Music Reviews



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Artist: Big Hare (@)
Title: Hasyayoga
Format: CD
Label: Blowpipe Records (@)
Rated: *****
Big Hare is the duo of Luuk Ottenhof and Tim Fraanje from Ultrecht, Netherlands. I reviewed their 'Evening Rites' EP a while back and found it interesting, but after listening to 'Hasyayoga' it appears as though they were only getting started. There are only 8 tracks on this short album, but it seems quite sufficient. Right out of the gate on "Tahiti" and "Yellow Eyes" they show a quirky, wry pop sensibility akin to the more experimental side of Goldley and Creme, albeit somewhat more whacked-out and lo-fi. "Black Tape" is electro-funky with a chiming guitar strum borrowed from Bowie's "Fame", along with some steel drum. "Fun Face" gets into an electro groove ala Yello as if produced by The
Residents. The Snakefinger-ish guitar on "An Amazon" would seem to indicate the boys of Big Hare spent a lot of time listening to Ralph Records artists. Nowhere does the Dadaist influence emerge more fully than on the recitation incorporated into "Scissor Dance". Beeheart and Pere Ubu wrapped in a Middle Eastern motif as if done by Barnes & Barnes. "Lend me your hands, I ain't go no hands, I've taken part in the Scissor Dance." The weakest track on the album may be "Treehouse" but at least it has some eerie oscillating synth. It all ends with the lengthiest track on the album, "Follow the Lines" which is kinda coldwave, kinda industrial, done almost like the earliest Human League, but of course with Big Hare's innate quirkiness. There aren't many outfits making music like this anymore; stuff that's fun but not necessarily funny, unconventional without being outlandish, but most of all, enjoyable.
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Artist: Earl Grey (@)
Title: Dorsiflexsion / Karmic Sprain
Format: 12"
Label: Inperspective Records (@)
Rated: *****
The sample of a steamer, a somehow old-fashioned bouncy rhythmical pattern and a looped sampled trumpet sketched melody which adds a more antiquated shadow to the sound - it could let you think a secret amen break in the collection of Marlene Dietrich playing on the gramophone owned by that diva, while listening to this mixture - ignites "Dorsiflexion", the first tune of this tidbit by Mancunian producer and dj Jim Ehlinger aka Earl Grey for Christopher Walton's imprint Inperspective. The track seems to get off the round after the addiction of two percussive elements, but it gradually twists around itself without any real evolution. "Karmic Sprain", the other half of this release, is much more interesting: the tones of grey got added by a pitched synth-organ as well as by a sampled female vocals, which sounds like being in agony, the "narrative" setting got rendered by sampled dialogues of people talking about someone who "doesn't respect anybody" and the element of amalgamation is a really amazing rhythmical pattern - I'm not sure percussions are digital as they are so perfectly designed that they sounds played by "real" drums -. Besides a certain lividity of the sound, Earl Grey's infusion are really delicious.
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Artist: Mauoq & Medika (@)
Title: The First/Equator/Clusterfunk
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Aluminium Shiny Shin Side Shack Out Music
Rated: *****
Many bass-driven music fans guessed that the so-called drumstep should have been another passing fad, but more or less hidden outputs like the one that recently come out on the newborn label Aluminium Shiny Shin Side Shack Out are suggestive of the fact that many reviewers announced the death of this branch too hastily. This short ammo of drumstep bullets is co-signed by Rome-born Mauro Campana aka Maouq - I firstly met his name and his sound on labels like Diffrent and Dispatch - and Brixtonian DJ and VJ Milena Lukic aka Medika - I've honestly never heard her name before - and includes three very good tracks (two solo and one bicephalous) that could fade the above-described premature obit out. "Clusterfunk", the first tune by lady Medika, features somehow claustrophobic sonorities by means of a catchy blend of rising breaks running like a rusty train over cracks, hits, splitting rails and alien growls, where the insertion of a spooky female voice (Medika's one?) could let you think she made this tune after setting a VPN up in order to chat with the ghost of a girl found dead under a train in some peripheral station of the subway. The (bass)line by Mauoq on his solo tune "Equator" seems to render a sort of sonic parade through the imaginary red-hot belt of our planet by a sequence of liquefying sounds, muffled metallic hits and more or less disguised clues from inhabitants of equatorial forests. A couple of good tunes, but the best moment of this sonic cookie, in my opinion, is "The First", the co-signed one, even if its somehow creepy nuance could remind the thrilling atmosphere of the scariest videogames by Monolith.
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Artist: Hybris/Signs
Title: Carousel/Rotor
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Plasma Audio
Rated: *****
Besides the remarkable quality of the sounds that I spoke about on the occasion of the introduction of some past releases of Plasma Audio, the direction that the Australian label by badman Safire is going to take becomes clearer and clearer, whenever you check the sonic seeders he decided to host in his expanding catalogue. The ninth plasmic detonation by the label got planned by two acknowledged names of the more "tech-hey" bulge of contemporary drum 'n' bass. My favourite tune of this release is the one by Czech producer Evan Vischi, better known as Hybris, whose treatment over visceral low frequencies, chopped vocals and wisely fragmented rhythmical patterns on "Carousel" could let you imagine a battle against a slimy robotic Gila monster; Toulouse-born trio Signs keeps on hit you hard by their distinctively futuristic declension of nNeurofunk on "Rotor", whose sudden sonic clattering over hyper-nervous breaks - for some strange reason - makes me think of the growling of an aggressive cat. Do not overgroom it.
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Artist: Olga Wojciechowska
Title: Maps and Mazes
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
An album consisting of eleven songs by Polish composer/violinist Olga Wojciechowska which were originally created for various dance, theatre and film projects over the last few years but have now been remastered and put together on the Time Released Sound label to produce this gem.
These are intricate and well crafted pieces of music which are allowed to grow, breathe and evolve invoking somewhat ghostly and sublime atmospheres. Mainly introspective, it's all about being touched and caressed by the late evening moods as the layers of background sounds and acoustic instruments whisper their way into your head. This music has depth, never harsh, it's beguiling components both tease and compel you to listen deeper to its nostalgic and mysterious pathways. Ever expanding and at times haunting, moments of utter beauty arrive and depart like long lost friends. Album highlight " I'm never not thinking about you " is close to classical ambient perfection, a melancholic and reflective backdrop to a yearning violin played with genuine emotion, it's only flaw is that it ends.
The three tracks from " Avenida Corrientes - the movie " have a more languid, laid back feel which, it my opinion, feel a little out of place with the general aesthetic of the other songs reminding the listener that this is a various collection of the artists works, but it does not detract from the quality of the album as a whole. It can't be argued that there is a huge talent on show here and it's a great pleasure to be able to immerse oneself and enjoy such a personal and heartfelt journey.
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