Music Reviews



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Artist: Philipp Quehenberger
Title: Hazard
Format: CD
Label: Laton (@)
Distributor: Trost
Rated: *****
The unpredictable keyboardist, former metal-head and electronic musician Philipp Quehenberger gained a certain visibility three years ago for his album Phantom In Paradise, as it was a record issued by Editions Mego which sounded quite different from other releases by the far-sighted label managed by Peter Rehberg, but Philipp’s experimental attitude fully justifies his presence in such a blazoned roster: the main points of intersections with his previous release is the use of swirling noises and deep distorted sub-tones, being the main difference the lack of male vocals as well as interesting stylistic research. Philipp Quehenberger’s attempt could be synthetically described as a conjure between the rhythmical structures of electronic body music - in many tracks of Hazard, the influence of the sound of DAF as well as his experience as a studio-musician for Dj Hell is quite clear indeed -, psychedelic noise-rock and IDM. Such a freak deriving from the hybridization of different but often complementary genres has been molded throughout eight scrupulous tracks showing their creator’s skills hazarding progressive sound saturations of the sound.

The morbid Stupid Idea, starting the sequence, begins with the sound of a typewriter working almost as a metronome for the obsessive rhythmical step, while the following track, Undante, mixes it up certain sci-fi scents - those thrilled howling sounds normally announcing the invasion of some weirdy alien race on Earth in American and Janese sci-fi movies…- with a well-done dubbed drumming canned by Fuckhead drummer ddKern. Most of the next waves of the album have the same structure with just some relevant variations on the hypnotic Hey Gert - whose heavy-dub stepping and some distant guitars effected by wise reverberations and delays reminds some past releases by Eraldo Bernocchi or Bill Laswell -, the crank pitch in Hard Joke, the bizarre splashed drum crashes on the mumbling Keep Talking which seem to be injected in a sequence of quad waves according to the customs of some electro bandits - maybe the closest to DAF sound of the album -, the gluey techno pattern of the loony hammering of After Death Business. Some stylistic devices as well his leaning towards risk could let you suppose Philipp Quehenberger could be the bastard Austrian cousin of Meat Beat Manifesto’s Jack Dangers or maybe he just shares the same pots and pans in order to cook the groove.
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Artist: TOURDEFORCE
Title: Colours In Life
Format: CD
Label: Breakdown Records
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****
Mixing synthpop and electropop, Tourdeforce (band coming from north Italy - Bergamo), are delivering through Breakdown Records their debut album COLOURS IN LIFE. Filled with fourteen songs, the album is showing a multi faceted band where male and female vocals alternation create varied atmospheres: songs like "Modern affair" or "Dancing days" ideally refer to 80s European synthpop bands such as A-HA or The Twins, proposing upbeat tempos and catchy melodies; instead, when Roby (the female singer) takes the microphone, the tracks tend to sound different (and sometimes more intimate) and influenced by nineties electro pop (with the exception of "We're not underground" which reminds me of "People Hold On", the Coldcut / Lisa Stansfield's hit). The band is putting on the table a lot of ideas and influences and most of the times they succeed into creating nice songs. They'd need a stronger production but the seeds are there, ready to spring.
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Artist: QUETEV MERIRI (@)
Title: Al Xurvot HaAviv
Format: CD
Label: gushpunka (@)
Distributor: Gushpunka
Rated: *****
Artworks, is the first thing you manipulate approaching this new project form Q.M., the images processed in the booklet are in the arena defined by McKean and its mysterious aria is really strange, spooky, neighborhood guys transformed in monsters next door. The world of QM, is obscure, above all for me, B/c I do not understand their language; this feature casts a shadow of mystery and occult over their work. In many sense sometimes, during the listening of this work, you can feel the same atmosphere of "The exorcist movie". Q.M. are noise, dark, symphonic artists and nothing is punk_like, or grunge, from a certain POV they are the Dead Can Dance of the Hebrew music world. But more aggressive, darkish and, another time, they use the mystery of their language like an Art Form; a question of perception, an ancient and unknown, for many people, language increase the mystery of this experience. I like so much their approach, they follow the rules of contemporary music (Cage) creating complex carpets of classical instruments but they add also the dimensions of the electronic processing, and the acid of an ambient-noise oriented ( guitar as the industrial excellence strumento ). Another time Q.M. created a Reign where old B/W pictures coming from alien asylums, occult maneuvers in darkness and sound from the ID and from the most ancient language of our
earth became the 4 kings of this "Middle Earth/Middle East" of music and dreams.
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Artist: ?ALOS
Title: Ricamatrici
Format: CD
Label: Bar La Muerte (@)
Rated: *****
?Alos is the personal project of Stefania Pedretti, who's also one half of the OvO duo (she was also member of the Allun). RICAMATRICI (embroiderer) is her second album which has been released three years after her fist titled "Ricodi indelebili". Mixing improvisation and visual art, ?Alos (which spelled backwords means "Alone?") on RICAMATRICI explore the emotions and the thoughts of a young lady who has to face everyday's life: she dreams of becoming a diva while with her needle she puts the final touch to a coat or to a skirt. Musically ?Alos use piano and vocal improvisation (sometimes sounding influenced by Diamanda Galas or Virgin Prunes) as well as field recordings, treated sounds (like on the opening "Tulle") and violin (check the tortured atmosphere of "Ricami"). Sounding deeply personal and sincere the album is like a recorded performance: try to imagine Stefania on a deserted factory (like as reported by the booklet's photos) allowed to running free exploring the sounds of the objects trying to feel the emotions of the workers that used them.
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Artist: Bruce Gilbert
Title: This Way
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
It’s quite normal music chronicles as well as reviewers and even audiences could sometimes be quite unfair to a number of forerunners and the art-punk UK band Wire could be rightfully considered one of the missing link in order to explain the stylistic passage between primordial forms of punk-rock towards the so-called post rock scene as well as some musical formula, which are over-abused nowadays, and their musical foresight could be arguably explained by the one of its single members. Maybe your ears have already had the possibility to know Colin Newman solo-projects - I still remember some of his most interesting looping and sampling workouts, issued on his own label Swim -, but one of the most innovative pioneer of that glorious formation has been without any doubts the guitarist Bruce Clifford Gilbert, whose experimental attitude and musical tastes deeply influenced Wire’s sound. 25 years after its first issue on Mute Records, Peter Rehberg’s Editions Mego decides to reissue the first documentary of Gilbert’s explorations as well as his first solo album, hieratically entitled This Way, with a remarkable improvement as U, Mu, U - an astonishing piece of musique concrete which looks like the simulation of a chuggy steam engine train - was not included in the tracklist of the previous edition and a well-done mastering by Russell Haswell. The raw description of the above-mentioned closing track should let you argue that This Way is not properly a collection of rock guitar lessons - don’t be neither surprised nor scared about that! -, the main core of the album being a sort of gray ambient/industrial anthem composed in 1984 under the commission of the renowned Scottish choreographer Michael Clark for a ballet production called “Do You Me? I Did”.

The intersections with dancing art could let you think about a sort of sequence of music and pauses, but luckily This Way is something really distant from that: the first part of the suite opens with an entrancing siren chant entwined with an heavenly drone quite close to the spotless and moody ones by Klaus Schultze interrupted occasionally by disquieting sounds and unexpected blasts of guitar and other analogue instruments, gradually evolving in an immersive industrial crescendo and frames from Swamp - showing off the coreographical skills by Mister Gilbert as it’s not so difficult to imagine a space getting gradually invaded by water…an immersive sound experience even though it’s rich of ageful sounds! -. Even if Bruce has said he’s never been interested in pure technique, I could not say there’re any “luddites” masked intent as This Way runs side by side with the stage and that’s the general impression you could have since the first listening till the final machinery rush. It surely lacks of complex dynamics, but it’s quite impossible Gilbert’s “dramatic” mise-en-form was forward-looking and not only intended for old codgers…it was 1984!
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