Music Reviews



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Artist: Cooly G
Title: Playin' Me
Format: CD
Label: Hyperdub
Rated: *****
Merrisa Campbell's moniker, Cooly G, has hitherto been associated to funky and house London scene, but her forthcoming release, which curiosly comes with no particular hype from Hyperdub - well-known label, which got quite notorious for the support to excellent musicians such as Kode9 and Burial -, shows an intriguing stylistical approach: her sound is very crystalline and fluid at the same time - that's maybe the reason why Tate Gallery asked her to make music for young Nigerian/British painter Christopher Ofilli's retrospective - and even when she set her jewel-like smooth voice within chilly dub, reaggae and retro-flavoured - due to the vintage elegant touch added by garage and embryonic jungle sounds - downbeat, it doesn't undergo either heavily baroque sonic gewgaws or pedantic mannerism. Such an elegant and snug wrapping fits like a velvet glove to her warm and alluring voice, so that many Coldplay fans and zealots will spare her for the blurred clocking cover of "Trouble" shee sings, even if the most mischievous ones will say it seems a cover from a junior web-marketing trainee on trouble. It's really difficult to pick some highlights up, but I particularly enjoyed the controversial dim tones of "Sunshine", the nostalgic and romantic combination of an airy piano, 808 cowbells and seducing Arp strings of "Come into my room" (a sort of reminder this album was entirely recorded in her home studio?), the daydreaming atmosphere as well as uplifting and refreshing strings of "What this world needs now", hooks to some breathtaking ambient episodes on Earth (I'm not referring to our beloved Planet, but the parent label of LTJ Bukem's Good Looking records) on "Trying" as well as the most "instrumental" final tracks of the album, where vibrations keep on feeding the flow and reactivating some musical memories such as Nicolette's intricate textures in the lovely "Up In My Head", some primordial soup with Metalheadz imprint on "Is It Gone" as well as "What Airtime", whose style gets closer to the one of some label-mates such as Laurel Halo and DVA, and the twisting tribal-like set of "It's Serious" with the precious featuring of Baltimore house legend Karizma.
On the occasion of the remarkable goal of the 200th release, Creative Sources label manager Ernesto Rodrigues propose the result of an artistic partnership, recorded in Lisbon on 6th February 2011, between some regular collaborators of the label - Nuno Torres (alto saxophone), Eduardo Chagas (trombone), Abdul Moimeme (prepared guitars) and himself on viola - and the synaesthetic electroacoustic Swiss project Diatribes, whose aim according to the intent of their heads, talented drummer Cyril Bondi and experimental noise artist Laurent Peter aka D'incise materializes in a sound where construction and deconstruction run side by side. During its five long-lasting tracks, Brume (French word for "fog") unravels intriguing sonic skeims, where different instrumental voices come before a sonic space which looks like wooly, mysterious, somewhat sinister and saturated by an electronic undercurrent, an authentic sonic thich fog where different elements seem to play hide-and-seek, so that they're not easy to be recognized due to extended techniques applied on them, whereas recording of objects by D'incise sounds particularly enthralling and plays a central role in the recording - not only because he finally gave a certain musical worthiness to plastic bubble wrap, whose typical popping sound after compression and rupture appears in the middle of the second track! - as it's likewise enthralling the way different voices become gradually amalgamated by a sort of ever-growing gelatin like they explicate a kind of acoustic polysyndeton.
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Artist: S/S Motsol (@)
Title: Parallel Pleasures
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
S/S Motsol is an experimental ensemble born from the creative flair of a couple of Norwegian tightrope walkers, Stale Liavik Solberg on drums and percussion and the funny vocalist Stine Janvin Motland - the name of their project arguably derives from a combination of their names and surnames -, who decided to draft a number of other skilled musicians from Oslo and Stavanger improvisational lairs for this collection of ten untitled stunts. After the first track where Solberg and Motland interplay on stunning expressive thresholds - it's really astonishing Motland's vocal metamorphosis when she let jog her uvula ranging from neurotic hiccups and obsessive syllabling to stinging squeaks - and three abstract digressions when they let slide guest musicians on the sly, waves start to ripple on the fifth track when it seems that Motland's chocking shouts have been caused by her "fight" with the first instrumental storm by horn players, led by Nils Henrik Asheim's piano, whereas the sixth track sounds like the moment where all fighters try to soothe wounds and maiming with overstretched horns and melting laments and the seventh track like a gradual rehabilitation before the final astonishing battle, so that in the eight track Solberg's ticking drums caparisons Klaus Ellerhusen Holm's alto sax, Asheim's piano and Per Zanussi's bass before the last explosive sonic combat. Such a listening experience couldn't be but gripping!
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Artist: Forward Stategy Group
Title: Labour Division
Format: CD
Label: Perc Trax
Rated: *****
a lot of bleak but often majestic landscapes mixed with industrial decay

Hard-edged futursitic techno from Bristol, Uk and Edinburgh, Scotland. Bearing the stamp of 90s Industrial music, the album opener, 'ident', comes on with a synth-riff culled from the trailing edges of Nine Inch Nail's 'Closer', they blend meat combat-boot aggression with Detroit/Berlin's trance-inducing basslines, to suggest the sound of driving through gray pavement and flickering tunnels. Its post-apocalyptic! Its exciting! Its romantic!

Labour Division is the duo's first full-length, after releases on Perc Trax and Stroboscopic Artefacts, and being featured in Surgeon's DJ sets, Forward Strategy Division are primed to be a big deal. This year has seen an upsurge of industrial upstarts, the never-ending onslaught of Dominick Fernow's Vatican Shadow releases, or the recent monolithic Regis re-issues, (one of which i wrote about over here), it seems that ears may be ready to ingest these monochromatic soundscapes. Its not all Blade Runner, though; there's a solid Rave thump to these ten tracks. Its made for dancing, as well as driving. The beats are crisp and sound-sourced from analog. There is a real circuit-board grit to these recordings, that warms the human heart.
Patrick Walker, aka Isodyne, described their intention behind making this records as, 'creating a slightly detached commentary on growing up in Scotland through the 80s and 90s. For me, that would be; confusion, grunge and hard electronics'¦.' in an interview with Halcyonline, before going on to describe FSG's sound as 'glam meets giger'. Its pretty astute, listening to this record is like walking down a concrete tunnel, with industrial sonic bleed receding as you approach the beckoning sub-bass. You open a double-pair of gym doors to a smoky, strobe-lit room.
Forward Strategy Group's stripped-down Technophilia is never going to be a radio hit, although it should. Labour Division, for the most part, is short on melody and full of long-playing locked grooves. Its meant for modern-day trance shamen that like to let the light from the disco ball fall on their slitted eyelids, and dance like cobras. The beat drives you further and further up the spiral, leaving behind all cares and worries, with the grating synth leads scourging away each rising thought like a sandstorm. Mostly its all about the beat, with interludes of dark ambiance, 'Fading Centres,' and clever moments of modern montage, 'Industry & Empires' ' street city atmospherics. Labour Division is like an adventure in an urban jungle, full of chanting and dreams. Its menacing, but at least yr living.
Forward Strategy Group are off to a good start, and show the healthy state of Techno and Bass music across several continents. They continue the trend of assessing and cultivating the strengths of myriad genres, creating a hyper-evolved killing machine. Deadly efficient, and made to thrive. Start here, then dig through the rest of Perc Trax's catalog, read some interviews, and get a good introduction to the post-Industrial underground.
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Artist: Richard Barrett & Han-Earl Park (@)
Title: Numbers
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
You can easily imagine an accountant, a computer expert or an operational researcher in the act of falling prey of frightening hallucinations after a session of intensive work on numerical models, impressive balance sheets or other number-covered screed and their colossal equations or string while getting turned into ominous entities which paralyze their own maker in order to obsess, harass and torture him till death while listening to this amazing and fuzzy release by Welsh electronic musician and performer Richard Barrett (some well-trained listeners could know his collaborative project FURT with Paul Obermayer as well as his work within the Elision Ensemble) and guitarist, improviser and very talented performer Han-Earl Park. By means of an intricate web of sonic hiccups, scrapes, scouring, gluts, gargles and cuts, they build an acoustic lucid computational delirium, whose trajectory is impossible to outguess. Track titles ("tolur", "tricav", "ankpla", "uettet", "creens", "11......" have been taken from the final section of the below-mentioned poem) but arguably its bizarre performative approach as well, have been inspired by same titled extended poem by defiant English poet Simon Howard, first published as a digital issue on Mark Cobley's blog The Red Ceilings and then on paper by The Knives Forks And Spoons Press.
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