Music Reviews



Magicicada: Everyone is Everyone

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 01 2006
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Artist: Magicicada (@)
Title: Everyone is Everyone
Format: CD
Label: Public Guilt (@)
Rated: *****
I had never heard of Magicicada before receiving this disc in the mail. Upon opening the packaging, you will find a photo of something I can’t really describe (maybe the underside of a crab?) and extensive liner notes which can also be found on the band’s website. The liner notes are pretty informative - here’s a sample: "4. I Demand My Fucking Cloud: Guitar, found objects, contact mics on faulty electrical lines, shruti box, voice, mics out the window, MARTA, Meredith reading in the corner, and Rob Clemens on 'inside your skull' keyboard. This was one of those days where everything just worked. Recorded in one take. The title comes from when Rob & me were driving about and for some reason, he yelled, "I DEMAND MY FUCKING CLOUD!!!" out the window, which is just such a great thing to say for no reason, ya know?" If this sounds interesting, you’ll probably enjoy the disc.

Overall, this is one weird disc, but I like it a lot. It’s not quite noise, but definitely out there – I suppose one could consider it "experimental." The nice thing about the disc is that the sound is constantly shifting and evolving. There is also a lot going on in the music. The tracks range from ambience to all out noisiness. Plus you end up hearing Steve Brand (Augur) on zurna (a woodwind instrument) – what’s not to like about that? Probably my favorite track on the disc was "For the Father," which had a nice noisy drone going which sort of reminded me of Hafler Trio (Kill the King).

The only track that didn’t really work for me was "Well Below." The music was not as interesting as the other pieces and the vocals were annoying after a while. But overall, this is a good disc with a lot of variety. This would be a good introduction to experimental music – it’s a bit more accessible than most without compromising the qualities that make it interesting.

Les Nouvelles Lectures Cosmopolites: Friesengeist – Part 2

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 01 2006
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Artist: Les Nouvelles Lectures Cosmopolites
Title: Friesengeist – Part 2
Format: CD
Label: Musea (@)
Rated: *****
I had never heard of this artist or the person behind it, Julien Ash. This is part 2, but alas, I do not have part 1, so I have no way of telling how it compares. Nicely packaged, but the liner notes could be more extensive. For example, I really like the woman’s voice on some of the tracks, but there are four different people credited with vocals as well as one person credited with "ghost voice." If I had to classify this, I would put file it under neo-classical. The press sheet states that "his works evoke Michael Nyman’s style, without forgetting Pascal Comelade’s or Jean-Philippe Goude’s universes."Because this kind of stuff is difficult to review, I’ll try something a bit different. After a few listenings, I listened to the track and wrote a play by play action – here goes: Track 1 – Starts off with what sounds like a child singing, blends then turns to nice piano.Track 2 – Piano, guitar, and a woman singing in French.Track 3 – Piano with violin, kicks in with some drumming. Sort of a Muslimgauze feel to it, which fades out just as it was getting enjoyable back to piano and guitar.Track 4 – This is a bit odd – the singing is back but almost reminds me of a weird mix of pop and goth violin. Doesn’t quite seem to fit in with the first 3 tracks. I like the woman’s voice though. Then shifts into a different kind of track about 4.5 minutes in, as if they decided to put two different songs on the same track. The staccato violin plucking on this one starts to wear on you after a while, but then about 6 minutes in, we’re back to the original feel of the track. Track 5 – Back to piano and guitar. Not bad easy listening, but there are a few instances of static interspersed, which is nice. Bells at the end is nice, but almost doesn’t fit with the previous track.Track 6 – More nice neo-classical.Track 7 – At 15:34, this is the longest disc on the CD. Guitars and drums kind of remind me of old Durruti Column, which is never a bad thing. But then at 4:45 in, it abruptly stops, changes gears, goes to piano with spoken male vocals. Then at 7:45, it shifts gears again, loses the vocals and brings in some bells/brass percussion into the mix. I really like this segment. Track 8 – OK, but the chorus of people singing doesn’t quite work for me. Track 9 – Pretty good piano track.The main problem I had with the disc is that the tracks seem to go on past what they should. It is as if they arbitrarily decided a length for a track, but when the piece had been completed and come up short, they added pieces of another track. Don’t get me wrong – disjointed can be good. It just doesn’t seem to work in this case too well, probably partly because of my own classical training and partly because it seems like the sonic equivalent to watching television with someone who changes the channel just as things are getting interesting. I think that there are a lot of good things happening here, but unfortunately the band switches gears just as you’re getting into it.Overall, this is pleasant listening. With the exception of a couple of tracks, it would fit right in with the rest of your classical collection but nothing too groundbreaking on this disc. For my tastes, the segments that were the most interesting were the ones where they incorporated a variety of sounds. The piano / violin combo just doesn’t do much for me. Your mileage may vary.

DAVID WELLS: op.3

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 01 2006
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Artist: DAVID WELLS
Title: op.3
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: The Locus of Assemblage
Rated: *****
Scottish soundmaker David Wells has run one of most interesting cdr labels of the last few years, The Locus of Assemblage, which is now sadly over due to his relocation. Luckily, his own musical activity is going to continue, having recently released a collaborative split 3" with Paul Bradley (on Twenty Hertz, review soon), and a "Droneworks" ep before that. "op.3" has been his first self-released work, and, to be honest, it's also my favourite one. Not that the following ones were bad (quite the opposite, actually), but this darker, monolithic track is surely my cup of tea; I've been listening to it quite a lot lately, and it's always a nice 20 minutes to sink in. Wells only, or mostly, uses environmental recordings of water, and, I venture, some natural drones highlighted by reverbs and equalization: a minimal set of elements, but arranged with great skill. After its first more subdued half, the piece slowly billows to a powerful bass-heavy drone; not unlike many "ambient" untitled works by López, surely the best comparison for this work along with mnortham's darker recordings.

Ptose: ignobles limaces / Night of the Reptiles

 Posted by Tongue Muzzle   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 27 2006
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Artist: Ptose
Title: ignobles limaces / Night of the Reptiles
Format: CD
Label: Musea
Rated: *****
Not knowing French or the history of this band is going to seem a little bit like wearing blinders while reviewing this release and keep me from commenting on their lyrical content entirely but that being said... This is re-release of two PTOSE recordings from the early 80's. The first, "Ignobles Limaces" was originally published by AYAA and was PTOSE's first proper studio record. The second, "Night of the Reptiles" was originally released on cassette only in 1983. The over-all tone of both of these releases is very "Residents-esque". Not knowing a lot about PTOSE's origins, I can't be sure if they were directly influenced by The Residents or if their similar tone is merely incidental. In either case, PTOSE handles their quirky melodies and arrangements with panache'. Quirky melodies, odd arrangements, heavily modulated synthesizers, guitars, out of tune leads, insane vocal styles abound in this release. There are moments wherein the vocals are in English but I can't, for the life of me, make out a single phrase. Nevertheless... this doesn't hamper the ability to enjoy the kooky nature of the tracks. Despite half of this release having been originally released on cassette, the audio quality is fantastic. Stand out tracks: "The Bogyman", "Eat Your Fish!" and "Like a Mouse".

PAUL BRADLEY and CRIA CUERVOS: moraines

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Feb 26 2006
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Artist: PAUL BRADLEY and CRIA CUERVOS
Title: moraines
Format: CD
Label: Twenty Hertz (@)
Rated: *****
This combined effort opens a new chapter in the discography of Paul Bradley and Eugenio Maggi a.k.a. Cria Cuervos, but you'd better look for more infos on their personal sites. The lay out is great and the "scorn-godflesh-early-Earache" microscopic view on the front cover is the perfect image for this work. The sound quality is definitely top notch, Bradlay kicked ass behind the mixing desk and Cria Cuervos with the last two release finally gets the "hi-profile" trademark required from his works. The music is surprisingly melodic and it's embodied by some minimal droned melodies, soft noises and electronic/ambiental high frequency sounds are the canvas (I'd say that's Maggi's own touch). This cd is based on a long and elaborated track, I think it could have been separated into different movements but at last crescendos and diminuendos highlight the passage to each different atmosphere. While for the first twenty nine minutes you got a sad, depressed (ambiental?) mood, with the second part of "moraines" the Stendhal syndrome takes over and the canvas (a.k.a. the soft white noise -sort of-), the initial image starts fading in the mist and it shows the testament of the early isolationist has found some heirs?. The final descent of the song reminds me of that wicked works Popol Vuh wrote expressly for Herzog's work of art "Aguirre". In my book the second half of the cd is that typical exhibit of "music where nothing is happening" that is satisfactory for every listener about to sinck, nay the whole listening is nothing but a pleasant and gradual dipping.


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