Music Reviews



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Artist: LSJ (@)
Title: Misty Nights
Format: Tape
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
LSJ is the mane of the band, consisting of the initials of the artists involved: Lisa Cameron, Shawn David McMillen and Josh Ronsen. Like many of the artists on Public Eyesore, I was unfamiliar with these artists, but the label always ends up taking the listener on an interesting ride. The first thing to mention is the insert with an amusing story about the artists trying to capture a snake, and then eventually playing music to it. It made for fun reading while listening to the opening tracks. “Rayon Gingham” starts us off with some heavy bass and sparse improvisation that jumps around like a child on rocks in a stream. Suddenly, we hear a bit of vocals, but before we have a chance to register what happened it suddenly unloads with a ragged, droning torrent of sound. Then, as suddenly as it began, it quietly slows down, and then ends. “Video Pirate” opens up with a nice bit of dissonance and rhythmic scraping. This is a slow, methodical piece that slowly drags you along with bits of bass and guitar along with a metallic rhythm. It winds down becoming more and more quiet before ending. “SVU in SUV at SVT” opens with some clanking metal and low bass drone. This track feels less put together and more random, like field recordings at a junkyard layered over bass drone and feedback. It is pleasant listening with enough going on to make it interesting, but it does feel like it goes on a bit longer than it needs to as it dissolves into droning improvisations. Turning the tape over, we begin with “Pants with Shit-ton of Pockets.” This opens with a snippet of conversation, followed by deep woodwind that recedes into the background to make way for thudding beats, like someone pounding on a wall in an abandoned basement. There is a lot going on here, and this feels like it could make an interesting soundtrack to an art installation. “Dead Fog” lives up to its namesake, with very sparse sounds quietly seeping through your speakers. Where “Pants” was much more in your face, “Dead Fog” takes a more minimalist approach as it slowly adds layers. It envelops you over time as it surrounds you. Things take a sinister turn, however, as this moves into “Dead Fog II: The Chirping,” with its ominous bass and warbling tones. If “Dead Fog” was the peaceful fog over a beautiful meadow on a cool spring day, “Dead Fog II” is the fog that obscures your vision in the woods at dusk when you know that there is someone – or something – out there. You can’t see it, but you can feel their eyes on you as you helplessly look around you, frantically hoping to see something in the dwindling light. But all you see is fog. Nothing but fog. Overall, this is an enjoyable album, and if you like a lot of chaos in your experimental music this is one worth checking out.
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Artist: W3C
Title: Event Horizon
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Infinite Machine
With an ongoing air of mystery, W3C follows up an excellent 2017 EP on the Infinite Machine label with an 8-track instrumental album that’s thumping, steady-paced, bass-driven techno with a decidedly sci-fi flavour.

“Cabin Fever” is an opening march that really sets the tone, a brutal low procession of low bass and kick decorated by an occasional three-note alien synth melody. The title track is somewhat lighter, pulling a drum-and-bass-esque breakbeat into somewhere around 125bpm territory, keeping the grumbling and pulsing bass ever-present but balancing it more with high pads and atmospherics.

Other highlights include the laughing clowns-ish pitch shifting synth notes on “Intoxicated”, and the more sedate delay-chamber pulses of “Paradise Lost”’s journey through an electronic jungle. The tension and distorted breaks of tracks like “Primordial” are among the elements that sometimes provide a gaming feel, ideal tension fodder for some first-person-shooter in alien territory, although the percussive hits of “The Year Of The Blood Moon” would undoubtedly confuse a gamer as they already sound like gunshots.

It’s a dedicated and rich 54 minutes of deep, semi-industrial electronic techno that doesn’t yield any major twists or “wow” moments, but which nevertheless gives you an entertaining and atmospheric sci-fi journey that’s easy to recommend.
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Artist: Angel-Ho
Title: Death Becomes Her
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Hyperdub
Angel-Ho regards this as her ‘proper’ debut, after a limited edition 2017 LP on the NON label she co-founded. Now supported by Hyperdub, it’s a 14-track pack of short tracks, mostly 3 minutes, for which Hyperdub is a natural home.

Instrumentally, it’s really strong. “Drama” is a prime example of the thick, grime-subbass-heavy blend of broken beats, ragga-ish rhythms and electronic tweakery that Hyperdub have a world-beating track record in, and last track “Parachute” is a strong example of a more experimental, glitchy twist on that form, done well. This also translates well into poppier landscapes like the catchy “Like A Girl”, which would have great radio potential if it weren’t for the lyrics.

And it’s the lyrics where the problems lie. Despite the fresh prospect of transposing the themes in the context of a trans identity, it’s a missed opportunity that gives us the usual unstretched vocabulary of self-aggrandisement, sex talk, trash talk, and endless ‘shit’s and ‘bitch’es that continues to be grime music’s biggest turn-off.

The strangely glam rock costume on the cover, by the way, is a complete mis-sell and if you’re expecting some sort of Showaddywaddy tribute act here, think *very* differently...

The edgier, more experimental stuff like off-the-wall “Good Friday Daddy” and the more cinematic moments like “Destify” are certainly worth checking out, but it’s a little lacking in coherence, and if there were an instrumental version, I’d rather listen to that.
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Artist: Leo Irsara (@)
Title: A Flower for a Mountain Sailor
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I first encountered the troubadourial spirit of guitarist, singer, and songwriter Leo Irsara along the sunlit pathways of New York City’s Central Park in May of 2018. In the course of a conversation spanning the gamut from religion to travel, Leo revealed his passion for music. So began a long-distance exchange that culminated in the present subject of review, thereby re-inscribing the ability of music to collapse divisions of geography and culture to nil.

Leo’s music is a curious animal: one that doesn’t belong in a cage yet which seems content remaining in one, if only to have bars at the ready for rattling. His half-sung delivery bows to the primacy of self-expression in vocal art and toes the line of spoken word. Together with drummer Guliano da Ponte Becher, he paints in broad strokes which, after a period of settling in, develop a charming patina. His creations are a mélange of the personal and the political, and would be just as appropriate in a spaghetti western as on a street corner.

The album is framed by the two-part “Present for the Prisoner,” which introduces a running theme of freedom and its burdensome pursuit. “I have learned to be silent” he intones in the first, and leaves us in the second with: “Sometimes life can bring you to the other side of the wall and you will feel happiness inside you”—a line even more timely, perhaps, than when it was penned. In both, he seems to say, the worst prisons are ones of the mind.

“The Wind of the East Sea” pulls another thematic thread from the loom, both lyrically and melodically. Its maritime obsessions run deep and, like “Coins of a Beggar” (a highlight), feel like a Quentin Tarantino nightmare infused with folk spirits and self-deceptions. Such conflicts are at the heart of “Beginning of Changes,” a paean to adolescent breaking points, and “The Cart in the Sky,” which reiterates the possibility of wars happening within more than without.

Leo’s guitar often plays the role of commentator. In “At the End of the Road” especially, he builds the very solace he seeks in tense delivery. In both “The Wife of the Mountain Man” and “The Star of the Endless Harmony,” he understands that loving what you have comes before having what you love. The result is a collection of songs that eschew pleasantries for honest poetry, reminding us that the biggest dangers we face are faceless.
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Artist: Evelyn Glennie & Roly Porter
Title: One Day Band 17
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Trestle Records
The seventeenth installment in the intrigueing One Day Band series might, arguably, not actually be a band. Instead it’s more like an EP of legendary percussionist Glennie’s improvisations that have been curated, produced and reworked by Porter.

A broad variety of instrumentation is the source, with Glennie utilising a truck-load of percussive instruments both familiar and unfamiliar, with live distortion through guitar amps as a first phase and digital post-processing and layering as a second phase through which the sounds are blended, stretched and disassembled into a set of four five-minutes-ish numbered soundscapes that tend towards the dark, sinister and sparse.

Part 1 is crisp and rumbling, giving tectonic noises of friction and low frequency power, before part 2 flips upside-down and fills itself almost solely with high, pure-sounding melodic notes, developing a tendency towards emptiness that’s compulsive and draws you in. After a third part focussed on more drawn-out sustains that flirt with discordancy, part 4 initially layers up to sound like an experimental ensemble performing a score that, if written down, would be expressed as waves and envelopes that would first interplay then build to an ‘everybody plays long notes at once’ suspense-laden crescendo that wraps it up nicely.

It’s a really coherent and engaging 21 minutes. Pedantry about the use of the word ‘band’ aside, it’s a great EP that leaves you wishing they’d stuck together for more than one day.
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