Music Reviews



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Artist: PMDS (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Thisco (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this album, but I had enjoyed the other releases from Thisco that came with the disc. The cover proclaims PMDS as standing for 'Processor Modulation Density Sequencer.' So far, so good. I was expecting a kind of industrial or perhaps power electronics, but what I got was nice, slow, beat-driven compositions. The label describes the album (as rendered through Google Translate) as 'a mix of trip-hop, rock and post-industrial northern European, freak out an experimental result causing heavy and ethereal environments' and 'low dense, retro synthesizers, analog sounds and vocalizations.' For the most part, I would describe this album as 'languid.' Think the middle section of Ted Nugent's 'Stranglehold' and that's the kind of groove we're talking about. PMDS is not afraid to slow it down and methodically move through the piece. The vocals are difficult to make out because they are buried in the mix and are almost spoken rather than sung. This seems by design, rather than a problem with the mixing. 'Emerging Thoughts' is the track that gets a bit more animated, but even this track maintains the low vocals. Overall this is quite enjoyable and worth checking out. You can download some of the tracks on the label's website or check them out on Myspace. This album weighs in at around 46 minutes.
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Artist: Jean-Marc Montera and Francesco Calandrino
Title: ‘Idi Di Marzo’
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore Records (@)
Rated: *****
According to the liner notes, Jean-Marc Montera is on Electric Guitar and FX, while Francesco Calandrino wields 'Lo-fi Stereos, Manipulated Audiocassettes, Field Recordings, Clarinet.' With this in mind, you have a pretty good idea of what you are in for. This one gets in your face right off the bat. Imagine, if you will, a typical album. Now take all of the tracks, separate them out, and throw it all into a blender. Add a healthy dose of feedback and you have 'Idi Di Marzo.' This is pretty good cut up noise and improvisation. It isn't quite as coherent as Negativland, but closer at times to Nurse With Wound's more cut up works in style or perhaps 'Redintegrate' by Hafler Trio. It isn't all completely in your face, though. In some parts, it is more of a noisy drone. If you like noisy improv, this will be up your alley. This album weighs in at around 58 minutes.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Echtzeitmusik Berlin
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Mikroton Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Evidently this is a companion to a book from 2011 'which reflects on a multilayered phenomenon within Berlin's musical culture, a phenomenon whose influence and meaning has effects that extend far beyond Berlin itself.' According to the label, 'the Echtzeitmusik scene has passed through an eventful history of musical and social development and matured into a wide spectrum of predominantly experimental forms of music, bordering on fields as varied as noise, electronica, trash pop, free jazz, and contemporary composed music, not to mention performance and sound art.' This is a mammoth 3CD compilation with a host of artists I had not heard of before. Let's get into it.

The first disc starts us off with some minimalist improv microsound work. In fact, you could easily think that the first five tracks are the work of the same artist. There is some overlap in some of these bands, but this is not the case for these tracks. We then get a bit more aggressive moments, as Bogan Ghost throws in some screeching noise at some points and Trigger provides some noisy material with horns thrown in for good measure. Perlonex and Pokemachine really turn the cacophony loose though with an onslaught of pretty much everything. Pokemachine has a kind of cut up feel to it. We tack back and forth between noise and minimalism until it all dissolves in a nice wash of drone at the end with The Pitch Extended.

Disc 2 is where we start to get a bit noisier but after the minute long track by MoHa!, we are back in the realm of quiet improvisation. Ignaz Schick & Sabine Vogel mixes it up by throwing down a nice slab of wavering drone. Annette Krebs gives us some field recordings of voices with sparse soundscapes. Sometimes it doesn't quite work through - the end of Serge Baghdassarians & Boris Baltschun's track sounds a lot like someone drinking the last of a milkshake through a straw.

By the time we make it to disc 3, the pattern seems well established: minimalist improv reigns supreme with some digressions from the formula. Like the other disc, the opening track is one of those digressions as The Understated Brown begin with a composition that is almost poppy before getting more and more sparse. Some are a bit too repetitive, as in the case of Static and the track by Nicholas Bussmann & Werner Dafeldecker. Lovens/Schick/Thomas kick down some relatively straightforward jazz. Fernanda Farah & Chico Mello provide a peaceful piano track with female vocals. For me the standout track on this disc is Hanno Leichtmann & Andrea Neumann's 'Leptothrix,' which is a wonderful combination of bass rumble and noisy interludes.

Compilations are, by nature, a mixed bag and this one is no exception. Overall this compilation seemed to go on a little longer than it needed to. Stylistically a lot of it was a bit too minimalist to listen to for almost four hours straight. Breaking it up would make it a bit better, but if this is meant to document a particular scene, I would have preferred some representative samples rather than a comprehensive overview. Perhaps they could have broken it up by style (e.g., free jazz on one disc, minimalist musique concrète on another, etc.). It also would have been nice to have the book as a reference point for the compilation to see how the various artists fit together. That said, it was still a pleasant listen overall. This album weighs in at around 230 minutes.
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anymore
Artist: Dystopian Society (@)
Title: Cages
Format: CD
Label: Af Music
Rated: *****
Dystopian Society are a three members band coming from Florence, Italy. Forming in 2010 they had their demo ready the year after. The five tracks of their self named demo showed very well to the audience that their sound is deeply rooted into the early 80s post punk scene referring to bands of the likes of U.K. Decay, early Christian Death and the Italian band Rivolta Dell'Odio, to name a few. The last year the trio went to the studio and re-recorded those tracks and added other seven and released their first album "Cages" thanks to the German label Af Music. Better recorded and produced, "Cages", is a good album which the fans of these sounds will appreciate for sure. You know, even if the sound is what you would wait with influences like I told you before, Dystopian Society sound fresh and they are honest about what they do. They have a clear band concept as their moniker might you think and as their bio reports. There you can read: 'A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Examples of dystopias are characterized in books such as "Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four". Other examples include "The Iron Heel", described by Erich Fromm as 'the earliest of the modern Dystopian', and the religious dystopia of "The Handmaid's Tale". Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, and various forms of active and passive coercion'. They have lyrics that talk about the feeling of being trapped into that sort of society ("Fighting in a prison since the day I was born / Sharing my cell with corpses on the floor" from "Dystopian Society"), about leaving for war ("Don't waste your time at home / We know that you are bored / Just shoot on the infidels / They're good just when they're dead" from "The Last Crusade") and about the feeling of getting crazy ("Behind this curtain / Nothing is real / Don't know who I am / Nor who I was / All these faces in my sleep / Drive me crazy / Paralyzed in myself / Reacting slowly / A cursed path / Of dreary wishes" from "The Spiral"). You can check the whole album at http://dystopiansociety.bandcamp.com/album/cages... I enjoyed it!
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Artist: Eternal Zio (@)
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Boring Machines/Black Sweat Records (@)
Rated: *****
Besides some musical directions, Rella the Woodcutter, Maurizio Abate (Jooklo Neokarma Trio/Sextet/Octet), Raubaus and Valla share the same living space and and artistic workshop at Ca Blase' nearby Milan, where they occasionally held shows open to other bands as well. This self-titled release under the collective name Eternal Zio, following their self released debut Vibbria, is a collection of six untitled extracts from a series of improvisations they played together last summer. All of them are partially similar to that stuff which came from late 60ies musical syncretism and stylistical fusionism, which joined together elements from jazz, folk and rock with forms from "exotic" musical tradition, particularly Indian ragas, sufi choirs, gipsy dances or sonorities from Middle East by tapping from pits of various philosophical, mystical traditions pr anything in like manner which could support the aim of mind expansion, spiritual awakening, soul enlightment and so on as well. These conceptual references are quite vague in Eternal Zio, as the most relevant aspect is the combination of a constant spiritual tension, whose flames have been kept alive by the algamating and hypnotic harmonious sound of hurdy gurdy, with a certain naivete' by simple melodic lines, plain tapping on guitars and even "dadaistic" ways of playing instruments (such as the flute on the second track, which sounds like played by a kid who is not able to control the breathe yet) and even occasional musical spurts, so that this album sounds like the hearth rug of a cozy and lively domestic realm and a kind of tribute to some forgotten household deities.
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