Music Reviews



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Artist: Murralin Lane (@)
Title: Our House is on the Wall
Format: CD
Label: 12k
Distributor: Boomkat
Rated: *****
Maybe inspired by the faint rays of sunlight of the morning hours of Swedish spring and summer and by the somewhat pleaseful sense of being lost to the world and contemporarily bliss a similar enviromental set could induce, Our House Is On The Wall, the debut release from the Swedish duo Murralin Lane, made up of David Wenngren aka Library Tapes - a piano-based intimist experimental project issued mainly by Kning Disk and Home Normal -, appreciated young composer in the minimal-ambient neo-classical scene running Auetic, a label which is bringing out some interesting acts pushing out the boundaries of the so-called poetics of absence including his side-project Le Lendemain backed by Danny Norbury (I reccomened to have a listen to it as well) and his partner Ylva Wiklund, looks like a collection of ethereal transmissions from a parallel dimension. On this occasion, David let his piano - a sort of trademark of his personal style... - rest in order to work on electric alembics by collecting some delicious electro-acoustic cameos and fragile compositions wearing the melancholy hat and covered with dark-tinged ceruse. The sound space appears dominated by self-shaping drones of noisy and silently raging on the same time streams, on whose constant flow Ylva seems to put flowing ampoule of brimful vocal excerpts (sometimes recorded through a mobile phone as it's clear on the final trilling of When I Told You) resounding from the cavity in the wall where they built their sounding nest from the second track Folding Paper Planes oscillating between anesthetic depictions of void spaces and nyctalopic vocal vaporizations in the airless atmosphere saturated by distorted tuning forks and oblique sonorities. Murralin Lane's dimples sound easy to be tasted till its final fading out with its cinematic suite, which let me imagine Eskilstuna, the Swedish village from which they emit transmissions, is really close to Twin Peaks...
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Artist: Mikroben Krieg (@)
Title: Final Cut
Format: CD
Label: Thisco (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Mikroben Krieg is the project of Nelson L. Brites from Leiria, Portugal. Founded way back in 1995, this marks MK's 6th release since 1999. Self categorized as 'intelligent tribal electro ambient industrial,' I suppose I can agree with the tag. Brites has a few guests here to help him out on 'Final Cut' ' Caita Brites (accordion on Nightmare Dance'); Carlos Matos (lyrics and vocals on 'Inimputavel'); Nuno Cruz (keyboards on 'Soul Engineering') and Rui Francisco (angle grinder on 'Nightmare Dance'). Angle grinder? Just what the hell IS an angle grinder? I guess it's some kind of power tool. I was never much one for machine shop toys.

From the opening track, 'Soul Engineering,' I had high hopes for this album. It's mysterious and somewhat eerie; an atmospheric mid-tempo instrumental opening with a haunting descending piano triplet riff over industrial beats, sequenced bass and dark cinematic effluvia. It is a rather strong and effective mood-setting intro. At the end the voice comes in speaking in Portuguese. Sorry, not up on my Portuguese, so it was lost to me, but it sounded ominous anyway.

'Sleepwalkers' (in English, fortunately) immediately jettisoned me back in time to Front 242's 'Tyranny' album, and 'Soul Manager' in particular. The vocals might have had a something to do with it too. It wouldn't be the last time I noticed similarities between MK and Front 242 either. Unfortunately, that by itself is not enough to win me over. The crunchy rhythm on 'Sleepwalkers' is pretty good and it does have a nice dark tone to the atmosphere, seething with foreboding. Synth-work is sort of minimal but effective. Nice track.

What happens after this though takes it down a notch or three. Over bubbling sequenced synth bass and rumbling percussion the vocal track is all SAMPLED DIALOGUE. Now if you're a regular reader of my (often infrequent) reviews here, you KNOW how I feel about the overuse of sampled dialogue, no matter what the source, especially when it serves to replace, rather than enhance a vocal track by the artist. Long passages seem no more than babble, and even though the sampled dialogue here is in English, it's still babble to me. I could care less. The music was good on 'Scene Memory,' but I would have rather heard vocal content from the artist.

'On 'The Responsive Ear' we have a rhythmically potent track with dramatic piano chords, but the vocal is lightweight (with lyrics in English) and really needs more oomph. The words I caught, 'I could try a little bit harder'¦' seemed appropriate. Yes, you could try a little bit harder, or get a vocalist with more power and drama. That would make a big difference. 'Jihad' brings back more lengthy dialogue samples over random sample-&-hold style synth sequences. Sounds like an overly-dramatic actress auditioning for a role at an electronic music workshop. 'Sinus Addicted' (now there's a title my nose can identify with) is yet again more lengthy dialogue babble over early Front 242-ish rhythms and rhythmic synths. By this time I'm realizing that the hopes I had at the opening track of 'Final Cut' are beginning to dissolve liked oil in chemical dispersant. The track just abruptly ends, giving the impression ' 'oops, we've had enough of this. 'Inimputavel' seems like a lament with lyrics and vocals in Portuguese by Carlos Matos. Maybe lamentable is a more accurate description. They sound impassioned, but much too soft for this kind of music. Must be something in the culture; I'm just not getting it. Musically, it's actually pretty good though with its Middle Eastern undertone. We're back to more sampled dialogue serving as the vocal track on Paradox,' and a rhythm track that is reminiscent of a Rhythm Ace drum machine. And once again, more sampled movie dialogue ('Angels in America') over rhythmic industrial ambience. This is really getting old now. The positive sentiments I held for the album at the outset have eroded like the ecosystem in the Gulf. Last track (before the remixes) 'Inquietude' brings back some real vocal content over more traditional drums mixed with tabla, and I'm grateful for anything that doesn't reek of sampled dialogue. I don't even care that the vocals are in Portuguese; they're adequate and that's fine with me.

The last five tracks are remixes of previous tracks on the album. The Eden Synthetic Corps remix of 'Sleepwalkers' is the best of the bunch; very club-worthy. As for the rest, I suppose they're okay as far as remixes go, but by this time I've had more than enough. If the artist here is open to a little unsolicited advice, I'd steer clear from dialogue samples on the next release, and get a vocalist with some power and dynamics. I see potential in Mikroben Krieg, but it hasn't been realized here on 'Final Cut'.
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Artist: Ketem
Title: Colour
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: electroton (@)
Distributor: electroton
Rated: *****
One last Electroton 3' mini-CD, this time from Ketem, a joint collaboration by Shay Nassi (aka mise_en_scene) and Tom Kemeny (aka darmock) both from Tel Aviv. This is the briefest of these little Electronton CDs I've received with four tracks clocking in less than 10 minutes. It is also the oddest.

On 'Colour,' the music sounds more like code than anything resembling any kind of traditional music in just about any genre. Perhaps this is cyber-language translated into audio. High and low frequency tones of intermittent lengths are juxtaposed with one another in various assembled patterns, sometimes repeated, sometimes seemingly random. The sound is bone dry minimal with only a certain few timbres on the palette. Often it sounds like a hearing test, and I listened under headphones I had to check my reflexes from the urge to point at one ear or the other.

This is the kind of intellectual-experimental music that I think might require a deeper study or commitment to get, and I daresay most listeners are probably not willing to invest the time or though to 'cracking the code.' Although there is a sense of rhythm, the compositions have been deconstructed to their absolute minimal components with scant tonal variation. Perhaps some visual stimulus might have enhanced the audio here, as it stands alone, I'm just not grasping the merit in it. Fortunately, with only four brief tracks, it's not intolerable, merely an exercise in the infinitesimal.
Nov 14 2010
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Artist: Poratz
Title: Beat
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: electroton (@)
Distributor: electroton
Rated: *****
Here is another Electroton 3' mini-CD release from Poratz, a project by Patrizio Orsini based in Livorno, Italy. It's the second release for Poratz, but I haven't heard the first. This one is dedicated to Japanese Glitch music artist Aoki Takamasa, which after hearing this mini-album isn't so surprising.

'Beat' is a stripped-down spare affair where even the track titles ('Aoky,' 'Casiotone,' 'Turntable,' 'Drumma,' etc.) are minimal. The best thing about 'Beat' is the intricacy of the quirky little tinkertoy rhythms. It really is all about beatz in a minimal format on 'Beat,' although there is often a lot going on. There is plenty of repetition too, giving most of the pieces a miniaturized machine-like quality. It could just have easily been titled 'Music For Little Toy Robots'. Even what little melodic content there is sounds mechanized.

In spite of the repetition, there is a good amount of creativity and playfullness in the programming within the limited framework of the dry sample sound palette. Most of it sounds electronic, which is as it should be, but I think Poratz dropped the ball on the 'Drumma' track. Normal voice samples of 'and the beat keeps going on'¦breakout' no matter how they're sliced and diced, detracts from the electronic ambience in my opinion. Should have at least used a vocoder or ring modulation.

If you like minimal electronic music with emphasis mostly on rhythm, you should like this. There are only seven tracks, and they're all short (nothing over 4 minutes) so it's over before you know it. A slight entry, but it never suffers from excess or over-indulgence and has kind of a happy-tone. Nice change-of-page for those for those who may listen to too much of the dark and dreary.
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Artist: TASADAY
Title: Implosione Tra Le Pieghe Dell'Anima
Format: CD
Label: Silentes (@)
Rated: *****
Born as a collective of bands previously known as Die Form (not the French project of Philippe Fichot) and Nulla Iperreale (previously known as Orgasmo Negato), Tasaday formed in early 80s and since then produced a wide amount of recordings. IMPLOSIONE TRA LE PIEGHE DELL'ANIMA was their fourth release and it was a tape released by Multiple Configuration, label run by Roberto Marinelli, known also for his project Laxative Souls (Trash Ritual just reissued their first two tapes on a double CD). Containing fifteen tracks recorded live during the 1983/84 period, when they still performed under the name of Die Form & Nulla Iperreale, the tape and now this CD reissue show really well the experimental approach to rock that the band had. Mixing jazz, funk and new wave with synthesizers experimentations and theatrical performance, Tasaday where able to create alien ambientations often nervous and tense (maybe for this reason they picked up as moniker the name of a tribe emerged from a rain forest in mountains of Mindanao in 1971). Tight bass lines helped by tribal drumming were the core of their sound where a suffering guitar cut the air like a razor and vocals now recitative and now cried helped into making of Tasaday's a cult band. Now you have the chance to check these historical recordings and taste a bit of "implosion between soul's folds".
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