Reviews: 12/17/2003

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  • Joe Colley :: Desperate Attempts At Beauty
  • (Auscultare/Ground Fault, CD)

    The artist formerly known as Crawl Unit wedges and shimmies the elements
    on his new Desperate Attempts At Beauty. Aside from the fact that
    this “beauty” is truly in the ears of the beholder, something strangely
    is brewing as usual. The white on white cover art speaks volumes about
    the embedded messages here. Colley’s aesthetic has a harsh edge, but
    it’s all about activating the listener to take an involved role, look
    closer, make your own choice about exactly how you listen. These are
    intriguing tests in the act of listening, in ways that make you question
    the purposeful act of making sound itself. On “Burn Memory (Test for
    Headphone Rattle)” what could be a refrigerator motor just hums grimly,
    as higher pitch levels are added and subtracted to a barren, numbing
    background. The subtitle implies the “are you listening” message deeply
    and clearly. In many ways, artists make intimate sound, relating to
    personal issues and changes and it comes through aggressively here. Is
    this what “the Man Machine” was all about? On the two tracks
    “Claysound,” Colley captures field recordings, possibly gathering clay,
    definitely outdoors in a natural setting of bird and streams. He has
    complemented the harsher mechanical sounds with organics and turned in a
    hybrid of fearsome over amplified croaking debris. Are they sheep or
    insects? One thing is certain, sound that brings up natures mysteries
    journey back to radio days when one would imagine more, and not as often
    be basted with trite commercial pop music as regularly. This is a
    layered duo of tracks that gets right up close to its source material,
    perhaps right inside a set of horse nostrils. Speaking of which –
    things flare up on the mad science of “Headache (Diagnostic Testpulse
    for Blown PA).” The man is using all his spare parts here. The final
    breaths on “Lost, Or At Last Realizing That Very Soon None of This Will
    Matter” takes stereo piezo transducers to minidisk with no modification
    and implies an imminent end for our traveler. Well, unlike the
    conventional travelogue, this adventure uses this thirteen minute outro
    as a way of simulating a funeral procession through a Northeaster,
    frying its circuits in half. The resemblance to most things earthly is
    pretty nil. The mid grey electronic drone does little to intensify the
    former tracks that are quite consuming. This retreats silently and
    inconspicuously.

  • Ground Fault Recordings

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  • [Sic] :: …And Rabbits Named Friday
  • (Royk Records/Squirrelgirl, CD)

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    Space age love songs, indeed! This is analogue heaven so to speak – an
    aural chamber that is immediately seductive and a little bit corny.
    [Sic] is Montreal’s Jen Morris who crafts a dissonant miniature
    landscape from tinny percussive beats. There are moments of perhaps
    Snoop Dogg meets Ladytron without any annoying vocals – icy steel cold
    blend of upright harmony and micro-electronic sounds. Morris builds an alien language-scape that vacates itself from the needless day-to-day chatter. This is chock-full
    of weird atonality with a warmer funky side. As a rabbit test, here,
    anything is seemingly possible in her concoction of tracks like the gray
    matter “Royk” and “Highway Gully” with its merry synth twang. Closing
    with the hysterically titled “Ouch, My Innards” you might be expecting a
    slapstick song and dance – but this might be part of a reinterpretation
    of some real pain; The drone is above sea level, the winds are steady,
    there is almost a chant-like quality to the way this piece propels
    itself. It’s a beautiful, wispy and startling conclusion.

  • Squirrel Girl

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  • Tigrics :: Drapdap
  • (Neon Music Hungary, CD)

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    Hungarian label Neon makes a pass at the world of finer electronics with
    its release by Tigrics (aka Robert Bereznyei) formerly of the band
    Rianas. And Drapdap is certainly a branch off the tree for him. The
    upbeat din of “High Accuracies” is a dark ambient lullaby of sorts, with
    just the right amount of breath and crunchy statica. Like releases from
    E*Rock and Xela and other recent offerings, Tigrics keeps things pretty
    bubbly. He shapes with a childlike anticipation, making this a fresh
    listen. I am sure that being from the Budapest area may make the
    emergence of his infectious sound a bit more time consuming to reach a
    general public still feeding off the Chemical Brothers, though this is
    the intimate sounds that most late night hipsters would crave after a
    long night of hard partying. A perfect blend of frosty beats and
    creative loops. The cryptically fringe “Why Release Records? (Fülke
    MX)” asks the pertinent question for the MP3 generation whose sound
    collection is ultimately disposable after a single listen. Music is
    free – music should be free – the debate goes on and on. Hi fidelity
    aside – I’d say the question will be on the chopping block for some time
    to come. Just hope it doesn’t discourage acts from Hungary, Poland and
    other unexpected gemstone countries from continuing to feed our ears –
    look at what happened to Iceland. The genuinely wet sounding “Gdynia
    (Baltic Sea in December)” is quiet and somber, a bit of a faded drone.
    Overall this is a refreshing look at the future of sounds of what’s ahead.

  • Neon Music
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