Music Reviews



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Artist: Balligomingo (@)
Title: Beneath the Surface
Format: CD
Label: Windham (@)
Distributor: RCA / BMG
When you pop in a CD and you suddenly find out you are listening to its last song, you know it was a good record 'cause you got so much into it that you lost track of time and just enjoyed the listening experience... This happened to me several times with "Beneath the Surface" the debut album of Canadian producer/composer Garret Schwartz, aka Balligomingo, due for release a month from now, on June 11th 2002. Drawing upon many influences, including Front Line Assembly member Bill Leeb's project Delerium, Enigma, Enya, Massive Attack, the most electro-ethereal Madonna, Deep Forest and other eclectic artists spicing up beautiful electronica with pop, ethereal soundscapes with alternative trip-hop, Schwartz's offering includes lush layers of orchestral strings and synth-pads, acoustic world blends, fluctuating ambient soundscapes, intense bass lines and classically electronic textures... Co-producer guitar-player Vic Levak, strings arrangers and directors Graeme Coleman and Mark Ferris (and his orchestra), drummer James Kaufmann and engineer Greg Reely are just some of the many people who contributed to this record, in fact what makes the record a pop record really are the seven beautiful seductive female vocals by Delerium singer Kristy Thirsk and other upcoming talents from US and Canada (Camille Miller, Jody Quine, Jennifer Baldwin, Collen Coadic, Jennifer Hershman, Beverly Staunton). 11 tracks and one hidden bonus track (this hidden track thing is so over-done by now that it ain't hidden no more). When it hits the streets on June 11th you should give it this a listen.
Artist: Mark Bain (@)
Title: Vibrasonics
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
I love Staalplaat because they are the one label that pushes the envelope every day! If you thought you heard it all, think again! Mark Bain is here to prove you that buildings live, breath, move and produce sounds. His task is to record these sounds and let humanity hear what the structures we live in sound like. He achieves this using sensitive devices normally used for earthquake recording and geologic surveying, such as geophonic sensors, vibration sensors, mechanical oscillators (exciters), accelerometers, low frequency microphones contained in a battery operated kit, vibration transducers and audio conversion equipment. By tapping into the sound world contained within the material makeup of a site, Mark Bain rings the architecture with vibro-acoustic energy, breathes life into it and eventually records the vibro-sonic infrasound of the amplified framework and its occupants along with micro-disturbances resident in the living architecture machine. This 3 tracks 3" CD of tectonic proportions transcribe the sonic events resident within a bridge, a still transient vehicle and a laboratorium of petrochemicals arriving by ship into the Antwerp port.
Just one more proof that there is absolutely no limit to imagination, science and music. My only concern is that because of the ultra-low-frequency information we're dealing with (generated waveforms range between 10 and 30Hz, well into the subsonic range with harmonics dipping below that), the fact that digital CDs are not as accurate as analog tape when it comes to low's, the fact that human ear can only "hear" from 20Hz above (the body can "feel" lower frequencies though) and the fact that many people don't even have a sub woofer in their systems yet, makes the truthfulness, or maybe I should say the accuracy and degree of experience of this audio material questionable.
Artist: Gen Ken Montgomery (@)
Title: Icebreaker
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Originally recorded in NYC in 1991 and presented as octophonic sound installation in total darkness at the Generator Sound Art Gallery in NYC one year later, Staalplaat's "Icebreaker" release is a 3" CD version of the full length 4CD set, originally released as 4 tapes (you are supposed to play all four together in absolute darkness, starting approximately at the same time and placing your 8 speakers around you to recreate the octophonic experience). Award winning European artist Gen Ken Montgomery (one of the founders of labels Generation Unlimited and Pogus Productions, as well as founder of Generator, NYC's first sound art gallery, established in 1989) draws inspiration from Conrad Schnitzler (whom this record is dedicated to) and has always been into audio, video, film and visual arts and experimentation. His attitude is to confront limitations by utilizing them, striving to overcome the fear of producing something stupid or boring in pursuit of a spontaneous creative idea. This laid the grounds for his idea to enhance the pre-existing sounds of objects whose primary function is seemingly unrelated to the sounds they produce, which lead him to "Icebreaker", an audio performance whose only sound-making device is the Ice-O-Matic vintage ice crushing machine, fed through 8 speakers so that the sounds moves in the room over, through, around, aside, inside you. Montgomery says that, even though you might detect sounds of ice being crushed or the hum of the engine, you could possibly hear other things too, which «might remind you of memories or inspire fantasies, or you might get bored, and that's ok too».
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Artist: Bourbonese Qualk (@)
Title: On Uncertainity
Format: CD
Label: Korm Plastics (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Finally an experimental band that has something to say (even with no lyrics involved)... I started fearing that intelligent contents were only left to diy punk bands... Bourbonese Qualk are a UK anarco-experimental group/collective from the eighties. They were involved in anarchist and radical movements and manifestations such as "Stop the City" and the Trafalgar Riots. After touring Europe, eastern Europe and the US and releasing works on their labels "Recloose Organisation" and "New International", in 1993 they released their last CD "Autonomia" (not surprised by the name at all!) and then disappeared until now. "On Uncertainity" is a beautiful ambient album that you wouldn't expect to be theirs if you considered that "Autonomia" was gabber-techno and previous works were a mixture of acoustic instruments and electronics. 10 years after they are back with the same peculiar sound but they dropped the aggressive beats and the traditional instrumentation (only the last but one track in this album has a jazzy flavor with drums and clean guitars) in favor of floating ethereal soundscapes with occasional electro-beat patterns and enchanting heavenly textures made of lush synth layers, harmonious pads or even long reverberated saxophone notes. Dreamy and calm. Charming and colorful. The info sheet says that even after coming back from their hybernation, they remain true to their original sound... Well, I haven't had the pleasure to hear their older recordings, but I can only tell you this much: if they were doing this stuff two decades ago they were waaaaaaaay ahead of the curve!!!
Artist: M'Lumbo (@)
Title: The Nine Billion Names of God
Format: CD
Label: Multimood (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
I've been in NYC for almost three years but I still haven't got to catch these highly acclaimed M'Lumbo, who I read play live a lot at the Knitting Factory... Hell, I even worked as an engineer/live sound-manipulator with Jojo Meyer's Nerve, whom they played with, but I guess it wasn't meant to be... I'll be definitely looking forward to one of their shows, 'cause this collective of six musicians, four film-makers and one sound-guy is supposed to be a really hot act, especially on stage!! Try to image what six great free-jazz cats can achieve when they mix their insanity/improvisation/moods with drum'b'bass/techno/electronic/weird beat patterns, bits of sounds, found noises, vocal and non-vocal samples! A true no-wave-state-of-the-art album is what they did, but I don't even wanna think about what I am missing when they do this stuff live with four film-makers that surely do some crazy visuals as well! The jazz element seems to be very present in the instrumentation (lots of brasses); the compositions are fairly free-form, ranging from free-jazz/no-wave to experimentalism, shaped around an orderly chaos of trance-inducing orgiastic improvisarama that hits you like a truck and involves you like an enthralling vortex. This record contains eight tracks of layers of things, hell you might even find a layer of speeches over a layer of noises over a layer of a rock music loop... Possibilities are endless... Press and fans have often compared them to Miles Davis, Sun Ra, The Orb but please let's add John Zorn and his players to the party, I can't image how they could not mention them crazy dudes! M'Lumbo is celebrating their 12th anniversary, and so is their very good label Multimood.
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