Music Reviews



Gen Ken Montgomery: Icebreaker

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 17 2002
Artist: Gen Ken Montgomery (@)
Title: Icebreaker
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Originally recorded in NYC in 1991 and presented as octophonic sound installation in total darkness at the Generator Sound Art Gallery in NYC one year later, Staalplaat's "Icebreaker" release is a 3" CD version of the full length 4CD set, originally released as 4 tapes (you are supposed to play all four together in absolute darkness, starting approximately at the same time and placing your 8 speakers around you to recreate the octophonic experience). Award winning European artist Gen Ken Montgomery (one of the founders of labels Generation Unlimited and Pogus Productions, as well as founder of Generator, NYC's first sound art gallery, established in 1989) draws inspiration from Conrad Schnitzler (whom this record is dedicated to) and has always been into audio, video, film and visual arts and experimentation. His attitude is to confront limitations by utilizing them, striving to overcome the fear of producing something stupid or boring in pursuit of a spontaneous creative idea. This laid the grounds for his idea to enhance the pre-existing sounds of objects whose primary function is seemingly unrelated to the sounds they produce, which lead him to "Icebreaker", an audio performance whose only sound-making device is the Ice-O-Matic vintage ice crushing machine, fed through 8 speakers so that the sounds moves in the room over, through, around, aside, inside you. Montgomery says that, even though you might detect sounds of ice being crushed or the hum of the engine, you could possibly hear other things too, which «might remind you of memories or inspire fantasies, or you might get bored, and that's ok too».

M'Lumbo: The Nine Billion Names of God

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 17 2002
Artist: M'Lumbo (@)
Title: The Nine Billion Names of God
Format: CD
Label: Multimood (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
I've been in NYC for almost three years but I still haven't got to catch these highly acclaimed M'Lumbo, who I read play live a lot at the Knitting Factory... Hell, I even worked as an engineer/live sound-manipulator with Jojo Meyer's Nerve, whom they played with, but I guess it wasn't meant to be... I'll be definitely looking forward to one of their shows, 'cause this collective of six musicians, four film-makers and one sound-guy is supposed to be a really hot act, especially on stage!! Try to image what six great free-jazz cats can achieve when they mix their insanity/improvisation/moods with drum'b'bass/techno/electronic/weird beat patterns, bits of sounds, found noises, vocal and non-vocal samples! A true no-wave-state-of-the-art album is what they did, but I don't even wanna think about what I am missing when they do this stuff live with four film-makers that surely do some crazy visuals as well! The jazz element seems to be very present in the instrumentation (lots of brasses); the compositions are fairly free-form, ranging from free-jazz/no-wave to experimentalism, shaped around an orderly chaos of trance-inducing orgiastic improvisarama that hits you like a truck and involves you like an enthralling vortex. This record contains eight tracks of layers of things, hell you might even find a layer of speeches over a layer of noises over a layer of a rock music loop... Possibilities are endless... Press and fans have often compared them to Miles Davis, Sun Ra, The Orb but please let's add John Zorn and his players to the party, I can't image how they could not mention them crazy dudes! M'Lumbo is celebrating their 12th anniversary, and so is their very good label Multimood.

386DX: The Best of...

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 17 2002
Artist: 386DX (@)
Title: The Best of...
Format: CD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Assembled with a 40Mhz 386DX CPU with 8Mb of Ram and 40Mb of HD on a Win 3.1 system, the Creative TextAssist text-to-speech software and Voyetra MIDI FM synthesis, this "Best Of..." is really challenging times and technology with an ironic approach!!! They self-appoint themselves a cyberpunk rock band because they play these world famous tunes with this super-crappy totally-synth & MIDI-only sounds, awful sounding dirt-cheap drum sounds and vocals that have never been "sung" by anybody but just "typed"! Can you believe it? The computer would then use the text-to-speech function to "read" it and the MIDI functions to make the read text actually go with the melody. Basically what you hear is a computer singing (that's a new one!!! ;-) MIDI songs programmed by Alexei Shulgin between 1998 and 1999. If these hits don't sound any better than the cheap pre-GM MIDI disks you can buy or download from the net, the fact that a computer is actually singing them makes is so special that the guy even played them at over 40 concerts in Europe and US and as a performing street artist! If you ever wondered whether computer will take over when AI won't be just a movie anymore, then this is the proof that it will happen, cause a 386DX machine is already fucking singing tunes such as "California Dreaming", "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Should I Stay or Should I Go", "House of the Rising Sun", "Rock'n'Roll", "Light My Fire", "Anarchy in the UK", "Don't Cry", "My Generation", "Purple Haze", "Imagine", "Smells like teen Spirit", "I shot the Sherrif", "Satisfaction", "Layla"!!!! This "thing" is as much awful crap as it is awesome genius! This is the beginning of the end, but yet it is sooo damn amusing!!! ;-))
PS If you have a Creative sound card you can boot your computer with this CD and use the included software to actually reconstruct this record and play more songs not included in this CD! Have fun!

Michael Banabila & Hannes Vennik & Bobby: Cards on the Table

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 17 2002
Artist: Michael Banabila & Hannes Vennik & Bobby
Title: Cards on the Table
Format: CD
Label: Staalplaat (@)
Distributor: Staalplaat (NL), Soleilmoon (US), Demos (It), These Records (UK), Target (De) and more...
Even though this CD doesn't seem to be part of the "Material Series", it is presented in the same way: the details and the graphic of a hand indicating the shuffle mode are etched on the jewel case. Between the transparent case and the inlay card there is a playing card with a picture of Amsterdam and a Mexican table cloth. Also the CD is a so-called CD AB (3" playing part on 5" transparent disc). When I mentioned the shuffle mode, I wasn't only talking about a picture, in fact this CD is called a shuffle mode CD because there are 18 minutes worth of cut-n-pase music split among 28 tracks which have to be played in shuffle mode, so that every time you listen to the CD you hear a different combination of sounds, atmospheres and beats, like a collage that changes quickly and constantly, which is the whole idea behind the project. in fact the pieces were created using no instruments and assembled on hard drives using a deck of playing cards that was to decide the various possible combinations. The sound material was brought on tape by the three people behind this, sound manipulator Michael Banabila (read reviews of his records VoizNoiz I & II on Tone Casualities elsewhere on these pages), Bobby (architect, drummer, DJ, editor) and Hannes Vennik (poet and musician).

Barry Adamson + Panasonic (Pan sonic): S/T (Motorlab #3)

 Posted by Alex "The Butterman"   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 13 2002
Artist: Barry Adamson + Panasonic (Pan sonic)
Title: S/T (Motorlab #3)
Format: CD
Label: Kitchen Motors (@)
Distributor: Kitchen Motors
A match made in a frozen hell, Barry Adamson and the Finnish duo Panasonic (now known as Pan sonic) release another difficult release on the Kitchen Motors label, notorious for its highly experimental and non-user-friendly releases.

This odd release is built around the concept of having the Kitchen Motors crew perform a brain scan on the Icelandic electronic pioneer composer Magnùs Blöndal Jòhannsson. While drifting betwwen slumber and in-between conciousness, Kitchen Motors had Jòhannsson listen to the so-called "music" on this CD. Whether the brain scan was later added as an audio track to any piece on this CD is unknown, but an interesting idea to juggle.

The first piece is the lengthy "The Hymn Of The 7th Illusion", written and performed by Adamson and Panasonic. The choir arrangements and manipulation by Adamson is oddly disconcerning at first, especially when cut back and forth with Panasonic minimal low-end electronics. As the piece slowly proggresses (impatient people be warned!), the mix become more homogenious; the choir is manipulated to effortlessly mix into the electronic components. Very dark, somewhat scary, and strangely subversive.

The second track is a 20 second intermission simply called "". It is mainly a 15 second sniplet of analogue silence (you can hear the hum of recorded silent machine), with a deep breath at the very last few moments.

The third piece is an incredibly long, crazy, schidzophrenic and deffinatly not radio-friendly Halfler Trio remix entitled "The Illusion Of The 7th Hymn". Some will argue that the piece is not a remix per se but a re-interpretation of the first track, completelly re-recorded by The Halfler Trio. Others will sustain that the piece is but a remix, and therefore shouldn't be considered a stand-alone track per se. Others who are less concerned with such matters will be immersed in a world beyond normal electronic listening. The choir elements from the first track are greatly manipulated and re-worked, transforming the human/organic sounding element into a machine trying to imitate a human element. More whacky and unclassifyable electronic elements are thrown in, with ambient-like segways that seperate more sequence/rhythmic-oriented portions of this piece. At a later point (15 minutes or so into the song itself), fans of Panasonic will get a short but memorable glimpse of more typical Panasonic-esque movements, with added dystopian elements which will make the volume control very handy.

Although deffinatly not everyone's cup of tea, this CD is a must for fans of very difficult and nerve-wrenching electronic manipulations, without ever falling into the realm of pure harsh noise. The only drawback is the CD's short running time: 35 minutes.

Packaged in a beautiful "digipak" with photographic inserts contained within.


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