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The Cesarians – Flesh Is Grass/Woman Imprint
Hailing from Hackney, The Cesarians have been packing out gigs for a while now, their frenetic live performances assuring them of a huge cult following (I thought I had a huge cult following once; unfortunately it turned out to be a typo. When he caught up with me he kicked my head in). So it’s interesting to see how their filthy, booze-drenched mayhem translates to record. Interesting, and pretty damn cool, because their Weimar punk sleazefest seems to have worked just as well in the studio, as witness the two tracks on this, their debut single.
The first track, “Flesh Is Grass”, starts off timidly enough, then builds and builds into what sounds like Kurt Weill beating the shit out of
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Various – Advance 2000.3 Label: Mute Format: CD
What are the folks at Mute up to right now?
Advance 2000.3 isn`t really an album as such. It’s a compilation of the up and coming Mute (and Novamute) releases. You won’t find it in the shops, unless you work in the shops.
2000.3 has new releases from Erasure, Goldfrapp, Add N To (X), Cristian Vogel, Echoboy, Holger Hiller, Foil, Luke Slater, and Recoil. That’s a pretty varied mix, better than many compilations for sale. But this is Mute Records, after all.
Here’s a rough digest of the CD. Erasure are back with their first single in three years. “Freedom” is boppy House number with sprinklings of Kraftwerk-y vocals. Beneath it all the tune is still driven by a Synth Pop heart. It’s like the Eighties never went away. Goldfrapp’s “Utopia” is generally pretty epic track with lots of big synths.
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Abstract Q – Selected Frequencies For Unrepressed Neural Events Label: Staalplaat Open Circuit Format: CD-R
Following on from his time in Abstract Quadrant and Neural Coital, Valerio Zucca Paul pursues the Ambient electronic strand in this collection of electronic doodles. The textures range from bleeps and chimes into more vertiginous compositions of hypnotivc loops and electronic ghost trails; with titles like “Dream Machine” and “Landscape Out Of Focus”, the intent is defintiely psychotropic and the results slow moving, breath-speed atmospherics.
The leanings of each track tends towards progressive accretion of sounds – chirping clinks in “Dream Machine”, circling buzzes on “Without Gravity”, the radio static and stuttering loops of “Nerves” – and then something happens. “Without Gravity” gets a clunky-funky beat introduced to underpin the spiralling synths and a sprightly keyboard melody to boot for example, or the spluttering analogue loop of “Spinal Tremor” dissolves into stentorian thuds and a
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Bablicon – The Cat That Was A Dog/A Flat Inside A Fog : Label: Pickled Egg Format: CD
This is an album which contains a wealth of ideas, some of which I hope will be developed further in future work. Their instrumental combinations are inventive as are the range of collage and improvisational techniques which make up the CD. When I heard the first track I thought of Henry Cow meeting Monk, just something in the angular piano and its combination with the clarinet/sax conjured up that unlikely collaboration. So, an auspicious start and one that continues with the almost romantic piano/violin duet that opens “Travelling”. I picture the ‘travels’ in this case through far corners of Eastern Europe before it became ‘open’. The combination of piano, clarinet and sax conjures up capital cities in the
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Mira Calix – One On One Label: Warp Format: CD,2LP
This record rocks, thats the simple way to put it. Other record labels must hate the way Warp casually goes about releasing albums that are just so damn good. One on One is the debut album of South African Chantal Passamonte, AKA Mira Calix, recorded in the seclusion of relatively icy Sheffield where she goes about her musical business as occasional in-house DJ for Warp.
OK, why is this album so good? Go buy it, thats the simple answer. Trying to describe what One on One sounds like is an exercise in futility. Each track would have to be broken down in turn. Mira Calix has a distinct style, but thats not to say each track is a variation on the same theme. Few electronic records have this much diversity; each track launches out into a new direction.As
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Dakar And Grinser – I Wanna Be Your Dog Label: Disko B Format: 12″
Those Electro funsters Dakar & Grinser are at it again, this time ripping into one of the most covered of all songs. It turns out that “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is a prime candidate for the drum machine and 303 pulse treatment. D&G add in some shimmering end of the Century shimmers, some old school bleepy breakdown plus the odd canine sample or emulation, whichever might be the case, and groove on down like Iggy Pop would want it done. The only problem is their vocals style, which lacks the menace of Mr. Pop, and ends up sounding a tad whiney almost. But it’s a fair enough effort, and will sound great on a dancefloor.
The B-side “I Can’t Get Enough” doesn’t bear all that much relation to the Depeche Mode track of similar title,
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Eardrum – Last Light Label: Leaf Format: CD,LP
Eardrum is the percussion-led project of Richard Olatunde Baker and Lou Ciccotelli, and makes some heavyweight ventures into rhythm and texture, assisted by guests Nana Tsiboe, Gary Jeff, Matt Barge and Ike Leo. The live studio recordings are dubbed up into ten tracks of Afrocentric Electronica, following routes mapped out by the likes of African Head Charge, 23 Skiddoo and John Hassell.
The dense clouds of cymbal strikes and circling, shuffling polyrhythms are augmented with electronic squalls, Matt Barge’s trumpet, Tsiboe’s flute and Leo’s jagged sax lines at various points, the whole underlaid with a cursive pound of bass. Motion drags from the effervescent tinklings of the opening bars of “Lizard” into accreted folds of almost liquid forms and shapes, and while the effect has trance-inducing qualities, thay are quite removed from the more familiar Western shapes of 4/4 linearity.
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Fabriquedecouleurs – Imite Moi Label: Dorodine Format: CD
Emmanuel Allard, AKA Fabriquedecouleurs, revels in jagged sounds and digital distortion. At points his music is harsh and distorted, a chaotic barrage of abrasive static crackles and aggressive shortwave squeals. Keyboards pushed to the point where they sound like a guitar feeding back in front of a stack of speakers. At other points it is delicate, silence punctuated by scratches or the gentle bells of Crapaudin that round out the album.
“Pavlonski, Preserver of Form and Balance”, as the title suggests, has a strong sense of structure. Long droning frequencies oscillating against one another are interrupted by clashing colliding noise. The track is given order by this cycle of long drones, interruption, long drones, interruption. Stop, start. Stop, start. Towards the end, when the interruptions gain ascendancy, the music still doesn’t
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Kenneth Gaburo – Five Works For Voices, Instruments, And Electronics Label: New World Format: CD
Voices and instruments are phrased in very strange intervals, giving the appearance of the cut-up – but, as we all know, it’s all in how you say it. Horns, brass, voice, etc. Like wandering through a dark wood, the sounds pop out at odd angles, linger for odd times and is there a point at which perception of a work, and the intention behind it, can ever truly intersect for a harmony of understanding between listener and composer? As if to answer – “Yes”. Repeated, but as in a fog; unclear and removed from the rest of the sounds. A sudden and very energetic speaking of tongues and lips through the trumpet by Jack Logan in “Mouth-Piece: Sextet for Solo Trumpet (1970)”. One wonders what the initial reaction to the premiere of this piece might
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H: – Group Tracks Label: Black + White Records Format:12″
“Bushwacker” took a little time to grow on me. My first thoughts were don`t do much does it, then I realised just what this slab’s purpose is. It builds up & up & up. This isn`t the kind of record you`d consider listening to on its own. It begs for a set of decks, and makes a killing set opener. By the time Side A is over the janitors will be mopping brains off the ceiling, it’s rush hour alright. Side B was a little more immediate. “The Forge” rocks, plain and simple. Sleek minimal Techno with a nasty whining noise phasing in and out. “Tone Defeat” is just as the name suggests. Proof that these guys like their Mills/Surgeon type stuff. The melody, if it can be called that, is ugly and atonal (and that’s a compliment from me.)
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Jackie O Motherfucker – Change Label: Textile Format: CD,LP
The first time I heard the CD I fell asleep around the end of “Bus Stop”, the fifth track, and that’s not a meant to be a negative response to the music. It just has a strangely lulling quality about it. There is a lo-fi feel to this track which combines a range of instruments in a rising/falling, open-ended jam. I like this way of taking the collective noises and exploring them in what feels like a “live” context. Some vocals briefly surface from beneath the drones and unfolding patterns but they seem to have wondered in from another time and place. Maybe that’s the idea.
Their “Feast Of The Mau Mau” , is another track which I half dreamed my way through as the gristly tenor sax and muted but powerful drums slugged it out with other assorted noises from
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Icarus – Misfits Label: Output Format: CD
Icarus, AKA Ollie Bown and Sam Britton, are back with the successor to last years Squid Ink album. Misfits is ultra chilled Ambience with heavy glitch content. I didn’t see any trace of a track listing for the six tracks on the CD, so any references I make will be rather vague. That’s not totally inappropriate, though. Part of Misfit‘s charm is the vagueness of the sound.
It’s not always easy listening, there’s a tension between the dreamy, melodic, and often Jazzy ambience and the glitch rhythms. At times recognisable patterns emerge, and the music forms itself into edgy and scratchy sounding Drum and Bass. At other times radio interference and microphone noise sit in opposition to the music. The Jazz influence is quite explicit at points. A saxophone squeals out melodies above twitching electrostatic glitch rhythms, clanging guitar strings (I’m assuming it’s
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Brandon LaBelle & Steve Roden – The Opening Of The Field Label: Digital Narcis Format: CD
One theory holds that picking at scabs or otherwise excoriating the body = self-loathing. What about the pinching and pulling at strands of nature? A dwarfing talcum hum of lighthouse proportions whiles away the background. A gentle tapping at the glass – competition with the laser-bounced CD itself? Oh, that rubberband laser… the CD tray won’t open? Such recordings as these are truly ambient because they are heard in tenfold ways – and movement is the key which ultimately wards off rash pronunciations.
A tickle at the ear and there is wonderment yet again. Yes. Yes. Yes. I hear that. No. Again? Yes. Yes. No, and the purr and sparkle of the speaker cones is in full effect. The dog pricks up his ears as the strum of some other place emerges, fading
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Angus Maclaurin – Glass Music Label: Bubble Core Format: CD
Remember the mysterious sounds of finger-rimming wine glasses as a kid, how it hummed, and how it was so difficult to get that sound to be consistant and constant? Remember sitting at a dinner table, bored, beating on the water glasses with forks and knives until someone, probably your mum, had enough and insisted you stop. Remember stories of schizophrenics who fell apart at the sound of breaking glass? These are the images I conjured when presented with Glass Music. Expecting only a grown up version of experimental play, I was well suprised to find that Angus Maclaurin is so very far away from these familiarities.
In fact, his glass music rarely sounds like glasses. He’s tuned the glass, made sounds of it, recorded it, looped it and turned it all
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