Danish musician Jonas Munk is 1/4 of the group Limp, and this, his debut full-length release from Morr, would please anybody captivated by Limp's recently released debut EP, 'Orion'. Much like 'Orion', 'Ascend' features a number of lush soundscapes and swirling, spaced-out, sometimes slightly out-of-tune keyboard-driven melodies with the occasional sprinkling of a sparse acoustic guitar riff. Unlike the Limp stuff, however, all the beats contained herein are electronically generated, often hacked up, but never straying terribly far off-course. The cover art may suggest a more earthly focus but Munk is definitely lying on his back, looking up to the sky, tinkering diligently in his basement for hours after the nighttime hurrah, before the crack of dawn, while the sound of crickets fucking fills the outside air. Head out onto the lawn for a breath of fresh air, lie on the grass and look up, doze off and you're awoken by the repetitive pitters of the neighbor's sprinkler only moments before the sun rises. Get some sleep, you've got work in a few hours. Time to listen to the fruits of the overnight sessions on the subway ride in. Have a sip of morning coffee,... very nice. - Jon Whitney
Ursula 1000, "Kinda' Kinky"
Although the latest album from Alex Gimeno came to me highly recommended, its tacky, garishly-colored cover artwork almost prevented me from buying it. However, my appreciation of silliness prevailed, and fortunately, I was not disappointed. 'Kinda' Kinky' samples everything from Bollywood to Bond films, and revels in all things funky, groovy and sexy, while throwing some of Gimeno's own break beats into the mix. Ursula 1000 certainly doesn't do anything that Towa Tei or Dimitri from Paris hasn't done in the past, but the passion for music that the man behind it is evident. Although none of the tracks stand out strongly from the rest on their own, 'Kinda' Kinky' is extremely listenable, and effective as a whole. This album is just the kick in the pants that the retro cut-and-paste DJ school of music desperately needs. It's an increasingly rare formula of being dance-inducing without lapsing into kitsch or mindlessness. What's more, it's just plain fun.
- Jessica Tibbits
LEGENDARY PINK DOTS, "SYNESTHESIA"
"Synesthesia" serves as a companion to "Chemical Playschool Volumes 11, 12 and 13", with eight indexed tracks, 57 minutes total, and 28 minutes worth of Premonitions smack dab in the middle. Niels and Martijn are credited with horns, guitars and violin but there's certainly an absence of evidence to prove it. Like Ka-Spel and The Silverman's solo efforts, the dominating sound is electronic via synths, samples and programmed drums and the majority of the album is instrumental sound pieces. 'Shining Path' and 'The More It Stays the Same' are the two lyrical songs, delightful ones at that, but even they dissolve into audio experimentation. The Premonitions are, as always, fantastic escapes. Numbers 26 and 28 range from the faintest stirrings of mist and found sound to angry resonance and rhythmic clickety-clack. The closer, 'Kalos Melas', features the cutest marching melody you'll likely hear this year. To my ears "Synesthesia" sounds very polished, much more so than the CP set, possibly negating the theory that these were the outtakes. It's just further proof, as though more were even needed, of two things: the Dots are both song crafters and sonic sculptors and they're as creatively sound as ever. - Mark Weddle
THE CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA, "ALL THAT YOU GIVE"
Orchestra leader J. Swinscoe and bassist P.J. France penned this beautiful, heavy hearted ballad/title track, featuring the legendary American jazz/gospel vocalist Fontella Bass ("Rescue Me") and dedicated it to her late husband, Lester Bowie (Art Ensemble of Chicago). The swirling harp, lush string samples, thick bass lines and percussion are in keeping with the Orchestra's direction of cinema for the ear, with a sublime vocal performance from Ms. Bass. The track appears on the ep in a video edit version, album version, and two IDM remixes which are very cool. Also included is the Quicktime video, which shows the band performing in an empty supper club style venue with Ms. Bass seated at a table. Very noteworthy is that Swinscoe has expanded the band into a full rhythm section, thus presenting live piano, bass and drum grooves, but still maintaining samples and turntables to continue pushing the boundaries of modern music in relation to jazz. The disc also includes a live version of "Kalima" (from 1999's "Motion") which captures the full band in action before a London audience. With this ep and the band website showcasing a new track each day for the last week, the much anticipated full length "Everyday" is bound to please. - Gord Fynes
DAT Politics, "Plugs Plus"
In the dichotomy of silly versus serious that has emerged recently in electronic music, a few artists have managed to strike a happy medium. DAT Politics is no doubt one of the most talented of these. Adding a dose of subtle, cartoonish humor to their laptop-based antics is something at which the French quartet has become particularly adept. Their goofy, but never sloppy approach is best heard in tracks like "Re-Folk", "Allo! Pepperberg", and "Nitpickers". So it strikes me as odd that on their new album (on Chicks on Speed's label, no less), the band feels the need to recruit the assistance of Blechtum from Blechdom, Kid 606 and Matmos. The (mostly vocal) "guest appearances" these artists make on 'Plugs Plus' only makes what is otherwise a highly entertaining and polished record, seem overcrowded. No doubt their contributions will likely please fans of Matmos and the Tigerbeat6 camp, but DAT Politics were perfectly good without what seems a gratuitous and unnecessary push into the spotlight.
- Jessica Tibbits
Paul Westerberg, "Stereo"
So, Paul Westerberg releases his first new album in 3 yearson indie Vagrant Records where he knows very few of his labelmatesand embarks on a small in-store tour to support it. Unfortunately, at the San Francisco show, a malicious heckler decided to spoil the fun by making loud comments throughout the set and throwing jibes at the stage whenever he could. Those who were in the audience grew increasingly impatient, and Westerberg eventually lost it, reportedly entering the crowd, grabbing the heckler, and smacking him across the mouth to teach him a lesson. He took it personally, but he still kept that punk spirit in check, not decking the man who tried to get the best of him. And that's exactly what Westerberg finally does on "Stereo": he redeems himself from the hell the music industry put him through in the most subdued way possible. Make no mistake: this is the best Paul Westerberg solo record yet. The songs are, for the most part, stripped down to Paul with his guitar, and the subject matter is perfect dark, though still with that Westerberg lyrical sneering sense of humor. It's a decidedly mellow affair for the man that fronted the Replacements (though Grandpaboy's rocking "Mono" CD is also included with "Stereo"), but what does anyone expect? He's by himself now. No big shot labels, no bandmates, just an older, wiser bar band leader who had a kid and wrote rock and roll in his basement for three years, then found a label who wanted to release it. Does he need more? Nope. Sure, it would be nice to have the Replacements reunite, or to have Paul tour with a full band, and either might happen. But the songs that have drums and bass on the record didn't need anyone but Paul, so I'd say he's doing just fine by himself, having the most fun he's ever had. Just as with the Grandpaboy record, he lets the tape run out, or guitars go flat, and the result is the same. After 'Don't Want Never' fades out, another song fades in, unlisted on the liner notes: "I say my words, I play my notes/I swear to God he learned to stand/Pray to God strike down the band." It never becomes a song, simply fading out after a repeat of the line, but it's the moment you realize Westerberg is playing for keeps. And that's all he can ask of himself, or that his fans can ask of him now. - Rob Devlin
Kilowatthours, "The Bright Side"
When a band loses a member or two, and the band decides to soldier on without them, sometimes the results can be catastrophic. There always seems to be something missing, even in the smallest way, that affects the soundscape. In the case of Kilowatthours, who craft pop song wonders of the expansive variety, paring down the members hasn't cost them anything in the sound department. In fact, it's improved it. "The Bright Side" is Kilowatthours' second full-length, after 2000's "Strain of Positive Thinking," which the band recorded at Trevor Kampmann's (hollAnd) studio in Washington, DC. And compared to their earlier work, "Side" is just as sure, sparser than before, but wholly a step in the right direction. Vocals are more of a center piece, not blended as much, and there isn't an overwhelming urge for the band to louden things up like there seemed to be in the past. Kilowatthours still show the propensity for "rocking out," though, as they do on several places on the album, most notably "Last Thursday" and "Almost Airtight." There also seemed to be more effects on this record, which is a worthwhile addition, and makes for some interesting backing noise. And, as always, the use of varying types of electric piano is a fantastic base for these songs. This is just straightforward, catchy, hooky, with the head slightly cocked to the side pop. The addition of a few guests (former band member Ryan Compton and Sonna's Jeremy deVine) creates some truly pretty moments ("The Only Good Thing About Pollution," "A How-to Book"), and the longer numbers don't disappoint, as they often can with this genre. A great release, and a great continuation of their sound. Try it on. - Rob Devlin
Frieder Butzmann, "Vertrauensmann des Volkes"
A long awaited reissue attempt of Frieder Butzmann's first album from 1981 is now due for release in May. Sadly, however, it's taking the form of a vinyl edition, limited to 333 copies only, which mathematically would make it rarer than the original issue. Butzmann, a self proclaimed "spokesman of the people," more specifically of the Berlin underground, published his debut album after the famous "Waschsalon" 7" (not included here) at a time when electronic music was taking over punk, dada and new wave replacing teenage angst. While Der Plan made fun of Düsseldorf and DAF cultivated their homoerotic macho military style from their London exile, Butzmann's work threw longer and more disturbing shades out of the Berlin behind the wallnot unlike Die tödliche Doris or Minus Delta T.
Caring less for technical finesse, a raw and sometimes disturbing quality emerges here. While a dadaistic influence shines through in the semi-naive use of electronics, piano, vocals and undefined sound sources, the basic idea is always more important then the perfect realization. This approach might explain the then-surprising guest appeareance by ex-TG member Genesis P. Orridge in the closing track "Just Drifting / Tales Of Death". At least this one made it recently to CD on the self-titled '90% Wasser' label compilation issued late autumn last yeara good buy on it's own actually with a wide selection of current electronica, spoken words etc.
The diversity on 'Vertrauensmann des Volkes,' is comprised mostly of short songs until the album reaches its dominating 9 minute piece, "Zivilisation." It's an uncomfortable amount of pressure built-up while Butzmann stands up against moral weakness and mental decay due to comfort and ignorance. Butzmann's lyrics are well crafted and used in unconventional ways to reach intense results. "Competition and sadism / that is the German mechanism" ("Sadismus und Konkurrenz") sung with Angelika Maisch sounds like an old French tune of the golden twenties amidts odd sounds, while the opening track "Gefluester" deals with communication and the passing of digital signs and numbers.
The whole album should be treasured as a cornerstone of the German experimental and electronic scene. I hope it will get a CD reissue (along with the preceeding single) to be enjoyed not only by collectors. - Carsten S.
Travelogue "The Art of Conversation"
Travelogue is Jon Sonnenberg, yet another young man who uses only analogue synths and equipment in making his simple melodic songs (and lists the specific instruments on the liner notes, of course). Travelogue's minimal tracks are amazingly well-crafted, though, and deeply rooted in Gary Numan, Fad Gadget and Kraftwerk without succumbing to the syrupy pop trap of other new synth-artists whose music shares more in common with OMD, New Order and the like. Sonnenberg doesn't have the strongest singing voice, but he does well with what he can, and sings each song very softly and intently on pitch. The eight songs are pretty varied, from the upbeat retro-tech-step of "Rust and Reason" to the dark and experimental (for synth-pop at least) seven-minute epic "Conversation" to the crystalline waltz "Overcome." "Your Car" is the obvious hit, but almost all the songs are catchy enough to get stuck in your head, without being too annoying. The drumbeats that Sonnenberg creates are subdued and tasteful and he never lets them get the better of the melody. The only real problem song is the closer, "Cactus," an ersatz cowboy number that doesn't fit in with the feel of the rest of the album. The album is on Plastiq Musiq, the label run by Joy Electric's Ronnie Martin, and yes, the lyrics do have Christian undertones. But the lyrics never border on being preachy, and in fact are fairly cryptic; in some cases it's hard to tell if Sonnenberg is singing a love song to a girl or to God. You probably wouldn't even notice the religious themes unless you read the lyric sheet (but maybe that's the intent). If the Christian aspect of Travelogue scares you away from the album, you're a fool, because musically it's one of the most enjoyable and original albums in the retro-synth vein that's come out in recent months. - Nate Smith
Cerberus Shoal, "Mr. Boy Dog"
The longer it goes on, the weirder it gets, and then it tames itself. You see, this is not the Cerberus Shoal you're used to. It has some of the same elements, that's true, such as the horns and jazz structures with moments of ambient drone and beauty. But this is a bit different. Scratch that. A lot different. This time around, Cerberus Shoal have gone the more improvisational route, abandoning structure as it is commonly known for a bit wilder, more chaotic, jumbled noise of a sound. Yes, it does span two CDs. Yes, it is genuine. Yes, it is meant to be this way. And yes, it is good. But I miss the more tame Cerberus Shoal. Don't mistake: the record does have structure in places'Nataraja,' though a bit monotonous around the middle, is a highlightand the two separate discs are different thematically; which is why, though the release could fit on one CD, they are separated. It just sounds like Cerberus Shoal started with basic layers, and then let their minds and instruments go wild, and pulling out the stops between their influences. The results are mixed. It's certainly more experimental than anything they've released before, and it's good for the band to escape their usual confines and stretch. But most moments on the first disc do more to push away than invite. The annoying repition that opens 'Stumblin' Block' is not forgiven by that tracks middle or end; the chiming beginning and vocalized middle of 'Camel Bell' are blown away by the instrumentation of the track; and the struggling Middle Eastern vocal stylings of 'Tongue Drongue' go on far two long before its climax redeems it. The first disc feels like Cerberus Shoal meets Fantomas. That's why the second disc is here to save the first's bacon. That's right, the second disc of "Mr. Boy Dog" is fantastic. From the first minute of 'Unmarked Boxes,' you recognize the sound. This is more traditional Cerberus Shoal with gentle experimentation and interesting samples. And that's where it comes together nicely. Rhythmically, melodically, and vocally superior, these tracks are truly moving in their beauty. There is a nice separation between the two discs. Ultimately, I prefer the second, but I'm glad the band tries as they do on the first. I'm sure that's part of what makes the second so appealing. - Rob Devlin
From the box of freebies often comes the most interesting and challenging surprises. This one is particularly enigmatic: no artist info, no title and no track titles (some e-sleuthing revealed three: 'Juunigatsu', 'Koutetsukan', 'Makugine'). Just a four track, 16 minute CD-R with b/w insert photo of a rocky stream. Ah, but the music is far from tranquil. It's more befitting of an industrial wasteland. Molten masses of overdriven sound are forged to cantankerous rhythmic clangor and glitches. It's blistering and menacing alright but also near melodic and even ambient at times. Hitohana has meticulously placed and shaped the debris into noisy songs. The third track offers the first and last respite by abruptly flipping the on/off switch on the din, deceiving though as discharges continue to erupt and the noise ultimately returns for its revenge. Powerful stuff. - Mark Weddle
Love and Rockets, "Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven" & "Express"
The three post-goth Bowie-obsessed acid-dropping ex-Bauhaus hippies known as Love and Rockets released a couple of my favorite albums of the 1980s. Now that the back catalogue has fallen out of RCA's clutches and back into the hands of Beggars Banquet, the first few albums have been remastered and reissued in expanded forms with bonus tracks and more complete booklets. Unlike the original CD releases, the original running order of the LPs have been restored with bonus tracks tagged on at the end as opposed to interspersed among the album tracks.
'Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven' came out only two years after the release of the final Bauhaus record, following side projects like Sinister Ducks (with David J) and Tones on Tail (with Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins) and showcased a trio of seasoned musicians, with two strong singer/songwriters, heavily influenced by psychedelia, with a stunningly professional execution and original approaches to production. In its original form, the album consisted of seven tracks, opening with the hypnotic drum machine-enhanced single "If There's a Heaven Above", followed by a dark, acoustic, psychedelic world with classics like the heavily distorted "Dog End of a Day Gone By," "Haunted when the Minutes Drag," which was used in that 'She's Having a Baby' film with Kevin Bacon, and ending on the glorious instrumental acoustic gem, "Saudade," which could easily be one of my favorite Love and Rockets tracks ever. While this Bonus tracks on this edition is impeccably complete, with the inclusion of "Ball of Confusion" and "Insde the Outside," and an alternate version of "Haunted," it includes way too many versions of "If There's A Heaven Above."
'Express' saw the group move into more vigorous territories, opening with the two multi-part tracks "It Could be Sunshine," and "Khundalini Express." This LP was their first US breakthrough, with the rock radio-friendly minor hit "All in My Mind" and the barrelling "Yin and Yang (the flowerpot man)," which probably was the biggest crowd-pleaser for years at Love and Rockets concerts. Bonus tracks include songs that were originally on singles and the original CD release like "Angels and Devils," "Holiday on the Moon," and a version of "Ball of Confusion" which was on the original US LP edition along with a couple pointless 1+ minute tunes titled "B Side #1 & #2." The trio may have experienced bigger international hits on later albums but they never experienced such a flood of saucy, creative, original ideas as they did on 'Express.' - Jon Whitney
We know that sometimes these CDs are somewhat challenging to find, which is why we have a community section which can be used to obtain nearly everything available on this site.
United in hate
Subject: this week's title
The timing of when I checked out your latest issue of The Brain could not have
been better. I had just returned from a desk around the corner from mine that
was playing that incredulous tune called "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel, and it
could not have put me in more foul of a mood first thing on a Monday morning.
The I decided to check out your new issue and read the heading: THAT LITTLE
CORNER OF THE WORLD FOR THOSE OF US WHO HATE BILLY JOEL AND JAMES TAYLOR.
Cheers, mate! You know we all hate walking through the drug store and hearing Diana Ross singing "Endless Love." The Brain's here for you Monday morning.
just wanted to thank rob devlin for his review of the parlour 'octopus...' release. i bought it last week and can't stop listening to it! twas the soundtrack to a beautiful norcal to socal drive too.....thanks for making me aware of so many otherwise lost-in-the-din releases!!! i love brainwashed!
Thanks! Unfortunately Rob Devlin couldn't be reached for comment on your letter.
Subject: [no subject]
I'd just like to point out that in a search on google for "assmilk.avi" the Brain shows up as the first entry.
Thank you for providing us with years of depravity.
We aim to please. You aim too, please.
Subject: Hi ppl :)
You might remember me and my two friends stealing your 6-pack of Grolsch at
Paradiso, the Netherlands. :) We went to your concert and thought it was great!
Later on we saw that the people of Kepler needed a sleeping place. They
eventually could crash at my friends place, but before that they asked us to
join them in drinking some beers with them. That was a great offer I must say,
but well,.. we were kind of wasted and had no clue how they managed eventually.
So... plllllleeeeaaasse, I would like to contact them, but can't find any
address of the; if you know how to reach them, let me know,.. please! :)
In the meanwhile.... keep on going the great stuff; its a new sound and more
appreciated than I first would expect.
No fucking clue who you are or who you're writing to.
Subject: men with boxes but no brains
great stuff - inside and out. another feather in your cap. why can't i
think of a way to make that cliché sound more perverse?
so, am i missing an insert, or are we supposed to figure out the track
listing for "Disc X" from the pix in the booklet?
if so, i know a LOT less about music than i thought i did. either that or
"Invisible Jukebox" just aint my game. track 3 has me completely thrown,
f'r instance. all i know is that i'm pretty sure it's not Vincent Gallo.
It says on the CD, for details, access the CDDB. You've got an internet connection - you emailed us!
Subject: FEEL THE ALMIGHTY POWER OF.......THE ANAGRAM! (if you dare)
JON WHITNEY- join net why? (hmm...coincidence.....i think not)
MARK WEDDLE- dark......lewd.....me?
now that i think of it , a lot of people's names are funnier in anagram form..
peter christopherson - the 'scorn prophesier'
......or the 'three inch professor'
.. and in case you ever have to change the site's name, how about....
we brandish a....
sad bra whine
we ban radish!.............we sure do
I'd kill to have as much free time as you.
Got the package today. I've sold and bought records for 20 years, and I have
to say you rank as one of the cheapest lot of bastards around. You sent a
heavy item in nothing more than a manilla envelope. Spent $1.33 in postage.
To aggravate matters, you wrapped heavy guage wire around the case, which,
since you provided inadequate packing, was guaranteed to end up scratching
the metal case. Open things up and, lo and behold, you didn't even provide
a Tyvek or mesh sleeve for the CDs, which are sure to become scratched over
time. On top of that, it's not easy to get all of the materials back into
the case because it's just shy of being large enough to accomodate the
I've always enjoyed your site and had a warm impression of your
organization. Now, there is a large blemish associated with your name.
"Cheap" was the farthest I was on this package. But maybe you're right, maybe we should have charged $75 for the set and consulted you before, but unfortunately very few people would have bought it at that cost and I'd be out the large sum money it cost to put disc A and disc B into an international magazine (before the costs of the materials of the boxed set).
You got the music, the discs were all protected and arrived in one piece, and what you do with them now is up to you. You also spent far less than any 3xCD set of original/exclusive music I know of and got a bunch of neat extra personal gifts. Splurge and spend the difference on some jewel boxes or something. Do the math and you'll see that you made out just fine.
Subject: oh my
its so pretty!
i wanna take it to bed with me.
i bet you hear that a lot.
i hear that all the time about my package
yeah i figured.
at first i thought it was kinda on the small side but once i got my hands on it, my eyes were opened.
yours is the best package i've had all week.
once again i'm not surprised, but nevertheless still happy to hear it
i aim to please, you know?
it's all about pleasuring others for me....
yeah, i hear that from a lot of people
they all want to make sure they service me well but not many do.
you, my friend.. you, have serviced me well.
Subject: Disc X
If you have any leftover Disc X CDs, I'd really like to buy one.
They're $45 currently. You'll get a box with them as well as two other discs and a bunch of other stuff! =)
Subject: Jack Dangers/ Thighpaulsandra's mailing address.
First off, I would like to thank you and the rest of the brainwashed crew
for the great collection of music that arrived in my mailbox last week. I
hope you make some money and get the appreciation you deserve.
What im looking for are Mailing addresses i could use to write Jack Dangers
and Thighpaulsandra. Should i use the MBM INFO one on the site for Jack, or
is there a more direct one? and i couldn't find any for Thighpaulsandra, i
would imagine that he's probably pretty hard to reach. I was planning on
going to see him at the spiritualized concert in Ohio this next weekend, but
i am unable to because of a "family commitment". Sheesh.
I got screwed out of a Robert Rich concert a month ago for the same reason.
I guess that's how it goes. Anyway, if you can give me any help it would be
Best way is to use the mailing address on the MBM info and write to Thighpauls care of World Serpent. He'll get it when he gets home from Spiritualized.