Music Reviews



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Artist: T.A.C. (@)
Title: Chaosphere
Format: CD
Label: Old Europa Cafe (@)
Rated: *****
Fifteen years after its completion, "Chaosphere", the "lost" album by Italian industrial act T.A.C. recorded between November 1997 and February 1998 in New York as a sequel of their previous album "Apotropaismo", has finally been released by band mastermind Simon Balestrazzi on renowned label Old Europa Cafe. Simon didn't dissemble the fact it was heavily influenced by Andrej Tarkovskij's masterpieces "Solaris" and "Stalker" or it's better to say by the impressive soundscape based on a wise deployment of music, diegetic sounds, dialogues, their sonic representation of internal psychological and emotional processes and crisis of characters and the osmotic emphaty they succeed in establishing with viewers, coming from the strict collaboration between Tarkovskij and the genial composer of scores Edward Artemyev. The cover artwork itself quotes both movies: the original Soviet poster of Solaris, where psychlogist Kris Kelvin (performed by Lithuanian actor Donatas Banionis) was portrayed inside a triangle, whose vertex coincided with the centre of the central sphere, replaced by heartless and acephalous character (maybe Porcupine, Stalker's predecessor of the main character of the other plot) on T.A.C.'s artwork, and the dark waters of the subterranean tunnels the protagonists of Stalker had to cross to reach the so-called Zone or maybe the ones which appears when Dr.Kelvin shows the film about his life to fictional Hari, related to Peter Bruegel's painting "The Hunters In The Snow", after the notorious levitation scene, on the background. The deformation of the typical noise of a movie camera on the introduction of the mindblowing "Ocean Sonique", the haunting drones of laminar flow on the hypnotic initial track "Despite", the obliqueness of claustrophobic wide-open transitions of "The Sluggish Larvae Of An Antique Syntax" or "Imperceptibility", the nightmarish aspic of sonic clues on "Non Form" and "This Language Of Flesh and Blood", the sinister stroboscopic quivers on "Crystallize", the quotation of Oriental flutes of Stalker's theme on "Nodal Points" with sonic clues which recall the sequence of dream of that movie and many other elements over the album have many hooks to the abstract and somehow surreal journeys of Tarkovskij's movies, whose grip on viewer and adimensional wriggles seem to have been emphasized by T.A.C.'s exploration of Chaosphere, which resounds within a really visionary halo mostly by means of Balestrazzi's glorious rescued VCS3 synthesizer and other few devices.
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Artist: John Foxx and The Maths
Title: Evidence
Format: CD
Label: Metamatic (@)
Rated: *****
This third album of the lavish collaboration between former Ultravox! front-man musician Dennis Leigh aka John Foxx and East London-based sorcerer of synthesizers Ben "Benge" Edwards aka The Maths, a winning twosome of electronic music pioneers, is, unbelievable but true, even better than their previous releases, "Interplay" and "The Shape Of Things", and maybe the best act with the reassuring signature of John Foxx after Ultravox!'s gilded age. The solid bond between John's songwriting, which sometimes seems to come from parallel dimensions, and Benge's sonic wizardry, which adapts modern structures to sonic antiquary, generates out-of-time euphonic freaks and such a complementarity is clear both on more rhythm-focused tracks, particularly on the first half of the record, and on more weird stuff, so that listeners could be under the impression to handle with mysterious perfectly polygonal objects with an inner secret gnostic code, clockworks and equations about universal principles, whose origin and function are unknown, while digging into their sound. They don't stood still while veering towards more dubby and atmospheric declensions, which could vaguely resemble the elliptically mesmerizing dub diversion on "Heligoland" by Massive Attack, Japan's most interesting period just before its disbandment (accordings to some biographers for the "dictatorial" behaviour by David Sylvian) and electronic pop. Besides the "kraftwerkian" cover of Pink Floyd's "Have A Cigar" and the reciprocal remixes with Gazelle Twin - their tip-top remix of "Changelings" and Gazelle Twin's remix of "A Falling Star" where you could imagine Foxx surrounded by enchanting singing mermaids are undoubtedly the most striking moments of the whole album -, there are many great moments: the chewing clappy pad-synths over a sort of electronic oral rinse on the icy ego-trip of "My Town", the dreamlike stroll by Foxx on electronic promenades of "Walk", the refined electronic-pop papules of "That Sudden Switch" with the support of NY-based duo of Xeno and Oaklander, the conversation of a sleeper (performed by Matthew Dear from Ghostly International) in his own dreams on the heady nightmarish obliqueness of "Talk (Beneath Your Dream)" and its rehash on Moog by Tara Busch, the narcotic dub drops of "Neon Vertigo", the entrancing existential nag of the title track, featuring Luis Vasquez from The Soft Moon and the proper evidence of this album, coming together scattered evidences of evergreen style, the sweetened nostalgia "Only Lovers Left Alive", whose melody was found on an old-discarded reel-to-reel and becomes more enjoyable after the prepaparation of the emotional field by the electronic harp of the preceding track "Myriads".
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Artist: Mathématiques Modernes
Title: Les Visiteurs Du Soir
Format: 12"
Label: Medical Records
Rated: *****
Originally released in 1981 by the Dorian / Discque Vogue label and distributed by Celluloid, "Les Visiteurs Du Soir" has been the only Mathematiques Modernes album. Formed by Claude Arto (on keyboards, he also worked with French bands Artefact and Spions) and Edwige Braun-Belmore (vocals and lyrics), the duo produced an album which is a very unique one. I don't know if you're keen of 60s music but it was usual for the bands of that period to record an album and to have strings and blows sections added. That sort of things happened, for example, to The Pretty Things on their "Sorrows" album and to The Shadows Of Knight, the year after, on 1968, for their self titled album. The first time I checked 'Les Visiteurs Du Soir', I thought: what's happening here? Do they did add strings and horns on purpose? Did they do that on a synthpop/new wave album because they wanted to? Reading the liner notes of the release I didn't find an answer but after a while I realized that this musical arrangement is still particular but it fits and enriches the songs. Take, for example, "Reponds Moi" which sounds like a cabaret song, or the minimal synth cold sounds of the following "Athletical Mystery" that are underlined by strings dissonant melodies and syncopated drum patterns. Since from the opening "Paris Tokyo", the album stands out and convince the listener that is able to go ahead the initial effect that the orchestral parts give. For this reissue, Medical Records, had the tape masters restored and remastered by Gilbert Castro of Celluloid Records himself. The reissue is identical to the original release and it's printed in 180gram grey opaque high-quality vinyl in a limited edition of 1000 hand-numbered copies. The insert included contains an interview to Claude Arto by Dave Segal plus other interesting tidbits. Check a couple of tracks and order your copy here http://medicalrecords.bandcamp.com/album/les-visiteurs-du-soir
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Artist: KMFDM (@)
Title: Kunst
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
The dreadnought KMFDM is maybe the most long-lived industrial dance act even if they often spin self-referring subjects as it happens on the heavily beating initial title-track of their new assault to dancefloors, "Kunst" (their 25th album!), where they quotes some of their previous songs and references, a combustive browsing which connects dots like their imaginary guardian angel (Juke Joint Jezabel) they invoked in their album "Nihil" (1995), the drug against war they patented in "Angst" (1993), the son of a gun they conceived on "Xtort" (1996), supposedly from spit sperm of "Symbols" (1997) by some itchy bitchy mother, portrayed on "What Do You Know, Detschland?" (2007) after casual insemination by some pomaded tacker, who got worried after he knew KMFDM could similarly stand for a death warrant against cultural uniformity ("Kein Mehrheit fur die Mitleid", grammatically incorrect solution of KMFDM acronym meaning "No Majority For Pity", or "Kein Mitleid fur die Mehrheit", id est "No Pity For The Majority" ...) and their shepherds ("Kill MotherFucking Depeche Mode"). After this tracking shot/overview, they throw nine grenades: some of them could sound quite predictable for people who follow them from time immemorial, particularly when they highlight the metal constituent of their blend such as on "Ave Maria", a song which sounds like a parody of market-oriented blasphemy by Marilyn Manson (I don't think the resemblance of distorted guitar riff with the one on "Beutiful People" is fortuitous), "Pseudocide" or the mutating "Hello", even if the insertion of blunt electronic handholds tempers these hooks to more metal-oriented stuff. The most relevant aspect is the fact they managed to shield their iconoclastic attitude, which oozes from any semantic and stylistical orifices of this album: their blow torches point cultural market customs on "The Next Big Thing" ("Mutinous bastards on a treacherous sea/Popes and pastors full of lurid deeds/Whores and harlots spilling seed/pigs and fascists/The next big thing"), fraternize with Pussy Riot on the same titled song by means of contagious electro-metal grooves which sound like chainsaws ("Pussy riot/Hear us roar/An army of tits/Down for the cause/Mother daughter sister unite/rise out of silence/Stand up and fight" where the "dirty" second voice by Sascha Konietzko, whose persuading versatility demonstrates to be in excellent shape just like the talnted singer Lucia Cifarelli, could resemble past vocal roars by Trent Reznor) and moral turpitude of some stupid ethic codes. Their collaboration with Swedish industrial rock band Morlocks, "The Mess You Made", is a proper sonic jewel and the cherry on top in "Kunst", which will presumably enhance many electro-propelled clubs. Long life to KMFDM!
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Artist: Jasper TX (@)
Title: An Index Of Failure
Format: 12"
Label: Handmade Birds (@)
Distributor: Thrill Jockey
Rated: *****
After nine albums and many tours all around the world, it seems that Swedish talented multi-instrumentalist Dag Rosenqvist wants to put an end to his project Jasper TX, whose name was taken from a village in Eastern Texas where a brutal racist homicide, the one of James Byrd, occurred in June 1998, and I have to say the awareness this is the last Japer TX act accentuates the mood of epic sadness which pervades the lead line of its sound. The dark foxfire begins to glimmer since the introductive track, even if the first weeping tones, which could reemble some stuff by Archive or, if you know collaborative projects by Rosenqvist, From The Mouth Of The Sun, could sound more intimistic than solemnly epic before the electroacoustic gloss of the final part, which more vividly shines in the following track "In All Your Blinding Lights" and sinks into sidelight in "Rivers Flow", which initially looks like a reprise of "Abandon" and then turns into a more radiant and even more graceful atmosphere by means of pad-synths and touching murmur of low frequencies which sets it ablaze. On the flipside, the intial narcosis of an entrancing mist grows into a somehow deafening electrical storm on "A New Language", which precedes the lovely epidural elegy of "Days Above The Tide", whose somber marching advance could recall some epic peaks of "Angels of The Universe" soundtrack by Hilmar Orn & Sigur Ros. "An Index of Failure" is definitively a proper way to scatter cremation Jasper TX's ashes over heavy seas.
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