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Artist: Cauterised
Title: Trifler Comes Clean
Format: CD EP
Label: M.O.M.T. Records (@)
Rated: *****
After "Trifler Gimmes Ox" and "Trifler's Revenge", Cauterised (side project of Quartersized, a.k.a. Ian, M.O.M.T.'s boss) is back with TRIFLER COMES CLEAN, a four track EP which make of samplerism its virtue. Taking as inspiration old B-movies, the EP offers nice tracks where despair and irony blend creating ghoulish soundtracks. The mysterious atmospheres of "Satanus naked" with female choirs and piano haunted melodies make me feel at home (I love 50s and 60s B-movies) and I feel them like an audio transposition of the movies you can find into the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Films. Also the following "An education" (where a slowed down orchestra duet with an obsessive loop) and "Linda finds joy" (melancholic strings duet with noises, children's laughs and monsters' breaths) follow the same path creating a great mood. "Voodoo magic" closes the release with a psychedelic atmosphere made of distant organ sounds, percussions and female samples. Run! They are coming to get you!
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Artist: Machinist Noise Assault (@)
Title: Self Help
Format: CD
Label: Silken Tofu (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Machinist Noise Assault, but just looking at the liner notes and seeing that it was mastered by Thomas Garrison (Control, Exsanguinate), gave me some insight into what I was in for. As expected, this is pretty heavy power electronics stuff. Here's how the label describes the album: 'Lyrically, 'Self Help' is a scornful examination of various forms of self abuse/neglect, and severe internal struggle based around the concept of one being one's own worst enemy. Sonically, expect to hear densely layered power electronics, standing out from the usual 'Set it and forget it'-style of its peers with less focus being applied to outright abrasiveness, and more being put on texture, development, and atmospheric elements.' Although power electronics stuff tends to be boring at times because of focus on vocals at the expense of the backing noise, Machinist Noise Assault actually does follow through on the promise of focusing on atmosphere and creative soundscapes. Musically, this is ahead of many PE artists. Song titles like 'Shut up. Curl up. Die,' and 'Victim By Choice' does, however, go along the standard PE lines and does so in completely expected ways (screamed and distorted). Overall this is well executed, although I have to admit that no particular track stood out to me. The album is also nicely packaged in an oversized 7' foldout with lyrics (which is good because otherwise you would have a hard time deciphering the lyrics). I would recommend this for fans of Strom e.c. and Navicon Torture Technologies ' the former for the musical aspects and the latter for the lyrical content. This disc weighs in at around 41 minutes.
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Artist: Seven That Spells (@)
Title: Future Retro Spasm
Format: CD
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
I previously reviewed Seven That Spells' album 'Cosmoerotic Dialogue With Lucifer' and, although their penchant for putting naked women on the cover continues undeterred, I have to say that they seem to have mellowed out some. In that review I stated, 'Imagine if Frank Zappa and Sun Ra had a love child that hung out with Nel Cline and Thurston Moore. That love child would play music that sounds a lot like Seven that Spells.' Well, it seems that the child has grown up, got married to the cover model, and had kids. There is still a great complexity to the music and the guitar still reigns supreme, but to take the analogy to the logical extreme, this is a more mature, wiser, Seven That Spells. No longer content to get into testosterone-laden posturing and barroom fights, this group knows that sometimes it is good to slow down'just a bit, of course'and that speed isn't always synonymous with quality. Now here's what the equally metaphorical press sheet that came with the disc had to say: 'STS's psych moves sound like road construction in downtown NYC; a pummeling, from which arises a sublime melodic poetry and the sweet smell of asphalt.' Yes, this is pummeling, but yes this is melodic. The full force fury of their previous album is less foregrounded, but this is still quite powerful. Rather than unloading in a wall of noise, Seven That Spells proves that they are very skilled, serious musicians. The compositions are well constructed and engaging. 'The Abandoned World Of Automata' almost has a jazzy feel to it. Now that doesn't mean that there is not still vestiges of the wall of noise that I remembered. 'Death Star Narcolepsy' can be every bit as frenzied as anything on their last album, but even this track takes on more structure as it progresses. Overall, this was quite enjoyable. If you like guitar music that pushes the envelope, this is one to pick up. This album weighs in at about 49 minutes.
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Artist: Sand Snowman
Title: Nostalgia Ever After
Format: CD
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
I had not heard of Sand Snowman, and there seems to be little info on the band (perhaps this is listed in the liner notes, but I didn't get any in the promo pack). The band listing on the Myspace page is likewise enigmatic, consisting of A Disgruntled Hibernian, with vocals from Moonswift, Steven Wilson, Amandine Ferrari, Judy Dyble, Bobbie Watson, Nyx, Jason Ninnis, Jo and Jerome. Moreover, the MySpace page states that Sand Snowman sounds like 'A whisper in a world full of shouting. A rainbow in a raindrop. The shadowy corners of a child's psyche. Veganism. Van Gogh's "Sain d'Espirit". De Chirico's Metaphysical afternoons. Tall tales in small hours.....' Interesting descriptions, and to an extent it holds up pretty well. This is quiet music, consisting mainly of voice and acoustic guitar. At times, it is reminiscent of 1970's easy listening folk, but for the most part it is peaceful and calm. The voices blend together well, creating a carefully crafted sonic texture. None of the tracks really stand out though, partly because of its unassuming quality and ability to blend into the background. This seems by design though. The press sheet notes that Sand Snowman is 'countering the harsh noises and hectic bustle of this strung-out metropolis [London] with miraculous albums of mysteriously quiet music.' If you want music to calm you down rather than pump you up, you've come to the right place. Some comparisons that come to mind are Tel Basta and some of the older Miranda Sex Garden albums. This would also be quite at home among practitioners of 'apocalyptic folk,' for example Current 93's 'Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre,' although lacking that album's occasional dissonance. This album weighs in at around 46 minutes.
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Artist: Hopen (@)
Title: The Shark’s Wife e.p.
Format: Tape
Label: Automation Records (@)
According to his website, Childe Grangier, the person behind Hopen, creates his music 'Using architectures of hazard and chance, influenced by sounds, daily noises and music experimentation from Dub to Zappa, Autechre, Luc Ferrari, Subrosa label or Capillary Action.' This is a pretty accurate assessment as far as it goes. This is a lot of cut up music, with segments speeded up and slowed down and any range in between, as if someone was playing it on a turntable directly powered by the jerky hand of an elderly person with ADHD. Oh yeah, and the record would be scratched enough to continually skip at random intervals. The song titles are amusing, but seem to have an arbitrary relation to the songs, such as 'No Sleepy's Will' and 'Sir Fuck Twelve IV.' I have previously reviewed Hopen's 'Their Quasi Homes Are Real Holes,' and the comparisons I gave there (Zoviet France's 'Loh Land' and some of Hafler Trio's cut up stuff) remains intact. However, I found 'Their Quasi Homes Are Real Holes' to be a stronger release. What I enjoyed about that release was the sense of whimsy and dark humor that seem to be absent here ' 'Rathmines' is the track that comes closest to this feel. It's almost as if Hopen is taking himself too seriously on this release. Something about this album just isn't clicking for me. However, you can actually check out the album at the website and see what you think. This tape weighs in at around 28 minutes.
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