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Forced Exposure New Releases for 8/18/2014

New music is due from Jenny Hval & Susanna, Camilla Green, Jarse, and Trentemøller, while old music is due from The Grateful Dead/John Oswold, Surgeon, Colin Potter, Athanor, and Owen Maercks.


Tarab, "I'm Lost"

cover imageThe title of this Australian artist’s latest album is extremely fitting.  Passages of roughly edited tape, collages of indecipherable found sounds, and bizarre production is disorienting at best, and downright baffling much of the time.  It is because of this confusing, jarring, and sometimes frightening nature that the disc works so well.


Gut und Irmler, "500m"

500m beautifully combines Gudrun Gut’s programmed percussion and editing discipline with Jochen Irmler’s meandering organ playing and natural spontaneity.


Machinefabriek, "Stillness Soundtracks"

cover imageThis material is a series of soundtracks that Rutger Zuydervelt composed to complement Esther Kokmeijer's short films of Antarctica and Greenland, thus fitting in well with this Italian label's frigid, isolationist aesthetic.  Rather than overemphasizing minimalism and emptiness, Zuydervelt instead works in subtle and understated conventional electronic moments in, giving the album a unique feel rather than by-the-book sparseness that could have been.


Hildur Gudnadottir, "Saman"

cover imageThe Touch label's extensive roster only has a few artists who would be considered classical in the traditional sense, and Hildur Gudnadottir is one of those.  With instrumentation consisting only of her cello and her voice on some of these pieces, and guest musician Skuli Sverrisson on bass for one of them, Saman is a stripped down  affair that excels at what it intends to do, but does not step out of that comfort zone either.


Severed Heads, "City Slab Horror"

cover imageMuch to my delight, Medical Records has recently reissued two of the arguable jewels of the Severed Heads' discography: 1983's Since the Accident and this effort from 1985.  Both hail from the transitional period between the messy, contrarian experimentalism of the band's early years and Tom Ellard's later forays into more conventional electronic pop.  While City Slab Horror lacks anything like a hit single (Accident had "Dead Eyes Opened"), it is actually the more listenable of the two releases, finding a fine balance between Ellard's more perverse and absurdist tendencies and actual beats and hooks.  Naturally, the primitive technology employed sounds rather dated thirty years later, but Ellard's distinctive eccentricity remains as charming as ever.


Regosphere/Xiphoid Dementia, "Subterranean Transmigration"

cover imageAs a split release with each artist submitting three pieces, the pairing is perfect.  The two projects share similar aesthetics and aptitude in their own take on modern industrial music.  Even though their individual work is clearly distinct from each other, the two fit together very well into a cohesive whole.


Lawrence English, "Wilderness of Mirrors"

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I hate to use the phrase "return to form" to describe this album, as I have enjoyed most of Lawrence English's divergent recent efforts quite a bit, but Wilderness of Mirrors reminds me favorably of the darker, heavier albums that brought him to my attention in the first place (such as Kiri No Oto and It's Up To Us To Live).  Characteristically, English also offers an intriguing concept on Wilderness, but the primary appeal is simply that it is wonderful to finally get another substantial offering of what he does best.  That said, this effort does offer a few surprises, as Lawrence has picked up a few neat tricks from folks like My Bloody Valentine and Swans since he last surfaced in heavy drone mode.


Murder Corporation, "Der Totenkopf"

cover imageAs one of the major triumvirate of Italian power electronics (alongside Atrax Morgue/Marco Corbelli and Mauthausen Orchestra/Pierpaolo Zoppo), Moreno Daldosso has not released any new material in over a decade, and Der Totenkopf may be his final recording.  With his two peers no longer with us, this record serves as an epitaph for this distinct group of artists, and it fits right in amongst the best of those albums.


Ars Phoenix, "Violent Rain"

cover imageThere may be some throwback elements on Ars Phoenix's most recent album, but for the most part it makes for great contemporary synth pop.  Retaining a darker, and occasionally harsh, edge, the eight songs that comprise it work beyond just their mood, but as memorable, well-written songs as well.


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Review of the Day

Cristina, "Sleep It Off"

For her 1984 follow-up, Cristina enlisted the production genius of Don Was, who brings to Cristina's vocals a musical backdrop every bit as bizarre and infectious as his own Ze Records project Was (Not Was). Forgoing the extended disco excursions of her debut, Cristina and Was instead created ten radio-ready pop songs, trying to outdo Madonna at her own game, perhaps. Along with originals penned by the singer herself in conjunction with Was, Doug Fieger (of The Kinks) and Robert Palmer (!), Cristina also performs distinctive covers of songs by Van Morrison, Prince and obscure country singer John Conlee. The album features excellent guest contributions from contorted punk saxophonist James Chance and jazz legend Marcus Belgrave. With all this star power, I partially expected Sleep It Off to sound like smooth, competent 1980s new wave pop. Well, it doesn't sound like that at all, but what it does sound like is harder to nail down. Producer Was adds stacks of keyboards and synthesizers, wacky loops and sound effects, creating a densely populated architecture of sound that at times threatens to steal the show from Cristina's vocals. Perhaps in order to cement the Brecht comparison, Cristina and collaborator Ben Brierly perform a gothic-y cover of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil's classic ode to purchased love "Ballad of Immoral Earnings." With some of the tracks recalling the sophisticated disco of her early singles, and some taking utterly bizarre tangents into electro-Country ("She Can't Say That Anymore") and cheesy 1980s pop balladry ("The Lie of Love"), the overall effect of Sleep It Off is pure eclecticism. As such, it never becomes boring, although it does lack a certain focus, which probably explains the public's indifference to the album at the time of its release. The lack of any obvious single normal enough for radio airplay probably also contributed. "Don't Mutilate My Mink" gleefully rips off the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK," for one of the album's funniest, most confrontational tracks. Bonus tracks include horrible session outtakes, a bizarre Christmas song, and a really nifty cover of Prince's classic "When You Were Mine." Sleep It Off is an interesting mess, one I don't think I'll be returning to any time soon, but that I am nonetheless glad has received the deluxe reissue treatment from Ze.


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