Music Reviews

Artist: The Host (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
Analogies between productive activities of music labels (and laboratories!) and factories which makes blenders and other kitchen-aid tools are nowadays more relevant than in the past, but this is not to be considered a pejorative exemplification, especially if whisked and beaten stuff tastes good and assortment of recipes is so rich! Well, you could object against such an association with arguments related to commodity economics, as thinking to a factory of blenders could evoke an imaginary crowded by backcombed housewives exhibiting seducing plastic smiles, but I'm pretty sure you will easily recognize these new musical features by skillful electronic juggler Barry Lynn (most known as Boxcutter) are somehow vintage, even if that lovely nostalgic affection he translates into sonic language has been addressed to the glorious dawn of internet (or better its achievement as a mass phenomenon, maybe second best just to scratch'n'win lotteries or porn movies) as you may guess from the references you'll notice by giving the tracklist a cursory glance or just by pressing "play" button and listening the initial tracks, "NeoGeocities" (many of you should recognise The Host mentions Geocities, a notorious free web-hosting serive, now active just in Japan, maybe a possible explanation of the fact this track features that kind of harmonics, which are associated to Japanese electronic music's sonorities), where there's a combination of analog and digital sonic pulses, as well as sounds which look like having been grabbed from old and new modems, including some modulations of the unmistakable raspberry coming from old analogic modem after dialing provider's telephone number, and "Angel Fire" (another glorious ISP belonging to Internet's golden age), where a guitar played with the typical palm mute technique has been perfectly set into a flowing stream of synth pads and spirited 808 drumming. This sort of historical re-enactment runs in parallel to an exhumation of sonic stimulations - often stuffed with that space-rock cream of effected guitars - which are able to evoke that sort of daydreaming period and its promising load of progressionist expectations, a bunch of hopes ideally watered by Juno-106 smelling arpeggiated synths of "Hidden Ontology", the faint lights evoked by the brightful melodies of tracks like "3AM Surfing" and "Summer Solstice at Cape Canaveral" (my favorite track of the whole album), the relaxing and balancing mood of "Aeontology", evoking that kind of extatic feelings awaken while observing northern light shows, the nocturnal reverie of the final track "Birthday Blubells" and so on. In many moments of the record, you could be overwhelmed by a "paradise lost"-like childish nostalgia and particularly if you're an IT senior manager of some collapsing company or a broker who made good deals when Internet speculative bubbles used to fluctuate in stock markets, The Host's sonorities are going to inject that kind of bittersweet feeling you could experience while glancing through a photobook with a plenty of shots immortalizing your first birthdays' parties.
Artist: School of Seven Bells
Title: Ghostory
Format: CD
Label: Vagrant/Ghostly International (@)
Distributor: Revolver/Midheaven
Rated: *****
'Everyone has ghosts', says Alejandra Deheza, the voice of School of Seven Bells. 'They're every love you've ever had, every hurt, every betrayal, every heartbreak. They follow you, stay with you.' Ghostory tells the story of Lafaye, a young girl surrounded by ghosts.

There's something ghostly about Alejandra Deheza's vocals; she remains detached, aloof, drifting above the beats and soundscapes conjured by guitarist/producer Benjamin Curtis. Mining the rich ore of gloomy British music from the past 3 decades, they condense and refine Bernard Sumner's ringing guitars, like on album opener 'The Night', with submersive dubstep sub-bass, with Deheza's vocals sprinkled like confectioner's sugar over slick club beats, to create a mutant strain of darktranceshoegaze. With a distinctive DSP sheen, reminiscent of Ulrich Schnauss or M83's epic grandeur, there is also a decided lack of grit and muscle. Many have declared this record destined for high-end clothing boutiques and cafe's the world over, best to be politely ignored, but it successfully evokes an otherworldly quality, like being wrapped in cotton or sterile gauze. It is the sound of a detached eye, floating through hyper-saturated, overly colorful streets, feeling like a stranger.

On Ghostory, SVIIB have pared down to a duo, after the departure of longtime member Claudia Deheza, making Ghostory a more intimate, organic affair, with Alejandra Deheza and Ben Curtis jamming and writing in real-time, more of an interplay than a bricolage of bric-a-brac, but i still don't get the feeling that they are in a room together, like they're afraid to look at each other. Alejandra Deheza is the wind; Curtis is the rising tide.

The superb production guarantees that Ghostory will sound great through a club's PA, and tracks like 'Low Times' or 'White Winds', with their infectious disco grooves, will be instant DJ favorites, with the gorgeous and open 'Reappear' will slacken the ecstacy hangover. School of Seven Bells have released an impressive body of work, so far, and they show themselves to be constantly evolving. I saw them live, at a Ghostly International showcase in Seattle this last summer, and was blown away by their stage-show, more Radiohead than Tiesto, and proved to me that School of Seven Bells, and almost everything on Ghostly International, is worth paying attention to.
Artist: Maciek Szymczuk & Slowtion (@)
Title: Ways
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
Filing what this bicephalous project by Polish electronic composer Maciek Szymczuk and British musician Julian Coope aka Slowtion submit to listeners' attention is not so easy. In spite of the fact that their sonic streams where Maciek's wife Joanna sometimes drains some enchanting ethereal vocalizations - in many moments they have almost a "didactic" role...a sort of seducing guide through the stages of this "trip" - have been framed with possibly interesting references to an imaginary spiritual research aimed to represent the constant unravelling by most of human beings between clues, proofs and complexities in order to reach a contact with the so-called Absolute, the musical complexity due to its richness of supposedly unintentional cross-reference marks appears head and shoulders above any possible conceptual framework to me: even though it seems "Ways" partially represents the wide stylistical lawns and wolds Maciek Szymczuk normally fertilizes during his personal musical explorations and could be considered somehow "minimalist" as most of tracks are not obstructed with a plenty of sounds, you're going to listen many interesting crossbreeds of elements taken from diverse musical branches. In tracks such as "Northern Wind", "The Hills", "Step By Step" or "Windy North" there're interesting examples of bizarre hybridization between the so-called "click'n'cut" electronic style with movements and intuitions taken from post-rock, trip hop or dark ambient so that moments when past listenings resurface from some depth of musical memory are not so infrequent. For instance I had sometimes the impression of listening to the dried version of some post-rock bands or the sabbatic transposition of some post-punk voices (and in a moment I felt like listening a record by The Soft Moon broadcasted filtered by some esoteric sound machine borrowed from Sleep Chamber's studio!). The possibility to understand and appreciate the narrative concatenations of this record so that the final track, titled "Go Through The Green Gate", will sound not just like a good piece of dub-like ritual ambient but more as the final moment of a process (or supposedly as the very initial moment of a new one...), mostly depends on listener's sensitivity, both from an aesthetic viewpoint and from a spiritual one.
Artist: Paintings for Animals (@)
Title: Thee Body ov Worship
Format: Tape
Label: House of Alchemy (@)
Rated: *****
Paintings for Animals is a solo-project of Pær Sv, a sweet noise drone magician operating up here in the Pacific Northwest. He is the originator of the Seattle Occultural Music Festival. He's got the usual prodigious pyrochastic flow commonly found amongst noise musicians. On Thee Body ov Worship, out on House of Alchemy, he has manufactured 40 minutes of interstellar drift, split between the two halves of the cassette. Like Uroboros Thee Body ov Worship works well as a locked groove time warp, the two lengthy compositions, 'Moon Psalm' and 'Sun Psalm' chase each other across the sky, feedbacking into each other, dovetailing...

Like the best kosmische music, Thee Body ov Worship gives a euphoric sense of weightlessness. But this void is neither cold nor dead, it is like floating in navy blue ink full of stars. I couldn't get enough of this one, spinning it over and over, after my roommate and i conjured the plateau of leng out of thin air. I was in a pleasant lull, Thee Body ov Worship unspooling around me like a Persian Tiger. It reminds me a lot of an album by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma that came out a few years ago, Floating Weeds, that i used to listen to a lot as i was raking leaves. People that like Brian Eno's 'Discreet Music', wish that Lustmord would cheer up just a little bit , or Natural Snow Building's monumental effigies will dig this. They only made 75 of these, so don't miss it.

It looks like House of Alchemy is putting out a mad array of quality goods, i will be keeping an eye out.
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Title: The Shape Of Things
Format: CD
Label: Metamatic Records
Rated: *****
"The Shape Of Things" is the follow up to "Interplay", which was the first John Foxx And The Maths album. The project born from the collaboration of Foxx with electronic composer and synthesizer collector, Benge (Ben Edwards), who is best known for his 2008 album "Twenty Systems". Composed just using analog synths the Maths isn't an archeological project as for John Foxx is like to be back to "the place of the murder", because he already used those keyboards on his early days (I saw a photo where he program one of those with notes of patches he did decades ago) and it's like he went back to find a new creative vein. "Interplay" already showed how well the duo interaction worked and if that album was sounding bright and energetic with some epic moments (like "Destination"), "The Shape Of Things" is like it's the darker sister album. Containing short instrumentals (like the opening "Spirus" or "Psytron" and "Astoria", to name few) which set an intimate atmosphere that sounds a little experimental, the first song "Rear-View Mirror" seems to come from "The Garden" or "Metamatic" albums. Foxx and Benge sure know how to create a gem alternating arpeggios to catchy melodic lines. "Talk" has a menacing bass sound and a fragmented rhythm line and John sounds like in trance. "September Town" is a nice mid tempo with bright atmospheres and prepares to the low frequencies of "Unrecognised", a passionate mid tempo a bit melancholic. "Modreno" is another experimental instrumental and after that the sound explodes with "Falling Away", another mid tempo where Foxx plays interludes of distorted guitar which work as counterpart to his calm vocals. Bright atmospheres are back with "Vapor Trails" and I find that the alternation of dark/bright/experimental sounds is working great and none of all the fourteen tracks of the album is a rip off. The CD contains also two bonus tracks: another version of "Talk (Beneath Your Dreams)" featuring techno producer Matthew Dear (now the track sounds even more dark with those 4/4 beats and drone sounds) and "Where You End And I Begin". Featuring Tara Busch, electronic composer also endorsed by Moog, the track is a nice dreamy upbeat tempo with Tara on vocals. "The Shape Of Things" is a great album and convinced me even more than "Interplay". It will be out on March 23rd, take a note!
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