Music Reviews



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Artist: Mike Vernusky
Title: Music or Film and Electro-Theatre
Format: CD
Label: Quiet Design (@)
Rated: *****
Fellow Chain D.L.K. writer and colleague Mike Vernusky has been "quietly making his loud music for nearly a decade" and yet his musical output is sparse and sporadic. As a composer he is the equivalent of a reclusive hermit or a holy medicine man who only really comes out when he's got something important to say. Granted, there are even more un-prolific artists out there (after all his debut "Blood that Sees the Light" is only from 2006), Vernusky is a deep thinker who dwells on his musical ideas for long periods of time before, as he says, "rushing anything to the public ear". In fact I was almost surprised to find out that he had something ready so soon after what he defined a life-changing experience and inspiration (seeing Richard Foreman's theater show "Astronome: A Night at the Opera" based on Zorn's music). "Music for Film and Electro-Theatre" is no doubt inspired by that event and his subsequent study of Foreman's work. Other artists that came to my mind while listening to this album were Ben Frost, Artemiy Artemiev, Pan Sonic, Asmus Tietchens... The music is diluted, long, slow, engulfing and somber. Very cinematic and layered, requiring your full and undivided attention and focus in order to transcend and move beyond the passive listening experience. Induced, surreal and suggested states are sometimes complemented or even extrapolated by the use of live improvising actors who depict scenes that will play out in the imagination of the listener sculpted by the surrounding ambiance brought forth by context they are presented in.
This album features two electronic pieces, two scores to films by Daniel Maldonando and two previously staged theatrical works by Vernusky's Texas and Philadelphia based electro-theater enxemble Electric Wolf, who staged productions in several cities internationally, with the help of playwright Greg Romero.
Definitely worth your time and buck if you are interested in expanding your vision and stimulating your imaginative mind.
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Artist: Jonas Ruchenhever/Peter Stenberg (@)
Title: Traumphantasie/Plateau
Format: CD
Label: Industrial Culture (@)
Rated: *****
Even if maybe this collaborative project by two talented sound experimenters such as the Swedish Peter Stenberg and the Belgian Jonas Ruchenhever is not properly the typical record which a listener can consider as a record for summertime as, according to the sleeve notes by Artur Olejarczyk from Freequency Institute highlighting the 'seasonal' appeal of Traumphantasie/Plateau, it could stand as an 'extraordinary soundtrack for the end of the year and lonely winter' ' it was issued on December 2009 by Industrial Culture, but has recently landed on my stereo system! -, I'd like to bring the attention on it for the crafting skills of their signers. There're just two deeper ruts on the cdr surface, but each of the two over-20-minutes-lasting tracks encloses various sketches, so that each track looks split up in different chapters or, it's better to say, in different moments which could even have a sort of narrative coherence indeed! A propos of narrative coherence, it could just be a personal fancy, but the subdivision in different acts, some references and even the name of the composition of Traumphantasie reminded to me the narrative sequence of Traumnovelle, a book by Arthur Schnitzel related to double identities and including many references to psychoanalytical matters such as amnesia, the loss of time perception and some matters related to the sensation of mysterious lightheadedness described by the main character, which at a certain point of the story asks himself if what he lived was a real experience or just a dream. The intriguing web of unrecognizable sounds ' being my favorite the disquieting central episode entitled The Bedroom (A Mess), ending with a sort of duck squawking inserted into a storm of unrecognizable high-frequency sounds and sliding into some sad stirred guitar blunts of A Cabin, Reconstructed ' together with some blurry sound effects on field recordings could be fitted to an imaginary soundtrack of that story in my opinion.

The second part of this release, Plateau, divided into three parts (In The Distance, In The Far reaches and A Cabin), sounds less cacophonous: it starts with some prepared piano notes, echoing in a foggy sound space where the most careful listener could hear bizarre environmental sounds including the thumbing of a foot, a relatively peaceful before some chiming and some guitar notes, which have been gradually distorted in volume and strike, begins the gradual cramming of sound space by drawing a sort of drone, wrapping the other sounds grabbed by microphones and mixer without towering above them. Really interesting sound experience!
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Artist: EightFourSeven
Title: Lossless
Format: CD
Label: Minus Head records (@)
Rated: *****
EightFourSeven is a Sacramento-based four piece and they just came out with their new full length album "Lossless" after a debut EP in 2002, a self-released full-length in 2004 and another EP in 2006.
"Lossless" is a powerful blend of rock and electronica. Be warned reader, there is more of the former than the latter, but if you have an open mind and you like some of the West Coast sounding more adventurous bands I would give this a spin. The sound is powerful and the sonic impact is grand. They reminded me of The Dreaming (Stabbing Westward's lead singer's project) and in a way they might remind a bit of Linkin Park, but they will also remind you of a bunch of other bands with this new rock sound...
For "Lossless" EightFourSeven decided to break out the big guns. They enlisted the help of producer Eric Stenman (M.I.A., Senses Fail, Thrice) and local heroes Far's guitar player Shaun Lopez and took the whole show down to the big Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica. It took them four years of work but the results paid off qualitatively speaking and hopefully it will be same in terms of exposure and feedback.
Aug 26 2010
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Artist: Recoil (@)
Title: Selected
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Mute records
Rated: *****
Released in June, "Recoil Selected" is a double CD retrospective of some of Recoil's best material according to founding member Alan Wilder (also with Depeche Mode until '95) and Paul Kendall. Wilder curated this collection based on his personal favorites and it features singers such as Diamanda Galas, Joe Richardson, Douglas McCarthy, Samantha Coerbell, Toni Halliday, Nicole Blackman, The Golden Gate, Carla Trevaskis, Hildia Cambell, Siobhan Lynch and Maggie Estep. Recoil has always had the unique talent of creating timeless music. With a discography spanning from 1988 to 2007 (yet made of only five releases), it is still hard to pick out which are the older tracks from the '90es and which are from the last couple of records. "Soundscapes without boundaries and without compromise", as Wilder calls them, that perfectly stood the test of time and will please music lovers with the most varied of listening habits (Delerium, Pink Floyd, Manorexia, Clock DVA, Synaesthesia, Laurie Anderson and many other of his peers come to mind).
The first CD contains original classics while the second one features remixes. They will both be available as a physical double CD or as separate digital downloads.
This release will be supported by a "Selected Tour 2010" which promises to be a stunning collaboration of visuals, electronics and crafty synthesized arrangements.
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Artist: Aref Durvesh + Xfile (@)
Title: Rational Exuberance
Format: CD EP
Label: Tigersonic (@)
Rated: *****
Aref Durvesh is one of the most active tabla players in the UK and has previously collaborated with the likes of Sting and Susheela Raman. On "Rational Exuberance" he joined hands with bass player and producer Felix Xfile Macintosh from Xkollective and V.U. and the two long-time collaborators created a soothing six track EP of world music downtempo electronica. Needless to say the focus is on tabla patterns (from steady and relaxing to fast and exciting) and deep bass lines, but the addition of vocals (by Aref himself as well as a female guest vocalist), guitar, bansuri and live drums on a few tracks make it a sexy fusion of styles and musical etymology that fans of Suphala, Tabla Beat Science, Karsh Kale and others will surely enjoy. Although it isn't, this stuff (especially come track 6) somehow reminded me of the '90s underground NY drum'n'bass scene and the long jam sessions with dancehall MCs and eccentric guests (that was the first time I saw Kale play), and I suppose that is still very much alive in the UK. I shall go and check it out for myself soon...
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