Music Reviews



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Artist: Todd is Each New Moment (@)
Title: Glass Sword
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
What if, in the late 70's, early 80's Brian Eno decided to find and produce the worst minimal synth band in New York he could find. Not sure he could complete the task himself, he enlisted the aid of The Residents, and possibly one other (undisclosed) luminary English musical known for his bizarre music as a consultant. Upon hearing the finished product, the record company recoiled in horror and promptly shelved the recording burying it deep in its archives vowing it would never be released as it would ruin the reputations of all involved. Then, 30 or so years later, some lackey at the label discovered the recording and released it anonymously. Todd is Each New Moment's 'Glass Sword' could be such a recording.

Fortunately for Brian Eno, he has no such involvement whatsoever with this project. (Although he did play with, and produce the Portsmouth Sinfonia, a markedly low point in his career with classical music no-talents, but that's another story.) Unfortunately for Todd is Each New Moment, there is no Brian Eno, or Residents or anyone else to blame this misbegotten disaster on but Todd is Each New Moment. TINEM on this disc is comprised of guitarist Thomas Wilk and keyboardist Bryan Hamill, and singer Jake Davidson of Brooklyn and Athens, NY. Yes, it's minimal synth, and probably like nothing you've ever heard. It could have been a bad SNL skit, but Sprockets has nothing to fear here. The odd thing is, there are some interesting off the wall musical elements, but the vocals are just so gawd-awful that they can't be overcome. Davidson sings in this hokey overly affected pseudo-dramatic voice that just makes you want to roll your eyes and say 'what the fuck is this shit???' It's as if David Byrne had a brother who couldn't sing at all, but figuring since he had Byrne blood in him, decided to give warbling a go anyway. Perhaps with somebody who could actually sing (or enough processing on the voice to render it inscrutable) this mess could have made into something at least tolerable.

There are moments that TINEM bore a vague resemblance to elements of Eno's first solo album ('Here Come the Warm Jets'), but they were assuredly brief. Actually, there was one thing I liked- a brief minimal guitar solo in 'For Evan and Evan,' but that was such a small part of this disaster that it hardly makes up for any of the rest. Sometimes the weirdness approaches Residentsville, for weirdness only, not for talent or inventiveness. Even the Bonzo Dog Band, if they attempted to spoof the worst band in the world, could not achieve the atrociousness present on 'Glass Sword'. If you don't believe me, visit their MySpace site and check out some of the tracks.

I might be willing to give this band a listen on a future release if they dump Davidson and get a decent vocalist, but I wouldn't count on that. Funny thing is, there are some people who are going to love this stuff just because it's so bad and so out there. I suppose it could be considered Dada or Avant Garde synthpop, but for me, it was just cringe-worthy, and in my book, that's never a good thing.
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Artist: Downstairs Left
Title: Waiting For The Golden Age
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
The hypnotical carillon introducing the debut-album by the German trio Downstairs Left, wisely entitled Waiting For The Golden Age whose misty atmospheres are gloomily anticipated by cover graphics rich of beheaded seraphic statues, desperate or sad figures in bas-relief, stone cherubs and overshadowed hues, seems to prepare the ground onto which this band let rack dregs of hums of cryptic melodies, a pervasive and perturbing sense of decadence and melancholy (in tracks such as Sunken Home, the singer seems to uplift somewhat glorious past ages as the house of peace and beauty, but it seems addressing to some transfigured character belonging to past age, not necessarily considered as a physical presence, in the large part of the tracks, whose lyrics oozes with a sense of lackness, and even a track entitled Hope seems giving not so much space to hope actually whereas the singer seems taking consciousness about a global psychological warfare, contaminating chilhood so far, so that the choice of such a title could stand ironic or even more intended to highlight despair...), through a spare and terse sound. I don't complaint about it all, quite the contrary, I think it's quite fitted even if this record musically lacks of astonishing moments as the evoked emotions are the keys to better appreciate it. Electronics are just sprayed on melodies where needed mainly for emphasizing some moments of the record and intersections with oriental scents, supposedly a fashion in contemporary gothic scene, has been limited to just one track, Hands of Destiny, whereas the tracks where the balance between acoustic and electronic sounds more huggable are the best ones, such as Smile, Why, Pictures of Past or Dusty Dead Moon in their essential bowdlerization. Compositional structures are quite plain and incovered with frills, maybe to underline a certain immediacy in treating ethereal emotions to make them more "palpable" and vivid, especially in the crepuscolar crackling of some tracks such as Today and The Rose - the only song where the dark voice by Hayle has been echoed by a female one -. I wonder if their sound, which partially reminded to me the emotional sets of Katatonia after an heavy dark make-up, is going to be slightly turned as it happens in the pretty remix of Typewritten Life.
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Artist: DAVID FIRST
Title: Privacy Issue (Droneworks 1996 - 2009)
Format: CD
Label: XI records (@)
Rated: *****
Another release it took me a while to describe but it's Experimental Media and if you're confidential with the label you know it's heavy experimental music composed and recorded with a deep and hyper intellectual edge. This is the turn of a collection giving exposure to the drone materials of unconventional music composer/guitarist David First. If the cd opens with this monolitic, quasi organ-sounding track based on a theremin sound that last for almost thirsty six minutes, the second episode quietly re-proposes the same narcoleptic idea of the first one, a slowly growing drone takes the scene it's even difficult to believe the sound has been made with an e-bowed guitar. The first cd consistent of small sound variations from the drone-theme even if the third track introduces some more instruments like a dissonant piano kept sound mixed in the magma a violin and a clarinet, the mixing has been made in order to obtain some similar effects. During the listening of the second cd you can't but notice sonic structures are changing it's also true this series of compositions has been made after YTK, for what concerns the audio pro-profile, let's say the five compositions contained in this second cd by some means are a bit more "electronic" but the basic style remains the same. What really surprises me is how this composer has probably intentionally maintained the same magmatic sound throughout the years and that's also testified by the last cd containing the long piece titled "Pipeline Witnedss Apologies to Dennis" where beside David himself with laptop and his many midi and electronic devices are featured several trombones and a keyboard. This track in someway is the real summa of more then ten years of compositions and studies by this unordinary guitar player with a contemporary classic training and a deep interest in electronic music. Given the fact this last track is dedicated to Dennis Sandole, First's guitar/composition teacher I think you can understand why here the musicians probably reaches the his compositional climax and goes deep in his musical research. David First speaks about some references that range from Philip Glass to Alvin Lucier but it also reminded the suggestions created by Giacinto Scelsi. As Nicolas Collins writes in the line notes First's "textures have grown denser and lusher over the years".


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Artist: KINETIX
Title: final archives
Format: CD
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
This release has come out almost simultaneously with the split release with Pylone we've reviewed a couple of weeks ago. Differently from the split cd, this work is a collection of old materials came out on cdr and an old net releases and despite the fact not all of the tracks have been composed during the same period of time this slab of plastic offers a homogeneous listening. If you ever had the chance to taste Beccuzzi' solo releases you know we mostly deal with cold electronic post-industrial avant-garde music..are in you in need of some references to file the music here contained? Let's say it's mostly post-cotemporary classic music with references to Thomas Koner, Richard Cartier, Pan Sonic and their related projects in general, Zoviet France, and anything following this route. Final archives offers a full range of high and low frequencies, sharp sounds, raw materials, squared low beats, concrete sounds, electronic versus music concrete, soft-crescendos and sudden peaks of noise and silence, just to show Becuzzi knowledge of electronic/installation music has matured along the way. I can grant you both the minimal compositions and the sound installation materials have that common heavy, post-industrial feel that characterizes the majority of Kinetix solo works but overall this cd is on Silentes and obviously if you know the label I doubt you won't like its sound. To emphasize this last conclusion I should add beside minimalism sometimes Becuzzi has this quasi-isolationist post-ambient feel that many fans of the genre will surely appreciate. Honestly it took me more than one listening to get how much I was into the work, but after several listening I'm convinced this collection of recordings puts together some interesting compositions, maybe one of the best work of Kinetix so far.
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Artist: [de:ad:cibel] (@)
Title: Klondike
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
One of the strongest point of the debut album by the German bouldering duo [de:ad:cibel], hiding the musical ids of Daniel Galda and Armin Kuester, could lie in the power of amusing different kind of listeners by preserving a certain stylistical unoiformity: amalgamated by appreciable EBM structures and deafening bass lines for the likes of Front Line Assembly or Funkervogt fan-base and considerably insisting on topics such as depression, religion and faith (I enjoyed some "marxist" remembrance in the lyrics of the song Jerusalem Syndrom whereas any builder of make-believe system on the basis of revealed religion acts like a pusher/seller: "...Verkauf ich euch mein Opium./Ein Konstruct aus Angst und Regeln/Die Warheit wind indoktriniert/Mit Richtig- oder Falsch-Befehlen/Die Herde grundlich selektiert" as well as the invitations on reflection on the real final aim of some religious doctrines in the song Human Product - "These lies are corridors of mundane power/to hold the might they built a watchtower/superstition was the fundament/they used it as an instrument"), ironic critics on consumerism (it's somehow funny the ideal breaking of the sacred trinity of the socio-economical system - buy, consume, die - hinting at the words of the humorous song Too tired to consume, making a long list on an enjoyable danceable psychotic electro movement of "prescribed" quinine for keep someone's finance healthy or for celebrating the scene...allelujah!) and its consequences on human relations (songs such as Architecture or B.I.I.D. arguably insists on the refusal of distorted way of considering feelings, mixed up with low-grade bodily functions) and even some conceptual statements (I enjoyed the neural connections activated by songs such as Heteronomy or One Of 47 - maybe the best song of this album -, forcing thoughts while moving dancin steps...), these lads could be even appreciated by a large range of listeners as they're able to satisfy classical dark-electro fans (One of 47, Architecture), cyber-goth or mindful techno addicts (Monster Train's ferocious march or the less rough grip of Selektionsfunktion and Geteert und gefedert should switch their hungry neurons on...), synth-pop or future-pop lovers (tracks such as the above-mentioned Heteronomy or Between My Headphones and even more "romantic" songs such as Nobody hurts like I do could be injected in their lower abdomen...), but I won't be surprised to see some reviews of Klondike on metal mags as well. Concerning the quality, Klondike ideally traces a reversed Gaussian route as I listened to more well-crafted works in the beginning and in the end of the record, being the highest peaks Jerusalm Syndrome (featuring some icy treatments on the harsch Daniel Galda's voice...) One of 47 and Geteert und gefedert. It's nice the idea of showing the dynamic range of each track! Even if they're not really newcomers of the scene if you just consider for instance that Daniel was keyboardist for Das Ich's live stages (...and it's not casual that sometimes you'll have the impression of listening an electrified version of Das Ich as well...), I could say it's really a brilliant debut!
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