Music Reviews



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Artist: People Like Us
Title: Abridged Too Far
Format: LP
Label: Discrepant (@)
Rated: *****
One of the funniest release that recently got pushed by the excellent Discrepant imprint comes from Vicki Bennett - the wise woman behind the moniker People Like Us -, whose sonic art is in between the collagism of plunderphonics masters like Negativland and that kind of cruelty you could expect in an imaginary nightmare where you find out that God is, in reality, the clown of McDonald. This release consolidated the amazing aesthetics she built over years by a plenty of radio broadcasts, releases on CD, DVD and vinyl, gallery exhibitions and online streaming, focused on amazing intersections of folk and popular sketches that she wisely uses like patterns to be knitted in a way that triggers memories or deeper (sometimes hazy or even gloomier) thoughts. The collages by which Discrepant filled "Abridged Too Far" tend to focus and give voice to the sardonically hilarious side of her production, so that your daydreaming while listening could be crowded by nihilist hypnotists coming to a sermon in between Swiss cows ("Nothing"), merry celebrations between bizarre freaks and former members of sinister carnivals and drunk yodelers ("The Doody Waltz") or those same yodelers being chased by exasperated gunslingers ("Abridged Too Far"), alien baby monsters born after a romantic night by Frank Sinatra (singing "I've Got You Under My Sing" some seconds before spreading his seed) and Doris Day (singing "Que Sera Sera" after she got pleased) whose crying results into a messy jumble of Hawaiian sonorities and salsa/rumba rumbling ("I've Got You"), a bug in the firmware of HAL9000 following the conversion into mp3 of old Dolly Parton's tunes ("Dolly Pardon"), really funny music-driven controls at the gate of some imaginary airport ("Nobody Does") and many more. Focus on the amusing details Vicki used to stitch in his collages, and you'll understand why people like her are so rare and precious for contemporary music! Highly recommended!
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Artist: Prangman
Title: Chamber EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Migration
Rated: *****
I wouldn't say this output by Prangman (real name Dan Meldrum), recently out on NexGen Music sub-label Migration, is a stroke of genius, but its way of melting apparently listenable influences is funny at least. Musically grown in his father's pub in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he used to entertain hosts by djing, you can easily guess the tastes of this guy were orbiting around the grand Uk garage style, that he seems to reprise in this EP. The mellow electronic tubular organ sonorities, inserted after the opening percussive stapling, before the smoothly alluring vocals by Lindsay Murray and over its rising hypnotical refrain, in "Far Away (Haarlem)", are the first clue of such a liking. Similarly the interbreeding of thuds and claps and the bouncing repetition of a male voice inviting to 'get up' could be a cliche of Uk garage sound, but Prangman revamped it by slightly distorted electronic drum buzzing noise in the following "Sonics". My favourite moment of this release is "Kremlin", a tune where those garage influences collide up against a catchy mid-tempo break and some sci-fi synth-driven stabs (bizarrely the moment when Prangman adds a spacey echo to them at the end of the tracks reminded a some relatively electro-break old tune by Phil 'Schizoid Man' Holmberg's forgotten project Schematix), a collision that gets more and more colloidal by means of some nice percussive tricks, that got reprised in the final track "Chamber".
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Artist: Bungalovv
Title: Luz Mala EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Infinite Machine
Bungalovv’s “Luz Mala EP” is a 6-track, 21-minute micro-album of dark beats with the sonic palette of dubstep but the pace and energy of electro and breaks. Tribal drum loops, percussive effects and sinister glitched samples swirl over impulsive kicks and low subbass notes.

After the bold overture of opening track “Ulna” with its bright synths playing against sudden rhythm cuts, second track “Tregua” is a standout, a driving deep but crunchy bassline jumping in and out with sudden drops and glass smash effects. “Fémur” is interesting too, managing in less than three minutes to progress from sparse pseudo-ethnic near-ambience to rapid-fire kickdrum-led panic.

Things initially ramp up in the second half. The manic wails, jungle sounds and spontaneous thumping of “Healing Snakes” sounds like Tangerine Dream’s “Wahn” on speed before leaping into a surprisingly regular pounding heavy house rhythm, a format which continues through “Fúrcula”. Final track “Herido” settles down into a more sinister rumbling atmosphere to close.

All in all it’s a very impressive EP. The curtness of some of the tracks make this seem somewhat like a sampler, as though it contains six radio-edit-like extracts from a full-length album, but if that were true it’s an album I’d absolutely want to hear.
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Artist: Stephan Meidell
Title: Metrics
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Hubro Music
Stephan Meidell is a guitarist, but the guitar is just one of many elements floating around in the melting pot of “Metrics” and you’d be hard pushed to identify his primary instrument. Blending extremely mellow electronic beats and synthetic drones with spontaneous and freeform improvised performances from a range of organic instrumentation ranging from fiddles to prepared pianos to clarinets, this is a wide ensemble piece that’s almost misleadingly released under one man’s name.

Opening with the two parts of “Baroque” which as you’d expect has a predominant harpsichord, there’s a sinister tension throughout that gives the whole thing a very filmic quality. The three parts of “State” are more plaintive, with layered violins describing a more sorrowful outlook and the rumbling droning underbelly stripped back.

Longest piece “Biotop” brings analogue electronic noises to the fore, opening like a 1950’s Tom Dissevelt groove before evolving into a piece of slow techno with sporadic guitar strums littered lightly on top. In a way this is the straightest piece, with a deep regularity to it that’s very compelling. Final track “Tauchgang” is similarly strong with its experimental, retro-tinged electronics, but with a much more freeform structure and a strangely gloopy ambience.

“Metrics” is a succinct package of very emotive atmospheres built out of a broad variety of instrumentation. It’s impeccably polished and exemplary for its type, or it would be if it was easy to work out which type to pigeonhole it in.
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Artist: Swansea
Title: Flaws
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Self Group
Oregon trio Swansea’s album “Flaws” is a neat and tidy slab of ten electro-indie-guitar-pop songs with a no-nonsense approach. Verse-chorus structures, steady tempos, light synth patterns and songwriting and singing that plough their own path that’s somewhere between American indie and more quirky European flavours. The production is neither too crisp nor too muddy, with an overall sound that’s authentic if at times a little flat.

For what it matters, there’s an aspect of this release which is a little bit dated in pop terms. It draws comparisons to LCD Soundsystem, DFA, Soulwax, The Ting Tings etc. and a broad genre that had its zenith about a decade ago.

But it’s certainly a decent pop album in parts, with some good hooks. “This Time”’s twist from melancholy to extroversion is nicely pulled off. “Samurai” has a lovely bright groove that sounds like it’s only a quick remix away from appealing to Roisin Murphy or Goldfrapp fans.

The second side of the LP is more innovative than the first, with the energetic “No Power” and the vaguely prog rock “Cincinnati”. Final track “Be Brave” and digital bonus track “Blue Sky” both stretch out of the pop mould into more dreamy, languid and melancholic arrangements- the soft percussion on the latter being particularly interesting.

“Flaws” is pleasant enough and a perfectly good soundtrack for a quiet night in, but it’s lacking anything that will really make it stand out from the crowd.
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