ms. john soda, "no p. or d."
Ms. John Soda, the moniker under which duo Micha Acher and Stephanie Boehm collaborate, will no doubt draw comparisons to both label mates Lali Puna and the other musical project of Acher, The Notwist. Their debut album, however, has a sound which distinguishes itself from both the Notwist and Lali Puna for its energetic pop-sensibilities over the loose jazz and clinical electronics of each, respectively. Boehm (also known for her work as keyboardist for the band Couch) has a voice that is simple and honest, and does not compete, but compliments Acher's adept handling of a vast array of instruments. (It's worth noting Acher also plays piano, bass and various brass instruments in the Tied and Tickled Trio.) Ms John Soda are assisted on the release by an external drummer, flautist, and percussionist.
The most captivating of the album's tracks is without a doubt "Go Check," which is also among the most outstanding songs of the year (even if the lyrics are somewhat incomprehensible!). It's a psychedelic go-go pop masterpiece with tambourine and organ sounds that would make even Piero Umiliani [see trashy 1970s Italian film scores] proud. The retro indulgence on this track is an anomaly, however. "Solid Groud", which immediately follows, is a contagiously pretty ballad comprised of blips, piano and plucked violin sounds. Other songs such as "By Twos" are warm and dark with exotic touches of percussion while tunes like "Unsleeping" are jangly pop numbers.
The overall composition of the album is remarkable and, thanks to a group of agile and gifted musicians, results in an exceptionally listenable record. 'No P. or D.' ranks with the best of the Morr Music releases, and as the year draws to an end, I can now safely say this one will certainly make my top ten list. - Jessica Tibbits
Acid Mothers Temple, "Electric Heavyland"
Acid Mothers Temple's "Electric Heavyland" is the kind of record that makes me want to adopt all kinds of unnecessary, Lester Bangs-style rock critic hyperbole. I want to compare Kawabata Mokoto to a shaman, summoning up spirits with his giant stone slabs of high magickal noise and grandiose riffs. I want to compare this album to some obscure circa-70's krautrock chestnut. I want to write in ALL CAPS AND END EVERY SENTENCE WITH THREE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! Although I kind of detest this style of critique, I'm not sure how else to approach this excellent new disc by Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO. So, here goes:
Wham, bam, THANK YOU SATAN! Five minutes into the first ear-bleeding track we know just where we are. We have come to Metal Valhalla. A million retarded Vikings are pulling their lungs out through their mouths. A thousand nubile virgins dance too close to the bonfire, flames licking at their slick, lubricated flesh. This is a heady brew, a randy guitar and synthesizer fest that merges Blue Cheer with The Stooges and Amon Duul, and then feverishly jacks off and falls down in paroxysms of insane laughter. This is probably not what the druids played at Stonehenge, but they REALLY SHOULD HAVE!
Well, enough of that. This album won't save the world, but the three tracks contained herein certainly represent the best single document of the Acid Mothers Temple's more bombastic side. Kawabata has never sounded better, easily making the transition from solo guitar drones to wicked stoner metal riffs, to Slayer-inspired bouts of bludgeoning melodies. Never has it been more clear that this man is a master of his chosen instrument. Cotton Casino's falsetto shrieks and swirling, kaleidoscopic synthesizer squeals perfectly frame the noise. Propulsive, rumbling drums push the action forward into the abyss, keeping the listener on the edge of his seat. The riffs are so violent and direct as to be almost idiotic, but Kawabata still manages to convince you of the intelligence of his prowess. This is idiot savant metal, dude, and it never ceases to amaze and transcend. - Jonathan Dean
Large Professor, "1st Class"
I'm willing to accept the fact that I have a favorable bias towards Queens-based rappers and producers, considering I grew up in Rego Park (right across the street from the infamous Lefrak City co-ops) and Forest Hills. However, I doubt that any true hip-hop heads would argue about the quality that has been coming out of this multicultural residential borough since the very beginning of the genre. Who better to represent QB than someone who's been in the game from Day One^?enter Large Professor. Having created beats for luminaries like Eric B. and Rakim, Slick Rick, and Gang Starr, as well as Queensbridge contemporaries Nas, Mobb Deep, and Cormega, the slept-on William Paul Mitchell deserves far more respect than he has received. Hopefully this will change when '1st Class,' his first album since Main Source's 1990 release 'Breakin Atoms,' drops. In an era where record labels assemble entire creative teams in order to complete rap albums, Large Professor delivers a true artist album here, rapping on and producing nearly every one of the tracks (save for the rugged "Akinyele" which spotlights the MC of the same name). Some of these songs have a decidedly old-school feel to them ("Kool", "Brand New"), while others could potentially fit on commercial rap radio playlists ("About That Time", "Ultimate"). The guest MCs here are among the lyrical elite, chosen more for their legendary ability than their commercial viability. On "In The Sun" the all-but-forgotten Q-Tip drops several conscious, black empowerment verses, slamming ignorant patriotism and reminding how the American Dream has bypassed blacks time and time again. "Stay Chisel" features long-time associate Nas (whose recent beef with Jay-Z has somewhat overshadowed his prior successes) flowing over a track that could have easily been an outtake from his 'Stillmatic' LP. So while Nelly and P. Diddy obsess over women like whiny pop primadonnas, Large Professor evokes the true essence of hip-hop on this future classic that demands repeat listening.- Gary Suarez
Cabaret Voltaire, "Nag Nag Nag"
If you don't know why the Cabs became quite so big, then you probably haven't heard "Nag Nag Nag". Mute have another dodgy "Best Of" compilation coming out soon (which I'd heartily recommend to people who don't already own the Cabs' early output) and this single is meant to promote that. In the traditional method of record companies flogging dead horses, Mute have commissioned three or four new mixes of the track to complement the original (which also appears on the CD and first 12"). Firstly, Tiga and Zyntherius have a 'radio version' (on the CD) and 'full version' (on the second 12"). Mute say that Tiga "punks up" the vocalsI say he sounds like Stephen Tin Tin Duffy, and keep waiting for him to launch into the chorus of "Kiss Me". Mute say that this remix "bears all the hall-marks of an intense 'labour of love'"I say it sounds like a crap cover version. Akufen contributes a far better mix (CD and second 12"). He appears to have had five good ideas for a mix and does about a minute-ish of each, and I'm not going to spoil it for you, but you'll end up grinning from ear to ear after hearing it. Finally Richard H. Kirk himself offers a true 21st century hardcore remix (CD and first 12") which is very much in the spirit of the original but in a thoroughly modern style. (I wanted to start dancing on the bus when listening to it again this morning.) Despite the crap Tiga and Zyntherius remixes, this has been a worthwhile project and I thoroughly recommend this release to anyone who reads The Brain. - Nic Doye
Martin Rev's first solo albums from 1980 and 81, as collected on this new CD, document what he was doing at the beginning of his post-Suicide solo career. As usual I have a hard time empathizing with the punk zeitgeist because I was really too young at the time (twelve in 1977) to comprehend the prevailing culture. I must have picked up some of it because occasionally an artifact from the period will unlock waves of fear and abhorrence in me, Thames TV for example, or Julien Temple's "The Filth and the Fury," which plunged me into a foul mood for a whole week. I'm trying to listen to this CD in that context but I can't get there. American punk was different anyhow, so I guess I'm not to blame. But even in today's terms this is a good CD. Nearly all instrumental, these electronic music pieces show Rev's unique personal style, somehow breathy and spacious, presumably resulting in part from his coming to grips with the available equipment of the period. There are catchy distinctive melodic structures and the electro-beats are uniquely his own. It has considerable reserve, tasteful poise without posturing, varying degrees of sinister ambience and individualist expression, all combined with a substantial experimental component, both musical and technical. With the exception of "Marvel," an extended ametrical soundscape reminiscent of 70s Tangerine Dream and quite unlike anything else on the disc, I don't think there's much to be gained by relating this to contemporary UK and German electro new wave. There are however many elements that remind me of more recent music: of the examples I'll mention only how ?-Ziq's "Balsa Lightning" recollects Rev's "Baby Oh Baby." This aspect adds validity to Rev's credentials as one of the mid-wives of electro pop. Recommeded. - Tom Worster
The first time I put on Merzbow's Venereology CD, I was prepared for "noise", but the instant that it started, I literally thought that my stereo had somehow exploded at the same time rendering the most abrasive and physically jarring sound ever to come out of my speakers. I thought I was prepared for "noise", but as it turned out, I had just been expecting "noisy". No friends, Merzbow is Noise, with a capital N even. So the prospect of Merzbeat, Merzbow's excursion into beat-oriented music is of course worth at least a casual listen. For a man who's mastered and then run into the ground the concept of solid noise as music, working with beats actually seems more experimental and exciting than taking on yet another palette of screeching feedback and squalor. And Merzbeat indeed sounds experimental. The first two songs never establish anything other than the sense that the artist is toying with the idea of running beats through distortion effects. Thanks, but this has been done, and if the beats here were in themselves compelling, Merzbow's take on them would likely be interesting, but for the first two long tracks, we are left with simple, repeating beats passed through various filters and eq settings until there is no longer any doubt that the experiment is no longer interesting to listen to, musically speaking. On the third track, the epic Shadow Barbarian (Long Mix), Merzbow finally hits his stride, taking what he's learned from the first two attempts and abandoning almost all of the rules that made them sound like second-rate DHR b-sides. At about ten minutes into Shadow Barbarian, the true Merzbow surfaces as the beats give way to rhythms made of near pure noise. The compositional schema of applying a cyclical, linear path of effects settings to a constant loop is still present, but now the tracks begin to survive on pure brutality alone. Synths and guitars round out the sounds that are inevitably drowned out by bloody wails, but all of that is gravy by the time Looping Jane (Beat Mix) kicks in to a voracious breakbeat that pummels through walls of feedback. When you think it isn't getting any louder, it gets louder. Tracks three through five are alone worth the price of admission if you are fan of beats or noise or both. Then, regrettably, we sit through 60 (count them) SIXTY, three second tracks of silence to get to the "hidden track" that is so graciously unhidden for us by the liner notes. Burried on track 66 is the most curious anomaly of the record: a remix by renouned beat-master Jack Dangers, on a record called Merzbeat, that is beatless! It's such a letdown that the trademark Dangers' beat work didn't mix it up with the signature Merzbow noise that I can't even describe this song other than to say every time I have tried to listen to it, I have scanned through it waiting for a beat to come in. Let's pray there's a remix.- Matthew Jeanes
Twine's latest release should prove to those still skeptical that electronic music need not be so self-referential. A fair number of releases by Twine's various contemporaries focus the lens inward so much that the technique of making music becomes the message the music conveys. Worshipping the glitch and abusing the ones and zeros are certainly useful modes within which many artists have produced stellar works. Thankfully though, Twine leave the acoustic mirror at home and choose to focus more on using electronic means to covey something else entirely. Sure, Recorder has more than its fair share of clicky rhythms, shuffling distortion, and production trickery that moves drones and digital blips around in space like a blender, but what it also has is soul. The opening track, None Some Silver frames an acoustic guitar passage with just enough buzz and synthetic blur that you know this isn't Mississippi Delta music, but it doesn't lose the feeling of a creaky rocking chair on a southern porch. Twine uses subtle shifts in the background of tracks to move them forward and the ambience is melancholy, but not overbearing. Simple rhythmic patterns that usually stop just short of being beats roll through some of the tracks, while others like Player Piano rely more on oddly filtered samples and that signature sample pop of intentionally sloppy loop points to create a kind of rustic-electro feel. Resonant filters are used freely to taint the sounds, draw them out of their original source environments, and into the rusty landscape that Twine creates here. The album ends much like it began, as a drawn out organ melody drifts into space, with the sun fragments of stories surface and recede, and a looped bit of static serves as the night song of binary cicadas on a hot August evening. - Matthew Jeanes
Mos Def/Diverse/Prefuse 73, "Wylin' Out EP"
In recent years, some independent HipHop artists such as Antipop Consortium and the Definitive Jux family have managed to stimulate the genre by fusing it with elements of electronica in their backing tracks, making for more cohesive compositions and introducing them to a newer audience. In keeping with that direction, the ideal collaboration between rappers Mos Def and the windy city's Diverse with Prefuse 73 only certifies that development on "Wylin' Out." This EP is comprised of its title track in full form as well as an instrumental version, along with two separate remixes from K-Kruz and RJD2. Prefuse 73's electro-souled, signature syncopated instrumental makes for the perfect backdrop for the MCs to trade their quick, sharp and insightful rhymes with masterful precision. The K-Kruz remix eschews the existing backing track in favor of sampled Fender Rhodes, scratches and more broken up beats. While musically not as heavy as the original track, the vocals becoming more intelligible in the mix adds a new weight to it. RJD2's bouncy remix provides a repeated motif built from gritty big band-esque shots and subtle scratches driven by sampled drumkit and percussion, giving it a real 60s soundtrack groove. Rounding out the EP is the original instrumental version which showcases Prefuse 73's HipHop sensibility and knack for arranging as we've come to know and love. "Wylin' Out" has got my vote for the coolest collaboration of the year. - Gord Fynes
the soft boys, "nextdoorland"
Following closely on Matador's 2001 twentieth anniversary edition of 1971's classic 'Underwater Moonlight,' 'Nextdoorland' is the first Soft Boys studio album in over 20 years. The whole 1980 lineup is here, and 'Nextdoorland' is peppered with the same giddy bouncing rhythms and insinuating Eastern scales that propelled the Boys' early collaborations. (Mastermind Robyn Hitchcock, of course, launched his strong solo career after the first life of the Soft Boys, whereas guitarist Kimberley Rew made a mark with the 80s hit "Walking on Sunshine" with Katrina and the Waves.) Even the cover imageof two candlelit mannequins with bleached mammalian skulls, propped up in bedrecalls the slightly misshapen, seaside dummies sported on 'Underwater Moonlight' (figures all constructed by Hitchcock's wife Lal). Like the latter day cover art, the contemporary Soft Boys shape their new sound with, essentially, the same materials, but there is certainly a shift in terrain. 'Nextdoorland' has less of the early Soft Boys' vitriol. It's definitely them, but more subdued, most notably missing the confusion, spit, and bile that lent their earlier lyrics the guitar lines' razor edge. Overall then, this pulsating album is similarly surrealistic (and on occasion incomprehensible) when it comes to the lyrics, but both lyrically and musically without as much substance as one would like. A few listeners might prefer the lighter touch?the parts are all distinct and crisp, the guitars absolutely sparkle, and the melodies here soar more often than they pitch back and forth. But, who woulda thunk, it's just not the same. Standout tracks here are "I Love Lucy," "Unprotected Love," and "Strings." ("My Mind is Connected?" edges on David Byrne of the 'David Byrne' period, and "Mr. Kennedy" and "Japanese Captain" are a little fogey for me.) Lasting lyrical impressions include: "Give me unprotected love / Like a baby in a football / Like a fish inside a glove" (sketchy!) and "Evil is the new enemy / Evil is the new bad [?] Take your partner by the middle / Like a burger in a griddle."
- Diane Lewis
Tim Hecker, "My Love is Rotten to the Core"
Tim Hecker's second outing on the Substractif sublabel of Alien8 with a 25-minute EP of DSP and plunderphonics based on none other than my favourite rockers, Van Halen.
Fennesz's treatments of The Beach Boys and the Stones are one thing, but putting the opening riff from "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" (from which the EP's title is taken) through the lo-fi digital mangler, as Hecker does on "Introducing Carl Cocks", is a more unlikely idea. With Eddie's classic and beautiful riff teased slowly into a perfect granular blur, it's an outstanding track, though what it has to do with techno-lord Carl Cox is anyone's idea. The remainder of the tracks' samples are split between musical sources and bitter interviews, on-stage raps, and radio coverage of the band's disputes, with comprehensible titles such as "Sammy Loves Eddie Hates David" but the baffling "The Return Of Sam Snead", whose only connection with VH I know of is that he's in a load of Dead Pools with poor old Eddie.
While some people view this record as a destructive fuck-you to spandex rock, I'd prefer to see it as affectionate, but in honesty neither conclusion is easily drawn. The music is more "Fennesz Plays" than V/VM, but unlike the pure tribute of Drop Nineteens' "Ease It Halen" (or the mindless cock-ragga pop mish-mash of Apollo 440's "Ain't Talkin'" cover), VH's rock bloat isn't put to one side, thanks to the soundbites of breakup bitching and egotism, and the hideous sketch of David Lee Roth on the cover. What's certain is that while Steve Albini could click his fingers and make AC/DC cool, this record is simply good clean fun for micro-fans. It isn't going to make Mark Kozelek sing "Hot For Teacher." - Andrew Shires
Jonathan Coleclough & Colin Potter, "Low Ground"
Jonathan Coleclough has released several stunning albums of extended drones derived from acoustic sources, and 'Low Ground' is no exception. The sounds on this recording are surprisingly electronic; they're more digitally-veiled and alien than on Coleclough's other records. With five tracks, three of them collaborative and two solo, there's quite a bit of textural variety on this CD.
Coleclough and Potter are joined by Tim Hill on two tracks, including the first, "Beech Flutter," which combines a sharp, slowly breathing drone with little electronic whirs and beeps. They also use some processed whip-like and crashing sounds that, later on in the piece, are echoed and sound almost like the flapping of wings. The sustained tones that dominate this track are soothing despite their edgy brightness, as they are subtly filtered and timestretched, and are as magnificent and detailed as anything else Coleclough has released.
"Sinister Dexter" opens with some very nice, extended horn-like tones that grow dissonant before evolving into a melange of malevolent croaking sounds. These gradually increase in pitch and noisiness before being submerged in effects and then replaced by a really dark sounding mechanical rhythm, almost like a heavily filtered organ. This continues for the duration of the piece while some phased and panned synth-like sounds emerge. Though I don't really care for the unbroken mechanical rhythm Potter uses in this track, the other sounds are quite fascinating.
"Shudder" is a shorter piece that combines a rumbling mechanical noise run through the tremolo and reverb effects with some squeaking sounds and volume swells. It ends with some beautiful hazy sounds and a distant rumbling.
"Tunnel" contains a wealth of detail, mixing a repetitive synthesizer-like noise with layers of filtered drones and the sound of splashing water. The piece builds up towards the end, as Coleclough employs some squeaking noises and ominous icy tones.
"Beech Shadow" starts with subtly modulated low frequency sine waves and some really strange digitally created sounds. The shimmering tones heard in the first track slowly emerge, and the piece takes its time developing into a lush, expansive collection of electronic hissing noises. It's an absolutely wonderful ending, soothing but slightly sinister. 'Low Ground' is definitely another great work in the Coleclough/Potter discography. The sounds used are fascinating, and there isn't a single boring moment on this disc. - Steve Smith
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.
WEEK OF OCTOBER 13 - OCTOBER 20
This is simply this week's highlights from the NEW RELEASES provided by Greg and Feedback Monitor.
Arkestra One - Arkestra One CD (ESL Music, US)
Axiome - Va-t-il Faire Beau? LP (Ant-Zen, Germany)
Badly Drawn Boy - You Were Right 7"/CDEP [limited edition to be deleted on day of release] (Twisted Nerve/XL, UK/Canada)
The Bees - Sunshine Hit Me CD/LP (Astralwerks, US)
The Black Neon - Your Sex Life 12" (Memphis Industries, UK)
Broken Social Scene - You Forgot it in People CD (Paper Bag Records, Canada)
Cabaret Voltaire - Best Of '78/'92 CD (Mute, US)
The Cinematic Orchestra - Horizon 12" (Ninja Tune, UK)
Coil - The Golden Hare with a Voice of Silver 2?CD (Eskaton, UK)
Domenico de Clario - Shaker Road CD (Nonplace, Germany)
Victor Davies - Remixes CD/LP (Compost, Germany)
Taylor Deupree - Stil. CD (12K, US)
duul_drv/Nibo/Vend - Clean CD (Line/12K, US)
Eight Frozen Modules - Thought Process Disorder CD/LP (Orthlorng Musork, US)
El-P - Fantastic Damage: Instrumentals & Remixes 2?CD (Def Jux, US)
El-P - Fantastic Damage: Instrumentals 3?lp (Def Jux, US)
El-P - Fantastic Damage: Remixes 12" (Def Jux, US)
Fatboy Slim/Midfield General/Various - Big Beach Boutique II CD (Southern Fried/Caroline. US)
* Gare du Nord - In Search of Excellounge CD (PIAS, Canada)
G.D.Luxxe - Vendetta 12"/CDEP (Suction, Canada)
Hrvatski - Swarm & Dither 12" (Planet ?, UK)
Jazzanova - Days To Come 12" (JCR/Compost, Germany)
Lupine Howl - Bar At The End Of The World CD/LP (Beggars Banquet, UK/Canada)
Meat Beat Manifesto - R.U.O.K. CD (:/Run Recordings, US)
Meat Beat Manifesto - R.U.O.K. 2?LP (Skor Recordings, US)
New Order - Best of New Order CD (Warner, France)
Erlend Oye - Unrest CD [member of Kings Of Convenience in collaboration with Morgan Geist, Mr. Velcro Fastener, Soviet, Prefuse73 and more] (Source/Astralwerks, US)
* R?yksopp - Melody A.M. CD/2?LP (Astralwerks, US)
Pele - Enemies CD/LP (Crouton, US)
Pop Will Eat Itself - 1986-1994 2?CD [best of collection] (Castle, UK)
Ricochet - Bouncing Off The Walls 12" (Deepart, The Netherlands)
Stars as Eyes - Enemy of Fun CD/LP (Tigerbeat6, US)
Stereolab - ABC Music: Radio 1 Sessions 2?CD (Strange Fruit, UK)
Strand - Message III 12" (Delsin, The Netherlands)
Synapscape - Raw CD (Ant-Zen, Germany)
The Theoretical Girls - Theoretical Record CD (Acute/Carpark, US)
Asmus Tietchens - Gamma-Menge CD (Ritornell, Germany)
Amon Tobin - Out From Out Where CD/LP (Ninja Tune, UK/Canada/US)
Umek - Tikonal 12" (Novamute, UK)
Various - 45 Seconds Of CD [45-second long tracks by 99 artists including Andrew Duke, Dntel, Safety Scissors, Solvent, Electric Company, John Tejada, Leafcutter John and more] (Simballrec, US)
Various - Extra Yard CD/2?LP (Big Dada/Ninja Tune, Canada/US)
Various - Tigerbeat6 C64 Massive SidPlay Mix CD (Tigerbeat6, US)
Xinlisupreme - Murder License CDEP (Fat Cat, UK)
Christopher Willits - Folding, And The Tea CD (12k, US)
For a more detailed schedule stretching into the future, please check out the site,
since release dates can and will often change.