When my cousin played me Aphex Twin's newest double CD I was amazed... I didn't even know he had this new one out, I was still blasting "Come to Daddy" and yet I was so much into this already... It's been 5 years since his last album "Windowclicker" and here is a 2CD set with more than a 100 minutes of music. Maybe a step back in terms of "violence" but a step forward in terms of his musical evolution that has reached a new hi. Sound got more intricated, frantic, convulsed and amazing... One of the key elements here is the piano, from melodic to fonky, an instrument which takes an important role, played both in a very standard almost ballad-like fashion, as well as hammered (probably with something else that the piano's hammers) on its very strings to produce a quite disturbing and awfully cool fucked up honky tonky kinda sound. I loved it! This piano-concept is further stressed on the front cover as well as on the new amazing flash website (where piano hammers and string pictures make you feel inside a piano). The other tracks reminded me of his previous material as well as of Italian ambient musician Rodion, but we don't need no damn comparisons here, we are talking about the master himself! If there is a new school of ambient music, we owe it to Richard James, the man who, as far as my knowledge goes, has no rivals yet! Nobody beats him, nobody touches him, nobody equals him! He is just plain unique! On a bad note I have to warn you that unfortunately this CD is one of those stupid new copy-protected CDs which will prevent you from playing it on a computer's CD ROM drive: so if your music system is based around your computer, sorry, forget it!; or if you were ready to rip it to mp3 to cruise town on a sunny day with your bike and your Rio mp3 player (which by the way is perfectly LEGAL and sold by the same music industry that now came up with this stupid bullshit!) you are in bad luck too! So, it's your call, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to let Warp know that you did not appreciate, especially because the new copy-protection standard actually makes the sound of the CD worse!!!
PS: More info at the two websites above as well as at www.theaphextwin.com and www.drukqs.net
After studying it in school I have always wondered what it'd be like if a band would put Dante Alighieri's wonderful poem "the Divine Comedy" in music, and now I have Black Faction's interpretation of that in my record collection. The sound designer behind this name is Manchester-based Andrew Diey, a british dude that makes music for Sony's Playstation, Microsoft's XBox and other PC titles. Besides making your gaming experience more interesting, creating sound collections and working for a couple of UK's main TV channels, he's been releasing CD's since 1998, under the monikers Foreign Terrain and Black Faction. "Internal Dissident Part I" works like a bridge between nations and stories. It travels from scenes of Florentine poet's visionary trip to hell (with mentor and guide Virgil) to Arabia, Afghanistan (a tribute to Muslimgauze), Persia... Audio goes from electronic beats, pizzicato cellos, electronica, noises, experimental etc. I would have preferred him to focus and exploit the ultimate poem's interpretation, but it's an interesting musical voyage even without sticking to that theme. I'll be looking forward to the limited edition LP "Internal Dissident Part II: live in Vienna" which will be the live version of this.
They write that the quite beautiful carton sleeve packaging for this CD, developed with no use of neither plastic nor glue or metal, pretty much like an origami, is most definitely non industry standard, but you can say that again for its contents! What is also interesting and compelling about the original artwork is that the tracks are actually show/displayed, rather than listed, in fact you can see the visual layout of the waveforms instead of a tracklist... The five selections have been carefully placed together after analyzing more than three hours worth of DAT recordings which were the results of some joint sound manipulation sessions by Main (Robert Hampson, formerly of Loop and Godflesh) and Antenna Farm (David Howell and Alastair Leslie). The two set ups came together in 2000 for the Brombron project, started by Staalplaat and Extrapool in the Netherlands, and produced almost an hour of audio consisting of rough crackling electric bits, droning noiscapes, digital glitch passages etc...
When I first saw his picture on this cute 3" CD, I thought: "what a freak!". But I didn't mean to be mean; the funny-looking captain-dressed 50 year old man with a vague resemblance to Benny Hill and Walter Matthau on the picture is indeed german filmmaker Klaus Beyer, who apparently dresses like that to go to parties and sing Beatles songs in german over karaoke tapes! This is what he has been doing since 1980 (besides films, of course). I visited his website and he truly has an impressive discography!!! He doesn't have a great voice and doesn't have a great pitch either, the sound quality is very very very home d.i.y, but this guy is been getting attention from Rolling Stone magazine and even Playboy, tv documentaries and other media! Don't ask me why, but apparently listening to out of tune, poorly instrumented and poorly recorded German versions of "Yesterday" and "Yellow Submarine" is supposed to be interesting, or at least amusing, considering how much fun the folks at the live recording of the fourth song are having... I understand German and I can see how it can be funny, I am an extremely open minded person too (you have to be, in order to enjoy Staalplaat's releases) and I am not evil when reviewing weird stuff either, but in this case I must give a thumb down; I mean, if you ask me, he should stick to films!
You would expect a Dutch like Michael Banabila to release an album such as this one on the national label Staalplaat, instead he chose Tone Casualities, one of California's most interesting labels for experimental and avant ambient music. This CD, which follows the two Tone Casualities releases VoizNoiz I and II, contains seven tracks of pure textural work, soundscapes that reinvent turntablism through the use of pops and clicks. You feel like you are listening to an old and worn-out vinyl and you are possibly touched by the warmth that those little noises transmit, but instead you are being hypnotized by seven smooth and beautiful compositions whose title, "Spherics", fits right on (maybe 'cause it recalls the very shape of those old records you used to dislike when CDs overtook). Created with editing, splicing and sampling and enriched by Jorien Muste's violin and Piet Lichtveld's guitars (I really like what the guitar does!) "Spherics" achieves some amazing and soft ambience (with occasional cute percussion samples) and goes well beyond the concept of a plain ambient album when it reaches into minimal rhythmical structures and makes it huge with cool deep droning sounds (by some mysterious guy/band/machine called Bobby - there was a Japanese noise band once called Billy, maybe it's a relative) that actually give it a quite a push sometimes. The evolution of a song is real slow, the peace is layed back and small bits of sounds make it cooler every 16 bars or so, but as you all know good things come to those who wait ;-) In conclusion it's a great piece of sounds, I really enjoyed listening to it and I think you will too, especially cause you know you are listening to a CD and so you won't be cursing and getting crazy cleaning the needle, which you would do if this was an LP, trust me! ;-)