Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Music Reviews

Artist: Lyndon Scarfe
Title: Shoreline
Format: CD + Download
Label: Cue Dot Records

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Lyndon Scarfe might still be best known as the original keyboarder of The Danse Society up to Heaven Is Waiting. More recently he appeared as guitarist with The Black Lamps, an alternative rock band from Barnsley with roots in the post punk scene and as a solo artist in the minimal darker ambient realm with a.o. the highly recommended albums Music For A Lost Film Vol.1 & Vol.2.
Contrary to those he wanted Shoreline to be a result of more spontaneous and improvised working. He created a looped recording device which feeds the signal back to itself and decays and distorts this. On top of these results he added more layers to create the tracks we find here now. As they all where recorded during a short period of time (during lockdown end of May to June 2020) and are results of this process the result is even more coherent than his other well constructed releases.
The seven tracks which clock in at 53 Minutes are full of very distant layers and enough space for personal reflection without ever digging to deep or too long.
An ebb and flow of soothing and comforting sounds, no voices, no rhythms needed for a pictorial impression of standing on the shoreline (watching the waves, feeling the winds and time passing by... ) an idea which he admits had accompanied him while being captured in the middle of the UK.

This release was also available in very ltd. quantities as CD but sold out before the official release day - 50 copies only is somewhat a shame as there had been at least 51 buyers (with me)!

Artist: Edoardo Cammisa (@)
Title: Flux
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: LINE (@)
I was on the point of writing this review while listening to this release by Edoardo Cammisa (also known as Banished Pills), when I realised I had to stop typing to follow the suggestions by its author in order to appreciate the listening experience as much as possible. He or maybe Richard Chartier, mentor, curator and owner of LINE imprint, warmly recommends doing nothing but listen, as "Flux" is purposefully “aimed at contemplating nothingness and its manifestations”, so that it's recommended to do nothing while using a good pair of headphones and listen to the release at a mid-low volume level. The nine minutes lasting incipit "Towards a Flux" begins by one minute of snapshots rendered through field recordings, preceding a ghostly haze of distant pads, where other entities and field recordings of distant voices or physical actions resurface little by little (some of them sound more like captures of hydrophones), as if they were moments getting out of a mnemonic pool, before getting dissolved in the above-mentioned nothingness. The full-fledged "Flux" is a sonic trip of more than 40 minutes, where the suggestion by the author makes sense as its immersive effect cannot be really appreciated if you're doing anything else that could distract your mind from the sonic source. A rough reminiscence of a loop can be rendered by a sort of buzzing noise of some electric system, permeating the first third of the track, but many changes and many seemingly weird entities will appear within the fences evoked by this hypnotic buzz. The low level of volume of the first minutes can make you feel noises generated by your own body or slight noises from the environment and their apparent merge with Edoardo's "Flux" (forged by this list of tools, as reported on Line introduction: hydrophone, binaural and contact microphones, magnetic tape, broken walkman, sine and triangle waves) can be part of the listening experience as well. The frequencies, that will appear and draw cycles around the listening sphere of the audience over the track, can be imagined as fibrous parts that gradually detaches from the main core to wrap the listeners by other mental images and feelings. Do nothing and listen then!

Artist: Lovexpress (@)
Title: The Million Year Girl
Format: CD & 12"
Label: Furry Heart Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had been alerted to receiving this record from Furry Heart in Italy by label head Edwina who began to panic when it seemed like it wasn't going to show up because of my change of address. Lo and behold though it did, and both Edwina and I are very glad about that. Lovexpress is an Italian avant garde rock band, with three members, one of which I know. Luca Collivasone - prepared guitar, synth,vocals; Daniele La Barbera - drums, vocals; Lorenzo Chiesa - synth, samples, vocals. It's obviously Luca that I know as I recently reviewed his 'Rumpus Room' release. The one-sheet (actually a two-sheet) I received on the band and the album was rather minimal on band bio concentrating on the band concept and the present album. I did find out online they had a previous release back in 2017, but more than that, I dunno. Lovexpress (aka LUVXPSS) is an unusual sort of rock band. For one thing, Luca plays prepared guitar, the instrument lying on a flat surface, using a non-standard tuning, and played with a multitude of objects, lending a certain unpredictability to the music. Not that it doesn't sound like a guitar, but often more of an avant garde jazz sound than rock, although the music is still rooted in rock. Synths are (mostly) monophonic and generally minimal, with lots of quirky analogue sounds and not used in a typical synthpop way. Drumming is somewhat jazzy and punchy (certainly came across as punchy on the vinyl) and the songs...well, they're out there but not so far as to lose their effectiveness.

I think I can attribute the overall flavor to Mr. Collivasone, who seems to handle most of the lead vocals. A good portion of his vocals are spoke-sung, more like hipster poetry than any conventional pop singing, but he does melodic at times as well. 'The Million Year Girl' is eight tracks in the span of 41 minutes, fairly average for an LP. The opener, "Cracking Knuckles" sets the tone for the rest of the album- somewhat languid with abstract guitar, farty synth bass, modified half-time shuffle rhythm, and Luca's semi-deadpan delivery - "What in the world's come over me? You show me things I should never perceive. Holding your face mock(?) integrity, the unicorn leaps over crystal dreams...Bubble childs look after, double aromatic caster, cracking knuckles, disaster, goddesses of alabaster..." and more to that effect, with a good amount of guitar improvisation in the mix. I especially enjoyed Luca's "hibbity-bibbity-bobbity-boo" (at least what I call it) descending guitar riff on this song. The most memorable thing about the title track (The Million Year Girl) was the euro-siren synth , although the song is part straight-ahead rocker and part art oddity. "Summer of Love" works better, sounding very much like a psychotic psychedelic rocker at first with a very catchy, simple chorus. Gotta love the wah-wah on the guitar too. Where things fall apart a little is when the sampled broadcast material about the Manson murders comes in. Uh, that technically wasn't the Summer of Love (it was a couple years later), but whatever. I'm not keen on extended sampled dialogue anyway.

Moving on, some of "Do What To Do" reminded me a bit of Dali's Car, that Peter Murphy/Mick Karn 1984 collaboration, and that's not a bad thing. "Nothing" recalls the minimal wave of '80s bands like Ruins and Savant, not that many people remember them; largely instrumental and dancey. "Expanding" is like Per Ubu meets Revolting Cocks in the Butthole Surfers' basement. "Too Many Hangups" is perhaps the most normal song on the album, and consequently the least interesting. It all ends with "Voodoo," which seemed reminiscent of Stan Ridgway's Drywall project, and of course, he was Wall of Voodoo's original singer. Still, I liked the song a lot and it provided a satisfying conclusion to the album.

Although I found 'The Million Year Girl' to be an uneven album, there is a lot more good stuff on it than just okay, and as a limited edition on 180 gram vinyl (100 copies only), it's a worthy buy. When Furry Heart runs out of that, there's always the CD. Just one question for Luca- why no cacophonator on the album?

Artist: Hologram Teen
Title: Pizza Conspiracy
Format: CD & 12"
Label: Ransom Note
The second album from Hologram Teen, aka Morgan Lhote, is genuinely eclectic. Eclectic is an overused term nowadays, and here it doesn’t just mean a few esoteric samples, it means a collection of hip-hop and disco-funk tracks with a truly international and expansive range of international sources. It’s jazzy, quirky, multi-lingual and it has a bit of a sense of humour too. The closest comparison I can think of is the Avalanches’ earlier stuff, but Pizza Conspiracy, despite the paranoid title, has a unique character of its own that’s more laidback and it treads with a light step. As well as plenty of African- and South American-sounding patterns, it also brings in other influences less frequently heard in this context- including an interesting bent towards prog rock and wig-out electronica.

Very few of these tracks top the three minute mark, and as a result some leave you wanting plenty more, or Googling for the extended remix. Highlights include the punchy opener “Élixir Trémolo” the dubby samplitude of “Cosmogatto”, and the wilfully genre-antagonising African-loungecore-meets-70’s-cop-show-love-theme of “Bongos Over Dyke Slope”.

At times this feels like an instrumental version of an unreleased early De La Soul album, with steady concise positivity-infused grooves like “Rock Eagle Rock” feeling like they’re tailor-made for Plug One and Plug Two to roll their lyrics over. Backing this up is the sense of skit tracks, several sub-two-minute pieces that feel like shorter-baked half-ideas, adding to the general sense of montage.

A 39-minute ‘beat tape’ mixes together all the tracks into a continuous flow, and it’s in this mix that the tracks feel more at home, strangely, a bit more homogenised but an easier background listen.

There’s no crossover hit here that will garner massive attention as a single- first single “Dalston Wizardzz” is sweet but a little forgettable and sync-music-ish, though the perkiness of the bonus Al Kent remix gives it a nice lift. But as a true exercise in jazzy eclecticism and successful crate-digging with a properly feel-good attitude, it’s impossible not to like.

Amorphous: Moth Metaphor

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Artist: Amorphous (@)
Title: Moth Metaphor
Format: CD + Download
Label: Semantic Productions / Razgrom Music (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
Amorphous is the follow-up music project of Gil O. Santos, a Brazilian Electro-/Industrial musician who has made himself a quite good name with his previous, almost legendary project Morgue or also known under the alter ego Morgue (Mechanism) and a couple of highly recognized releases via the Brazilian label Cri Du Chat accompanied with licensing deals to the German labels Subtronic ("The Mind Is A Labyrinth" - 1994) and Off Beat ("The Sweet Apology Of Death"- 1997). Once started as a duo, later on been active as a trio, Morgue (Gil O. Santos, Marcelo Manieri - RIP, and Rene R. S. Menezes) existed at least between 1990 to 2010 and can be seen as the best-known and most influential Brazilian Dark Electro-/Industrial-project next to Aghast View in the mid-90s.

Not to be forgotten are the early years of this project with a vital being in the international tape-recording scene thanks to such sensational releases like "Scatology" (which later became due to its success the CD release "The Mind Is A Labyrinth" on Cri Du Chat / Subtronic Records) or their debut "Breaking All The Bones" as well as with various "Live Actions" performances recorded on tape around the dark music clubs in the Sao Paulo area.
Also the highly recognized international collaborations of this music project with the Slovakian webzine-legend Crewzine, Germany's Stillbirth Management and a few self-released compilation tapes under Gil's very own small tape label New Will Productions needs to be mentioned. It has always and forever been the managing part of Gil to kick out the best possible promotional efforts to push Morgue and to present this fine Brazilian Electro/Industrial-project to a wider audience and to leave the boundaries of Brazil behind.One of the latest actions of Gil has been that he has invested some free time to digitalize some of his good old tape-treasures and they can be freely downloaded a this Bandcamp website: Get these goodies!

It needs to be said that it has been especially Gil, his smart and friendly kind, his personal contacts and friendship built up around the globe in times when there wasn't email or social media available. Morgue and in person of Gil has left Brazil to storm the stages with unforgetable live performances in 1995 in Bratislava (Slovakia) and Bremen (Germany). Those days have been eventful and unforgetable especially in Bremen (first Morgue live performance in Germany ever...) connected with me personally and they still bring back a smile on my grim face.

After the last audio sign of Morgue with the compilation "The Dark Files" in 2007 it has become silent around this project. Gil has made in the 2000er years some musically different experiments into Longue-, Chillout- and Psytrance-music (Mukunga Umbura / album release "Secret Vision" in 2003 under the Italian label Inpsyde Media) and due to ongoing financially problems and his inner unsatisfaction with his daily job as well as the draining situation of Brazils politically system and difficult economy, he made the hard decision to leave his home country and culture behind and immigrated to Brighton, UK.Finally and since the things turned out to be more relaxing to live in Europe, Gil established his own label brand with Semantics Productions and so also Amorphous came into life for the restart into the field of classic Electro/Industrial music again, finally that kind of music he's really into and without any timeline or economic pressure.

And while I've rambled far too much of heroic deeds of our almost mutually experienced past, this is finally meant to be a review on this new, initially self-released Amorphous album "Moth Metaphor", the third studio album after the debut "Behaviourism" (2015) and the follow-up "Shapeshifting" in 2017.Amorphous picks up musically the path which Morgue has left incompleted, although there are differences between both projects to point out. Compared with the often rather filmic and interlaced song structures of Morgue especially noticed on "The Sweet Apology Of Death", Armorphous is definitely the more upbeating, pounding and more dynamically sounding alter ego. Gil's recent song structures rather concentrate to focus on its percussive moments instead to drown too deep into the dense ambience Morgue has been known and appreciated for. This kind of work can be reduced on a simple formula: if Morgue has ever been inspired by Skinny Puppy, then Amorphous turns rather into the Front Line Assembly playing field.

Although the opener "Kingdom of Darkness" kicks off with a mighty and ominous sounding lead synthpad accented by piano-like drops, it doesn't take too long until the raw bass line and the tricky arranged percussion elements take control over the song structure. "Blackout" shows simplification in its building by repeating a voice sample phrase over and over again but it shows precise and well-thought bass line and rhythm programming skills. With the exeption of the instrumental tune "The Mystic Man" and the rather poem-like outro track "Our Deepest Fear" by Jacques Brel and read by Dennis O'Connor, Gil's vocal performance needs to be pointed out. If Morgue have left impact on you in the past with their dramatic sounding performance by Rene R. S. Menezes, don't be surprised that the style of Gil's vocal expression is quite comparable - if not similar.
"Wasteland" then sounds for the most part as being a relic of the more Puppy-related past than any other track on "Moth Metaphor", as this one brings back a lot of haunting synth pads in a slower, more stalking-like song tempo filled with bizarre voice samples, surpringly incoming song interruptions and with Gil's FX-driven vocals.
Highlight and surely the most FLA-inspired tune is to me personally is "Unknown Things" with its solid kick and snare-work, pushing synth bass lines and some Wumpscut-like German voice samples ("Überall Hass..." - hasn't this been actually never sampled by anyone else before? ). Surely the track with the best balance between dancefloor-compatibility and athmospheric content.

Just in case and to avoid any misunderstandings: we have here a full-scale authentic-sounding release of classic inspired Dark Electro / Industrial music. I am sorry to say it, but no Trancewhackedgoregalore / no oontz-oontz Techno as well as no preset-sound-recording music-environment has been used to create this highly recommended Dark Electro/Industrial album. This fact - and the provided quality speaks for itself - has been also made its impact on the Russian label Razgrom Music and their founder Alexey Ignatov as this fine and growing label has released meanwhile the CD version of "Moth Metaphor" in a limited edition of 300 exemplars. It needs to be added that 3 bonus tracks ("Confinamiento", "Kingdom Of Darkness (Empire Version)", and "A New Morning") have made their way onto the silver plastic circle. Top notch work of all people involved and a must-have release for every fan of this music genre.


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