Music Reviews

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis: The Proposition (original soundtrack)

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 11 2006
Artist: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Title: The Proposition (original soundtrack)
Format: CD
Label: Mute
Rated: *****

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Chain D.L.K. is proud to present to our faithful readers the latest release by Nick Cave (with Bad Seeds member and The Dirty Three front-man Warren Ellis), to be released on Mute February 21st: "The Proposition" is the original soundtrack to the movie of the same name, accepted into 2006 Sundance Film Festival; and what is so special about the movie and the soundtrack is that they were BOTH written by Nick Cave himself. Cave is, needless to say, a prolific and extraordinary writer; as in songwriter (obviously, with The Bad Seeds and The Birthday Party), book writer ("And the Ass saw the Angel") and now screenplay writer (even though "And the Ass saw the Angel" actually was initially meant to be a film script, and he had also written some dialogue for Hillcoat's previous "Ghost... of the Civil Dead"), in addition to soundtrack music writer ("Ghost... of the Civil Dead") and actor too. An all around outstanding, super-talented artist, who, when faced with the challenge to write an entire film's story and dialogue, masterfully rose to the occasion and delivered an intense, extremely well articulated and well told, interesting, engaging and beautiful story that takes place in Cave's very own lawless Australia of the 1880'es, where two out of three brothers wanted for rape and murder are caught by a local law enforcer who jails the youngest and offers the other the option (hence, the proposition...) to save him from death sentence by tracking down and killing the oldest, yet uncaught, renegade and violent-perpetuating brother.

Before we dwell into more information about the movie, I'd like to spend a few words on what most of our readers are probably most interested in ultimately: the music. We all know that when Cave and Ellis work together magical heights are seemingly effortlessly reached, but in this case they possibly went a step further together to re-define the spontaneity of raw beauty and the realism of timeless interpretation. Ellis' violin arrangements are devine and sophisticated, yet minimal and primitive, even slightly de-tuned to enhance that specific quality that remains with the music of our ancestors. Their melancholic and evocative essence majestically balances out with the minimalist choice of instruments and arrangements that the two composers wholeheartedly adopted and perfectly adapted and synced to the on-screen action and tale. Cave's muttered vocal contributions are few and far between to interact with the dialogues that he wrote for the story, a job that he has performed outstandingly, in respect to accent-specific localizations and the time-sensitive historic placement. String arrangement intensive, very acoustic, hardly ever electric or even "digital", deep, powerful, rattling, cycling, improvisational and fragmented, droning and theme-recurring, ancient and ghostly, sad and perpetual. For those who expect a Bad Seeds or a Dirty Three record, "The Proposition" will reveal itself as a surprisingly different, and in my opinion, not nearly disappointing effort at commenting the landscape and the fury within. For those who can read the beauty in the minor keys, "The Proposition" has so much to offer and so little to disappoint you with, that you won't be able to take it off your CD player.
I basically have nothing bad good words for this movie or its soundtrack.

I thought my John Wayne days were over, but this film made me re-discover the beauty of the old western movie tales. It was directed by Cave's friend John Hillcoat ("The Blonde's Date with Death" and "Frankie and Johnny", as well as music videos for Cave, INXS, Depoche Mode, Robert Plant, Placebo, Muse, Manic Street Preachers etc) who did a great job (together with the director of photography) at capturing the hot, dry and lonely land of Australia, with its yellow-ish/sepia colors, its unbearable heat, its dust and sand and its flies... His stunning vision, which bends and adapts to the raw and realistic violence and to some of the movie's crudest blood-splattered scenes, was complemented and aided by a crew of five exceptional mostly Australian producers with experience in the music industry, photography and the film industry.

The amazing (almost entirely Australian) cast includes: Guy Pearce ("The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert", "LA Confidential", "Memento", "The Hard Word", "Seven Years in Tibet", "The Time Machine", "The Count of Monte Cristo", "Two Brothers"), Ray Winstone ("Quadrophenia", "Nil By Mouth", "Face", "The War Zone", "Sexy Beast", "King Arthur", "Ripley's Game", "Cold Mountain" and several TV shows), Danny Huston ("The Constant Gardener", "Alpha Male", "Marie Antoniette", "The Aviator", "21 Grams", "Silver City", "Fade to Black"), John Hurt ("The Dwarfs", "Krapp's Last Tape", "Crime and Punishment", "The Naked Civil Servant", "Midnight Express", "The Elephant Man", "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", "Love and Death on Long Island", "Miranda", "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", "Afterplay", "Shooting Dogs"), David Wenham ("Lord of the Rings", "Van Helsing", "Moulin Rouge!", "The Brush Off"), Emily Watson ("Breaking the Waves", "Hilarie and Jackie", "Wah Wah", "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" as well as TV and theater).

PAUL BRADLEY: Liquid Sunset

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 07 2006
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Title: Liquid Sunset
Format: CD
Label: Twenty Hertz
Rated: *****
Bradley is tirelessly putting out new releases, and, when the quality is this high, prolificacy is welcome. His new full length, "Liquid Sunset", is probably one of his best solo releases indeed: its two parts remind of his most abstract guitar-based works, like "Sepulchral" or the first Dronework, but with the more serene and airy feel that was already present in "Anamnesis". The guitar inputs are thus transformed into warm floating clouds of sound, slowly lulling the listener - perfect evening soundscapes, just like the title evokes. And besides the inherent beauty of the work, one notices Bradley's increasing mastery of the tools of trade, as his releases keep getting more and more refined.


 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 07 2006
Title: Lost
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Penumbra
Rated: *****
Penumbra is a new sublabel of Oophoi's Umbra, releasing shorter works by ambient musicians. "Lost" is a single 22-minute track of Alessandro Tedeschi's extraordinary project (here at processed field recordings, loops and voice), with Fiorenza Gherardi de Candei at chant and lyrics. The experiment (i.e. adding sung vocals to an isolationist ambient soundscape) is quite risky, but the two artists luckily match very well, and Tedeschi has skillfully chosen how to distribute Gherardi de Candei's distant vocal melodies and the anguished spoken text which dominates the last minutes. I know the "mix X and Y" thing is lame, but try and imagine Mick Harris' desolate drones in the "Murder Ballads" series crossed with Lycia at their bleakest, and you'll get close to the atmosphere of this successful ep.

Verplanken: The Missing Tracks

 Posted by Perry Bathous   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 06 2006
Artist: Verplanken
Title: The Missing Tracks
Format: CD EP
Label: Marie-Line T Discovery (@)
Rated: *****
Way more inscrutable and abstract than their previous release Autopsy of a Dream, Verplanken's 5-song follow-up EP The Missing Tracks is to say the least something of a non sequitur. "Voyage" and "Island," tracks one and three, resemble nothing so much as an atonal wash of sound reminiscent of the Hafler Trio or Brian Eno's ultra-minimal Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks album. Unlike Autopsy, there are no drums or rhythms of any kind. Not at all a bad recording as far as sound quality goes, and if echoey synth and disjointed bass patterns float your boat; but make no mistake, these Missing Tracks are definitely not party music.

Fripp-like guitar treatments on track two, "On the Edge," do little to dispel the disappointment one feels at complete lack of kinship with prior Verplanken work. Instead of bouncing along while exploring a whimsical and amusing new planet, we're cast adrift in space.

OMIT: Tracer

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 06 2006
Artist: OMIT
Title: Tracer
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Helen Scarsdale Agency (@)
Rated: *****
Omit is the personal dark ambient project of Clinton Williams and TRACER is a double CD that gathers two CDrs he released back on 2002 through SySecular. Thanks to the Helen Scarsdale Agency now these recordings are available again in a limited edition of 750 copies. The first CD contains twelve tracks and the first one, "Sequester", is a 20' opus that, like a snake, crawls through synthesizer pads, vocal samples, delayed rhythms and digital noises. The other tracks explore, like the first one, the different humoral solutions of ambient proposing sounds that reminded me of Lustmord (the "Heresy" / "The monstrous soul" period) where the structure of the sounds are functional to the ambience created. So, hissing sounds, distant rhythms and long sounds create a disturbing paint of motions. The tracks are apparently calm and sometimes (like on "Din shader") thread the audience with distortions and dilated atmospheres. The second CD is slight different because Clinton used also clanging sounds (like on the opening "Clicker"), bleeps ("Din-cycle") or more aggressive sounds ("Bug capper"). If you love dark ambient I'm sure you'll love this one.

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