Music Reviews

Nina Walsh: Bright Lights & Filthy Nights

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 23 2009
Artist: Nina Walsh (@)
Title: Bright Lights & Filthy Nights
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Malicious Damage Records Ltd (@)
Distributor: Malicious Damage Records Ltd
Rated: *****
This is the kind of album we don’t usually get around here; a folky, predominantly acoustic little number more likely to found reviewed in the glossy pages of Alternative Press or Spin than the cold, grey post-apocalyptic landscape of Chain D.L.K. However this release is deserving of attention because it IS different in a quirky, oddball sort of way. It is the arrangements more than the songs or singer that makes it unusual; although Ms. Walsh’s vocal characteristics are notable for their dichotomy of innocence and world-weariness.
The same is true with the CD cover- a girl looking like Heidi, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (or an older version of the Sunbeam Bread girl) and the title, "Bright Lights & Filthy Nights," a contrived but charming contradiction. And so it goes with the music- simple and guileless in song structure most of the time, yet employing subtle (and some not so subtle) production techniques and instrumental touches lift it out of the banal. You don’t hear much theremin and synth burbles and atmospheres backing most folky artists, but you’ll hear it here.

The result is what you might get if you were a folk singer/songwriter and your album was produced by John Cale, Brian Eno AND Edward Ka-Spel. There is a bittersweet aura to the songs as Nina’s voice is soaked in Melanie’s "Leftover Wine" and the embers and ash of Marianne Faithfull’s last cigarette before she started singing in Broken English. Echoes of Hope Sandoval and pre-Marble Index’ Nico (sans the Teutonic drama)
haunt the halls Walsh’s musical manse. I also hear a bit of Lida Husik and Claudine Longet. Not only has Nina well absorbed some of these nostalgic influences, but has wrapped them in an appealing modern eclectic package.

Perhaps that’s due to her musical resume. She did a vocal track for Primal Scream. She created and co-managed two record techno labels (Sabres of Paradise’ and Sabrettes’) with Andrew Weathererall. She was involved in SLAB with Lol Hammond and co-wrote two track on The Orb’s Cydonia’ album with Alex Patterson. I’m compressing here; there’s a lot more that she’s done, including running her own experimental underground label, CPIJ Records. But now you know she’s not just some chick with a pleasant voice and an acoustic guitar who happened to get lucky with an inspired bedroom recording.

There are some interesting diversions on Bright Lights’ too. Her vocal compatriot, Gareth Thomas, conjures a less emotive and gentler Martyn Bates (Murder Ballads’, Eyeless in Gaza) on "Storms". "Love Leech" is straight out of Danielle Dax’s playbook of playful weirdness. And the wonderfully atmospheric track "Industrial Folk" could easily have been done by Bjork. In certain respects, I’m reminded of the SPELL collaboration with Boyd Rice and Rose McDowall by the overall feel of the album.

As good as the songs are individually, there is one standout track, appropriately titled "Strong". It’s anthemic with a killer chorus hook. This song has a lot of potential in the college radio market. While I don’t think Bright Lights & Filthy Nights’ is perfect, it comes damn close to being a classic. Audrey Riley’s fine cello playing also deserves some mention as it enhances the melancholy mood of many of the tracks. Bravo, Ms. Walsh for putting out a fine album. I think it might just be remarkable enough to pique some curiosity amongst the jaded.


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Nov 17 2009
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Title: Tongue Tangled Hair
Format: CD
Label: Tartaruga Records (@)
Rated: *****
TONGUE TANGLED HAIR is the second Bleeding Heart Narrative full length album and for this one Olivier Barret (sometimes helped by other seven people who played violin, cello, saxophone, drums and guitar here and there) mixed the cards a little bit if you paragon this album with his first one. If "All that was missing we never had in the world" was tense and dark, TONGUE TANGLED HAIR is a multifaceted album where you find all the distinctive elements of the previous one (strings, piano, guitars and the atmosphere that was switching from the relaxed melancholy of "Blueskywards" - only available on the Cold Spring reissue - to the throbbing wall of sound of the opening "Bhn") plus an expanded song attitude (many of the twelve tracks have vocals and melody) that will please all the post rock lovers. If part of the tension is gone, the gloominess and the thick sound effect is still there. Strings build a kind of droney sound (only on "Tilted the wall" we have a sort of chamber quartet with pizzicato cellos and all) while piano and vocals paint a tormented melancholic picture. Personally I prefer tension but I have to admit that also TONGUE TANGLED HAIR is capable to build a great atmosphere. You can download "Colours Turn Colours" mp3 from Tartaruga Records website.
Artist: Jennifer Choi (@)
Title: Violectrica (Music for Violin and Electronics)
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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Jennifer Choi is one of the most active and talented violinists in both New York's classical and downtown music scene. Her style is adventurous and grounded at the same time and her knowledge and understanding of the music and of the instrument position her as one of the leading virtuoso violinists on the scene, but also as one of the most open minded and daring players out there. She has played in countless places and on numerous records by improvised and classical music composers and luminaries such as Susie Ibarra, John Zorn (check her out in Zorn's latest master[card-]piece "Femina") and many others... Her latest work is a solo CD featuring interpretations of pieces by Alexandra Gardener, Randall Woolf, Padma Newsome, Susie Ibarra, Annie Gosfield and Ikue Mori, who also appears on the record as a guest and with whom Jennifer recorded three improvisations. As you might except from the sub-title, there is plenty of electronics (from ambient textures, to industrial-ish sounds, from soundscapes and layers to glitches and buzzes, from field-type background noises to sampled material). Her eclectic playing complements such eccentricity with passion and innovation, moving well beyond the standard bowing and the pizzicatos and experimenting with a whole new slew of sounds and noises that the instrument is capable of generating when in her hands. Highly recommended to those who want to hear some masterfully executed solo violin pieces but who aren't afraid to find out that there might be more than just violin after all.

Kilowatt & Vanek: FOCUS AND FLOW

 Posted by Mariano Equizzi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 16 2009
Artist: Kilowatt & Vanek
Format: CD
Distributor: MASTERPIECE
Rated: *****
Have you ever imagined an unplugged band with some neurotic filaments attached to a glitch downtempo dominion? K&V have this feature! And the result is something weird as a Cronenberg early movies. The symphony of oddities and micro-sounds and breakbeats they built around a vibrating and human touch based song is something very very very strange, unique. For sure is a work ready for those are searching something related to that kind of evolution built up by Portishead. Organic feeling perturbated by something from the electronic unconscious. The electronic sound enters inside the recorded voice and the processing of the voice itself brings the listener inside the peculiar and genius world of K&V. I gotta say that the work they made has an incredible freshness and in the same time is able to be complex like a Rubik's cube, layers of sound weave rendering out a work easy to be old after many playbacks.

CONTENT, DARUIN : Gatcha Gatcha Clink Clank

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 15 2009
Title: Gatcha Gatcha Clink Clank
Format: CD
Label: Neus (@)
Rated: *****
This collaboration features again Kazuya Ishigani (Daruin) together with Boban Ristgevski (Content) and I guess if you've heard his collaboration with Koura probably know we're talking about experimental, cold electronic music. Differently from the previous cd we've reviewed the electronic element is more frontal and there's no trace of field recordings, but it all is quite evident from the very first track. They've been working on obsessive loops that end up creating a cyclic and highly hypnotic effect, the second name of this work could have been loops and repetitions. The final result is not that far from many similar work from artists working in the field of sound art, installations and so on, infact in the three long suites here featured beside working on sound definition it's quite evident the fact the wanted to drag around every sound for what they could have considered they could consider right amount of tim. The's no trace of melody, just cold aseptic quasi-industrial electronic loops going from one ear to the other and blowing your brains off. An overall interesting running close to the border of monotony.

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