Music Reviews



The Bodies Obtained: Dead Plans

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 10 2010
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Artist: The Bodies Obtained (@)
Title: Dead Plans
Format: CD
Label: Finding You Attractive
Rated: *****
I previously reviewed The Bodies Obtained's 'From the Top of My Tree,' and was not very impressed, partly because they compared them to the Residents and brought Throbbing Gristle into the mix. This time, thankfully, the promo sheet resists such tenuous connections, choosing rather to describe it as 'residing in a space where experimental noise and music find common ground ' think melodic dissonance.' I can get behind this description, although for readers of Chain DLK the term 'noise' has significantly different expectations. You will not find anything like Merzbow here, so move along if that's what you are looking for. That said, I think that my original comparison to the Legendary Pink Dots still holds. This is darkly amusing, almost poppy kind of music. For example, 'She Wants What She Wants' begins with the words 'She wants the itch of your crotch.' The music is a mishmash of funhouse organ and distorted voice. You can tell that you are in for a weird ride from the very beginning. Overall, I found this album to be much stronger than the predecessor and a good time. This is not exactly feel good music, but it is enjoyable in the same way looking at a car wreck is enjoyable ' you know you should stop looking but the scene is so compelling. This disc weighs in at 39 minutes.

The Infant Cycle: Secret Hidden Message

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 10 2010
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Artist: The Infant Cycle (@)
Title: Secret Hidden Message
Format: 7"
Label: Drone Records (@)
Rated: *****
Jim DeJong has been putting out music under the moniker The Infant Cycle since 1992, but I have to admit that I had not heard much from him. The label describes this as 'hypnotic drone-circles from Canada using tons of instrumental sound-sources.' And they aren't kidding about the sources, which are listed in the notes and include guitar, cookery, carved playout groove, marimba, bird cage, wind chimes, concocted field recording, electronic organ, and trombone. Not that you would be able to recognize any of these elements in the music. All of these tracks are pleasant drones (did you expect anything else from the label?) that all slowly evolve. 'Secret Hidden Message' combines shimmering drone with rhythm and random noises throughout that if you blink you will miss them. It ends suddenly with about a second of pounding percussion. '(And Then The Dog Replied)' follows a similar trajectory, although with a bit harder edge to it and more dissonance. But side B, simply titled 'Trombone' is where he really shines. The fact that the only sound source is a trombone is a testament to his skill at sound manipulation. It almost sounds like two interconnected tracks. At first it is a bit chaotic and noisy as it lurches along. Where side A seemed much more composed, this has a sense of randomness to it. But then is shifts and slowly builds from calm drones to an almost ominous sounding bass drone with high pitched cries from the trombone. All in all, a good addition to the Drone roster. Limited to 300 in translucent grey vinyl.

Encomiast / The Copper Thieves: 139 Nevada

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 10 2010
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Artist: Encomiast / The Copper Thieves (@)
Title: 139 Nevada
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Lens Records (@)
Rated: *****
The more I hear from Lens Records, the more I like what they are doing. Everything I have reviewed for them has been excellent. Not bad for a label I had not heard of a year ago. I had not heard of either of these bands, but evidently The Copper Thieves consist of members of Encomiast and Mandible Chatter ' there is a band that I have not heard about in quite some time, but they made (still make?) quite interesting experimental music.

Here is the background on the project from the label: 'In 2004, a group of musicians and curiosity-seekers went to the Belvidere Theatre in Central City, CO because it was rumored to be one of the most haunted buildings in the state. Our initial goal was to attempt to record Electromagnetic Voice Phenomena, but the project eventually took on a much different cast. We never succeeded in capturing any ghostly voices, but we reassembled the recordings into new compositions that captured the haunted spaciousness of the theatre. That's where 139 Nevada began. We returned to record in the theatre two more times while making these two records. Even if the spirits never raised their voices, we hope they were entertained by our presence.' Well, even if the spirits were not entertained, this reviewer certainly was. Let's discuss each disc in turn.

Encomiast: I have listened to this disc a few times and I still don't know how to describe it. This is an excellent thing. The comparisons that come to mind are Coil and Zoviet France. I find this album to be fantastic. At some points it is pleasant droning music that fades into the background. At others, it turns into staccato marimba and metal percussion that has an almost whimsical quality. Other times the atmosphere is think and complex but not overwhelming. At still other times, they flex their muscles and make it a bit noisier. I would have to say that this disc has a combination that is often sorely lacking in experimental music'variety and balance. Some bands try to branch out and tracks are all over the map and sound out of place. Encomiast manages to do so cohesively.

The Copper Thieves: The track begins with peaceful drones and lilting music-box like melody throughout. However, this then transitions to a jungle like atmosphere with a simple drum beat repeated over and over, as if it were the soundtrack to a Tarzan movie. And so it goes throughout the album, much as the Encomiast disc (and this makes sense, considering that they are an integral part of this band as well). Peaceful atmosphere is punctuated by clangs and otherworldly sounds. Piano that sounds as if it were being played in an (almost) empty, decrepit, long forgotten concert hall as a woman sings a concert that will never be heard. At other times, we have a dark, ominous soundtrack-like piece, reminiscent of In The Nursery's 'Optical Music' series. Overall, a pleasant listen that evolves with enough shifts to keep it interesting.

This set is wonderfully packaged in a paper box with cotton batting and postcards. All in all, I would highly recommend this set. It's limited to 200 copies, so you will want to pick this one up quickly.

Athana: Beats & Pieces

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 09 2010
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Artist: Athana (@)
Title: Beats & Pieces
Format: 12"
Label: West Audio Music
Rated: *****
Each time I approach to Alf Terje Hana's guitar compositions I tend to think about Fripp and his tunes where without any kind of boundaries he express himself using the guitar as a medium. Since from the opening track of the latest Athana album titled BEATS & PIECES, Alf mix free jazz, rock and a bit of funk to create a running train called 'I.O. Roni' (which is inspired by a Roni Size performance he watched on BBC at the 'Jools Holland' show). This album gathers new tracks, collaboration and remixes and the second track is one of the two remixes you'll find here. Sternklang (an electronic artist coming from Norway), remix 'Luskesangen' and after an initial ambient start he started the song keeping the distinctive Athana sound adding processed sounds. 'Lifeform 47' is an experimental i.d.m./dub track and sees Togeir Nes (the band member behind the electronic programming) giving his best. 'Fuzz off' born from a collaboration with an electronic musician hidden behind the Kaoss 99 moniker and it sounds like a fuzz guitar preparing to ride the space to land on a new planet. 'Alien elephants' is the second remix and the Parisian electronic artist Lingouf is at the mixing desk giving to the jazzy mysterious original tune a distorted break beat treatment, making of it a furious track which goes insane at end of its ten minutes of length. The closing track is a radio edit version (four minutes shorter) of the opening 'I.O. Roni'. It sounds good and I prefer this one to the longer version but I don't know why Athana did such choice, because they don't differ too much. Anyway, BEATS & PIECES confirms Athana as an inspired project that is willing to create out of time involving music.

MARHSALL, GUAZZALOCA, MIMMO, ADU : the shoreditch concert

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 07 2010
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Artist: MARHSALL, GUAZZALOCA, MIMMO, ADU
Title: the shoreditch concert
Format: CD
Label: Amirani (@)
Rated: *****
As many of our reader have probably noticed, above all if they/you're in the ranks of those who know what's happening in the world of contemporary music-avant jazz and similar contexts, you've probably heard/noticed Amirani records has been exploring both genres with no damn fear to cross that border where everything is misty and "un-safe". Even thought a live concert in a church where you have a cello, plus a piano, plus a voice and a soprano sax dealing with contemporary music, is not exactly a betrayal of tradition, this quartet "fakes tradition" and plays with it: abstract, jazzy and neoclassic without resembling that much anything in particular, but incorporating elements of different but yet similar musical growths. I think it's important to underline the fact this quartet is a high-technically-skilled-killing-machine, but don't hold your breath, these musicians have gone beyond their incredible technical talent. What drives all of the tracks is still the idea/feeling of the moment, a great stream of consciousness that pushed them to leave the harbor behind their backs to sail uneasy waters. Guazzaloca's soft passages and his pointillistic incursions are maybe one of the strongest presences of this live performance, don't expect a frontal piano playing, but his work has a big weight on the final result. What can be filed as frontal, is the soprano sax of Mimmo and if you ever had the chance to see one of his live shows you know "the man has his say", his frontal approach in this recording is in line with the Baileyan idea that the performer has always to be himself no matter what's the context. Leila Adu and Hannah Marshall have the roles of the tight rope walkers therefore they're constantly on the edge of the ideal musical line that joins Guazzaloca to Mimmo and they did a beautiful job since Adu's voice flights elegantly on a scene where beside the two italians, the english cellist often acts in response or contrast to the different phrases "scattered on the crime scene". The location of this performance is the body of a church and reverb is the fifth element of the recording, but the interesting thing is that they played considering the aural context and what a good work they did!. An intense but yet really digestible contemporary work where the players are more driven by the feeling than by the idea to sound like this or like that, a challenge where many others have failed.


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