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tor lundvall, "the mist"

It's four a.m. and I haven't slept and have no desire to. My moonshadow accompanies me as I wander through a snow-covered forest. My footsteps leave a muffled reminder that I am still alive. I am not lost but have no idea where I am. Time and Space have given up their eternal battle for dimensional supremacy and have abandoned me. I eventually find my way to cabin that appears to be vacant so I take a respite from my journey and enter. The interior is dark with only a bed and a table, however on the table is a CD by Tor Lundvall entitled The Mist - it has a fascinating cover featuring subtle images of a winter landscape. I put the CD on my walkman and lie down to rest - the music envelops me in a dark desolate mindscape that is hauntingly benign radiating a warm emotional state. I decide to while a way some time by writing about the songs in my journal - here are my observations.

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5467 Hits

ruby, "short-staffed at the gene pool"/"altered & proud"

You may recall the English male/female duo Ruby from a minor radio hitabout five years ago with "Tiny Meat." The duo consists of LesleyRankine, former singer for Silverfish, and Mark Walk of Pigface, andRuby is the name of each of their grandmother. The duo's latest fulllength is out now through Thirsty Ear with guest production on spotsfrom Christian Vogel, William Rieflin and Mira Calix. The disc isaccompanied by a separate release, 'Altered & Proud', withtweakings from Dot Allison, Kid 606, Schneider TM, Console, Max Tundraand others. While Ruby was a viable venture for Sony Music five yearsback, no major label thinks they can risk it with something that won'teven break commercial alternative radio any more. Their sound is hardlystale however, and would be warmly welcomed by similar aggressiveattitude-heavy beat-oriented female-sung outfits like Lamb, Curve,Laika, classic Scala or even Moloko. The sounds are great, theproduction's wonderful with a healthy dose of guitars, organic andelectronic percussion, trumpets and various synthetic lead equipment,but the writing could use a little more originality and lessrepetition. The remixes on the other hand would please people notnecessarily looking for a pop record, but some great sounds put throughthe wringer and dragged back again, kicking and screaming.

 

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3747 Hits

HiM, "New Features"

There is music for the masses, music for the soul, music for the heart,and those hungry of it, and even music for the malls -- or is that justMuzac? HiM is music for musicians, and "New Features" is an impressivedisplay of the talent this group encompasses. The group is tight,driving, sinewy, grooved-out and this time they venture further intotheir exploration of dub, now with an even greater Latin flavor. HiMmake music that demands movement. If you aren't dancing to this record,you're missing the point. This, their fifth release, really showcaseshow incredible the communication is in this band, and exactly how muchpotential lies in wait, ready to be unleashed in a live setting. Live,I'm sure, these songs sound even better with the improvisational bentthey receive, but on record they're just as precious. I especiallyliked how, from even the first track, each musician gets their time inthe sun. No one instrument is a stand-out. And where effects likedelays, beeps, and artificial beats could detract from the quality ofthe playing, HiM use them brilliantly here, using the less is moreprincipal to showcase the playing rather than muddying it. My only realcomplaint would be that several songs seem reminiscent of Beastie Boysinstrumentals in style and feel. But on a CD that features severaltracks over the ten minute mark, including the eighteen-minute opus "InTransition," one doesn't even find the need to complain about songlength. Right when you feel like the music should shift in a newdirection, it does, right on cue. It's all about different flavors on"New Features," and in the hands of less skilled musicians, it could gohorribly wrong. In the hands of HiM, it sounds like these "NewFeatures" have been there all along: you just haven't been listening.

 

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3824 Hits

keiji haino, "abandon all words at a stroke"

For those who take their improvisational noiscore seriously, a 2xCD setfrom minimalistic screechmonger Keiji Haino is now available. Each CDis a one-track 45+ minute piece for one source and voice. Fans of earlyNurse With Wound would find the listenings both challenging andenjoyable as very little detail is paid to composition, but a delicateattention is paid to sonority of the sources. Ideal for a cande-litseance, disc one, "Hurdy Gurdy" is as dark as the CD jacket, and issimply creepy played out drones on a hurdy gurdy with the creepieroccasional vocals. Disc two, "Electronic Percussion" is built around awave drum scratches and squealing electronics, also accompanied by theoccasional distorted vocal regurgitations. Disc two would perfectlyscore the next time you're stuck in a cold, dark, smelly sewer, coveredin sludge, desperately trying to get out. I never understood where thelight's supposed to come from during those scenes in the movies.Anyhow, purists would love the concept but I personally think 45minutes on each disc is a bit lengthy. Thankfully they're not stretchedto 80 minutes on each disc.

 

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4538 Hits

tied + tickled trio, "electric avenue tapes"

This group, who isn't a trio and released their second full-lengther onDrag City in the USA last year is allegedly a side project of popstersThe Notwist. I say alleged since they've been releasing more asT&TT than as The Notwist lately. Anyhow this album does it right -with five well-developed tracks, totalling about 43 minutes. The musicis entirely instrumental, jazzy-flavored with horn instruments andpiano sounds, but beat oriented with hints of glitch and dub and muchmore complete than last year's album or the remixes which were out latelast year from Morr in Germany. I was rather cold to the disc when Ifirst got it, but it has grown to become my favorite release from thiscrew, mellow while creatively involved, beat happy and musicallyplayful enough with a load of TLC and strong efforts focused on only asmall amount of top-notch tunes.

 

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4196 Hits

slag boom van loon, "so soon"

The original tracks were by µ-Ziq's Mike Paradinas and Speedy J'sJoachim Papp, the disc here is remixes from Coil, Boards of Canada,Matmos, Four Tet, µ-Ziq, Tiper, Horse Opera, and Pole. The good thingis that if you love these bands, you won't be let down. All the remixespretty much sound like the group doing the remix. Fout Tet's got abeefy and beaty contribution, Boards of Canada's bookends are sereneand liquid, and the highlight is most certainly the Coil mix whichnearly approaches 10 minutes, with scraping sounds, a chilling marimbaand orchestral loop, and thunderous low rumblings. What's the point ofreleasing "remix" albums under your own name? It should just beconsidered a various-artists compilation but there's legalramifications surrounding how you credit those whose fingers have beenin the mix. It's great, it's dark, it's light. You are a fan of many ofthese bands so you might as well get it.

 

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4228 Hits

cubismo grafico, "tout!"

Cubismo Grafico is a Japanese outfit doing lounge music with loads ofFrench vocals. Released in 1999, this disc is warm album to listenwhile driving around slowly through the city on a hot day with thewindows rolled down. Pretty vocals, drum machines playing sambas,Brazilian-esque acoustic guitars, chimes of vibes or marimbas make itdreamy and cheery. Yippee. I feel like that sloth getting his groovething on from the old Far Side comic. I don't know what it is aboutJapanese lounge fans but there's a pretty girl on the front, loads offemale vocals but only a picture of a Japenese guy on the inside.Fantastic Plastic what? Anyhow it's far better than this year's(not-so) Fantastic Plastic release and you don't own it. Get it andbring it to the beach with you.

 

3944 Hits

sukia, "Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo"

Fucked-up electronic modern exotica, with odd samples, sampled andelectronic drums, random twitters, aircraft sounds, off-key noises andvocals, bizarre collage artwork, and a contribution with the DustBrothers. It's got sitars mixed with 60s-era spy music sounding stuff,crossed with vocal samples about food or sado-masochism. This is easilywhat Add N to (X) would be sound like if they were as cool as theypretend to be. It was released in 1996 by the Dust Bros' Nickel Baglabel out of Los Angeles and Mo Wax in the UK. I found it used andpicked it up on a recommendation. It's rather weird in parts but atevery point, it's quite creative and incredibly enjoyable. Half ofSukia is two guys named Craig and Ross, now known as DJ Me DJ You withrecords on Emperor Norton. The album's titled was inspired by a Mexicancomic book about a lesbian vampire and her well-hung cohort, GarySupermacho. Make sense now?

 

5282 Hits

"cambodian rocks"

So while there's this movie out now called "the Songcatcher" by somelady who found it necessary to exploit music of the Appalacians, thisCD does a good job of exploiting Cambodian rock music. It's a 70-minute22-song collection of late 60s/early 70s pop songs brought back fromthis guy's trip to Cambodia. Whatta trip it is - these songs (whichimitate popular western-world music of the late 60s) sound like that'veaged much better than stuff that would imitate popular music of today.There's absolutely no track listing, however, no idea who's doing what,but some record label in NYC seems to be making money off of it. No,it's really fun, but completely sketchy.

 

3811 Hits

kid 606 (remixed), "p.s. you love me"

While we patiently await another full-lengther from 606, the materialfrom the Mille Plateaux release from last year gets treated on this fundisc. While it's not as campy as his latest live experiences where 606butchers Missy Elliot or the "Sandwiches" song, it is entertaining withcontributions from Matmos (originally on the Twirl EP) who remix aphoto shoot/interview with Miguel himself. Atom TM's contribution is agoofy butt-shaker, Pan American patient piece sounds like upbeat PanAmerican stuff, Twerk is fucking cool and I hope to get their new albumsoon, and the rest (which even include some 606 tweaks) have much morepersonality than the original album in its original form. 606 hasprobably gained more respect in the artful critic circle with his moreintrospective releases but it's really incredible to hear him let loose.

 

3902 Hits

twilight circus, "volcanic dub"

If you like dub and own no Twilight Circus then you're a fucking tool.Ryan Moore has delivered an astounding number of albums over the lastfew years exploring the sound of old school (late 70s/early 80s)organic instrumental dub. This is the real shit, not dub-style glitchylaptop stuff, but a real person playing the drums, bass, guitar andorgan. While the albums don't evolve in style, Moore is most certainlysteadily evolving in the production and writing aspects. Volcanic Dubis 12 new dub tunes, 45 minutes of bliss. This edition is less amake-out album as the other releases but is no less wonderful. It'sindeed volcanic, baby.

 

4021 Hits

Neu!, "Neu!" & "2"

There's two types of people reading this electronic magazine: those who have heard of Neu! and those who actually own the bootleg CDs. If you're one of those who have heard of them and claim you don't know their music, you're most likely already familiar with their sound as it can be heard quite clearly in Stereolab, Echoboy, Legendary Pink Dots, Einsturzende Neubauten, Nurse With Wound, OOIOO, Couch, OMD, Wire, even early Smashing Pumpkins and the Blue Man Group, etc,... After two decades of compact disc technology, the timeless original three studio albums are finally officially available on CD. For those who own either the boots or the original LPs (heh), the treatment on these issues is well worth the wait.

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4809 Hits

Neu!, "75"

For those of you who own the bootlegs and are wondering if the upgrade is worth it, there are noticeable differences to consider. The overall sound of the reissues is much brighter and a lot of subtle nuances are more perceptible: voices and instruments are now apparent that weren't before.
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3961 Hits

The Moldy Peaches

Some call it skank rock. I call it lo-fi fucked-up laidback slackerrock. And it's brilliant. The Moldy Peaches are the best band you'venever heard. This album made me elated beyond all hope of coming back.It was a journey I'll gladly repeat if I should ever find my way home.Like the lo-fi Belle and Sebastian, Kimya Dawson and Adam Green craftjuvenile songs that are strangely catchy with great melodies andtwisted lyrics. And they're fun-filled, too! Mostly acoustic guitar anddrums with vocal trading and intertwining between Dawson and Green, allbadly recorded with lots of static, the Moldy Peaches' album ischock-full of youthful exuberance, adolescent angst, and bizarrehappenings. Songs end abruptly because the recording just stops. It'sjust a strange listen. There's even a ridiculous rap moment. And theycover "Little Bunny Foo Foo." It's just plain great. Often I laughed,because of the ridiculousness of the lyrics, but it's all incredible.It's a bit like the car accident you can't help looking at, but moreentertaining. There's really not much more to examine than that, thoughpsychologists would have a field day with those lyrics. Here's asample, from the album opener "Lucky Number Nine": "Bloody Mary Motherof God/Grampa's on the hobby horse again/Dampened broken pantschaffing/I'm running out of ethnic friends." Even when they approachoffensive material, like on "Downloading Porn With Davo," it just comesoff sounding like people singing about things just to try and provoke aresponse, or nonsensical gibberish set to music. Either way, you'lllove the result. If you don't, then who cares? These burgers are crazy.

 

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3705 Hits

Alec Empire and EL-P, "Shards of Pol Pottery (The 2001 Remixes)"

Teutonic riotmaster Alec Empire rears his ugly head again on thisrelease, throwing down a new bag of tricks far removed from his bestknown work as titular head of teen-noise-pop-sensations Atari TeenageRiot. Here he dips into a grab bag pastiche of studio tricks to producea 62-minute slab of chunky hip-hop beats, some atypical noise guitarand the vocal stylings of MC El-P. Then again, since this release is 12mixes of the same song, it's better geared towards completists and DJ'sthan the general consumer public. The track itself is hard hitting asexpected - funky, menacing keyboards reminiscent of ATR's 'Waves ofDisaster', a nice cold feeling permeates this track even asunidentified electronic squee warms the brain and much head bobbing isinduced. The other tracks are all variations on this one theme:'Accapella mix', 'Hard Beats', 'Hard Beats and Voice' - you get theidea. The only real remix here would be the excellent 'No Wave Mix' - asubdued bit of tone generations, casio-style drums and squiggly 404action; and the 'Black Moon Mix' which is an excellent fucking mess -both of which would be great for those 3AM crank burnouts I'm sureyou're so fond of. Released in both the UK and the US so buy domestic.

 

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3879 Hits

mitchell akiyama, "hope that lines don't cross"

Newcomer Mitchell Akiyama is the first release of Alien8's newsub-label, Substractif. On this, his first 'proper' album release, theMontreal-based Akiyama has assembled a library of field recordings, andprovided a complimentary score, at times with sampled, rhytmically andtonally restructured manipulations of the recordings. It's an excercisein a laptop-driven ambient dub soup, and at times the sounds have beenso far removed from their original state, that the toil in the processis almost entirely unnoticable. Don't take that the wrong way, however,it's a wonderful disc which has certainly grown on me incredibly. Thereisn't a piece of work on this album that doesn't take a fair amount oftime to evolve, however, so patience is essential to a listening.Akiyama is another case for my argument that greatness in electronicmusic can come from a understanding of organic music and composition,in that he allegedly comes from a jazz background. 'Hope' could easilybe like what a Pole album would sound like if Stefan Betke changed someof the stinking preset sounds for every track. It plays mind tricks ontracks like "Concentrate On One Leg" when the established beat breaksup at random places while a hypnotising throbbing tone never backsdown. Its unobtrusive beats, lengthy delays and a keen sense ofcomposition combine to make for a charming listen late at night withthe lights off and windows open while a cool breeze passes through onoccasion.

 

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3845 Hits

The Fall, "Live in Zagreb"

This is the latest in a series of CDs presenting one live performance from each stage of the Fall's more-than-25-years-long career. Most of the tunes on "Live in Zabreb" come from the "Extricate" album of 1990, a point in the Fall's life when they were past the angular, percussive post-punk scream of their classic albums (such as "Hex Enduction Hour") and were moving ever-closer to repetitive techno-rock.

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5094 Hits

the b-sides, "Yes, Indeed, the b-sides, Quite!"

What a great influence Weezer have had on the youth music scene. Their fun-sounding geek rock was almost revolutionary to most kids (who unfortunately had heard nothing like Weezer before) when "Undone: The Sweater Song" hit the radio and television airwaves. And now the kids influenced by Weezer and the like are starting to record music.

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3972 Hits

squarepusher, "go plastic"

The first track on Tom Jenkinson's new album, 'Go Plastic' seems to dojust that. "My Red Hot Car" begins like a soft-core porn featuringraver-style actors.The stars would spend a lot of time fucking with the compostition ofnaked break beats, use a lot of pitch bending for flair, and maybe evenshow blatant disregard for melodic structure that pleases one's ears oreven that which exists at all.This disc is rife with thin beats and whack bass sounds (that's rightacid basslines reprasent in 2001!! yea-eah. no). When listening, watchout for unfulfilling "break" sections and boring melodies that soundlike the portamento-style hijinx of DR. Dre a la 'The Chronic', minusthe "it being good" part. A few tracks on the CD are decent, like thethird track, "Go! Spastic". Tommy gets into a really nice breakbeatmashup but you may end up turned off as I was by the acid bass thatbegins the track and the thin, icky breakdown at around the two minutemark. I'd like to dance to this track at its finest moments but aroundfour mnutes, there is a gross reverb used and it detracts from mereally feelin the track as a whole.
A lot of places on the album turn me off because the sounds mimic thoseripped off any old groovebox or Roland synth. I guess there's somethingto be said for old school sounds but I am not going to say it nor willI hear that.Most of the tracks can be broken down like this: they have their kindof nice places, then more bad parts, and then the awesome atonalcomposition that seems to be taking electronic music by storm!!I guess my issues with this album is that the chosen sounds could havebeen better and the melodies could have made sense or shown an emotionpresent on the any other full-length releases by Squarepusher.

 

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10228 Hits

ida, "the braille night"

Don't let the sticker on the front steer you away, just because thisdisc might be 'outtakes' from their last album's sessions, in no wayshould it -not- be considered a bonafide Ida album. In fact I'm goingto step out on a limb and say I even like this better than 'Will YouFind Me' as it almost speaks more direct and honest, with lesspost-production coloring and more in-studio risks taken. Low on the popsongs and high on the personal stories, the opener "Let's Go Walking",along with "Arrowheads" and "So Worn Out" cut right to the chase whilethe delicate beauty of "So Long" and "Ocean of Glass" are nothing lessthan heart-melting. Whether it's the girls or the guys taking the leadvocal tracks, the pitch perfect melodies and harmonies are alwaysstrong. Typical Ida, right? But then there's instrumentalimprovisational gems like "Ignatia Amara" and "The Braille Night" thatremind us Ida aren't just some of the better singers/songwritersaround, but are also quite diverse player/composers. My fave trackremains "Blizzard of '78," for both the power and drive but thesentimental historical value for a Bostonian like myself. Strangelyenough the lyrical content of that track (listed as "Blizzard of '78")makes more sense to be named "The Braille Night" (listed as track 7, ableak instrumental track which would be more suggestive of the blizzardthat seized the nort east 23 years ago). Either way it's a mighty fineoffering, which, as an 'outtake record' flows together better than manyalbum releases by others. Now let's get that f'ing Insound tour supportCD back into print.

 

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4821 Hits