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Artist: F.ormal Logic D.ecay
Title: His Master’s Void
Format: CD
Label: Steinklang (@)
Rated: *****
I suppose that important records (i.e., albums that have a meaning) are the ones posing important questions. This new one form Luigi M. Mennella, with the help from Nicola Savelli, is based upon the relationship between experimental and popular music. His most obvious reference is the Residents' 'George and James' where, after years of pranks about popular music, there's a sort of fascination of the peculiar quality of pop music to be a 'sign of the times'.
Starting from the elegiac 'Alabama Song' to the classic 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' and 'Summertime' and featuring even the almost romantic 'Guarda Che Luna' this album removes from the originals their catchy allure in the search of some disturbing or unexpected element. So orchestral string are replaced by synth, generators and drum machines and the voice is treated so translating this songs in a modern language.
As his title is a gentle mock, and the last of countless ones, of the most iconic record label name of all time, his content reveals the profound commitment of his author to praise the cultural importance of songs played. As this, after the Mike Patton's Mondo Cane project, is another example of the mutated attitude about pop music is more important that just another experimental repetition of known models. Recommended.
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Artist: Strom Noir
Title: Urban Blues
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This new one from Zoharum is presented as an album of 'urban drone with delicate tints of post-rock' and depicting a city where 'your feeling that something is wrong is increasing'. The cover of this album features, in a gray tone picture, some people on top of a building with the hands cover their eyes as suggesting their intention to hear a city rather than see it.
All the tracks are constructed from gentle and slowly developing drones: to the initial 'Maľovanie Dúhy' to the ending 'All Souls (Will Be Born Again)' this album sounds as one track divided in nine movements featuring only an intersections of small noises in 'Zavtra'. So they are more oriented on small details than in any spectacular development so it's specified that they has to be listened with headphone and hopefully in a quiet environment. This tracks asks an attention to detail at risk to seem annoying or static in a first listen, but this is the game with drone music.
After repeated listening this album is hypnotic and is a soundtrack for walking trying to see the aspects of a city that one almost too often leaves behind. Highly Recommended.
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Artist: Spoelstra
Title: Sports and Finance
Format: 12"
Label: Narrominded (@)
Rated: *****
According ti the linear notes this album 'connects eight songs dealing with the matter' as, from Narrominded, is a strange surprise as, instead of being something classifiable in the electronic or avant-garde genre, it's a post-rock (or math-rock) album. It's even almost pop as it hasn't apparently anything too difficult to hear and enjoy as all the experimental effort are bounded in a clear and classic, in the limit of the genre, musical development.
From the rhythmic asperities of 'Map and Shovel' to the quieter ones of 'Sports and Finance', to the slow development of 'Make Out and Roll Credits' to the fast one of 'And Robin' the first side of this album is based upon the oppositions that could be realized using the formula of an instrumental rock song. The b side is opened by 'Smile and Wave' with his classic jazz influences, followed by 'Hell and Safety' and 'Piss and Chips'with his more punk-orientded attitude. 'Hit and Miss Florida' closes this release with a slower development that reveals a sort of disco, even if strange, influence.
This album is not a ground breaking one but has a remarkable quality: admittedly, it doesn't want to be it. So, it's a pleasure to hear it.
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Artist: Hansel
Title: Crude Matters
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: D-Trash Records (@)
Rated: *****
It's been eight years since Hansel released an album, but Alan Fux is back with more musical mayhem, and although not nearly as dark or angry as 'Lorentzian Lineshaper', the 31 tracks on 'Crude Matters' still find Hansel all over the map, with a lot of variety and a few surprises. I'm not going to attempt to describe all 31 tracks; that would be absurd. I can say that rapcore vocals, hip hop and breakcore beats, electronics, cut-up orchestral and string samples plays a major part on many, but not all of the tracks. Fux's vocals are as angsty as ever, but don't boil over into Rezor-style anger as much as on previous efforts.

Opening track, 'One-Bad-Shoulder' is LFO synth blips over a quirky little beat and filtered electronic bass, a cute but innocuous beginning. 'We Refuse to Exist' may owe as much to Jean-Paul Sartre as it does to the Beastie Boys; an existential speed-rap with a weird, warped string arpeggio over a stewing hip hop beat. Further on down the line, electronic doodlings over minimal beats with some string lines pop up now and then, kind of like ideas not fully fleshed out. 'Dividing Red' might just be the nicest track on the album, atypical for Hansel, a bonafide (sort of) conventional song with enough melody to make it a catchy Indie tune that has real soundtrack potential. Like it a lot!

Weird, creepy, sometimes disturbing, with unhealthy dose of eclecticism is the norm for Hansel. Some of the material on 'Crude Matters' gives me the same feeling as listening to Oneiroid Psychosis, although Hansel doesn't much sound like them. Then, out of nowhere you're treated to a cover of 'Eleanor Rigby' (titled Eleanor Big' on the album) that seems born more of a melancholic desperation than the wistfulness of the original. Sometimes, like on 'Leave Me in This Void' there's a playful psychosis at work that nearly defies description.

I'm not much of a fan of rapcore, and I tend to like the tracks where Alan actually sings better, but sometimes the rap works more than any melodic vocal could. Of course, in any album with 31 tracks worth of material, it's going to be a mixed bag for sure; some things just work better than others. They're all pretty brief though, the longest at a little over four minutes, the shortest about 44 seconds, the average being only a couple minutes.

So how to sum up 'Crude Matters' - Massive Attack on bad acid? (Most of it.) Captain Beefheart for Generation Text? ('Halfsharkalligatorman') Mutated Techno-Industrial Punk? ('Mnoprdnilis3') It's all this and more, more or less. You never know what you're going to get ' an 18th century harpsichord riff over breakbeats, pizzicato strings over an industrial rhythm'¦whatever. There's no lack of creativity here, it's just a question of how much you can take.
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Artist: Culls (@)
Title: The Dross Play vol.1
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The thick underbrush of mostly unknown musical project often set many surprises aside and one of the most interesting came from a flare by its author, the Italian guitar player Alessandro Rossi. His activism within underground extreme fringes of metal surfaces on this interesting project, whose flattened frequencies could mislead many reviewers who will grossly label his style as ambient. If we had to accept such a label, we could stick the adjectives "dark" and "industrial", but Culls crosses contiguous territories than projects which could come to mind when this adjectival use got linked to the word "ambient" such as Atrium Carceri, Lustmord or Desiderii Marginis (maybe the menacingly cryptic atmosphere of "Suspended In Craving" is the track, which sounds closer to the mentioned projects, whereas the ghostly choirs of "James Graham Ballard" make me think about some obscure stuff by proper masters of the genre such as Robert Rich), some details of Culls' sonorities such as the occasional insertions of stifling delayed guitar chords, the sombre drones, some pulverized thunders that he often smear on tracks like "Spiral Staircase" - one of the most hypnotic moments of the release, where a looping record stuck adds a distressed "look" to the track - or "Hold Strong Handle", where the accumulated breakdown voltage sounds like spewed out by means of a psychedelic riff, seems to push it towards other really interesting directions that have been masterfully clouded by layers of drowning sonic drolls. I can't wait to listen the second volume after such a promising onset.
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