Music Reviews



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Artist: Expo 70 (@)
Title: Frozen Living Elements
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
Instead of being presented as sort of obscure concept album this band simply 'plays their extended acid jams' and so the 70s, evoked in the band name, are the north star of this outfit that has a place in a tradition that starts with bands like Guru Guru with their jam sessions focused on guitar.
'Frozen Living Elements' starts quietly and develops slowly focusing on the guitar line while the rhythmic section marks the passing of time; so this track evolves as a sort of psychedelic, or krautrock, track. 'Curiosities of Levitation' is based, instead, upon guitar drones and synth in the first part and develops in a sort of sci-fi track typical of those years. 'Thunderbird Mound' closes this release focusing on the rhythmic section and the looping phrases of the guitar seldom developing in a melodic line in the first part but, slowly, the guitar starts to fully develop the melodic loop and ends this track submerging the musical spectrum.
This release is a strange one, compared to other Zoharum release, as it marks a departure to the usual dark ambient or experimental territories but, however, it's a sure pick for everyone accustomed to psychedelic or kraut music. Not for everyone but remarkable.
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Artist: Scott Haggart/Lary Seven/Felix Kubin
Title: 1:17 (live at ISSUE project room, NYC)
Format: 12"
Label: Gagarin (@)
Rated: *****
Even if this release could be thought as the resumption of a meiotic telophase of 0.7 milliseconds taken from a concert of anonymous Scottish collective Diskono, whose almost maniacal and pernickety work of superimposition and expansion into a track of 1 minute and 17 seconds by Scott Haggart, and in spite of the fact that Scott himself plays and manipulates its original output (it seems he needed years to complete it) on common decks and customized turntables, the sonorities of this reprise are quite different from what Scott himself described as "a bombardment of fractal concrete sound", particularly with regard to playing time. The non-music suite that got splitted into two parts (the first one sound like the rendering of undefined human activity in a zone where radioactive contamination levels and the presence of disquieting cries from possibly contaminated animals are remarkably high, whereas the second one rolls a plenty of sparse noises over a more hissing stream) and features the dadaist bizarre contributions by Lary Seven, who forged sonic freaks from a modified leathe glove, a wine bottle a reel-to-reel tape machine, and Felix Kubin, who directs the sonic traffic and pours other sonic stuff into the cauldron, is going to delight more demanding eardrums for more than half an hour. The record was cut at 45 rpm by Rashad Becker.
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Artist: Fred Bigot (@)
Title: La Voix de la Route
Format: 10"
Label: Les Disques En Rotin Réunis/No School Today (@)
Rated: *****
There has always been a nuance in the sound of his notorious moniker Electronicat which could evoke the myth of the journey without destination, the prosaic and somehow angsty euphoric emptiness of road movies as well as some shadows of Neu! and other krautrockers that sound dipped into a sour electro acid cream and "Bon Voyage", the opening track of this release, seems to revisit that sound, but the whole release, the fourth manifestation of a project that followed a two-month lasting road trip across the USA
granted by Instut Francais's research 'Hors-les-murs' and Gayte Lyrique in Paris which included an amazing online sound report, an installation and a performance with Werner Hirsch, who simulated noises of engines and road trips by means of his voice and lungs. The most interesting and somewhat original part of the release comes after "Roule", the short track that closes A side and seems to mirror the unhinging of thoughts after too much time behind the wheels, comes on B side, whose three tracks - "The Last Wav", "Lost America", "Sample Trip" - have been placed on three parallel grooves, according to a technique that was firstly used by Jimmy Rogers in 1930, so that you won't really know which one will play when the needle will drive on the vinyl carriageway, which almost renders the idea of dreamy hermitage that got evoked by some notorious words by Jack Kerouac or Harry Crews. The release features the immaculate packaging by Arnaud Maguet's label as well as personal notes, sketches and snapshots by Bigot and his companions over the trip... Don't turn the headlights off!
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Artist: Veil of Light
Title: Ξ
Format: 12"
Label: Belaten
Rated: *****
Veil of Light is dark wave band/post punk (whatever this means'¦) from Zurich. This is a sort of goth rock album. Actually, it reminds me early Canaan. I mean a lot. Therefore, here we have minimal guitars, sad melodies, nice pads and lamenting vocals emerging from a far reverberated dimensions. The quality of the album is not completely homogeneous, in the sense that there are very good tracks (Pale Eyes, In Ruins, Falling Apart, Sleepless Nights) while others are completely meaningless (Xi, They Said, Shoulders). But I think that this band has a great potential: this band will surely improve its sound, the quality of its songs, and in the future the band will likely publish some very good albums. However the biggest concern is that Canaan did (and continue to do) this kind of stuff, and clearly much better than these guys (or it is a one manx band? I don't understand it). So the real question is: Why should I buy this album? I have already the whole Canaan's discography. It is not like in Black Metal, where people (me included) are constantly looking for the same old stuff, and bands playing black metal on the same line of Darkthrone or similar early bands are successful. Here I expect something peculiar, but at the moment Veil of Light still has to find its own identity. However, I'm still rating this album with three stars, because I enjoyed it overall.
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Artist: Sigma Octantis (@)
Title: Dissipations
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sigma Octantis is a magnitude 5.42 star in the constellation Octans most notable for being the current South Star, approximately 270 light years from Earth. Sigma Octantis is also a band from France, and 'Dissipations' is their final album. Formed in the early 2000's, they have three prior releases from 2007 - 2012. They make no bones about their admiration for Morthound, Benny Nilsen's project that had four releases on Cold meat Industry back in the early 90's. I often wondered why Nilsen dumped Morthound in favor of his other projects, but so it goes, and CMI isn't around anymore either. Leave it to these French guys to carry on the Morthound tradition (sort of) while bringing something new to the table in the process. This isn't exactly a typical Malignant release, but I'm sure they heard something in Sigma Octantis that made them an interesting addition to their roster. (The CD was released on OPN Records in France.)

The band is basically a trio - guitar, bass and drums, with additional electronics, but any similarity to any "power trio" you may ever have heard ends here; that's not at all what Sigma Octantis is about. Although there is power to spare when they're really cranked up, Sigma Octantis is well versed in the ambient aspects of their sound too. 'Dissipations' is an entirely instrumental foray into a twisted, post-industrial landscape of the unfathomable. From the album's watery beginning swimming with electronic eels in the murky depths of an ancient lake, you might think you've stumbled upon an unreleased work by Tangerine Dream. Not so, once the martial thudding of the tribal drumming begins. Distorted guitars carry forth a theme of semi-melodic origin in a glorious cacophony that would make the noisiest shoegazer band quiver with envy. What melody there is is incidental (maybe accidental) and as simplistic as it gets. 'Fantôme Infinitésimaux' is one of the heaviest psychedelic mantras I've ever heard. It is indicative of the way Sigma Octantis just builds on a basic them that doesn't involve any more than a few chords (often just a couple) but makes an atmospheric smorgasbord of dark delights that overwhelm the senses. Much of 'Dissipations' is spacy modern psychedelia at its finest. In many places, the sound is just huge, giving an awesome impression of the megalithic juxtaposed with the futuristic. "Parle Moi, Il Fait Si Noir' is atypical track that has a lighter, wavering, bellish electronic ambience before the heavy drums and groaning guitar kicks in with a stately, yet bombastic theme that swell in your head over and over. Final track, "Farewell" is a glorious outro, swollen with all the sturm und drang Sigma Octantis can muster, yet tempered in the middle with a kind of shoegazer break, before it builds to another bombastic conclusion. If you're a fan of Morthound, Deutsch Nepal, or the latter works of Caul, this album is a must. Limited to only 500 copies. Get it before it's too late.
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