Thursday, February 25, 2021
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Music Reviews

Katscan: Feral Bios

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Artist: Katscan (@)
Title: Feral Bios
Format: CD
Label: Nightbreed (@)
Distributor: EFA / SPV / PHD / Electric Blu
These two individuals and their attitude are most likely considered sick and shocking by the so called "normal" sheePeople, or whatever else you enjoy calling your fellow earthlings, but in our world, where true meaning is to be found beyond mere appearance, I still don't know whether these dudes are to be placed in the Marylin Manson category of bands just trying to draw attention through disturbing graphics and images of politico-social provocation or part of those few fine folks who actually find it amusing to shock bourgeoise masses but who try to go beyond superficiality and deliver a message about something real... According to the booklet they get inspired by american trash-tv such as Jerry Springer, Montel, Riki and all that other crap-talk-show garbage, so that would probably credit the latter possibility, I just don't know for sure, and because I hate the all-appearance-no-content acts such as Manson, I am just a little skeptical... Considering that they call their music electro-punk I would think they are the real thing... The images of vivisection laboratory's horrible results, representatives of stupid racial groups and other stuff like that makes me think they really care. Musically their music is infested by samples (a lot of speech samples) taken from a number of different places... If cyber punk is what they like to call it that the word "punk" is there to identify their attitude and heart. Not much punk in the music (except of some fast beats here and there), more like power-ebm with distorted vocals, electronic beats and industrial. Sounds a lot European actually and reminds me of older stuff at times (Cat Rapes Dogs etc) but fortunately they don't play like clones of the good old eighties, they achieved to actually sound like a current band and they sound pretty good too, at least not boring, that's for sure... I am sorry if I have been a little too picky and over-critical about them, I just have these reactions when I am not sure whether I am dealing with genuine feelings or theatrical acts. But they sure are a valid band worth to be checked out.

Brand X: the X-Files

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Artist: Brand X
Title: the X-Files
Format: CDx2 (double CD)
Label: Musea (@)
Not sure this is actually suitable content for a publication like ours but we'll do an exception because it's a label that usually does different stuff... Not that I dislike it, on the contrary, I dig this stuff a lot personally, but we have made a commitment to our readers to be as true as possible to our initial goal to give exposure to electronic/industrial music and the like... So please, labels out there, take a note and remember we don't review jazz/rock/blues/metal etc... Anyway back to what is important in the end: the music. We hope that readers, the band and the label will excuse if we have used a couple of lines of this space to clarify our goals and guidelines, once again.
So, first off, Moulder and Scully don't have anything to do with this. Brand X is an american combo (I belive they're New Yorkers) with incredibly talented musicians who's been performing a mixture of progressive rock and free-jazz with occasional sprinkles of funk for at least two decades. Almost no vocals (except for guests) these two gifted cats, John Goodsall (guitar) and Percy Jones (bass), supported by a number of likewise hot musicians, basically plays fusion in its maybe truest form. Think Uzeb, Jetro Tall, Earth Wind and Fire, Japan, Gong, Weather Report, Genesis, Pat Metheny and other prog-rock/art/fusion/jazz bands out there...
"The X Files" is a double CD "best of" that collects tracks spanning between 1976 and 1999, including studio out takes, live versions (NYC and Japan Tour), remastered stuff, previously unreleased tracks etc. Special guests include Bayete, Malcom Bruce, Bill Bruford, Mike Clarke, Phil Collins from Genesis (singing through a really crappy mic), John Giblin, Frank Katz, Robin Lumley, Pierre Moerlen (Gong), Morris Pert, Chester Thompson, Danny Wilding and at least a half dozen others.
Considering our audience's tastes not too many will probably run to a store to get this, which is too bad 'cause its a good collection of tracks (both for who simply loves good music and for those crazy about virtuoso, as there is some really dope playing, especially guitar solos and bass fingering...) and according to the band: "this is a much more accurate representation of our work over the past 20 years than anything else that is out there".

Priority: Life is Decomposed in Fragments

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Artist: Priority (@)
Title: Life is Decomposed in Fragments
Format: CD
Label: Musea (@)
Six North member Takumi Seino's side project Priority is a beautiful and enchanting mixture of electronics and fusion... The guitar playing reminds a lot of Pat Metheny or Allan Holdsworth (mostly clean or slightly treated, but also lightly or heavily distorted, obviously with lots of pedalling, fade ins and fade outs, like in fusion's best tradition!) coupled with a beautifully deep fretless bass and an intense and pretty much cymbals-only drumming create a relaxing environment. Samples and layers of soft synthetic sounds help the electronic side create an ethereal and heavenly blend with melodic, meditative and melancholic jazzy vibes, awesome atmospheres and a terrific dreamlike overall experience... A unique album, so intense, so beautiful and so powerful. One of my favorite electronic/fusion records!

6-North: I'm here in my Heart

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Artist: 6-North (@)
Title: I'm here in my Heart
Format: CD
Label: Musea (@)
Debut album by this Japanese combo whose offering consists of a beautiful blend of soft electronica, experimental avantgarde music, jazzy fusion and zeuhl music... Robert Fripp, Weather Report, Lyle Mays, Jeff Back's latest, John Zorn, the Legendary Pink Dots, Klimperei and a lot of other musicians could be their references. It's hard to categorize and even to describe this because there are so many influences involved. If you know the label you might have a pretty good idea, if you don't you have to try to image the above and a lot more, all interacting together as it really goes from almost plain jazz Mays-like piano ballads ("Inner Crystal", "Circular Pinx"), to more experimental quasi slow no-wave (the title track), to progressive rock mixed with free-jazz, fusion and small bits of funk ("Silence, Darkness") and beautiful acoustic ballads ("Where No One Has Gone") with Enya-style female choirs. This album has female pop/jazz vocals (in Japanese) in some tracks.

Laurent Brondel: Weld

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Artist: Laurent Brondel
Title: Weld
Format: CD
Label: Tone Casualities (@)
Distributor: Proper Sales & Dist.
Here's some really cool shit for the intelligent dancing masses... Originally (and still) a talented Holdsworth-style guitar player, Laurent Brondel will now utilize, warp, meld and weld any available instrument to achieve the aural satisfaction he's after. He says he likes it dark and long and even though the songs rarely go over six minutes, working towards that hypnotic musical recurrence seems to be doing the trick. In this album his Dj skills mixed with a couple of occasional special guests on trumpets (Cuong Vu, whose last album Brondel has produced) and guitars (Fred Consavela), and with the addition of lots of sampling, splicing, (re-)arranging, improvisation etc, give it a nice urban feel but also sort of a global Chemical Bros vibe and sometimes the beautiful trip-hop even reminds you of Massive Attack or Portishead (listen to "21st Century Lounge" and its fire organ samples). When the beat gains speed though, he really dives into the drum 'n' bass territories but seems to be feeling right at home and not just visiting... The tracks are powerful and well programmed, they flow and glow like gems in a crowded dancefloor. Alternating really well done d'n'b with more atmospheric chill-out lounge stuff, the album is complete with so much you'll have your hands full for a while... I've gone through the 13 pieces several times and could discover some new things every time. Turned out to be and exciting listening experience. Personally I really like the album and I think he's got great skills and his break drum'n'bass material is extremely valid! Not everything's about breakbeats only! The sounds are truly nice and punching. The stuff's really dope and reminded me of the times when I was mixing that other super cool live d'n'b human-machine drummer that is Jojo Mayer and his Prohibited Beatz band, who I am mentioning because the most beat-intensive songs on this record are really close to what those NY guys were improvising during their legendary shows. I can't imagine what Jojo and Laurent wouldn't put on fire if they'd team up for a gig!
By the way, look out for three more records by this artist on Statra records.