Music Reviews



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Artist: Orphax (@)
Title: De tragedie van een liedjesschrijver zonder woorden
Format: CD
Label: Moving Furniture Records (@)
Rated: *****
Gusts of icy wind which lashes over a land while electric drones and sharp-edged echoes matche with the glacial crystals which blanket everything, the magnetic storms traces their wavering dances on the sky and some distant crackling fire. This is the first figurative and mental image of the initial track "Onder Het Noorderlicht" ("Under The Northern Lights") from this ambient limbo-like album that Amsterdam-based producer Sietse van Erve aka Orphax assembled between April 2005 and July 2007 during a delicate period of his life which occurred between the end of educational period and the beginning of working years when he fighted against an unknown (at that time) disease which swamped his mind with a plenty of questions with no answers, mirrored by its title "De tragedie van een liedjesschrijver zonder woorden' (Dutch for "The tragedy of a song writer without words"). Such an immersive and somewhat wistful listeneing experience, which got enhanced and rehashed in 2008 and 2010, keeps on wrapping listener by the suffocated numbness of "Geluiden Van De Eerste Dag" ("Sounds of the First Day") where rustling subcutaneous sounds sneak between occasional electric buzzes, the feeble and toneless drone of "Samen Aan Het Water" ("Together On The Water"), the estranging pale warmth of "Winterslaap In De Zomer" ("Hibernation In Summer"), the reprise of initial environmental icy suggestions on "Ochtendgloren Boven De IJzige Vlakte" ("Dawn Over The Icy Plain"), which sounds even more hypnotical and sinuously asphyxiating than "Onder Het Noorderlicht" and the final mystical and mystifying rise of "Het Bos" ("The Forest"). Just 300 copies have been released, so that if you're an immersive ambient-drone lover, I cannot but recommend to grab your copy.
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Artist: Jessy Lanza (@)
Title: Pull My Hair Back
Format: CD
Label: Hyperdub (@)
Rated: *****
One of the most seductive entry in the rich roster of UK electronic label Hyperdub comes from the talented Canadian singer Jessy Lanza, whose sensual voice jelled with the likewise erotic keys by herself and Jeremy Greenspan from Junior Boys, who fords somewhat hackneyed stylistical rivers such as contemporary pop or r'n'b by brushing velvet gloves against their surfaces. The tempting shell of this symbiotic fusion is going to coax a wide range of listeners by limpid moments of melancholy, which have been wisely nestled both in the texts and in the sonorities. All those who have been infected by the reprise of some disco lay-out which followed the outbreaking Daft Punk's record supposedly will be diven crazy by the central track "Keep Moving", a juicy amalgamation of classic disco and house, but besides this pop climax, there's so much classy eclat inside the crawling pelting of sonic and vocal pearls between the initial alluring rub of acidic basslines, soothing synths and piano, smooth claps and Jessy's voice which seems to come from a burnt out neon of "Giddy" and the final emotional paregoric of "Strange Emotion", where the listener will experience some difficulties in winnowing if voice or sonic touches is more seducing while moaning with pleasure for the auricular penetrations all over this release.
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Artist: Gerwin (@)
Title: Lying Portraits (Zero T Reprint)/Soul Truth (Bungle Remix)
Format: 12"
Label: IM:Ltd (@)
Distributor: Triple Vision
Rated: *****
I don't want to display these remixes of Gerwin's one-two of "Lying Portraits" (co-signed with Nuage) and "Soul Truth" as out-and-out improvements as the original tracks were good enough to draw a rank. They're just good derivations from those tunes and I'd rather say the remixers - the talented Itrish producer Zero T and the young Brazilian ace Bungle - have been able to keep soulful traces of the original versions into their rhythmical overflow: while Bungle's rapids let filter the crystalline sounds of "Soul Truth" through shattering stream of percussive flooding, which seems to quieten in correspondence to the repetition of vocal refrain, Zero T seems to split the atoms of "Lying Portraits" into a more "space-y" sphere in the first part of his remix before opening pressure valves by gorgeous cavorting percussions and enchanting synths which shoot the track skyward. Really persuading proofs of (d'n'b) concept!
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Artist: Laugh Clown Laugh
Title: Laugh Clown Laugh
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records
Rated: *****
Born in early 80s in northeast Somerset town of Frome (100 miles west of London) and formed by Sam Findlay and Dominic O' Brien, Laugh Clown Laugh released only a song titled 'Feel So Young' for the 101International 2LP compilation "Abstract" in 1984. With an equipment made of SCI Pro One mono synth, Korg MS20 mono synth, Roland TR606 drum machine, (LinnDrum on "Feel So Young"), Teac-32 2b 2 track Reel to Reel tape recorder and a Teac-2a mixer, they recorded different tracks on their living room during the 1982-84 period and they prepared a tape that I don't really know if they ever released. Anyway, decades after their recordings the Crispy Nuggets blog (crispynuggets.blogspot.com) used their "Feel So Young" on their compilation and things started to move. Troy of Medical Records got interested and contacted the band and they restored the home recordings you can find on this eleven tracks compilation (the twelfth is a dub version of "Feel So Young"). Inspired by early 80s synthpop the duo created their own style that mixed pop melodies with new wave darkness and also a certain will to experiment which you can find on certain early Depeche Mode or Yazoo tracks (for example "Big Muff" or "I Before E Except After C") as you can check on "Track 14" and "Aquarium". They had the rough coldness of synth noise as well as the warmth of those sounds and they had the freshness of kids that play with something new and the will to express themselves. As the info sheet reports: this LP will certainly appeal to fans of earliest Human League, Oppenheimer Analysis, and earliest Vince Clarke era Depeche Mode (but even more sparse). Presented on 180gram transparent orange high-quality vinyl in a limited edition. Bonus insert included as well with liner notes by Kurt B. Reighley and other tidbits. Check the whole released and purchase it here http://medicalrecords.bandcamp.com/album/laugh-clown-laugh-mr-025
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Artist: Response
Title: Creep/Resistance
Format: 12"
Label: Ingredients Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Another fresh Mancunian candidate to reign dnb scene comes from Psylence's record label Ingredients; N.Owen aka Dj Response already dropped a couple of massive tunes on the catalogue and the scene together with Lee Davenport (St Files), whose acknowledgement persuaded Ingredients headquarters to release a couple of 12" in quick succession. This is one is the second of them and includes two ironclad tracks: metallic snipping, menacing caustic low frequencies, vocal samples which depict a not-so-far-from-present dark machine-ruled age and an unflagging inflated pressure of kick-drums flounders on "Creep" before a sinister adumbrating pad-synth got injected, while on the flipside "Resistance" is a deadly roller (as well as a declaration of love for African-Jamaican stylistical roots...), whose rising nebulously bright synths and walloping drums are going to chance the rising blood pressure and respiratory drives of all those brave dancers who are going to resist to this powerful body shaker.
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