Music Reviews



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Artist: Jim Connolly with the Gove County String Quartet & Anna Abbey (@)
Title: It’s Only Gravity that Makes Wearing a Crown Painful
Format: CD
Label: pfMentum (@)
I like experimental classical. For example, Architeuthis Walks on Land, which I recently reviewed, had a fantastic use of viola and bassoon that made me question how they were even playing the instruments that I thought I was familiar with. However, this for the most part seemed like standard classical music to me. If I were writing for a classical outlet, this would be a much different review, but for Chain DLK this just didn't go far enough. I enjoyed the music ' it was quite pleasant and the artists are quite skilled. Also, 'Why Won't You Be My Neighbor?' which is a cover of the Mister Roger's Neighborhood theme song, was cool. But I could totally hear this on my local NPR station without even noticing that anything was amiss. I double checked to see if I'm just too jaded by having my wife listen to it and she also agreed with my assessment. After all, the presence of a toy piano still didn't seem to push the envelope much. I found myself wondering when it would really let loose, but it never did. The closest it really gets is 'There Are Some Things That Even A 500 Year Old Tree Has Not Seen' and 'Tealight No. 12,' with their interesting dissonance and staccato poundings. They would probably be a good group to see perform (and they do) but don't go expecting anything crazy.
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Artist: Zweizz & Joey Hopkins (@)
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Jester Records
Distributor: Neuropa Records
Rated: *****
OK, first off, I'll admit that at first I thought that this was a Sleep Chamber side project. However, that would be John Zewizz, so such confusion should be understandable. This recording was created before the death of Joey Hopkins, so this was the first and last collaboration between these two. Said Zweizz, 'I have tried to make an album that both his mother and the rest of his family can remember him by as well as being a statement that lives up to my somewhat idiosyncratic artistic standards. And of course, I can just assume that Joey would have approved of the songs in their respective final states. It can be difficult to kill the darlings of a friend who has already went onwards.' Zweizz describes the album thus: 'Electronic, hectic like a can of worms, some pop surfaces, distorted, melodic most of the time, some black metal influences, some IDM influences. IT'S LIKE A GOLEM.' This is noisy stuff, but not really noise in the traditional sense. The best way to describe it is to take samples of everything from spoken word to circus music and run them through a damaged AM radio and then put them together. This album is all over the place. Some, like 'Black Strobes' and 'Bimbo Rimjob,' could almost be considered dancy noise in an Autechre / early FSOL meets Industrial Strength Records sort of way. Some are just noisy and others have spastic beats driving the whole merry go round faster and faster. The closest comparison I can think of is Satanicpornocultshop. I'm really not sure what to make of it because overall it was a mixed bag. Some were good, others were kind of boring. Your mileage may vary. This album is pressed on translucent green vinyl.
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Artist: Fires Were Shot
Title: Awakened by a Lonely Feud
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Quiet Design (@)
Rated: *****
I had not previously heard of the Austin Texas duo. Here's how the label describes this album: 'In 'awakened by a lonely feud,' FWS carry on a time worn tradition, unraveling minimalist motives and gathering emotional richness along the way. Equal parts refinement, melody and textural grit, 'awakened' unveils breathtaking organic and ambient themes of discovery, finality, and renewal.' This is a double album set, so let's talk about the first record. This is peaceful guitar music. However, it really doesn't seem to push the envelope much. It's nice, but not what I'd call experimental. We do get some hints of this on 'Get On and Carried Out,' which features some backlooped guitar sequences, but in general I would file this under music for people who are afraid of experimental music. The second record is more what I was expecting. The soundscapes are a bit more ethereal and much more lush. Perhaps part of it comes with taking a whole side to fill out one or two compositions. 'This Shirt Makes it Rain' takes up an entire side and is a mixture of minimal instrumentation and field recordings of rainfall and water. It's kind of soothing, even if it is a bit repetitive. If you like guitar based ambience, this album is a possibility. This album weighs in at around 56 minutes according to the website.
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Artist: Blue Sausage Infant
Title: Negative Space
Format: 12"
Label: Zeromoon
Rated: *****
Blue Sausage Infant is the project of one Chester Hawkins, who, according to the the liner notes, plays such instruments as synths, bulbul tarang, lapsteel guitar, electric toothbrush, and plastic teeth. Yeah, that last one was a new one on me (or more accurately the first time it has been explicitly mentioned). The only thing I had previously heard from this project was on a compilation that I recently reviewed, but it was a good track. Here's how the label describes it: 'A strong mix of kosmische electronics, heavy spacerock, and deep analog drone. Sprawling, long-form psychedelic excursions with a nod towards the experimental side of '70s Krautrock, but with roots firmly planted in uncharted 21st century strangeness.' Yes, the strangeness is definitely here, but it's a good kind of strange. Since there are only three tracks, I'll just talk about each. 'Motion Parallax' starts us off with a repetitive theme that permeates the song, giving it a hypnotic quality. Rhythms, noises, and difficult to understand spoken word wanders through the song as well, keeping it all interesting, even as the theme gives the composition some cohesiveness. At just over 21 minutes, this track takes up a whole side but doesn't really get tiresome. Well done. I turned the album over to start the other side. It seems that there was a mistake at the pressing plant though and they accidentally put Hawkwind on this side. Well, no, but it is the closest comparison I could come up with. 'Negative Space,' which starts us off with a rocking drum beat mixed with droning synths. Here comes the space rock. Typically I wouldn't be as into this, but it is really well done. Lots of groovy analogue noises and grinding guitars. It's a fun listen. The last track, 'Subferal,' throws down some droning noise. This is also a bit repetitive, but not quite as interesting as 'Motion Parallax.' For me this was the weakest track on the album - fortunately it was only 6 minutes long, so if one had to be weak this was the one. Although I do picture someone hearing the previous track and getting it and then getting assaulted with this and it makes me smile. The album itself is pressed on translucent grey mottled vinyl. Overall a pretty good release. This weighs in at around 42 minutes.
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Artist: Spiracle (@)
Title: Evestrum
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records (@)
First off, let's have a moment of silence for the final installment of the drone 7' series. 100 releases later, Drone is moving on to other projects. I will miss it though. Anyway, the last person to grace the series is Spiracle. I had not heard of this project, but it is the work of Hitoshi Kojo, who runs the label Octpia. Here's how the label describes it: 'two pieces of sublime Drone-Muzak are placed, mesmerizing and mind-expanding sonic clouds. The two tracks Evestrum and Exusiai are 'focused on the physicality and the osmosis of the sound' as Hitoshi describes it. The acoustic basis-material comes from a glass harp, resonated trumpets, metal sheets & electronics. A kind of sonographical report of a process that a 'subtle spiritual existence merges into a physical body and becomes tangible through the senses.'' The first track, 'Evestrum,' is a pretty intense slab of heavy mid-range pitched drone. It moves slowly, guiding you along with harmonies and dissonance all woven together into a hypnotic whole. Side B gives us 'Exusiai,' which is a bit more varied than Evestrum. One gets the sense of being at an orchestra during the warm up period as different sounds enter and leave the composition. Where Evestrum was slow and steady, Exusiai is more pulsating and fitful. As with all Drone releases, this comes beautifully packaged with a handmade gauze cover and clear silver vinyl.
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