Music Reviews



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Artist: QUARTERSIZED
Title: Questions
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: What A Carve Up! (@)
Rated: *****
QUESTIONS is the newest EP by Quartersized and it is the first for What A Carve Up!, label set up to release in digital download format all the music produced by Ian Proudfoot with whatever moniker he'd like to use at that moment. The EP is opened by the main title, a track which include electro dub and ambient influences under the shape of a mid tempo horror cinematic tune. Also "Scare anyone" is based on the same atmospheres but with the use of syncopated tabla percussion as rhythmic instrument. "Desire" sounds like a slowed down blues with industrial dub influences, while "I had to laugh" is pure ambient dub with upfront bass guitar and synth distortions but it is the one that I preferred less because it didn't create the mysterious atmosphere the other three were capable to. Vocal samples and loops enrich the formula as usual. You can preview the whole EP at the bandcamp website and purchasing it for only 1 pound.
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Artist: NITRO MAHALIA (@)
Title: Nitro Mahalia
Format: 12"
Label: Interstellar Records (@)
Rated: *****
Formed in 2004 in Vienna, Nitro Mahalia are a particular band. Mixing noise, film music, punk and jazz, the four people of the band used all these years to prepare their first album. Released on vinyl by Interstellar Records the Nitro Mahalia self named album is bringing you eleven blasts where bass distortions, hard beats, noise, catchy brass solos and organ cries are the main core. Take for example "Acid D.C.", it starts with a distorted bass and drum beating like a double heart beat, then brasses arrive. The chaotic/melodic wall of sound finds its nirvana thanks to the Chris Janka (one of the four guests on this album) distorted guitar inserts which now are noisy and then powerful. Another track that catch my attention immediately was "Intro" (which isn't the first of the album, it's the seventh/the second of side B): it starts with drone organ loops and then when the tension is at the top, it changes, turning into a fast melancholic tune. This album is a pleasant surprise and if you are into 90s guitarism with a bit of experimentation or you love Naked City, Slint and a bit of jazz, Nitro Mahalia is a band to check!
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Artist: MARTIN PHILIP (@)
Title: Recumbent
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Released recently, RECUMBENT is the newest album by Martin Philip and it brings to the attention of synthpop lovers, ten new tracks where you can find the distinctive Martin's smooth vocals (which recalls me of Pet Shop Boys as the last time), nice pop melodies/atmospheres, mid tempo rhythms and clever lyrics where he put his heart on his hands facing the audience. The main difference from "Fraudulent" is that he decided to sweep the dust from his Gretsch Electromatic electric guitar and to use it on these recordings. Composed during the last cold winter, the album finds Martin giving his vision of modern world taking inspiration from things like the lack of freedom (surveillance cameras are everywhere and "My dear illicit" is about that), girls living into a squalid student bedsit ("The opposite girl"), the responsibility of possession ("Carry no cargo") or about the vast contrast between how the world was as he grew up in the 70's compared to what it is today (the opening " Recumbent but never content"). Compared to the previous album I found RECUMBENT more reflective. Maybe, as Martin reported on his website, the fact to find homeless people under his apartment stairway trying to find a shelter, made him think about a lot of things and this album is the result of all this.
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Artist: CHROMAGAIN
Title: Any Colour We Liked
Format: CD
Label: Anna Logue Records / Mannequin (@)
Distributor: Mannequin
Rated: *****
Chromagain formed at the end of 1982, just before one of the most successful independent concert held in Turin during the early 80s. The concert was "Rock contro il nucleare" and it has been held at the Architecture Faculty's courtyard for two days and it gathered many of the independent city bands: Franti, Blind Alley and I think also Monuments, among others. Chromagain's early line-up included Sivio Ferrero (keyboards and drum machine), Luca Pastore (bass, guitar, keyboards) and Riccardo Acuto (vocals). Acuto left after recording some demo tracks and after him, Dana (singer who later formed the Synthetic Sun), joined with Maurizio Gallero (keyboards). Dana left and formed, with Sivio Ferrero, Casino Des Images, a project that is still active. Davide Bassino (vocals) joined and with that line-up they recorded "Ethnicbox", a track for a vinyl compilation titled "Tracce" released by Shirak Records in 1984. The year after, they recorded for Supporti Fonografici their only MLP titled "Any colour you like". That release had five tracks which showed a multifaceted band, capable of playing new wave tunes with a dance attitude like the opening "Satisfied" and "Spot" (also Monuments opted for the choice of being influenced by dance music for their MLP "Age"), atmospheric synth ballads (like "Killing dome"), melancholic dark mid tempos influenced by the Joy Division of "Decades" and pure new wave synth pop songs like the closing "Season of steel". Recorded at the Monuments' studio TKS, "Any colour you like" gathered recognition around the Italian country but Chromagain decided to stop their experience just like many bands did during the mid eighties: disco music was the hype back then and maybe Supporti Fonografici (which was a label linked to the records shop of the same name) wasn't strong enough to face the change. Chromagain during the last twenty five years have been remembered here in Turin and I think that many people while growing up, recalled themselves dancing to the melodies of "Spot". Anyway, after all these years, thanks to Anna Logue Records and to Mannequin, you have the opportunity to have a close look to Chromagain's music thanks to the five tracks of their MLP plus nine other tracks (on the vinyl they are only three) coming from compilations and early demos (many with Riccardo Acuto on vocals). I'd like to point out the quality that their demo recordings already had: they were a bit rough but they showed a great taste into the creation of the atmospheres and into the sound mix. I'd like also to tell you that Chromagain weren't only music, they also had a visual side thanks to Luca Pastore, who was already active with his Lego Video studio. He worked at a video and made the artistic cover of the MLP, for example. He already started to work on other bands' videos back then (you can check on YouTube his videos for Blind Alley and Deafear) and he continued to do so producing many Subsonica videos (a really well known band here in Italy). Music wise he played bass guitar with Fluxus (they were a noise rock band with four albums on their back) and nowadays you can check his audio/visual project Sulle Uova on YouTube and his new band Maciunas. Also Silvio Ferrero played with different bands such as Loschi Dezi and later Munciausen Generescion and he also opened a recording studio called Bunker Studio.
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Artist: Laurent Pernice vs. Laurent Perrier
Title: play piano and sounds
Format: CD
Label: sound on probation (@)
Rated: *****
Despite the fact that there's a certain amount of recordings based on piano and electronics, there's some work that sort out of banality. According to the press sheet, this album was done in two clearly defined phases: half of this is made out of tracks recorded by Laurent Pernice, the other half is recorded by Laurent Perrier after the listening of Pernice's works mixing piano and ambient music. So, this is not the classic album made by the encounter of an electronic musician and a piano player, it hasn't that sort of neo-romantic mood that permeate those records but has a kind of industrial influence and an harshness giving substance to the whole compositional plot.
Laurent Pernice is more concerned with piano lines and sounds more classical, as in "solar", where a glitch beats gives movements to an almost static and slow melody. This approach is methodically applied to all tunes with truly enjoyable results as in "you take my heart forever" where beats, field recordings and piano collides creating an evocative mood without any obvious melancholy.
Laurent Perrier works more with electronic soundscapes and rhythms, so "situation" has less piano but a more subtle work with (probably) field recording and noises, "frolements" develops is a sort of ambient-dub piano piece constructed on a bassline and a piano melody that match his mate "Equation part.6".
In some track this is an amazing album, also because it doesn't sound like a split album, as it is, but as a complete record, and, probably, it will be in my playlist for a while. Recommended.
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