Music Reviews



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Artist: Ingar Zach
Title: Le Stanze
Format: CD
Label: Sofa Music
“Le Stanze” was recorded across 2014 and 2015 and mixed in 2016.

The spaciousness of opening track “La bugia dello specchio” serves as prelude to “Il battito del vichingo” as the main event, a relentless rhythmic pulsing of metal and chimes. Ten minutes of marching, tribal-ish workout then unfold and give way to spontaneous hits and reverberations that get progressively more sparse and distant.

Despite being comfortably packaged in art house territory, there are points in the first half of “Il battito del vichingo” in particular feels like it’s only a couple of synth sounds away from being an epic club track from Underworld. There’s a techno beat lurking, teasing, but never revealing itself. I struggle to tell with “L'inno dell' oscurita” whether this track is especially steeped in post-production or whether it’s a complex and elaborate arrangement of live feedback and filters creating the deeply alien and unearthly effects. I suspect it’s the latter, but either way, the result is like the waking of an intelligent alien warhorse, sinister and unnerving- and from around the five minute mark, genuinely difficult to listen to.

“È solitudine” begins in the absence of time, and apart from an occasional bang, languishes in feedback and its own evolution- standing out as being much more relaxed and pensive than the previous pieces.

In some parts this is just a single-note-bassline away from being techno, in other parts it’s a challenging discordant cacophony, in other parts a percussive chill-out album. Fascinating stuff, but hard to pin down.
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Artist: Aidan Casserly (@)
Title: Incubus
Format: CD
Label: Werkstatt Recordings
“Incubus” is Aidan’s fifth album of 2016, and that’s solo only, not counting his multiple collaborations and other projects- this man is certainly not suffering from writer’s block right now!

Right from the opener “The Gate” it’s clear that “Incubus” will be a filmic and emotional package, influenced by Aidan’s recent forays into film scoring, with a definite leaning towards the ballads and the blues. This is most in evidence on tracks like “Escape Is Not An Option”. However the love of synthpop is certainly not forgotten, with songs like “City As A Memory” and “Dead Sin” making no secret of the pop sensibilities at their heart, especially when the repeat “dead sin” vocal starts sounding like “dancing”.

What they do all have in common though is a raw, vulnerable energy- these melodies and lyrics are heartfelt. The production is certainly polished, these are not demo tracks, but there’s still an honest simplicity to them.

Two duets with guest vocalist Kriistal Ann add an extra element to the soundscape, though Kriistal’s tone and inflection is a feminine parallel of Aidan’s so the transition is almost seamless, and the effect on the overall mood quite mild.

Ten tracks, at 32 minutes, makes a compact little package of highly emotive, ballad-heavy synthpop.
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Artist: Yannis Kyriakides with Slagwerk Den Haag & Silbersee (@)
Title: Lunch Music
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
I won't wonder if the hissing of turntables looping empty traces would come by an old vinyl of the catalogue built by Owen's His Master's Voice in the 60ies, which got notorious for his logo was the famous dog pointing to a gramophone as well as for a plenty of excellent rock'n'roll outputs, including the ones by those Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, whose hit "Shakin' All Over" got quoted by "Shakin'". It's just an element of the sonic stream by which Yannis Kyriakides blended the vocal snippets of another master, William Burroughs, whose masterpiece "The Naked Lunch" was the primary source for inspiration of "Lunch Music." Besides the almost logical attempt of rendering the hallucinatory or just altered states of mind provided in that wisely mad novel - the set of resounding objects, including what a listener could imagine as the tired clacking of a typewriter by an entirely drunk writer in the attempt of completing his last poem of his spiritual testament in the opening track "smell down death", literally plead the cause -, Yannis focused on one of the most interesting aspect of that novel, that is polyphony. Polyphony, fostered by emulated drug abuse and vividly known by Burroughs that flattened out into a monologue, where the web of the signifier and the signified got somehow melted or wholly unmatched all over the different parts of Naked Lunch. Yannis and his collaborators - the inventive percussionist Slagwerk Den Haag, who commissioned the piece for the same named dance/music theatre piece, and Silbersee, the ensemble focused on contemporary vocal music and its possible connections and intersections with other forms of art - seem to have caught the beauty of Burroughs' output and managed to feed that stream by means of trippy agglomerates of live electronics, sometimes disorientating modulated voices, feverish hits, fragmented percussions and samples melodies (some of them seem to cast hallucinations in between Mexico, one of the critical stages all over the world of Burroughs' trips, and the borderline side of that insane melting pot of American society, which never had mouth before Burroughs' literary raving) in a crazy and appropriately polyphonic whirlpool of resounding entities and meanings. Burroughs' fans will surely appreciate this release.
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Artist: Hyperbubble (@)
Title: Music to Color By
Format: CD + Book
Label: Pure Pop For Now People (@)
Rated: *****
I have to hand it to Jeff and Jess DeCuir; not content to just crank out their "usual stuff", the usual stuff being quirky synthpop songs with vocals, they've tried their hand at movie soundtrack albums, a live album, and now, with 'Music to Color By,' an instrumental synthesizer album, and a coloring book to go with it. (Sorry, you'll have to buy your own crayons.) I was laboring under a misconception about Hyperbubble; for some reason I thought Jeff handled all the synths and programming and Jess did all the vocals, but Jess actually plays synths too, along with theremin. There are no vocals on this album though; maybe they didn't want to distract you from coloring inside the lines.

Let's take a look at the book first (which was drawn by both of them). It's kind of a mish-mosh psychedelic pop art affair with synthesizers, cats, robots, Jess & Jeff, and psych designs all done up in cartoony fashion. Black & white of course because you're supposed to provide the color. It's only 16 pages but on heavy paper and full-size 8 1/2" x 11". My favorite page is "Moloko Velocat," a feline take on the Korova Milk Bar from 'A Clockwork Orange'. Ar the bottom of the front cover it says San Antonio Museum of Art where they apparently had their release party for this, and where you can also find it for sale. To my knowledge, not many (if any) rock bands have put out coloring books, although there is a Punk Rock coloring book and an Indie Rock coloring book that I know of, so maybe this is a first for an individual band. Kitschy pop art, and a neat novelty item.

Tracks on the CD are named for colors, such as "Sunburst Yellow," "Poppy Red," "Lime Peel," "Nectar," "Periwinkle," etc. I was a little disappointed to not find a "Mango Tango" or a "Jazzberry Jam" but you can only have so many colors in ten tracks. All tracks are somewhat brief (nothing over 4:19) so you're only getting a half-hour's worth of music but it's sufficient. The music is expectedly simple in the rhythm and melody departments, but varied enough in the arrangements to be entertaining. Think very 80's - Giorgio Moroder and Yellow Magic Orchestra with a touch of Kraftwerk and Telex. It's all pretty up
and happy stuff with the possible exception of the last track, "Spanish Orange," which sounds like an unused demo by Gary Numan or Ultravox. So Hyperbubble remains true to their formula with the content here, but I felt they could have done more with it- at least one lengthier track synthetically adventurous and spacey, inspiring synesthesia in a non-pop tune format.

So if you're already a Hyperbubble fan, you will probably like this. If you don't care for them, 'Music to Color By' will not change your mind, and if you're on the fence, just buy it, be happy, and get out your crayons.
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anymore
Artist: Column One (@)
Title: Boiling Pool
Format: 12"
Label: 90% Wasser (@)
Rated: *****
As stated in the liner notes, this new release from Column One "consists of 953 fragments, 722 situations, 952 interruptions & countless sources, intensions & beings" and, while it's not completely original the idea of underline the modular nature of writing, this historic collective takes the concept on a new level. Instead of doing a condensed version of their discography, they create an entire new opus with a sort of self-plunderphonia or a new joke for the listener.
The first side of this release, "Pooling", is a frenetic cut-up where voices are used to unify samples of drums, saxophones, field recording and quiet moments with long fragments relaxes the rapid succession of sources, mostly resulting in a deliberate mockery of the expectation of the listener and are even able to laugh it off. The second side, "Boiling", is instead more experimental and results in a sort of reflection on the nature of juxtaposition as they tied parts where they explore meditative moments with drones and resonance with parts of impressive movement.
When phrases as "so we need to do another soundcheck with you again" recur on both sides of this vinyl and mark precise moments in the development of this release, the Burroughs' quote assumes a precise meaning for this release. Compressing elements from a time period of 45 years is a result of a concern about writing and time: something that was discarded years ago, it's suitable to the musical content now and therefore what is written is not separable from when it's done as what's used is tied to what's said. When a record is able to raise this questions, there's only one critical judgement: masterpiece.
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