Archives by month/year

Archived reviews: P

PacouSymbolic Language Remixes Label: Tresor Format: 12″

Once again, we can rely on Tresor to der the goods. Think Jeff Mills, think Adam Beyer. Pacou is in that vein, with a slab of tough minimal techno. Symbolic Language Remixes is a belting EP, nasty hard and fucking groovesome. It sweats rhythm like a heavy weight boxer.

“Texture # 1″ wins it for me. It’s as dark and garbled as you like – and I like it lots. A spazzy synth (vaguely reminiscent of Synewave) does its thing above the all pervasive beat. Out of nowhere comes a high pitch fucked- up discord, it buzzes around for a bit then leaves the same way. I love this in a Techno toon, morphing itself from one thing to another without ever having noticably done anything. The Memory Foundation Mix is deeeeeper and driving, it`s still the same tune, and it

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Archived reviews: R

Radio Savage Houndy BeastyMillennium Buggery Label: RSHB Format: CD

Millennium Buggery - sleeve Superb. Millennium Buggery has moments of inspired genius. Radio Savage Houndy Beasty broadcasts a mixture of deranged DJing and audio absurdity once a week on Leeds Student Radio. Think of Monty Python on the Radio, or think of The Day Today or Brass Eye. Then add numerous songs done in the style of various personalities. “Singing in the Rain” by Humphrey Bogart, and Stephen Hawking‘s venture into Gangsta rap. After an introduction describing how MC Hawking was arrested at the MOBO awards after dickslapping Mel G, we cut straight to a track from his album A Brief History of Rhyme. All you need is a speech synth and a sampler and you too can be a wickid smart MC. Other favourite moments of mine were the “Join The Police”

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Archived reviews: Q

QT?/Alejandra & AeronSplit Label: Fat Cat Format: 12″

Thirteenth virus, this Split Series release is also called – quite appropriately for QT?‘s tracks, which mix down bleeps and glitches into something which sounds like the record player’s got a worm infection. With titles which progess mathematically from “qqq” via “?q?” to “???”, the nine pieces drive abstractly from snicker and blasted track-reformatting noise to whittled electronics and drilling fragments. Not easily assimilated within most definitions of music, but quite comfortable in the noise aesthetic, QT?’s work might get labelled minimal digital concrèt, should anyone care to.

Alejandra And Aeron progress through their domestic audio settings by taking on the kitchen for the 18-minute track of the same name, which is only appropriate given their alter ego as Lucky Kitchen. The resulting mixture of radio soundscape and processed field recordings wanders from hard-disk digital throttling through patches of lo-fi

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Archived reviews: S

Rachael SagePainting Of A Painting Label: Mpress Format: CD

Painting Of A Painting - sleeve detailI think Rachael Sage is on the verge of becoming something great. I don’t think that she’s necessarily reached that “great” point with this album, but you can already tell that she’s growing into something here. There’s just not enough confidence or strength in her voice at this point, though, and for the subject matter and the quiet type of sparse Jazz-Pop accompaniment (guitar, percussion, piano, etc.) she’s singing along with, her voice is the centerpiece of these songs and needs to be strong enough to take that position. However, at this point, her voice quavers and trips just enough to detract from what is good there to hear, leaving the listener wondering if perhaps turning up the volume is all that’s needed to make these really

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Archived reviews: T

TarentelMort Aux Vaches Label: Staalplaat Format: CD

This is a ‘live’ recording of a U.S. guitar based outfit and consists of four fairly long workouts. “Adonai” covers some of the territory of Fripp and Eno and is a somewhat somnolent affair with rippling guitars creating a lazy ambience. “Steede Bonnet” has the kick of drums mingling with the still quite restrained guitar which, at times, sounds like it could have been used in a Spaghetti Western. Lots of twang and reverb. The music drifts along without too many waves though it alters direction a bit as they make use of processed voices, shredded and indistinct, along with dark electronic drones and hums. The CD has no liner notes so I’ve no idea what other instruments are at work here. The sleeve is, in fact, a limited edition plastic design which is short on information generally.

On the third

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Archived reviews: U

Ui – The Iron Apple Label: Southern Format: 12″,CDS

Named in respect of the vitality of the 103-year old owner of the cider house in Pennsylvania where Ui rehearsed for many years, The Iron Apple shows the band in further abstracted territory from their “post-Rock” roots. As ever, the combination of tightly-controlled energy in Clem Waldmann‘s drums, Sasha Frere-Jones‘s guitar and keyboards, and the beautifully-restriced bass rhythms (synthetic and string) courtesy of Wilbo Wright are constructed into something both other from alomost any other band and the group’s own highly Funky live performances.

Jazz-Funk would be too restrictive a label for this music – though it contains elements of that particular form. There’s a bit of Musique Concrete, some Electronica sample tricknology, and always the looming presence of floor-shaking bass to move the knees along of their own accord. This latter comes to the fore (though in less

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Archived reviews: V

Van Delta – EP No. 1 Label: Groove Attack Format: 12″

Sometimes better known as Drum & Bass duo Monophace, Hannes Wenner and Christopher Klos have taken on the Van Delta monniker to experiement beyond the genre. Their first simply-titled EP takes an excursion into diverse territory, making the HipHop break of “Enlargen” move through some distinctly Ambient areas before settling into a mellow groove for the duration, pausing only for a simple drop-out before resuming the vibe. “Station 19” pumps up the tempo for a fusion of House with D&B technique without treading the dangerous waters of Speed Garage, preferring instead to make it hypnotic, like the old days, but with all the new wrinkles in place.

“White Cube” opts for a fatter breakbeat and bass sound, though still with that two-stepping skanking feel, while “Perfect Frame” is distinctly sleepy. The latter also is in danger of

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Archived reviews: K

KaTerrarium Label: Jazzassin Format: 2×7″

The exquisite paper, smelling of the tire it represents on the cover – “Superior 2000”. Confidence. The vinyl is clear – the speed at which it is to be played is not. So, this re view comes at you from 33 rpm.

It is as if one is standing at the roadside – the drone and grinding Dopplers past. And now the earsplitting taxis on some runway somewhere, from the heart of twilight to another heart, somewhere else. Now taking off side one and now side two takes off. The organist saves the church from burning by driving up and sneaking inside. Some voices now. Spectral items tumble in and out like snowflakes, no two quite the same but comforting in their familiarity.

A focussed rhythm fucks a buzzing upon its entry into the room. It climaxes and fades amongst luminescent bells in

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Archived reviews: W

Miriam de WaardVoor Elise (an electronic welcome) Label: Staalplaat Format: 3″ CD

Rhythmic ratcheting enters from the fog and brings it along besides. Fuer Elise – but only the most familiar of the notes. Plinky bells tinker along, as if trying to catch up with its larger, more melodious brother. More of those notes, only with more air in them. A kitty! – and a music box. The ratcheting re-exits.

It is such a little thing.

-David Cotner-

WäldchengartenWas Kommunikation? Label: KFI Records Format: 10″

Was Kommunikation? - sleeve detailThe epigram on “Was Kommunikation?” reads “If you ever discover what communication is, you’ll be saddened, since you’re really not making so much sense right now”. Wäldchengarten‘s form of cummunication on this EP/mini-LP is fairly straightforward; big blasts of rising feedback and noise looping into waves of distortion, riding the crest

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Archived reviews: X

Xinli SupremeAll You Need Is Love Was Not True Label: Fat-Cat Format: 7″

Short description: Xinli Supreme sound something like the Japanese Flying Saucer Attack.

Longer review: Xinli Supreme sound from time to time like Flying Saucer Attack when they were so much more lo-fi than recently. Monospaced drum machine beats borrowed from the Jesus & Mary Chain or just set to full speed ahead and damn the engines; muttered vocals from too much looking to find swirly patterns in the clouds, or screams of drill-bait intensity; every guitar effect raised to 10 and turned on at once, and then mixed up again to at least 11. Frying pans full of chips set to stun instead of fuzz pedals, tingly walls of sound which swell around the general miasma and set off goose pimples as the majhor chords meet the minor in a wave of foggy delerium. Big

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Archived reviews: Y

Akira YamamichiSémiologie Label: Fire Inc. Format: CD

Semiologie - sleeve The word to sum up Sémiologie is pure. Akira Yamamichi has produced on of the purest expressions of sub bass. This is the kind of album you can really share with your neighbours. He does this by working with pulse beats, constructing his music from very basic and pure sounds. The comparison with Pan Sonic is obvious, but this is more digital and glitchy. The sound is even more clinical too – whereas oscillator-driven Pan Sonic have a warm and curiously organic feel. Sémiologie has that same single-minded and stark quality, though. The second half of the album mixes pure tone with processed acoustics. Jazz drum patterns are warped, pushed around, and overlaid with the pulses. Ambient minimal Techno meets Jazz head on with a bit of prepared piano thrown in for

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Archived reviews: Z

ZornBits For Breakfast/Gloomy Sunday Label: Expanding Format: 7″

Pressed up on translucent tangerine vinyl, Zorn‘s contribution to Expanding RecordsEVS series opens with a rather pleasant synth line rising over a mechanistic yet melodic rhythm. Sparks of staticky percussion sound cleave themselves to the slowly chiming beat; the bass is warm and unobtrusive. Warbles of genial synthery make their presence felt without saying much other than “Hi, really nice to see you here, glad you could make it…” before making their gradual goodbyes in a passing, fragrant cloud as the electronic percussion winds around and down. The flipside snuffles with bass ponderousness, a near-Funky ticking continuity maintaining the path for the eventual step into a restrained glitch-blip polyrhythm. There is much to hold onto, melodically and rhythmically, among the swell and fade of low end and far-away tunefulness which uncurls among the chirrups and relaxed stutters of the

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Dead Kennedys – The Early Years Live

Label: Decay/Target Video Format: DVD,VHS

The Early Years Live - coverOriginally released on VHS in 1987, this collection of the Dead Kennedys live in concert and the studio finds them in fine Punk Rock form. As is to be expected, the sound quality of the gig footage (mostly recorded at Mabuhay Gardens 1979-80) is less than optimal, but at least it’s in stereo and captures the band’s tightly-whipped performances in the lo-fi essentials. One simple expedient to improve the viewing experience is of course to turn up the volume. As far as DVD extras go, they’re minimal – song selection, concise biographies for each band member after they called it a day in 1986, and the amusing addition of singalong subtitles for each song. DKs karaoke anyone?

Each track is intercut with short sections of handgun headshots, Ronald Reagan slapping Nancy upside the head

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Dead Can Dance – 1981-1998

Label: 4AD Format: DVD+3xCD

Dead Can Cance 1981-1996 - sleeve There is an air of finality about the title and contents of 1981-1998. With the dissolution of their musical partnership into separate solo careers, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry are no longer Dead Can Dance, but as the extensive essay on the group included in the luxurious slip-cased hardbacked book (jam-packed with landscape photos) which makes up the packaging of the set observes, the band lives on through its music. However trite that may appear at first – all now-split bands or deceased artists exist beyond their actual personal existence together, barring reunions and the like – somehow it seems even more appropriate when considering Dead Can Dance, who practically embody the idea of timelessness in their uniquely overwhelming sound.

One of the aspects of the group’s career which is remarked upon in

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Wu-Tang Clan – Disciples Of The 36 Chambers: Chapter 2

Label: Wu Records/Sanctuary Format: DVD

It’s Wu, motherfuckers! Wu-Tang, motherfuckers!

And indeed it is. A 34-track live DVD featuring all nine of the buggers (well, ten, what with Cappadonna an’ all), all on stage at once!!!

It’s an oft-stated truism that the Wu-Tang live experience can be patchy, at best- members not turning up being the usual criticism, as witness the occasion at Brixton Academy in London when only a third of the Clan were present. But for this gig, filmed in San Bernadino earlier this year, they were there in full force. Yeah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard included. The presence of nine top-quality rappers and showmen ensures that there is always something to watch, always something going on, whether it be ODB leering his leer or Method Man chucking his blunt into the crowd; but it must have made mixing the sound a bitch. But no, the levels are perfect,

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