Reviews: 2/17/2004



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>>> Key

  • . Frozen In Time (10 Below)
  • . . On Thin Ice (Playable)
  • . . . Icebreaker (Solid)
  • . . . . Sonic Ice (Repeat)
  • . . . . .Avalanche (Classic)


  • MUSLIMGAUZE :: No Human Rights for Arabs In Isreal
  • CD (ltd. To 550): Vivo Records
  • . . .

    630 image 2 :: From the moment I glanced at the horrific cover art of a small Arab child ravaged, bleeding and bandaged I knew this prolific orator of the proletariat is firmly planting his message into the consciousness of the mostly converted. Our departed maestro of the peculiar, Muslimgauze (Bryn Jones) has a mile long discography dating back to 1982 and Poland’s Vivo Records, along with participation from the house of Staalplaat, is a natural union of like spirit for the painfully meaningful depiction of war and its multiplying manifestations on the world people. I am not sure if his catalogue will ever be officially complete and that will suit his fans fine. Though, the contents are a mix of atmospheric electronics, somewhat techno, and repetitive, the real message is patented in his direct passion to embed his political passions in a thread of frenetic rhythm, tones and beats. Composed of six tracks, this Psychic TV’esque mélange of chunky beats and synth-sensation recalls early 80s lower east side day-glo attitudes pigmented with pop-art hooks. This has the feel of a Bootsy Collins or other like Funkadelic spin-off record, not quite “the same” but experimenting with foundations of something that was once quite miraculous.


  • V/A :: The Walls Are Whispering
  • CD: EE Tapes
  • . . .

    630 image 3 :: With PBK, Toy Bizarre, Troum, Christian Renou, Steve Roden, vidnaObmana and a host of newcomers all on one beautifully handcrafted disc, this becomes a tense and absorbing sit-down event. Toy Bizarre’s opener “(Lost in Gent)” is sparsely ambient and full of enigmatic refinements followed closely by the equally spooky “Stella Polaris” by UK’s Dieter Müh (Dave Uden Steve Cammack). Christian Renou consigns his nearly nine-minute opus “Apres, Bientot et Encore” like a message from an ether encircled globe. As he plays with metallics, the drone builds with laser-like thrashes and buzzing alarm calls. Intermedia artist Steve Roden’s “The Presence of Copper” is this Californian’s quiet investigation of truth in essential metals. Roden uses what could be a toy harp and rebellious electronics. Kallabris (J.T. 124), who offers two tracks to this collection, stirs up the “Nord” on this gothic apparition. The heavy bass drone and looming wind takes a vacant vessel into its sordid grasp and shivers its timbre. Troum completes this narrative with their uncommonly propitious and hazy rendering of “Makaria.” In eight minutes, Troum envelops us a single orchestral passage. The listener is blinded in a cascade of filtered guitar phrasings creating their signature drone, though in higher tonal values. Also included here are works by Sveen, PBK and Inade. This forbidden elegy needed to be told by multidimensional sound historians, the keepers of these well-guarded secrets.


  • NAD SPIRO :: Fightclubbing
  • CD: Mess-age, Geometrik
  • . . . . .

    630 image 4 :: Nad Spiro (Rosa Arruti w/Victor Sol) comes to us from Madrid’s Geometrik label and Mess-age. In what could only be described as a patently perfect offbeat adventure comes Nad Spiro in a series of minimal surprise. This record reminds me of the first time I heard Noto on the long gone Plate Lunch label. A ripe and imaginative combination of multilingual vocal deformities with crispy-crunchy, slo-mo beats a plenty. This is one of those rare recordings that brings together all of my personal interests from dalliances in everyone from Cabaret Voltaire to Schlammpeitziger. Fightclubbing pours generous portions of pure electronics all over our most vital sensitivities to distortion and its residue. With the intellect of Atom Heart collaborator Victor Sol, Arruti has generated a blend of minimalist techno-pop that has the immediacy of a great rock riff, just without all the hair (pomp) and circumstance. Besides establishing some new ground, the disc digs into their dusty old record collection with subversive references to Throbbing Gristle, Iggy Pop (who is sampled) and perhaps even Wire. Even though this was a 2003 release, it may still be the record of the year to me.


  • TV POW :: Live at the Nervous Center
  • CD: Mr. Mutt
  • . . .

    630 image 5 :: In five “Improvisations” TV Pow delivers an escapist and luring presence in a live recording that sounds as if the player(s) are skulking around someone’s ancient attic; A whole lotta scramblin’ goin’ on. There is the feeling that they contact mic’d everything on a stage and just began to tinker and peruse objects of curiosity. They play with egg timers, chimes and an occasional bell that a concierge may ordinarily respond to. Are they walking on some old wooden floors, or did they bring along some starboard planks? By using percussion and cymbals in a very out jazz style, TV Pow are like a troupe of wild eyed kids on a Saturday morning breaking from a nocturnal coma. With occasional breaks in the recording it sounds as if they took their live work and then broke it into pieces, but at times it just reminds you of mocking the cheap recording techniques used to bootleg such events secretly on cassette. This sounds like a taped-together-with-marbles-and-papers-in odd-places-prepared-rock band. One thing is clear – and that is the enormous feedback din that booms big and the distillation of the fore and backgrounds make for a definitive division in space.


  • TWINE :: Twine
  • CD: Ghostly International
  • . . . .

    630 image 6 :: Transnational electronic duo Twine (Greg Malcolm, Cleveland; Chad Mossholder, San Diego) release their follow-up to their work with Sonic Foundry’s Acid Series (also includes works by j.frede and Rapoon) and their poppy experimentalectronic work on France’s Bip-Hop imprint. With an unorthodoxly visual sound often accompanied by video mixer Phase4, who contributes the bonus “C-Song” here, they breed radical aural contagions on the eponymous Twine. Welcome to an already offbeat starter discography. These gentlemen use voiceover samples and warped guitar sounding phrases (but no guitar in site) to develop a layered, almost orchestral set of digital harmonics. Melancholy “Piano” with dear I say, ghostly, neon vibes that just incense any rational ambience – keeping the ears pert and temporarily appeased. Then comes “Girl Song” which sounds like they took the finest Throwing Muses track and ran it through a meat grinder, smoothed the shards and rough spots, varnished it and buffed it to a matte finish. What results is a startling centerpiece to the disc with particular focus on the vocal caterwaul of guest apparitions Shelly Gracon and Alison Scola. A ping-pong match, blunted by the bellows of barren synthetics makes “Pendent” the gem on this collection.


  • YITUEY :: Espacio = Vida
  • CD3 (ltd 500): Paralelo18
  • . . . 1/2

    630 image 7 :: This one is for the birds, literally! Field recordings in some far off bird sanctuary with rain forest streams and melodious electronic harmony. This is the debut recording for the new sound art label based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Yituey (Claudio Chea) heads this effort with waiflike layers of feathered friends and splendid warm waves, all loosely filtered together. As an organization whose initiative is to publish works that explore different initiatives in art, Paralelo18 obviously got my ear right away. In twenty minutes and over four tracks, the haunted winds, crickets and other things that pierce the night sky on “Una noche cualquiera en Guaynabo, P.R. 4.41,” enchant us. Great finish to a new beginning.

    Note: This piece was featured by the Public Art Project of Puerto Rico.


  • SATANICPORNOCULTSHOP :: Anorexia Gas Baloon
  • CD: Sonore
  • . .

    630 image 8 :: Hmmm. The cover is wildly graphic, the disc title and group name are outlandish (in a Superbowl half-time sorta way) but what is wrong with this total boomerang from a label that formerly only released esoteric and at times mind-boggling sound craft? Satanicpornocultshop cover the Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says,” sample Eric Benet, New Kids on the Block, Duran Duran and Napalm Death – but does that mean it’s in an idiom that can be described, deciphered or enjoyed? And why mix in the High Llamas? OK, the kicker here may be the standout track called “Kylie Minogue (Cathy Dennis)” – infectious as an awkward cover can be. With an upcoming show of sound/art work about Kylie’s body it may seem topical to those “in the know” but is this record something in comparison to V/VM, Negativland, People Like Us or other contemporary cut-up masters who tend to deal with more fringe references rather than the seemingly endless contempt for an overblown encyclopedia to the MTV 80s? Is this review only a bunch of questions? This is Pizzicato 5 meets Puffinstuff fluff, lite, plundermix whackyness.


  • SAGOR & SWING :: Aut Hanger Samman
  • CD: Hapna
  • . . .

    630 image 9 :: Eric Malmberg’s fantasy Hammond organ is a perfect foil for Ulf Möller’s electro-jazzified drumkit. “Aut Hanger Samman” has a timeless character with source flavors from the 50′s to the present. Fleeting references to the soundtrack for “A Clockwork Orange”, the Doors, Mike Oldfield and the pure adulation of an enormous rural carnival. The playing is rendered with well-heeled roots in its percussive synergy with the ranging keyboard harmonics from bloated bellowing to tinkling light interpretations. Casting an ochre haze, this relaxed disc is like a Sunday in the Summer.


  • AMIR BAGHIRI and BRANNAN LANE :: Lucid Circles
  • CD: Music
  • . . . 1/2

    630 image 10 :: If you close your eyes you will experience some nervous magic. German-based ambient maestro Baghiri and Dixieland sound sculptor Lane at first could seem an unlikely pair of composers – but the cultural infusion is fiery. The chimes and synths are coated in blissful bass and stimulating gradations of non-formulaic sparse harmonies. A constant tribal rhythm travels throughout creating the warmth of a live performance while these two travel deep into the nucleus of “Mystic Gardens” through “Vapor Drawings” and other “Rites of Passage.” Brannan Lane’s self-production is crystal clear, essential for anything this intimate. Voice samples, sequencers and various treatments allow the program to flow from track to track like a continuous adventure through a spatial plane. It has its own inherent sense of light and weight, very 3D and at the same time totally lucent. “Lucid Circles” is a spiritual, calm-before-the-storm place with a cavernous sense of acoustic dimension, traveled only be science and dreamers.

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