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Artist: JUSTIN WINKS VS CASIO SOCIAL CLUB
Title: Rock The Discotheque
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Mullet Records (@)
Rated: *****
It's very hard to judge a single which basically contains one song plus its version having only the drums and vocal tracks but Justin Winks a.k.a. Casio Social Club has so much positive energy and power that also a simple song like "Rock The Discotheque" can turn five minutes into a whole party. Mixing dance, house and funk, Justin recorded a track based on a simple bass line and enriched it with vocal loops, female vocal inserts, stop and go, a rich drum section and bouncing rhythms. Let go to the church of funk lead by Casio Social Club.
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Artist: Joe Williamson (@)
Title: Hoard
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Both the portrait this Canadian doublebass player picked up in order to introduce his release and his eccentric way of playing his plumbeous instrument could suggest Joe Williamson's sound could really be considered as post-industrial: on one side a pile of scrap-iron mainly made up of a plenty of trashed appliances such as washing-machines, air conditioners, stoves, microwave ovens, an artificial mountain which can be considered as the most visible impact on landscape (not only physical, but also cultural) inherited from the agonizing consumeristic era based on serial industrial production, on the other side a musical simulacrum, the one rendered by Williamson (now residing in Stockholm), whose sound seems to be reduced to a heap of debris. The way he plays the doublebass, based on the overpressure of the bow and arguably on vertical scratching of the strings and extended dwelling on arch passages, as well as the way he recorded this 2-(very long)tracks album, whose powerful vibrations have been grabbed thanks to the placement of the microphone very close to the instrument, results into an astonishing sound, giving the idea of a perpetual shrivelling, an endless crumpling of an undefined material, whose shape can be continuosly transformed, but not perished at all. While the first anthem, wisely titled "Inadvertent Attraction of Suspicion", sounds like a vortical intertwining of nerves and rubbles, the title-track could be similar to something between a noisy grumbling and an irritating snoring. In order to appreciate this bizarre recording, forget melody and rhythm and focus on texture and sound and you will agree with me when I say Hoard could be considered as the final and very sensual result of a process, where the words "destruction" and "creation" become synonymous just in order to bow to necessity!
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Artist: David Chiesa & Jean Sebastien Mariage (@)
Title: Oort
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
When I heard this record without checking anything related to the release, neither title and references nor musician's biography, one of the first thing I thought the players could have developed an addiction from Ballance, a videogame issued by Atari, belonging to that kind of games causing anxiety especially if you try to play it when you're drunk or differently gone. It's quite easy to imagine it: you just control a ball you have to lead till some checking points placed along difficult pathways hanging over the clouds, possibly avoiding the ball's falling in the void, but the music which keep company with the gamer over the thirteen levels is so outstanding that it has a primary role for the success of the game even if it's quite simple. The "distant" acoustic tones, some doublebass gong-like strokes and even the sounds of some wooden ball rolling over some surface I've listened in the first track "Kirch's comet" - referrinf to the so-called Newton's comet, the first one discovered by telescope - activated such a memory, but the style reprises such an idea here and there all over the recording, whereas this French duet made up of the doublebass player David Chiesa and the guitarist Jean-Sebastien Mariage (who also plays guitar with Hubbub and Chamaeleo Vulgaris) pointed at the remote region of the Oort cloud, an hyphotesized spherical area considered by some astronomers as the cosmic area from where the comets start their route crossing so many times the area of Solar system as a source for the inspiration of their style based on acoustic improvisations. They look like following their route, able to kindle amazement and apprehension, with acoustic sparks and a way of performing fitting the matter: taps, raps and flaps on guitar or doublebass chords have been placed in intervals, which are wide enough to give the listener the possibility to hear the vibes and the dying frequencies they emit till the moment the wave oscillations gradually turning flat, what looks like a sonic transfiguration of a comet's tide, while the instuments seem to echo their halo and the fascinating comas they draw in the sky. A record which is going to be appreciated even by those listeners who like contemplative stuff, even if they don't really cope with improv music.
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Artist: Necro Deathmort (@)
Title: Music of Bleak Origin
Format: CD
Label: Distraction Records (@)
Rated: *****
London-based Necro Deathmort consists of AJ Cookson and Matthew Rozeik, and 'Music of Bleak Origin' is apparently their sophomore release after 2009's 'This Beat Is Necrotronic'. I don't know about that record, but 'Music of Bleak Origin' sounds comparable to early Nick Bullen-era Scorn to a degree; heavy distorted guitar, some electronics and minimal drum beats at a rather slow pace. (At least that's how it began.) I wasn't really much intrigued with this album until the hypnotic 'Temple of Juno' (3rd track in) that despite its repetitive overkill of a clichéd riff has something extra going for it sonically. At 60 BPM it's a lumbering dinosaur of a track but one you don't want to stand in the way of. (Longest track on the album too, but you won't ever be bored with it.) It has a kind of psychedelic aura without sinking into the histrionics of that genre.

After the doom-metalish 'Uberlord' you get treated to 'For Your Own Good,' a hypnotically pulsating piece with whispered vocals that had me thinking of a modern day Suicide, until it changed into something a lot more substantial. While still linear in its fashion, it carried a good amount of depth and guts. 'Devastating Vector' sort of picks up where then end of the sequenced rhythm of 'For Your Own Good' left off, and the percussive programming has picked up the pace and complexity. This track has a remarkable similarity to some of the best things coming out of Tympanik Audio these days; a dark instrumental with industrialized percussion leading the way, interesting synth work and some good changes. Have to admit I was impressed. While not much happens melodically, there is still a lot going on sonically. 'Blizzard' too has its moments of brilliance, stomping like a behemoth through a wasteland of synth distortion until it simmers down into a hissing sea of cymbalic sibilance. 'The Heat Death of Everything' slows the BPM down to about 40 and is reminiscent of 'Cop' era Swans, without the M Gira rantings. Wailing distorted guitar abounds. Devastatingly abysmal, but not in a bad way; just sliding into the void. Closer track 'Moon' indulges in an eerie moaning ambience backed by a slow minimal beat. It's a fitting conclusion to 'Music of Bleak Origin,' fully well living up to the title.

Another remarkable thing about this release is its packaging. The sleeve folds out into a 14' x 28' poster with incredibly detailed sinister artwork by Dominic Hailstone. It is limited to 1,000 copies and is sure to become a collector's item. I don't recommend everything I review, but I'm recommending this.
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Artist: Majdanek Waltz/Sal Solaris (@)
Title: Tenebrae
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
'Tenebrae' is a joint project between Majdanek Waltz and Sal Solaris, two Russian music collaboratives along the Neofolk/Ambient/Dark Ambient/Industrial vein. Majdanek Waltz leans a bit more to the neofolk side, while Sal Solaris leans more toward the industrial side. The conceptual core of 'Tenebrae' is the poetry of Paul Celan, one of the major German-language poets of the post-World War II era. (His cryptic fractured lyrics are translated into Russian and spoken in a specific estranged way by Pavel Blumkithe on this recording.) Chances are the majority of readers reading this review will have no clue who Paul Celan was (and could care less) but the curious might investigate. Still, the recitation in Russian may put off Western ears even further unless you the language is familiar. I have to admire the execution though, even if I can't appreciate the core concept due to my unfamiliarity with Celan's poetry and the obstacle of the language barrier.

There is a remarkably claustrophobic, oppressive and foreboding ambience present throughout 'Tenebrae' as the setting for Paul Celan's abstruse, dour words. Even the mournful woodwinds and sparse piano evince certain desperation that might be typified in Edvard Munch's 'The Scream'. I couldn't help but notice an odd bit on the beginning of 'The Time's Eye' where it sounds like some radio transmission laced with a clarinet melody vaguely reminiscent of Zappa's 'Duodenum' instrumental off of 'Lumpy Gravy'. This is assuredly an aberration compared with the whole. In fact that track is largely dark ambient mixed with melancholy neoclassical. Unnerving atmosphere is the key component of 'I Heard That an Exe Bloomed Suddenly' (great title by the way) where a heavy dark ambient drone is the basis for much of the piece until what sounds like the steady drip of a water droplet enters the picture then becomes something more subtly mechanical. A sad line on the viola; a low note (or chord) played on the piano; the atmosphere shifts into something more fearful, then brief words of Paul Celan. 'Death Fugue' by its tile implies a dolorous state, and here the Neofolk/Ambient/Dark Ambient/Industrial elements combined with (WWII era) voice recordings in German make for a grim epitaph of that period. It would be a fitting soundtrack for a Holocaust documentary, although the implications of the track likely have a more far-reaching symbolism. Again Celan's words enter the picture, and perhaps their impact might be somewhat diminished spoken in Russian, rather than Celan's native German, although from a visceral standpoint, no language is better suited for bleakness than Russian. The haunting theremin-like voice of Rada Anchevskaya at the end of the piece adds a particular poignancy.

Point of fact is though that the Celan recitations are pitifully little of this work as a whole in terms of time allotted to them. They seem more as a footnote to the atmosphere that Majdanek Waltz and Sal Solaris have created. In that, there is still much merit in this work even if you don't care a feather or a fig for Paul Celan and his poetry. Undoubtedly the experience would be enriched (intellectually and possibly emotionally) by a familiarity with the poet and his works, but certainly not a requirement to enjoy 'Tenebrae'. I use the word 'enjoy' relatively though, as this is quite a depressive album. Before treading the deeper waters of 'Tenebrae,' it might be advisable to check out other works by Majdanek Waltz and Sal Solaris first.
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