Music Reviews



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Artist: Golden Apes (@)
Title: Denying the Towers Our Words Are Falling From
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Denying the Towers Our Words Are Falling From, the sixth album coming from the sweaty scores of the German (from Berlin!) wave-gothic rock band Golden Apes ' a certain affection for Nietzsche writings is evident if you just consider the choice Peer Lebrecht and his trusted bards made to name their band'¦-, could undoubtedly stand as the lyrical, intellectual and musical mountain this band could climb. Most lyrics are anchored to the notorious and inspiring German philosopher (even if maybe we're not sure Zarathustra speaking in song like And thus He spoke, as the author inverted the notorious transformation of the lion turning into a child'¦a sign that maybe times have changed!!!) , but they explicitly mention the powerful mystical visions of William Blake as well as Crowley to complete the glittering Triangle of Inspiration , but a lot of lyrical passages seem to refer to tarots, Wicca set of beliefs, Chaos magic, alchemy, ancient rites such as the explicit references to hierogamy (or Hieros Gamos) in a song entitled Liberation, whereas the deep voice by Peer seems acting as a spokesperson for the male element of the rite, while their refined style could let the listener guess which some of the musical holy pictures embellish Golden Apes' altars features sacred icons of the new wave movement such as The Chameleons (a vein which pulses stronger in compositions such as The Mark Of Cain/And from this Heart it will rise'¦ - whose gentle growing tension is really a caress for listener's soul'¦-, Rays of Light or The Silence[that I call Speech]), the lovely or some obscure portraits of the youngest Peter Murphy and even Pink Floyd (have a listen to Sober Light). The lucid dream of Windlands sounds as the best preface to an album with many catching moments, among them I dare to suggest Song Of Innocence, Taming A Dream and Invidia for lyrical intensity and recommend a careful listening of the moving The Sea Inside, the best song of the whole album in my opinion for the wise song structure and the perfect harmonization with the literal and the semantic cut of the words'¦ If I should be more severe and overly meticulous, I could advice them to use larger quantities of make-up removers in order to better mask their musical idols, but I cannot say their sound is good as it sounds in this well-done release, containing a lot of amazing stuff and high-quality songs for Gothic eardrums and souls.
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Artist: John Zorn
Title: Femina
Format: CD
Label: Tzadik
Distributor: Amazon, iTunes, Tzadik
Rated: *****
For those who missed it -like myself- another fine Tzadik release worth noting, showcasing evocative sounds by an all woman band sewing concoctions of quintessential downtown musical textures. Describing itself as a 'colorful' tribute to women in the Arts, Femina surely contains some of Zorn's most beautiful and compelling music...among many other raucous things.

Having been a fan of Zorn's music for at least a decade, I always find his liminal albums to be the most interesting. Aporias, IAO, Music for Children vol 1, to name a few that I've enjoyed. This one has moments that fall into that realm, like new voice- even-for- Zorn category (although as prolific as the composer is, everything he does sounds consistent). But every artist of this intense and prolific nature has tricks up his sleeve, and I think Zorn is at his best when he's exploring music along its most dynamic pathways...especially when its quiet.

What makes Femina stellar in this regard is that each of the performer's voices is present in the recording - these are not hired guns reading scores. Lineup on this album: Jennifer Choi (vln), Okkyung Lee (vlc), Carol Emmanuel (harp), Sylvie Courvoisier (pn) Shayna Dunkelman (perc), Ikue Mori (electronics), and the lovely Laurie Anderson on the opening narration. Reading off of file (aka cue) cards, these players receive direction from the composer on how to proceed - be it going full bore, shouting, supporting a electronic noise swirl, or stopping a fortissimo gesture on a dime. They cover an incredible amount of territory here, and compared to some of the Naked City stuff for example, this chaos feels highly controlled. On the other end of the spectrum, the melodic material is just gorgeous. From the Renaissance to Celtic to Ravel, and everything in between - its here and its genuine.

The disc comes complete with a foldout digipak, a 52 page photo booklet designed by Kiki Smith, as well as liner materials. The recording itself is fine and crystal clear. My only complaint here is just how short the album is, clocking in at a mere 35 minutes. The rest of the packaging is impeccable as well, with a transparent sleeve housing the entire album, all done to the nines. Pure quality and definitely going the extra mile to represent this disc beyond the actual recording. Hats off to Tzadik for keeping the concept of packaging alive and well.

In short, a fantastic release. Most fitting for the Zorn collectors out there as well as those looking to delve into Zorn's catalog, but without going straight for the crack-inspired, over the top noise releases. Femina has those moments - at times a barrage of sound collisions and at others a breathtaking gasp of wordless emotions, this is one I'll be coming back to.
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Artist: Liyr (@)
Title: Fragments Of Dust
Format: CD
Label: Rage In Eden (@)
Rated: *****
Formed in 2008, Liyr is a martial industrial project coming from France. Stephane years ago was involved into industrial electro with Skoyz but his new project has nothing to do with those sounds. FRAGMENTS OF DUST sees Stephane taking the moniker of Sven Mann to give his vision about human passions and disgraces. Inspired by Celtic esoterism (Liyr is the God of Sea in Celtic myths), musically Liyr mix classical music and bombastic percussions, succeeding into bringing to the lovers of these sounds a strong album full of pathos. It's not easy to build a strong and rich sound using mainly samples without risking to have a mishmash but despite the lo-fi approach to sound (I hear there's a bit of brilliance missing), Sven Mann on all the tracks is able to create powerful sounds where melody and percussive blasts join perfectly.
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Artist: Mona Mur / En Esch
Title: 120 Tage: The Fine Art of Beauty and Violence
Format: CD
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
23 Tage is the first result of the collaboration between Mona Mur, known for the collaboration with artists such as Einsturzende Neubauten and En Esch ,formerly of KMFDM. They want to create a blend of chanson, indie rock, and avantgarde-darkwave, so this album features several Berthold Brecht / Kurt Weill classics. Practically, it's a rock album in his structure: the voice of Mona Mur is able to lead the tracks and the En Esch's production is solid.
The album start with "Candy Cane" a mix beteween dance beats and rock guitars, then starts the album and this album id full of it. "Die Ballade vom Ertrunkenen Madchen", "120 Tage", "Snake", "Surabaya Johnny" on one side try to create the intended blend of style that, honestly, has some memorable moments. The other tracks, instead, flirts with the dance floor because are into the field followed by KMFDM, just listen to "The Thin Red Line", "Visions and Lies" and "Eintagsfliegen". It seems, in a certain way, more a split than a collaboration: the Mona Mur side (ballad oriented) and the En Esch side (EBM oriented).
However, due to the crafts of the artist involved, this album is a good listening: if only the blend became true, this collaboration could bring a truly great work. This one is just a nice listening, even if above the standard.
p.s.: the advance included also three remix, djs will be happy :-)
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Artist: Artificial Arm
Title: Re-arm
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Mullet Records (@)
Rated: *****
After five of silence from his second EP released on Orson Records, Andy Shaw is back with a new EP on Mullet Records. The Artificial Arm (Andy decided for this name because this reflects his personal situation), on RE-ARM is presenting four great electro funk tracks. "Welcome To Planet Funk" and "Go Back In Time" are here in a different edit compared to the old versions contained on the old EPs while "Press Start To Dance" and "You've Been Messing With My Mind" are two new songs which sound just great. Andy has a good ability into mixing and alternating analog synth sounds and it isn't impossible to stay still while listening synth glides calling for a new arpeggio. Bleeps and vocoder prepare the ground for warm pads which make you cry for more. The Artificial Arm is the ideal place where Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder meet and if you love electro funk you won't miss this release for sure. Available from tomorrow at the major download stores.
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