I'm completely stumped as to what to say more than what was already said in the press release. But since you're not reading that, I can agree that this is truly the best of the worst of the best of the best of the worst of the worst. 52 tracks - one for each week of the year on this lovely 2-CD collection. This is definitely in my top five of the year. The collection takes various bits and pieces from v/vm's lengthy career onto their first official v/vm product CD release. Lots of tasty gems and contributions from friends and family including Ducky and David Hassleoffalwaffleoff. Is it noise or is it art? Many fans of the cut up Nurse With Wound, the Kopyright Liberation of the KLF, the audio terrorism of Merzbow, witty antics of Non and social irresponsibility of Throbbing Gristle would all enjoy this release as a perfect introduction to the v/vm world. Sound sources are distorted, muted, changed, sampled, twisted, fucked, chewed on and spit back out - collages are constructed and deconstructed. It's harsh abrasive and beautiful all at the same time, with never a loss of humor. A miniature US tour is in the planning stages right now so stay tuned to us for the latest updates, as for now, this CD is finally available, should be bought by all and played for grandmothers everywhere. - Jon Whitney
S.O.L.O., "OUT IS IN"
I'm very surprised and delighted with Michael Well's latest output. Going under the guise of S.O.L.O. this time, his latest album is nothing at all like any of his previous work. He's dropped the 4x4 pounding techno, infectious happy hardcore, and balls-out gabber for a more top-notch IDM sound. There is a varied sound throughout the disc, still he is able to tie in elements of previous works such as G.T.O.'s "Kardiophunk EP," and the oddball tracks from both volumes of the "Data Trax" EPs on DataFlow. I would have to say that this album and his previous one, "Departure" by Signs Of Chaos, are an extension of what the Greater Than One albums would have sounded like after "G-Force" even without the seven-year techno excursion that followed. Michael Wells has gotten back to his roots. Released on long-time friend, Robin Rimbaud's (aka Scanner) brand new Sulphur Records label, the styles range from the contemporary sample-oriented Ninja Tune/Mo' Wax sound to the more abstract feel of what's coming out of Germany these days (ie To Rococo Rot, Nonplace Urban Field, etc.). The CD leads in with warm pops and clicks of an old phonograph, which melt their way into a Haruomi Hosono flavored piece (it would fit nicely along with anything on the Daisy World label). Wells develops a nice flow throughout the album, using the more downtempo percussion elements of jazz overlayed with organic synth washes and funked bass guitar loops. Darker non-worldly drones serve as the backbones to this uplifting feel, reminding me of what I like about Scorn, Locust, Scanner... and even Cylob. Some would try an pigeonhole this and the previous Signs Of Chaos album as 'Lounge,' but it's too far beyond that. String samples, flutes, Art Of Noise cut-ups, erratic slowed-down techno with a missing beat, record scratching by a dj with one hand and three fingers, an ego-boosting porn sample, bleeps, bloops, electronic sensuality... Go back and listen to your old Greater Than One albums and retract the lame press-release influenced opinions. Michael Wells is still the innovator. - Chris Miller
LEFT HAND, "MINUS EIGHT"
Following their Earworm 7" from a few months ago that didn't leave me too impressed, Left Hand return with a vinyl-only LP that is startlingly good. The LP looks as though it's from the early to mid-80's, and the style is slightly similar. No camp here, just influences (early 4AD and Factory releases) worn on their sleeves proudly. Sort of reminiscent of the sadly missed trio Lorelei, who also combined melodramatic 80's post-punk with 90's sonic sensibilities. There are also traces of other classic defunct bands, like Codeine, Moonshake (the singer for Left Hand could be Dave Callahan's brother!), and Bark Psychosis (whose restrained style is utilized on the beautiful "Electricity"), but not direct rips. Left Hand create otherworldly "rock", in a world where most indie are now afraid of the word. Available at normanrecords.com/jonwhisk.html. - Jason Olariu
JESSICA BAILIFF, "HOUR OF THE TRACE"
Warmth. Not heat, but warmth. The cozy, secure feeling that emanates from sitting in front of the fire place, or sleeping under flannel covers. It's also the warmth found in the intimate relationships. That's the feeling offered by Jessica Bailiff's latest release on Kranky. Sequeing from last year's Even in Silence, Bailiff creates hypnotic drone atmospheres laced with her ever so trademark vocals. The production of Low's Alan Sparhawk is evident on the album, with bandmate Mimi Parker making a cameo on drums on "Toska," the disc's second track. Unfortunately, following this track is a song that can be only deemed as "aggresiveness"--in a droner's sense of the word--with rather harsh riffs and--arrgh!--a drum machine. Even with that one discursion into the realm of whatever you may call it, tracks like "Across the Miles," with it's subtle piano melody, and "Perception," a twenty-minute symphony of textures and aural environs, make this album the perfect companion to a dark and rainy evening. Even the press release hints at the attempt to capture warmth with the album when mentioning that it was recorded at 20 below in Duluth, MN. - Carter Adams
PHILOSOPHER'S STONE, "APPARATUS"
Having never heard Philosopher's Stone before (sure, I've heard of them, with all the references to Amp and Flying Saucer Attack being strewn about), I was curious as to what they might sound like. I popped Apparatus into my player and was soon awash in a sea of waves and tones produced by samples drawn from Gareth Mitchell's electric guitar. When I read that most of the sounds had been culled from the guitar, I expected warm, analog abstractions, but was delighted to find pieces that also were tinged with dark, very electronic drones and frequencies. The standout track, for me, is without a doubt "Komposition." Pulsating frequencies build on each other, washing each other out in dense waves, creating a nice rhythmic chaos. I was quite pleased with my first Philosopher's Stone exposure--and I just might see to it that it isn't my last. - Carter Adams
DUST BROTHERS, "FIGHT CLUB SOUNDTRACK"
Perhaps this is the first ever Dust Brothers proper album. The Dust Brothers have been responsible in the past for production and writing of albums like "Paul's Boutique" from the Beaste Boys and remixes for others. Unfortunately many remixes as The Dust Brothers from the early 90s is actually the Chemical Brothers before they had to change their name. Now that you're cleared up, this album would probably strike me as more excellent if it were anybody else, but since it is who it is - I'm slightly disappointed. Perhaps it's because I'm picky and have been waiting for a Dust Brothers album for about 13 years, perhaps it's because the beats get fairly generic over time, perhaps it's because it's a basic trip hop album from the guys who practically invented trip hop, but it could be accredited to being simply a soundtrack - needing that slight bit of easiness for the masses, music for the lowest common denominator. They do some really good stuff on this album however, and there's no bad rappers on it, the instrumental entirety is most definitely a plus with such disasters in the past year like Spooky and U.N.K.L.E. albums. This soundtrack is a good blend of upbeat and down tempo tunes, from huge block rockin beats to minimal beats - if it was not the Dust Brothers and I was not expecting something more, I would be very impresed. Parts of it even sound like what the Beasties would be doing if they shut their big mouths and actually listened to the music. Good analog sounds, my only real complaint are some of the beats and a coulple of other small things, but most of them happen when the bad beats kick in. And even in some places, it could pass for Coil trying their hand at an illbient / trip-hop soundtrack, but these are only small parts that end abrubtly, interrupted with block rockin beats from hell. The more I listen to the fight club the more I like it, it's a really good soundtrack, and kind of flows together well. It brings you up inserts those rockin beats and then takes them away like someone distracted you or, builds back up again and drops off, like you are club hopping or something. - Nick D'Uva
AYERS/EVERALL/HARRIS, "MESMERIC ENABLING DEVICE"
Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions), John Everall (Tactile) and Mick Harris (Scorn, Lull, etc.) come together via the UK post for this collaborative effort. Tracks 1 and 7 are constructed by Everall/Harris using source material from Ayers and tracks 2-6 are vice versa. The 2 Everall/Harris constructed pieces are reminiscent of Harris' ambient Lull project: pt. 1 is a slow, drifting, cloud of rumbling drones and washes and pt. 7 is similar only a bit more abrasive. Pts. 2 and 6 continue in that vein, but Ayers also adds a subtle keyboard melody and a train track like clanging deep in the mix. Pt. 3 is a very brief, noisier excerpt with one sharp, distorted sound halfway through ... to wake you back up I suppose. And pts. 4 and 5 introduce rhythm via a subtle bass line and a skittery, typewriter like percussion. This collaboration was supposedly so intense that it resulted in Mick Harris deciding to never release another album again and John Everall to seclude himself from contact with the outside world. Yeah, right. "Mesmeric Enabling Device" is enjoyable enough and good for sleepy time but it certainly doesn't blow me away and isn't anything I haven't already heard before. The Teresa Mills artwork for this disc is disappointing imo, I much prefer her work for Tactile's "Borderlands" and the Harris/Everall collaboration Trace Decay "Dispersion" ... - Mark Weddle
DNA LE DRAW D-KEE
DNA LE DRAW D KEE (anagram of Elke and Edward Ka-Spel) is a special "ambient" project that features Edward Ka-Spel and Ryan Moore of the Legendary Pink Dots, Edward's wife at the time Elke and then 2 year old son Calyxx. This disc is a re-issue of a previously limited edition (500) vinyl only release from 1995 on Holland's Korm Plastic label. The cd contains two lengthy, flowing, instrumental sound collage pieces: "Decay" and "DNA". "Decay" uses electronic drones, hums, glitches, music box tones, samples of voices and bird calls, synth sounds and some somewhat tribal percussion playing. I especially like the 4 to 5 minute music box section ... very beautiful and relaxing. The track ends with a gradually building wall of ercussive tappings and bouncy synth notes. "DNA" begins with a minute and a half of soft piano and stereo panned static waves that I wish would go on forever. The percussion-less track evolves with synth waves and more music box tones, keyboard pads, static, baby cries and bizarre synth sounds such as warning signal-like beeps. The final four minutes or so build with bizarre, plucked guitar string type sounds and sweeping synth chords. Both tracks are varied and paced well, changing and moving often enough to avoid becoming boring. I hear bits similar to early LPD, solo Ka-Spel and Mimir and bits reminiscent of Neu! (especially the beginning of "DNA"), Eno, and early Pink Floyd. If you like the more atmospheric side of the Pink Dots and Ka-Spel's work, you're going to love this. The artwork for the inserts is a gorgeous swirled collage of psychedelic pastel colors, it's too bad Soleilmoon didn't make a poster for this one. Khalamalezh Vidas! - Mark Weddle
DAVID BOWIE, "HOURS"
All eyes are on David Bowie but their ears are tuned out. Once a decade, Bowie reaches the end and is all out of ideas and tired of reinventing himself. In the late 1960s he was a bit young to have gotten stale, but there are moments before his first RCA album, "Space Oddity," which had some really lame bits. In 1980, "Scary Monsters" was a moderately lukewarm record in comparison to the excellent Eno co-produced trilogy "Low," "Heroes," and "Lodger". In the late 1980s, "Never Let Me Down" showed us that tired washed up side of David Bowie after his most popular decade with all the stadium sell out shows, big records and movie appearances. Now it's the end of the 90s and Bowie has reinvented himself enough times for one decade - with exploring Tin Machine, beat music revisited with Nile Rogers and even the Trent Reznor connection - he must be tired. With all the focus on his internet services and his multi-million back catalogue record deals, his artistic output has become weak, watery and boring. The album is a cookie-cut production littered with emotionless soft pop tunes and boring verse-chorus-verse arrangements. It's a good thing his internet service is successful for him and he's getting tons of money for his good era stuff because this album plainly sucks. There isn't even a standout hit or powderpuff gem to bop along to. - Jon Whitney
We know that sometimes these CDs are somewhat challenging to find, which is why we have a RECOMMENDED STORES section which can be used to obtain nearly everything available on the site.
Blast - t.b.a. CD (KK, Belgium)
Chemical Brothers - Out Of Control 12"/CDEP (Virgin, UK)
DMX Krew - We Are DMX CD/LP (Rephlex, UK)
Guardians Of Dalliance - Diffusion Rooms CD/4xLP (Moving Shadow, UK)
Krust - Coded Language two 12"s/CDEP (Talkin' Loud, UK)
Les Rhythmes Digitales - Jaques Your Body (Make Me Sweat): 99 Mix 12"/CDEP [with Cassius mix] (Wall of Sound, UK)
Orbital - Nothing Left 2x12" (FFRR, UK)
Pet Shop Boys - Nightlife CD/2xLP (Parlophone, UK)
Quannum Projects - I Changed My Mind 12"/CDEP (Mo Wax, UK)
SFT - Eyes Open 10" (Mute, UK)
Sneaker Pimps - 10 To 20 two 12"s/2x12"/two CDEPs (Clean Up, UK)
Special Forces [Photek] - Something Else 12"/CDEP (Photek Productions, UK)
Juan Trip - Balmy Under The Stormy CD/2xLP (F Communications, France)
Various - Warp10+1 Influences 2xCD/4xLP [collection of tracks that inspired the creation of Warp, including Unique 3, Ital's Rockers, Juno, Nitro Deluxe, Fallout, Reese & Santino, Model 500, Mr Fingers, A Guy Called Gerald, 808 State & more] (Warp, UK)
Various - Warp10+2 Classics 2xCD/4xLP [collection of tracks from early Warp singles, including Forgemasters, Nightmares On Wax, Sweet Exorcist, DJ Mink, LFO, Tricky Disco, The Step, Tuff Little Unit & more] (Warp, UK)
Various - Warp10+3 Remixes 2xCD/4xLP [collection of tracks from Aphex Twin, Autechre, LFO, Boards Of Canada, Nightmares On Wax, Squarepusher, Seefeel, Broadcast & more, remixed by Pram, Luke Vibert, Stereolab, Plaid, Mogwai, Spiritualized, Red Snapper, Autechre & others] (Warp, UK)
* Big Bud - Infinity & Infinity CD (Good Looking, US)
Chemical Brothers - Out Of Control 12"/CDEP (Astralwerks, US)
* Cocteau Twins - BBC Sessions 2xCD (Rykodisc, US/Canada)
Color Filter - Remix CD/2xLP [mixes by Click 'n' Cycle, Buzz, Sugar Plant, Technicolor, Flowchart, Sweet Trip, Junior Varsity KM and more] (Darla, US)
Daddylonglegs [Howie B & Naked Funk] - Horse CD (Palm Pictures/Rykodisc, US)
* Randy Greif - Alice In Wonderland 5xCD [reissue] (Soleilmoon, US)
* Kid Loco/Various - Jesus Life for Children Under 12 Inches CD [remixes of material by Talvin Singh, Pulp, Mogwai, High Llamas and others] (Atlantic, US)
Lali Puna - t.b.a. CD (Morr Music, Germany - Darla, US)
Le Forbici Di Manitu - Play & Remix Lt. Murnau CD (Earthly Delights/Soleilmoon, US)
* Lustmord - The Monsterous Soul CD [midprice reissue] (Side Effects/Soleilmoon, US)
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - Dirty Little Secrets: Music To Strip By CD [collection of old tracks and remixes plus new material] (Rykodisc, US/Canada)
Pet Shop Boys - Nightlife CD (Parlophone/EMI, Canada)
Supreme Beings of Leisure - Strangelove Addiction 12" (Palm Pictures/Rykodisc, US/Canada)
Various - Little Darla Has a Treat For You vol. 13 CD [budget sampler] (Darla, US)
Various - Warp10+1 Influences 2xCD/4xLP [collection of tracks that inspired the creation of Warp, including Unique 3, Ital's Rockers, Juno, Nitro Deluxe, Fallout, Reese & Santino, Model 500, Mr Fingers, A Guy Called Gerald, 808 State & more] (Warp/Matador, US)
Various - Warp10+2 Classics 2xCD/4xLP [collection of tracks from early Warp singles, including Forgemasters, Nightmares On Wax, Sweet Exorcist, DJ Mink, LFO, Tricky Disco, The Step, Tuff Little Unit & more] (Warp/Matador, US)
Various - Warp10+3 Remixes 2xCD/4xLP [collection of tracks from Aphex Twin, Autechre, LFO, Boards Of Canada, Nightmares On Wax, Squarepusher, Seefeel, Broadcast & more, remixed by Pram, Luke Vibert, Stereolab, Plaid, Mogwai, Spiritualized, Red Snapper, Autechre & others] (Warp/Matador, US)
Richie Hawtin - Decks EFX & 909 mix CD (M_nus/Novamute, UK)
For a more comprehensive release schedule stretching far into the future, please check out the NEW RELEASES brought to you by Greg and Feedback Monitor.
DREAMS AT THE END OF NIGHT
Ewald Murrer's new book is entirely pretty, from its burgundy cardstock binding, to its prints of fantastic creatures and scenes, to its short, dream-narratives. It happens to be just one of a series of Eastern European works put out by the Twisted Spoon Press, which includes a title by Jan Svankmajer's wife, Eva. I bought Dreams simply because I liked the cover, and the 17 stories inside all similarly dwell on the surface of things, calmly parading images before the reader with little introspection. The stories follow a peculiar cast, including Liesele Lousshart, Blumfeld the wizard, Child-Robert, Carmen von Bulow (with an umlaut to grace her), Herbert Lusperto de Pedurac, and Skeleton Bruzek, as they attend fantastic balls, scour small towns, lose eyeballs and find new ones, disappear in the kaleidoscope of events, then reappear without explanation. The voice is calm and avoids engaging the reader; rather than grabbing by the lapels Murrer seems like someone who's just woken up and is sleepily telling you his dreams whether or not you want to hear. And so, relying on vivid scenery and vatic pronouncements, these Dreams at the End of the Night, like all dreams, sometimes thrill and sometimes skim past without leaving much impression at all. Murrer's inventiveness is dazzling and he always manage to push past slack moments with handy showmanship. Certain images, rather than stories, remain; in one, after the crash into a lake of a gigantic airplane, "the women could be seen, now on the bottom, sitting dead in armchairs, swirling around in them, swirling^Świnding their way upward, toward the surface." Perhaps Dreams would serve better as a sourcebook for illustrators than for readers expecting more than images from stories. Still, it has a congenial presence, and sits quietly, ready to inspire, awaiting the reader's own pictures to clatter off its pages. - Paul McRandle