Music Reviews



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Artist: The Enchanted Wood (@)
Title: Monster Parade
Format: CD
Label: Steelwork Maschine (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this act, but I was familiar with several of the releases from Steelwork Maschine. This one seemed a bit out of place from the cover alone ' kind of a playful gothic vibe, rather than the noisy experimental I expected from the label. The label describes this album as 'nine delightful songs of monstrosity, unspeakable sins and unutterable melancholy.' After giving it a listen, I still really don't know what to make of this. The male vocals are a heavy baritone mixed with a cheesy organ or stripped down guitars, which gives it a kind of Tim Burton feel. You're stuck in the sideshow waiting to see the two headed cow and bearded lady, but you wander off into another corridor and find yourself being led toward something a bit more sinister than you anticipated. This is a weird combo of apocalyptic folk, minstrel music, and troubadours of times long past. If you like it strange, this is one to check out. It is definitely fun and whimsical. This album weighs in at around 38 minutes.
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Artist: Nu Creative Methods (@)
Title: Superstitions
Format: CD
Label: Music à la Coque (@)
In S. Alexander Reed's excellent book 'Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music,' he describes the early days of industrial and experimental music in which artists reveled in the different musicality of their instruments, which were often homemade. If you want to hear what some of the more underground renditions of this music may have sounded like, this would be one to pick up. Nu Creative Methods is the work of Pierre Bastien & Bernard Pruvost and the press release states that they 'played with a bunch of exotic and self-made instruments.' This album was originally released in 1984 on cassette by ADN Tapes. At times the music sounds like kids playing with a broken, out of tune guitar. Also, it begins to sound the same in instrumentation, if not in rhythm. As a historical document this is interesting, but I found myself thinking that we have come a long way in improvisational music and homemade instruments. This point was driven home by 'Alpinic Railway,' a bonus track not available on the original release. This was a fun track that sounded almost like a demented hoedown. There is something to be said for the rawness of these recordings, but I would say that this is mainly one for the historians and those who want to prove that weird music didn't start with the current generation. This album weighs in at around 33 minutes.
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Artist: Treasure of Grundo
Title: Dysantzu
Format: 12"
Label: Geertruida (@)
Rated: *****
Treasure of Grundo is the work of Netherlands-based Yannick Tinbergen and Bert Zaremba, who also co-founded the Geertruida label. According to the label, they took the name from the eighties cartoon Teddy Ruxpin, Grundo being the name of the fictional land the show is set in. As such, it is unsurprising that there is a kind of 80's vibe here. Some of this kind of reminds me of old school 1980's dark new wave. Lots of old analogue synth sounds, but it doesn't really sound dated or like a homage to a particular group. Other parts of it remind me of angry darkwave with a hard guitar edge. For example, "Myr" features the chorus, 'You should stop fucking everything up / There's a whole lot going down the drain' and 'She screams you're her biggest mistake.' Definitely feel good music lyrically, but with a nice staccato, upbeat synth track. In this way it is very much like some of the best of the 80's, where the music and the lyrics are completely incongruous. This song has been stuck in my head for days. Also, if the song titles are a bit off-putting, realize that the singing is in English. Overall, this is one worth taking a chance on. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was. This album weighs in at around 40 minutes and limited to 150 numbered copies on transparent green vinyl but also comes with a download code for those of you without turntables.
Artist: Robodub (@)
Title: Whorled Music
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Chinstrap
Robodub is the work of UK based dub producer Simon Mathewson. The label describes the project thus: 'Seven slices of dub created by robots who have developed impeccable taste, these are superbly crafted genre compositions that sit together like coloured blocks as a superb listening experience, a kind of geometric reggae from a melancholy dystopia.'Â The press sheet that came with this states that this flavor of dub is also influenced by electronic, industrial, plunderphonics, improve, jazz, and world music. I recognize that there is some slight connection between dub and the experimental music scene reaching back at least to Adrian Sherwood, so I expected to hear some kind of experimental edge to this album. However, this really doesn't have much 'robo' in the dub. There are some analogue bleeps and synth, but if you're looking for dub that is really out there sonically (Twilight Circus performed with a vibrator when he opened up for Legendary Pink Dots, for example), this doesn't do as much in that arena. Overall, this is stripped down dub with a fair amount of samples. It's a pleasant listen, and those into dub should like it. This album weighs in at around 37 minutes.
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Artist: Kshatriy (@)
Title: From Heart to Heart
Format: CD
Label: Muzyka Voln (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed Kshatriy's work, so I was interested to see where this would take us. The label describes the album this way: 'This time everything takes place in utterly deep space, in the immense emptiness that contains the whole world. Swinging on slow waves which shimmer in all possible colours we contemplate monumental galactic metamorphoses. Slowly unwinding are the tight spirals of synthesizer drone, rhythmic patterns pulsate and emotional melodies are cut with rare flashes of voice samples. Smoothly flows the sound, charged with energy, transmitting the experience of self-awareness from the musician to the listener... from heart to heart.' This is the sound of worlds slowly falling apart - creaks and groans echo over spacey synth drones. There are vocals, but they are buried so far into the mix that they seem to be there mainly for atmosphere. There is no lyric sheet, so figuring them out may be a fool's errand. Overall this is outstanding dark ambient, but it is not all just drone. Solar Wind, for example, features percussion, which gives the track a feeling of movement. As with the previous release, this would be quite at home on Cyclic Law or Malignant Records. It seems that Russia is quickly becoming a center for stunning dark ambient. This disc is limited to 500 copies, so you'll want to pick it up. This album weighs in at around 60 minutes.
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