Music Reviews



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Artist: John Foxx and The Maths
Title: Evidence
Format: CD
Label: Metamatic (@)
Rated: *****
This third album of the lavish collaboration between former Ultravox! front-man musician Dennis Leigh aka John Foxx and East London-based sorcerer of synthesizers Ben "Benge" Edwards aka The Maths, a winning twosome of electronic music pioneers, is, unbelievable but true, even better than their previous releases, "Interplay" and "The Shape Of Things", and maybe the best act with the reassuring signature of John Foxx after Ultravox!'s gilded age. The solid bond between John's songwriting, which sometimes seems to come from parallel dimensions, and Benge's sonic wizardry, which adapts modern structures to sonic antiquary, generates out-of-time euphonic freaks and such a complementarity is clear both on more rhythm-focused tracks, particularly on the first half of the record, and on more weird stuff, so that listeners could be under the impression to handle with mysterious perfectly polygonal objects with an inner secret gnostic code, clockworks and equations about universal principles, whose origin and function are unknown, while digging into their sound. They don't stood still while veering towards more dubby and atmospheric declensions, which could vaguely resemble the elliptically mesmerizing dub diversion on "Heligoland" by Massive Attack, Japan's most interesting period just before its disbandment (accordings to some biographers for the "dictatorial" behaviour by David Sylvian) and electronic pop. Besides the "kraftwerkian" cover of Pink Floyd's "Have A Cigar" and the reciprocal remixes with Gazelle Twin - their tip-top remix of "Changelings" and Gazelle Twin's remix of "A Falling Star" where you could imagine Foxx surrounded by enchanting singing mermaids are undoubtedly the most striking moments of the whole album -, there are many great moments: the chewing clappy pad-synths over a sort of electronic oral rinse on the icy ego-trip of "My Town", the dreamlike stroll by Foxx on electronic promenades of "Walk", the refined electronic-pop papules of "That Sudden Switch" with the support of NY-based duo of Xeno and Oaklander, the conversation of a sleeper (performed by Matthew Dear from Ghostly International) in his own dreams on the heady nightmarish obliqueness of "Talk (Beneath Your Dream)" and its rehash on Moog by Tara Busch, the narcotic dub drops of "Neon Vertigo", the entrancing existential nag of the title track, featuring Luis Vasquez from The Soft Moon and the proper evidence of this album, coming together scattered evidences of evergreen style, the sweetened nostalgia "Only Lovers Left Alive", whose melody was found on an old-discarded reel-to-reel and becomes more enjoyable after the prepaparation of the emotional field by the electronic harp of the preceding track "Myriads".
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Artist: Mathématiques Modernes
Title: Les Visiteurs Du Soir
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records
Rated: *****
Originally released in 1981 by the Dorian / Discque Vogue label and distributed by Celluloid, "Les Visiteurs Du Soir" has been the only Mathematiques Modernes album. Formed by Claude Arto (on keyboards, he also worked with French bands Artefact and Spions) and Edwige Braun-Belmore (vocals and lyrics), the duo produced an album which is a very unique one. I don't know if you're keen of 60s music but it was usual for the bands of that period to record an album and to have strings and blows sections added. That sort of things happened, for example, to The Pretty Things on their "Sorrows" album and to The Shadows Of Knight, the year after, on 1968, for their self titled album. The first time I checked 'Les Visiteurs Du Soir', I thought: what's happening here? Do they did add strings and horns on purpose? Did they do that on a synthpop/new wave album because they wanted to? Reading the liner notes of the release I didn't find an answer but after a while I realized that this musical arrangement is still particular but it fits and enriches the songs. Take, for example, "Reponds Moi" which sounds like a cabaret song, or the minimal synth cold sounds of the following "Athletical Mystery" that are underlined by strings dissonant melodies and syncopated drum patterns. Since from the opening "Paris Tokyo", the album stands out and convince the listener that is able to go ahead the initial effect that the orchestral parts give. For this reissue, Medical Records, had the tape masters restored and remastered by Gilbert Castro of Celluloid Records himself. The reissue is identical to the original release and it's printed in 180gram grey opaque high-quality vinyl in a limited edition of 1000 hand-numbered copies. The insert included contains an interview to Claude Arto by Dave Segal plus other interesting tidbits. Check a couple of tracks and order your copy here http://medicalrecords.bandcamp.com/album/les-visiteurs-du-soir
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Artist: KMFDM (@)
Title: Kunst
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
The dreadnought KMFDM is maybe the most long-lived industrial dance act even if they often spin self-referring subjects as it happens on the heavily beating initial title-track of their new assault to dancefloors, "Kunst" (their 25th album!), where they quotes some of their previous songs and references, a combustive browsing which connects dots like their imaginary guardian angel (Juke Joint Jezabel) they invoked in their album "Nihil" (1995), the drug against war they patented in "Angst" (1993), the son of a gun they conceived on "Xtort" (1996), supposedly from spit sperm of "Symbols" (1997) by some itchy bitchy mother, portrayed on "What Do You Know, Detschland?" (2007) after casual insemination by some pomaded tacker, who got worried after he knew KMFDM could similarly stand for a death warrant against cultural uniformity ("Kein Mehrheit fur die Mitleid", grammatically incorrect solution of KMFDM acronym meaning "No Majority For Pity", or "Kein Mitleid fur die Mehrheit", id est "No Pity For The Majority" ...) and their shepherds ("Kill MotherFucking Depeche Mode"). After this tracking shot/overview, they throw nine grenades: some of them could sound quite predictable for people who follow them from time immemorial, particularly when they highlight the metal constituent of their blend such as on "Ave Maria", a song which sounds like a parody of market-oriented blasphemy by Marilyn Manson (I don't think the resemblance of distorted guitar riff with the one on "Beutiful People" is fortuitous), "Pseudocide" or the mutating "Hello", even if the insertion of blunt electronic handholds tempers these hooks to more metal-oriented stuff. The most relevant aspect is the fact they managed to shield their iconoclastic attitude, which oozes from any semantic and stylistical orifices of this album: their blow torches point cultural market customs on "The Next Big Thing" ("Mutinous bastards on a treacherous sea/Popes and pastors full of lurid deeds/Whores and harlots spilling seed/pigs and fascists/The next big thing"), fraternize with Pussy Riot on the same titled song by means of contagious electro-metal grooves which sound like chainsaws ("Pussy riot/Hear us roar/An army of tits/Down for the cause/Mother daughter sister unite/rise out of silence/Stand up and fight" where the "dirty" second voice by Sascha Konietzko, whose persuading versatility demonstrates to be in excellent shape just like the talnted singer Lucia Cifarelli, could resemble past vocal roars by Trent Reznor) and moral turpitude of some stupid ethic codes. Their collaboration with Swedish industrial rock band Morlocks, "The Mess You Made", is a proper sonic jewel and the cherry on top in "Kunst", which will presumably enhance many electro-propelled clubs. Long life to KMFDM!
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Artist: Jasper TX (@)
Title: An Index Of Failure
Format: 12"
Label: Handmade Birds (@)
Distributor: Thrill Jockey
Rated: *****
After nine albums and many tours all around the world, it seems that Swedish talented multi-instrumentalist Dag Rosenqvist wants to put an end to his project Jasper TX, whose name was taken from a village in Eastern Texas where a brutal racist homicide, the one of James Byrd, occurred in June 1998, and I have to say the awareness this is the last Japer TX act accentuates the mood of epic sadness which pervades the lead line of its sound. The dark foxfire begins to glimmer since the introductive track, even if the first weeping tones, which could reemble some stuff by Archive or, if you know collaborative projects by Rosenqvist, From The Mouth Of The Sun, could sound more intimistic than solemnly epic before the electroacoustic gloss of the final part, which more vividly shines in the following track "In All Your Blinding Lights" and sinks into sidelight in "Rivers Flow", which initially looks like a reprise of "Abandon" and then turns into a more radiant and even more graceful atmosphere by means of pad-synths and touching murmur of low frequencies which sets it ablaze. On the flipside, the intial narcosis of an entrancing mist grows into a somehow deafening electrical storm on "A New Language", which precedes the lovely epidural elegy of "Days Above The Tide", whose somber marching advance could recall some epic peaks of "Angels of The Universe" soundtrack by Hilmar Orn & Sigur Ros. "An Index of Failure" is definitively a proper way to scatter cremation Jasper TX's ashes over heavy seas.
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Artist: Takamovsky (@)
Title: In Streams
Format: CD
Label: Etymtone (@)
Rated: *****
A whirligig of electronic sizzling sounds, fogged by the swish of electric current, placental warm bass rolls and a rising mellifluous pad, boots the first module of "The Central Speechscrambler" up, which introduces this excellent debut release by musician and author Juergen Berlakovich aka Takamovsky, who spotlights abyssal inhabitants and oddballs which often surface from the depths of data streams with their burden of concerns, vain ambitions, emotional baggages and outbursts, so that the three parts of the above-mentioned suite, influenced by William Burroughs's essay The Electronic Revolution (a notorious source for inspiration for many musicians, particularly of the industrial scene), where a robotic, but somehow pitched voice, articulates desultory speeches in order to represent the intimate senselessness and intentionally messy illogicality of everyday media news and the implementation of the cut-up technique to confusing news broadcasts and political speeches with the subtle intent of control over individuals. The charming sonic involucre of the speech from this imaginary anchorman emphasizes the circumstance that even absurdities could sound plausible when the form without content is attractive and even if you try to read between the lines, someone could get a glimpse of some revealed truth or partially censored truths behind encrypted sentences. For instance, the second part of "The Central Speechscrambler" says "The secret agency denial malitious potential messages. A modern matter. Srettsgatie taekn commicnu itaons. Cyberattacks. A dmeorn tamer. Tehl batet msvoe itno acrpybsece. Brcaytteas. The battle moves into cyberspace.". Over these streams, Juergen buoys contemporary manias, bizarre paranoias and last vacillating stronghold of individualism and cultural uniformity of social networks ("Paranoid King"), barking and rebarking dogs in the amazing song "Dogstar", inspired by Franz Kafka's "Investigations of a Dog" - I recommend to read it in order to check the particular role of music, the meaning of the "mysterious" appearance of seven dogs and the proper references in lyrics -, godforsaken djs, lovers belonging to digital age in the act of translation their computerized wet dreams into contemporary language (the queit guitar-driven song "Data d'Amour" seems to parody the technologically affected languages by echoing an essay on this matter by Timothy Leary: "Text my head and scan my face/Hack my thoughts, compile my grace/Zip them then and save them safe/Scroll my ears, debug my nose/Emulate my shoes and clothes/With little magic stick/[...] Shift my hips and microchips/Surf my butt and read my lips/Syntax error no undo") and all underwater saboteurs ("Dead Air") within a majestic blow-up whose implicitly malicious mockery amalgamates them like the fantasy of Hyeronimus Bosch could arguably do. Takamovsky's musical collage sounds equally kaleidoscopic and you'll easily perceive elements and reminiscences of jazz, dance music, electro-pop, abstract electronics, blues, field recordings, Radiohead, Tom Waits, Fennesz, Frank Zappa, Nikakoi, Royksopp which all got blended by Juergen's quick and dry wit.
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