Music Reviews



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Artist: ARK (@)
Title: Verwandlung
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
"Verwandlung", that is "transformation", is the first release on Creative Sources by ARK, an awesome collaborative distaff project by Swiss musicians Coralie Lonfat, whose classical and jazz studies got integrated by an educational path within electronic and experimental woods with good guides such as laptop virtuosos Dafna Naphtali and Ikue Mori, and Nathalie Huber, who focused on sound design, field recordings and experimental music after studying piano at the Academy of Fribourg with Veronique Piller and graduating in Composition and Arrangment at the School of Jazz in Lausanne. These skilled girls go through many interesting sonic strategies in order to let their delicate hybridizations infiltrate beyond listener's sensibility and render their own continual musical metamorphosis - from noise to harmony, from single tone to melodies, from resounding objects to meaning, from inorganic to organic - since the opening track "Trajectoire", where the crystalline delicacy of the first moments got stinged by piano tonal twangs, which add plumbean shades to ARK's vibe. A sequence of spectral sonic apparitions, pealing fissures, anxious melodic flashes, wind-up hatchets and cleaving noisy entities on three untitled tracks plow the soil for the tonal cloudiness of "Contrepoint", the icily mesmerizing sonic chrysalis of "Arctiidae", while the electroacoustic crackling discharges of the seventh untitled track sound like having been canalized in the beautiful "Conductivite'". They allow a break for knitting on "Socken stricken mit silberner Wolle" (German for "Socks knit with silver wool") before the quick-frozen electroacoustic assay of "Vereiste Gluhbirne", whose brilliance seems to reverberate on the delicately spellbinding stroking of the eleventh closing untitled track.
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Artist: Stine Janvin Motland
Title: OK, Wow
Format: CD
Label: +3db (@)
Distributor: Musikkoperatørene
Rated: *****
The very first time I listened this amazing Norwegian vocal performer occurred almost by accident as while I was looking something odd in a small music shop in Berlin, I wrongly thought "VC/DC", a release she made with other three outlandish musicians from her hometown Stavanger, was a sort of a "thrash" parody of something that could be somehow considered as "thrash" as well. I could consider it as a proper lucky mistake, which makes me savour this solo release by vocalist Stine Janvin Motland, who recorded this funny realease in a couple of days in a wooden church outside Bergen. The most interesting aspect of her vocal performances is the way she manages to combine an impressive range of vocal techniques and a certain sense of humour, which shines through many tracks of this recording: for instance, the initial one clearly refers to Mongolian throating that she seems to adapt in a funnily histrionic manner by a sort of suffocated sinewy syllabication, sudden neighs and possible vocal emulations of Mongolian instruments, the high pitched scream on "Herz", which could smash glasses to smithereens, the gradual burn-out of "Alt det overflodige renner ut" (Norwegian for "all the excess runs out"), the meaningful alternation of afflicted weeping and stillness on "Fanfare", the transfiguration on "Monk", where you can sometimes imagine a Buddhist monk in the act of learning Tyrolese yodel (!). You can imagine that Kroken could be some back-country village nearby polar circle where you could die for frostbite while taking a nap after listening to the congealing snore by Motland or have pity on anyone who could experience Motland's disdain after undeservedly claiming to be a talented soprano while listening to the final "Nicht Jeder Kann Ein Dramatischer Koloratursopran Sein" or you could repeat the album title "Ok, wow" while commenting upon deeply emotional moments like "I" or "II".
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anymore
Artist: This Perfect Day
Title: No Frills, Just Noise
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows
Rated: *****
Formed in 1981 in Manchester, UK, by John Sama Snowden (vocals and, previously, singer with The Limit and for a short time with The Passage) and Mik Hayes (synth), This Perfect Day released only one single which they self released in 1983 for their own No Friction Records. Unfortunately they missed the chance to get famous with their 7" containing "The Garden" and "The Time Of Your Life" even if the main song was an upbeat synth tunes really energetic, maybe a bit punk and the B side was a bit more melodic and catchy. For sure they deserved more. Anyway... For about thirty years their name remained in the shadows until some tracks surfaced on Youtube. Marc of Anna Logue Records was about to release the demo that the duo recorded back then but I don't really know what happened but it doesn't really matter now as Synthetic Shadows finally succeeded into release this compilation titled "No Frills, Just Noise". Self released on CDr the last year by the band, on the album you'll find eleven songs recorded on the same 7" session using a 8-track tape at Bootleg Studios, Stockport, UK. Using a monophonic ARP Axxe, a Soundmaster SR-88 drum machine a Crumar Stratus synth and an harp played by John (you can hear it on "Past Trains of Thought" as well as on "Salmonella Serenade"), This Perfect Day were synthpop kind by accident as they couldn't afford other instruments but this didn't hold them back from composing inspired tracks which span from cinematic synth atmospheres ("Past Trains of Thought", "First Steps" or ""Adult Games Pt.1") to synth wave ("Adult Games Pt.2", "Adult Games Pt.3" ), passing through twisted pop tunes ("Happy Housewives" or the mexican craziness of "Salmonella Serenade"). This is a must have if you love early 80s synth music!
Check it here http://syntheticshadows.bandcamp.com/album/this-perfect-day-no-frills-just-noise-ss015
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anymore
Artist: Red Wedding
Title: Anthology 1981-1985
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows
Rated: *****
Formed by people coming from punk bands (Tracers and Hey Taxi), Red Wedding found their force on the power couple (both on and off stage) of Michael Ely and Spider Taylor that along with Marc O (keyboards), John Tagliavia (bass guitar), Brian Ford (drums), Brian Engel (drums) and Warren Mansfield (bass guitar) debuted in 1981 at the Brave Dog, a small hole-in-the-wall, but iconic club in downtown Los Angeles where they became the house band. After the club was closed for serving alcohol without a license, Red Wedding moved on to playing the biggest clubs in L.A. and San Diego sharing the stage with bands and performers such as Killing Joke, Nina Hagan, Psi Com (an early incarnation of Jane's Addition), X, Romeo Void, Bow Wow Wow, Specimen, Kommunity FK, The Bangs (an early incarnation of The Bangles), Suburban Lawns, Redd Kross and 45 Grave. In 1982 they recorded their first MLP titled 'Up and Down the Aisle' with the production of Thom Wilson (who also produced the first Christian Death album and who probably helped them to have it issued in Europe two years after on L'Invitation Au Suicide, label that also released "Only Theatre Of Pain" in 1983). In 1984, Red Wedding released a second EP produced by Leslie St. James titled 'Nails' and the year after they recorded a third EP produced by Ed Grundman and Rick Hart which was never released. This compilation released by Synthetic Shadows gathers all six the tracks from the second EP "Nails" and three out of five from the debut plus other three coming from the band's archive (they did a CDr in 2005 which gathers all the nineteen songs they recorded). Musically they are powerful post punk which has much influences coming from punk 77 and glam. Tracks like the opening "All Dressed Up" are able to catch the lovers of these sounds immediately, thanks to the theatrical vocal performance of Michael Ely. Try to imagine a mix of Marc Bolan, UK Decay with a bit of Adolescents. This album contains many gems such as "Somewhere", the wave punk song "Satan In Cologne" (try to think about a punk version of Japan). Great release co-produced with Killed By Disco Records. Check it here http://syntheticshadows.bandcamp.com/album/red-wedding-anthology-1981-1985-ss014-2
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Artist: Aus Decline
Title: Fluxion
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows
Rated: *****
I reviewed Aus Decline back in 2007 as they released a CD anthology of their live and studio recordings. Now, it's time to talk about them again because Synthetic Shadows is releasing a great LP titled "Fluxion" which contains all the studio recordings coming from that CD plus, on side B, the first band demo released in 1982 titled "Radiox". The tracks of Side A, as I already wrote for the CD review, are post punk influenced tracks with cool synth lines and guitar riffs in balance from clean and distorted sound. They used dissonant melodies and tense atmospheres just like other bands of that era (see Frigidaire Tango and Gaz Nevada). Just like on the CD, on "Fluxion" you can find "Five Years Life", song included on the first and only compilation issued by Mask Records in 1982. All the tracks are really good as I already knew. Now, let's talk about the six tracks of the first demo. "News On New" (already issued on the 10" sold with the book "Vinile Italiano: Indice Del Nuovo Rock Dal 1977 Al 2010"), "City House", "Exit", "One Chance To Face You", "Human Dicotomy" and "Auburn" are a bit raw sounding but they confirm the quality that the band showed with the stuff recorded the following years that we already knew. Post punk influences, nervous riffs, a bit of feedback, upbeat tempos sudden energy explosions are already there. If you love the italian sound of the early 80s, you have to check this out and you can do it here:
http://syntheticshadows.bandcamp.com/album/aus-decline-fluxion-ss013
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