Reviews: 3/2005

968 image 1

>>> Key

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


  • COH :: Post-Pop
  • CD :: Mego
  • . . . . 1/2

    968 image 2 :: This collection of 23 tracks on two discs were derived in 1997 and
    2003 and sweetly open with a young Mia Farrow crooning to the
    soundtrack to something that was probably originally filmed in
    Technicolor. There’s plenty of meaty bassline feedback, chugging
    percussion and a re-release of material originally released to friends
    only (in an edition of 7!!). Austria’s Mego always seems to bring out
    the most prolific of any artists’ work, and this no exception, shows
    off Mr. Pavlov’s penchant for real down and dirty physical sound.
    Post-Pop is also somewhat elusive, in that it’s edginess seems
    faded, mysterious. There’s a collected chaos here, beats that just
    via happenstance seem to pop and present themselves. But, like his
    earlier works on Raster-Noton this shakes and vibrates with a spine
    made of mechanical profundity. Take, for instance, the simplicity of
    the beat-laden “Post-Pop Reprise” where something disturbingly similar
    to what The Crystal Method was playing with around the same time but
    turned into half-assed poptronics as the contracted help of the music
    industry’s hype machine. Not since Before and After Science have I
    heard something as radically forward-thinking as some of what COH
    develops throughout Post-Pop – but what makes it so interesting is
    that he is still working out the kinks, and they are a plenty, but
    that’s its engine. Even when he slows the pace to a sweet buzz in
    “Starlust” there’s an itchy need to just get up and explore the finer
    things you take for granted, like every single hair follicle on your
    entire body. This is real trance music, not “trance” as itemized at
    your local record roto-tiller, but mind-bending vibe-making at its nth
    degree. This IS Post-Pop.


  • ALVA NOTO :: Transrapid / Transspray /Transvision
  • CD :: Raster-Noton
  • . . . . .

    968 image 3 :: Three simultaneously released EP’s that are really something of a
    trilogy. Once again, packaged elegantly in fold-out sleeve folders,
    the size of a greeting card with a practical and clean-line die cut
    that makes retrieval of the sounds inside at a fingers touch. It’s
    more physics from Carsten Nicolai, but here there seems to be a
    greater depth of independence from the pure physics of his linear
    sound, and a concentration on the asymmetry of pitter-patter
    microgrooves, following up on his amazing live work. With sixteen
    tracks in all, Transrapid is the first release in the set and
    kicking off with “Funkbugfx” couldn’t make the room fill up with warm
    scattered notes more quickly. It’s like dropping an armful of
    silverware in space, kling klang, indeed. The sizzling buzz is
    hotwired. It’s a confident, bass-built sound from the ground up –
    like some type of free-floating CAD design installation that you are
    cast into. This is surely one for a full-on surround sound treatment.
    And when it comes to tracks simply titled “Future” Nicolai doesn’t
    casually paste faux imagery for the fad expectant, he delves into the
    coarse innards of every curvilinear angle and turnabout presenting
    something of an organic architecture tested for stealth ears willing
    or not to accept the fact that cultural plasticity has outgrown us
    humans. By including tracks ranging in timing from :16 to 8 minutes+
    he knows that even the scraps, the sources, the edits are essential to
    making sounds that layer together those slices in between matter,
    finding a rightful home when honed from scratch. Tracks like
    “F117.Tiff” just propel and sputter with an astute assumed sense of
    gravity. The sense that what you hear is in the fourth dimension is
    uncanny. If the original Planet of the Apes film were made so
    machines took over the planet, rather than chimps, it would sound like
    some of what is proposed on these new works. With a nod to some the
    drums and wires of early 80s synth pop, the work expands upon some of
    the rhythm nation of yore and contracts only every other note, cuts
    and filters it, adding only essential structures and no frilly
    fillers. Along with the accompanying esoteric essays written for each
    of these three discs, Nicolai has composed the most symbiotically
    formatted work to date.


  • PIANO MAGIC :: Open Cast Heart EP
  • CD :: Important
  • . . . 1/2

    968 image 4 :: Weary, faded grooves with Angele David-Guillou’s sweet, paced vocal is
    some illusory crossbreed of Massive Attack and a dreamy Tanya
    Donnelly. These short spoken urban stories are partly deadpan, partly
    groovy nighttime lore. Prodding and provocative, you can hear every
    breathy wisp from the wordsmith’s lips. Composed of only four
    pop-length tracks (each under 5 minutes) this is a great sampler to
    the world of Piano Magic, yet, also their most dramatically digital.
    It’s poetic, and journalistic, but even at its most barely audible
    there is something dramatically interesting going on in the fore and
    background. “This Heart’s Machinery” evokes a dim gin martini night
    with the pale glimmer of a crescent moon. It’s a pretty thing.


  • THIGHPAULSANDRA :: Double Vulgar 2
  • CD :: Beta-Lactam Ring
  • . . . .

    968 image 5 :: The second terr(or)ific installment of Thighpaulsandra’s Double
    is a distorted, sadistic rock opera for a handful of players
    with a penchant for toying with dominance by way of the simpler things
    in life. It’s a psychoanalytic distortion of childhood fears with a
    glaze of homoerotica that spices it up nicely. But in our real world
    of predators and polysexualism, Thigh goes just under the limbo
    accommodated line by not going as much for shock, but the curled
    lipped theories of how one would get there step-by-step. Double
    Vulgar II
    burps and blurts its belligerently broken diatribes as a
    bevy of horny whirligigs spin and dizzy the listener. The coverart’s
    “offering” makes the main character in this play prematurely sabotage
    his own halo for an earnest spit-in-the-face self
    (indulgent)-portrait. But that is part of his shtick, and that sells
    records. Though, the content speaks far-reaching volumes of a man in
    dire need to shed layers of pain, confusion, and the lack-lustre
    reality of the shelf-life of relationships. Each nearly 10-15 minute
    vignette here courts a varying tempo of self-absorbed need to be for
    each of its characters, including the narrator (assumedly
    Thighpaulsandra himself), a grande dame school marm, and an incredible
    underbelly of jazz bass and percussion, not to mention the living
    organ. The scraping of strings, the drone of chords, the barest of
    syncopated drumming, at times parodying a circus tympani – its all in
    good pain. If I were him, I’d huck a louie as far as the edge of the


  • ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS :: I Am A Bird Now
  • CD :: Secretly Canadian
  • . . . .

    968 image 6 ::
    The falsetto, shy, maudlin waver spun from Antony’s lips is something
    of an anomaly in the universe. What sets this collective apart from
    the same-old, aside from the drag and pose, is the real ambitious
    emotion in the wind of the words, like an encapsulation of faded
    histories that marked the aura of Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, and
    even Johnny Cash. “For Today I Am A Boy” reflects the coming of age
    of gender realization. The piano is striking and strains the
    heartstrings of calloused ears as Spring breaks. This time out new
    Midwest imprint Secretly Canadian captures the New York performance
    artists from the ever changing face of the mysterious Durtro with its
    ties to the all but vanished World Serpent and its exquisitely artful
    roster. Here with the queer vocal help of (the eerily channeling
    Willie Nelson sounding alike) Rufus Wainwright (“What Can I Do?”), Boy
    George (on a wrenching solidaristic “You Are My Sister”) and even a
    looser-throated Lou Reed making guest appearances on these short gems
    about lost innocence and various laments. Horns a plenty, “Fistful of
    Love” is modern vaudeville derived in part from a Marc Almond poem
    that croons out lipstick smeared nights and smoky afternoons at a
    whisky bar where a bald drag queen sits alone staring at an empty
    small stage to a Robert Palmeresque chick-beat. But the lost, wild
    eyed birdy voice has big cahones and a held back gutterball wail ready
    to burst throughout here. But he breathes and holds back, taking
    mystery to bed.


  • BENGE :: I Am 9
  • CD :: Expanding
  • . . . . 1/2

    968 image 7 :: “When I was nine I didn’t want to turn ten because I didn’t want to
    grow up.” Benge (aka Ben Edwards) takes no time to smooth out the
    bite of his child’s tale. In many ways I Am 9 strikes me as an
    ambient party mix, some of the best chill this side of Anchorage.
    Playing with department store tones, the slo-mo-glow of “Panhard”
    mesmerizes in few BPM’s, but a thick glaze of ‘pop’. Throughout there
    are some signature sounds such as the tennis ping replicated on
    “Facel3.” All the while the mood is ultra cool, even taking some very
    obvious lessons from latter day Bjork’s Matmos on the winding, chiming
    “Zeta” with is reverse balloon twists and bloated deliberate rock.
    All hesitations aside, the atmosphere is marvelously tight, planed,
    plotted and a bit of a sleeper.


  • TOR LUNDVALL :: Last Light
  • CD :: Strange Fortune
  • . . . .

    968 image 8 :: Last Light wades in pastel washes, drifting through the barrier of
    gravity. Lundvall’s records always have something that could be
    described as a seasonal feel, this no exception as deep Winter sets
    in, frozen, frightened. The mastering by his kin, Kurt Lundvall, is
    pretty flawless and presents a mystical, sprawling statement on tracks
    like the draining “The Pond.” This disc evokes a more diary-like
    approach, with lilting vocals that are dreamy and lost. These
    whispers in the dark embody something akin to a loosely framed film
    soundtrack. The tide rolls away in the faded darkness of a pale moon
    clustered in fog sinking below the surface. Last Light is full of
    echoes and reverb, making for an almost psychedelic listen. It’s
    spiritual, aural massage.

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