Music Reviews



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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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Artist: Wyrm
Title: Divination Bones
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records (@)
I had not heard of Wyrm, a duo consisting of Allan Zane and Liz Lang, but I was familiar with some of the previous projects that this duo had been involved with, such as Rats With Wings, GX Jupitter-Larsen, and Nocturnal Emissions. Here's how the label describes the record: 'The droning world of WYRM (an old word for 'serpent') appears to be at the same time raw & inaccessible, but then also subtle and mysterious. Crackling noises, granular sounds, waving drones, and more undescribable acoustic objects form an 'other dimension' of its very own. The music seems to point to existential archaic areas in our mind that are unaccessible but somehow known. A definite must for fans of abstract drone experimentalism in the way of early Hafler Trio or Brume.' So let's see how the music stands up to this. Side A is 'Divination Bones.' I made the mistake the first time of playing it on 33rpm rather than on 45, which produced an interesting kind of high pitched seemingly digital noise that is hard to describe. Once I made sure my turntable was on the same page with me, the digital noise (think a really sped up modem transmission sample, is the best way I can describe it) was still there, but mixed with some nice droning ambience. Interesting stuff, but for me the noise got in the way. Side B, 'Adam Coils,' takes a similar trajectory of combining noise with ambience. For this one it seems like the noise blends better with the composition as a whole, rather than detracting from it. As with all Drone releases, this comes beautifully packaged as an abstract picture disc with hand painted cover. By the way, the vinyl on this is HEAVY. You could use this thing as a weapon.
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Artist: Hunters (@)
Title: Hands on Fire
Format: CD EP
Label: Aagoo (@)
Distributor: Cargo
Rated: *****
This mini-album by Brooklyn-based Hunters seems to be an instinctive reaction to some coldness freezing music scene through an invitation addressed to the listeners in order to warm them up. That mumbling distortion on guitar, that rolling bass on scratching lead guitar which is able to grab listener's attention together with a sort of marching step, a nice trick massively used by bands such as Sand or M.A.S.S., and the nice shilly-shally between acidulously shrill voice by Isabel Almeida and the sore one by Derek Watson in the initial "Deadbeat" are persuading enough, but you're going to definitively join to Hunters circus while listening a wide stylistical weaponry...I particularly reccomend the furious sonic vortex Derek plays to swallw the listener up after a nice self-echoing vocal steadiness close to Ladytron's way of singing showed by Isabel in Brat Mouth and the engaging guitar "grimaces" leading the melody, pitched up and down in a dramatic way, as well as the sardonic and seducing singing of the final Acid Head...their ruffled little rascal-like have already seduced Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs who mixed this little pearl and James Iha, former member of Smashing Pumpkin, involved in the final production of the release and I'm pretty sure their cheeky shoegazing could seduce many other art-punk, wave and rock chewers.
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