Music Reviews

Artist: Murmer (@)
Title: What Are The Roots That Clutch
Format: CD
Label: The Helen Scarsdale Agency (@)
Rated: *****
A certain alternance of natural sounds and silence characterizes the hallucinated and enigmatic poem The Waste Land by T.S.Eliot, which has been quoted not only through the title (whereas the talented English satirist Evelyn Waugh opted for the last line to entitle one of his best novel "A Handful Of Dust", this American sound artist chose the first line, "What are the roots that clutch..." of the same stanza ending the first section of the poem "The Burial Of The Dead"), but also by the structure of this interesting sonic collage of field recordings, divided into five parts (just like Eliot's poem), and its tesseras, which remind some moments of one of the most favorite reading of many brainiacs, so that this sensorial interpretation by Patrick McGinley aka Murmer cast upon the multitude of interpretations and essays, which had been written about that writing. For instance the shuffle of steps over brushwood, the disorienting croaks of frogs, the rusting of leaves, the crackling of burning firewood as well as the underlying buzzing tone, which could remind "that sound high in the air/Murmur of maternal lamentation" mentioned in "What The Thunder Said", the last section of the poem (the definitive proof of its good make could be the slap I gave to the right headphone when a mosquito "appeared" in the sonic space...), in the first part evoke the feeling of confusion of the first part of the poem as well as some notorious references to Dante Alighieri, one of the known source of inspiration for Eliot, likewise the sonic collage of the fifth track which remind many words of the above-mentioned fifth section before the speaking of the thunder - "There is the empty chapel, only the wind's home./It has no windows, and the door swings,/Dry bones can harm no one./Only a cock stood on the rooftree/Co co rico co co rico/In a flash of lightning. Then a damp gust/Bringing rain" - and according to a bizarre alchemy, some words from the second part "A Game Of Chess" ("'What is that noise?' The wind under the door. 'What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?'") seems to refer by sheer coincidence to some biographical lines which deeply influenced the sonic research of this globetrotter, who started his collection of sounds all over the world - there are many found sounds, live room feedbacks and field recordings mainly grabbed while hiking out in wild places of Northern Normandy, Estonia and Finland - after listening to a cavernous tone broadcasting from a ventilator duct in Paris.
Artist: Harry Pussy (@)
Title: Lets Build A Pussy
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
In spite of their short life on the musical stage, Miami-based band Harry Pussy was really influential and left their mark on the noise scene through an aesthatics which was totally irriverent not only to the so-called bourgeios respectability and the vapidity of pop culture, but also to the musical structures of punk song itself: most of their tracks were untitled and sometimes they got fun with other aspects of typical musical publishing "receptacles" such as they did by "Please, Don't Come Back From The Moon / Nazi USA", issued by Blackjack Records in 1994, where they splitted tracks into two halves, a half a side, instead of putting a single track on each side, while their style was focused on headlong dashes over furious, violent and explicit songs and even the interaction between the band and the audience reflected their eruptive elan, mainly propelled by shrill high notes and fast drumming by Adris Hoyos and guitar rapes by Bill Orcutt. The reissue of their "posthumous" and very rare release "Let's Build A Pussy" seems to be related to the retrospective issue of "One Plus One", a double LP issued by Orcutt's label Palilalaia including the 'Vigilance' cassette, the Planet & 2nd Esync singles. When it was released, most of reviewers tended to interpret this release based on the yell by Adris (it "clearly" appears for 2-3 seconds in the first track), which had been computer-processed, thinned and stretched out by Bill over four 15-minutes lasting tracks, which are not so different from audio tracks for those funny toys known as brain machines as the sensation of "giddiness" for your ears is going to be similar to the one you could experience after a "program" on those toys or software wehich works in a similar way like i-Doser, as a certificate of death, but I think that Harry Pussy's last act could have not only a funereal worthiness. The hint at feminine shape in the title could be linked to the association between the curvy feminine body and the sweet undulations of the sonic waves built by Orcutt, but I'd say another possible key for the interpretation of "Lets Build A Pussy" where the initial scream which seems to say "dance" or "death" preceding this mindblowing bunch of frequencies, could be related to the foreseeable direction of musical research (it was issued in 1998), seemingly close to the research of cognitive science, focused on the representation and the induction of artifical emotional states throughout sonic stimulations, the real artistic crime after previous acts of patronage and submission where music gets immolated to the needs of a demanding mass or alternatively of a meekness-demanding elite...
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Artist: Binalog Frequency (@)
Title: Cosmic Boogie
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Binalog Productions (@)
Distributor: Juno
Rated: *****
'Binalog Frequency', has always been consistent. His high quality musical output, is obvious, through his remixes and solo albums. He has offered many views of his musical personality and some deeper, darker aspects of it, as well (which is always good). His latest two - track 'Cosmic Boogie' single, finds him in a more upbeat mood, though, while staying true to his electrofunk background, as always. 'Cosmic Boogie' starts off slowly with a beat and haunting pads sneaking up on the listener, until the thunderous funky bassline kicks in. From then on is pure infectious electrofunk beauty, with off-beat hi-hats and distorted lead synthlines. There is a 'disco mix' of the track that is equally infectious taking advantage of all the stomping elements of the original version, in a 4/4 manner with extra variations and an 'in your face' attitude that simply works! The production is crisp and straightforward, as always, and the arrangement is kept minimal, for maximum impact. The key element here is 'FUN'. There's even a neon-star on the cover artwork! Try it!
Artist: Survive
Title: Survive LP
Format: 12"
Label: Mannequin Records (@)
Distributor: bandcamp
Rated: *****
It is always so refreshing to the soul, when one is presented with music so pure and real that transcends genre boundaries and limitations. A fine example is the 'SURVIVE LP' by the Austin,TX based full - analogue - synth quartet S U R V I V E (out now on vinyl via Mannequin records). Of course, the use of analogue synthesizers is obvious throughout and essential to the overall character of the sound. The nine tracks of the album managed to captivate me and lift me up into a floating state, and i would say the album is better experienced through headphones.
Starting off with 'Deserted Skies', a heavy weight synth introduction that sets the pace for what follows. 'Floating Cube' comes in with a driving bass and gradually builds up with beautiful pads leading to the third track 'To Light Alone I Bow' which is a mellow synth interval. 'Hourglass' is the first highlight of the album with a heavy dark dreamwave vibe with 80s drums and atmosphere that heightens the feeling even more when 'Omniverse' kicks in. Beautiful little sequences drive the track, building up with arpeggiators and lush pads into an almost epic fade out of SIDE A.
Moving on, SIDE B, opens with the stunning 'Black Mollies' and drives the listener down a deep 'dark italo' path that marks the second 'highlight track' of the album, with beautiful synth sequences and lush pads as it goes along. it is followed by 'Scalar Wave' a dreamy creamy 'synth wave' of a track that carries the listener along, enhances and underlines the impact of 'Black Mollies'. 'Shunting Yard', come in next which feels like a minimal synth introduction to 'Dirge', the last track of SIDE B, a reverb - drenched synth epic that seems like a perfect way to finish the album. The lo-fi feel of the whole production and the 80s vibes that flow throughout, make it a timeless piece of work with references to the past and the future. It feels like floating in space on your own... lonely but wonderful.
After playing the album many times, i would say that it is an elegant work of art, that leaves the listener wanting more.
Artist: Axel Doerner, Urs Leimgruber, Robert Landfermann, Christian Lillinger
Title: Dorner Leimgruber Landfermann Lillinger
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
On a dreary day in October 2008 in Cologne, a group of talented musicians edged everything about their day (traffic, bad weather, any acrimony or disappointing chats with ignorant and casual interlocutor about crisis, politics or could imagine such a preface) and decided to meet in a loft in order to exorcize reality for a while and looking for freedom in music at least. Similar attempt to kill boredom could be quite common, you could argue, but it's less common that four important representatives of the improvisational and free jazz scene - Axel Doerner (trumpet, electronics), Urs Leimgruber (saxophone), Robert Landfermann (double bass) and Christian Lillinger (drums) - meet together in a place and the result of such a rendez-vous could not be but surprising. The first tracks sound like a sort of warm-up so that no instrument gets drowned by other ones, some nice performing experiments (particularly on winds) can be easily distinguished, but the ultralow bass tone, which ends the second track, "ammmmmmmmm" (the only difference between the titles is the number of "m"s following the "a"...), seems to overheat the atmosphere and even if the third track starts with a not so different cue, based on cheeping saxophone, trumpet hiccuping, close mic recording of puffs, the sound progressively becomes more and more bombastic with the "awakening" of drums, heavier panting and more nervous plucking on the bass strings before the first spluttering sparkles of the fourth track, "ammmmmmmmmmmmm", where both the bass and the trumpet sound like hinting at some jazz standard phrasing. Henceforward a gradual crescendo will overwhelm the listener through involving free jazz explosions, which show the command of different musicians with very complex rhythmical structures, whirling in infections drumming fury, which sounds like strangling winds, whose sonic grand mal could remind the desperate convulsions of someone fighting against a straightjacket!
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