Music Reviews



TRESPASSERS W: The drugs we all need

 Posted by Marco Pustianaz   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 13 2006
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Artist: TRESPASSERS W (@)
Title: The drugs we all need
Format: CD
Label: Somnimage (@)
Rated: *****
Dutch band Trespassers W have been around for a long time, releasing CD’s on a large number of independent labels, in this case Chicago-based Somnimage. Part of a trilogy of albums on Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’roll, this CD is the second instalment, and the drugs we all need aren’t just what our governments call "drugs". As usual, Trespassers W relish in stories and histories, be they Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky’s relationship or the story of silent movies star Asta Nielsen; even in this accessible CD we find a wealth of figures, historical or imaginary, a kaleidoscope of styles and imagery. Trespassers W have often conceived their releases as well-defined projects, theme-driven or thick-laden with references to our European heritage of art and culture, high and low. Singer and lyricist Cor Gout – the one with the deep voice – sings or tells or intones what are obviously richly textured lyrics. Therefore it pays to read the lyrics at least once. This does not mean that Trespassers W are not capable to rock and push, just that they combine energy, subtlety and thoughtfulness and consequently require attention from their listeners. I made the mistake to listen to this CD on a car stereo the first time and missed out on most of its virtues, except in the most direct songs, such as "roadmaster eldorado", suitable for car-rides, or "viva la corrida!". Otherwise I had to give the CD a second chance, give it the time to seep through, and it worked much better.Having said that, not all 17 tracks made an impression on me, as if the band wanted to enjoy themselves (rocking out in "the merry go round", for instance) while most of the listener’s attention was drawn by Cor’s vocals, which always stays well on top and isn’t enough varied to sustain all the emotions evident in TW music. The effect is somehow of a band who tries too much, which is strange since according to the band’s statements there was a lot of playing around and improvisation in the recording sessions. Brilliantly arranged songs like "candy floss" show the strength of the group. Maybe they have always too many arrows to shoot at the same time: they can go progressive, art-rock, rock’n’roll, literate cabaret. It’s kind of hard to let them all live together and thrive in a single CD...

TALL DWARVES: Fork Songs

 Posted by Marco Pustianaz   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 13 2006
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Artist: TALL DWARVES
Title: Fork Songs
Format: CD
Label: Cloud Recordings (@)
Rated: *****

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Another reissue of a Tall Dwarfs’ classic CD from the early 90’s, this Cloud Recordings disc also offers as a bonus the Dogma EP, thus totalling 20 songs altogether. We are travelling much over the same terrain as the former. After the aptly weird intro in which a speaker invites us to consider the original vynil version as a scientific demonstration of pick-up technology, the Tall Dwarfs lead us everywhere except on a straight line. Their home-made music is always faithful to the motto: "Life is strange". Strangely enough nobody after a while sees its strangeness any longer, but the Tall Dwarfs are here to bend it and twist it like consummate mirror-makers for an enchanted gallery.We become Alice in Wonderland once again, watch ourselves "Bleed for love", suffer from "Thought Disorder", engage in "Small Talk", yet say to ourselves "All is fine" and to our children: "Think small", just in case. Twangy, sometimes tinny, Tall Dwarf music seems always to point to a lurking menace somewhere behind our backs, as if the sun shone alright, but somehow this light was jarring, too. Get hold of the lyrics and find out how literate they can be, and poetic. Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate are spooky tunesters in the underbelly of pop, Tim Burton’s brothers Down Under. Only they draw their pictures with songs – not a bad way, if you ask me – and when all’s said and sung, we are not sure whether it’s a happy ending or just no end at all. "Dogma" EP is quirky and jagged. Tread cautiously but smile if you cut your feet, anyway!

TALL DWARVES: Weeville

 Posted by Marco Pustianaz   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 13 2006
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Artist: TALL DWARVES
Title: Weeville
Format: CD
Label: Cloud Recordings (@)
Rated: *****

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Please rewind back to the 90s, to a different time and place, to the peacefully creative shores of New Zealand. Feel free to let yourself become younger in soul and feeling, what have you got to lose after all? A couple of tall dwarfs will lead you strumming and singing into the happiest and saddest recesses of your inner heart; you may not take all this too seriously, but if you let them, I grant you will be affected!This remastered reissued of 1990 Weeville (originally out on the legendary NZ label Flying Nun) for the American label Cloud Recordings is just what it takes to introduce you to the lo-fi perfections of this NZ duo, who after being in one of the seminal NZ punk bands, went on to lead for a while the NZ assault to 90’s indie pop music. The rest of the world (some of it, at least) stood in awe and listened: how could a four-track equipment, looped rhythms (ingenious enough to be childish) and a folksinger’s voice show the way to a renewed pop ethics that had been swamped by then in overproduced sound effects? In fact, looking back on those times, it can be said that Tall Dwarfs, just by being outside all the trends of mainstream anglo-american pop music, had the privilege to be free and cultivate their own brand of streamlined pop-folk. Melodies could be simple and infectious, or ballad-like and sour-sweet: the lyrics were invariably touching, ironic and yet profound. Isn’t this light-hearted seriousness what makes pop songs relevant, after all?All 16 tracks of this CD are sparkling with ideas, and will have a way of winding their loopy (and loony) sounds into your ears. American lo-fi indie heroes like Pavement adored the Tall Dwarfs, and if you listen to this CD you too will understand why. I have always been hooked by them; don’t know why but I picture them as dwarfish elves in a Peter Jackson’s movie – if just for once Peter Jackson left Hollywood and shot the wild and melancholy low-budget B-movie we know we would love! Just listen to "Bodies"...

LOUISA JOHN KROL: Apple Pentacle

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 07 2006
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Artist: LOUISA JOHN KROL (@)
Title: Apple Pentacle
Format: CD
Label: Prikosnovenie (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
After her collaboration with Oophoi Louisa didn't stop and she prepared this delicious album that gathers classic folk elements (Gaelic as far as I can understand of folk music), a little bit of jazz (because of some instrumental solution and sometimes her voice) and a little bit of electronic arrangements a la Laurie Anderson on "Which of these worlds" (the vocal treatment remembered me "Oh superman"). Sometimes her voice remember me some Cocteau Twins melodies (like on "Ceracini") but her main vocal reference on this release is Kate Bush (as stated on the presentation sheet). Musically I can't say that Louise remember me Kate Bush because she and and her collaborators use a wide range of traditional instruments that made the tracks do sound different: the harp, the mandolin, the viola and all the acustic instruments are picked gently creating a charming atmosphere. Also the traditional references, made of various stories coming mostly from Green Man mythology, made of APPLE PENTACLE an album of its own that will please your spirit and awaken your ears.

ARTICA: Plastic Terror

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Feb 07 2006
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Artist: ARTICA (@)
Title: Plastic Terror
Format: CD
Label: Decadance (@)
Rated: *****
After releasing two albums ("Ombra e luce" and "Natura") Artica come back with a revised musical style and a major change: the English language for the lyrics. It took almost eight years to refine the project but since the first riffs of the opening song "Black eyes" you can say that it was worth it. I mean, the band had already their sound that was personal and powerful enough but if you listen to "Sarayevo" (from "Ombra e luce") and "Angelica" (from "Natura) you can say that they were paying an high price to their influences (early Liftiba in my humble opinion). For PLASTIC TERROR the band decided to clean the blackboard with a firm wipe and to work really hard to define a new sound. Goth music is always their main influence but they added power to their guitars and to the vocals which now are more intriguing and almost growling. The songs are composed gathering different moments that pass from the energetic guitar riffs (that sound almost death metal) to the ones where the keyboard orchestration is the main actor. The band is good at creating pulsating tracks that sound never static or without inspiration. There's also space for good ballads such as "Ocean", "Fade away" and "I don't fit" (try to think what could mean the term "ballad" for a goth metal band and forget stuff like Evanescence) and for a couple of songs in Italian "Aggressione" and "Roma brucia" (which is the only song to remember the old style) where is evident the growth of the band. I think that they are definitely ready to be exported over the Italian border and their American gig of the 24th of February in California (check http://www.releasethebats.info) is a sign of it!


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