Music Reviews

Wet Cookies: Earthling

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (3580)
Apr 27 2007
Artist: Wet Cookies (@)
Title: Earthling
Format: CD
Label: Collision (@)
Distributor: Groove Attack
Rated: *****
[NOTE: I only put this CD in the experimental category because there is no category for jazz here. Not my choice, you have to pick something, and this isn’t synthpop, techno or industrial.]
My first experience with this CD was popping it into the car CD player while I was tooling down the highway, not having the slightest clue what I was in for. Shortly after a few seconds of atmospheric opening, a groove started to take form, and a horn that recalled Miles Davis circa "Bitches Brew" blew coolly over a Herbie Hancock stew of 70’s style funk complete with horn section, electric piano and guitar. My first reaction was, "what the-???... Then I got sucked in. This was pretty sweet stuff! Okay, cool NuJazz, but what is this CD doing HERE at Chain D.L.K., home of dark or at least grey area music? I didn’t know, and for a good amount of time, I didn’t care. There are touches of Weather Report in the music, so it came as no great surprise to me that trumpeter Daniel Nosig spent some time working with Joe Zawinal. In fact, most of the other guys in the band (Jurgen Mitterlehner- sax; Michael Steindl – flute, Flip Phillip – vibes; Thomas Uhegbu – piano, rhodes, moog; Gustavo Dantas – guitar; Roman Weihs – E-bass; Herfried Knapp – double bass; Alee Telfa- percussion; Bjorn Klein – drums, band leader) seem to have impressive past credits. Same goes for producer/ additional synthesist Axel Hirn, who did a good job production-wise on this disc, with a few reservations.

So I’m all set for a smooth groove funk-fest, when the next track. "Weirdoz of Bop" comes along and knocks me for a loop. Thomas Uhegbu is a madman on the keyboard showcasing a frantic bop style that takes it two steps beyond. This is incredible! Some of the wildest piano playing I’ve heard this side of Powell or Monk at their maddest, but the structure stays intact. Amazing! An ensemble piece follows with a solid medium tempo upbeat groove laid down by the rhythm section, segueing into a 70’s jazz-funkathon that lets Flip take off a bit on the vibes while the horn section provides some solid tight riffing. Everybody gets to stretch out a bit on this one, and now you just know these cats are bad. Dissolving perfectly into the slow tune, "Lucky We Were", it’s time for a change of pace. Nice ambience, but somewhat compositionally aimless as it meanders over smooth changes that sound pretty but lack direction. The next track, "You Somehow", could be at home on any acid jazz compilation. Just the right tempo and styling, a completely integrated smooth groove. Some things on this album don’t exactly work, like the next track- "Slut Machine", where punch-drunk horns moan over a pseudo-industrial beat with old-school moog farts interspersed. Not my cup of java. The next couple of tracks run smooth to acid jazz, good music for cocktails in an upscale bar. The "dub" versions of the previous "Lucky We Were" and "You Somehow" I thought were unnecessary and didn’t really add anything, The strangest piece on this CD is the last one- title track "Earthling". A bit of experimental piano and synth atmospherics that goes on for nine minutes. I’m a little confused by this. Although it’s closer to the kind of music I usually find myself reviewing, it seems out of place on this album. Since drummer Bjorn is the leader of this outfit, I find it odd that he let this one pass. I can only imagine producer Axel Hirn is somewhat responsible for this. Considering the music set the tome for the whole CD, this is too much, too little too late to wander into avant-garde territory. The band itself is really great. These are high-caliber players who definitely have a future working together. (I’d love to hear them live.) But a few rough spots keep this from getting an over-the-top rating. Still, Wet Cookies are absolutely worth checking out. Visit the website, groove on a sample song, and you may just get hooked.

BLACK ENGINE : ku klux klowns

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (3579)
Apr 26 2007
image not
Artist: BLACK ENGINE (@)
Title: ku klux klowns
Format: CD
Label: Wallace (@)
Rated: *****
Some newjacks with an new release looking for an hot spot or just to get your attention? He, he, you're in the wrong lane, given that the moniker hides Zu together with Eraldo Bernocchi, the odd pair should immediately put forward we're in front of an all star band. Due to the tracklist I've been mislead by the first approach, infact I was afraid the Zu element was a bit too overpowering, it took me more than a few listening to arrive at the core of the project. Thought the weight of Zu is considerable, the whole record pays an heavy tribute to forerunners like Painkiller and God, at last that was just one of the common elements Bernocchi and the romans had buried in their DNA. Ku Klux Klowns starts sailing in the uneasy waters of jazz-core but ends sinking in the midst of the post-industrial/post-metal ocean mixing fast machine-gun rides and slow bone crushing anthems that could have been featured in "Anatomy of addiction", just try "A Wolf Day" and let me know if I’m wrong. As I've wrote, "to pay" a tribute is not a matter of creating a sterile copycat of those now defunct demigods, the Black Engine is running and while showing the influences is still working in an independent way. The funny thing is how Bernocchi's touch is light and non intrusive so that I'd like to see what could has happen if his personality would have been more overwhelming. If you're into Zu, Ruins, God or the glorious Painkiller here's something you won't regret.


 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (3578)
Apr 26 2007
Title: Take-Out
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore (@)
Rated: *****
Never heard anything on Public Eyesore? If the answer is negative take for granted their catalogue is really heterogeneous and is well portrayed by the adjective "weird". If "weirdness" was a religion I can't say if Mighty Vitamins could be "popes" but sure they'll be very important people down there at the Vatican. This improvisational/structureless music with its roots in some american legend like Captain Beefheart (Trout Mask Replika era) and Zappa, but obviously even if following Einstein "Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, all is transformed": you can bet they evolved the original idea of their inspirators. Even if here and there they explode in those characteristic free-jazzy detonations, the quintessence of "Take-Out" is "bluesy" (that's why I think they're so close to the "Captain"), the fact is many times they "remove" where other bands "add" (honour to Miles Davis for having been a mastermind of this philosophy). Sometimes the whole release is much closer to electro-acoustic music than to "improvisational" works, but that has to do with the prudent playing of the musicians. I guess Mighty Vitamins listened numerous releases coming out of the sixties/early seventies since there's a strong psychedelic/oniric atmosphere in their music and that in some way it brings them close to AMM (take a song like "Nakatani" and tell me if Eddie Prevost is or is not the father of a whole generation of unconventional musicians). This release sounds "old" in a positive way but at the same time is incredibly personal, let's say Mighty Vitamins represent for free-electroacoustic-impro music what Jackie O' Motherfucker represent for no-psych-folk.


 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (3565)
Apr 23 2007
Title: Pendulum
Format: CD
Label: Elvis Coffee (@)
Rated: *****
Like many reviewers I receive many cds, demos, cdrs and lot's of them are so and so or simply horrible but a minority of these releases is really good and sometimes I happen to hear some interesting output from an unknown band like this. In general the releases on Elvis Coffee are really good but since I don't take it or granted I didn't know what to expect, but it was quite catchy from the very early listenings. Psychic Space Invasion are an remarkable example of how you can realize an appealing collection of tracks just working on minimal ideas, infact the music sounds more or less like minimal ambient influenced both by "ambinetal works" and by that grey area f musicians that ranges from early Current 93 minus folk and Stepleton's Nurse With Wound just to mention some of the famous name. "Pendulum" is really simple and sometimes pushes around the same idea without any substantial changes for many minutes, but the fact it that the idea/sample/melody on which the whole track is built is someway really fascinating. I wish they're gonna distribute this cd, many probably will ask if there is anything new under the sun of weird ambient...I can't say, but sure this’ one much more attention-grabbing than many releases on bigger labels I've heard recently, thumbs up for P.S.I.! (not to be confounded with Pitch Shifter Industry).

Warm Climate: Forced Spring for the Rising Tide

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
 Edit (3561)
Apr 22 2007
Artist: Warm Climate (@)
Title: Forced Spring for the Rising Tide
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Lighthouse Promo Store
Rated: *****
There’s something about a semi-silly sort of avant-garde weirdness that seems to want to be taken seriously that’s never sat well with me. I’m not saying that I don’t like the semi-silly (used to love the Residents and Renaldo & the Loaf) or that I have a problem with serious avant garde music (Cage, Stockhausen, George Crumb, even Ornette Coleman), I can respect those guys even if I don’t like everything they do. Maybe it’s just weirdness for the sake of weirdness that’s off-putting. The first track on "Forced Spring for the Rising Tide" begins with just such weirdness; dissonant vocal chorus, abstract lyrics, bizarre and slow arrangement of various instruments with phrasing reminiscent of Henry Cow with Robert Wyatt, less artfully done Mothers of Invention abstractions, etc. I got the impression of contrivance and emulation of influences rather than forging any new ground. At least it’s on the brief side. If you can make it past the opening track, you just may actually enjoy this CD. The next track (title track of the CD) unfortunately is not so brief. At 27 minutes, it just drags on and on until it becomes unbearable. The beginning isn’t bad- a familiar simple repeating bass pattern, hand percussion and a flutaphone riff. At nearly the 3-minute mark it begins to sound like a bunch of stoned hippie trippers in a cross between a really lousy garage band jam session and a be-in. The bass is the only thing holding it together, and that old three-note pattern gets tedious quickly. When it sounds like the drummer is fumbling his sticks, I’m guessing the mescaline is beginning to kick in. Wordless moaning vocals, off-kilter demented guitar improvisation, bells, squealing horn riffs, psychotic percussion, and a bunch of other sounds all collide while the bass continues to play that 3-note pattern. Aaarrgh! Listening to this is not easy. Half way through the piece, the worst excuse for gamelan I’ve ever hard seems to emerge and take over for a while. Guitar distortion and feedback intensifies. Damn! I don’t know what these guys are on but I’m sure glad I didn’t take any. Okay, it IS avant-garde, but that doesn’t’ necessarily make it good. Later in the piece, the bass is gone, and things seem to be winding down. Funny, there’s still more than 10 minutes to go, and I’m getting itchy to leave. The wind-down is almost the best part; it’s hard to screw up this kind of amorphous abstraction. Eventually, it all seems to melt into a puddle of primeval goo. When the vocalist starts ululating Yoko Ono style, I know it’s time to move on. To say this track goes on too long is an understatement. With only 2 tracks left, I’m confident I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In contrast to the previous, "Nasa March", with it’s repetitive piano riff opening is almost a relief. At least there’s some tension in the atmosphere now. The ambience does affect a little creepiness for a bit, then the bad gamelan comes back playing a more simplistic pattern now. Then the chaos of everyone raucously improvising at once takes over. Hey, there’s a drummer in there who emerges temporarily playing a steady beat. Finally it just ends. "Creole Accordion Whisper" finishes this foray into the abnormal centered around some slow acoustic guitar improvisation. More diverse random abstract musical and non-musical elements are added, but it sounds placid compared to the rest of the disc. If you like music for the sake of weirdness, you might actually like this. But if you find musical self-indulgence a real bore, you might want to look elsewhere for your avant-garde fix.

Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha