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Thighpaulsandra – I, Thighpaulsandra

Label: Eskaton Format: 2CD,2LP

I, Thighpaulsandra - sleeve Presentation is important. This is an element that Thighpaulsandra understands very well indeed. This double album is packaged in a lavish sleeve which folds out to reveal a epic photograph of the man himself standing by the seaside dressed in really groovy Druid gown, throwing a spell with his magic wand. On the inside sleeve there is a picture of Thighpaulsandra floating a few inches above the ground, and this whole package would Roger Dean very proud and that is a very good thing, you know.

Thighpaulsandra started his career of collaborating with Julian Cope on his records, and he later also got involved with Spiritualized and Coil. All these figures contribute to this work: Thighpaulsandra has got the whole British psychonaut elite on his side… But what about the music? Well its verily goodly. Most

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Rapoon – Cold War Drum ‘n’ Bass

Label: Caciocavallo Format: 2CD

Cold War Drum 'n' Bass - sleeve As might be expected, Robin Storey‘s take on drum & bass is somehwat denser than the usual clatter of hyperspeed breaks, rolllllls and rewinds. Instead, the two discs of Cold War Drum ‘n’ Bass are crammed with unfurling meditations in rhythm and texture, linked by the ideas of paranoia and mutually assured destruction of a childhood surrounded by the hardware and attitudes of unfought warfare. Thus the album is suitably tense, with beats trundling in production lines of menace, liberally sprinkled with restrained crackles, undead vocal trills, ghosted reflections of uniformed dances and windswept airbase hoedowns past and curled-up echoes which step slowly at their own shuffling pace.

Two discs of heavyweight reflections on an era that’s not so far away as it seems in the 21st Century’s New World Ordure could become

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A Silver Mt. Zion (live)

The Union Chapel, London 21st January 2001

A Silver Mt. ZionBack at the Union Chapel for another of its most appropriate events, A Silver Mt. Zion playing their coolly Classical and most definitely Goth set from the album “He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms”. Union Chapel being as it is the most gothic of venues sans the cobwebs and Halloween decoration set designs gave a perfect ambiance to the darkly macabre but without the make-up sounds of Silver Mt. Zion. This is Shelley-style gothick, romantic Frankenstein beauty hidden in monster sort, asexual and tragic to the last.

A big stand-up contrabass, two violins, one cello, a daunting piano and distorted guitar make the sounds that woo. In long dramatic pieces with arrangements recalling antique Baroque, the ensemble move consciously through gorgeous songs piqued with heart-pulling nuances.

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Japanorama: Otomo Yoshihide/Sachiko M./Yasukatsu Oshima/Haco/Ishikawa Ko/Yagi Michiyo/Toshimaru Nakamura/Taku Sugimoto/Furuta Mari (live)

Furuta MariQueen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London 17 January 2001

It’s something of a joy to behold – the entire Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer buzzing with anticipation before the start of the London event in the Japanorama tour of eleven British towns and cities. Why a joy? From Kendal to Liverpool, Colchester to Manchester and Sheffield, in venues with capacities of a few hundred to tonight’s couple of thousand, the tour is sold out. Who would have expected it for this dizzyingly good representative sample of the fringes of Japanese underground music? But enough wonder, and suffice it to say that the results are more than worthy of the audience’s faith. Perhaps it shows that the West has woken up to the exciting possibilites of Japan’s rapidly diversifying culture, beyond the old cliché of copyism and kitschadelic gloss into a recognition of

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Various Artists – Fluorescent Tunnelvision

Label: Submergence Format: 2CD

Flourescent Tunnelvision - sleeve detailThe psychedelic rock freak out is not dead, despite rumours to the contrary, and Flourescent Tunnelvision is here to prove the point, ramming home on a coasting scrawl of fuzz, wah, delay and phasers set to half-past stun; the amps probably go a long way over eleven, too. The full benefit of this collection is naturally to be gained at the maximum volume the speakers and neighbours will bear, conjuring up wind tunnel audio effects across the stereo spectrum – as a good proportion of the tracks do in spades. The rest of the bands here do their best to blow minds through other methods for a pastime, and whatever the approach, the results are generally trippy in several senses of the word.

Circle blast off first with the controlled groove of “Veisti” which has

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Ilpo Väisänen – Asuma

Label: Mego Format: CD

Ilpo Väisänen – AsumaOne of the elegant possibilities proposed by this record is of the recursion of loop upon loop; as skeins of glitch or oscillator pulse become intertwined around, along or through each other, they work into the backbrain and get the blood streaming to electronic time signatures derived as much from the sine wave frequency as from intervention by Ilpo Väisänen. One of the legacies of the 303 Acid House beat has been a widespread familiarity with the stochastic benefits of letting the machines rip, to hum along with melodies that have less and less to do with composition and more to do with selection.

So there are slow parts of halting smackerels of the bits thrown out by extirpated sound sources – are they sampled or close-miked

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