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sonna, "we sing loud sing soft tonight"

Sonna are addictive. Extremely so. After hearing the first track onthis release, "The Opener," I immediately had to hear it again. Andagain. Five times later, I hadn't even heard the second track and Iwanted more of the first. Bizarre. I'd never heard Sonna up until now,and I can say if this album, their debut full-length, is highlyanticipated, I can see why. This is music you put on when you have workto get done that absolutely can't hold off on it any longer. In thesesongs you hear both the yin and yang simultaneously, so while workingyou are constantly stiumlated to finish your goal because it isnecessary, all the while thinking about the doom of failure. It's afascinating listen. A friend once remarked to me, "How can you listento all of these indie-rock instrumental bands. They all sound the sameto me." Recently at a party I hosted, I played Sonna in my room and heheard them, immediately remarking how different they sounded from allof the other bands I listen to. This is a testament not only to howunique Sonna are, but how easily one can grow to love them. Variedtempos, instrumentation, and levels keep the listener guessing, but notenough to think it a different band entirely. Tracks are on the longerside, but not too long that they bore the listener. I found the buildon the second track, "Low and to the Side," to be one of my favoritemoments on the record, as the cymbal crashes get louder and louder andlonger and longer. Then they stop suddenly as the guitars play the lastfew notes of the song. And what little vocals are present complementthe music wonderfully, adding to the charm of the record. The pressrelease says this band will certainly grab fans of Tortoise, Papa M,Codeine, and Yo La Tengo. I couldn't agree more. I am a fan of allthose bands, and now I'm a fan of Sonna. Worth a listen or twelve.

 

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3862 Hits

retina, "volcano.waves,1-8"

For those who first heard Retina on Hefty's 'Immediate Action' seriesand fell in love like I, a full-length is now readily available. Whilethere's a sea of electronic piranhas trying to out-chomp each other interms of experimentalism, in turn stretching technology beyond alistenable threshold, a certain amount of composition and structure hasbecome compromised. Thankfully labels like Chicago-based Hefty havebeen focusing on releasing musicians who aren't necessarily pushing theboundaries, but doing an awesome job at the music they're doing.Retina's full-lengther pulls in some supersonic high pitched elementsand swirls them up in an effective dub-influenced mix combining awonderful serving of low-end bass, and attractive head-bobbing beats.Picture 90s-era Richard H. Kirk that doesn't bore you for 8 minuteseach song or stretch far longer than an hour. Not coming clear yet? Howabout a true intelligent dance music act who at loud volumes causesuncontrollable hip and brain gyrations? Yeah, it's pretty damned cool.

 

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3915 Hits

BBE presents Jay Dee and Pete Rock

6 yrs ago Peter Adarkwah and Ben Jolly graduated from their legendary,free-form turntable exhibitions in London (known to include a mixtureof brazilian grooves, hip-hop, funk, disco, techno and the like) toembark on a progressive mission. Their label, "Barely Breaking Even",has laced us with the rare jems of those genres and more since. Thelatest BBE releases, housed 'neath the "Beat Generation" umbrella, areno exception. Hold tight as I mention Marley Marl, Jazzy Jeff, DJSpinna, and my personal favorite, 88 keys in the same sentence. Nowimagine that same list to include King Britt, Pete Rock, and Jay Dee;then give them the freedom to do whatever they want. Sound sick? Well,the first two presents from this series are just that. Jay Dee's'Welcome to Detroit' and Pete Rock's 'Petestrumentals' offer, rather,pave us a new direction in hip-hop, while raising the bar in productionto a stellar level.
'Welcome to Detroit' is like a warm pot of gumbo, that includes abeautiful blend of raw emcee talent and dirty, minimal breakbeats,tweaked to perfection. Jay Dee successfully mixes R&B, Hip-Hop, andwhat can only be called Experimental, into a concoction that creates aninfectious vibe leaving you wanting another. The opening track is a 5/4masterpiece. Other highlights include 'The Clapper', a start-stop headnodder your rewind button had better be ready for, and 'Featuring PhatKat', which does for obvious reasons. The kid is nice. This isdefinitely one to play for your friends; but don't let this album outof your sight, for it might disappear. With 'Welcome to Detroit', BBEhas set a clear standard for quality product, and the second releasefrom the "Beat Generation", composed by the Chocolate Boy Wonder, PeteRock, is no exception.
Pete Rock can be credited for creating the smooth, jazzy, downtempofeel, that others like Jay Dee are perfecting today. 'Petestrumentals'is like an educational pamphlet, detailing the proper way to constructan emcee canvas. It refrains from becoming a cluttered, "over-the-top"production effort, and leaves room for vocal compliments. For instance,'The Boss' sultley shows his fine sample manipulation by initiallyusing a simple piano loop for the songs first few bars. It then beginsplaying backwards, all in timely fashion. 'Play Dis Only at Night'takes the very familiar bass line in 'Check the Rhime' and almost makesyou forget that someone else tried to use it previously.
'Petestrumentals' is a stark deviation from his prior solo release,"Soul Surviver", which included a guest artist on every track. Thisalbum only invites members from UN to grace three of its tracks, therest are perfectly designed to allow budding emcees a chance at rockinga groove from the legendary producer. This album is yet anotherseamless fusion of Reggae, Jazz, Pop, Soul, Rock, Folk and Other forPete Rock, making it an instant classic for your shelves. Those whopurchase this record on vinyl will have the added pleasure of listeningto it a 45rpms. My hopes are that this series will change the stagnantdirection in Hip-Hop production today, where it seems as if every trackis a remix of a previous Timbaland or Neptunes project. So far BBE is 2for 2 and batting 1000%. Stay tuned.

 

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5123 Hits

spring heel jack, "masses"

Those who have followed Spring Heel Jack's evolution from day one through last year's collaboration with Low and the Disappeared LP think they might have been prepared for what was next, right? Perhaps. Last year the Blue Series from Thirsty Ear surfaced with The Matthew Shipp Quartet's album, 'Pastoral Composure', this year Shipp and an extended family have been paired up with the former early drum 'n bass champions, Spring Heel Jack for the continuum of the Blue Series.

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4557 Hits

ZAMMUTO, "SOLUTIORE OF STAREAU"

Nick Willscher is a New York City-based sound sculptor whose ambitiousCD-R trilogy "Solutiore of Stareau" probably slipped beneath your radarlast year. Well, don't worry, it did mine too. Now disc one isavailable as the debut release from Infraction Records, the new inhouse imprint of music retailer Riouxs Records, following up on thereissue of disc three as "Willscher" by Apartment B Records. This 70minute continuous piece (indexed at the noticeable transitions everyfive minutes) is a fairly minimal, malleable mass of low volume sound.Tones and soft fuzz abruptly flicker on/off to give a cut-up pulse tothe otherwise lukewarm haze. Unidentifiable fragments surface and sinkhelping to create an otherworldly effect. Meanwhile, a beautiful,recurring drone signature slowly swan dives in and out of a handful oftracks. But perhaps the most beautiful moment of all is thedeconstruction that takes place within the final track, the previoushour plus gently fading from short-term memory in crackles and signalnoise. Altogether it makes me think of what a Vladislav Delay trackre-processed by Kurt Ralske might sound like: soundscape bliss, though,not quite as breathtakingly so as Delay's "Anima". Regardless, keep anear out for this guy (as well as Infraction) 'cause he's definitelyonto something. Zammuto has since appeared on numerous compilations andthe drastically different "Full Martyr Status" remix EP is availablefor download from notype.com.

 

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4631 Hits

FOETUS, "FLOW"

Veritable one-man-band J.G. Thirlwell returns with his first fulllength as Foetus proper since 1995's somewhat misguided major labeleffort "Gash". Holed up in his well-stocked NYC-based studio, theself-proclaimed 'Master of Disaster' learns and uses whatever he needsto forge his unique brand of industrial-jazz-swing-big-band-rock. With"Flow" he hasn't reinvented the wheel but he has built a better mousetrap. The over-saturation of heavy guitar that plagued "Gash" has beentastefully restricted to let the underbelly of sound flourish. Poundingrhythms — often constructed of jackhammers, shattered glass and metalon metal — lay a solid foundation for dense arrangements of horns,strings, bass, guitars, synths, samples and the one and only caterwaul.It could very easily be a giant mess, and in a way it is, butgloriously so as Thirlwell's composition skills are the glue that holdsit all together. And lyrically he's as clever as ever with numerous andhumorous insights, clich³s, puns, and pop culture references. "QuickFix" and "The Need Machine" are fun to sing along with as they knockyou down. "Cirrhosis of the Heart" draws a parallel between love andalcoholism over a lighthearted cocktail jazz jaunt. "Mandelay" and theepic, near 13 minute "Kreibabe" juxtapose quiet and simply brutalpassages. One of my favorite lines from the latter - "I wanna whisk youaway with me / I'll be the whisker / you be the whiskey". "Suspect" isa film noir joyride while "Heuldoch 7B" is pure big band bombast."Someone Who Cares" is foetal pop, featuring lovely horn and guitarsolos and female backing vocals. Yep, "Flow" is quintessential, classicFoetus. Other projects in the can: Manorexia "Volvox Turbo" (availablenow at the shows or foetus.org) and the companion album "Blow"(September 16) with remixes by Panacea, Amon Tobin, DJ Food, FranzTreichler of The Young Gods, Kid 606, Jay Wasco, PanSonic, CharlieClouser, Phylr, Ursula 1000, Kidney Thieves/Sean Beavan and Thirlwellhimself. Foetus are currently on tour in the U.S. through July.

 

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5314 Hits

MANOREXIA, "VOLVOX TURBO"

Manorexia is J.G. Thirlwell, aka Foetus, and he is the sole person toblame for this 64 minute instrumental suite. "Volvox Turbo" is asoundtrack for ... something. A psychodramatic thriller? A good/badnight's sleep? An acid trip gone horribly right/wrong? All of theabove? Yes. Here Thirlwell engages in experimental territory similar tosome of the work of former collaborators Coil and Nurse With Wound,merging together 14 varied and indexed movements. Excepting a handfulof prescribed panic attacks, much of the journey is a surreal sort ofsubdued ambiance comprised of strings, horns, flutes, tinker bells,drone, line noise and found sounds. Juxtaposed within are bits ofethnic travelogue such as the gypsy swirl of "Helicobra", Hawaiian firedance of "Tiki Envy" and rain forest atmosphere intro of "TubercularBells". The mood gradually shifts gears multiple times from smooth andsoothing to tense and climactic, artfully amusing to deadly serious,cherubic to downright menacing. It's really a rather stunning piece ofwork, an antithesis of the latest Foetus album "Flow" but equallyinteresting, and more proof of Thirlwell's multifaceted abilities."Volvox Turbo" is available at the Foetus shows through July orfoetus.org.

 

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4075 Hits

beneath autumn sky, "enki-dus mono" ep

This debut Beneath Autumn Sky EP on Hefty is five tracks of phat beats, wondrous melodics, and fulfilling bass. While it's noted that B.A.S. have come from a lifestyle of B-boyin, squatting, and living outside the boundaries of normal society, they have created what seems to me like a beautifully crafted mixture of old school sounds and new-school technique. It "keeps it real" on every level I could think of, and while I listen, the world around me seems to shapeshft into a land of wild landscapes and infinite possibilities.

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4147 Hits

marquis de tren and bonnie "prince" billy, "Get On Jolly"

The title of this collaboration between Will Oldham (Bonnie Billy,Palace) and Mick Turner (Marquis De Tren, Dirty Three) is something ofa misnomer: its twenty-odd minutes of dark and achey love songs neverreach the rolling twang of other Oldham or the thundering gallop ofsome Dirty Three. Not much gettin' on or jolliness here. Instead, thealbum reverberates with sonorous, swelling sprinklings of tremblingguitar, organ, and Oldham's plaintitive vocals, all steeped incountry-flavored ambience. Reverb is used liberally and to stunningeffect, drawing out the subtley shifting layers of instrumentation andfilling out the simplicity of their arrangement. Percussion (mostlycymbals) is only used on one track, and sparingly. Lyrically, as wellas musically, 'Get on Jolly' rouses the pangs in the bones and ache inthe chest of any dramatic and dreary rainy day. Pain and desireinspired by unobtainable or unexplainable beauty, loves absent ormisplaced, slowness and longing — all are significant themes on thisdisc. Despite (or maybe because of) the simplicity of Oldham's lyrics,a slightly odd turn of phrase deals a stunning blow. In "2/15" Oldhamsings praises of a woman who seems out of his reach: "hidden in theheart of things you make flowers into edible things" and "in the armsof your old charms, let me forever bask / or is that too much to ask"are two of the most striking and beautiful lines. My only complaint forthis impressive, intricate EP is: too short!

 

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4562 Hits

neotropic, "la prochaine fois"

London-based electronic artist Riz Maslen has taken on a new journeywith the brilliant new Neotropic package. 'La Prochaine Fois' [the nexttime] might not officially be a concept album but is sure is conceptualin nature. The disc is an adventure, a journey further away from thestereotypical post-hop sounds of Ninja Tune and further away from herbeefy low-end and repetitious sounds of yesteryear. One thing whichremains contant however is her usage of external sound sources andminimalistic exploitation of music samples. I too had a journey thispast week, taking her music along with me while I biked a long bikepath, tuning out the external world and becoming more intimatelyacquainted with the music disc. My first reaction is the shock to allthe beautiful guitar and other stringed instruments coloring the earlyportion of the disc. Included in the mix are various old world-soundinginstruments, accordion, flute and naked drum kits. Riz also decided todelicately loop vocal samples from people like Jarboe [hey, James Izzois even credited!] and Low, while employing guest musicians on nearlyall of the other tracks. At times, the dynamic yet peaceful feel can besomewhat dub-like while other points could come fairly close toclassical arrangements. In an almost complete contrast, the latterportion of the disc [sans the rap closer] is a rather anthemicsoundtrack to a post-modern hippie's nightmare. On the whole, the musicis very rich in sound, intricately woven together without drowning thelistener with too many sources at one point. For those whose words getswallowed up at the sound of the disc or unable to make a physicaljourney using this as a soundtrack, a companion is included for us towatch! Disc 2 is a video collage of Riz's various travels. The visualsare nothing daring or explosive but it gracefully compliments the musicwell.

 

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3858 Hits

Michael O'Shea

One day in London town Gilbert and Lewis of Wire followed their ears tothe source of an incredible noise like none they'd ever heard before.The buzz in their ears led them to a busker wearing high heels,stockings, white skirt, blazer and turban.
The late Michael O'Shea was a free spirited instrument inventor andmusician who eschewed the trappings of fame and fortune to live hislife day by day as he pleased. He found an old wooden box and made ithis friend... With a few hammerings Mo Cara (Gaelic: My Friend) wasborn, a new instrument based on a hybrid of hammered dulcimer, sitarand an Algerian instrument he'd played on his travels, the Zelochord.Mo Cara had seventeen main strings underpinned by six more stringswhich gave it a profound resonance. Michael's playing was as muchinfluenced by his interest in tabla rhythms and time spent learning thesitar whilst recovering from illness as his early infatuation withIrish folk stalwarts the Chieftans. His compositions are transcendentand evocative of magic and mystery. Gilbert and Lewis recorded thealbum on a day when Michael's horoscope was propitious and everyone inthe studio was moved to tears by the album opener 'No Journey's End'.This became the second non-Dome release on the Dome label, and now withsix additional tracks is the twelfth and (almost) final WMO release andis a wonderful ending for the Wire related reissue / rarity label.

 

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4963 Hits

jet black crayon, "low frequency speaker test"

I walked in to see Tortoise at the Fillmore, unaware who the openingact was, as I had failed to do my research. I was late, and in a rushto see if I could find a great vantage point to observe the evening'sentertainment. Suddenly, I was taken by the sounds emanating from thestage. The opening act had been playing for 20 minutes or so, and I hadmissed most of it. A deep bass groove was backed by competent,hard-hitting drumming, both of which were accompanied by occasionaltruntable flourishes. I rushed to the nearest Fillmore employee, andasked who this amazing act was. "jet black crayon," he replied, and mysecond question should say it all: "Where's the merchandise counter?"The only release jet black crayon currently have available, "lowfrequency speaker test" is an impressive EP from a band with a trulyoriginal sound. Two basses, drums, and a turntable make beautifulmusic, as the EP really gets underway on track 2, "tonic water," thetrack I heard that night at the Fillmore that made me want to find outwho this band was. From the deep bass grooves on that track to thelatin style beat and instructional samples of "the tree," jet blackcrayon impress and excel, creating a mood with each soundscape that isdistinct and exciting. Principle members are Gadget behind theturntables, bassist Tommy Guerrero, who has several solo albumsincluding one with Gadget, slide bassist Monte Vallier, and drummer TimDegaugh on skins real and electronic. Rumor has it they are currentlyrecording their debut album, due later this year. Get in on the groundfloor. Grab this EP, released last year, and prepare to be grooved.

 

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4106 Hits

RAFAEL TORAL, "Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance"

Rafael Toral is a guitarist who lives at the end of the world... Well,Portugal to be exact. His ten beautiful solo guitar dronescapes mightecho influences such as Sonic Youth, Jim O'Rourke, Eno and theminimalist composers but he gives his instrument a unique voice. Reallyhe's up there alongside Robert Hampson and Christian Fennesz when itcomes to new approaches to coaxing sublime sonic textures from thatversatile six string thing. This might be why Touch have put this outin a Mego style card wallet which sits snugly alongside their FenneszCD with the absurdly cumbersome title. Touch seem to be putting outsome of their strongest ever releases in recent times, what with thisand Phill Niblock. All we need now is a new Philip Jeck album to sealit! And speaking of Phill Niblock, it comes as no surprise that Toralhas collaborated with the master of the drone. Anyway, to describeToral's magical flights as ambience would be to do them a greatdisservice, but this is underwater moonlight music to drift and dreamto. Perhaps the drone word is a deceptive one to use here as well,since he does hit the strings softly and these chiming patternscontinually shift and expand. Now I'm off to look for his earlieralbums on Moikai, Dexter's Cigar and Perdition Plastics.

 

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3722 Hits

The Shins, "Oh, Inverted World"

Occasionally bands come along that sound like they don't belong in theour time. They are from a time 20 or 30 years previous, and they recordmusic that thrills and excites because they sound THAT MUCH ahead oftheir time. The press release for this, the debut album by The Shins(under that band name, anyway), says "Face it. The band you've beenwaiting for all these years is The Shins." Indeed. Why does it feellike I've heard this album before, then? Don't get me wrong -- it's afine release. It's just that familiar. Like this is my friend's band.Like I know all the songs already. Like this is a lost Beatles record,one that only I have heard. The Shins are fantastic in all the waysyou'd want a rock band to be: great melodies, great vocal qualities,toe-tapping rhythms, and instrument interplay make for great pop songswith a post-punk sensibility. Guitar lines twang and jangle whileharmonizing and mixing with keyboard and organ lines. Even the "ooh"vocals give you the feeling that this record was recorded in 1967, not2000. The opening calm and then swell into "Caring Is Creepy" prepareyou perfectly for the eclecticism that follows. There are songs thatdrive along, songs that skip, songs that plod, and even songs that makeyou want to dance the Trout. And the lyrics are precious, like on "NewSlang": "gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth,only I don't know how they got out, dear." It's a great summer recordto lay back and identify cloud shapes to. Comfortable, sweet,endearing, poppy as all hell, The Shins are here to stay, and thankgoodness. We need more bands like this one. Please.

 

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3976 Hits

nurse with wound, "thunder perfect mind"

One of the ironies of the music of Nurse with Wound is the fact thatwhile Steven Stapleton rarely releases something untouched (hencedifferent versions of CD, cassette and LP editions), he's continuouslyrecycling older materials. This month, a newly packaged version of1992's "Thunder Perfect Mind" is available, promised with new artworkand a new remix of "Cold". While TPM was billed as the sister album toC93's one of the same name, the two are musically unrelated. The firsthalf of the original CD is "Cold," 23+ minutes of a choppy looped riffwith loads of found sounds pasted in as effects or rhythmicallymatched, like the recurring glockenspiel sample which has appeared manytimes, reminding me vaguely of a Jaques Berrocal piece whose name I'mblanking on. "Colder Still" set the grounds for what was soon to becomethe played out rhythms and interworkings on both NWW albums 'Rock 'nRoll Station' and 'Who Can I Turn To Stereo?' but on TPM, however, thesound is deep, sparse and is beautifully drawn out to a solid 32¾minutes. "Colder Still" begins thunderous and moves through variouschilly and captivating moments throughout the duration, much like asurrealistic acid-trip influenced horror film score. It is indeed atrip. The Miss Ticker mix of "Cold" is this edition's bonus musicaladdition and honestly varies very little from shorter versions of"Cold:" "Head Cold" (from 'Large Ladies with Cake in the Oven') and"Steel Dream March of the Metal Men" (from the single of the same nameand 'Crumb Duck' CD edition). It's got more grumblings, squeals, EKGsounds, drills, chainsaws and breaking bits, but once you hear thatsignature repetitious riff, the similarities take more promenance. Ofall the versions this song has taken, "Miss Ticker" is now my favoriteas it's the least irritating, most varied and includes a cute voicemail message from John Balance tagged on at the end. As for the newartwork promised in the press release, it's just a digipack with thesame old booklet.

 

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3902 Hits

throbbing gristle, "first annual report" & "grief"

Two other reissues of brainwashed interest arrive in stores this weekcourtesy of Thirsty Ear. These two discs are perhaps the first and mostcirculated TG bootleg CD releases. 'Very Friendly: The First AnnualReport' used to come with a clear warning on the back stating thiswasn't "another live album," but studio recordings from 1975 whichpre-date their first LP release, 'Second Annual Report'. The music infact does sound like a very high quality live bootleg recording. Eitherit's the primitive recording gear they may have had or the limitationsof the source, however it was delivered to the person who first pressedthe LP. 'Grief,' on the other hand is two 23+ minute tracks, with acollage of sounds from numerous TG releases underscoring taped radiointerviews and spots, completely undocumented and unbeknowest who theresponsible party was who created this. Both CDs were first released atsome point in the 1990s from a record label curiously named'Terroristes Genetiques', both appeared to be recorded directly off thebootleg LPs which also surfaced under mysterious circumstances back inthe 1980s. Strangely enough, the most legit label that has publishededitions of these releases, Thirsty Ear, has issued these discs witheven shiftier packaging jobs — completely void of all the newspaperclippings and drawings the others had, replaced by a flimsy-paperedphotocopied cover and booklet with blank white pages. The music howeverisn't up to par with the official studio albums TG recorded between1977 and 1981 — not shocking for bootleg releases — so the marketremains in the hands of collectors, who would most likely own thesethings by now already. So what's the point?

 

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5398 Hits

Pleasure Forever

It's official: Pleasure Forever do nothing for me. I've tried, really.I'd never heard of the band, not under this name nor their previousmoniker Slaves. I listened to the album five times, all the waythrough, before I even tried to write one line of this review. Butnothing thrilled me about this release. It's interesting to listen to,as one rarely hears a three-piece band with guitar, piano, and drums.This feels too much like a "let's try this interesting formula" bandfor me. The musicians are certainly competent, and the songs uniqueenough, but it just isn't my bag. Okay, okay: "Any Port In A Storm"stuck in my head for ten minutes, mainly because of that pianobreakdown in the middle, and "Meet Me In Eternity" is a classicrock-out anthem when it gets going, with singer/piano player AndrewRothbard sounding like a mix of Greg Dulli, Jon Petkovic, and AndrewWood. The album's closer, "Opalescence," is the best track on thealbum, mostly because it's just the right length. Some on this releasego on much farther than they should. It's not a bad album at all. Itjust does nothing for me. Fans of The Afghan Whigs, Cobra Verde, and T.Rex will love the swagger Pleasure Forever pull off. It is impressivewhen they get to rocking, because they pull out all the stops. And Iwanted to like the record, and had plenty of chances to. It's just notfor me. If you like any of the bands I've mentioned, and you'd like tohear an album of good rock songs with a piano base, try PleasureForever. You'll like this record. It's good, it really is, anddeserving of a listen, especially in the time and climate of rock radiothat we're in (I'd rather hear Pleasure Forever on the radio than Creedany day of the week). Try it on. Seriously.

 

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8193 Hits

JOHN CALE, "SUN BLINDNESS MUSIC"

Concurrent to his viola, keyboard and bass guitar duties with theclassic early line-up of the Velvet Underground, John Cale was alsovery busy experimenting by himself and with like-minded associates inNYC lofts. "Sun Blindness Music" is the first of three volumes fromTable of the Elements under the "New York in the 1960s" heading. Thelabel is releasing a wealth of heretofore unheard minimalist music fromthe era, beginning with last year's "Inside the Dream Syndicate VolumeI: Day of Niagra (1965)". But where that disc was much more importantfor its historical context over listening pleasure, this one is betterbalanced between the two. The title track is nearly 43 minutes of VoxContinental organ recorded in October of '67 - passages of discordantor beautiful drone created with stuck keys, flurries of notes andsubtle fluctuations in volume. It's undoubtedly an endurance test bothfor performer and listener, but the piece does manage to be entrancingonce you're acclimated (similar to the effect of a Merzbow track)."Summer Heat", recorded in the summer of '65, is comprised entirely ofa massive wall of nasty guitar sound. Cale strums away on the 6 stringmore as a percussion instrument, the thundering, electric metal tonescreating a rhythmic pattern that relents only once in its 11 minutes.The final track, "The Second Fortress" from late '67 or early '68, isalso done via organ. Here Cale drones, flutters and wavers in quieter,higher pitched tones for over 10 minutes. Interesting, though I stillfind the story and history more interesting than the actual result.It's like William S. Burroughs ... I'd rather read about him thanactually read him. Fortunately this disc features several things TheDream Syndicate disc was sorely lacking: clarity of sound, an elegantdesign and sharp liner notes. Discs 2 and 3, "Dream Interpretation" and"Stainless Gamelan" respectively, will further explore Cale'scollaborations with The Dream Syndicate.

 

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3933 Hits

brume & artificial memory trace, "1st encounter"

Five years after its completion, Montreal-based Alien8 Recordings havefinally issued this collaborative work between Christian Renou (Brume)and Slavek Kwi (AMT). The music is divided nearly equally with thefirst 36 minutes being Brume's de/reconstruction of recordings suppliedby AMT and the last 40 minutes being AMT's de/reconstruction of Brume.While both entities are well-respected on their own — with numerousreleases on labels which include RRR, Intransitive, Relapse and KornPlastics — on '1st Encounter' the sound has reached a new level,sounding almost more complete than before. Environmental, organicsounds are mangled with an almost surrealistic approach on the firsthalf, as Brume brings pulse, rhythm, movement and cut-up analoguesounds to the table. There's never a dull moment as the motions andsources are constantly in a state of change. On the second half, AMTtakes a much different approach, stretching the sounds into a powerfuland rich score of a futuristic journey on an alien insect-infestedplanet. At the risk of sounding redundant, the result is trulyother-worldly. I can imagine fans of early cut-up improv-based Nursewith Wound immediately attaching onto the first half, while fans ofGraeme Revell's 'Insect Musicians' would find pleasure in AMT's half.Sadly enough, Alien8 has announced that '1st Encounter' is limited andwon't be re-pressed or reissued.

 

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4178 Hits

Kristian, Shalabi, St-Onge

You might imagine that if you combined the twisted electronics of David Kristian, the virtuoso playing of Sam Shalabi and demented avant fuckery of Alexandre St-Onge, the result would be an insane soup of aural mayhem. The first commercially available release of this Montreal-based improv supergroup is actually quite the opposite.
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3829 Hits