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NIKO SKORPIO, "Chamber Moosick" EP

This EP from Some Place Else, Finland is a pleasant surprise; thesamples are used in an entertaining way, voices are nearly hidden withsome decent percussion and the electronic soundscapes drift alongconstantly mutating.
Niko's overall approach reminds me of electro pioneer Frank Tovey (FadGadget) in the way he uses his gear for maximum effort without gettinglost in technical questions. His sampling attitude, especially on theopening track "Teeth Of Eris," brings Broad Broadcasting Bureau in mindand the more or less analog sounding drones on "Limbo In C Major" andthe nearly 12 minute "Flooding Aura" the likes of Steve Roach. But NikoSkorpio (featuring the Mad Jackal Orchestra) has a sound of his own anda caring hand for details; the artwork is well done, avoiding expensiveefforts and proving there might be a way to use CD-Rs for independentproductions without going cheap.
Not an desperate attempt for uniqueness, but an original one well worth trying

 

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6018 Hits

goldfrapp, "utopia (genetically enriched) ep"

I love Goldfrapp, don't get me wrong, but there's something that needsto change in the trend of releasing CD singles in this country.Remember the time when CD singles were appropriately priced around$4.99? Artists would give a few different songs in the best casescenereos and maybe a mix or two. This "Genetically Enriched" CD EPcomes at an unredeeming $9.99 price tag and features five completelyuseless mixes of "Utopia." It starts with a disappointingly alteredversion for the radio consumption (all they really did was add a couplesounds and recompress it poorly in the master) and ends up litteredwith four boring dance versions (yawn). They decided to toss in acouple versions of "Human" for good measure but left out the best mixby Graham Massey (808 State) so if you want to hear that one, you'regonna have to shell out another ten bucks for the import. The onlyredeeming features of this single are the brand new song "U.K. Girls(Physical)" which incorporates that terrible "(Let's Get) Physical"song and Calexico's 'remix' of "Human" which is really a stellar coverversion in Espanol, but that really doesn't warrant the price ofadmission. Maybe when the record labels stop dicking around the artistsand the consumers, they'll stop being referred to as dickheads. On amore positive note, Goldfrapp will be touring North America veryshortly. Dates -should- be posted at www.feltmountain.combut by the time this zine was published, the US dates were ignored onher site and Mute's as well. Guess they really don't care enough aboutNorth America nor their artists.

 

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6203 Hits

fischerspooner, "#1"

Picture if you will, Gary Numan crashing his car into Fad Gadget's newbuilding. While their debut release follows in the vein of tons ofother new electro artists (see Adult, Le Car, I am Spoonbender, andG.D. Luxxe), something about FischerSpooner reaches deeper than theaforementioned. While the Ersatz crew prides themselves on sterilityand acute repetitive execution of their concept from release to release(Nikola's photography, screen printed road-sign looking icons for bandlogos, etc), Fischerspooner's presentation is lush, sexual, andbeautiful. From the suggestive sleeve art of a man's face covered inpoppy seed-laden cum, to the inside of the gatefold with burnt skin andmeat, peeling makeup, and glitter. In addition, there are full-colorprints on an almost textured cold-press rough sleeves, while eachrecordlabel is also in full color, and featuring pictures of the cover starwith tubes, wild hair, floating underwater or in the air.
The music is not a far departure from our newest new-new wave ofelectronica. The beats are steady and consistent, the kick and bassdeep and rattling, without disorienting breaks or expectedjunglist-tweaked cymbals. The vocals are what really stand out here:male and female singers who are, without a doubt, singing. No radiostatic effects, no drone. It's like Section 25 or early Wake backed bythe women of ESG or 52nd Street. The sexual overtones are presentthroughout, more or less suggestive with the use of heavy breathing andwhispered vocals that become part of the orchestra and dragged out withthe constant use of vocoders. On the track, "Invisible", deep inhalingand exhaling open the song, rattling speakers as if he'sblowing in your ear. The last exhale is dragged out deep into the mixas the beat kicks in, returning later as the end trails of verses, likea Jesus and Mary Chain wash. The track reaches a pregnant pause halfway through, teasing with a kick in time before returning at half thespeed, with deep and breathy vocals. The effect is like continuing tofuck after stopping to catch your breath.
Another great track is their first single, "Emerge", which is available for download from their website: www.fischerspooner.com."Emerge" would probably more closely document their style and be aproper comparison to the remainder of the albums contents (save the sadand looming "Tone Poem" and the cover of Wire's "The 15th") and couldsafely be the bands statement of purpose: "sounds good, looks good,feels good too".(Emerge was remixed by Adult, and is available on the "Emerge Remixed"12" also on Gigolo.)
Their live performance has been described as rather over the top —morea rock opera and less a static "stand behind the equipment" electronicshow. Check the site for more info. Different and addictive, nostalgicand new, Fischerspooner is highly recommended.

 

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4389 Hits

phoenecia, "brownout"

After a few singles and compilation appearances, a full length from theMiami-based duo of Josh Kay and Romulo Del Castillo has finallysurfaced. The dark, glorious sounds strike up imagery of being in anunderwater bell, sharing the space with numerous swimming creatures.Ambient soundscapes color an otherworldly scenery, with melodiesproviding a gloomy yet peaceful feel to that land. Never for once dothe ambient moods sound boring, however, as the bright melodies oftenbecome one with the rhythms. Other unfamiliar sounds merge with heavilyblurred and filtered beats, constantly in a state of change. Thepatterns they make with them are original and catchy, and change oftenenough to keep your dancing fun. After bring disappointed with theTakeshi Muto, I was a little wary about getting this record, but aftermany listens, I'm amazingly pleased. Fans of their other releases mightbe a little struck by how much the duo has matured into creating acollective full-length concept.

 

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4107 Hits

lesser, "mensa dance squad"

The overuse of the term "IDM" is increasinly irritating, given it'squite rare any of the stuff lumped into that category is intelligent,dancable or even music for the most part. Hence, the appearance ofthis, a 41-minute auditory reaction from everybody's favorite SanFranciscan electo jester. When I hear the title, "Mensa Dance Squad" Ipicture a crew of super nerds basing dance moves on formulas andequations. One of the ironies of the Mensa organization is that memberssimply test well and have to pay for their membership status, much likethe "IDM" category, it's all a bunch of bullshit. This is appropriatelypriced as an extended play single, as it's not got the conceptual tieslike Lesser's last full release, 'Gearhound'. Hit play on the compactdisc and instantaneously you're flooded with a perfect score forgetting trapped inside a video game machine on the fritz. The first sixtracks are all choppy stuttery post-gabber 1-2 minute songs, with titlevariations on "Mensa", strung together nearly seamlessly. Is thisintelligence or is Lesser just taking the piss outta the scene? Eitherway the tracks are fun, incorporating various elements of prettiness,static, signal noise and goofiness. The next three tracks are all newstuff, tied together with appropriate crossfades, but clearlydistinguishable from each other, the first being a vigorous energyburst, the second being a subdued cleaner melody, the third being arough abrasion not entirely unlike moments off the 'ConstantShallowness' CD from Coil. The disc is rounded out by the CD appearanceof Lesser's track from the European tour split with 606, "EpicAct/Awful Way to Go" (which shreads that obnoxious Faith No More trackinto little pieces) and a 9+ minute "Mensa Dance Squad" gabber-dubremix from 606 himself.

 

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4196 Hits

Unwound, "Leaves Turn Inside You"

It's always fascinating to look back on a band's recording catalog andsee how much they've changed since those early days, especially whenthey put out a new CD that's superlative to anything they've put out.Unwound used to have a reputation as a Sonic Youth rip-off, usingguitar distortion and minimal vocals and building to an overpoweringcrescendo. It was almost dadaist in design: noise for noise's sake. Tohear a band that used to attack their instruments as much as theyattacked basic song structure forego most of that tradition in favor ofhaunting melodies neither abrasive nor pedestrian is impressive. Truethere are moments of noise, and these songs can really crank it up anotch. But most of the noise has been relegated to atmospherics, andthe songs have a more definite structure this time around. JustinTrosper really seems to have grown into his voice, as well, and thedouble-tracked vocals in areas are really quite lovely. "Leaves" is anambitious set, containing two CDs of new music with multimedia content.The multimedia selections are music videos of a sort, for "RadioGra" onCD1, and for "Scarlette" on CD2. The "Scarlette" video is animated,where the "RadioGra" video is compiled footage of whale rescues. Ineither case, the music is entirely appropriate for what you're seeingonscreen, the way good videos should be (if there are such things).Overall, "Leaves Turn Inside You" is a pleasant surprise, packed with alot of punch. If you've hear Unwound before, but haven't been listeningfor awhile, it might be a good idea to try this release out. Trust me:you will be impressed.

 

4320 Hits

HOCHENKEIT, "omu4h 4aholab / 400 boys"

Portland-based Hochenkeit's second album "omu4h 4aholab" (which isapparently a transliteration of the Mayan phrase "400 boys") is acollection of space-rock jams that fall somewhere between early livePink Floyd and Amon DÙÙl II. The album opens with "Seen," a mellowtrack that builds a very Middle Eastern inspired groove around crashingpercussion and a Harmonium drone. The Pink Floyd influence on the bandshows through "Two Fish Kissing," this time with a rather Indiansounding drone and Turkish mandolin. The drones cease temporarilyduring the opening of "To Be Born Drunk and Die Dreaming," which buildsand twists not unlike a rather funky ragga, each member of the bandsoloing here and there until a screaming wall of noise has been built.The funk vibe continues into "Give Them To the Ants," where a groove isformed and Middle Eastern touches are improvised over it. "400 Boys" isthe first of a pair of fourteen minute jams that close the album. Itis, for the most part, a series of drones by guitar, Harmonium, violin,and sax, with the occasional appearance of cymbals. The song goes on alittle bit too long, though. "Please Turn Out the Sun" finishes thealbum nearly where it started, with Middle Eastern percussion and alight drone. It builds in a way that reminds me of the first Godspeedyou black emperor! album, methodically adding drums, guitar,synthesizer tones and sampled speech; the guitar and Harmoniumeventually take over and the song suddenly becomes a depressedpost-rock jam. Finally, the drones and percussion from "400 Boys"return for the last few minutes of the track. What Hochenkeit do withthe space-rock sound is nothing short of beautiful, and they do itwithout poorly repeating the 70s like many of their contemporaries.

 

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4397 Hits

maximilian hecker, "infinite love song"

Berlin's Kitty-Yo label continue their obsession with proto-pop withthe introduction of Max Hecker on this brand new 7"/CD single. On thetitle track, the lush production, catchy tune and uplifting melody isquite infectious by the time it reaches its climax, the text is almostpainfully repetitious. Almost the same can be said for the second song,"White". A rather dull verse goes nowhere, the vocals are so boringthey need overprocessing, but the chorus is still somewhat emotionallycharged. Getting there is not half the fun but the destination ismildly rewarding. Definitely worth a couple bucks, but not the price ofmost import CD singles. Hecker's got something, but it's still indevelopment. Give him a couple of years to begin wooing the worldwideaudiences. Disgustingly enough, I find these songs stuck in my headlong after they're over. He must be doing something right.

 

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4104 Hits

FRANCISCO LOPEZ & ZBIGNIEW KARKOWSKI, "WHINT"

It comes to you in a plain plastic jewel case. Then again maybe itdoesn't, as there are only 954 of these double CD's from Lopez'floating label, Absolute. This release, facilitated by London basedlabel Touch, brings together one long piece from each composer,constructed with only white noise as a source material. Karkowski'smassive rumbling slow motion hurricane force white disc is the moreimmediately impressive of the two. With only white noise to manipulate,the soundfield is perhaps rather monochramatic, but there is no lack ofaction and the brightness and contrast controls are spun to theirextremes. It starts out deceptively quietly and rises to a floorshaking crescendo before abruptly cutting off. Slowly high sonicswooshes pan from speaker to speaker. It continues with variations onthese effects, and the dominant elements are a fairly constant deepbass drone and ever shifting mid to high end controlled bursts ofnoise. About halfway through it rises to obliterating whiteout, beforethe hurricane shifts to the calm eye for a while, with just a low pulseshadow left. Then slowly the whirlwind picks up again. Experience allthe fun of an avalanche from the comfort of your armchair!
On the black disc, Francisco Lopez latterly takes things to minimalextremes with such low level white noise splinters and burnt out coldsilhouette drones they're almost beyond perception. It starts out witha low level rumble like a busy motorway polluting the air in thedistance. Suddenly the cars are driving right under the floorboards andsmoke comes rising through the cracks! Soon the room is choking. Lopezseems more content to let the same pitches drone away for much longerthan on the comparatively teeming Karkowski piece, minutely dabbingmore and more black into the sound picture. Your mum's vacuum cleanernever sounded so good! Around twelve minutes in there's an abrupt cutoff and the listener is dropped into Lopez' realm of microscopic soundshadows that redefine the word 'ambient' (could it be 'nonbient'?) andhave the ears straining as babies howl, birds twitter and motors rumbleoutside. Six minutes later, gas leak hisses begin and careless matchesare struck and blowtorches scorch the walls, then march rhythmicallyout the door and into the city, razing everything in their path. Theyfiddled with computers whilst the world burnt.

 

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4833 Hits

m2, "Parsec"

Parsec: A unit of astronomical length based on the distance from Earth at which stellar parallax is one second of arc and equal to 3.258 light-years, 3.086 × 1013 kilometers, or 1.918 × 1013 miles.

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4672 Hits

needle sharing, "my kind came first"

 Also out on Hands right now is the full-length release from Panacea'sboy-toy, Needle Sharing. If 'Parsec' was the soundtrack to the creepyspace station which has fallen out of the Earth's orbit into aperpetual drift, this album surely can provide the music for the attackby alien life forms which surely signal the impending doom for everycrew member. Needle Sharing is clearly part of the aggressive, darkdrum 'n bass movement that flies angrily in the face of the lighterstuff. (I could swear he's sampling punch sounds from cartoons, tv andmovies!) Hence, you'll often find him at many anti-candy-raver eventslike the recent Fuck Parade. Needle Sharing's energy is fierce andunbridled, but his aggression could use a little more direction if thisis to be album-worthy. While this stuff could work wonders in dark, hotclubs with loads of sweaty kids, I feel the music should be morecrafted for listening at home, car or elsewhere. Of course, if you'relooking for a bloody all-out brawl of electronic aggression and noise,this has got your name all over it!

 

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4100 Hits

Illuminati

The follow up to the excellent Laboratory Series One compilation, whichset the scene pretty well as far as new experimental music inManchester and nearby towns and hovels goes, is a 20 minute EP fromPlanetsounds main man Dave Clarkson. He used to drum for the rock freakout combo White Cube which also included notorious nutter Lord Mongoamongst its ranks and has more recently been spotted on stageperforming with the fluid and inventive Triclops collective. Under theguise of Illuminati he shows off the computer music side of hismultiple sonic personalities.
The opening track 'Constantinople' is based on a loop so long it givesthe illusion of a shifting, explosive electro-acoustic piece, with bigrumbles and panning whooshes so beloved of many composers with Frenchnames. 'Winter Fire' couldn't be more different, with a slowly strummedaquatic guitar underpinning some mashed speech gibberish. Hertzlow is aquick burst of noise that's so short you can download the entire trackbelow. Argenteum Astrum is a rip roaring bubbling industrial technoidconcoction that'll get your bowels moving whilst its creator chuckles,and I'm kind of regreting not making a sample of it as it's turning outto be my favourite track. The final track 'Seaghost of Snape' seems tomash up bits of all the other tracks over a rising three note synthfigure that wouldn't sound out of palace on a mid period Autechrerecord, although that's the only similarity. Want another lazyreference? Well, if you like Throbbing Gristle's '20 Jazz Funk Greats'you might also like this.

 

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4244 Hits

Superdrag, "In The Valley Of Dying Stars"

Formed in Knoxville, TN, Superdrag released a few singles and EPs onDarla and Arena Rock before signing with Elektra Records to releasetheir debut LP, "Regretfully Yours." That's the one with their big"Buzz Bin" hit single "Sucked Out." It was a bit of a fright, really.John Davis, their gregarious frontman, screaming at what seems to bebeyond his register, "Who sucked out the feeLANG?!" This was rawk. Nowonder Elektra went after them. Their next record, also on Elektra,"Head Trip In Every Key," showed the band maturing into a more melodic,grounded sound, while they still had their Kinks/Beatles/Romanticspower-pop moments. Ultimately, though, super stardom escaped them, andthey returned to the studio after a headlining club tour to start workon their follow-up. Elektra had optioned their next three releases, andwere eager for an album to push that, as they saw it, better reflectedthe "Sucked Out" sound. Superdrag emerged from the studio with thisrelease, their third full-length, "In The Valley Of Dying Stars." AndElektra didn't hear a single. They told the band to go back in and makesome more power pop magic. Why is it always Elektra in these stories,anyway? So Superdrag asked to be let out of their contract, and Elektraagreed. So they returned to Arena Rock, and re-worked "Valley," thoughreportedly not much needed to be altered. It may sound cliche, but it'scertainly no surprise: "Valley" is their finest work to date. Foundingmember Tom Pappas left the group shortly before recording, a voidfilled by Sam Powers, a perfect foil for Davis in the vocal department.The sound of the record is dirtier than the others ("Oooh! It evenSOUNDS indie!"), but that's hardly a detriment to these songs. Therecord is dedicated to the memory of Davis' father, and some of thesongs reflect this loss. But the prevailing theme here is one Davisstarted on "Head Trip": the whoredom of the music industry. Not a freshtopic, but one that Davis certainly gets mileage on. The opening track,"Keep It Close To Me," impresses with its pounding drums and hookyguitar crunch, and the lyrics make it the ultimate kiss-off: "I wantrock and roll but I don't want to deal with the hassle/I know what Iknow but I don't want to feel like an asshole." Davis' vocals havecertainly improved, as he seems more comfortable in his range andstyle. The swagger is bigger and better, and the band's shuck and jivekicks the ever-loving hell out of most bands these days. The sound iseven meatier with Powers, a noticeable improvement. If you want to hearsome solid, formidable rock, you can't go wrong with this release,originally put out in September of last year but widely ignored. Giveit a try.

 

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4252 Hits

stars as eyes, "freedom rock"

The Rhode Island-based duo has their first full-length release nowavailable on Tigerbeat6. Clearly this is first effort, as theinstrumentation is decent (they're good enough to get somebody'sattention) but the songwriting skills are somewhat bland. For the firsthalf of the disc, the duo delivers a pleasant but rather sluggish blendof 4/4 beats, unobtrusive melodies, sub-dub noodlings, and colorings ofglitch and sonic glitter. The album gets rather lengthy at points, butdon't underestimate the power of pleasantness, and about mid-waythrough the album the mood certainly becomes more well-defined. On thewhole, this could have been a stronger release if they both started itaround track eight and didn't try so hard to be clever with the songtitles. While it's not bad, and can be quite colorful aural wallpaper,it's nothing that demands high attention. Maybe being a friend of 606just isn't enough to make for a great album release.

 

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4146 Hits

arovane_phonem, "aer (valid)"

Slightly more dull in the composition department but more creativelyglitchy in the production is the collaborative effort between Uwe Zahnand Eliot Perkins, more commondly known as Arovane and Phonem. Out ofthe eight seemingly endless tracks here, four are collaborations whileeach each supply two on their own. It seems like an interestingmatch-up, as Arovane's a hardware-backed gearhead while Phonem's asoftware-based nerdy glitch boy. Once again the music's quite pleasant,but even more so than Stars as Eyes, I'm forcing myself to stay awake.The music on Aer is moderate-paced electronics, unobtrusive andunoffensive, but it's hardly as interesting as something like theaforementioned Phonecia, emotive as something like Boards of Canada,resourceful like Matmos or creative like a whole host of others.Perhaps this could be the start of a new sub-genre, SDM (sleepy dancemusic).

 

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13954 Hits

four tet, "pause"

Domino

Four Tet

Calling music like this "electronica" is a massive underestimation of what kind of work must go into a release like this. Of course, I hate that term anyway, so there you go. Four Tet, started as an off-shoot project for Kieran Hebden when he wasn't working on Fridge, is an interesting mix of programmed beats and sampled live instruments, often looped, to create soundscapes that can appeal to a great variety of listeners. Where other releases by bands who use these techniques come off sounding derivative, and often over work the concept (Manitoba is a perfect example, though Dan Snaith of Manitoba reportedly contributed to/helped inspire parts of "Pause"), Hebden seems to know just where to go with these tracks. The beats aren't the same canned beats you hear on many releases, and occasionally there are live drums, sampled though they are. In fact, it is the use of samples of live instruments that make this release so compelling. Strings, guitar, piano, and percussion certainly sound better in this mix than synth lines and beeps and whistles. I wish more artists in the genre would use this approach. "Parks" is where it all came together for me, with horns, vibes, and backwards guitar grounded by a driving, stuttering beat. Never mind the obligatory kids in the playground sound sample every band seems to want to use these days (see gybe!, tortoise, trans am, etc.). A few tracks, like the intriguing "Leila Came Round and We Watched A Video," are simple, beautiful, priceless. It's like the first time someone smiled at you: you felt warm inside, and you just wanted it to happen again, but you knew from now on it would never be the same. Music that provokes this level of visceral response, if possible, is the only kind of music I would like to listen to. Failing that, I will be sure to have Four Tet around always. This record affected me in a way I didn't expect. Hopefully it will have the same affect on you. "Pause" is out in the UK now, and will be released on these shores next month. You know what you have to do.

 

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4578 Hits

XHOL, "CARAVAN/MOTHERFUCKERS LIVE"

Every once in a not so great while David Tibet of Current 93 and StevenStapleton of Nurse With Wound join their respective Durtro and UnitedDairies labels as United Durtro for collaborations and to reissue theforgotten or nearly impossible to obtain work of late '60s/early '70s'Krautrock' bands they admire. Sand were the first to receive suchtreatment and now fellow Germanic collective Xhol (pronounced 'soul',aka Soul Caravan and Xhol Caravan) are next with two nicely recorded,previously unreleased live performances. Disc 1 is entitled "FreedomOpera" from 1968 and disc 2 is a Frankfurt WDR radio set from 1969,both discs somewhat annoyingly indexed as one 57 minute track. Thetapestry of sound includes vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, organ,saxophones, flute and drums. First and foremost Xhol are a rock androll band with a soul center, but they also take in a number of otherstyles, and this is no exaggeration: psychedelic, freeform jazz andnoise, rhythm and blues, progressive, '60s pop and rock and even a bitof funk. But vocalist James Rhodes defines it best mid disc 1 simply as"black music". Long, meandering solos and instrumental excursionswander on and off the path of hippie bliss as Rhodes belts out theblues rather nicely or recites timely poetry. Loose covers of VanillaFudge's "Poems" and Donovan's "Season of the Witch" (which was alsocovered by Vanilla Fudge) are among the six originals on disc 1. Disc 2comes with no tracklisting and I think I know why. It seems to be onelong, often spontaneous instrumental jam by just four members, forwhatever reason - bass, tenor sax, organ and drums - it's just as goodand at times reminiscent of recent live explorations I've witnessed byThe Legendary Pink Dots. After hearing Xhol, for the first time might Iadd, I really have to wonder why I haven't seen their name mentionedbefore in the annals of late '60s rock. As a special treat for c93, NWWand Christoph Heemann fans, a third limited edition disc entitled "HotButtered Xhol" showcases superb Xhol 'covers' by each, c93's "Memories"being particularly mesmerizing. The packaging is also fantastic with a12 page insert, beautifully covered up by Stapleton, that contains anon-stage photo of the band, show posters and liner notes, all in Germanunfortunately save for Stapleton, Tibet and Heemann's virgin Xholexperiences. Good job guys! Through the magic of shiny polycarbonatediscs, "Motherfuckers Live" is like an amber encrusted insect preservedfor all eternity to admire.

 

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5285 Hits

Vert, "9 types of ambiguity"

With the latest offerings, Vert (and Mouse on Mars on their Soniglabel) have proven to be masters of their own kind. The disc opens with"Blindsight," where animated and robotic beats that envoke pure digitalcharm. Melodies and rhythms are moving, physically and blissfully. Fromthere, it gets into the quirky and raw - theremin-esque noises withreverb-soaked samples and voice clips, with a constant click & popfeel. Some of the third track, "Codfish Dada" has a scratchy-jazzyfeel, like typical Sonig-esque squishy squigly noises throughout butstill maintaining nice composition & form. Some of the sounds onthis album remind me of more of what was on their 12",Mooremooseicforme, which I thought were possibly from some of the samesampling/sessions that much of Mouse on Mars' recent stuff has beenfrom. Some tracks, "Somewhere Between Here and Last Week", for example,feature improvised antique organ sounds with dusty blip soundsthroughout. I picture funny little clown-men playing jazz music for amass in a dusty and crumbling old church. But then they break intosomething like a digital hardcore take on dub. Screeching synths andmorphing, building waves of noise ... some trip-hop atari music to justlie back and close your eyes. Then the strings kick in, and it's trulybeautiful, quirkiness or not. As the disc comes to close, a slow fuzzbuild-up turns to nice pensive piano turns into a sonic wall of organsthat force the listener's eyes to jet open after being harshly brokenfrom the moods that the music had previously set up. It fades out, andthe closer, "Scope/Lifetime", seems to tie in the whole of the album -remaining inconsistent within it's boundaries. Seriously, thequirkiness and diversity in this album are really something that fewothers know quite how to do.

 

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4934 Hits

Andre Estermann, "Balloon"

You're drifting back in the timeline of electronic music... pastglitch, through drill n' bass, left at Braindance, back to a moreoptimistic time where Black Dog was 3 people, and naive melodies on topof percussion with little or no processing could still be talked aboutas being non-derivative. If you enjoy that classic "IDM" sound,Estermann delivers. His style isn't the most original on the block, buthistorically he's also been one of the artists who do it best.
A few of the tracks have little snippets of digital processing (thefinal track, "Menca", among them) but for the most part the CD consistsof a very clean, likely almost exclusively hardware-based, sound. Ithas an abundance of out-of-vogue lushness and "cute" melodiescontrasting with upbeat "hard" tweaked hip-hop percussion. Decentprogression, too, as the genre goes. Definitely chilled afternoonmusic, along similar lines as Michael Fakesch or Funkstorung, but withbetter tunes and minus the Autechre-worshiping. Stops short of beingtotally cheesy, and nothing your brain can't handle!
Four ofthese tracks (by my count) out of the twelve have been released on theInzec and Musik aus Strom labels, although scattered over 3 vinylreleases. This is the first CD release by Estermann as well as thefirst CD release on the "sellwell" label, and we thank him profuselyfor not releasing every song he's ever done. Quality control is alwaysgood for the wallet as well as street cred. Weird slot-loading milkyplastic CD case with orange trigger/ejector doohickey completes thepackage, if you're into that sort of thing.

 

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4698 Hits

Zorn, "The City's Collapsing (but not tonight)"

"How gerrmann!" me and my friend said to ourselves (in nasal "Deiter"voice) when confronted with this album. It seems like a good chunk ofthe decent electronic music is sourced in one of several cities in thecountry, one of which is Berlin - Enter the Lux Nigra label and Michael(_not_ John, thankfully) Zorn. From his music, one can easily drawkraut connections to the Din, Morr Music, or Chain Reaction labels, orcomparisons to Arovane or Monolake. Pretty wicked stuff with a stew ofinfluences, including house, IDM, and dub.
Building up from where his last 12" left off, mid to high BPM heavyThomas Brinkmann-esque 4/4 beats with dub and house gestures form thebasis of Michael Zorn's composition. But these are no stripped-downskeletal tracks a la Pole or Farben - he has no fear of "filling in thegaps" to create full, busy songs. This guy actually wants to take thesetracks somewhere! Repetative, lush synthesized melodies sit side byside with heavily groovy bass drum percussion without either becomingannoying or overbearing. Songs evolve satisfyingly in a matter ofminutes, not (as it seems) hours as is common in the area ofdub-influenced techno, creating an album which will find applicationson the dancefloor as well as in the living room. Fascinating, amultifaceted release which will gain prestige with age. It connectsnicely with his recent "Eckermann" 7" on highly collectable City CentreOffices label (also a proud .de imprint). Already craps on a number ofthe current crop of "laptop" producers from a great height.

 

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4239 Hits