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Badawi – The Heretic Of Ether

Label: Asphodel Format: CD,LP

Badawi - Heretic of Ether sleeve detailThe Heretic of Ether is one of those albums that comes out of the blue, hovers overhead and arond the ears and works its way into the subconscious. Seemingly a concept album concerning the life, death and re-birth of one Gashka Gavör, Moroccan Bedouin (or Badawi) heretic of the title, it makes a timeless quest romance in musical form which buzzes with passion and a deep knowledge of composer Raz Mesinai‘s musical and cultural heritage.

Blending the Western technological skills and North African percussion Mesinai uses so effectively in New York bass monsters Sub Dub with Moroccan instruments as well as violin and cello, the Badawi project here makes for a genuine Fourth World excursion into a virtual space of mixing-desk Sufi dub and resonant string- sections. The atmosphere of open desert space,

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Dave Brooks – Piper On The Heath

Label: Silly Boy Lemon Format: CD

Piper On The Heath - sleeve detailDave Brooks has had an interesting musical career, involving a court case taken against him by the local authorities over his playing his bagpipes on Hampstead Heath, a charge he defended by contesting that the pipes are a weapon of war, not a musical instrument. During the compromise which was reached in settlement, it was observed by the judge that bagapipes only count as a weapon in times of war, and since peace reigns, they were an instrument after all. Still, Brooks is allowed the odd skirl of a weekend, and has recently taken to playing on the South Bank in London outside the Tate Modern, dressed as a tree decked in various polluting objects to highlight enironmental damage, and to entertain the hoards of tourists.

Now on the point of the

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Matmos – Quasi-Objects

Label: Matador Format: CD

Quasi-Objects - sleeveI respect any album that contains references to Harry Harlow‘s somewhat cruel tests on Rhesus monkeys. The album is Quasi-Objects by Matmos, and the track is of course “Cloth Mother/Wire Mother”. You may not be surprised to find that the baby Rhesus monkeys preferred the cloth mother to the wire mother. What is more surprising is the fact that someone felt the need to put it to the test.

Drew Daniel and M. C. Schmidt from San Francisco, prove that all the ingredients required for House music can be found in the kitchen. Quasi-Objects, as the name suggests, is made up of everyday objects and a few more exotic ones thrown in for good measure. “Latex” is made up of samples obtained from a stretched rubber tee-shirt, as you do. “Cloth Mother/Wire Mother” involves no monkeys, I

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Rachel’s – Selenography

Label: Quarterstick Format: CD

Rachel’s - SelenographyRachel’s may be the logical conclusion of the tradition of Tortoise and Slint. This is not to say that they sound like either of these bands, but rather that one may trace an evolution in contemporary American music from a highly developed No-Wave to an end of millennium conservatoire music. Of course this music is not really specifically millennial either and at its best achieves the still point of timelessness although it is neither traditional nor futuristic. Pieces may arise as naturally from drum machine patterns (refreshingly played as drum machines rather than simulations of drums), or string trios as they might from guitar riffs or harpsichord motifs.

Their previous work has included a disc about sailing ships and music for a theatre work on the

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Fridge – Eph

Label: Go Beat Format: LP,CD

 Fridge ‎– Eph Having ploughed the returns from their first two proper album releases into a full studio set-up, Fridge have been playing with the new toys to some good effect it seems. While there is much indeed to be said in favour of the recording of albums at home on four-track machines within tight time-constraints, previous releases have always seemed like not-quite complete sketches. Eph is allowed time to sprawl relaxedly, with the opening “Ark” taking off on a a heads-down riff through instrumental bliss-out territory, setting the pace (if not the style) for the next forty-odd minutes, concluded by the swarming mellow brassiness and strings of “Aphelion”.

Still, it’s not all grinding guiter and drums noise; there are quite delicate interludes of hesitant interlooping ambient

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Stereolab (live)

The Peel Sessions Live Queen Elizabeth Hall, The South Bank Centre, London 3 June 1999

The ongoing, haphazard selection by John Peel for his live Sessions continues with the welcome return of Stereolab to live performance after an absence of a year or so. Peel comperes in his usual style, jovial, knowing, knowledgable and slightly diffident, broadcasting (hopefully) the existence of the Neoist Necrocard to a national radio audience. Stereolab take the stage to a rapturous welcome, and it’s like it always was – the arrangement of synth, bass, guitar and drums in an array of joyous power drawn from the sheer beauty of these instruments, these people.

So maybe their forays into Easy Listening kitsch have been some kind of Prog-Lounge journey worthy of some concern for their dubious Muzak propensities; unfortunately, they fail on two levels, that of interest or engagement, and on their former proud boast to

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