Music Reviews



HAMILTON YARNS : search for the underwater town

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 25 2008
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Artist: HAMILTON YARNS (@)
Title: search for the underwater town
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Hark Recorrdings (@)
Rated: *****
Honestly be it the fact it was a promo or the naive painting on the cover, I had no great expectation from this double cd, but hell knows if I was wrong!. I’ve been listening both of the cds repeatedly many times and I think this’ a great work. I wish none will be offended by the following comparison but I use it just to help you making a picture of Hamilton Yarn’s music, this bands really reminded of the musical approach of Bablicon, some new/old folk bands from England and last Current 93 gone more solar. As you may have guessed we’re talking about melodic folk music in a broad sense but it’s enriched of neo psychedelia, popular music, field recordings and the tracklist gives you the impression it has been designed to create a narration, thus we could define it "story telling music". This may sound as "art brut" and it’s not absolutely erroneous but I think everything seems to be really intentional on this cd, so you have well done recordings, rough field-sounds but all has been mixed with a great taste. They should be a seven piece from what I could get from their website and they play a large variety of instruments like piano, violin, cornet, flute, clarinet, harmonium, etc...and they also use vocals in a really folk/popular manner. Both of the cds offer an equal amount of melody and soft acoustic sound works, most of the music have a childish dreamlike atmosphere if it’s not something you can lull your children with it’s really close to it. Obviously from what I wrote you may imagine this could sound as a soundtrack for cartoons or for kids oriented movies and this’ what I find really lovely of this double cd: it’s simple, but its a simplicity not so easily obtainable infact if you pay attention to the arrangements of the majority of the tracks you can’t but notice they’re really well pondered and combined with a great writing skill. "Pastoral folk" they say and I agree with reviewers who labelled them this way, even if it could be a bit reductive for the multiplicity of things they put together. Thumbs up to the pastoral folksters.
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Artist: VAE VICTUS / Durch Heer und Kraft
Title: Fortes Fortune Adiuvat!
Format: CD
Label: SkullLine (@)
Distributor: SkullLine
Rated: *****
The release onslaught of the German SkullLine label wins on speed and offers more and more curious acts rather dedicated to some more Experimental-minded music efforts. This full-length album is a split-release by two quite musically different acts, the US-one man act VAE VICTUS and the Hungarian DURCH HEER UND KRAFT. VAE VICTUS seems to be the more drastically outfit, providing a mixture of a static and noisy Military-inspired Industrial sound combined with Ambient and filled with dozens of war, sirens and propaganda movie samples. A little communistic vein is surely integrated as well, tracks like "The Fall Of Capitalism / The Party Of Lenin" or the pure Mao Tse Tung-propaganda tracks "Chairman Mao Is The Red Sun In Our Hearts" tend obviously into this direction. I would advise to read some Blogs of this act presented on their MySpace web account. Quite interesting for dedicated fans. DURCH HEER UND KRAFT are Military-inspired too, which they often celebrate through typical marching snare drum inserts, but generally their musically outfit turns rather into Neo-Folk/Classic music. Some tracks are new interpretations and do follow some traditional Folk tunes ("Krieg und Friede") and to my surprise they offer some speech-like vocals on some tracks too. Both bands have here and there some interesting stuff to offer, but a strictly dedication of the listener to some Military-music is helpful. Extremely limited edition, as usual for SkullLine, this one is restricted to only 50 exemplars.

THOLLEM MCDONAS : THOLLEM MCDONAS Racing The Sun Chasing The Sun

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 13 2008
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Artist: THOLLEM MCDONAS (@)
Title: THOLLEM MCDONAS Racing The Sun Chasing The Sun
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
"This album consists of live recordings of the first halves of two solo piano concerts layed side by side, woven in and out of each other", one concert in Italy and one in the US, but the whole recording is clean and so well produced you’ll have an hard time distinguishing different reverberation or anything like that, the sound’s so good and this could be the result of two different studio session. Ages ago I’ve reviewed the solo record of McDonas on Pax recording and in the meanwhile this guy has been sailing the world as if he were the "flying dutch of piano" and you can bet he’s enriched his style so much I’ve been loving this collection of live tracks enough to regret I was not there. McDonas’ fingers move fast on ebony and ivroy but while I’m tented to comment his style as "nervous", I think it’s not exactly true, and maybe that’s just an impression but I see the approach of this american pianist has become mature, that’s why these eleven tracks show he can be sucked into a whirlpool of notes but with an incredible elegance in a split second he’s slowing down to change dierction focalizing on a small sequence of keys. I think Thollem’ style betrays some past infatuation for jazz piano, but also a great number of classical influences like in that melancholic progression of chords at the end of the ninth track. I love piano but I’m also quite aware this’ one of those instruments so inflactioned by many heartless performers it can be deadly boring, but believe me when piano is well played you believe it’s a "single instrument armada" and holy shit... this guy is so talented!. Even if their style is considerably different it reminded me of a solo performance of Martial Solal to which I’ve attended some years ago... sure he was more "jazzy", MacDonas is younger more abstract and less idiomatic in his playing (improvising?) but I remember so well when Solal destructurated and rarefied a weird medley of Sinatra’s arias shocking a good part of the audience and showing jazz sometimes can still be alive instead of a mummy!. Maybe MacDonas won’t have the same luck of Solal and perhaps his syle won’t keep progressing this way, but this’ the second time I’m listening one of his solo recordings and I’m thinking piano is a great intrument if touched by the right fingers.





THE ANTIPODEAN COLLECTIVE : funcall

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 11 2008
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Artist: THE ANTIPODEAN COLLECTIVE
Title: funcall
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
Second and long awaited chapter from the "almighty" Antipodean Collective, this time it features Scott Tinkler (trumpet), Mark Hannaford (piano), Ken Edie (drums), John Rodgers (violin) which means half of the old line up (I wrote it just to show you Kandinsky was not the only one into math and numbers!). Different proportions but the result doesn’t change in terms of quality, infact this’ a good record again, the only thing that has partially changed is the number of interceptions and corners. With a reduced line up, the single players tend to surface a bit more, hence if the last was "The massacre of the egoes" this one could be: "a choir is nothing but the sum of the single soloists", with that consider you don’t’ have a bunch of soloists emerging after a brawl (... Coltrane/Davis anyone?...), I just think on this recording the individuals and their backgrounds tend to come out more often so the shape of this or that image is more clearly discernible which doesn’t necessarily cheapen the power of this collective. Jazz and its noblesse are haunting the whole release and in all probability much more than it happened on the previous release thus if you’re a diehard fan of the genre, this new Antipodean effort is maybe more suitable for your taste. My impression is that on the other cd you had more and more contemporary abstractionism pulsing underneath but maybe that’s just my personal feeling. I imagine the fact Hannaford is behind the keys of piano in place of Grabowsky gives a different accent to the quartet, but it is said that "the whole is the sum of its parts", my conclusion is probably obvious. Hannaford’ style and the absence of the double bass leaves more room for Tinkler to roam undisturbed while Rodgers "solves problems" like Mr Wolf in "Pulp Fiction". What about Edie?...mm... mm...interesting drummer, differently from many jazz and rock drummers he’s not constantly obsessed by beating anything around him and his style is quite personal too for while most of the patient drummers use soft dynamics or some really silent sounds coming from the drums, Edie’s drumming sounds really clean both when using soft and strong dynamics but maybe that’s just a side-effect of the crystalline recording. I think there’s some continuity from first episode to this second work but also some significant variations above all if you’re among those who love recognizing the character of single player also in collective improvisational works like this.

LES VOYEURS: THE ABC'S OF WALKING WISELY

 Posted by Michelle Russo   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 10 2008
Artist: LES VOYEURS
Title: THE ABC'S OF WALKING WISELY
Format: CD
Label: RottenStinkoRecords
Rated: *****
The name of the band is Les Voyeurs and they hail from Good ol' Chicago and put on one hell of a show. They played with long time punk rock legends, The Effigies. at Club Damaged and they put on what I call a high energy show that was unforgettable Hard driving guitars, no flash just pure punk ready and willing to kick your butt into giving a listen and leaving home happy and satisfied.. Rotten Finko is the vocalist of the band and is the stronghold and brains behind the band. We open with Track one, " No Balls which is an all around punk rock song that kicks some butt and and is in your face hard and loud. Lead singer Willie sings, " You've got no balls, no balls for you and me." This track takes you back to the old punk rock days where life was easier and fun and less commercialized, i'm grateful for a band like this band. It bring me hope that punk has not died. As I listened to more tracks on this album I started reminiiscing about all the old shows I used to attend. This band left me with old memories that were of my youth. Proceeding on with Track 7, " Double Shot ' is a danceable fun loving track that rocks from the start to the finish and keep you wanting more. Wilie sings, " I got a double shot of my baby's love." This track really talks about the life of a rock star and what he all long for. Lots of fun, sex and debauchery all packed into one. The rest of this albums flows nicely and should be in every punk rockers collection. So raise a toast to Les Voyeurs and go back in time when punk was really punk. ~ 4 stars Michelle Russo


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