Music Reviews



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Artist: Lawrence English (@)
Title: For/Not For John Cage
Format: CD
Label: Line (@)
Rated: *****
If I had ignored the source of inspiration for this album was Cage's centenary, I would have surmised the appreciated Australian composer Lawrence English came under the spell of mycology or mushroom picking after reading the list of scientific names of various fungi or experienced some poisoning after eating them, even if I would have praised his work. The focus on fungi (most of you know John Cage was a mycologist, collector and consumer of mushrooms...) could be imaginatively explained by their distinctive features and particularly their nutrition, which lead to the distinction between saprophytes, symbiont or parasite, so that it seems that the mind behind Room40 collected a series of sonic organisms which sucked some lymph from the huge tree of knowledge, watered by John Cage, which fed them even with his dead leaves. This record is closely related to the soundtrack English revisited with Scott Morrison for Cage's One11, an abstract movie with no plot, completely based on a set of guidelines for takes and lighting, whose original OST, the orchestral work 103, echoes to many moments of this electronic abstract oevre as well as in the feeling of slow and sumptuous movement, a sort of quivering of ghastly and elusive entities. Notwithstanding the close connection between English's slow drones and some intuitions by Cage, the nine tracks on "For/Not For John Cage" evoke trance-like states between sleeping and waking while discolsing very catchy compositional processes by oscillating between the daydreaming soothing of "Otidea Onotica", the laudanum-like amniotic flotation of "Hygrophorus russula", the somewhat disquieting apnea of "Naematoloma sublateritium" and the ancestral mists of "Entoloma abortivum".
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Artist: Happiness Project
Title: 9th Heaven
Format: CD
Label: Boredom Product (@)
Rated: *****
Almost four years have passed since the latest Happiness Project album they self released and that I reviewed back in May 2009. At some point it seemed that they were ready to release an album for Clogsontronics, the revived label run by member of Storung, but unfortunately that project never started. Anyway, their new album "9th Heaven" is about to be released on November the fifth on Boredom Product. Recorded and produced by the band itself, the album has the additional production and mix of MemberU-0176 of Celluloide fame. The eleven new songs of "9th Heaven" are able to convince the listener thanks to a well balanced mix of melody, darkness, cool sounds and intriguing atmospheres. The rich production makes of this album a strong one where we have as main element the male/female voice alternation of Christelle and Fred (check for example "Frech And Bones" or the dancey "Poupee Mechanic"). Their vocals enrich the great instrumental work made by Cyrille and Fred. The songs sound intense and passionate and you can find upbeat hard beats, melancholic atmospheres and many synth layers that create something that goes beyond the classic synthpop stereotype and maybe for this reason, on the infos, the "cold wave" genre has been mentioned'... and we know that in the 80s we had many cool bands of that genre coming from France. Happiness Project succeeded into revive those atmospheres and made them their own.
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Artist: Luciano Maggiore & Francesco Brasini (@)
Title: How to Increase Light in the Ear
Format: CD
Label: Boring Machines (@)
Rated: *****
Both the title these Italian sonic surfers chose for their second release on Boring Machines and the tuning sounds of the very first minutes of the two very long untitled tracks they assembled to increase light in the ear could remind those "therapies" with electricity some psychiatrists experimented in order to heal some mental diseases, particularly in the first decades of last century, an association which could come to mind by means of the buzzing, which is quite similar to the one neon lamps emit in hospital's wards. Afterwards, you will notice that these guys manage to "fray" this kind of electric whiz by stretching frequencies, occasional sharpening noises and inserting tones in order to shape the initial sonic stream; while the first track sounds focused on the insertion of mechanical cracks in the foggy, but somewhat bating flow, the second track looks like an eruptive process, based on the camouflage of an obsessive click/clock with three different covers of microtonal frequencies before the underlying loud bass tone, which sounded like a distant rumble, boisterously floods in the headphones. Even if this collaboration by electronic pioneer Luciano Maggiore - member of Phonorama, an improvisation ensemble with a turn out of some of the most talented Italian electronic musicians, one of the founders of the secret venue "Sant'Andrea degli amplificatori", whose sonic research's mainly oriented to the use of magnetic tapes, electrical devices, saturation levels through speakers and sound-data - and Francesco Brasini - hyperactive guitarist and sound researcher, who is hooked on self-building of prototypes of guitars, basses, analog effects and valve-amplifiers - has been introduced as a duo, it is clear that the amalgamation of their flows by Mattia Dallara on the mixing board is so essential that he could be considered the third element. Such a release could sound not properly an easy listening one for all those people who are not accustomed to the so-called post-serial avantgarde style, but I'm pretty sure the experience this duo/trio is offering might bring them many delightful moments and neuronal pleasure as well.
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Artist: Outworld (@)
Title: Hidden Evolution Path
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: CDBaby
Rated: *****
Some might say that the unbelievable success of projects like Alien Vampires would animate several projects to express their musically path in a similar way. Also Outworld, a trio hailing out of the very south of Italy (San Severo / FG) have a past, which has its roots in a Metal-related sound-outfit, until the members decided in 2002 to establish this music-project to storm the dimension of a more Electronica-/Industrial sound-design. So far this plan has been followed with limited success and to be fair enough, I need to say in advance, that their music mixture isn't free of the notorious, nearly hatred 00ntz-00ntz attitude ('Distant Future'), which still infects authentic EBM / Dark Electro with Trance-/Techno-driven virus internationally. But - and not to lead this review in unnecessary negativity - these Italo-gentlemen have some good and own ideas plus they come up here and there with attitude, which could help them to reach a wide audience and to bridge mediocrity. 'Hidden Evolution Path' is already the fourth album of this band-project and offers some satisfying tracks with 'Scarring Memories' for example, this tune present crafty EBM bass lines and a sound-design knocking at VAC's door for entrance. Also the opulent arrangements of 'We Fall All Alone' bring a smile on the face of the listeners - dancefloor-compatibility included. Constructive criticism should be mentioned too: I would recommend them to continue generally in this direction, while a little bit help regarding professional mastering / polishing of some sound ideas wouldn't be a wrong idea. The vocals are following a bit too often that 'cookie-monster-through-whisper-box' attitude, also here a bit more own initiative can be helpful. There is nothing to complain regarding their artwork which features a text-/lyric-book and their overall dark and haunting presentation. I must admit that haven't heard of them before, so all I can rate starts with 'Hidden Evolution Path', but since they are a three-men-outfit, how are the things and reactions regarding live performances?
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Artist: Titans
Title: For the long Gone
Format: CD
Label: Progress Productions (@)
Distributor: Broken Silence
Rated: *****
A 3-men-collective from Sweden/USA and I remember to be quite entertained by their first EP 'All There Is', which came out nearly at Christmas day 2010. Musically they can be generally sorted into the Synth-/Electropop-genre, although they here and there like to give some harder dancefloor-compatible stuff more focussing to present straight old-school EBM-like bass line sequences. Globally I like their skilful sound programming and the calm, nearly sedating vocal performance. That 16tel bass-line programming is one of their most remarkable abilities and more or less always present - it allows them to enter a more late-80s/early-90s-inspired Pop-/Wave-/ Romantic-affiliation instead to be inspired by too often repetitive newer hypes - and that is not a bad reference in my book. The production of course fulfils all needs of Audiophiles. 'All There Is' may also here counts to the more calm and melodic highlights asides 'My Sorrow' - while that compilation appearance ('Born/Evolve/Progress 3') 'Dried Out' deserves a mention as well. Titans are far away to be a renovator of the scene but I would recommend checking their album out at a long car trip - their calm and unobtrusive sound programming, the well sounding male vocals, the crystal-clear production with a top-notch mastering by Hakan Ãkesson at Mutidstudio results in a good album worth a check.
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