Music Reviews



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Artist: System Morgue (@)
Title: Feu
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this Moscow-based artist, but looking at the over art and the black metal logo, I expected something much more abrasive, at least noisier. But that's not what you get with System Morgue. The press release states that 'In its early period the project relied on aggressive and pushing sound in vein of harsh noise and power electronics, but later changed to milder sonorities and finally came to the now traditional form of guitar drone ambient.' Evidently, this is all created with guitar, bass, and effects. The music itself was really peaceful, deep drone, but it kept shifting enough to keep it interesting. At times there would be some moments of voice (Octobre), or guitar that is merely plucked to reveal itself (Moulin des Ãtoiles), but overall this is something that you can put on and just let everything fade away. Nicely done. This album weighs in at around 45 minutes and is limited to 100 copies.
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Artist: Paul Baran
Title: The Other
Format: CD
Label: Fang Bomb (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this Scottish artist, but the label describes this album as 'The Other is Britain, Student protests, Riots, Neo Liberalism, Fear, Nationalism, Haiti, Chess, Geopolitical sum games, Potlatch, Celebrities, Obama, The Shoah, Love, Reflexive Impotence, The Wheel, Inversion, Tarkovsky, The Zone.' Well, that's a lot to cover and not very illustrative of what we're going the hear, so let's get right into the music. 'Time' opens up with a short, sparse instrumental track that almost feels like a warm up exercise before 'Himmelstrasse' breaks everything wide open with a more complex work. There is a lot going on here, from melancholy vocals (with the refrain 'we all fall down') and chaotic instrumentation. A guitar strum here, a hit to sheet metal there, some bits of violin. It's not a typical composition, but it hangs together well. 'Dissent' begins with yelling and spastic improvisation, then shifts to drone, percussion, and distorted guitar over the refrain 'beating the battle.' 'Britonia' has a steady beat with occasional ear piercing high pitched tones with vocals that seem pulled from an answering machine. 'Celebrity' features droning and scraping improve with chunks of heavily distorted vocals. 'The Human Republic Of Haiti' brings in bass and sticks striking objects with some tentative plucking of guitar and piano. At 9 minutes in we get some grunting vocals that are unintelligible. 'Krom' is sparse drone with piano, cello, and guitar. 'Time Zone' brings in flute and beats with fat analog synth. 'Looking For Bobby' is violin and child vocals with water, pizzicato strings, and what sounds like a Jew's harp. 'Potlatch' ends up on a mellow note, which is kind of unexpected after the roiling chaos within. This is noisy, but not noise. There's enough going on here to keep things interesting while still maintaining a sense of continuity throughout. We could file this alongside such practitioners as Zoviet France and Hafler Trio.
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Artist: Theme
Title: No Emotions Catered For
Format: 12"
Label: Idioblast (@)
Rated: *****
Theme is the work of Stuart Carter and Richard Johnson and the label describes them as an 'experimental/psychedelic/improvisational/drone/atmospheric/filmic/noise/ambient/art-house sum of the individual parts residing in Krakow & Leicester.' Yes, that should cover it. But for once, it actually does. If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be dissonance, and not just because there is a fair amount of dissonance in the music. There is also an interesting juxtaposition in style. For example, 'Dream Your Dreams' starts off with a kind of neo-folk vibe with guitar and male and female spoken word with the occasional chime that reminded me of Current 93 and the like, but then it shifts gears, with a pounding beat, water samples, and droning synth. 'Another Context Revealed' takes a similar approach with the acoustic guitar and soothing male vocals. But, like the other tracks, this one takes a turn for the ominous, as dreamlike female voices whisper under pulsing synth and what sounds like pounding timbales. Sumetimes the dissonance is in the lyrics, as in the beginning of 'Following Those Codes' where a voice sweetly sings 'I swim in your sickness.' And then there is the good old clanking dissonance that we all love, like in 'Enough Is Never' where weird spoken word layers over clanking glass, metal, analog synth washes. 'A Past Forever Sick' takes a similar approach with a weird glitchy track where the voices are broken and reconstructed like Frankenstein's monster while the gritty, dissonant music hovers ominously overhead. 'Logic Is (Not) The Answer' likewise brings the repetitive looped voices and grinding synth, but it gets to be somewhat grating (although still stays interesting) and goes a bit longer than it needed to. But overall this was very enjoyable and interesting stuff. This album weighs in at around 47 minutes and is limited to 250 copies. Well worth getting one of them.
Artist: Imaginary Forces (@)
Title: Corner Crew EP
Format: 12"
Label: Sleep Codes
Well this is a new one on me. I've never seen a record where the label was bubbling. Like when a paper gets jammed in the printer and gets wrinkled? Yeah ' like that. There was nothing else with the record but a photocopied sheet with the tracklist and a statement to 'Either join the crew or get beat down!' So I'm expecting some pretty lo-fi stuff. Not that that's a bad thing. From what I could gather, Imaginary Forces is the work of English artist Anthoney J. Hart. His site explains that 'His early electronic dance music beginnings have now moved into a more freeform abstract compositional structure drawing heavily from the early electronic masters as well as literary references.' Sounds good. Let's throw this thing on. This is pretty stripped down stuff. If you wish that the music would just leave the beat and maybe a few samples thrown in here and there, this is the one for you. I would see some of this working its way onto the dance floor (Corner Crew (Frozen Version), for example), but at first I found this to be too stripped down and repetitive for my tastes. After a few listens, though, I can get what he's doing. It's kind of like a really stripped down Autechre, although not as abstract and much more beat driven. Musically, the most interesting track here was 'We've Gone Too Far,' which is an exercise in looping with some sampled voices breaking it up occasionally. You can give it a listen at his Bandcamp site if this sounds like it would be up your alley. This album weighs in at around 13 minutes and is limited to 200 copies.
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Artist: Qzerty
Title: Perceived Coolness
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ufo Solar (@)
Rated: *****
Tommaso Qzerty Danisi is one half of the Redrum Alone duo and "Perceived Coolness" is his first solo release. The EP contains four tracks that offer a different style of electronic music compared to what Redrum Alone produce. If the duo produce electro songs with an high rate of melodic catchy moments and upbeat rhythms, Qzerty is more focused on instrumental minimal techno/i.d.m. with glimpses of Miami and Detroit styles. All the tracks are mid tempo where few elements (a sampled treated vocal, a short catchy melody, etc) are alternated creating a suspended atmosphere. Into the info sheet he reported as references the Hyperdub roster, Fourtet and Aphex Twin but you can make your own idea of his sound checking it here http://qzerty.bandcamp.com/releases
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