CURRENT 93 & NURSE WITH WOUND, "MUSIC FOR THE HORSE HOSPITAL
It's only natural that a gallery filled with the visual art of David Tibet and Steven Stapleton be filled with their audio art as well. This limited edition (1000) set served as the soundtrack for their April 8 - May 4, 2002 exhibition at London's Horse Hospital gallery. Initially it was only available there and through Durtro's online store but it has since filtered down to the usual outlets (though the price point of roughly $45 will undoubtedly dissuade casual fans). The packaging is, unsurprisingly, interesting: a four panel fold-up with dark, white crested ocean waves on the outside and illegible chalk on blackboard writings inside. A six panel insert hides the discs and a Tibet painting underneath. Keeping in mind the background intent of this music helps to appreciate it, but of the two, Current 93 is the most rewarding for attentive listening. Here c93 includes past collaborators Joolie Wood and Maja Elliot as well as Julia Kent of Antony and the Johnsons. Between a spoken "alpha" and "omega", Tibet lays the foundation with a short ebb and flow loop of (presumably harmonium) drone while the three women crest his wave with piano and strings. Despite its nearly 41 minutes, it remains hypnotically tranquil and enthralling. Nurse With Wound, here just Stapleton and Colin Potter (as on the recent 'The Man With the Woman Face'), craft a longer but more minimal piece. It takes several minutes for their dulled roar to fully surface and massage like c93's piece. Change is perceptible - a slowing down, a temporal lengthening of the waves - but it's so gradual and so minute, it might go undetected while perusing the paintings (or anything else). - Mark Weddle
"42 More Things To Do In Zero Gravity / Part One"
Thule Musik has been responsible for the fledgling releases of some of the rising stars of the Icelandic music scene. Múm's popularity has exploded over the past year and Trabant was recently profiled in the New York Times. Both these bands are represented on this double CD compilation (each with their remix of another artist's track, plus an original track remixed by someone else), but '42 More Things to do in Zero Gravity' attempts to showcase a wide variety of electronic artists. Some names might ring a bell to those who follow the musical goings-on of Reykjavik and beyond, and others seem to be surfacing for the first time.
Billing itself as "an Icelandic Ambient Compilation," Uni:form, in conjunction with Thule, definitely adopts a broad definition of "ambient." The vast majority of tracks on '42 More Things' are more structured than such aforementioned nomenclature might imply, but the general presence of electronic chill-out background soundscapes (somewhere in between Warp's 'Artificial Intelligence' compilations and the atmospheric side of the Morr Music roster) is right on the mark.
Ilo, Thor, Ruxpin, and Biogen will likely be familiar to the more seasoned aficionados of Icelandic music as a result of their remix work for both Múm and Sigur Rós. Ilo's track "Tif" is among the more striking of the contributions: a trip hop-infused tapestry of distorted voices, guitar, piano and seductive beats. The fluffy but listenable "Flying," the angelic and moody "First Contact," and the drum 'n' bass-inspired "Above Sea Level" are Ruxpin's three pieces. These tracks, while exhibiting an impressive range overall, individually don't seem really go anywhere. They do succeed, however, in melding well with the relaxed vibe of the compilation as a whole. Biogen's "Hi-Fi FM" is quirky and up-tempo, while "Afloat" sounds like a digital sea spray overlaid with glistening mellow synths. "I Don't Have a Clue" by Thor is perhaps the closest to being truly ambient with its beatless lilt, along with the Trabant's track "Superman," remixed here by Worm is Green. Other noteworthy contributions come from the lesser-known Krilli (represented here by two excellent songs, one of which beautifully recalls some of the instrumental work on David Bowie's 'Low'), Rhythm of Snow's Autechre-esque "Getting Closer to an Unknown Goal," and Múm's twitchy Kanada remix.
Overall, '42 More Things' doesn't have much that will completely bowl its listeners over with either profundity or innovation, but as a whole, it provides for extremely pleasant and meditative listening. - Jessica Tibbits
PIANO BREAD & COLLECTIONS OF COLONIES OF BEES, "FA.CE (A"
Here are past and present Crouton recordings centered around prolific, poly-pseudonymic, multi-faceted artists Chris Rosenau
and Jon Mueller. Piano Bread is a (still available) numbered and cardboard boxed edition of 500 from 1999. It comes with a
book with a surreal tale by drummer Mueller that seems to portray an individual's lustful, "piano bread"-addled search for
Equally mystifying is the disc's 15 untitled tracks which may or may not correspond in some way to the book's 12 chapters.
Ranging from one to nearly nine minutes, the pieces are performed by soloists, duets, trios or quartets that include four
other players from the Milwaukee area. Musically it's very varied, running the gamut from a lone feminine voice, woodwind or
treated harmonica to drums/samples/turntables/double bass band freakouts. To take the easy way out would be to describe much
of what's going on here with words such as "avant", "improv" and "freeform" paired with another word that rhymes with
"spazz". It's not really my cup of tea, but it would leave out the many other moments of greater interest to me, such as
and 12. Here, Rosenau performs a magic trick with erratic acoustic guitar and banjo plucks and scrapes, sparse keyboard and
bass notes, and clarinet chirps, wheezes and drones. On track six, John McCoy's "advanced sound manipulations" make
for a murky melting pot of environments and atmospheres while on track seven, Jason Wietlispach drowns Rebecca Gray's
ghostly wailing in heavily effected guitar swells. 'Piano Bread' is a bewildering 48 page and 68 minute journey with some
intriguing sight seeing along the way.
Fast forward to 2002. Collections of Colonies of Bees is mostly the duo's doing and 'fa.ce (a' is their third album since
'99. It is a continuous suite of eight (all but the last untitled) tracks that glide through played, processed and played to
be processed sounds - often with elements from each track carrying over into the next.
Besides acoustic and electric guitars, lap steel, piano and steel drums, Rosenau is also credited throughout with "assembly,"
"manipulation," "miscellaneous noises," and/or the Akai Headrush. Mueller provides drums or percussion on five tracks and
another Milwaukee musician, Don Mahlmeister, also adds guitars, Rhodes and Wurlitzer piano, keyboard and programming. That
should give you an inkling of the palette and production. In a way, the first track
sets a false tone with an upbeat, yet mild-mannered, almost folksy jam involving acoustic guitars, EBow, Rhodes, lap steel,
bass and drums. The aftermath is track two, as the final notes slowly fade away and scraped metal and ambient drift
supersede. Track three is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've heard in years, if not ever. At the
heart of it all is the guitars, their intermittent suggestions of melody and harmonics intertwined with near silence and tiny
electronic currents. It's as delicate and pretty as a music box or Faberge egg. A barely audible background of steel drums
and bird song begins track four as computer voiced "dooooo"s of varying length and gender pile up with portamento-wavered
piano notes. For song five, melted down lap steel licks pick up where four left off and are coupled with somewhat bombastic
drum fills. The 11-minute finale belies its curious title of "mu:rder" as the band invents a gorgeous, deep lull, which, up
until the final few minutes, are cluttered with digital debris. Start to finish, 'fa.ce (a' is a very finely-calibrated work.
It has an impeccable focus and flow, a well balanced mix between acoustic and electronic instrumentation, and a learned sense
of time and space. Plain and simple, 'fa.ce (a' is poetry in motion. Look for it in my top ten of 2002 list. - Mark Weddle
Tex La Homa, "Dazzle Me With Transience"
This already mightily praised release by Tex La Homa finally reaches these shores through the Superglider label. Tex La Homa
is Matt Shaw with with help on a few tracks by Dave Purse, and the music is guitar driven with electronic and breakbeat
flourishes. It's essentially electronic pop, with verse-chorus-verse arrangements and pop song subject matter. Pulsing
basslines, laidback grooves, and tripping beats are augmented by electronic whirls, buzzes and beeps. Shaw's voice is low and
sensual, desperately wanting all the way through the record. The trouble is that it's too static, too laidback, and too,
well, formulaic. I can't place my finger on it any other way except to say it doesn't engage you. Tex La Homa strikes me as
another band that looks good on paper, sounds okay on record, but can utterly convert you live. Every song has almost the
same flavor, every vocal has almost the same treatment, every beat sounds fairly canned, and the subject matter is mostly loss
or emptiness or the futility of love only to be let down again. Sadness overpowers it all, and that's part of what makes it
so boring. It is well-produced with fine production values, but is just not all that interesting a listen. 'Dazzle Me'
sounds like the desperate love letter to a lover who has not only left, but doesn't want anything to do with your life
anymore, yet you still try ('and you know how I feel bout you/still you choose to do the things you do/should you have a
change of heart/please don't keep me in the dark' is a perfect example). It's admirable, and by Goethe's "Three Questions,"
it is definitely worth doing. But does that mean I want to listen to it more than once? Nope. - Rob Devlin
Glenn Michael Wallis, "Industrial Surrealist"
G.M. Wallis is the main force behind the legendary Konstruktivists, a nearly forgotten and often overseen band of the diverse
early 80's UK experimental scene. He released several sought-after LPs starting off in 1982, has been a part time member of
Whitehouse (around the 'Great White Death' era), collaborated with CTI for the 'Hammer House' EP in 1984 (reissued on
'Collectiv One') and the 1985 album 'Glennascaul' was even produced by Chris Carter. Konstruktivists reappeared in the
beginning of the 90s with a new line-up and techno approach which seemed a bit unfitting on World Serpent at the time.
were spread amongst various small and independent labels all over the world. EE Tapes (once a tape, now a CDR label) from
Belgium did a wonderful job on this one. Tasteful artwork accompanies this limited and hand-numbered collection of 14
unpublished and 'lost' tracks recorded between 1982-1999. With only one exception, the bass on "Neukon," G.M. Wallis is the
sole artist creating pure electronic soundscapes with his synthesizers.
Half of the tracks are from 1983, a time when Konstruktivists released their probably best known album 'Psykho Genetica' on
the long gone Third Mind label, and vary between some of his openly admitted influences: mid-period Kraftwerk, early Tangerine
Neu! and Tuxedomoon ("Joeboy", "Desire" Pts. One & Two). He guides the listener through minimal and sometimes unexpectedly
light-hearted synthetic pearls (like "Cologne") with the sovereignty of a man who not only knows his equipment well, but how
to use it.
Surprisingly only two newer tracks "Pinas R" (1994) and "Gas Mark" (1997) resemble what is commonly referred to as 'Old School Industrial' with distortions, feedback and a more aggressive attitude. The final and most current track, "Russia" is a beautiful outro: melancholy and nostalgia captured with just a few piano and string sounds. The sound quality sometimes lacks a bit of the high gloss finish of the current sounds, but this album works well as a reminder where electronic music took off and shows a substance which is timeless. - carsten s.
DÄLEK, "From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots"
With the recent and often tongue-in-cheek assimilation of hip hop into the word of laptop electonica, it's about time someone
with a Powerbook actually stepped up and rocked it. The trick with Dälek is that it's not the Powerbook that's on display,
and Dälek isn't coming to hip-hop by way of smash-ups and mallrat b-boyism. Hip hop began as a uniquely urban expression, and
as its reach has expanded into suburban territory in many ways, it has lost its connection to the grit, bustle, and sheer
commotion of the city. 'From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots' brings the sound of the city back, and pays homage to hip
hop's heritage by being embarrasingly honest. If DMX is is from the streets, then Dälek is unashamedly from the gutters. Beats and atmospheres sound dredged in dirt, and Dälek's straightforward delivery of lyrics about broken glass and third rails evokes startlingly real images of urban decay. Dälek fuses equal parts Public Enemy, My Bloody Valentine, and godspeed you black emperor! into a chaotic stew of squalor, anger, and sometimes hope that brings back the urgency of rap's early days. At the center of the album is a 12 minute epic of drones, feedback and noise that could be the end of a Mogwai meets Godflesh guitar noise session, but stays rooted to hip hop as Dälek flows over empty space to the rhythms ingrained in his head. Where The Veldt were shoegazers adding hip hop as an element to set them apart from their associates in the Cocteaus and the Jesus and Mary Chains of the world, Dälek are a hip hop trio who appropriate the expressive power of guitars, found sounds, and sheer noise to paint their urban murals. Make no mistake, this is not an IDM release, or an experimental noise album using hip hop flavor as a thematic modethis is a hip hop record, and the one we've all been waiting for. - Matthew Jeanes
Forced to change their name from Atomsmasher, the vibrant trio of James Plotkin, Speedranch and David White barrel through nine multi-demential songs on their second full-length album together like a super-charged lightning-intense hail storm, ready and willing to make dents everywhere in its path. Fiesty and fiery, with guitars surprisingly bare of effects, the glitch-thrash sound is still considerably loud and abrasive as on the debut. This time around, however, there are a number of more conjunct ideas and compositional themes. Plotkin's guitar melodies, for example, carry through numerous sullen moments hammocked between inhuman sonic assaults. The electronically sliced-and-diced drum solos and squelched vocals once again are never dull and predictable nor artfully heady. Unfortunately, rock purists will undoubtedly find their sound too digital while laptop lovers will find it too rock, but if you can step away from the process and listen to the product for a moment, it's damned enjoyable. - Jon Whitney
Both the Greek inventor Daedalus and this Southern Californian share similar fates: they came up with something great that
went tragically awry. This debut Plug Research full-lengther opens with a strong prelude: a simple, yet elegant combination of
samples and original melodies, swirled together in a serene lullaby. The choices Daedelus makes to integrate into his mix
strays from the typical pack of obscure jazz and folk records, stumbling into big-band-era film theme music, with swinging
drums on top of easy listening orchestral samples. Even toy xylophone gets filtered in on tunes like the stunning
"Adventress." By the time of the narrated story of "Astroboy," the album's development becomes seemingly clear as a sample-strong children's record for the 21st century. But then it takes a confusing turn for the worse and becomes overtaken by hyperactive electronic beats and painfully dull melodies. Mediocre sax, flute and clarinet playing takes over and the serenity is almost completely lost. Despite the (de-)evolution, the music still sounds decent; however, I feel like a kid lost at the amusement park wanting simply to go home. He could have easily stopped at the elements of delicacy before jumping into musically unchallenging post-drum 'n' bass of songs like "Soulful of Child" or the intellectually insulting and sonically out-of-place rap on the disc's two closing tracks. Daedelus isn't the inventor yet, he's still a child, and a bright one indeed with loads of talent, but I'm sure once he decides what he wants to do when he grows up, the output will be marvellous. - Jon Whitney
Mindless Drug Hoover, "Top Banana"
The debut release from Matt Hayden as Mindless Drug Hoover is a strange release from the more electronically-minded Deviant
Records. Making comedy albums is a dangerous business, but Hayden's years of busking must have given him time to perfect
these comic masterpieces. 'Top Banana' is a one-man-and-his-guitar affair, but the music is just the delivery mechanism for
his tales of smoking grass, being poor and even a love song (addressed to dried fruit on the glorious "Prune": "prune, oh prune/ you're a beautiful fruit, not just a laxative..").
Despite the fact he recorded it all over one weekend (probably in the bathroom of some English pub), he's actually pretty
crafty when it comes to making a catchy hum-along tune. You know what to expect with song titles like "Pancreas," "Fag
stealer," and the subtle "Fuck off." With over 20 tracks in 40 minutes, the novelties never overstay their welcome. The
tracks are cheap and shambolic and genuinely hilarious. Also included is a jazzified remix of the "The Reefer Song," by
The Orb. - Bill Ryubin
BARRY ADAMSON, "THE KING OF NOTHING HILL"
Who else but Barry Adamson to bring blaxploitation soundtracks into the 21st Century? As with the previous album, 1998's 'As
above, So below', these songs are predominantly vocal based, albeit steeped in familiar film noir trappings. For in Mr.
Adamson's Murky World, Cinema is King. His fictional frames are backed with a deftly orchestrated mixture of genres,
including samples of badass brethren like Ike Turner, Cypress Hill and John Coltrane. Concerning the fiery, fun funk of
opener "Cinematic Soul," Adamson proudly declares, "this is the stone groove I've been dying to rock with all my life."
Indeed! Even his enthusiastic young son can't resist joining in 'cause, after all, "what is a song if you can't sing along?"
"Whispering Streets" follows suit with more dramatic funkiness as Adamson unconvincingly pleads, "I don't even know how the
gun got in my hand." In the dreamy, strings soaked '70s soul styling of "Black Amour," he becomes the slicker than Shaft
character "Satisfaction Jackson." SJ confesses, "I want you, I need you, I love you," nicely enough, but then adamantly
insists, "hold my freaky hand." "Twisted Smile" is low and slow, hazy and lazy as the, "everyone is everyone," line loops in
epilogue. Of the three (essentially) instrumentals, "Le Matin Des Noire," (Archie Shepp) is my fave. For over ten minutes an
organ-flecked vibes groove vamps into the background as the hustle and bustle of Parisian streets becomes the foreground.
"That Fool Was Me" sees Adamson diversifying his discography even further as horns and harmonica add Dixieland dynamics.
Sweetly singing, "something about you baby and they all agree," Adamson then admits "only a fool would leave you and that fool
was me". For the climax of the duet finale, "Cold Comfort," an inquisitive refrain of, "sugar babe?" is overpowered by mighty
drum rolls and orchestral curtain call. Damn. Damn! Just another highly cinematic masterpiece, no sweat. Barry Adamson,
the coolest motherfucker on the planet? Probably. 'The King of Nothing Hill' my album of the year? Probably. Check
barryadamson.com for forthcoming European tour dates and other goodies. - Mark Weddle
interpol, "turn on the bright lights"
It was inevitable that the children who grew up with Barney the Purple Dinosaur and Power Rangers would eventually start listening to music. This is the only explainable reason why flocks of kids love this group while a number of critics poo-poo them. I'm not saying these kids don't have taste, but maybe they just don't know that music like this has been done far better for years and years. Take the vocals of Frank Tovey and Richard Butler, add a dash of Ride, mix well with the Smiths pretending to be any generic Factory label B-list band and hire any old 1980s producer who's not done much in a while (but will get the critics scatching their chins) and voila, a debut album is ready for a press campaign! While Gareth Jones's take on the group's recordings clearly sound miles ahead of their first EPs and mediocre live performances, even the most talented producer is completely unable to accommodate for atrocious vocals and downright painful lyrics. There are moments of reflection, like on the heavily reverb-effected "NYC" or the up-close and intimate "The New" but most of it is brainless jangly guitar-based minor key dance music like songs like "Obstacle 1" or Joy Division riff-ripoffs like "Roland." To their credit, the group does play well together, despite having numerous moments of one-note playing, but even they will eventually get bored of that. - Jon Whitney
CHARLEMAGNE PALESTINE, "Four Manifestations On Six Elements"
Some of Palestine's gorgeous drones are now transferred to CD and remastered by Lee Ranaldo and Thomas Koner for the
Netherlands-based Barooni label. The two have done a great job too: the sound is crystal clear. This opens with 20 minutes of near static drones and tones in "Two-Fifths". It's so stripped bare that for a while it seems like he's just made a steady electronic pulse, but after a few minutes of saturation, waves and other half-heard fragments start appearing. He uses the piano to create a similar saturation effect on the next two, "One+Two+Three Fifths" and "Sliding Fifths," which relentlessly pound out a mass of sound. His insane ability to play about four rhythms at once keeps the music from ever drifting into the background. After the 40+ minutes of superb piano punishing, the closing electronic drone of "Three Fifths" is a little too empty and sparse to hold my attention. Most of the music here is so stripped down that it's hardly there at all, but there's a lot of strange things going on under the surface. - Bill Ryubin
Eric Bachmann, "Short Careers"
Finally Eric Bachmann releases an album under his own name. The former singer of Archers of Loaf and current mastermind
behind Crooked Fingers composed "Short Careers," as the score for a finished, yet to be released, independent feature called
"Ball of Wax." The film has a frightening, chilling story, and it seems Bachmann has set the mood just right. The music
fits right in between Bachmann's arty leanings with his Barry Black recordings and the more somber balladry of Crooked
Violin, cello, upright bass, piano, and guitar intermingle playfully throughout, despite the ominous tones of the revealing
track titles ("Aspirin vs Arsenic," "Nosebleed," "The Mysterious Death of Robert Tower"). Bachmann's music never really
seemed all that cinematic, though his lyrics have always told stories that are longer than life, so it deems him a rather odd
choice for film scoring, particularly since that means there will be little in the vocal department. Add to that the fact
that the movie is about major league baseball, and it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Luckily, the film was
completed when Bachmann composed and recorded the score, so he had great freedom and inspirationmore than some composers
get. The music is quirky enough while still serving a purpose, though not as much when heard on its own.
It will probably have more meaning after the listener views the film, but on its own only a few tracks are truly stand-alone
works ("Vision and Execution," "Ty Cobb," "Good Morning Sleepyhead"). This album is proof positive, however, that the former
leader of a popular indie college rock band can score movies, and I'm sure he'll get more work for it in the future. - Rob Devlin
Tara Jane O'Neil & Dan Littleton - Music for a Meteor Shower
Take this album's title as a hint of what to expect. While watching a meteor shower and listening to music, the most
exciting thing will, of course, be the meteor shower itself. Tara Jane and Dan are probably two of my favorite current
singer/songwriters in the North American rock scene. I've seen both live on a number of occasions with their bands, Ida and
Retsin, and once, just recently, in which each did fantastic solo performances. (Dan played on a number of instruments
including a couple on harmonium and Tara Jane even did a Bruce Springsteen cover!) Needless to say, when I learned of the
impending collaborative release, I was very excited. However, the two people whose voices and lyrics I cherish have
ironically recorded an album of almost entirely instrumental songs songs which disappointingly enough sound like they
were explicitly built for vocals. With the exception of "Ooh la la..." (with French [?] vocals), there's a general void of
any strong lead instrument. It almost makes me want to organize a letter-writing campaign for the duo to go back and record
some lyrics on this record. This soundtrack for getting a midnight snack could easily bore the most sexually inactive vegan
cafe patrons. Don't get me wrong, there's no love lost for these two, as they're each still incredible musicians and
songwriters. However, if it's their signature sound that you've fallen in love with that you're anticipating, you'd be better
off saving your money on this one. - Jon Whitney
"Mali Music" is a collaboration between Blur's Damon Albarn and a group of musicians from Mali, hence the title. A recent New York Times piece about the making of this album brought up the inevitable issue of cultural piracy and whether Western artists can effectively play with African musicians without somehow exploiting them or tainting the purity of their music. I feel that setting strict boundaries like that limit the overall possibilities of musical creativity and to be honest, I wouldn't have bought an album called "Mali Music" if it didn't have the added recognizable hook. And I'm glad I did buy it, for a number of reasons. First of all, the music is really good and different from most of the new stuff that I listen to; overall it has a much happier, organic feel to it than what's in my normal rotation. Also Albarn's additions help add texture, like the dubby bass he puts under the final track, "Les Escrocs" and his minimal vocals throughout the album. Aside from his vocals in English on a couple tracks, mostly he stays out of the way and leaves it to the musicians from Mail to perform their music. The Times article mentioned that he went to Mali armed only with a melodica in order to keep his role simple and unobtrusive. His contributions are important though and help add a familiar structure to songs that might otherwise become inaccessible. On the track "Sunset Coming On" he expertly weaves his vocals into the instrumental without overwhelming it. I enjoyed listening to the new (to me) instruments and for most of the album they meshed well with the modern layers of production underneath. Another thing that I liked about the album is that the proceeds go to Oxfam, a hunger relief organization that helped sponsor the collaboration. So even if you don't agree with my musical assessment, at least you won't feel guilty about adding this CD to your collection. - Abe Forman-Greenwald
RJD2, "Dead Ringer"
For some reason RJD2 is offended by comparisons to DJ Shadow. I understand that DJs who make instrumental hip-hop don't want to be accused of biting another DJ's style, but if two people have similar musical interests and both create sample-based music, there is a good chance that the result will sound similar. RJD2 favors organic drum breaks and densely layered instrumental tracks, and does a good job of varying the flavor of his samples from song to song. If you have heard other Def Jux releases and can't quite get into the abrasive, synthesized, distortion-laden beats then this could be the one for you.
The typical track on this album combines snippets of scratchy 70s soul vocals and instrumental samples like upright basslines to create a satisfyingly melodic whole. The album is somewhat of an antidote to the programmed, mechanical beats that have been dominating recent hip-hop DJ work. In other words, it's very un-Neptunes. Three of his tracks have MCs rhyming over them and each does a good job complimenting the DJ skills without overwhelming the complex instrumentals underneath. They also big up the DJs approach with lines like "RJ's the archaeologist, diggin 'em up" . One of my favorite songs on the album is "Ghostwriter," a perfect blending of layers of loops and vocals into a head-nodding instrumental classic that never gets too repetitive. I think it was a great decision by Def Jux to pick up an artist like RJD2, a talented DJ and master of the sampler who can produce music that offsets the label's darker tendencies...I guess he's not that Shadowy after all. - Abe Forman-Greenwald
P:ano, "When It's Dark and It's Summer"
P:ano started in 1999 in Vancouver as a collaboration between Nick Krgovich and Larissa Loyva. Nick had been working on some songs when they started getting together to sing and play music, and they decided to work on those songs by fleshing them out with more instruments. Later they added drummer Justin Kellam and Chris Harris, and the solid line-up was complete. "When It's Dark and It's Summer" is their debut release, recorded at Hive Studios and co-released on their new label Hive-Fi with Zum Media. As far as first works go, it's an incredibly accomplished batch of songs, with fully realized textures and melodies, that work towards a seemingly transcendent goal. This music is not just meant to live in your ears for the short time you listen to it, it's intended to invade the spaces behind. And it accomplishes that well, for the most part. P:ano's influences are clear, though another boy-girl dual vocal indie pop band to add to the mix could spell a disastrous future. However, the group also has enough originality up their sleeves to last. It's described as chamber pop, and that's pretty accurate. The songs have classic pop structures, with hummable melodies and understandable lyrics. They translate that simple structure with sparse arrangements that highlight the vocal power of the group. Krgovich and Loyva's voices blend well together with almost sickeningly sweet result, and the added flavors - strings, trumpet, clarinet - give the songs that extra oomph. By the time you reach the penultimate track 'Billions and Billions' (Carl Sagan reference, anyone?), which stretches over seven-and-a-half minutes with an extended workout, you're hooked. A nice debut with real potential for the future. - Rob Devlin
peace orchestra, "reset"
There's really a fine line between jazz-influenced electronic beats and sleepy nu-jazz telephone hold music and unfortunately, this album teeters a weee-bit too close to the undesirable. Kruder & Dorfmeister made a name for themselves remixing a number of people, which is why it's confusingly ironic that their stunning original products produce such mediocre remix efforts. First it was the dreadful Tosca remixes, now this. The 1999 eponymous Peace Orchestra full-length album is simply a must-have in your collection, but three years later, remixes have reinvented the subdued downtempo classic into a multi car crash of dismissable world jazz beat. Gotan Project opens the collection with the strongest track, the first of two appearances of "The Man" with new melodic elements provided by acoustic guitar, accordion, and Coil-esque electronic twitters. It's all downhill from there, however. Beanfield try too hard to be Herbie Hancock on their take on "Meister Fetz" while DJ DSL's reinterpretation of "Double Drums" gives me frightening visions of passing out on seedy hotel lobby furniture. By the time the false bass and 808 drum machine sounds of Meitz's version of "Marakesch" sound in, I'm aching to be listening to the original album in a big way. The remaining tracks, including remixes from Zero dB, Guilliaume Boulard and Chateau Flight are consistently also heavy on the cross between cheesy retro synths and clinical jazz soloists. While I don't doubt the talent of the number of remixers on display, the days of Harold Faltermeyer film scores should remain two decades in the past. - Jon Whitney
The Makers, "Strangest Parade"
The Makers have been recording since 1993, and this album further explores their recent glam-rock concept album tendencies. Listening to it sounds a lot like the soundtrack to 'Manhunter' or 'Band of the Hand', or like the band is desperately trying to recreate the sound of that awful band in the club scenes of 'Lethal Weapon'. "Strangest Parade" sounds like it wouldn't be out of place in 1985-1987, the heyday of big hair metal, but a time when just as many glam rock bands were recording on a smaller scale than those that were successful. They were better than their big ticket major label counterparts. Lead singer Mike Maker, or Michael Shelley, sounds like a bizarre cross of Danny Elfman and Robert Smith, and the band is as full of angst as ever. The album is sprinkled with segues in between the actual songs that tend to distract more than help. Bands trying to sound like the underground scenes of previous decades have merit, but only when they add something to the sound. The Makers try alright, but then the songs just aren't all that compelling. Their last album, 'Rock Star God' was as much a concept record as this one, but it seemed more polished and heartfelt. "Parade" split into two parts, with one part seemingly more introspective and the other more balls to the wall. The phone ringing that appears early on "Calling Elvis, John and Jesus" would be an original thought if it hadn't been done 1800 times by other bands, or if the song was stronger; but the phone seems to plays a huge part in Part One of the record, as though a person were calling someone to help them or waiting by the phone for someone to call and save them. The lyrics leave something to be desired, as well, as all good '80s hair bands' did ('Laughter then violence/music then silence'). Part Two isn't as long as Part One, and it has some interesting textures, but bands like Cobra Verde just do this whole retro sound better, concetrating more on the essence in the songwriting than a seemingly empty concept. This just doesn't grab me all that much. - Rob Devlin
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.
757 - 757 CD (Worm Interface, UK)
Barry Adamson - The King Of Nothing Hill CD/2xLP (Mute, UK/US)
* Aspera - Sugar And Feathered CD [reissue] (Jagjaguwar, US)
Bern - Loann 12" (Traum, Germany)
Boom Bip - Seed to Sun CD/2xLP (Lex/Warp, UK/US)
Harold Budd/Bill Nelson/Fila Brazillia - Three White Roses & A Budd CD (23, UK)
Centrozoon - the cult of: bibbiboo CD (Burning Shed, UK)
Tom Churchill/Dennis DeSantis - Spaces/Leisure 12" (Headspace, UK)
ESG - Step Off CD/2xLP (Soul Jazz, UK)
Thomas Fehlmann - Streets Of Blah 12" (Kompakt, Germany)
Felix da Housecat - Madame Hollywood/Silver Screen CDEP (Emperor Norton, US)
Russ Gabriel - Flip Down To Break 12" (Emoticon, Scotland)
Goldfish und der Dulz - Clubber 12" (Playhouse, Germany)
Darin Gray - St. Louis Shuffle CD (Family Vineyard, US)
Hypnoskull - Operation Tough Guy! CD/2xLP/boxset (Ant-Zen, Germany)
Cordell Klier - Apparitions CD (Ad Noiseam, Germany)
Little Miss Trintron - CPU Song 12"/CD3" (Twisted Nerve, UK)
Lyrics Born - Hello 12" (Ninja Tune, UK/Canada/US)
Machine Drum - Urban Biology CD (Merck, US)
Machine Drum - Half the Battle CD [remixes by Proem, Brothomstates, Ilkae, Lackluster, Tim Koch and more] (Merck, US)
* Machine Drum - Now You Know CD [remastered reissue with new artwork] (Merck, US)
Mains Ignition - Swedish Girls 12" (Tummy Touch, UK)
Mambotour - atina latino CD [vocalist from Senor Coconut with several tracks mixed by Uwe Schmidt] (Multicolour, Germany)
Max Tundra - Mastered By Guy At The Exchange CD/LP (Domino, UK)
Metamatics - Remodelled 7" (Civik, Canada)
Miguel Migs - Colorful You CD (Astralwerks, US)
Moby - Extreme Ways part 2 12" (Mute, UK)
Moistboyz - III CD (Ipecac, US)
Monodeluxe - Pacific Lunar CD (Cleerance, Canada)
David Morley/Nodern/Gez Varley - Personal Settings 2 CD/LP (Quatermass, Belgium)
Mr. Velcro Fastener - Otherside CD/2xLP (I220, Germany)
Ms. John Soda - Drop = Scene 12"/CDEP (Morr Music, Germany)
Ben Neill - Automotive CD (Six Degrees, US)
Nightmares On Wax - Mind Elevation CD/LP (Warp, UK/US)
Nitzer Ebb - Let Your Body Learn/Control I'm Here 12" [new mixes by Terence Fixmer & The Hacker] (Mute, UK)
* The Normal - Warm Leatherette 7" [repress] (Mute, UK)
Nostalgia - Arcana Publicata Vilescunt CD (Release/Relapse, US)
Photosynthese - Lebensstrom CD/2xLP (Electrolux, Germany)
Mark Rae - Rae Road CD/2xLP (Grand Central, UK)
The Residents - Demons Dance Alone CD (East Side Digital, US)
Schneider TM - Frogtoise 12" (City Slang, UK)
Sonna/Sybarite/Lilienthal - Make Shift Carousel CDEP (Temporary Residence, US)
Quantic featuring Aspects - Primate Boogaloo 12" (Tru Thoughts, UK)
Tarwater - Dwellers On The Threshold CD/LP (Mute, US)
Terra Martino - Directions In Motion CD (Cleerance, Canada)
Underworld - Two Months Off 12"/two CDEPs (V2/JBO, UK)
Unstable Ensemble - The Liturgy of Ghosts CD (Family Vineyard, US)
Various - 1998-2000 Series CD [with Tobias Schmidt, Si Begg, The Hacker, DMX Krew, Ectomorph, Jamie Lidell and more] (Penalty, UK)
Various - Day By Day CD (Delsin, The Netherlands)
Various - I Hear Voices CD [collection of new French artists curated by Air] (Astralwerks, US)
Various - Lost For Words: A Leaf Label Sampler CD [with Asa-Chang & Junray, Boom Bip & Doseone, Murcof, Susumu Yokota, Manitoba, Gorodisch, A Small Good Thing, The Sons Of Silence, Eardrum, 310] (Leaf, UK)
Various - Music for Speakers Compilation 2 CD [with Aardvarck, David/Sandor Caron, Sonar Lodge, Madcap, Relaxo Abstracto and more] (Music for Speakers, Netherlands)
Otto Von Schirach - Chopped Zombie Fungus Vol 2 12" (Schematic, US)
WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 8 - SEPTEMBER 14
This is simply this week's highlights from the NEW RELEASES provided by Greg and Feedback Monitor.
* Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Answering Machine Music CD [reissue with bonus tracks] (Tomlab, Germany)
Dead Hollywood Stars - Junctions CD/2xCD [double CD is a limited edition featuring the previous D.H.S. album Gone West and bonus tracks] (Mad Monkey, US - Hymen, Germany)
Death In Vegas - Hands Around Your Throat 12"/two CDEPs (BMG, UK)
Digitonal - 23 Things Fall Apart CD (Toytronic, UK)
Dntel - (This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan 12"/CDEP (Plug Research, UK)
Exhaust - Enregistreur CD (Constellation, Canada)
Sue Garner - Shadyside CD (Thrill Jockey, US)
Gros - Waves CD (Nosordo/Fork Series, Spain)
Hocico - Signos de Aberracion CD (Metropolis, US)
In Strict Confidence - Mistrust the Angels CD (Metropolis, US)
Jazzanova - Soon 12" [part 1] (JCR/Compost, Germany)
Kid606/Stars As Eyes - $ Vol. 9 split 7" (Tigerbeat6, US)
* Layo & Bushwacka! - Night Works CD (XL/Beggars Banquet, US)
L'ombre - Medicine for the Meaningless CD (Ant-Zen, Germany)
Lucky Pierre - Hypnogogia CD (Melodic, UK)
Nathan Michel - ABC DEF CD (Tigerbeat6, US)
naw - Gibberish CDR [limited to 311 copies] (Piehead, Canada)
Mr Scruff - Trouser Jazz CD/2xLP (Ninja Tune, UK/Canada/US)
Multiplex - Pinghaus Frequencies CD/LP (Toytronic, UK)
John Parish - How Animals Move CD/LP (Thrill Jockey, US)
Sofa Surfers - Selling Souls 12" (Klein, Austria)
Steve Stoll - Observer 12" (Mute, UK)
Sybarite - Nonument CD (4AD, UK)
Trans Am - Extremixxx CDEP (Thrill Jockey, US)
Various - Plug Tunes CD [with Supersoul, Fat Jon, Push Button Objects, DJ Vadim, Jake Mandell, Calamalka aka Mike Pre-Amp, Digital K, Strategy, Eternal Golden Void] (Metatronix, US)
For a more detailed schedule stretching into the future, please check out the site,
since release dates can and will often change.