Music Reviews



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Artist: PAS (Post Abortion Stress from the Viewpoint of the Fetus) (@)
Title: Pure Energy Output Sessions
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I had also reviewed a DVD that PAS sent along with this disc, but these two were my first exposure to the band. This is a weird mix of woodwinds, synths, treated guitar and other assorted weird sounds. That said, it all hangs together rather well. This is improvisation, not randomness. Several of the tracks are about a minute long with the shortest at 58 seconds and the longest weighing in at 7:05. With 17 tracks, there is a considerable amount of variety here making it hard to sum up in a review. Some of the comparisons I can come up with are Hafler Trio's 'Bang! An Open Letter,' or Zoviet France's 'Loh Land.' It's interesting, but not all of it is as engaging as it could be - I did not find it to have the 'pure energy' the title promised. For me, one of the standout tracks is 'Piano Music for Volcano Eruption,' which incorporates odd electronic sounds into a nice piano melody. Overall, if you are looking for some interesting improvisation that never completely disintegrates into noise, this might be one to check out.
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Artist: PAS (Post Abortion Stress from the Viewpoint of the Fetus) (@)
Title: Experimental Audio/Video Compositions Volume 1
Format: DVD
Label: self-released
I must admit that this reminded me of my undergraduate days in video production. I videotaped everything and would create random compositions set to my own ambient/field recordings. Sometimes they made sense and sometimes they didn't. In this case, the music is pretty good, although the video itself is not. I watched the whole thing, but I have to admit that I began to lose interest about 10 minutes in. Among musicians there seems to be a deep seated need to create visuals for our music. Yet these videos almost never work out. If you want a particularly good example of this, check out Sam Rosenthal's (Black Tape for a Blue Girl) video compositions. If you want to have something similar in your own collection, go out with a group of your friends and videotape things (walking through a forest, stepping on eggs on a sidewalk, playing a miniature xylophone are some examples from this video) and add some overlays and effects for good measure and make your own video. Chain DLK: We watch it so you don't have to! 'Various Levels of Consciousness' has some good drawing though and it gets a bit better toward the end. On the other hand, the live videos are fine and they seem to put on a decent, if subdued live performance. So this is a mixed bag. It's always nice to see a live performance, but I would still suggest simply getting a copy of their album. However, if the other albums are out of print (it's hard to tell on the myspace page) this may be worth getting for some of the music.
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Artist: Dead Voices On Air (@)
Title: From Afar All Spark and Glee
Format: CD
Label: Lens Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had reviewed some of Mark Spybey's recent output with Beehatch for Chain DLK, but I had not listened to Dead Voices On Air for years now. Like any band, some artists come to the forefront at a given time and others recede. So when I got this disc in the mail, I took the opportunity to go back to some of their older works as a comparison. With that in mind, I like where DVOA is going. Where Hafted Maul is a more raw, experimental disc, this is, in contrast, unbelievably polished. In fact, where the older work was certainly at home on Invisible Records, sharing the space with such acts as Lab Report and Pounder, this album would actually be quite at home on Hypnos. There is a peaceful vibe running throughout with lush synth tracks and beautiful female vocals on the title track. According to the press release, this was complements of 'American-Serbian singer Ivana Salipur on the title track, a homage to the Serbian poet Desanka Maksimovic (1898-1993).' The swirling atmospheres are hypnotic and we still see a bit of the experimental vibe for which we know DVOA. Overall, this is an excellent addition to an already expansive catalogue. This disc weighs in at about 63 minutes.
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Artist: Organum
Title: Valentin
Format: 7"
Label: Equation Records (@)
Organum is the project of one David Jackman, who, according to his website has been releasing material for over 30 years. The first thing you notice with this album is that the packaging is fairly minimal, although there is a sheet of grey cardstock that has the word UNBEKANNTE emblazoned on it. I don't speak German, but Google tells me that it translates to stranger, unknown, or unknown quantity. Also, the album is HEAVY. You could hit someone with it. But you wouldn't want to because it's limited to 233 copies and you may not get another chance to get it. On to the music. According to the press release that came with the album, 'David Jackman (the force behind the project) wishes the audio to speak for itself so we will not attempt to describe the contents of this release.' Well, I'm a reviewer, and they sent it to me, so I will attempt to do so. Imagine a William Gibson novel in which he tells three stories at once in sequence. You can see them slowly moving toward each other until at the end it all makes sense. This record is kind of like that. Piano chords, crashing noise that sounds like a metal sculpture falling down, and a small chorus singing the same repetitive strain until it comes together with ambient hiss and incidental noises peppered throughout. The main issue I have is that side A and side B sound pretty much the same to me. Maybe the differences are too subtle for me to catch, but I didn't notice much difference. It's nice, but not quite worth the $11 for a few minutes of music.
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Artist: Meienberg
Title: Rapid Cycling
Format: 12"
Label: Everest Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Meienberg, but evidently he is one of the heads of Everestrecords. I had also never seen a seedcard, which is a business card embedded with wildflower seeds that you bury and grow flowers with. The card has a link to download a digital version of the album, which is nice for those of us who would rather sit at a computer and write than go to the turntable and put the record on. The first thing you notice is the colorful album cover with an image of a large building on it. Only by looking at it from a distance do you notice that the lit up windows spell out 'Rapid Cycling.' Nice touch. On to the music. The label describes the album as 'a colourful kaleidoscope; the songs root mainly in electronic music but within that range they escape most of the possible labels.' Fair enough. This is pretty bliptastic. The songs pretty much blend into each other so nothing really stood out, but it is an enjoyable ride with a whimsical quality. The closest comparison I can come up with is Rothkamm. If you like your electronica a bit disjointed ' shaken, not stirred ' with plenty of bleeps and bloops, this might be up your alley. The sample track on the label website gives you a pretty good indicator of what you're in for. The album weighs in at around 28 minutes.
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