Music Reviews



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Artist: Second Culture (@)
Title: Flying Potion
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Neither roots of mandrakes nor dragon claws inside the flying ointment from the hefty recipe book of Second Culture, a trio from Running Springs, a town on the mountains nearby San Bernardino in California, contrived by Keith McGrew (synthesizers, sequencers, guitars, words), Andy Hutson (vocals, synthesizers, percussion, visuals) and Mark Florin (Chapman Stick, guitar, stomp-box wonderland), as they prefer to draw heavily on psychedelic culture and music. They list instruments, equipment and sources for inspiration in details in the inner part of cd sleeve and as you maybe can surmise they included miliar stones of the so-called enviro-mentalism such as Terence McKenna, Carl Sagan, Cassandra Wilson's "Sankofa" and Inca Shamanism as well as a pattern book of mushrooms, herbs and references to elemental forces, while from the stylistical viewpoint, they propose an interesting crossbreed between structures of shamanic and ritual chants, dub-ambient and space-rock with electronic sonic memes of trance-ambient and even goa-trance. In order to give you an idea of what you're going to listen, you could think about a possible reinterpretation of Ozric Tentacles, Seven That Spells, Farflung or some past bands and musicians from Delerium Records by some sonic alchemist from Ultimae Records with the warm and entrancing vocal guide by the ghost or reincarnation of some guru of psychedelic culture during the mystical path Second Culture try to cobble. I could recommend to toss this sonic mash off and linger on some technical preciosities in order to better appreciate some proper jewels such as "Ancient Astronaut", "Hurricane eyes", "Bardo", "Heart-Centric At The Azure Teleport" and "Super Hero". Put your headphones on and contemplate the eventuality to fly off.
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Artist: Militia
Title: Folk XII
Format: CD
Label: Oltre La Nebbia Il Mare (@)
Rated: *****
Perugia, Umbria, Italy. Early 80s. Even if that was a relatively small city, on those years, there, two bands and a club had an important role for the new wave/post punk scene. The two bands were Militia and Aidons La Norvege and the club was the Suburbia. Four years ago Antonella Guerrini, Augusto Croce (member of Militia and Aidons La Norvege), Giovanni Romualdi wrote a book titled "Quelli del Suburbia - Storia di un'amicizia e di un sogno londinese nella provincia umbra" (The people from Suburbia - a story of a friendship and of an Umbria's country London dream) to tell the story of their youth, their bands and their places. Also on places where it was really difficult to have foreign bands playing gigs, a group of kids succeeds into creating something unique. Now, allow me to focus on Militia: the band formed by Dario Bavicchi, Andrea Conversano, Fabrizio Croce and Giovanni Romualdi, recorded some demos and a MLP titled "Folk II" which has been released by Contempo Records in 1985. On late 80s they changed musical direction from post punk to something more influenced by Tuxedo Moon (they also collaborated with Blaine L. Reininger on their first album "Dunnarobba"). "Folk XII", finally reissue the four tracks of "Folk II" adding other seven demo tracks recorded during the 1985/87 period. This material, probably, ends the band's archive of that period as we already had reissued the demo "Scene di caccia" plus other stuff on the "Dathu" CD (bonus CD of the "Namu/Namasthe" album printed by Materiali Sonori back in 2008). "Folk II" contains four gems that after almost thirty years, to me, sound as beautiful as I listened to them the first time. "In Trionfo", "Echi", "Mare Crudele" and "Ritmi" are tracks where tribal drumming, bouncing bass lines, guitars sharpened like razors (balanced by acoustic guitar riffs) and deep sounding vocals where creating scenarios made of despair, echoes of old wars or cries coming from asylums. All this sung in Italian language and sounding like no other band. Already these four track would convince you to purchase this reissue printed by Oltre La Nebbia Il Mare, but also "Giardini Luminosi", "In Disarmo" or "Anaformismo" are tracks that show a band that was willing to experiment with atmospheres by mixing tension, energy (powerful drumming and bass lines where a band's distinction) and dreamy sounds. If you don't know them you must check them and if you already know them, you already know why you should purchase this CD!
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Artist: Raglani
Title: Real Colors of the Physical World
Format: 12" vinyl + 7"vinyl
Label: Mego (@)
Rated: *****
The initial grumbling in "Tongue", the beginning of "Fog Of Interruption", the first of four parts of the 20 minutes lasting suite on A side of this amazing release by Saint Louis-based Joe Raglani, could let you think about the awakening of some monstrous sea crature who slept for centuries in the abyss and the crooked strokes on strings, which sound like twisting together before the entrancing electronic arpeggios of the second part, "Men for Wire", begins to creep into the endoplasmic reticulum of laser beams, the hypnotical computational gurgle of the thid part, "Brutality of the Eye", and the ancestral haziness of church bells, corroded corrugation of sparkling noises and other boiled sonic stimulations of the final part, "March", randomly flutters electrons in the sonic sphere could recall its slow resurfacing, but the abstract feast of old and new recipes in the following track, "The Terrain of Antiquity", which have a similar four parts subdivision ('Ferry Across Marginalia', 'Hollis Albion', 'Mild Power Descending', 'Fireflies of Arcadia') and whose beginning resounds somewhat animalistic and equally thicking for your head, will let you surmise Raglani plunged you into some psychedelic ultraword portayed by The Orb or Future Sound Of London, inhabited by bizarre beings and unexpected entities, which can be recognized in this impressive and somewhat confusing pot of sonic carousel in its catchy alternation of exstatic and hallucinogenic moments, which reaches the boundaries of liturgical atmosphere and 8-bit sonic abandonware. On the enclosed 7", Raglani seems to having squeezed parts of the two longest suites on the 12" in order to concentrate them in two gorgeous shorter tracks, "The Exploded View", which moves towards cybernetic-like reverie, and "Trampoline Dream", whose arpeggioes rended some stages of a platform videogame. Really succulent stuff for abstract synth electronic music.
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Artist: Taylor Deupree
Title: Faint
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
Any elemental decomposition and "alchemical" analysis of the sound that unstinting and versatile renowned Brooklyn-based sound artist Taylor Deupree moulds could succeed in listing some recipes, but it's really difficult to give an idea of the taste of his hallucinatory soup: its modelling clay comes from field recordings, organic sounds, lukewarm twining of bass tones, thin streams of enslowed beaming sounds, sprouting instrumental melodies, plunk of crystalline nylon strings, little imperfections, heavenly reverberations and its seemingly wiggly glint which sounds like conflating into ether could vaguely recall some stuff by Robert Rich (particularly in tracks like "Dreams Of Stairs", "Shutter" and "Negative Snow"), but almost all listeners will by far leave such an analytical approach to lapse and getting absorbed into its mindblowing running, whose emotional radiant heat could find a visual correlation in the photo feature on the artwork, mostly instagrams taken in the woods and other outdoor location by Deupree's handmade camera. "Faint"'s glimmer flows without flouncing.
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Artist: Phucking Happyend (@)
Title: Bitter Sweet Remix EP
Format: 12"
Label: Korsett/Hula Honeys (@)
Distributor: Godbrain
Rated: *****
Snapping fingers, sci-fi pad-synths, crunching claps, pitched synth-brasses and bleeping arpeggios characterize this amazing stylistical hybridization between dubstep, awry breaks, ill-hop and raving sonorities by Phucking Happyend on "Bitter Sweet", a delicious tidbit for dub-heads, which has been co-produced by Hula Honeys and the label of Korsett Kollektiv, a network of freelance, based in Luzern (Switzerland) and founded by Daniel Sommer aka Somtek, who signs one of the three remixes, which have been included in this release. While Somtek forges a remix which sounds closer to the prevalent definition od dubstep, where the heavyweight step becomes just occasionally still by means of puffed synths, Kackmusikk tempers frizzling clicks and bleeps by heady female vocals on his "Change Everything Remix" and Nicholas Schaerer aka Nikk! manages to recall those nice phat and obscure beats (I could mention some stuff by Alpha & Omega, Meteosound or Ashtech), which marked a seemingly remote phase of the crossbreed between electronic and dub, on his gorgeous "Candy Dub" remix. Really nice plaything from a new generation of dancefloor-oriented steppers.
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