Music Reviews



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Artist: Sarah Peebles w/Evan Parker, Nilan Perera, Suba Sankaran (@)
Title: Delicate paths - Music for Shō
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
That mysterious item on the cover artwork of this release by Toronto-based American composer and performer Sarah Peebles is the upper section of a sho, the Japanese version of Chinese sheng, a traditional free reed aerophone, whose distinctive features are the 17 bamboo pipes which can supposedly imitate the call of a phoenix according to popular beliefs and the possibility to play it with no interruption as sho can be played by inhaling or exhaling air. This last aspect of this instrument, which was largely used in gagaku, a type of Japanese traditional music that was mainly played in Kyoto's imperial court and got rediscovered by some modern and contemporary composers and musicians like Mayumi Miyata, who played some works that John Cage made for him, Ko Ishikawa, Helmut Lachenmann and even Bjork, is clear in many solo performances like the entrancing opening track "Resinous Fold 7 (for Smoke)", the high-pitched trills of "Resonate Fold 6 (for Trigona)" or the almost hypnotical "Resinous Fold 2 (for Bamboo)", where sho sounds like breathing, while the interesting integration in electroacoustic sessions with guest musicians like Evan Parker, Nilan Perera and Suba Sankaran such as the nervous bleeding of "Delicate Path (Murasaki)", the abstract squeezing of "Delicate Path (Lime)" or the soothing vocal mantra of "Delicate Path (Sandalwood)" as well as the immersive 14 minutes of "In The Canopy (part 1)", which sounds closer to her bizarre "entomological" sonic experiments, show unusual aspects of this fascinating instrument.
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Artist: The Binary Mind
Title: The Bankrunner
Format: 12"
Label: Decoder Recordings (@)
Distributor: Straight
Rated: *****
The intrinsic social and political criticism inside the intriguing sonic code of techno music, which mainly marked the first breeding grounds of that scene before thesome producers become somehow sclerotic on sound technologies, sometimes comes back and the brilliant Dutch producer Christiaan van Tienhoven seems to render money, the most efficient contemporary weapon of mass enslavement, by means of his declension of techno: the pressing progressions of the title-track "The Bankrunner" that ignite the first drop of Decoder Recordings, his newborn label, get more and more overwhelming while the other sonic entities evoke a strangling race against time; the swirling sequences and the metallic friction of the following track "Cold Space Dust" twist listeners into a sort of freezing chokehold, while the highly-energetic hypnotic rumbling of "Moonhiking" and the ghastly atmospheres of "Bugs" draw stunning computational mantras. Good firestarter!
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Artist: deNeuve (@)
Title: Old Bruce
Format: 12"
Label: Blowpipe Records
Rated: *****
deNeuve is André Bach & Mark Tegefoss who have a long history of working together, most notably in the project Det Wiehl, which has been around since 1973, with 9 or so releases on cassette and CD from 1983 up til the present. They were also in Tox Modell in the 80's, a notable band of the Dutch ULTRA scene, remarkable for heavy guitar, bass and vocals, but no drums, percussion or rhythm machines of any kind. I don't think deNeuve's work on 'Old Bruce', a 4-track 12" (plays at 45rpm) is that far removed from Det Wiehl, but perhaps more steeped in the industrial. Title track "Old Bruce" has an industrial beat that could sync up well with a heavy duty washing machine, garbled vocal samples where a phrase can occasionally be made out ("and over time") repeated sample of a piano glissando, various types of noise, and incessant pulse-throb bass. "Les Grande Demis" sounds like the French pixie sisters trapped in a heavy machine shop with a lumbering monotonous beat. "Ruski" features various vocal samples (presumably Russian) in a bizarre rhythmic industrial environment. "Morningboy" begins with a manipulated, echoed vocal sample over a muted machine rhythm followed by other sonic elements, then the heavy machine rhythm kicks in accented by sharp harsh noise shots. Intelligible female vocal samples emerge ("You're a boy"...deaf and blind...I'm sorry...nowhere else to go..", etc.), a repetitive rhythmic sample of thrumming bass strings, and a number of other sonic elements. The whole of 'Old Bruce' is fairly disarming. Experimental industrial no doubt, and most certainly alienated. For me, it was a bit too much, difficult listening to the max. For those of you braver sorts, it's available in either pink or blue vinyl.
Feb 03 2015
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Artist: Necro Deathmort (@)
Title: EP2
Format: 12"
Label: Distraction Records (@)
Rated: *****
When I last heard anything from AJ Cookson and Matthew Rozeik's Necro Deathmort project it was back in 2012 when I reviewed 'The Colonial Script'. The boys have not been idle since then, releasing two more albums and two EPs of material, of which this is the second, obviously titled 'EP2'. I had not heard any of the aforementioned, so I checked out 'EP1' on the Distraction Records site and I must say it's quite different from 'EP2'. Compared to 'EP1', 'Ep2' is quite minimal, but neither of them are anything like 'The Colonial Script'. 'EP1' is like krautrock in hell and full of nightmarish demonic ambiences, while 'EP2' seems coldwave claustrophobic in comparison. First track, "Sundive" employs a minimal beat with noise-pop snare, dark drones, and deep chambered percussive hits. "Mirus" begins with a slow, ominous sustained bass tonal pattern, and eventually a higher drone emerges, then the doom chords and drums come in, crawling, building in intensity, then finishing with the bass pattern. "Channel Fever" begins with a minimal beat accompanied by chittering sequenced percussion (reminded me a lawn sprinkler) with heavy dark drones of various types wafting through the ambience. Beat and percussion stops for a spell, and at one point I think of Tangerine Dream in their more dark ambient moments. Chittering percussion begins again, and then the beat comes back. Dissolve to black. "Bleeding" is a classic doom metal grinder, but not much more than that. "Deadlight" is full of sustained, warped synth chords and drones, atmospheric, but very minimal. Finishing off the EP, "Aer" begins with the repeating mono-note from the tail end of "Deadlight" adding a slow bass and synth progression as well as other ambient and percussive elements, including cymbals. Imagine if the music of John Carpenter was to plunge headlong into doom and darkness and you get some idea. "Aer" is the best track on the EP and worth wading through some of the others to get to. While 'EP2' has its moments, I did like 'EP1' better. Still, somewhere down the line in the future, Necro Deathmort's 'EP2' is likely to be regarded as a minimal electronic doom classic, and there are those out there who will absolutely love it start to finish. I'm kind of a picky bastard, and in light of what I've heard from Necro Deathmort previously, I don't really consider 'EP2' one of their stronger efforts. Available on Limited Edition (333 copies, with only 17 left) vinyl which includes download options.
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Artist: Big Hare
Title: Evening Rites
Format: 10"
Label: Blowpipe Records (@)
Rated: *****
Big Hare is the duo of Luuk Ottenhof (vocals, korg er-1, percussion, montessori bells, acoustic guitar, window) and Tim Fraanje (korg ea-1, monotribe, electric guitar, ukelele, plant) from Ultrecht, Netherlands, and 'Evening Rites' is presumably their debut EP on Blowpipe, a six-track 10" on white vinyl. I know enough from other artists on the Blowpipe roster to expect the unexpected, so I wasn't completely caught off guard like I was when Rooie Waas threw me for a loop. Big Hare produces quirky synth-pop that isn't totally synthesizer oriented, although it's still a major component of the music. To a degree it reminds me of the Residents gone pop, but with cartoony vocals in harmony. Lyrics are pretty off the wall - "don't you look at mirrors with your disembodied eye, I would like you to be my spy in disguise, let me strangle you so we can maintain the lie, let's all get liquid and lucid and deny" (from "Liquid & Lucid"), but fortunately, they do sing in English. As far as synthop goes, it's fairly minimal, yet infectious. "Headphones" makes me think of Massive Attack gone bonkers. Sometimes things are just goofy, like on "March Hare" with a marching beat, odd harmonies, and lyrics that would have Lewis Carroll scratching his head. Backing vocals on "Evening Rites" sound like a chorus of kitties meowing the word "now". While Big Hare's peculiar brand of low-key synthpop may not appeal to everyone, there's no doubt in my mind these lads are doing something quite different, and that's something to be appreciated.
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