TINO'S BREAKS VOL. 5 - "DUB"

For the last three years,Tino has been serving up two slabs of hot wax with breakbeats galoreand sample tracks collected at the end. It was looking like this yearwas going to squeak by with only getting one slab, but fear not, Tino'sBreaks volume 5 is a two-record set full of dub gems led by one of thebest drummers in the world, Tino. Following last year's release ofMambo and Christmas, Dub carries on the style of some fat cuts andbreaks, familiar samples, and beats amusing and exciting to listen toand mix in with your favorite breakbeat needs. I don't smoke pot, butif I did, boy would this be a great slab of wax to chill out with. Forthose not in the know, the core of Tino Corp is Ben Stokes (from DHSand H-Gun), Jack Dangers (see previous review) and Mike Powell (formerMeat Beat Manifesto member). Learning the drums is easy and when youlike the dub it's fun too! These vinyl-only releases are essential forany MBM fan as well as any fan of dub and latin-influenced breakbeats.

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5039 Hits

BLIXA BARGELD "RECYCLED"

Blixa Bargeld is frontman for Einstürzende Neubauten, member of NickCave's Bad Seeds, occasional actor and contributor to various plays andsoundtracks. For Maria von Heland's German suspense thriller "Recycled",Bargeld composes nearly all of the soundtrack, as arranged andorchestrated by the Tim Isfort Orchestra. Unlike Bargeld's previous solowork "Commissioned Music" this music is not as minimal and emotionallysparse. Isfort's large orchestra, undoubtedly influenced by classiccomposers such as Morricone, provides a rich classical palette to paintBargeld's various moods. "Küss mich wach" ("Kiss Me Awake") begins thedisc vocally as Bargeld and Amanda Ooms solo and duet German lyrics oversweeping strings and a light piano and beat rhythm. Ooms also speaksGerman text on another brief track. The remaining 19 tracks areinstrumental pieces, ranging 9 seconds to 4 minutes, obviously meant tocorrespond with the events and moods of the film. "Mr. Aloha" by Carnivalof Souls is unexpectedly tacked on to the end but it's charming waves ofpedal steel work well. What's important here for me, as a fan of Bargeldand someone who will likely never see the film, is that the soundtrackholds up on it's own. And that it does, very well. The sound is fulland varied and the flow is very comfortable. "Recycled" is a beautifulwork completely on it's own and well worth the $15 import price.

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7382 Hits

N.U. UNRUH "EUPHORIE IM ZEITALTER DER DIGITALEN INFORMATIONSUBERTRAGUNG"

N.U. Unruh is percussionist for Einstürzende Neubauten and "Euphoria inthe Age of Digital Information Transfer" is, surprisingly, his first soloalbum. Unruh's idea was to compose sequences entirely from the sampledsounds of various digital devices to give musical life to everyday itemsnot normally heard in that context. The audio library is extensive:motors, oscillators, alarms, beepers, phones, toys, video games, doorbells, office machines, etc. provide all sorts of beeps, blips, tones,drones, lo-fi animal calls and human voices. Each of the 26 tracks, mostin the less than 1 minute to 3 minute range, are a whirring din of theseaudio bits arranged into multi tracked mini symphonies. Cheesy sounds andplayful melodies are plentiful and the most promising tracks tend to bethe shortest and least developed. The final "Appendix" sample trackprovides most if not all of the samples one a time in succession. Bythis point it all seems rather silly, tedious and pointless ... much likea room full of toddlers feverishly banging away at the sound triggeringbuttons on their toys while others simultaneously play video games. Andconsidering that I'm pretty bored with and/or annoyed by most of thesesounds in my day to day life, they don't do much more for me organizedinto less than interesting 'songs'. "Euphorie.." will be filed away andmost likely never listened to again.

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4406 Hits

ADD N TO F√ú(X)A

An unlikely combinationpairs the British analogue whore, Barry 7 with the blissfulMichigan-based soundscapist, Randall Nielman for a 20 minute two-trackEP. While it's more endearing than the recent release from Add N to(X), the Füxa contribution can't save it enough to justify the price ofadmission. Track one starts out promising, even Christmas-sounding, butvery little changes throughout the entire piece. It sounds completelyout of tune and too repetitious. Once again, the mundane repetitionkicks in with track 2. "And Another Thing!" is far too dull and at 13minutes it carries on for what seems like an eternity. Ow, this isgiving me a headache!!! Sorry, I really did have hope.

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4433 Hits

KIT CLAYTON, "REPETITION AND NONSENSE" / "NEK SANALET"

One of the most accomplished electronic musicians to emerge from the American underground in the last couple of years, Joshua Kit Clayton has honed his deft skills on a series of singles touching on a variety of musical styles, but these two album length releases focus mainly on the minimal, dub-influenced sounds that seem to have become his forte of late. On Repetition and Nonsense, most of the material rides on a nervous tech-house groove, with tracks like "A Choice of Words" and "M-Shape" having an edge of off-kilter funkiness. Overlaying it all is a murky dub filter that inspires mild comparisons to the sounds of Pole and the Chain Reaction crew.
These influences are even more prevalent on nek sanalet (which is fitting since the ~scape label is run by Pole's Stefan Betke). While Repetition is painted with a thin coating of watery dub production, this album is completely submerged in a sea of slightly sinister loops and echoes. Subtle beats flow from side to side as minimal bleeps and stomach-churning bass wrestle in a venue drenched with reverb and washes of ambient sound. If any record deserves the Betke-coined tag of "modern urban dub", this enveloping and addictive disc is it.
5256 Hits

MOUSE ON MARS, "INSTR√úMENTALS"

Two of my favorite MouseOn Mars releases were initially released through Thrill Jockey in theUSA on vinyl only, this one and 'Glam.' For years now, Glam has beenavailable on CD as an overpriced Japanese import, but it contains someof their best recorded stuff ever along with a few bonus cuts for goodmeasure. Now, after a couple years, 'Instrumentals' is available on CD.With only 7 tracks, this disc clocks in just comfortably over 18minutes. The tracks are closer to a 4/4 electronic style the grouppursued years ago, slick and smooth, serene and delicate, with superbglitchy sounds coloring the beats. At this time, Mouse on Mars wasworking delicately with songcraft along with developing their ownsounds to sparkle the spectrum. These recordings are collected between1995 and 1997 but are virtually timeless. When the 'intelligent dancemusic' moves onwards to the next trend, this album will still be onethat's excellent every time you pull it from the shelf. If youabsolutely must have everything, the Japanese edition has one bonustrack.

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4952 Hits

PIZZICATO FIVE, "THE FIFTH RELEASE FROM MATADOR"

The ever-effervescent Japanese duo Pizzicato Five is back with yet anotheralbum chock full of kitschy goodness. Elements of lounge, cabaret, and retro60s TV-show theme songs abound once again, but what is so impressive about P5'slatest foray is the arrangements and orchestrations of real instruments asopposed to the band's usual heavy reliance on samples (although of these thereis no shortage!). Horns, strings, piano and woodwinds artfully accompany livedrums and guitar, producing a much more sophisticated all-over sound comparedto previous efforts. The tempo is upbeat and rousing for most of the songs,and either sexy, funky, trippy, or frenetically paced ("Tout, Tout Pour MaCherie" is borderline techno anthem); although the last handful of songs have amuch more laid-back vibe. Additionally, two of the songs, "Darlin' ofDiscotheque" and "A Perfect World (Album Version)" are actually remixes of twoother tracks on the album ("Wild Strawberries" and "A Perfect World,"respectively). As much as I've always loved Pizzicato Five, one issue withtheir music has often been the hit-or-miss quality of the albums: one half ofthe songs on a record will be impeccable, but the other somewhat weak. Fifth puts anend to this trend with consistently good production and songwriting.

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8902 Hits

LUOMO "VOCALCITY" AND UUSITALO "VAPAA MUURARI LIVE"

Two new offerings under two new pseudonyms for Finland's Vladislav Delay,the 3rd and 4th full length albums released this year alone (see alsoVladislav Delay "Multila" and "Entain"), both under the Force Inc. MusikWerks umbrella. "Vocalcity" collects together all of the tracks from the3 Force Tracks' 12"s onto one convenient digital platter. LUOMO sees Delaydive head first into house, surprisingly enough. The term 'house music'has always been a bit of an oxymoron to me since it usually conjures upthe stereotype of cheesy, unimaginative dance floor shite. Delay,unsurprisingly, does it with much style and skill. The 6 tracks, most ofwhich are in the 12-14 minute range, fuse minimal deep house rhythms withbits and pieces of Delay's trademark sound fragments, diva vocal loops andspacious atmospheres. It's a soulful, mildly deconstructed mix of funk,dub, ambiance and electronic groove in a creatively conventional package.As with everything Delay does, attention to detail is crucial as eachtrack slowly unfolds, changing colors like a chameleon and mesmerizing atgreat length. "Vocalcity" is primo house that should appeal equally tothe discerning IDM elitists and the masses that just want something coolto dance to.

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"Vapaa Muurari Live" picks up where "Entain" left off with 71 more minutesof Delay fashioned electronic explorations. The disc is titled and indexedas 14 tracks but is actually a continuous mix in four distinct, extendedmovements. Each of these sections draws a bit more of an influence from aparticular style, such as dance, dub and jazz. All of the usual Delayelements are here: a churning sea of sound granules, mostly indiscerniblehuman sighs and mutterings (as well as a relatively long dialogue passagefrom "Eyes Wide Shut"), deep dub and club informed rhythms, seeminglyrandom audio events, dense ambient environments and an overall gradual(d)evolution of sound and groove. This is chaos in expansion. This isthe birth, life, death and afterlife of beauty. This is electronic musicfrom the human soul. Can you tell yet that I love everything by this guy?His music is utterly gorgeous. I will continue to joyfully soak thesediscs in while awaiting the next round. You should too ...

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5198 Hits

KIRK LAKE

Remember when you'd rush out and buy all the new releases (even by unknownbands) on Factory, Mute, 4AD or some other ultra-cool indie label becauseyou felt they'd earned your trust? Well, may I recommend Dreamy Records?Dreamy is home to the brilliant bands Arco and Tuesday Weld, whoserecordings are fragile, understated and almost painfully intimate. Andlyrical is a way that seems utterly radical in the face of our current top40 plastic teen pin-ups and rap-metal cartoons. Like his labelmates,artist/author/musician Kirk Lake can spin an epic poem from the smallestgesture; with this disc, however, he's left his bedsit for a little strollout into a wider world. If you like your dreampop melancholic and largelyacoustic, you'll love the first half of the album—songs like "A BeautifulEnding" and "Nothing to No One" are Glider-perfect. The second half is moreadventurous: Fantastic cuts like "The Wedding Song" and "The Adventures ofan Abstract Detective" recall The Flying Lizards' brilliant aural hi-jinksand reveal Lake's inner dada; while "Morphology" and "Everyday Lingers"cruise boldly down David Lynch's lost highway.
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DARRIN VERHAGEN, "HYDRA"

Well-known for his work as Shinjuku Thief/Filth, Darrin Verhagen wascommissioned to create the soundtrack to a Chunky Move dance production, andhas released the resulting material as Hydra, a limited edition EP on theAustralian Dorobo label. A quiet snowfall of digital noise, Hydra is bestexperienced through headphones. Combining remixed elements from both hisprevious solo album, Soft Ash, and label-mate Alan Lamb's Night Passage,Verhagen's work on this EP is nearly subsonic: ultra-minimal blips andrumblings with delicate, scratchy ambient atmospherics, only occasionallybursting into barrages of full-on noise. A nice addition to the Dorobocatalogue - grab it while you can!

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4634 Hits

SONGS: OHIA, "GHOST TROPIC"

I wish folks like Jason Molina would stop burdening their songs with rogueH's dropped into words that don't want or need them, such as "The badluh-huck tastes / of the darkS" from the new Songs: Ohia album. It'scondescending and annoying -- and we can blame ol' Will Oldham for making itfashionable again. Having typed this, I'm happy to tell you that GHOSTTROPIC is mostly engaging enough in its funereally paced way to overcomesuch a ridiculous vocal mannerism -- less of which is noticeable on GHOSTTROPIC than on previous ones. Gourgeous, langorous low-end guitar linesslither through Molina's ballads, here and there touched by shivery organ,leaden piano rumblings and rattling percussion. The horror mounts one lethalbeat at a time in songs like "The Body Burned Away," as ritual bells chimein the distance. And though there are too many goofy bird sound effects onthe gorgeous instrumental title track, its unexpectedly lush vibes-and-pianoduet chases away the gloom. At least for a second.
4622 Hits

SCORN, "GREETINGS FROM BIRMINGHAM"

Remember bringing homeScorn's "Gyral," "Ellipsis," or "Evanescence" and being absolutely inlove with the sound? Following the medium-well release of "LogghiBarogghi" there wasn't much excitement with the Scorn name affixed tothe product. Mick Harris pursued other avenues of sound sculpture whichhave all been fairly decent while releases like "Zander" or "Whine"weren't anything you'd pull from the shelves to listen to all thatoften. But then, almost out of nowhere, Scorn is back through Ant-Zen'sever-growing Hymen imprint. The four-song "Imaginaria Award" EP wasreleased earlier this year giving me faith and hope for something goodbrewing. When "Greetings from Birmingham" arrived, I was as thrilled asthe kid who finally gets his Luke Skywalker action figure he alwayswanted. "Fuck, yeah!" Scorn indeed does rule again, with powerful harddub and metal influenced beats screaming from the speakers. "PLAY MELOUD" the music shouts in my ear. I follow the orders and am not letdown. Thanks Mick, we missed you.

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6506 Hits

"VARIIOUS"

Intransitive Recordingshas given us a souvenir of a non-existant wrap-party for the firstseries of recordings from this discriminating label. "Variious" alsofunctions as the start of series two for the label. Featured recordingartists on the set include a Richard Chartier, *0, Pimmon, Mark Behrensand Brume. The music is for serious listeners only with a serenemesmerising headphonic contribution from Taylor Dupree to an auralrollercoaster by John Waterman, cut and processed field recordings byJustin Bennett to a sea of radio waves from Michael Prine. Chicago'sown Kevin Drumm's bit sounds like electronic mice scurrying through anunderground train station while an improvisational noise track fromlabel-owner Howie Stelzer and Boston-based electronician Brendan Murraywas pulled here from a live in-store recording at the local TwistedVillage, and that's only the beginning! Exploring various avenues ofimprovisational and calculated sound textures, Intransitive hasessentially been taking audio snapshots of movement. With this in mind,this 2xCD set is much like a photo album featuring some of thephotographer's most favorite pictures. With all Intransitive releases,this disc is limited and I'm predicting it will be a much sought afteritem before long.

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4623 Hits

Chicks On Speed, "CHIX-52"

Conveniently packaged on a small extended-play single are four tracks from the best all-girl group since Wham! Contained herein are three B-52s covers, "Give Me Back My Man," "Song for a Future Generation," (both on 'the Un-Releases') and "Strobelight." A fourth track, "The Chixmachine" is original and new.
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4618 Hits

DOWNLOAD, "EFFECTOR"

While this is probablyone of the better Download releases, nothing with the Download name hasmade any lasting impressions on me. The first album, 'Furnace' was arather lukewarm release and is by far my favorite. On 'Effector,' theproduction job is excellent, very clean and crisp. Unfortunately, whileCevin Key has strongly developed some excellent instrument sounds, themusic essentially lacks momentum. In the true sense of going nowhere,by the end of most songs, the melodies haven't varied one bit from thebeginning. I've almost completely given up hope until the 6th track,the disco-bass influenced "Chrysanthemum" breaks the theme ofpost-Autechre drivel. I'm thrown back, rather shocked that I'm actuallyturning the volume up, trying to get the most out of the experience,but close to the two-minute mark, I'm finding myself bored. Much likethe rest of the album the beats are fine, but where are you without agood motive? What's on TV tonight?

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4610 Hits

THE LIVING JARBOE "DISBURDEN DISCIPLE"

Jarboe returns with her second self-released album, the fifth to date ofher solo career. In the past two years she has continued to develop asa person and artist through world travel and numerous new collaborationsand projects, such as a live performances with the new The Living Jarboeband and an in depth, interactive web site. This disc is actuallyvolume 1 of an eventual 4 under the "Disburden Disciple" title. Jarboeconsiders the first post SWANS album "Anhedoniac" her 'disease' albumand this one the 'healing' album. Both seem to me to be part of thecathartic, exploratory process of re-birth and growth, a further movingaway from the music, image and love/hate issues of her past. Most songshave a guitar/bass/drums band based core interjected with bits of MiddleEastern flavored percussion, loops, piano and strings. And, of course,the voice. The many poetic voices and moody personas that Jarboeconjures and unleashes from within ... from the starkly beautiful to thedownright frightening. Overall the album is fairly quiet and restrained,in a good way, save for a raucous rock and roll outro for "Bound" and ablood curdling scream finale for "Scarification". The mid-section of thealbum (most notably "Kiss of Life", "Under" and "The Seance") veers offinto more 'artsy' areas with theatrical lyrical/vocal passages and soundeffects - the relative low points in my opinion. "Consume Me","Scorpion", "Forbid" and "Forgive" provide the more gentle moments withpretty voices and lush guitar atmospheres. "Dear 666" features aslightly acidic voice set against the intriguing slow motion interplay ofrough around the edges guitar and bass lines. "Scarification" and "PureWar" are both primal in feel with the vocals and percussion groove at theforefront, the latter also embedded with field recordings from Israel."Disburden Disciple" is everything you'd expect from Jarboe: a genuinelyunique and richly varied listening experience that will take much time tofully digest. This is the result of someone successfully carving theirown path and thankfully sharing those results with others.

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4654 Hits

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!, "LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS LIKE ANTENNAS TO HEAVEN"

Ok, I admit, the new godspeed release might not be the bestnew album of the year. However, it may just be the best album of theyear.The material released on 'Lift Your Skinny Fists' isnothing new to me. Instead, through live mp3s that have beencirculatingaround on the internet and via CD-Rs distributed by the band's mailinglist,I've heard the vast majority of the music collected on the two discs.While itcould be said subsequently that the disc is nothing more than anofficialrelease of already known songs played during their more recent tours, Ihaveto interject that the versions presented here benefit from their studiorefinement and the great production. More than their first album, thisalbumsshows the band's maturation and missing are the long, stark ambientsegmentswhich may have seemed like filler between the bands more dynamicmoments. The album starts off with the franglais title track "levez vosskinny fists," a benefitingoverture to this collection of these tracks, which are both symphonicandexpansive in nature. Perhaps the album's most remarkable moment occursat thebeginning of the second disc, when the wailing guitar of "Monheim"seems tohauntingly filter across a stark background and eventually build into amilieureminiscent of "Moya," from last year's 'Slow Riot' ep.Another highlight is "World Police," which shows the band at their mostfundamental, finding equilibrium and running with it, consuming intheir pathall the dynamics and rhythms the band members can muster. Even if youhave themp3s, caught them on their recent tours, it is highly recommendedthat you pick up this document of this innovative band coming to age.

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4829 Hits

ADD N TO (X), "ADD INSULT TO INJURY"

Boy am I in a weirdposition with this disc. First off, I'm thinking, "Am I the only onewho doesn't find it great any more? The formula has been used by theseguys for four albums and the songs aren't getting any stronger at all."From the first few songs (try 11) I feel strangely like I've heard thisentire album before. In fact if anything, it seemed as if this grouphas completely run out of ideas. Most of the songs start up incrediblypromising but become way too repetitive all too soon, going nowhere inthe end. But I listen on, remembering that I have liked their albums inthe past, and this group does indeed put on an incredible live show[hint: if they ever get off their asses and do a proper tour ratherthan small industry showcases, they might gain some fans outside of thecritic community]. The kitch-and-moog combo has become stale this timearound, and loads of extra session musicians hasn't seemed to help. Nowthat you've hoarded all this vintage analogue gear, learn how to writesome good songs with it, folks! The saving grace almost arrives at theend with the epic closer "The Regent Is Dead," and I'm thinking "wow,one great song!," but it's already too late. They pull the old "let'sthrow in 10 minutes of blank space after the song's over" routine,completely ruining this album for me once again. Sorry folks, you'rejust not 'cute' anymore.

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5068 Hits

ANTI-POP CONSORTIUM "TRAGIC EPILOGUE"

Anti-Pop Consortium are the NYC based MC trio of Beans, Priest and M.Sayyid and producer/engineer Earl Blaize. "Tragic Epilogue" is theirdebut, 3 years in the making, and is obviously the product of learnedmen - former art students and serious hip hop fans who've paid theirdues in the underground spoken word and writing scenes. Anti-Popdon't seem concerned with the mainstream but they do expose all ofit's weaknesses out of necessity. Old school influence embraces theafter-future, musically and lyrically, to create something I've neverquite heard anyone do before. The complicated, tongue twisting rhymesof each MC calmly flow out of the speakers in a mind numbing yet beatprecise manner and may at times require a dictionary, thesaurus and afinger on the rewind button to decipher. Topics are far from limitedto the usual MC-isms and the occasional disses make most every otherdis you've ever heard sound generic in comparison. Blaize's productionis a fittingly sparse foundation of melody, low end and beats rich withalien atmospheres and interstellar sound bytes. Think minimal hip-hop.Think New York City. Think intelligent, imaginative and uniquely odd,minus the usual contrived genre cliches. "Tragic Epilogue" might bechapter one of the future of hip hop, or at least I hope it is. Thedigipack includes sharp liner notes by Greg Tate and a bonus cd-romwith some software and a slick quicktime video for "Sparadic" by 75 ArkRecords (75ark.com) label mates Encore. Also available from Anti-Popare remix singles for "Lift" and "What Am I? / Laundry".

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4801 Hits

SCHLAMMPEITZIGER, "AUGENWISCHWALDMOPPGEFLOETE"

You'll find the usual Cologne suspects on the list of Dankes in the notesthe latest Joe Zimmerman release. But as the cover art (a circle oftraditional Teutonic dancers caught in a mid-air leap) visually suggests, themusic is brighter and poppier than the output of most his A-Musik labelmates.Like much of Sclamm's previous work, 'Augenwischwaldmoppgefloete'(Eyeswipeforestflute or somthing like that) takes a flighty, melodic bent,sounding more like a video game soundtrack than any type of hip pomo pastiche:it's more Alex Kidd than Kid 606. (Actually, the opening track"Konfliktfickfahig" is more Super Mario than Alex Kidd). This aesthetic senseof unity and seamlessness is what characterizes most of the Cologne crowd andsets them apart from imitators, and Schlammpeitziger takes it even further withan almost naive simplicity of bouncy rhythms and Casio bleeps. Rather thansounding pedestrian, it's refreshing to the ears. If you liked any of hisearlier stuff, you'll dig this one.
4525 Hits