tortoise

It makes me want to run screaming in primitive joy, detonating nuclear bombs, tearing down the city of Manchester and makes the perfect soundtrack to watching the sun go down as I walk the fifty minute trek through park, wastelands and dingy back streets, across the concrete divide to Planet K. It's a tape of early Killing Joke demos and live things and the wired conviction of that tribal drumming, barbarically electrifying distorted synth and lyrical visions of armageddon are still very potent, and show up much of the 'rock music' that has come along since as the vapid piffle it is.
Amazingly in Planet K things were even more perfectly apocalyptic. The stage is bare, as if swept clean of life, but there's a massive headcleaning electric crackle resonating across the space as blue white rectangles flicker where performers are missing. The hum seems a logical stripping of Killing Joke to its essential wired core - Coleman's overloading synth. Occasional deep bass pulses shake the foundations at too slow a pace to register timing. Kevin Drumm is perched behind a laptop at the sound desk and is responsible for this overpowering purging noise.
This being Manchester, home of Buzzcocks, it could've been time to crack a bad Boredom pun about the Drumm hum but Mike Ladd wasn't allowing us any downtime. The band ambled on and launched as the Drumm fizzled out.
Was this the new dawn after the nuclear storm?
After Drumm's precise tones the sound was relatively muddy for the full on four piece with drums, raps, guitar/computer and turntables. Mike Ladd has a T-shirt emblazoned with the legend Afro Punk and gives us some spiel about his inspirations Bad Brains, Black Flag and Fishbone. Why do Americans in Europe eat at Pizza Hut? There are bigger questions but this between song joke exemplified the imperialist cloak of the 'free' market before Ladd scratched and funked his mark as an infesticon (opposed to majesticon).
It was a shame that Drumm didn't get another set before Tortoise did their thing. They did a professional set with much instrument swapping and it didn't really take off until the second half. I think they launched into what seemed like a freeform jam in the middle of TNT (or was it another track its hard to tell with all this lack of words) and Herndon was really giving it some at the drums. It was neat the way they almost seemed to lose control there...
The last trio of songs nailed it. A silence still at their instruments then BLAM! Senceca unleashed that dual guitar duel and the fire and fury was in their eyes and hearts. If only they could make a whole album like that first two minutes of free falling two turning pluck'n'strum'n'drum! Then the much requested Djed was an eye opener that faded like the setting sun as McEntire and Herndon decelerated their vibraphone runs.
Where Drumm had sparked off a cleansing fire and Ladd had the diatribes and plans and notions to free nations, Tortoise were embracing visions of post-apocalyptic utopianism - a new dawn after the flood that will wash away the masters and leave the servants what is left of the world. Ladd was back with a vision to take into the night as the final bars of the Tortoise European leg faded into the smoke.
The meek shall inherit the mirth.
Don't burn the flag, lets burn the Bush.
7337 Hits

Gary Numan

Sadly enough, many people have arrived at brainwashed or are now Warp Records fans because Coil, Meat Beat Manifesto and Aphex Twin have crept into their collection through NIN remixes. What most average NIN listener doesn't realize yet is that Reznor's entire act is derivative from Cabaret Voltaire, Front 242, Kiss, 'With Sympathy'-era Ministry and above all, Gary Numan. Watching this man step on stage to a large club packed with about 600 die hard fans is a rather messianic experience. The man has a career half way through its third decade, a fresh and energetic young band and he looks incredible for his age. Numan has always toyed with the part man/part machine persona, so it comes as no surprise his backing group is a talented array of cyber rivetheads, and while his music over the years has straddled genres, it has never lost its anthemic fervor. The crowd went nuts for every song, singing along with every word, reminding me once again that I need to hear more of his post-1984 material. Of course, when suggested, most people will turn away, lumping Numan into a category with one-hit wonders and nostalgic retrospective collections including Culture Club and Kajagoogoo. So he might play "Cars" live, so what? Listen to me: it's good for you (things really only started making sense to me after seeing his live incarnate, I'll never miss a show of his now). There's nothing cheesy, aging or dated about the killer show and those who doubt are only displaying their ignorance. Live dates are posted at www.numan.co.uk.

 

6473 Hits

MOGWAI

By now the group has returned to their quiet Scottish countryside homes, no doubt suffering some hearing loss after this most recent US tour. Tuesday night's stop was their second to last on this brief tour, the band played at the classical-style balcony-equipped Somerville Theatre in Boston to a nearly sold-out crowd. The performance began as most of their music does: calm, quiet, melodic and pretty. Selections included music off their recent EP and LP and their forthcoming "Rock: Action" album, due for imminent release. But be warned, since their last visit the group has gained weight, lost hair and collected distortion pedals along the way. Yes, they're fucking angry this time with a wall of sound lounder than anything I've heard in years. Exercising their volume muscles half way through the show every song began to end on a very loud note, with humming feedback dragging on while the members stood in front of amplifiers just to get -that- much more umph. But wait, just when you thought it was loud enough, the keyboardist emerges towards the front of the stage, guitar in hand, he clicks it on slams a floor pedal and BOOM! The noise suddenly becomes even more multi-dimensional. Much like many of these songs, the show itself ended with a long barrage of distortion stretching at least twenty minutes. Now, while many fans in attendance there were entirely blown away by the experience, I found it rather excessive. People were leaving the show with only one thing on their mind "that was loud!" Indeed it was, but it sort of masked the musical portion of the show. Nobody at this point could remember the keyboardist's flute-playing bits or delicate piano playing, unfamiliar melodies of a forthcoming album or a beautiful cellist that sat on stage right adding a charming color nearly half the night. It was indeed Rock Action - a bunch of teenagers nodding and agreeing with their buddies about how much that show "kicked ass." Are Mogwai to become the Motley Crue of this decade?
7032 Hits

ESG, "South Bronx Story"

ESG, "SOUTH BRONX STORY"
Between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, the 'No Wave' movement surfaced, combining art-funk, punk and dance music into a mix which was not a commercial breakthrough, but was revered by many in the music community to be of great influence. One of the acts, ESG was comprised of four sisters from South Bronx, NY, and through many shows including gigs with The Clash, Public Image and Grandmaster Flash the group gained some attention across the water. Soon the group had a single produced by Martin Hannett, released on Factory Records, a gig at the opening night for legendary Manchester club, The Hacienda and more gigs with groups like A Certain Ratio and Gang of Four. Songs like "Moody" went on to become popular favorites in various night clubs while the b-side, a very 'Unknown Pleasures' Joy Division-sounding "UFO" went on to be sampled by rap acts including Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J and Doug E. Fresh. After a few singles and years of playing out a full-length album was released in 1983, but the interest waned, hip-hop was in and nobody was paying for the samples. The group still plays around occasionally and even released a track in 1993, "Sample Credits Don't Pay Our Bills." This collection, from a division of Soul Jazz Records (UK) reintroduces to the public songs from their album and singles along with some other early tracks. Listening to the music, their influence on early Beastie Boys, Luscious Jackson and early Salt -N- Pepa can clearly be heard. While it's arguably primitive in parts, the soul and energy is present throughout the entire disc, songs like "Erase You" are feverishly catchy while the Spaced-Out album version of "Moody" are hypnotizing.

samples:

4578 Hits

2nd Gen, "Irony Is"

The irony is that Panacea has already done releases as Disorder 2nd Gen!

Continue reading
4996 Hits

Labradford / Pan•American / Hrvatski / Marumari

Metro Boston residents were fortunate to be treated to two area performances including the first from Pan American and the latest incarnation of Hrvatski. On Thursday night at Brandeis University's Rose Gallery Museum, Keith Fullerton Whitman (known to the world as Hrvatski) began the three-act show, sitting behind his laptop, guitar in hand, creating a film score-like experience.
Continue reading
6407 Hits

Tortoise, "Standards"

TORTOISE, "STANDARDS"
Nearly everybody reading this weekly electronic magazine has heard Tortoise by now and has already made up their mind one way or another on Tortoise's music. It's almost pointless to review the disc here as fans will most likely buy it and non-fans will most likely pass. If there was one rule to always believe in when it came to Tortoise's music is that the rules change every time. This time around the group pulled almost a complete 180° from 1998's TNT. While TNT took several months to record and loads of post-production perfectioning time, Standards was perfected live on the road (while the band opened for The Eternals as 'Woodcult') and recorded within a couple weeks. TNT was a cold-calculated exercise in recording technology while Standards is the result of a true rock band in action, bringing many influences and backgrounds to the easel and almost spitting them up on to the canvas without lengthy hesitation. The album explodes at the start with much louder than expected teeth-gnashing rock riffs, beefy drums, chunky bass and a nasty organ. Thus the concept is established - a simple rock concept of ten songs, five to each side of the record, almost the anti-concept of 'Millions' and even 'TNT' to some extent. The rest of the songs bounce around from slow to mid-tempo numbers balancing a somewhat familiar mix, as the group hasn't really changed. It's still the same people - the same paintbrushes are being used but the painting is of a rather new style. Familiar sounds include the counterpoint between low guitar and vibes, grumbling basslines, colorful percussion and a perfect amount of electronic manipulation. Perhaps this is the album which will unite fans of the old debut with the fans of TNT. Look out for the proverbial overpriced Japanese edition. This one's got 2 bonus tracks which total about 11 minutes.

 

samples:

 

4791 Hits

The New Year, "Newness Ends"

THE NEW YEAR, "NEWNESS ENDS"
After much anticipation, the first release from the group formed from the ashes of Bedhead has finally materialized. While it quite clearly sounds like the Kadane brothers playing together, this indeed is a new group that almost follows a sort of progression built from the last full-length Bedhead album, 1998's 'Transaction De Novo'. The songwriting core of the Kadane brothers have become more experimental in both time and key signature, whilst surprisingly at the same time being more direct. Unlike the frequent Bedhead appearance of lengthy intros, the New Year takes little to no time getting right to the point, resulting in an album of ten solid songs totalling under 35 minutes. This is a great example on how important the mixture of musicians can change a sound despite the writing core remaining the same. Included in the group is former Come, Codeine and cuurent Pullman guitarist Chris Brokaw on the drums, who does a remarkably impressive job keeping up with weird time signatures and subtle changes which take place on the entire record. It starts off with a kick and ends with a bang as well, the quiet moments are kept in the middle — almost the exact opposite of Transaction. I must admit that at first listen I was rather caught off-guard as it wasn't that next Bedhead record I had been so longing for, but it changed for me. What began as catchy tunes became songs stuck in my head all day long, shortly after that I found myself singing along. Can't wait to finally see the show.

samples:

4663 Hits

Papa M, "Sings"

PAPA M, "SINGS"
David Pajo is quite arguably the indie scene's most versatile musician and artist. His guitar work has been integral parts of Slint and Tortoise while guest appearance and accessory roles have been filled for Matmos, Stereolab, Royal Trux and Will Oldham's Palace. Those close to him can also attest to his brilliance as a visual artist as well, but we will just have to take their words for now. 'Papa M Sings' is quite an unexpected trip, but not completely foreign given his geographic location on the planet. David Pajo exercises his vocal chords for every song on this 20-minute six-tracker. For the first time I think I can actually hear the Kentuckian guy behind his music, as the style is heavily soaked in a midwestern country influence. Absent are the looping melodies, electronic processing, lengthy delays and electronic percussion. It's all been replaced by Dave's acoustic guitar, slide guitar, bass, drums and banjo. Vocally, he's got a heartfelt delivery of somewhat comical lyrics, dropping references to his record label and Bob Dylan in "Pissing in the Wind," and longing for his home, (probably written on one of his many trips through the UK) in "London Homesick Blues." The disc is amusing and should appeal to most Will Oldham and Molasses fans, but I doubt many Europeans would quite fully 'get it' having not grown up over here.

samples:

5844 Hits

Pan Sonic, "Live 1995"

Here's another seemingly pointless review as the Pan Sonic fans will have already ordered this so as not to have missed out on the limited run while the others would have passed.

Continue reading
4903 Hits

Mount Florida, "Arrived Phoenix

MOUNT FLORIDA, "ARRIVED PHOENIX"
So I've been staring at this disc for months despite its release being in late January. This Glaswegian duo has released three EPs over the past year, none of which I have mentioned, but I feel the urge to write about this, their debut full-lengther. I'm really enjoying their tackling of various genres and styles of instrumental rock and electronics, their style jumps around from spacey techno dub bits through abrasive rock chords, but it seems rather unfocused, bipolar and somewhat lacking. The group seems to rely on their production almost entirely as they're clearly 'building songs' (as opposed to 'creating artwork' or 'making a statement' or 'sending a message') which need more compelling hooks. They've got a clean sound and execute with a certain degree of professionalism, however it doesn't really have the bite of other genre-crossing instrumentalists like Tortoise nor the emotion of groups like Fridge or Mogwai. Not that the music sounds like any of those, but for an instrumental record within a generally accepted definition of electronic/rock, it comes up rather bland. Worth mentioning is the fact that I have found good uses for this on the radio and with guests over at the house. Songs like the guitar-punchy "Postal" and the tripped out blissful "Space, echoes" have drummed up some interest from curious listeners but I simply don't get what's so special about it. While this is nothing I would personally recommend dropping everything for and running out to get, Matador does have a track record of releasing music which similarly does not speak loud to me yet reaches many others in its path. Boards of Canada, Console and Wisdom of Harry immediately come to mind — while I generally think of these as fair, average, and vanilla-esque, they seem to have gained a lot of interest with others. Anyhow it's up to you, there should be some sound samples here soon! I really need to sleep now.

samples:

4638 Hits

Freezepop, "Forever"

FREEZEPOP, "FOREVER"
This young, well-coiffed fashion savvy Boston trio reminds me why I prefer why Pizzicato Five sings in Japanese, as it's far easier to enjoy superficial lyrics when they're in an incomprehensible language. The music is simple, full of predictable progressions, pre-programmed sounds and beats, with a flat vocal delivery derived from overdosing on Laurie Anderson, Kraftwerk and Liz Phair. Melodies aren't complex and harmony isn't in their vocabulary. Don't be fooled by catch phrases like "80s Retro" or "Electro Lounge" however as the tunes closely resemble those of many a teenager's terrible demos sitting in the trash buckets at Mute Records. "Kinder-pop" might be more appropriate, however, as I've heard of 5 year olds with a better sense of composition. To their credit, there's a lot of local support for the group, and I personally feel they have the potential to become something of note. One song on this disc jumps out, their Japanese-titled song (which appeared on the Arch Enemy 'Know Your Enemy' comp) shines head and shoulders above the rest of the tracks, with an actual effort placed on writing a multi-part song. These trust fund babies obviously have access to the equipment and recording facilities, now it's time to work on those writing skills, fellas.

samples:

4666 Hits

Hei√∞a, "Svari√∞"

As a North American it's tough to listen to an Icelandic female singer backed with an adventurous rock band without remeniscing over the Sugarcubes. This debut solo album from former Unun singer features a wide spectrum of styles over ten captivating songs, from the rock-based opener, "Hugsjór," a pleasant tune with a dark aggressive side which rears its head from time to time to the surf-epic hit single "Loftborg," winding down to the slow "Sé Þig Alla Leið," which could easily be interpreted as a tribute to the smooth jazz vocalists of the fifties. The disc may be filed under Heiða's name but props are in order for a backing group who have successfully pulled off the dynamic stylistic demands with a remarkable precision, skill and feel. If this girl continues on outside of her homeland with touring and the label can succesfully export, there's no doubt in my mind the dull roar of an industry buzz would be terribly far away. Unfortunately I have yet to see this for sale anywhere outside of the Bad Taste website, badtaste.dk (the people who brought you Sigur Rós).

samples:

4644 Hits

Low, "Things We Lost In The Fire"

LOW, "THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE"
The sixth full-length Low CD release comes after a year of releasing enough music for three CDs and one baby girl. Like the last one, this one both appears on Kranky in the US, Tugboat in the UK, two bonus songs on the vinyl edition, and production by Steve Albini. While Low's songwriting skills get amazingly stronger and stronger, I'm finding more problems with Albini's production. To their credit, songs like "Sunflowers," "Dinosaur Act," and "In Metal" carry on their own style of somewhat abstract lyrics matched with breathtaking vocalizations, unchallengable synergy with a fondness of dissonance. To experience Low in person as a collective entity, you'll find that each of the three members create a triangular symmetry. Albini however completely disregards this with songs as "Black Like a Forest" (as he did with "Will the Night") by retiring Mimi's vocals to the background, ignoring the vocalists' harmonic set up. I'm also confused with the album's opener where the hell the strings came from as the music's going, going, going, flowing nice, but then a harsh fade up of strings from out of nowhere almost makes no sense without setup. Perhaps I'm being entirely too picky but after a while these things become out of place threads in a carpet. Disregard these things and you've got a perfect slab of wax, suitable for framing. samples:

4882 Hits

Lesser, "Gearhound"

LESSER, "GEARHOUND"
This week's mad scientist is a Californian named Jay. Starting off on this journey, the breaks are very disjunct and the transitions between tracks are so choppy, it's even confusing to me when new songs begin or if there are indeed different songs. It almost seems like he's making a conscious effort to avoid anything semi-conventional like establishing a rhythmic base or a bass foundation. But then SMACK! The track with Blectom from Blechdom and the "Gearhound Suite" provide that important plot twist, this guy is actually going somewhere with this! It's almost as if this disc is a physical journey up a mountain, hard steps and unclear paths on the way up, many choices and much on your mind, the sweat beads down and you fall short of breath and tell yourself how much you need to get out more. You reach the peak, have a nice look around, enjoy a refreshing bottle of water and begin your descent, looking down on the beautiful planet from high up, as you encounter various attractions on the way down. Keeping this analogy in mind, the remainder of the disc sort of heads down a rather soothing path, without giving up the digital choppery however. Three-dimensional visions burst into my head, giving the impression of lying on a soft waterbed that keeps shifting around, or running my finger on a densely-filled helium balloon, ready to burst. The end of the disc is the end of our journey, back on the earth with a sense of accomplishment behind us. Lookng back up the mountain we just climbed the whole picture seems clear but we're glad the heavy legwork is over. Lesser has successfully navigated a flight in the face of convention on many levels here. First off, he placed the peak in the center as opposed to most albums throwing a killer bang-up opener and a memorable fade for the closer. Then, consciously or unconsciously, he threaded a certain congruency between rather abstract and disjointed pieces. A disc which I originally thought would make more sense to me in the distant future has become much clearer with the proper attention. We, the listeners can be far more guilty of attention defecit than what many critics will accuse the musicians of.

4548 Hits

Him, "5 & 6 In Dub"

HIM, "5 & 6 IN DUB"
Mighty Doug Scharin has a new sound for Him once again for the latest release. Last year saw the release of two full-lengthers, one with a modern electro-jazz feel, the other with a pure force of improvisational mayhem. This 32-minute three-tracker dives into the deeper, cooler side, known simply as dub. The opener, "Five" clocks in at over 14 minutes with long delays, hypnotic bass loops, trickling guitar, latin percussion, warm organs, and an unobtrusive sax. Track two's the shortest of the three tracks and a nice stop-gap which explores sound almost through entirely synthesized by analogue electronics - a primitive drum machine, older keyboards and tons of delay. The last track, "Six" takes an approach completely void of the standard drum kit - electronic or organic, with the group taking a sort of plugged-in "unplugged" mentality, all members grooving together without anything clocking the beat. Sure, these are remixes, meaning the originals have been tampered with, but where are the originals? This release is wonderful but it's a tease, it's way too short and the remix aspect gives me the impression their next album didn't start out this far into dub. Who knows except for Him?

4654 Hits

Shadow of The Vampire

To use a word commonly used by my friend Jeremy, I would call this one "Crap-tacular!" While this film showed promise with a plot based on the mysterious filming of the classic "Nosferatu" and a cast including Eddie Izzard, Willem Dafoe and Udo Kier, it started off bad and got worse. The accents were terrible and disgustingly mismatched, both American and English actors clumsily fumbled through the German tongue, John Malkovich being the biggest offender, slipping in and out of his accent faster than you can say "Robin Hood." The continuity problems were an eyesore, with different typings of "Orlock," a seeminly endless ladder walk and mismatched cigarette positions. Most important of all, the story was shit, leaving holes everywhere in the plot. The warning signs were all here however. First off: Executive Producer Nicolas Cage—they must have shopped this one around quite a bit before landing on somebody as rich and inexperienced as Cage. Next up was the single preview syndrome—if you only see one preview over and over again then even the promotions team couldn't find any better clips to show. (I did want to spank everybody who laughed at the "I'll eat her later" line, since everybody's heard it a million times by now.) And finally: director Edmund Elias Merhige. While he may have been praised for 1991's "Begotten" for his stylish imitation of classic black-and-white film, he hasn't directed anything else, automatically qualifying him for the "discount director" award. Stay far away or go rent Ed Wood.

8103 Hits

Snatch

If you liked "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and want to go see it all over again, then this film is for you. This time around, the pretentious cooler-than-thou wankery of Mr. Madonna has materialized into an even more MTV-generation-ready Brit flick obviously made for export. While the camera shots and editing tricks were slick and involved, it didn't put this film on par with something like a Mamet or Tarrantino gangster film with plot ironies. There were some fun and cheap laughs, like the dog who swallowed a chew toy and squeaks every time he barks (this kept Tom the Fish laughing in the row behind me throughout the flick). But it's too much to believe that everybody in England talks with the same cockney accent or can get simply get the guns they had. Brad Pitt was surprisingly entertaining, which lends evidence to my theory that Hollywood rubbish like him and Tom Cruise can be good in roles where they're not the lead. Benicio Del Toro, who can usually save a failing movie was disappointingly under-utilized however. My fear is that more films like this will appear, getting worse and worse and worse. Long-term effects may result, including English kids pretending they're all bad-ass and the ever-annoying stereotype of all Brits talking like cockneys being perpetuated from abroad. For the most part I disliked it but if you loved "Lock Stock" then you've already seen this film and will send hate email to me. Fuck off in advance.

8305 Hits

Boyd Rice, "The Way I Feel"

BOYD RICE, "THE WAY I FEEL"
Boyd Rice is no stranger to heated discourse, especially when it comes to much of his heavily spoken releases. This compilation is one of collaboratives, including songs with Tiffany Anders, Shaun Patridge, and Little Fyodor as well as Douglas P, Coil, David Tibet and many others. The irony here is that while Boyd's music as Non can be brutish and aggressive yet completely void of personal interjection, the music on 'The Way I Feel' is full of gentle and serene music as a backdrop for his vocalized feelings which frequently echo a dark side that most people won't admit to having. Songs have been hand-picked by Boyd himself and provide a nice variety with the inclusion of instrumental things like the Sickness of Snakes track "Many Hands" or the "Pearls Before Swine" theme. Music is included from 'Hatesville,' 'Music, Martinis & Misanthropy,' along with various cuts originally only available on 7" and compilation albums. Tactfully absent are diatribes which could be interpreted as Social Darwinistic or fascist. The disc includes all previously released songs, but features some rarities and things you'd never want to purchase in their original surroundings, like "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" from the 'Grace of My Heart' soundtrack. Boyd is a writer, noisemaker, prankster and poet, undoubtedly an entertainer. Unfortunately music listeners generally don't believe a song can be as fictitious as a book or film. This is where much of the problems of interpreting people like Boyd Rice, Douglas Pearce and even older Coil music comes into play. These music makers should be regarded like fiction writers or impressionistic painters, taking influence from uncountable sources and artfully spitting them out for our entertainment and introspection. Make them into something more and then you've become the entertainment, getting into angry fights over email lists is something these guys want you to do.

samples:

6440 Hits

Dark Star, "Travelogue II"

DARK STAR, "TRAVELOGUE II"
Nearly seven years ago a CD resembling this one appeared, sharing seven tracks, four of which featured members Edward, Phil and Ryan of Legendary Pink Dots. The main core of Dark Star decided to record a sequel but it never surfaced. In the meantime, the original disc was difficult to obtain and most likely went out of print. This release basically serves a couple purposes. It reintroduces seven songs from the first release, keeping the music available and adds four newer ones, remnants from an uncomplete sequel. For LPD fans who don't already have the original release, this is a great chance to get all the songs as they originally were recorded, fans of the original release can get over a half hour of new music, while people who bought it and don't need to hear any more can easily pass on slapping the money down for it. As for the music itself, the four new songs fit rather well with the rest. The music is generally an eerie mid-paced electronic throb with either a distorted guitar or ballsy bass. Both old and new songs would appropriately score a chilling futuristic horror film. My only issues lie with the tacky lyrics from the non-Kaspel singer.

samples:

5331 Hits
© 1996-2024 Brainwashed Inc.