Reviews: 7/2004

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>>> Key

  • . Frozen In Time (10 Below)
  • . . On Thin Ice (Playable)
  • . . . Icebreaker (Solid)
  • . . . . Sonic Ice (Repeat)
  • . . . . . Avalanche (Classic)::..:::…..:..::….:::::..:::..:::::::……:::…::.:::….::::..:..:::…::…….::::
  • TOMAS JIRKU :: Zaxxon 3D
  • CDEP: Supesharu Recordings
  • . . .
  • Video: Click here…752 image 2 :: Hard to believe this is the same Tomas Jirku who blessed us with the riveting Sequins (Force Inc.) and Variants(Alien8) CDs. While still significantly under 30, this shapeshifter has been at it since the late 90s. On the inaugural release for the newest Toronto-based imprint, Supesharu, he takes on a three track EP that is sure to instantaneously muse and confuse. The accompanying video (see above link) is a skateboarder who weaves his way around a typical cityscape only to eventually be trapped within the collision of realtime and oddly flaming gaming control. This is head on. What they’ve done is quite funny and sounds more like the shuffle of say Kompakt. Though, this has a genuinely morphing appeal, it’s a funky beat laden u-turn from Jirku’s prior warm micro music. Its flash has some in common with both blockbuster 80s soundtracks and discomania tuned with a joystick.

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  • DAT POLITICS :: Go Pets Go
  • CD: Chicks on Speed Records
  • Alternate URK: http://www.ski-pp.com
  • . . . . .752 image 3 :: Goody, goody gumdrops! It’s funny French trio DAT Politics (Digital Narcisus, A-Musik, Tigerbeat6) who have been hard at it for quite some time. Their records have ranged from outright digital oblivion, to little sweet ditties, often combining a range of styles as again heard on the latest Go Pets Go. Let’s just say the cat is literally out of the bag here. The title cut is a spoken word, tuba inflected, Speed Racer-like anthem. Throughout this release are elements of overly imploded pure Mike Kelleyisms, its electropunk, smartass feedback and perforated vocal cut-ups, piggly wiggly tails and all. Colorful pasted graphics with band members in dino and bunny costumes squeezing juice balances the mix perfectly and their marriage with Chicks on Speed is a flawless pairing. “No Fairytale” is a repetitious schoolyard chant based in quirky casiotone and other spinning rhythms. This is the ideally infectious Summertime record that you will play over and over because there are so many things happening and you will catch something new each time its spun. I am seriously freeked by this. They have sort of perfected the aesthetics of People Like Us and turned up the heat of the beat a notch or two, added some microfine circus popcorn plunderphonics and the delightful pop of the Plastics and VOILA – better than the finer delicacies ever found in your own easybake (w/colored sprinkles). Definitely the best Summer Record of 2004!

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  • FELIX KUBIN :: Makti Wandalki
  • CD: A-Musik
  • . . . . .752 image 4 :: A radio announcer comically sets up an profile piece on Kubin saying that it must be difficult living with the so-called moniker as the “worldwind master of the ivories” or something like that –sets up a fun romp that becomes a blink-kink-clonk de-wired concoction called “Menthol Radio Swing” – a sig song lil’ rag tag poke at the player piano perhaps. If you picked up this record in a shop, you may swear you were looking at the newest lost recording by Kraftwerk, solid bowl haircut, mysterious noir black and white, simply staring you in the face. But the sounds caught inside the packaging are a far flung flippant flight of frenzied fancy that you will hiccup and let go instantly. Stare right back if you want. Using voice samples ala 50s radio shows and twisted little uptempo kitsch melodies Kubin makes Makti Wandalkithe first record to stab electro right in the heart of its fun engine. “Lumière Belge” is a stunning little electric waltz, you can just imagine the sparkly chandeliere and candelabra, but in this ballroom dance a thousand phantoms retrofit in catsuits. Yeah, the netherworld creeps in with the engine of 60s TV anthems and all that spice. And away we go, up and over and merrily we stride through the dramatization of all things at a local carnival on “Fernwärme Wien.” It’s a real ride. The funky synth chops that open “Hissi Hissi” are playful in a black and white Xerox early 80s way, part spandex, part lycra, but all skin tight. The title cut is straight ahead feedback mixed and twisted and cyclically recycled. As it runs faster, the pace builds, the energy is spent driving the rhythm forward only to end point blank. Then on what will be a sure club hit “Psyko Billy” enters as what I will call the latest theme to South Park, very crudely animated and flamboyant. In the end the poetically spoken post apocalyptic version of Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” just puts a perfectly twisted phrasing to the end of a trial by fire record that can stand to find its subjective reckoning in the ears of an international audience with the legs crossed and lips apart.

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  • LULLATONE :: Little Songs About Raindrops by Lullatone
  • CD: Plop
  • . . .1/2752 image 5:: As a music box opens “My Petit Prelude” what is exposed is the offbeat childlike harmony of Lullatone (Shawn James Seymour) which plays with memory. The tiny bright tones are pretty and harmonic. “Wake Up Wake Up” is a pure wash of player toy piano alongside a monosyllabic vocal sample provided by Yoshimi Tomida. In what could be considered a cerebrally-lite update on Laurie Anderson’s “Oh, Superman” Seymour has created an overtly feminine fantasy world of crystalline lightness of being. The quiet, friendly beat draws from a history of orchestral arrangements but filters the excess. Slowly churning, the mix on “Leaves Falling” provides a space for a single sound pixel used as a centering beat to leverage the entire track. These songs about raindrops are mystically awe inspiring in the sheer simplicity of Nicholas Cox’s viola on “Puddles in the Playground” and additions of ukulele (played by Yuseke Asano and Ryan Taylor Stearman) elsewhere on the recording. Crossing what you may hear in a Japanese tea garden with the courting music prior to a full scale ballroom dance, you may develop your own picture. That’s actually the effect here, to envision and create your own reflective world in the drip drop pitter patter of it all.

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  • TAYLOR DEUPREE & CHRISTOPHER WILLITS :: Mujo
  • CD: Plop
  • . . .1/2752 image 6 :: Mujo means transience in Japanese. This recording marks the follow-up to Deupree and Willits’ work on last year’s Audiosphere 08release . Here they have further developed something clearly going in an independent direction from either of their solo projects. Hints of contemporary classical stream fluidly into something that could be described as micro-lounge on “Living Flowers.” These sprouts are fresh, song-like pieces that weave together a click-tap beat with a wavering beagle-curious guitar. Broken needle passages are clutzy burrowing their way through a playful tap dance-style puppetry on “Grounding” as its chanting drone curls round the backend to design a utilitarian performance space that will allow for a certain amount of humor. The whistling migraine effect created on “Marathon Vowel Shift” is a greyer area for the duo, its staleness plays push-pull with your ability to withstand a contorted blur for under two minutes only to lead way to the bubbly mounds of “Clay” that is at once fully more malleable. Without the inherent embittered sadness here the soul of ‘Mujo’ may be sold to the highest bidder. Hints of this are showcased on the perturbed ambience floating through the gorgeously penetrating “Your Own Small Garden.” As Willits envelops your ears with a filtered wash of multicolored guitar palates Deupree playfully delivers ping pong like ecstatic pops – or is it the other way around? A collaboration like this definitely brings with it a further meshing of sonic minds, facilitating the means finding a welcome end.

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  • FITZ ELLARALD :: The very air seems replete with humming and buzzing melodies
  • CD: Amorfon
  • . . . .752 image 7 :: The very air seems replete with humming and buzzing melodiesmarks the initial release from Tokyo’s newest Amorfon label. But don’t let the cheeky title or the anagrammatic moniker fool you, this is pure electro acoustic sound space for your very specific pleasure from Fitz Ellarald (Vladislav Dobrovolski) a new Moscow-based soundster, and DJ. The wet world of sun spangled drippy drops comes alive in the adventurously smooth “Shitataru” which is more passionate than most city-based arboretums in the height of the season. “Piagnone” reminds me reflections of a ship lost in the high seas. It’s mostly pretty quiet and cryptic (“Ruminant”), somewhat droney, cautiously recycling itself at points, and spinning in a whir on “Kun-Fauteuil.” It’s like some scientific space age micro-jazz, like the spawn of Sun Ra, seagulls, glitter and all! Then there is the mind warp of “Omelia” which brings levity to a standstill only to retract most gravity by reducing the solidity of the surface sound. Throughout there is a batch of field static, feedback and other creative testing for technical difficulties and various shock therapies. This is a discovery.

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  • S.E.T.I. & SI_COMM :: Probe
  • CD: Vivo
  • . . . .1/2752 image 8 :: “Man Became information with the discovery of DNA” reads the inner sleeve of the latest recording Probeby S.E.T.I. (Andrew Lagowski) and Si_Comm (Baz Nichols). And with six tracks the duo sets to explore the states of illusory containment, transition, polarization, assimilation and a variety of imagined micro-worlds of being beyond naked recognition. At first they start by creating what might sound like the mapping of a rainforest, digging gently beyond the first layer of its surface, looking for the most diminutive terrestrial debris. They use scanner devices and other encoded feedback registers as mechanisms to find the key pulse of the land. ‘Probe’ is true to its title concept as they further link to watery depths that host a range of wavy radio-like signals shot like a laser into the din of the sound barrier. In a thickly woven contemporary sci-fi adventure, Lagowski and Nichols trek through terrain that offers multiple obstacles, steep voids and various oblique shards steering them through cavernous emptiness. On “Transition State” the ambient state of things is quite lucid, inching quietly through a field of bright white neon light. “Neural Separation” sounds like the purr of an airline hangar, a chamber that is quite contained, sealed airtight. And a series of tests is run to determine the complexities of any technical defaults. It’s all quite synthetically precise and clean-room dustless, aside from a few minor fissures that are played in fractured rays and slight system imperfections. The audio chemistry of ‘Probe’ certainly evokes something deeply visionary.

    HYPERLANGUAGE by Si_COMM & S.E.T.I. will be a sound environment specially commissioned by Ben Green for transmission on Resonance 104.4 FM on September 25th @ Midnight (1 Hour). This recording is a commissioned piece designed to thematically relate to the Probe recording.

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  • JAAP BLONK, INGAR ZACH & IVAR GRYDELAND :: Improvisors
  • CD: Kontrans
  • . . . .752 image 9:: A fractured, purring trio of ferocious, mad voice (Blonk), prepared, plunked strings (Grydeland) and awkwardly assorted percussion (Zach) all bringing something larger than can fit atop the tiny table. “Verlegenhuken” just shivers with rafters stalactite high, and just as fragile. Zach’s mediated percussion with its anxious contained energy is a true foil to the speaking in tongues of master voice Blonk who is devilish to snail like on this first track alone. Lips like spiraling propellers on “Uummannaq” somewhat like water or paint spattering at all angles with the bass drum staring you right in the kisser. The conspicuous bowing hands the energy to a tribal dirge with slight short circuits. On “Tambey” Blonk slurps (like a sick lamb snoring), Grydeland bellows (like a teasing teenage girl), Zach scrapes (like there’s nothing left). The sleepy day rolls on in “Fimbulheimen” as a flat plain, refried western setting, becomes a haunted village in the stretched chords of Blonk’s lost self. He gargles and channels a vicious lifeline into the caricature designed in this final track that drains the last drop of virility from overall playing field. The three play together like an intentionally crude(ly) oiled machine…ya know what I mean!

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  • BLK W/BEAR :: Fahrenheit_Drafts
  • 12″ Vinyl: Trace Recordings
  • . . . .752 image 10 :: This four-track single by Washington DC based Blk w/Bear (JS Adams) is released by Mark Beazley (aka Rothko). Fahrenheit_Draftsis a fiery concoction indeed. The brooding, bubby drone and trace elements of scritch-scraping of “Burn_In” is predatory and a bit foreboding. Like the dulling of an engine underwater, or the electrostatic of a sweater caught in a sunshower ‘Fahrenheit_Drafts’ plays with the immediacy of solid space. The initially warmer “Burn_Out” plays on awkward imbalances that creep into the mix slowly, building an appealing harmonic tension. The biggest torrent of ominous resonance comes in the form of “Burn_Through” a track that just rides a thin air stream, above what may appear to be a pattern of lost cities, ancient civilian tribes. The stillness rattles a certain sense of reality (though I only wish the track would go on much longer). With “Burn_The Thirteenth Fire” strings are added to the crackle of thin stick-like percussion. The backing white noise static adds a sonic reverberation that bleeds over the four corners of the piece, though, leaving exposed some small sections so we can peer at the collaged layers of streaky sounds, typewritten silences and warning messages of what has already transpired and been documented….heed the calling.

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  • PAN SONIC :: Kesto
  • 4xCD: Mute
  • . . . .752 image 11:: Alright. So, now before you sits a full 4 hours plus of brand-new studio sounds from Pan Sonic. Upon opening this beautifully designed package of four discs you are confronted with three gritty images of pickling herbs and veggies, tic-tac toe Icelandic tile grafitti, a broken down front end early mini model car and a pale, poker faced girl’s face staring – photographs by Anne Hamalainen. Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen have been working together since the early 90s, and on solo and other projects since. They dedicate parts of this collection to Throbbing Gristle, Alvin Lucier, Keiji Haino, Bruce Gilbert, Suicide and Charlemagne Palestine.

    As Kesto opens its all buzz and fuss. The duo channel waves and currents like not too many others, finding interactions between the connectedness of both its level of communicative impact and its frictitious velocity. When they feel it they unleash something funky and chaotically scrawled over like “Fugalforce” which tailgates the glow of Spirtualized, but doesn’t attempt to showcase anything but the flight and collapse of hundreds of hurdled laser streams. There are hints of “happening” all over the place, a luscious improve ray of light streaming through like surveillance and as gritty as the underbellies of a coal miner’s nails in the dead of January.

    If you commissioned these distinguished gentlemen to re-tool the sounds of an eclipse you would hear them tinkering away on the brief but effective “Halter” only to be shortly followed with a track whose title fits entirely, “Centralforce.” As disc two opens with “Distance” some initial fidgeting turns into a purely forward moving pure bass pulse. They tap out a percussive message that is only partially translated, leaving you with a reason for further listening. Not to mention that this innebreating quality lends itself clear through three additional tracks into the more broken down rhythmical “Tasmania.” Then the sound changes to incorporate a deadening mix of fly techno and other electronic conduits as “Cable 5″ revs. ‘Kesto’ doesn’t seem to be as much about tracks individually as it is a frontier of new sound territory for Pan Sonic. It’s an attitude from a higher altitude. And “Light-Transformer” with its space siren and weighty percussion, greyer tonalities and basic shape purrs with a new avenue these two are taking. It’s calmer somehow, even though the music sounds harder, they are filling out their baby fat, if they ever had any in the first place. There’s a repetition to some of the drum tracks, something familiar and also somewhat cautiously distant. When “Sewageworld” opens disc three there is an instant flushing of both literal and figurative past digressions. They piss in Duchamp’s toilet flushing away any excess, leaving only a hole/vortex, no function, just form. And herein you find greater silences and poise. A sub-implosion of atomic vibration. This develops throughout and envelops the ear on “Corridor” which is like an open mic being dragged through fine shards of mirrored glass and spun inside a cement mixer backwards. They dig for plutonium on “Arches of Frost” dial up arctic phonelines that are dulled by the doldrums of mall-sized, vacuous space on “Air” and pollinate a clean-room galaxy forest on the closing piece “Lines” – which is one of the more purely linear pieces I have heard in their repertoire. It draws your listening to the right, then up with its pitch, sideways with tone, like an aural etch-a-sketch.

    The final disc here is a single hour plus track titled “Radiation.” In some ways the piece makes the entire set a sort of warning, the means and ways of the world are not meeting. This is the message, not necessarily of doom, but a document in time. “Radiation” is a beautifully swaying piece – like music to watch sea life by, except, as we know, the ocean floor is full of the same poz/neg energies contained above ground, same fissures, stranger depths. A chamber orchestra for a sea cucumber. LOL.

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  • GREEN MILK FROM THE PLANET ORANGE :: He’s crying “Look”
  • CD: Beta-lactam Ring Records
  • . . .
  • Alternate URL: www.green-milk.com752 image 12:: Gongs away! Here we have a young Japanese trio who sound like they have been making music forever along the lines of Suicide and Current 93. The vocal is pleasantly part of the mix, woven like fine silk into the minutiae of guitar and synths. The censured spoken words are dark and sizzling on the lengthy opening cut “When Every Colour Turns Black” and then 7 1/2 minutes into the track percussion riffs tear up the sensitivity of these dark whispers. The guitars sing with high notes that soar, caressed by the big drums and all slows down and kicks into a funkier rhythm towards the last three minutes. For one second they have channeled the Doors, but only their tribal essence is left in the hands of Green Milk for Planet Orange. Somewhere between the trap doors of brooding melancholic indierock and those Montrealers on Constellation, what sets these dudes apart is when they kick it on the drums, but the subtleties and tweaks that happen before and after are quite unique if you listen very closely. It’s an invasion on “U-Boat” which somehow reminds me of the first time I ever listened to the Cramps in the early 80s. Dead K’s punchy Gibson whacks and whirs lengthwise tearing the listening space into strips. Add T’s Fender Bass and you have a crushing blend that rivals many larger bands that don’t have half the jazz sensibility that these three do.

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  • EARTHMONKEY :: Drum Machine
  • CDEP: Beta-lactam Ring Records
  • . . . .752 image 13 :: Drum Machineis a rich, filtered disco meets goth miasma. Earthmonkey (aka Peat Bog) plays “Varana Swing” like a game show gone awry. It’s an imaginative and bent space, vaguely industrial, largely funky with an organic sense of filling the ears with metamorphosized psychedilia. This is more pronounced on the drone hybrid “Hanumantra” which could easily be mistaken for something new by Banco de Gaia with its upbeat cross-genre chants that circle around the periphery of jangly guitars and warped reverb. Lastly Bog takes on a punk rock Chinese chop-up melange called “Be That Charge” ala the Vapors meets Was (not Was). With all the charm of a cobra coiling and a swamee shimmer you will be mesmerized, hypnotized and out of breath when you’re done smoking from the beat of this different ‘Drum Machine’. PS: The handpainted cover is lovely too.

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  • ASURA :: Lost Eden
  • CD: Dutchi
  • . .1/2752 image 14 :: Playing on the strings of Moby’s breakout Play with undercurrents of Enigma thrown into the mix ala sampled choirs, and if you listen closely you will be charmed by the correlations between both Cirque du Soleil and the soundtrack to ‘Titanic.’ Asura’s production is a range of known techniques that make great background music. Clever timing creates passages that are dramatically evocative of a certain pop culture slant of the moving image. Lost Eis at times lightheaded and weightless making appropriations that curb what sets out to challenge a more organic ebb and flow through a formula that has nothing in common with improvisation. Woven surreptitiously herein you will find a plethora of world rhythms, and most beautifully used are the throat singers and/or digeridoo that caress the otherwise contemporary beat of “Incoming” and for a moment I am also reminded of the Crystal Method. This record will sooth your senses, massage the core of your eardrums and most likely will go well with a light Chardonnay at an exotic restaurant of your choice.

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  • AALACHO :: Electro
  • CD: Aalacho Music
  • . . .USA :: The self produced Electro starts with a rough and ready early 90s edge with Nathan Scott’s muffled vocal partially mocking Trent Reznor’s breathiness on the opener “Pompeii.” With an immediate pop sensibility along the lines of say, Ladytron, Aalacho are testing out a new explosive sound by creating a completely innovative version of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” complete with some real guitars and a postmodern, cut-up attitude. The inflections of latter day pop electronica is everywhere, but their brand is original and manages to be both funky and hard driving without the cloying aftertaste most music can exude in the genre. It’s like Felix da Housecat is in the house and in full control of the final track, a mix of “Pompeii.” The sis-boom-ba thwack of bass boom is a welcome alteration of an already well crafted pop song, digging some of the fuzzy grooves down deeper, and adding a delicious minor reverb that just oozes sensuality.
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