Music Reviews



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Artist: Coen Oscar Polack
Title: Spectral Churches
Format: CD
Label: Narrominded (@)
Rated: *****
This release is a downmixed registration of a multichannel performance of a piece constructed using only, as source material, the bells in the carillon of a church. This has a reason, apart from the organ, the bell is the most religiously recognizable sound and, so, this work start with the sound of the bell that is gradually buried by the trasformation made by the three players at the laptop: the composer, Herman Wilken and Roald von Dillewijn helped by Bernard Winsentius at the carillon that played the 26 minutes sequence "De Damiaatjes" that was processed for the creation of the piece. When the trasformation begin to use the natural resonances of the bells, the listener is immersed in a continuum drone juxtaposed with high pitch resonances and various small noises giving movement to all the musical structure. When the resonance begin to dominate the spectrum the bells return to be hearable and this piece start his final part ending with the sound a bell.
This piece is able to use a classic sound to reveal his underlying possibility to be used for avantgarde, resulting more interesting than most modern studio-constructed sound. A really fine release.
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Artist: TOBIAS BERNSTRUP
Title: Sing My Body Electric
Format: Tape
Label: Other Voices Records
Rated: *****
SING MY BODY ELECTRIC is the newest Tobias Bernstrup album and it's his fourth one to date. Released on tape by the Russian label Other Voices, SING MY BODY ELECTRIC will be soon issued also on CD and white vinyl without two tracks: "Light Years Apart" and "A.S.F.R.". The first one has already been released, as well as "1984", "Enemies Of The Earth" and "Data Love" on the "1984" EP by Enfant Terrible in 2009. The album opens with a short introduction "Departure" and shows its value already with the second track "Dancing In The Shuttle", a vibrant electro pop song with a dancey flavor but with a bit of melancholy. "Can Play" follows the same path and it is able to please synthpop and italo disco lovers. The latter will be happy when they'll listen to the opening part of "Body Electric" as a synth arpeggio, synth stabs and a nice piano build the atmosphere of a sensual song. "Videodrome" is the first up tempo song of the album and it's there to be danced to along with the following "1984". "Light Years Apart" mix hard beats, synth arpeggios and synth melodies while Tobias sings: "We've reached the point of no return, your signal is weaker, your gravity's gone, I drift out of orbit, into the dark, away from you, tonight". "A.S.F.R." is another romantic mid tempo with dancey attitude which pairs with the following "Ugly Alone". "Roll The Camera" starts with a beat that is good to be danced by 80s b-boys but it grows into a great synthpop tune with cool melodies. "Data Love" is a classic italo influenced song with retro simmons pads taking care of the rhythm. "Enemies Of The Earth" is a mid tempo with light synth pads and bass line arpeggios where Tobias' deep vocals take the deserved attention. The album closes with "No Time To Die", a melancholic mid tempo where he duets with Miss Liz Wendelbo. This new album, in my opinion, is a huge step ahead for him because it still has a dance attitude but the songwriting is strong and catchy.
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Artist: Boyd Rice & Frank Tovey
Title: Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing
Format: CD
Label: Mute Records (@)
Rated: *****
Listening to the 12 Excerpts off of Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing is like walking through an empty factory, whose machines are running themselves.

All the sounds from this record were compiled from non-musical sources: firehoses, gas jets, scraping floors, et al. and then fastidiously assembled into an industrial bricolage. Like a Cornell box sprung to life, or The Brothers Quay if they decided to make musique concrete, these 'excerpts' (as all the songs on this record are titled), are predominantly rhythmic, with occasional smatterings of gelatinous melodies that bring to mind early industrial stalwarts like Coil, Throbbing Gristle, perhaps Einsturzende Neubauten.

The beauty of this records is that its surprisingly listenable by Boyd's standards, featuring less of the stainless steel feedback heard on records like Music for Iron Youth . At times its downright danceable, and the melodic tracks might fit in well at retro Goth nights the world over. Another benefit of taking the time to listen to this record, and similar kinds of music, is how to retrains yr ear, how you listen to the world around you. Its like Bjork's character in Dancer in the Dark creating industrial musicals to get through the monotonous grind of her depressing life.

Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing is like a soundtrack, also. 12 tracks, 60 minutes of pounding, thudding, churning; gears springing, alarms sounding. Things are going on, but this movie has no characters, and no plot. Just a single camera, zooming through the dusty corridors of these two misanthropes' minds.

Those that are curious about early industrial and noise music might do well to start here. But a word of caution: you may come to ENJOY sounds like these, and yr friends may find you, in the middle of the night, standing in the darkened street, listening to a car alarm going off, and drooling like an imbecile.

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Artist: Henrik Munkeby Norstebo (@)
Title: Solo
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
It's quite difficult (and somewhat reckless) to propose a solo record on trombone, especially as nowadays this exceptional member of the big family of wind instruments is prominently thought as part of a combo or an orchestra and not so really suitable for a solo performance, but this release by the young Norwegian improvisational trombonist Henrik Munkeby Norstebo, an up-and-coming star of the scene in my opinion, goes beyond any dictates coming from musical trends, marketing pithy sayings or even social prejudices as some listeners joke on trombone considering it a musical instrument for beggars (it seems incredible but I've heard similar oddities even by orchestral directors...). His "Solo" is not a conceptual release at all, but it's quite belittling regarding it as a mere set of exercises as you can attest by listening to the bizarre performative paths explored by this guy: if the first piece could feed that above-sketched stereotyped vision so that his phrases and those nice glissatos could evoke some kind of discharged soldier who embraced Dixieland jazz while reminding the feeling of loneliness while on frontline even if this opener together with the final track is maybe the warmest and most melodious moment of the whole recording, the second track is the first sample where tradional performative techniques of trombone are intertwined with funny and somewhat bizarre vocal experiments and incredible embouchure so that Henrik looks translating into trombone tones the gruff muttering of some angry man after he's been awaken by some irritating noise. There are many moments when Henrik intertwines vocal sketches with the vice of trombone such in the ninth track where his vocalizations looks like a mixture of puffing, mumbling and strangling and in the fourth one where he reminds some cartoons such as Pingu or The Line's choleric reactions against its drawer when meeting a broken line! And there are moments when Henrik plays with glissando, trills and vibrational effects on trombone in a skillful way. Highly enjoyable and nostalgia-tinged music, born from a somewhat dermic relation between musician and instrument.
Jan 30 2012
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Artist: Grandchaos (@)
Title: Refuge
Format: CD
Label: Urgence Disk (@)
Rated: *****
Grandchaos is the solo project of Ivanovitch Tcheleskov, already known for his other band Idlo. This album features basically only remixes plus a new version of "Ultra dark day" off their previous "Open source" album. The title-track appears with five different versions and, together with the other remixes, will appear in its original version on the upcoming "Rumours of my life" album. Usually remixes are released at the same time or after the "official" versions, but why not changing a bit. Hailing from Belgium and sounding definitely Belgian, though remixed, this is Grandchaos. Expect some old sounding EBM, pounding bass-lines, synth layers and deep darkened vocals. There are some futurepop moments, like "A new replica" (Grandchaos vs Operation of the Sun), the last and fastest track. As for me, I prefer the old EBM parts, but it's hard to judge a remix album, anyway, it makes me want to hear the "official" new one, that's a good side effect! and, by the way, I'm actually spinning a lot the Bak XIII remix of "A lot of pain".
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