Music Reviews



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Artist: Matthew Atkins
Title: Geometric Decay
Format: CD
Label: Minimal Resource Manipulation
Rated: *****
In the package I received to review, this and another project by Atkins – Platform – was my first introduction to his work and the label he runs. Platform was OK, so I was interested to see how this album would stack up. The label describes “‘Geometric Decay” as “a seven track sonic collage of found sounds, field recordings and drones …. It’s a full bodied album whose textures teeter at the edge of noise in places. This is offset with almost meditative passages with snatches of repeated melodies and looped textural blocks, taking the original sound sources and placing them into new and unexpected contexts. Fans of Zoviet France, Francisco Lopez and Janek Schaeffer should find this an interesting listen.” Let’s see how the music stands up to the description. After a noisy intro, "Final Sunday" shifts into drums and random hitting things mode. "Two Objects" shifts gears with a more peaceful synth drone and a staticy beat. This is what Art of Noise would sound like if they had to make do with a broken drum machine. "Marshes" opens with aggressive snare drumming and machinery before changing into field recordings of animal calls and bird songs, giving you the feeling of being alone at night. There are pulsating synth drones and clots of clicks with heavy reverb adding to the nocturnal feel. "Paper" is much more minimal than the previous tracks, focusing mainly on beats and reverbed bells tinkling. It eventually becomes more interesting as it goes on, but still a bit too subtle for my taste. The beginning of "Untitled" sounds like 1950’s sci-fi UFO film before turning to quiet, peaceful, ambient, symphonic synth drone with waves of static. "October" is quiet with sudden sound hits that wake you up. The beats are mainly there as part of the atmosphere. "Malagan Sunset" closes out the disc on a slightly noisier note, with more clicks and washes of static, like standing next to the ocean. Jingling bells or chains with a lot of echo, rhythmic clapping and stomping with the sound of heavily processed voices and dogs barking. Overall this was a pleasant listen; well done, if predictable. This album weighs in at around 54 minutes.
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Artist: Master Class (@)
Title: A Kiss is the Beginning of Cannibalism
Format: Tape
Label: Broad Beauty Tapes
Rated: *****
Master Class is a duo consisting of Bert Bergen and Jesse Reiner. Other than that, I know little about this act. The tape comes in a knit sleeve, so I’m expecting some DIY oddness here. Their website proclaims, “Culled from freak-out sensory experiences in California, filtered through the austere assimilatory ethos of New York, Master Class has actualized. Master Class, a new martial ecstasy. A relentless rhythmic pulsing beneath the tectonic plates of melodic discordance undulating to transport initiates into the realm of disciplined bestial otherworldliness. This is Jim Jones guiding the People’s Temple while in an opiate haze. This is Father Yod’s terminal hang glider flight over the decayed monoliths of a forgotten sacred geometry.” After reading this I was expecting something a bit noisier than what I got. I was somewhat surprised when I heard what sounds like old school electro. Imagine Front 242 circa 1986, but with 2016 synths. This is not quite as stripped down as, say, Geography, but still with that feel. The main problem is that it became rather repetitive. The main departure comes at the end of side B with what I am going to describe as “droning and moaning.” I like old school electro. I’m a big fan of Front 242 and love Geography as an album. But this didn’t really do it for me. Perhaps it was just too repetitive for my tastes. But there is potential here.
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Artist: Guide To Bizarre Behavior (@)
Title: Volume 2
Format: Tape
Label: ShanGORIL la Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed the Bongoloids’ album “4” and it was pretty weird stuff. This tape features the same players, so I was interested to see what a new moniker would do to the music. In this case it seemed to make it all the more strange, while retaining the sense of humor that I enjoyed so much in the previous release (I mean seriously – Suzy Creamcheese? Frank Zappa reference for the win!). At times this is improv along the lines of Zoviet France’s “Loh Land,” as in ‘Pianner Jammer,” and other times there seems to be an actual song, with bass, guitar, and vocal samples such as in “Whisper Blizzard.” But this was all a set up to get you to let your guard down before they get weird. I’m talking The Residents level of weirdness. In fact, this was the main comparison that I can make here. The lyrics border on absurd and show that they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. For example, “Justin Timberlak” features lines like “Do you want to live on the bus, like bus people?” and “get a cure for the clap.” This tape is kind of awesome and a lot of fun. If you don’t have enough weirdness in your life, you need to pick this up. If you like The Residents, you need to pick this up. If you need a good laugh after the election, you need to pick this up. What I’m saying is that you need to pick this up. This is limited to 100 copies, so if you need something to make you smile, get this tape before you have to turn that smile upside down.
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Artist: Kate Carr (@)
Title: It Was A Time Of Laboured Metaphors
Format: Tape
Label: Helen Scarsdale Agency (@)
Rated: *****
Kate Carr hails from Australia, but currently resides in Northern Ireland. She also has one of the more pretentious descriptions I have reads in a press sheet (e.g., “Kate Carr conjures a liminal art”). For example, the label describes the album thus:

“This album from Carr intertwines the lugubrious wash of environmental detail with the dissolved songwriting described in the distant past as 'rural psychedelia' rendering an aesthetic in the orbit of :zoviet*france: or as the dub of a dub of a dub abstractions from Dome. For example, a guitar swollen with ethereal blight cycles in soft whirlpools of drone and thrum as the gloom of an Irish rainstorm pours down a sewer drain. Electricity proves a noble tool as well, as she tapes into telephone wires to extract deadtones of unanswered calls. It is as if Carr is peeling back the layers of history to uncover the ghostly stains of human existence at a particular place. The dead may not be talking; but the soil and its occupiers still do.”

Wow. If you’re going to compare yourself to Zoviet France, you had better bring your A-game. Luckily, Carr brings it. There is a lot going on here, which makes for compositions that are complex, but not cacophonous. A car driving by, chimes, metallic sounds, a grandfather clock, and distant female singing all mix in to a droning, dreamlike atmosphere. Side B keeps this feeling going; after opening up with cars honking at you, this quickly moves to peaceful synth washes with other elements like water splashing and even one of those children’s toys where you twirl the tube around at different speeds to get different pitches. Anything and everything is grist Carr’s mill, with recordings taken from Belfast, Sydney, MMabolela Reserve in South Africa, Madrid, Velez Blanco - Velez Rubio in Spain, Paris, and Berlin, with many of the titles providing clues as to the source (e.g., “Many Goats With Many Bells In Valez” and “Bells From My Bedroom In Berlin”), while others are simply amusing (“She Said Goodbye With An Avocado”). In this way, Carr manages to make the familiar seem strange and the strange seem familiar. Overall this was a pleasant listen and well worth picking up if you enjoy your soundscapes with a healthy serving of field recordings. This tape is limited to 125 copies.
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Artist: Rocky B (@)
Title: Animals, Things and Human Beings
Format: Tape
Label: Das Andere Selbst (@)
Rated: *****
I have reviewed a few releases from Das Andere Selbst and one thing they seemed to have in common was an element of fun. This release by Rocky B is no exception. Rocky B is the brainchild of Berlin-based artist Roi Assayag, who the label describes as “co-founder of the Jerusalem underground hip-hop scene” and a member of Neft and the Arabstazy Collective. He also records under the name Tropikal Camel. As for this release, the label describes the tape this way: "Animals, Things And Human Beings is a 13 minutes concrète-hop love song recorded on a four track in Berlin on springtime 2014 it was originally composed as a soundtrack for a fashion collection by Nicole Gütl.” If this is the case, it certainly makes me wonder what the clothes looked like because I really can’t imagine a bunch of gaunt, unsmiling models walking down the catwalk to this. But I would like to imagine it. This sounds like a toy factory where all of the sound modules have come alive and started speaking in their own musical language. 8-bit synth is the order of the day here, and the music is not quite random but definitely improvised. This is some weird stuff, but fun. Kind of like fashion. This tape is limited to 50 copies.
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