Music Reviews



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Artist: Moon Wiring Club
Title: Today's Bread, Tomorrow's Secrets
Format: CD
Label: Gecophonic Audio Workshop
Distributor: A-musik
Rated: *****
In the misty moors of Northern England, lies the forgotten hamlet of Clinkskell. The trek to get there is one of the loneliest and least hospitable in all of the UK. No neighbors, no flashy attractions, Clinkskell and its inhabitants are remarkably removed from time and place. The people who live there are charmingly anachronistic: crinoline and cravats rub elbows with shirt-sleeves and psychedelic paisley patterns.

And its all in the mind of one Ian Hodgson, aka Moon Wiring Club. (Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn't).

On the header for the Blank Workshop (which acts as the chamber of commerce and welcome wagon for Clinkskell), MWC are described as 'Confusing English Electronic Music'. Elsewhere, Hodgson himself described his output as 'music for Edwardian computer-games'. Using the archaic technology of PS2 and a hand-me-down copy of MTV Music Maker, Hodgson meticulously constructs abstract concrete beat-collages, calling upon an extensive archive of mouldering Spoken Word/Children's/Work-out LPs, spun into a hallucinogenic cobweb of dream logic and refracted memories. Hodgson uses the vocal snippets like a voice over on some otherworldly nature documentary, pushing and pulling the ethereal tones and bouncy rhythms into bizarre auditory fairy tales, referencing this world, but not of it.

The irreality of Hodgson's crate-digging sampledelia goes right along with the ominous Art Deco album sleeves (which he also designs himelf). Vaguely sinister 2D depictions of Victorian women in hats, or cat creatures playing a fife. What, exactly, is going on? You must lose yrself in Hodgson's world, 8 self-released albums thus far, and an avalanche of mixes, magazines, fake advertisements, real advertisements, artificial television series, and perhaps real ones as well. Ian Hodgson is a world builder, pure and simple, and every time anyone on the Gelophonic Audio roster releases a record (blessedly frequent, lately), Clinkskell emerges from the mist, like Brigadoon.

'Today's Bread, Tomorrow's Secrets' is remarkably listenable, given how abstract and confusing it sounds, in print. Hodgson's beats are tight and twitchy, in a way that should appeal to fans of the recent juke/footwork/trap school, and the synths are respectably fierce and burning, that should stroke the furry ears of the devoted dubstep listener. But here, the synths are de-tuned and slightly disoriented; its as if you were listening to legitimate dance music while high on cough syrup at the bottom of a whirlpool. Or perhaps if it were emanating through a portal? Moon Wiring Club hold auditory seances, conjuring spectres from acetate and vinyl from the 120 years of recorded history, and in a way, we are all living in the spectral village, with dead voices whizzing past our ears in unlikely chimerical combinations.

There seems to be a story going on in 'Today's Bread'. The 22 tracks sound like a new adaptation of Algernon Blackwood short stories, if it were to released on Hyperdub. Once you have fallen under Hodgson's scraping knocking table-rapping beat mantras, the soothing British apparitions whisper hints and secrets, luring you further and further into the dark woods outside of the town.

In what is becoming a tradition for MWC, 'TBTS' exists in two forms (its like the daytime and night time versions of the same person). The vinyl release is the dream form of the antiquated techno of the CD. All beats and recognizable touchstones are stripped away, leaving a ghostly gelatinous imprint of yr memory of the original music. It is like a dub poltergeist, possessing yr thoughts. The 'beat version' is intended as 'dinner/party' music, while the vinyl is the after dinner apertif. The crunchy jerky beat-driven side is remarkably conducive to running around, getting things done, but do be careful! This music may be disorienting, and may cause dizziness. It might not be safe to operate heavy machinery, while under the influence.

With his idiosyncratic method of electronic manipulation, encyclopedic knowledge of obscure British ephemera, the consistency of his mythical world, and its place outside of town, listening to Moon Wiring Club is like passing through the Looking Glass. Everything you say may resemble what you have known, aka consensual reality, but its all gone a bit soft around the edges. It gets inside you and it affects you. Ian Hodgson is creating a world, down the road from fellow memory trawlers Ghost Box Records. Together, along with a small but dedicated cabal of shadowy antiquarians, they are making this world a more interesting, less definitive, place. Making mystery.
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Artist: Lynx & Hellrazor ft.Kemo (@)
Title: Dive Deep In / Shadowlands
Format: 12"
Label: Warm Communications (@)
Distributor: S.T. Holdings Ltd.
Rated: *****
After the remarkable juggling on Soul:r with Balloons and Passing Time, which already settled inside many dj bags and has been successfully installed in many hard drives, talented dnb producer Lynx keeps on running on the path of thought-ignited stuff by means of his lomg-lasting cross-lifting collaborations with Jimmy Blitx aka Kemo and Richard Scott aka Hellrazor. Together with the latter one, Lynx really seems to strap a razor by whipping snares, disquieting bell-like tunes, menacing bass, scorched patterns, roaring inserts and an "interlude" which reminds Matrix-like settings and some jams by legendary Ram Trilogy, which perfectly fits to the leathery prophylaxis from a somewhat undefined threat from a numerical controlled world (d'you think it's so distant from reality?) on "Shadowland". Another excellent stylistical dnb jewel comes on the other side: an infectious half time rhythmical pattern and a rolling sitar which could remind some stuff by Fanu builds the pedestal for the poisoned vocal treatments by Kemo, whose track manages to reinforce the sonic soldering of these producers which already jacked many dnb clubs on the planet.
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Artist: Oublier Et Mourir/Brume (@)
Title: A Year To Live
Format: CD
Label: Silken Tofu (@)
Rated: *****
Practitioners of Zen often advise to 'die before you die'. This is the Memento Mori, the contemplation of Death and the Afterlife; it has been known to spur people into enlightenment. The pair of Oublier Et Mourir, the sparse ambient side project of Anenome Tube, and Christian Renou, appearing here as Brume, have taken up the contemplation of finality in two very distinct and interesting ways.

Oublier Et Mourir's side best sonically encapsulates the sharp lithographed artword on the cover of a decaying bouquet. OetM's four tracks sound like a tortured composer, brooding in his mahogany study. Its like the medieval fantasies of John Paul Jones in The Song Remains The Same, if the warlock were reflecting upon memory, oblivion, the cosmos and the devil all at once. 'Ocean of Melodious Songs (Tsangyang Gyatso)' is the stand-out track here, which brings to mind the cosmic reminiscences of Klaus Schulze solo output in the '70s. It stands out like a rainbow against the ink-black dark ambiance, bringing some classic Terry Riley minimalism to the proceedings, and making this record ever-so-much-more interesting than the stereotypical dark ambient record you might expect from the subject matter at hand. There's black wind to be had, for sure, 'A New Thought Is Born, Another Will Arise' and the eponymous track (Oublier Et Mourir means 'to forget and to die') conjure vast digital caverns, that make it seem as if yr floating in eternity, back to the crystaline womb from whence we originated. Its colorful imagery, and lovingly executed; OetM's sound design stands out, with all the pieces hanging in suspended perfection. He stands at the edge of oblivion, unblinking, and notates it all to see. Oublier Et Mourir then acts as a psychopomp to the living, describing the afterlife and all its strange angels with a rich, complex tonal pallet that is more Bach than Bastard Noise. If only every member of the underground had this dedication towards their craft!

Brume's side is a way more eclectic affair. Christian Renou seemed to focus more on the 'First Thought/Best Thought' school of Buddhism, bringing in a track called 'The Simple Way' in 5 parts that bring to mind the pop surrealism of Jim 'Foetus' Thirlwell and Stephen 'Nurse With Wound' Stapleton. Renou's been making music since 1975, and got his start with a 9-piece big band called Uria, and you can hear echoes of that in the disjointed jazz of 'pt. 2', all stark rhythms and tuba blatts that could be a remix of the 'Panic At Year Zero' soundtrack, before surprisingly breaking into an unexpected funky machine bass backed by what sounds like a pressure hose and vocal snippets. 'The Simple Way' has a dream logic all its own, it takes you for a ride, making a series of unlikely connections and correspondences utterly distinctive and alien. Renou's activity in the DIY industrial/noise/electroacoustic cassette world (over 120 releases) have made him a prankster and an experimentalist and an individual, and i, for one, feel like the electronic underground really benefits from this presence. The segues can be abrupt and bizarre, and you truly don't know what's coming, but it gets surprisingly soothing, especially after multiple listens. Both sides of this record create new sonic pathways in the brain, allowing the listener to think fresh about the way they make and hear music, which is probably the ultimate living testament to the assignment.

It takes a rare breed to stare into the void and risk that inevitable return scrutiny, and the downside of this is that most who investigate bleakness and blackness already have an inky pallette, and we, as record listeners, are subjected to millions of hours of vacuous cosmic wind dark-ambient records. It is a rare and precious combination, to have talented and adept composers and sound artists looking into the subtle hues and strata of living and dying; reflecting upon memory, thought, passions. 'A Year To Live' is a valuable addition to any late-night listening library, or for anyone who's burned a hole in their Lustmord or Black Tape For A Blue Girl records, and are looking for a different kind of melancholy.
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Artist: Christophe Berthet (@)
Title: Malval
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Swiss saxophonist Christophe Berthet entirely recorded some sketches on his soprano and altro saxophones (sometimes prepared or recorded by means of close mic techniques) in Malval Chapel, a quite secluded place close to Dardagny in Switzerland nearby French borders. Such an annotation is not a moot detail for a card index, but a tanglible clue which is going to enhance listening experience. Listeners aren't going to make difficult efforts of imagination while "embodying" the musician during his performance, whose role is quite close to a wizard who manages to animate the surrounding setting: peeps, cheeps, tweets, creaks, squawks and squeaks coming out from Berthet's musical instruments and his nimble dynamics on them vividly render surreptitious entities, which provisionally or permanently inhabit the place where Christophe tries to translate into sounds without being considered a gatecrasher by his visible and invisible settlers and sometimes you could even feel that the musician tries to give voice to inanimate objects such as garden tools, rasps, rafters, bricks, stones and so on. A thanksgiving act to a place, whose physical properties could ideally be considered a proper third instrument as well as a precious sonic gift to its temporary guest.
Boring Machines keeps on plumbing the depths of remarkably rich Italian underground bands and this time it manages to recover one of the most gloomy band from the bottom with the support of Avant! Records. Named after the notorious English tongue twister "How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woochuck Could Chuck Wood?", this Turin-based trio articulates a gloomy and somewhat oppressive sound which manages to avoid a certain sloppiness and superficiality many "damned" musicians usually succumb to when they try to mold their own musical language from inside an imaginary grotto by pouring more or less esoteric musical references, quotes, borrowings, devilments and identity crisis in their melting pot. Even if Ghier, Coccolo and female voice Iside pile the above-mentioned items and could be associated to some listening memories of stuff from Current 93 or Swans by an anamnesis on listener's side more than from the side of the band, whose choice of a charred firebrand, which could grossly resemble a maimed trunk, on a black field for the cover artwork of their self-titled debut release, give hints to listeners about the stylistical autopsy they made on dark folk corpse. The sense of paralysis coming from the slackening guitars, which keep on playing exhausted simple melodic lines, the Mephistophelean voice, whose occasional mock-tragic fomenting never result in demential declensions of some "poete maudits", the sinister appearance of sullen reverbs and low frequencies don't entail the surfacing of some transient epic moment, which stigmatize the best moments of the release - the charming chasms of "In Aria", the cryptic hibernation of "The Rock", which include some hieratic quotes from T.S.Eliot's pageant play with the same name, or the ominous obsessions of "For Nobody", outlines the portrait of a certain authenticity in spite of the consumed barks they've chosen to wrap their simple melodies, as if they had to mirror the tangled disguise of the underlying meaning of a tongue twister...
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