Music Reviews



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Artist: Celer & Machinefabriek (@)
Title: Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake
Format: 7"
Label: Machinefabriek (@)
Rated: *****
"What'd he look like?"
"I don't know. He didn't lift his head up. He could've been... just anybody."

A disembodied voice, a tape snippet, inquires, on Maastunnel, the A Side to this auspicious pairing of these two giants of drone. 'Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake' came about after Machinefabriek & Celer played a show together in Tokyo in 2010, and was released to coincide with an upcoming European tour, so we will most likely hear more from these combined heads.

Both Machinefabriek & Celer are hyper-prolific, nigh-on legendary in the ambient/drone/field recordings microcosm, so what happens when they get together? That's why i started with that quote, it is a fine example of the egolessness of both artist's work, an almost slavish devotion to the 'sound', the 'work'. Tasteful in the extreme, you can hear the individual spirit of each, the squeaky field recordings that are Machinefabriek's hallmark, the drifting, cloud-like melodies Celer is known for. The overall effect achieved, is a sonic world, an auditory hallucination, with Machinefabriek creating the space for Celer to score, events unfolding, humans interacting with the inanimate.

'Maastunnel' is the more pastoral of the two, which is funny as its named after a tunnel, but its tinkling, splashing water give a sense of the outdoors. 'Mt. Mitake', named after the mountain to the west of Tokyo, is a more sci-fi affair, think Vangelis, think Klaus Schulze - dreamy, futuristic, floating. The pair make for more colorful drones and inner-visions than the monochromatic blur often found in the more industrial cadre of this style.

'Maastunnel/Mt. Mitake' is an exercise in restraint, in good taste. They show respect for one another, the music, and the listener. The whole shebang clocks in at a scant ten-minutes, which means you will spend a lot of time hitting play, or flipping over this little gem. Poring over its intricacies. Makes for pleasant company in the morning, if you want to keep that dreamy vibe going. I'm looking forward to hearing more from these two.
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Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Bass Warriors 2
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Devine Disorder Records (@)
Rated: *****
About 2 and a half years after "Bass Warriors" (DDR 014), the excellent Devine Disorder Records label releases the sequel, a mini compilation of dark electro tracks by some of the finest producers around.
"Bass Warriors 2" gathers in a 5-track EP the talents of Dwellz (label's head honcho), Mike Ash, Rawtary, Zerodouble and Dexterous Numerics. Sound is ranging from the futuristic dystopia of "Amoeba" (fly track by Dwellz) to the tough funk of "Bass Man" (Zerodouble), through the experimental vibes of "Freaky Bitch" (my fav track by Lithuania's finest, Rawtary) and the more straightforward dark electro of "Flying Saucer" and "Dannz" (by the one and only Mike Ash and an extremely talented newcomer in the electrofunk scene, Dexterous Numerics, respectively).
Mastered to perfection by a man (or... machine?!) who needs no introduction, R21, this is a release you just can't miss. It will be available digitally by Sunday, Feb 26, so, all you freaks, save some bucks for a heavy dose of electro dopeness!
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Artist: Burial
Title: Kindred EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Hyperdub
Rated: *****
Remixing the city

The Kindred EP is the latest trickle from enigmatic producer Burial, aka William Bevan, the first we've heard since last year's Street Halo. Burial seems intent on focusing on the less-is-more solution to media overload: less publicity, scarce amount of tracks, and as such, his work always seems very well-considered, intentional. It always seems special.

The three tracks that make up Kindred are a late-night headphone journey, calling upon the familiar sonic landmarks of urban dwelling: phone crackle, eavesdropped music, subway rumble, raindrops. Its like he incorporates the environment, as well as the music, making a beautiful Frankenstein's monster of field recording and score; cinematic. The overall effect leaves a rich, ineffable residue: many chalk it up to nostalgia, a faded reminiscence, but it is deeper and weirder than that. Burial conjures WORLDS, but doesn't tell you what they are. He merely creates auditory scenarios, and leaves the listener to be the judge.

Burial's always done his own thing, remaining anonymous for a long time, remaining aloofs from trends and fads. His recorded output is ethereal and mysterious, he merely produces the sounds that he likes to hear, and lets high falutin' journalists like me hash out the end result. The three tracks on Kindred are all rather lengthy, and it makes for a sonic journey, an imaginary cinema. This is music to trip out to, to relax to, to live with. Not to discern and quantify. Its music of the boundaries, of the periphery. I like to imagine Bevan riding the bus, in London at night, listening to the tires on wet pavement, listening to conversations. Kindred is what it sounds like to be a loner, to be drifting through time and space.
His outsider perspective makes Burial's music such a deep, intimate experience. It references techno, is obviously steeped in the tradition, but with the textures and the production, it makes for an emotional, unified whole, that is intelligent, cerebral, emotional, and danceable all at the same time.

I first heard of Dubstep in reference to Burial, and Kode9's Hyperdub label, and became addicted to its post-industrial grime and decay, its bio-mechanical gothic elegance. I became disgusted, and discouraged, when the Americans took it, and reduced it to the formulaic LFO wobble that is the mating cry of Bros the world over. It is refreshing to get back to my roots, to hear a master of his craft, and to watch a producer making innovative, intelligent, heart-felt music. It restores my faith in techno.

Kindred is available for download, from the Hyperdub website, and there's a vinyl release in the pipeline.

Highly recommended
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Artist: ATTRITION
Title: The Truth In Dark Corners
Format: CD
Label: Other Voices Records
Rated: *****
In the last years Attrition reissued all their old albums and also some rarities (see the Vinyl On Deman "Demostro 1981-1986" double LP release), so it was quite a surprise to see this Other Voices release. "The Truth In Dark Corners" is a recording of live tracks coming from the band's 1985 Holland tour plus a closing track coming from a London gig. Back then Attrition were releasing their second album "Smiling, At The Hypogonder Club" on Third Mind and this release contains many tracks coming from that one plus "Shrinkwrap" (which was a single) and two unreleased tracks "In The Attic" and "The Aftermath". Formed on those days by Martin Bowes, Marianne Teunissen and Alex Novak, the band was creating their distinctive darkwave electronic sound which was capable to mix danceable rhythms and electronic experimental attitude. "The Truth In Dark Corners" contains good recordings of classic Attrition's tracks (or at least they are what I consider their classics) like "Mind Drop" or "Pendulum Turns" and here you can listen them sounding direct and powerful. These recordings represent quite well the essence of the band on those days so I don't consider this album only a release for hard core fans. As artwork you'll find photos taken by Justin Mitchell back then. I'm quite sure that if you a long time reader of our magazine you know this guy, because when he knew Attrition he was an electronic music enthusiast who became their friend but soon after he founded Cold Spring Records.
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Artist: ELEVEN POND
Title: Bas-Relief
Format: CD
Label: Other Voices Records
Rated: *****
Coming from Rochester, NY, Eleven Pond released only an album for their own label Game Hen Records in 1986. After that release they faded away like they never existed. Those eleven tracks were like lost in oblivion before Dark Entries decided to reissue that album in 2009. The last year, the Russian label Other Voices, released on CD a new reissue mastered by Attrition's Martin Bowes. "Bas Relief", shows a band that was able to mix different influences into their sound: new wave, shoegaze, post punk and synthpop were the genres that excited Dan Brumley, Jeff Gallea, James Tabbir and Jack Schaeffer. The album opens with two gems: "Tear And Cinnamon" (musically it reminds me of Bauhaus' "She's In Party") and "Watching The Trees" (this one is a synthpop hit with catchy melodies). On the following "Days Hence" and "Tightrope" they recall the best 4AD bands of the likes of early Modern English. "Portugal" calls in synthpop music again and it sounds fresh and convincing. "Asterisk" and "Moving Nowhere" sound new wave with a bit of pop easyness. Other tracks I enjoyed particularly are "Temporal" and "Ignorant Father". The first has a sensual almost melancholic atmosphere while the latter is a post punk intriguing song with guitar feedbacks and drum machine beats. Mixing dark atmospheres and fresh ideas coming from a personal interpretation of late 70s/early 80s alternative sounds, Eleven Pond created this nice record and now you're able to enjoy it again!
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