Music Reviews



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Artist: Agent Side Grinder (@)
Title: Hardware (sfwr Included!)
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
I could begin the introduction of this amazing release by a nostalgic "once upon a time" as if it were the introduction of a fable, but I won't, even if this amazing Swedish band seems to have crafted a sort of tribute to the miliar stones of new wave and synth-pop by injecting doses of primordial EBM mutations. I could make a list of all stars of late 8ies and first 90ies which came to my mind while listening to this old-fashioned, but still working in an excellent way, computerized device such as Depeche Mode, DAF, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, Clock DVA, Nitzer Ebb, Cabaret Voltaire, the first Front Line Assembly and so on, but if you missed this release, I'll let you discover all the wisely dissolved sonic minerals which spring from Agent Side Grinder's analogue devices and even from the way lead vocalist Kristoffer Grip modulates his voice, which nimbly moves within a wide range between Dave Gahan ("Look Within"), Jim Morrison ("Mag 7") and Gabi Delgado, on the condition that you don't goof by thinking about wrong or inappropriate stylistical kinships like the ones I've heard by people who listened this album, the "poppiest" one of their discography, who for instance linked the nice electronic march of "Sleeping Fury" to Capricorn, the chirpiest melody of "Rip Me" to LCD Soundsystem or Blur and so on. The difficult assignment of bringing Agent Side Grinder back to less archetypal styles has been committed to 15 remixers, which have been grouped on the second cd (that's the included software suite!) of this enhanced reissue, which set many suprising outcomes aside such as the sci-fi-scented broken waves by Swedish electro/krautrock band /MF/MB, the kraftwerkian synths of Emanuel Lundgren aka Red Idiot on "Wolf Hour", the track which features vocals by Henric de la Cour, the pruning electro/disco hooks by Jacques C and the amazing techno-dub by CCIS on "Life In Advance", the crisp punkish EBM by Container 90 and the syncopated pop-punk by Blackstrap on "Die To Live", the drilling techno incubation of "Voice Of Your Noise" by FOLD, the seducing beauty of the cover of "String Strikes" by Styx Tiger, the lulling and somewhat sepulchral cosmic radiance of "010-195" remix by Thomas Ekelund aka Th.Tot, the alienating ambient-drone tech version of "Mag 7" by Jasper TX and so on. All the remixers manage to elicit many different prompts from Agent Side Grinder's music, which already sounds like a retro-futuristic shrine.
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Artist: Toshimaru Nakamura + Ken Ikeda + Tomoyoshi Date
Title: Green Heights
Format: CD
Label: Baskaru (@)
Rated: *****
The title of this collection of five tunes from this trio of Japanese sonic experimenters derives from the location where they recorded them, the balcony on the 6th floor of a Japanese building in Tokyo where Brazilian-born Tomoyoshi Date, an ER doctor with a mania for field recordings and toy piano, which got poured into different interesting collaborative projects - he plays in Illuha with Corey Fuller (we've recently spoken about their amazing last album on Taylor Deupree's 12K), in Opitope with Chihei Hatakeyama and in Melodia with Federico Durand - lives. Date opened the door to a couple of friends - NY-based sound designer hooked on fusty synths and video artist Ken Ikeda, who besides some past releases on Touch and Spekk labels can boast of striking collaborations with David Lynch, Tadanoori Yooo and Mariko Mori, and Toshimaru Nakamura, inventive composer as well as one of the most appreciated improviser of that influential Japanese free-improv scene, known as Onkyokei, who plays a mixing console as if it were a musical instrument by means of a system he named "no-input mixing board" on the occasion -, provided some wine, sake and other social drinks in order to foster talkativeness and flair. The title itself could refer to the features of each track as green color is commonly considered hypnotical whereas the references to various Greek letters in the titles of each track could refer to brainwaves (alpha, theta, beta, gamma), which many lovers of recreational technology knew after the spreading of so-called brain machines. Each track seems to be built on bases of piercing pure tones, which bear and enevelop the textures of gently entancing melodies, the amazing electroacoustic jabs and the electronic novocaine they wisely inject so much as the most cacophonous ingredients of each soup sound somewhat soothing.
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Artist: Mika Vainio & Joachim Nordwall (@)
Title: Monstrance
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
Some fine-tuned hits on vibraphone and other metallic objects on the initial "Alloy Ceremony" precede the electromechanical heartbeat and the chafing wails on corrosive guitars of this brainchild by a guessed partnership between Finnish industrial prodigy Mika Vainio and Swedish noise artist (as well as iDEAL label owner) Joachim Nordwall, whose artistic partnership could be imagined as a proper alloy due to the theme of the release. The focus on metals from the sonic and compositional viewpoint rises to an epic, or I'd rather say sacred and religious, height as the title together with the general atmosphere of the record seems to suggest: monstrances are those elaborated and finely chiselled vessels that priests use to display relics or for the so-called transubstantiation and this sacramental analogy sounds clear if you carefully listen the detailed sonic sculptures by these Norse blacksmiths. This devotional ascension, which culminates on the final "In The Sheltering Sanctus Of Minerals", where Nordwall's Hammond organ ignites a sort of quasi-melodic catalepsy with no obtrusive noisy interferences or pleatings, unfolds by means of a series of drones, minimal electronic poaching, oxidised guitars, rasping acoustic sounds and metallic percussions, which chorally oscillates between the squeaky cacophonies of "midas In Reverse", the withering hammer blows of "Irkutsk" and the earsplitting magmatic casting of "Live At The Chrome Cathedral", whereas the tracks dedicated to two lanthanoids sounds like the real whimsies: in spite of the appearance of abrasive guitar blowing, the first one, "Praseodymium", could be thought as a sinuous sinter, while the bizarre sequence of plucks and crapes on "Promethium" lends a weird and somewhat theatrical guise to metals.
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Artist: Tommy De Chirico
Title: Close Your Eyes
Format: 12"
Label: Mannequin
Rated: *****
Coming from Torino, Italy, singer of Politburo and nowadays of Lacriminal, Tommy De Chirico recorded only one single 7" in 1984 for a local label called Shirak. Recorded at TKS Studio (studio run by Monuments' Mauro Tavella), "Close Your Eyes" was a nice single of electronic wave which was gathering a dance attitude, upfront catchy funk bass lines, a certain mysterious atmosphere and character. It could be seen a bit like our personal "Let's Go To Bed"... On side B there was a slow synth ballad with guitar arpeggios and always upfront bass lines. Its title was "Flower Into The Factory". For years this single was kinda knew by us people living in Torino, until Alessandro Adriani discovered it and put it on the first volume of "Danza Meccanica" (the CD version had both the tracks) back in 2010. Now, three years later, always him, finally decided to give a proper release to that single by releasing an extended EP containing those tracks plus three bonuses. The first one is a demo version of side A (which is pretty much close to the final version). The second one is "Vuh-Ya", a mid tempo song that mix dreamy atmospheres with a certain dark romantic touch. The third one is "Tuxedo Dance", a funky synth instrumental which is a nice one but sounds more like a demo. Anyway, it's nice that that single got a proper release and you can check and purchase it here http://mannequinrecords.bandcamp.com/album/mnq-041-tommy-de-chirico-close-your-eyes-12-ep
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Artist: Monochromie (@)
Title: Colors In The Dark
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
This little treat which embellishes the already prettified catalogue of Time Released Sound, whose hand-made artworks and limited editions dignify the beauty of sonic productions (mainly orbiting around electroacoustic, ambient and post-rock planets) by the involved artists, comes from the inspirational shining light of Marseille-based composer Wilson Trouve'. Compared with his debut album "Angels and Demons" on Fluttery, "Colour In The Dark" raises piano on the top step which seems to magically materialize from the crystalline mists of the initial "Brightness", whose crescendo after the low keys got stressed, the enthralling emotional swelling and the re-echoes of childplays could vaguely resemble some stuff by Harold Budd or even Sigur Ros, whose "( )" could come to listener's mind on the following "Dust and Breath" insomuch as you could expect one of those plangent sounds from Jonsi's uvula making its appearance, but some past piano themes by Niels Frahm, Ludovico Einaudi and Olafur Arnalds could arise from the repositories of your aural memories. Besides any possible comparison, Monochromie succeeds in attracting listeners who are going to easily lapse into his astonishingly evocative melodies, breathtaking piano strokes which slide over a carpet of guessed electronics and field recordings. Even the most nostalgic or urgent moments, such as the somber malaise of "Ballade", the offish time spell of "Old Times", the ascetic phantasmagoria of "Katedra", the enchanting astral turmoil of "Constellations" - the sudden surfacing piano nearby the end of the track is one of the highest moment of the whole album -, the harrowing and solemn strut of the beautiful "Love Song", seems to radiate the initial brightness outward till its final flooding on "Thorn Of Roses". I warmly recommend to take one of the strictly limited 400 copies of this lovely release before sold out.
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