Music Reviews



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Artist: Michael Bisio (@)
Title: Travel Music
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Michael Bisio is a rather accomplished bassist. One thing that stands out on this album is that it seems to only be Bisio on the album. Although this can be a disadvantage, especially with an instrument so accustomed to accompaniment, this was not too much of an issue. At times it sounds like there are other players there, but it is all bass. Imagine almost an hour of nothing but bass ' but it didn't get boring. However, it also tended to fade into the background because it also wasn't as engaging as a more expanded group might have been. Part of this stems from the fact that he seems, for the most part, to stay true to the traditional uses of the instrument. As a comparison, consider Architeuthis Walks on Land, a bassoon and viola duo that force their instruments into making fantastic unconventional sounds. This album didn't really seem like much of a fit for ChainDLK readers. It's nice improv bass solo with covers of Human Being by Charlie Haden and Alabama by John Coltrane, but not really too experimental. This album weighs in at around 54 minutes.
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Artist: Fosdyk Well (@)
Title: Slumber and Stark Lots
Format: CD
Label: Blackcity Records (@)
Rated: *****
As usual, I had not heard of this band, but the note that came with this disc said to file under experimental folk. Fair enough, but I don't get a real sense of the experimental part of this filing. The Current 93 influence is certainly present and accounted for as mentioned in their press release, along with This Mortal Coil, which are two of my favorites (although the only influences they claim on their Myspace page is 'dreams, dusk, fragments') but it lacks a lot of the complexity of bands like Current 93, This Mortal Coil, In Gowan Ring, and the like. The feel is there, but not much of the experimental vibe. Granted, not all folk bands have Steven Stapleton in their ranks, but I would like to see Fosdyk Well mix it up a bit and go out on a limb. It's not bad, but it doesn't really push the envelope with its heavy emphasis on acoustic guitar and voice. One can easily see this band playing in a coffee house somewhere. That said, I would definitely go to see them perform because I get the sense that it would be a good show. For a first album it's a good start and I will be interested to see how they evolve. This disc is a bit short, weighing in at around 23 minutes.
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Artist: Kronomorfic (@)
Title: Micro Temporal Infundibula
Format: CD
Label: pfMENTUM (@)
Let's begin with the obvious. This is pretty much straight up jazz. Luckily for Kronomorfic, I am a fan of jazz, but let's just say that this album really doesn't belong on Chain DLK. Since one of the main members of Kronomorfic is David Borgo, who is also an Associate Professor of Music at UC San Diego, we'll use an academic analogy. When one writes a book on art criticism, they typically do not send it out for review at a physics journal. Pushing the envelope with time signatures, which is what this group focuses on, does not really put it into the realm of weirdness most Chain DLK readers are used to. OK, now that the curmudgeonliness is out of the way, let's talk about the music itself. It's pleasant jazz, and the vibraphone player is fantastic, giving it a space age bachelor pad feel. Borgo is an excellent saxophonist as well, with a flair for improvisation. Jeannot's Knife does, seem to push the envelope a bit, but much of this would be right at home on your local jazz station. It has a pretty good groove overall, but if you're looking for the next Sun Ra (and aren't we all?) you'll have to keep looking. This album weighs in at around 60 minutes.
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Artist: Legendary Pink Dots (@)
Title: The French Collection
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
I have had the pleasure of seeing the Legendary Pink Dots live, so I knew what I was in for when I got this set. I would put them in one of my top five favorite concerts that I have seen, so they definitely have a powerful stage presence. The press release for this set states: 'It started with a dusty box of DAT tapes. Perhaps it was years since anyone had listened to them despite the tantalising labels, "Paris #1", "Paris #2","Paris #3'... these tapes were a document of the Dots' one and only 3-nighter from the 10th to the 12th of March 1994 at the delightful Theatre Passage du Nord Ouest. For this special occasion, HOURS of material were prepared and delivered in the certainty that quite possibly the same 300 or so people would turn up each night. . . Sometimes the band was a little shaky but songs were played that were never heard again on a stage. . . What you hear on this collection is all from that 1994 tour culled from shows in the French capital, Marseilles and Toulouse.' This set is an excellent representation of the live experience. The songs range from raw emotion (the screams in Greengang and Premonition 13, for example, are visceral and raw) to moments of haunting beauty (such as the mournful vocals on Bella Donna and Hotel Z). The selection of tracks showcases the variety of moods that LPD are able to evoke. But overall, there is a raw quality to it that gives us a reason to go to the live show in the first place. The tracks have an improvisational feel, which allows them to sound like a psychedelic jam band at times. If you haven't had the chance to see the Legendary Pink Dots live, this is a good indication of what you're missing (but you don't see things like Niels Van Hoorn playing two saxaphones at once, as you would if you were there). It also helps those of us who can't keep up with the overwhelming discography (over 30 regular albums and counting, not including live albums) hear something new. Disc 1 weighs in at 77 minutes and disc 2 weighs in at 72 minutes.
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Artist: Nadja and Troum (@)
Title: Dominium Visurgis
Format: CD
Label: Transgredient Records (@)
Rated: *****
When I am not writing for ChainDLK, I am a university professor, and in that job I find that the most difficult papers to critique are not those in the middle, but rather those at the far ends of the spectrum. I am having a similar problem with this album. I have enjoyed Troum immensely for several years and have reviewed several works by Nadja and Aidan Baker and have been impressed by all of them. The label describes the release thus: 'This is something you could call a "dreamlike liaison". When the Canadian "avant metal
/ drone doom"-duo NADJA (who name TROUM as one of their early influences) and the German postindustrial / experimental drone pioneers TROUM (years ago active as MAEROR TRI who are still discovered by many drone-fans these days) combine their exceptional styles, they form something even vaster as usually known from them.' Evidently this was made during spontaneous improvisations with no post-recording processing or overdubs. So what happens when you have two masters come together? This is what happens. We begin with Part 1, featuring lush drones and dreamlike atmospheres (which is appropriate, as Troum takes their name from an old German word for dream). Part 2 is where Nadja's influence begins to shine, with crunchier sawtooth waves and slowly pounding percussion. Drones layer upon drones with crushing weight. If the first part was a soothing dream, this is where things get more sinister. Part 3 weighs in at 25.10, so you know you're in for a long ride. We have some respite from the nightmare, but all is not back to normal. You're walking in familiar landscapes, but wondering what is still lurking around the dark corner ahead. We are engulfed in slowly shifting bass drones and washes of static until it all dissolves into peaceful synth pads and drone. All of this comes beautifully packaged in a weathered foldout digipack. Highly recommended, but then again, you probably already knew that. The album weighs in at 49.30.
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