Mitchell Akiyama and Tony Boggs create wildly illustrative music by destroying vocal and instrumental music that they record. What seperates this studio-foolery from other projects aimed at making beauty out of destroyed sounds is the way the chaos is controlled and shaped perfectly. D?ormais compose songs, plan their moves ahead of time, and give their dying sounds life by stacking them together and on top of each other in meaningful ways. It doesn't hurt that all the drum, piano, string, and vocal parts were recorded by the group and then disassembled and rearranged by the same people. Regardless of the process, the music is absolutely gorgeous. Bits and pieces of slide guitar, piano, and acoustic strumming cascade and flow as one stream of music with each instrument sliding above and submerging beneath the surface. Violins rattle, pop, hum, and echo throughout the background creating the illusion that this music must have been created in a cathedral dedicated to dead and dying instruments and compositions long abandoned by their composers. The mass of sound is glowingly beautiful and never seems to repeat or ever hints at any patterns that it may be based on. The creation of the music must've been a long and painful process as no two songs sound alike and each features a variety of instrumentation used in various manners. "To Sing Before Going to Sleep" is particularly good example of what can be done with a well-written song and an ear for space, silence, and timbres. It drifts so elegantly with mysterious female vocals nearly crying out from the slow flow of crystalline guitar picking and howling, unidentifiable instruments. Each song sounds as if every second were random, but the result is so perfect that I think it must've been planned that way. Iambroken... is a blueprint for what can be done with glitchy sounds and a bit compositional patience. Of course defective sounds can be gorgeous, but they're magnificent when composed and arranged in a way that feels familiar. In all reality, however, it's truly alien. - Lucas Schleicher
For me, the best music is the kind that digs its way underneath your skin, and momentarily seizes control, allowing every note to hit you at a deep, physical level that affects your body, increases your heart rate, and opens your eyes to the easily missed facets of its design. On their latest self-titled release, Gardenbox reveals a keen understanding of this concept. The music touches on calm excursions of thought as well as massive experimentations of melody, drone, and energy that boil your blood and viscera. "Gravity" is incindeary, augmenting a simple piano melody with layers of glitch bleeps and heavy programmed beats. This layering finds each portion colliding with another to generate a frenetic, chaotic intensity which coasts along a forward moving beat, like speeding along the highway in a creaky, shaky car on the verge of falling apart. The track conveys a dangerous, determined sense that emits energy and thrust in short pulse bursts. "Sick of Everything" emerges with a deluge of thin, staccato beats slicing little nicks with an array of quick cuts. They drill wickedly as a low crackle and fuzz begins to bleed out from between them, tone and melody infused with static coalescing formlessly. A guitar drone finds its way to the fore, giving color to the shifting, swirling atmosphere punctuated by what sounds like a pinball machine violently turned on its side. Gardenbox crafts an amazing miasma of both direct punches to the senses as well as more subtle, sensual and textural impacts that wash over and envelop rather than stab. "You Can't Hurt It" is a patient, subdued track and the first to feature vocals on the album. It is a fine song, the speak sing vocals blend well with the restrained accompaniment but its quiet mood fails to set off the same chemical chain reactions in the brain that the instrumental tracks utilized to make your pulse dizzily synch up to their rhythm. Short interludes rest between the more meaty songs, often clocking between half a minute and a minute and a half. These transitional pieces aid the flow of the album by creating a familiar bridge between long pieces, and offering interesting ideas of their own through fuzzed out oscillations and unintellegeable vocal offerings. It might have been fun to have seen "Yes, We're Alive, Shouldn't We?" or "Inexpensive Ways to Fly" given the extended treatment (rather than the economy sized) but in this form they still manage to leave a great impression in the fleeting glimpse we are treated to. Beginning with canned horns and mid tempo percussion, "The Grief of Sadness" implies that it is going to follow this standard instrumental route for its entire ten-minute duration. However, it isn't long before modulation and synthethizers pop out, injecting the track with new life. In the midst of all this, the brass tones creep up and crescendo through the cloud of production beeps and drones giving the track a powerfully anthemic aura. Gardenbox is an impressive psyche freak out that finds its base in dynamicism and experimentation, - Michael Patrick Brady
FENNESZ, "LIVE IN JAPAN"
There are three kinds of human, as you call them. There are the poor doomed huddled masses who are yet to hear Fennesz, cowering in ignorance of the F-able; there are the enlightened who recognise him as a gloriously original experimental musician orbiting spheres way beyond mere progression; then there are total morons who probably waste their time listening to Britpap for lack of any clue whatsoever. The Austrian entity who has totally defined and redefined the interface between overgrown hedge cutting laptop mutation and pick'n'strum guitar beauty played for around forty-six minutes in Japan in the second month of this year. As the summer hit too hot to move, this CD fell into my lucky ol' player on the fifteenth and shimmered with utter perfection. If you didn't dig Endless Summer you are not worth a flick of my fag ash, and I don't even smoke. Chrissy F as his friends almost certainly never call him (I mean have you seen the guy? He looks so serious no one could call him Chrissy F, except maybe that utterly punchable dillweed who tries to sing for Blur) would doubtless not approve of such an irrelevant sentance with parentheses appearing in what is after all supposed to be some kind of description of his latest triumph. Hip Nips (the Jap chaps who clap quiet) hailed the master of cracklepops as the finest laptop performer they had witnessed. Reviewed, it seemed that this was the inevitable hype of the press release, but the disc is ample amplified evidence that this was one sweet shimmer burn of a unique event. Familiar fragments and refrains from Endless Summer are repositioned amongst ever more sundrenched light too bright. Fennesz has shifted his whole unmistakable shtick up a gear here, and made the magnificent Endless Summer seem like a mere rehearsal. If you are one of the enlightened then you know you need this. If you want to elevate beyond the bilge this is the disc to pick, yellow obi 'n' all. Bob Geldof has not been hailing this as the greatest thing he's heard since the Pistols, and Fennesz has never tried to feed the world. How can you tell them it's Xmas time when the summer is endless? - Graeme Rowland
SIXTOO, "ANTAGONIST SURVIVAL KIT"
There's something about the current direction of independent hip hop that makes it more interesting to listen to than most major label stuff. The freedom to mix and match elements of other types of unexpected music genres makes for great listening. Backing track compositions and production stand out on their own and can be just as interesting as, if not more than, the MC's sharp rhymes and skillful delivery. Halifax-based Vaughn Robert Squire (aka Sixtoo) is a triple threat as he handles the roles of DJ, MC and producer with equal precision. Having contributed to collectives such as Anticon and the Vinyl Monkeys, as well collaborating with fellow east coast Canadian hip hop artist Buck 65 for the Sebutones, Sixtoo is equally comfortable in each of those roles and the proof is apparent throughout Antagonist Survival Kit's ten tracks. The cool, relaxed groove of "A to Zero" is woven with tight rhymes and scratches, distant melodica lines and warm acoustic guitar picking. An upper register bass guitar motif repeats on "Fear of Flying" to clipped machine beats and pulsing synth drones beneath polyrhythmic lines and rhymes. "Outremont Mainline Runs Across the Sunset" brings sparse vibraphone to the mix of laid back, boomy drum loops and great lines such as "Love doesn't tear us apart/You see, it's the little things" and "When we start looking in mirrors for charity/It's embarrassing." The impressive twenty minute instrumental "The Mile-End Artbike/Suicide Manual" moves through separate sections that have the common thread of electronic/hip hop meets musique concr?e, using other elements such as electric guitar, Rhodes piano and assorted percussion. Some of the disc's tracking is mixed with one and two minute interludes that could be seen as teasers as they stand out immediately, only to subside and lead in the next great track. Sixtoo has been described as being an important catalyst for hip hop's evolution and advancement. A few listens to Antagonist Survival Kit give weight to those words. - Gord Fynes
papas fritas, "pop has freed us"
I am somewhat ashamed to admit I have been struck with a feeling of nostalgia for something that I never quite experienced before with the release of this collection. What's even worse is the sticker on the front cover advertises as song as featured in a Dentyne Ice commercial. Regardgless, I'm pretty certain that there was a time in the 1990s that commercial alternative radio was occasionally adventurous and sometimes supported a local group who had a great song. The two most notable stations here in the USA were probably NY's WDRE and LA's KROQ. Boston's WFNX wasn't far behind, and here in Boston, we had our share of local hits that never quite made much of a difference outside of the Bay State, no matter how hard Kay Hanley tried. Papas Fritas wasn't a band who I felt much affinity for, but whenever "Lame to Be" or "Hey Hey You Say" came on the radio I soaked it in. I wasn't terribly impressed with pop songs back in the mid-1990s, and Papas Fritas were clearly obsessed with Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and the Replacements. To their credit, they made the most impressive dense pop records they could with the budget they had. Often recording on their own 8-track recorder, the core trio of Tim Goddess (guitar), Keith Gendel (bass), and Shivika Asthana (drums) each shared vocal duties, often singing together like a 1970s Hanna-Barbara cartoon band. Despite their confined conditions, the group were joined by string players, horns, and percussionists and achieved some sparkling clear results. Yet there's a reason why these songs rarely stretch much longer than three minutes: they've given away all the songs' secrets within the first minute. It's the beauty of simple pop and what attracts so many people to the bloody Beach Boys. They didn't cloud their music with effects and distortion, nor did they ever wander from the verse-chorus-verse structure, but listening now, there isn't a dull moment and everything seems honestly direct. Named after their self-publishing company (and a play on their name) this collects 17 musical tracks on one disc and three music videos on a DVD. Most of the tracks are from bonus cuts off international releases, compilation tracks, and singles, but eight of their biggest radio album cuts from their three records also appear to make it more of a hits package as well. It's nice for people like me who would have honestly probably let their full-length records collect dust as well as fans who wanted fully digital versions of songs that were only available on cheaply made flimsy 7" records or expensive imports. The video DVD is entertaining to watch, and the band's just too cute in "Hey Hey You Say" not to fall in love with them. It's a perfect visual accompaniment and I strongly encourage all labels to start doing this. If there's anything the rest of the industry can learn from this is that including multimedia extras as a bonus (ie: not making so many separate DVD releases, but tossing in a second disc like they should) can only be a good thing. - Jon Whitney
Growing, "The Sky's Run Into the Sea"
With a palette of dense electronic tones, bass and distorted guitars, Growing announce their presence to the world. Theirs is a mostly whispered voice, humming with the full and haunting melody of underwater computer and keyboard noise, but occasionally parting ways for the traditional rock instrument. The different philosophies roll around like lazy children in the summertime shade, allowing different tunes to escape their lips and merge together in the hope that they will create a solid and beautiful harmony. For the most part, these songs do capture that magic, where the electronic and the electric unite and escape their various confines for the greater good of the whole composition. In places, unfortunately, it all sounds too static, too much of the same lukewarm ocean sound where some variation might help, and continuing on a bit longer than absolutely necessary. Occasionally, there is a jarring change for the unprepared ears, like the guitar dissonance of "Cutting, Opening, Swimming" that threatens to gently coax the walls down all around you. These moments are too few, though, and it feels like the band is still finding their sound, still learning where their stops are and how to exploit them to their fullest extent. For a debut it shows real promise for the band, however. The songs, appropriate for the name of the band, do grow on you, moving in to the house and sleeping on the couch until you finally decide that they're a fitting addition to the decor. The last track on the album, "Pavement Rich in Gold" was on repeat on my CD player one night for a good three hours, as it perfectly set the mood for a time of total relaxation, and the simple progression was enough to set me almost immediately at ease. Not necessarily the feel good record of the summer, and not a brilliant debut, but certainly the right record for a cool-down on a hot summer night. - Rob Devlin
In Gowan Ring, "Hazel Steps Through a Weathered Home"
While many bands try to find the sound of the future, or use the sounds of the past to create new foundations for the music of today, the enigmatic B'eirth of In Gowan Ring is perfectly happy being firmly rooted in the past. Not the recent past, either, as a passing listen to any of his previous records would find tunes almost medieval in nature. No percussion is necessary, either, as B'eirth uses his own affected voice, guitar and harp to create this minstrel's art, with occasional guest musicians contributing on a variety of instruments. B'eirth also has a love for odd wind and string instruments, like the sackbut and the cittern respectively, that he and his guest musicians use fondly when others forgot them an age ago. Overall, the songs have a somber feel, as though the innkeeper let the lyre player have a little too much mead, and now the whole room is treated to his many laments on nature and love. Suddenly, it's "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Renaissance Fair," with every song reflecting the plaintive longing of a poet's heart. While this may be a lush and beautiful locale, it is not one where everyone can find a place to belong or enjoy staying for a while. B'eirth has crafted his finest collection of songs, with delicately plucked notes and fluid strings sweeping in and out. However, to call it a pleasurable listen would be to belie the heavy tone of the record. These are not just songs about a bonny lass, but yet about the ethereal and existential, with words like "the world becomes a muscle" and "In thrall of weather's wit ally the languished lips." The album is beautifully written, played, and recorded, but the casual listener will have none of it. Hazel Steps is an album for people of another time, just as the conductor B'eirth plays a middle earth Brian Wilson, not born for the time in which he exists. Some may find some touching music of immense meaning here, but for me it fell flat, and I could not bear to listen to it all the way through. Not as torturous as Sir Robin's minstrels, but still not a music dear to my ears and heart. B'eirth, however, is showing a masterful command of this style of music, and many at the tavern would yet swoon to hear his voice. Just don't count me among the mainstays at the bar. - Rob Devlin
The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, "A Shoggoth on the Roof"
The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
Okay, so musicals aren't exactly standard Brain fare. I'm willing to bet, however, that enough of you read and enjoyed the (LIMPID!) scribblings of H.P. Lovecraft as kids that the idea of nailing his plots and characters down on top of the (NON-EUCLIDEAN!) music from Fiddler on the Roof will probably appeal to... well, at least one or two of you, anyway. What you get on this set of CD-Rs is pretty much what Lovecraft fans will expect: a very, very silly (RUGOSE!) musical about the goings-on in Arkham, Mass., as the Armitage family tries to marry off its eldest daughter to the Whateleys, and Great Cthulhu returns to destroy everybody. There's also some (SANITY-BLASTING!) silliness involving paranormal investigators poking around the town graveyard and Herbert West re-animating dead things in the background, and none of it will make any sense whatsoever if you haven't read any Lovecraft, but... well, dammit, it's funny, and the convoluted (OTIOSE!) "history" of the play (detailed on the Society's web site and on the VCD documentary that's available with the music if you want it) is presented in the same quasi-plausible format that makes HPL's writing so enduring. Music-wise, there's nothing gibber-inducing going on here: it sounds pretty much exactly like a budget recording of Fiddler (IA! THE BLACK GOAT IN THE WOOD WITH A THOUSAND SPAWN!), with competent singers and music cranked out on a single cheap keyboard. Really serious experimental-music fans will roll their eyes at the notion of spending up to $25 on this nonsense, but I've bought more stupid novelty records in my life and enjoyed them a lot less. For those curious, a bunch of other MP3 samples are available from the Society's site along with a link to a downloadable version of the "documentary" on the play. - Taylor McLaren
Butchy Fuego, "Butchy Fuego"
When I try and explain the more noisy selections in my album collection, it's at times difficult to explain what makes something musical to you and how it is different from dropping a collection of pots and pans down a concrete stairwell or jumping up and down on a piano using a hammer to strum a guitar. I'll admit it's often a fine line. The unfortunate result of this conversation is usually a cop out along the lines of "I know it when I hear it," which, while unsatisfying, is ultimately true. This is not a line of thought I believed I would have to undertake when I slipped in this Butchy Fuego album for the first time. The opening tracks consist of some gently melodic piano and horns that sounds like a good old time on the front porch where the neighbors have brought their instruments for a hoedown. It's hokey, but mostly fun music and perfectly listenable. This continues over the course of several songs with titles like "Another Day at the Pizzeria" and "Hot Balls," until, for some reason, Mr. Fuego decides to change things up a bit. Now, until this point, the music had been doing rather well, and "Music For Sarah's Film" blended interesting static breaks with carnival style calliope and sounds. After this, forget it. First off, he named the next track "Filler." How infuriating is that? And it's true, the tiny track consists of nothing more than a few random bloops, a short guitar lick, and some mumble moans into the microphone. It is filler, he obviously knew it was filler, and yet it must be released. "Bumbleplight" momentarily rescues things with a glitchy IDM style workout, light years from the opening material and strangely out of place, but nonetheless interesting. Following this schizophrenic path, we're then treated to random sections and snippets of songs contained within one track, ranging from synth-pop new wave to squealing, fuzzy bashing on the instruments. "Bunny" features some sloppy beatboxing amidst the shards of music that lie behind it. From the sound of the last several tracks, it sounds like this was an improvisational brainstorm session to come up with song ideas and that they just got lazy and put this out instead of distilling the more interesting and better developed parts (and believe it or not, there are some). Halfway through "Bunny," a good song pops out of nowhere, much to the listener's surprise. There's undeveloped potential in the slop of this bipolar, incomprehensible tangle, which only makes it more infuriating that those ideas are lost underneath jerky goofball stupidity. Even with those flashes of possibility, the final piece almost ensures a spin in the microwave for Butchy Fuego. The album closes with "Outro," a track that after five minutes of silence concludes with an all onomatopoeia rendering of what I believe is the consumption and digestion of food, eventually leading to excretion and the sound of rushing water that I take to be flushing followed by a door closing. Now, this scenario is not entirely clear from the track, merely my impression of what is going on. Mostly because the album itself seems perfectly evocative of something generally pleasing and unassuming disintegrating into self indulgence and crap. - Michael Patrick Brady
Ras Michael, "A Wed Dem a Go Do Wid It"
The first ten minutes of this are not like any typical reggae recording I've ever heard. Entitled "Rastaman Chant," the first track is a series of religous messages and what might be mistaken for exotic African or middle-eastern instruments. This style, based on traditional Jamaican drumming, is quite entrancing and provides for a mesmerizing first track. Unfortunatly, after "Rastman Chant," nothing quite compares. Many of the songs have what sound like cheap Casio keyboards backing up rather lackluster lyrics and making for a generally cheap feeling all around. When Ras Michael decides to move into more familiar reggae territory, he brings along bits and pieces of the nyabinghi style as well as some jazzy horn parts and more passionate lyrics. He also brings, unfortunatly, numerous remixes that are completely pointless and that either vary in no way from the original or sound less inspired than the original mix. With these remixes taken off of the album, a good twenty minutes is removed that makes the album shorter and thus more enjoyable and easy to swallow. There are some good songs here, but after a while it all begins to sound the same and, to be sure, there are plenty of songs that are based off the same old reggae rhythm with little additions here and there. The solo horn parts on some of the songs are a great addition and add a whole new element to reggae music making it both mysterious and daring. It's just a same that so much here seems as if it were recorded with little belief in the power of the music being written. Also, the tracklisting seems to be totally off: it lists sixtreen tracks when I only count thirteen. The only explanation is that the first three tracks are actually all one song under the title of "Rastaman Chant." Ras Michael obviously has a ton of talent and knows how to write decent music, so why he decided to surround some strong material with a lot of wishy-washy, throw-away tunes baffles me. - Lucas Schleicher
YOSHIMI AND YUKA, "FLOWER WITH NO COLOR"
A sinister gift was misdirected to Mt Ikomo, Japan. The toy xylophone had a message attached: "Brian Eno Needs Ideas." Two Japanese ladies of some reknown got in the van and did it for the small noise circular. They didn't think about it, they just did it. Luckily for them Henry Rollins wasn't there to bring them down and stink the place up with aerobics for all, but a capable recording feller was. Unless you're the kind of cluelss nerd who needs Everett True to tell you what to think, you already know that Yoshimi is a founder member of the legendary Boredoms, one of the greatest bands that ever slipped the plane. The inimitable Yoshimi warbled a bit and her friend Yuka Honda from the much less interesting Cibo Matto tinkled keyboards in a vaguely not quite jazzy improvised manner. On the mountainside they found a temple where little birdies sang and made friends with them because that's the kind of cute dippy hippy event happening that fuels OOIOO ladies. They ended up with some quite original summery atmospheres that make a pleasant come down after a heavy trip smashing your head against Super Anal Chocolate Vision Creation Boredom Roots. However to call this album essential would just be silly. If you ain't encountered Yoshimi yet its about time you did, but the best place to hear her unique rockpops genius is with Boredoms or OOIOO. However, if you already like her you'll probably find this a pretty little listen. Just don't expect to be blown away because this is just a step up from ambient, which is not a genre she's been too often associated with as far as I'm aware. But this is no case for the jumpin' Jack Enos, professor. He still needs ideas. Little birdies say get in the fuckin' van Brian! - Graeme Rowland
Kraftwerk, "Tour De France Soundtracks"
It has been 20 years since Kraftwerk's single-only release "Tour de France," and it has been 17 years since they wrote a good tune. Fans seeking anthems for the new millennium from techno's most important pioneers might feel a little bit let down as this disc is simply a collection of nice sounds and beats with very thin melodies. The group proves that their usage of technology hasn't waned, nor has their affinity for the rigid 4/4 beats of techno, but not one song here sticks out to be anything half as remarkable or memorable as their classics of yesteryear. In many ways it seems like the group is taking more rhythmic influence from the other popular sounds of contemporary German techno like the output on Kompakt. The repetitious beats are respectable and unobtrusive, never overindulgent or busy, and the fat stynth sounds are quite meaty. The disc opens much like a DJ mix as track numbers fly by through a "Prologue" and three parts of "Tour De France Etape," when the songs don't really end. Echoed keyboard melodies flutter in time with the beats, and spaciously occupy nearly every corner of the room. Occasionally, the group ends a song to start something different. Like the cyclists changing gears, heading up the hills, downtempo songs like "Vitamin" and "Elektro Kardiogramm" each begin new movements with new feels and speeds. The disc concludes with a new version of "Tour De France" which isn't much of a departure from the two decade old classic. It's neither dislikable nor remarkable. After the end, however, there's no melodies running around my head or begging me to replay the music. Much like Expo 2000, Tour de France is functional music. It would be nice if this was the end of functional music for them for now as I'm unfortunately cursed by expectations of the group to release something good that can stand on its own. - Jon Whitney
Se?r Coconut, "Fiesta Songs"
This isn't just a lame Hollywood sequel to a tacky but entertaining guilty pleasure, it's a part three of a series which should have been killed long ago. Uwe Schmidt (Atom?, Atom Heart) and his gang of Chileans' style worked undeniably well in a humorous way with the Kraftwerk covers on El Baile Alem?. It made sense: Uwe being a German living in Chile and the rest being Chileans, a few who have spent time living in Germany. The vocalist maintained the robotic, inflectionless feeling of the original songs while the group kept to very strict rhythms. The output was something both entertaining and worth numerous listens. To hear it all over again with almost lifeless covers of popular 1970s and 1980s classics is simply laborious. It's a joke that just isn't funny any more. "Smoke on the Water" opens the disc with a somewhat neat percussive interplay on the all too familiar riff. It's the first single from the album and probably should have been left as a single or EP coupled with the following cover, "Negra Mi ChaChaCha." Original compositions like "Electrolatino" and "El Rey de las Galletas" aren't necessarily unlikable but they're hardly memorable. "Riders on the Storm," "Smooth Operator," "Blue Eyes," and "Beat It," however, are the biggest offenders, as they are dull, lifeless reinterpretations which I hope I never hear again. (And gun sounds and field recordings of the surf and waterfowl doesn't enhance the music all that much.) In all honesty, I have heard more attitude in elevator music. It's time to do something different, unless people really enjoy buying the same culturally insulting record over and over and over again. What I think makes this record so vanilla is the fact that a lot of the band is actually sampled and threadded through Uwe Schmidt's laptop. The most irritating result from this is the sampled "huh" that appears at least once in every track. (What ever happened to the Quality Control department at record labels?) Ditch the laptop and get all real musicians and the difference will be clear. - Jon Whitney
OOIOO, "Kila Kila Kila"
If records are fetish objects in the same sense that pornography is, then people who scour the globe for every last shred of vinyl related to spastic Japanese bands have got to be emotionally retarded in the same way that fanciers of tentacle-rape anime are, right? Thankfully, the gang of musicians represented on the latest OOIOO record have reached a bit further back into their lives than the point at which giant-robot cartoons were the height of cool, and have brought forward a kid's enthusiasm for tuneless xylophone banging and nonsensical whispering. This sits alongside repetitive ritual percussion, noodly organ lines and increasingly complex harmonies shared by a fairly wide assortment of instruments in a way that occasionally makes a lot of sense. I won't pretend to understand what makes some of these tunes worth exploring for fifteen minutes while others are abandoned after two or less, and I can't help but be disappointed that the rousing trumpet-and-bass trance hoedown of "on mani," which brought a recent OOIOO concert to an absolutely crazed end, just sort of unfolds logically and goes away halfway through the album here. At least they don't rely on three-second-long yelping tracks or bullshit mysticism for effect, and sometimes the combinations that they come up with are so good that I just don't want them to end. OOIOO shows are far more recommendable to catch as the energy captured in the studio on this disc is nowhere near the heights that the band is capable of reaching on stage. Thankfully Kila Kila Kila doesn't come close to being as sunny-new-age-schlocky as some of the material on Shock City Shockers 2. - Taylor McLaren
AWOL ONE AND DADDY KEV, "SLANGUAGE"
Mush Records/Dirty Loop Music
A lot of electronic-based musicians and producers make reference to jazz music and its instrumentation in their sampling and arranging; mostly from the post-bop and cool eras. For a good chunk of this disc, Los Angeles hip hop producer Daddy Kev (aka Kevin Marques Moo) stretches the backing tracks to the far reaches in a true free-jazz spirit. Kev combines soloing drums, upright bass, funky loops, guitar runs and other ambient sounds with precise turntable manipulation provided by D-Styles. The unique voice of MC Awol One plays off of these tracks with free-association/spoken word riffs that range from humorous to serious for a new take on beat poetry (no pun intended). Tracks such as "Finger Paint with Bloodlike War Paint," "Grey Skys in Psycho-Delic RGB," and "Buyin' Friends on Ebay" kick along to steady rhymes and beats with quotes from orchestras, saxophone and piano. "Idiot Savant Autistic Delivery" opens with a spoken-word sample about playing free music that Awol One throws in his own dialogue to give a sense of conversation. Steady hi-hat lays down a groove for Fender Rhodes and bass to convey an all too brief 70s soundtrack for a cop show chase sequence that is scratched with vocal samples. As jazz and rap are said to be closely related, it was just a matter of time before free jazz and fusion made their way into the hybrid of hip hop so prominently. - Gord Fynes
MOWER, "PEOPLE ARE CRUEL"
Sometimes people just have to be cruel, especially when they're asked to listen to the worst album they've heard in a decade. Anyone who writes reviews will eventually get used to reading all kinds of press releases, from the useful detailed biographic ones to the amusingly erroneous ones to the ones that are quite clearly ridiculous hype for vapid old rope with no substance whatsoever. If The Fly magazine is calling a band genius then any music lover with any aesthetic sense whatsoever will see red hype alarm bells flashing. (The Fly is a faux-fanzine, set up by London based PR wafflers and is given away free at various venues throughout the UK, so that drunk faux-indie kids have something to use when the toilet paper runs out.) Mower prove that even if you make the shittiest most talentless retro crap excuse for rockpops, some idiot somewhere will call it genius. The band try to rock but just don't. The singer can't sing. If he was someone interesting with original ways of deploying the limited range, this wouldn't matter a bit. Matt Motte writes stupid twee ditties about such mundane trivialities as going to a hip-club and not having enough money to pay for a German girl's drink, thus getting her thrown out. All delivered with the charm of a dead clown rotting in the garbage. The smugness of his toss off bathtime warbling stinks of the worst kind of desperate watery wannabe. He's a fuckin' idiot with nothing worth saying. The effort of strumming the guitar with tired unremarkable chord sequences that have already been used a million times probably did his brain in years ago. The press release also compares these listless dorks with no originality or talent to Buzzcocks, Nirvana, Black Sabbath, the Kinks and Ringo Starr (not the greatest drummer that ever walked the earth, but apparently Mower's lad does the plod 'on amphetamines'). This is so grossly insulting to all these bands that I suggest their remains sue Mower. At least that would stop them making another record. Really Jilted John would be a more accurate comparison for Mower, but who gives a fuck about that irritating nerd? Ten years ago this would've been retro enough to ride the coat-tails of the squalid Britpap scene, rightly slagged by interesting musicians such as Michael Gira and Robert Hampson as one of the worst things that ever happened to music. Now its just a sick joke that even the thickest Oasis fan would be embarrassed by. Now for the ultimate insult: even Blur were better than this! - Graeme Rowland
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