Music Reviews



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Artist: Chris Golinski, Tim McNally, Boaz Roberts (@)
Title: Rodeo
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records
Rated: *****
"Rodeo" is the work of Chris Golinski (drums), Tim McNalley (bass), and Boaz Roberts (guitar) and consists of five untitled tracks with little information with the disc. The label describes it as 'a study in contrast and extremes, from the visceral to the ephemeral, which resolves to present the listener a seamless flow of five independent yet interrelated works.' For once, the PR copy is accurate. This album flows between moments of incredibly complicated, chaotic improvisation and sparse compositions that are almost too mellow for their own good. Take, for example, the opening track. Imagine the conclusion of a live rock show: wailing guitar, low end drone from the bass, and the drummer going crazy. Now imagine that for several minutes. This was amazing and a lot of fun. The very next track shifts gears immediately. It was almost disarmingly mellow and took forever to fade in. I kept waiting for it to unleash, but it never did. The third track was likewise sparse, getting more complex as it went on. Although they were getting interesting sounds out of their instruments, it didn't really work for me. It was OK, but nothing too amazing. But then were back to the crazy, spastic improve in track 4. The drummer is all over the place and the guitar sounds like he's trying to channel the Emergency Broadcast System, with long tones and a lot of squall. Track 5 closes it on a mellow note. For me this was a mixed bag. When they were on they were really on, and the high energy music is where they excel. However, the other tracks just didn't seem to have the energy of the others. I recognize that energy is not just in your face ' one can have a level of restrained energy in the most sedate tracks, but it just wasn't there for me. Maybe the juxtaposition of extremes was just too much.
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Artist: Voicehandler (@)
Title: Song Cycle
Format: CD
Label: Humbler Records
Rated: *****
The cover states, 'You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end.' This is the initial introduction to the first collaboration between Jacob Felix Heule (percussion and electronics) and Danishta Rivero (voice and hydrophonium). I was unfamiliar with these artists, but it seems that Heule has been in or collaborated with a host of other bands, including Beauty School, Addleds, Ettrick, Mirror Trio, and Basshaters. According to the artists, this album 'comprises different nontraditional approaches to the song form. It explores ideas of our origins and what it means to be human, as presented in mythology and literature. Each song is based on an individual text including the Yekuana (native Venezuelan) creation story, and works by Jorge Luis Borges, William S. Burroughs, and Knut Hamsun.' With Borges and Burroughs on board, I'm definitely interested, so let's check this out. 'Soñando' opens the disc with marimba and long, clear female vocals. The music provides a kind of incantation / shamanistic feel, with the marimba and the eventual addition of timbales. However, at three and a half minutes in, it sounds like she is choking which, for me, detracted from the overall feel of the piece. 'Empty And Without Pain' brings the percussion to the forefront, sparse at first, but becoming increasingly insistent over time, with grating female vocalizations. This one tacks between calm and peaceful and violent stabs of sound. 'A Meager Labyrinth' is a wonderful sparse and melancholy track that is the standout track for me on the disc. It's languid vocals and dreamy ambience provide a stark contrast to 'Mi Falible Mano,' with its disjointed vocals and music that feels much more random and spastic than the other tracks. 'I Am A Recording Instrument' finishes the disc off with chaotic, noisy composition with a cicada-like buzz that permeates much of the track and eventually becomes a low buzzing drone seven minutes in. The rest of the track is an exercise in minimalism with breathing and low volume singing that you have to turn way up to even hear. Overall, this is an interesting album, but I get the sense that this translates better into live performance, so they would definitely be worth checking out if they are playing near you.
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Artist: The Bongoloids (@)
Title: 4
Format: 12"
Label: ShanGORIL la Records (@)
Rated: *****
There wasn't much info that came with this album, but the label calls it 'Supreme psychedelic space jazz.' Just looking at the names of the artists, you get the sense that they aren't exactly stuffy, with names like Ray Bong, S. Creamcheese, and Mik 'Ice Cold' Jones. The best way I have to describe this album is to imagine a rock band fed through 1960's 'futuristic' sound with plenty of analogue bleeps and bloops and synth with a bit of theremin added for good measure. When there are vocals, they are heavily processed. There is some random chimes and vibraphone, along with some guitar. Random bursts of noise give way to mellow drone. This is some weird stuff, but un-self-consciously so. I am reminded of a friend's discussion of 'outsider music,' in which it never occurs to the artist that their music is outside of normal parameters; it's weird because that's what music sounds like to them (thanks, Robert Francos). This was a fun album and well worth checking out if you like it odd. This album is limited to 300 copies.
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Artist: Bruno Duplant / Pedro Chambel / Fergus Kelly (@)
Title: (Winter Pale) Red Sun
Format: CD
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
Coil once explained how some of the music that they made could be attributed to the direct intervention of the machinery that they used, calling this entity ELpH. One can get a sense that a similar phenomenon is happening here with this trio consisting of Fergus Kelly, Pedro Chambel, and Bruno Duplant, credited with Electronics [Processed], Electronics [Sinewaves] and Noises, and Organ and Electronics [Electroacoustic Devices], respectively. As with most Eh? releases, there is little background and the music is left to speak for itself, so let's get into it. This consists of one long track, which begins with lots of feedback, line noise, and grinding waveforms reminiscent of angry cicadas ready to devour the fields just before harvest. They make good use of dynamics and use a variety of sounds to keep it engaging. At around 7 minutes in, they mood shifts to mellow, static drone, then shifts again. It is chaotic, but interesting. After 30 minutes, there begins to be a kind of coherence to the composition; it is almost peaceful, until blasts of line noise jolt you from your reverie. With this in mind, the album could not just simply conclude; at just over 40 minutes in, it fades out, but then comes back again for a few seconds. As quickly as it came back, it's gone. Overall this will appeal to fans of experimental improvisation. This album weighs in at around 41 minutes.
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Artist: Saw (@)
Title: No Way Black
Format: 12"
Label: Lamour (@)
Rated: *****
SAW is the work of a Norwegian duo consisting of Tomas Järmyr on percussion and Eirik Havnes on guitar, electronics and amplified circular saw-blades. Järmyr has worked with a wide array of bands, including Yodok, Sunswitch, Doffs Poi, ESP and duos with Kenneth Kapstad and Eldbjørg Raknes. Havnes has performed sound art installations, music for deaf people and 50 hour long improvised concerts. So there are the players; what happens when we bring them together? Here's how the label describes the album: 'In the northern parts of Norway, a place where the sun either never sets or never rises, time and landscapes and sound are static things, that change too slow for anyone to notice. During the endless summer sun of 2013, the drones and musical landscapes of No Way Black was recorded. A record with slowly evolving music, from almost nothing to walls of sound.' Sounds like a good time. We start off with 'No,' which comes in slowly, like listening to distant music underwater. This builds slowly with heavy drone and sparse improvisational percussion. This is nice and calm, but as 'Way' will show, this is only the calm before the storm. At this point, the music gets more aggressive, with loud grinding drones and louder percussion which rises to a beautiful cacophony. Finally, we flip the record over and are treated to 'Black,' which is one, long track of improvisation, which shifts slowly over time. Overall, this was noisy without getting too harsh and the variety in the music kept even the most grating parts from becoming boring. If you like harsh improve, this is one to check out.
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