Music Reviews



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Artist: PHOENIX CATSCRATCH
Title: Nectar & Wrinkles
Format: CD
Label: Dead Scarlet Records (@)
Rated: *****
Limited to 500 copies, NECTAR & WRINKLES is the first Phoenix Catscratch album. Released by the Greece label Dead Scarlet records, the CD contains seven new tracks of the band which were originally formed by Apostolis and Valisia in November of 2008. After different line-ups and musical adjustements, they found their stability with Vasilis (guitar), Menis (analog synths, drum machines, eletronics) and Andreas (bass). Influenced by post-punk, new wave and experimental electronic music, the combo composed tracks where all these elements are mixed. Apostolis and Valisia alternate their vocals, duetting. Their style remember me early Siouxsie & The Banshees ("The Scream" and "Join Hands" period), while their fellows focus their efforts into creating a web of tension using dry guitar distortions, simple synth melodic lines and 4/4 upbeat drum machine rhythms. With NECTAR & WRINKLES the band succeeds into catching the spirit of the early 80s without being too nostalgic.
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Artist: RPM Orchestra (@)
Title: Livewire Acts
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
A spectral buzz from an old electric generator, a march sounding as sketched on a broken snare introducing an easy-to-hum American patriotic tune, which looks like performed by a plastered bugler echoed by a collapsing ex-serviceman with a passion for country whose decadent performing looks like nebulized by the hypnotical whistle of a rudimental DIY theremin built with an amplifier and a simple radio antenna, is the shining sonic medal this fuzzy dada-futurist orchestra, born as a personal project of Pete Petrisko in 2008, forged to award the listener, whose hunger for new psychedelic listening experience led to their release, in the initial track "Decoration". In the salad bowl, Petrisko and his occasional collaborators carefully put slices of proto-industrial weaponry such as long lasting delayed percussions, electric hums, cacophonic filters, human chatters and field recordings, with interesting treatments of old American folk airs and sonic slices of old engines, mechanical stridors, cow bells, rusty machines' screeching, puffs of vapour locomotives and even bird chirp (its presence looks like being inevitable in some contemporary stuff!), so that each track looks like a report from some time travel in an undefined period between American Revolutionary Wars and Great Depression, a black-and-white set of archaic images coloured by RPM Orchestra's sonic palettes in a so visionary way that some of their recordings seems to have grabbed by some acidolous revealing rave by David Lynch, full of interesting and somewhat dismal musical memorabilia (my favorite is the live recorded on 16th January of some year between 2009 and 2011 - it's not specified on my notes -, titled Persistence of Vision), which became part of some live performances, whose connection with contemporary grey days could be closer than what it appears. The release is available for free on archive.org at the following link: http://www.archive.org/details/LivewireActs Have a listen!
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Artist: PARTY CATANI
Title: Lowfistication
Format: CD
Label: Cock Rock Disco
After releasing a year ago an album with Driver & Driver, Patric Catani is back with his own name project (this time turned into Party Catani) with an album released by Cock Rock Disco titled LOWFISTICATION. His new album contains twelve episodes of party extravaganza where weird bleeping synth noises are mixed with hard beats, movie samples, techno alienated intuitions and various no sense craziness. At a first listening tracks like "Boss", "Nasty Girl" or the obsessive "Fat Gal" seem to be recorded during a Love Parade where something went wrong with the drugs. The synths sound like broken toys and the syncopated rhythms make them sound like broken records. Hard techno, acid or 8 bit sounds (like the ones on "Unchain My Tips") are the core of the album, which seems a work of a Mad Hatter playing techno music at his tea party. Personally I find this one too extreme to be enjoyed and you have to love party music lot to appreciate fully its crazy side.
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Artist: Boris Hauf - Steven Hess - Keefe Jackson - Juun (@)
Title: Proxemics
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
When you'll listen to this release signed by these four talented improv musicians, who met each other as they worked together at the annual music festival Chicago Sound Map where they discovered they had some common interests in harmony, texture and rhythm explorations related to the musical possibilities enabled by collective improvisation which led them to Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago in April 2010 where they recorded this sonic stuff as part of the concert belonging to the Outer Ear series, you could easily enhance the listening experience they recorded through a possible research of similarities between their performance and the interesting matters related to the mentioned discipline, proxemics; they even quoted the diagram by proxemics'most eminent scholar (and founder), the American anthropologist Edward T.Hall to name their sets. According to this diagram, based on some concentric circles known as "reaction bubbles" whose radius represents the spacial distance between two people, social distance is correlated with physical one so that he distinguished intimate distance (for closer interactions), personal distance (friendly or familiar interactions), social distance (being between already acquainted people) and public distance (for public speaking between almost unknown people), whose measure should be strictly related to cultures, which state when an interaction could be too intrusive or stand-offish. The beings whose interactions seems to be studied are tenor and sopranosax played by Boris Hauf (recorded on right channel) and contrabassclarinet and tenorsax played by Keefe Jackson (recorded on left channel), whereas Juun's piano, Hauf's sinetonees and harmonium and Steven Hess' fuzzy experiments on drums and electronics look like acting as spectators writing notes on a sketch book or alternatively as choreographers of the dances, moved by the elastic forces getting stronger and stronger. In the first track, named Public, the longest one, the above-mentioned interacing sonic elements sound tracing completely different melodic paths, climb on discordant scales and sometimes look like dozing till the moment (after 22 minutes) when a sort of electronic foggy quiver looks like dropping the curtain on gaps whose voids had been filled by estranging or sinister emotional sets. In the second track, Social - the shortest one -, the magnet reducing distances seems to be breath and the frenzy percussive tinkling - mainly made up of high frequencies hits and feverish piano pulses -, whereas the final track, Personal (featuring some great drum rolling by Steven Hess!), sounds warmer than the previous ones since the very first seconds, thanks to the long-lasting hypnotical sound of an harmonium, but the general feeling of this bizarre but pretty recording will suggest the listener those two interacting elements aren't going to encounter even if they get chorally closer and closer.
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Artist: THE HUNTERS
Title: Hands On Fire
Format: CD EP
Label: Aagoo Records
Rated: *****
The Hunters are a band hailing from Brooklyn/N.Y. formed by singers/guitarists Derek Watson and Isabel Almeida. Their E.P. HANDS ON FIRE is out on Aagoo Records and contains five new tracks. As far as I know this is their first official release and it fill its fifteen minutes with derailing guitars, tribal drumming and boy/girl duets. Mixed by Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and produced by former Smashing Pumpkin James Iha, The Hunters deliver tracks that are a mix of Sonic Youth and the Vaselines: a sort of N.Y. punk with shoegaze attitude. "Deadbeat", "Noisybitch" or "Headache" are tracks that are capable to be immediate, powerful and melodic. A nice surprise that you can check in its entirety here http://huntersny.bandcamp.com/album/hands-on-fire
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