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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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Aalfang Mit Pfederkopf – Mezethakia Mukabalatt Label: Aalfang Format: CD
Bit of a weird one, this – even by the usual standards. It consists of two tracks, the first (“Geschwärtzte Milch” – blackened milk) lasting four minutes long and sounding a bit like late Swans in strummy guitar instrumental mode, and the second (the title track) being three quarters of an hour long and comprising a textbook example of Surrealistic klang-honk-tinkle-”boo!” Electroacoustic tomfoolery in the same zany tradition as Nurse With Wound, Roger Doyle and Bladder Flask. It’s not often you describe something as “zany” and mean it as a compliment. They sound a bit like all those IRCAM types like Xenakis and Oliveros, only without being so stuffy and academic – like dinner music for a pack of hungry coprophiliacs, or Tex Avery directing the Comte de Lautreamont. Perhaps that
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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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Calexico – Even My Sure Things Fall Through Label: Quarterstick Format: CD
Spanning most of the musical history of Calexico, a band highly reminiscent of duo Joey Burns and John Covertino‘s previous bands, Giant Sand and especially Friends Of Dean Martinez, this EP combines unreleased tracks with remixes of previously-released material, some European B-sides, and three CDROM videos to make an almost definitive collection of Calexico’s southwestern-Texas-Arizona-tinged music, all on one compact CD. While the majority of the material here is original Calexico, there’s also a wonderful cover of the American Music Club song “Chanel No. 5″ that’s so heartbreakingly rendered that it blows the first version clear out of the ballpark. The remix of the trumpet-heavy “Banderilla” is also wonderful, as is Two Loneswordsmen’s remix of “Untitled III.”
Calexico – Hot Rail Label: City
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Dakar & 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
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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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