got what it takes to be successful with dub too; right from here in NYC comes Zeb (whom I met and worked with in the past...), a great eclectic experimental guitarist like few others in the scene (with backgrounds including the UK Brixton's scene and collaborations with Future Sound of London and The Scientist among others), who samples his own guitar playing to play live on top of it and presents a great track; Eastern Dub Tactik (one of the few good things to come out from curch ;-)) works out a theme reminiscent of an Eurhythmics hit and introduces great Asian tabla playing into his spiritual mix giving it that wider geographical reach (even though you won't hear much of the "world hip-hop" he was envisioning earlier in the days); the Ben Wa Oakland duo go more minimal than the others and add some UK-ish ambient-like textures that our readers will sure appreciate; Sub Oslo (I don't know if they are from Oslo) are a full blown performance group who go even deeper with their sub-bass' frequencies (hence the name I guess) and keep their guitar player busy ad-libing; Otaku (I do know they are not the ones from Italy - but they probably choose the same name for the same political reasons: i.e. Japan's hacker/cultural jammers movement) go for a trip/hip-hop-like beat with very interesting elements usually extraneous to the dub/reggae scene, such as distortion, arpeggiators, very short delays and cut-off frequency sweeping; the other all-live act of this record who also ends the party is Systemwide, who jam with Brooklynite Dr. Israel and Oaklander Dj Collage in what seems to be the only piece with actual vocal parts on this compilation while carrying on their «genre dissolving» modern tradition/traditional modern style. Nice booklet with extensive notes. Great buy for those into the dub scene, but you'll have to wait until the end of April when the album will be in stores!
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