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kristin hersh, "sunny border blue"

The brand new full-lengther from former Throwing Muses vocalist/lyricist/boss is undeniably her greatest solo achievement. The rocky road Hersh has endured over the last few years has surfaced into an explosive collection of gut-wrenching songs. After fifteen years of hearing her voice, I can safely say there is absolutely no comparison to this one-woman powerhouse of skill and talent - her voice, playing and writing styles are all part of the package deal.

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3941 Hits

Mothboy, "Raw Loops And Numb Breaks Vol I"

Simon Smerdon has got the funk. It's come up from out of nowhere,bitten him on the ass and he's all the better for it. Recently seen oncompilations like 'Economi$ed' and Low-End Recon,' Simon was one of theprogenitors of the 'Dark Hop' movement in former project Ocosi, buthere has moved on sonically, passing on the trance-inducing, minimalbeats and bass of previous Mothboy releases to create somethingentirely new. 'Raw Loops...' sees the Moth branching out into some ofhis finest, most fucked up work yet; the Eno-esque piano motifs of'Your Fingers Pt 2.' wouldn't be out of place in the sets of mostambient DJs, while 'Safe As Houses' amps up the funk to Guru- andPremier-type levels. The liquid guitar work of 'Midnight FunkAssociates' is one to listen for with its rattling hi-hats and stonedurban cowboy kinda drawl. It sucks you in and never lets go. With suchquality beats afoot, it's not surpising that certain heavybeat-oriented labels are already coming a' calling, so here's toanother volume's worth of sick beats and deconstructed funk.

 

3646 Hits

couch, "profane"

I must admit at the first few listens I wasn't quite blown away by the latest release from yet another instrumental rock band of Germans who refuse to admit they're influenced by Neu! 'Profane' is their fourth full-length album, and first release to be issued in Europe, North America and Japan simultaneously (as opposed to 'Fantasy': out on Kitty-Yo in 1999, surfacing on Matador USA and Japan in 2000).

Kitty-Yo (DE) / Matador (US)

Profane

In its defense, the beats are quite meaty while the production allows each member's contribution to be well-defined. Unfortunately most of the tracks are entirely too repetitious, often lacking a strong 'lead instrument' such as a trumpet, voice, organ or even guitar melody to carry the songs. My excitement perks up by the third track, "Was alles hält." Directly translated as 'Which Everything Holds,' this gem is a compelling electronic bubblebath with sounds and tunes to satiate any To Rococo Rot fan anxious for a new release. Following that, "12 Sind Nur 4" (12 is only 4) is an upbeat, energetic jam that opens strong, builds nicely and basically rocks out, displaying the group's performance talents as a cohesive element. The rest of the disc actually builds well on this foundation, following a pattern of bringing an instrument to the foreground, coloring the background with horns and cello from special guest musicians including Marcus Acher (The Notwist, Lali Puna, Tied and Tickled Trio). All in all, it's a fairly decent record, which makes me anxious to see the group perform live rather than satiate me 100%.

 

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3906 Hits

hank & slim, "the world turned gingham"

A fictitious bio describes Hank & Slim as a 60+ year old duo fromTexas who collaborated and then had a falling out, moved their separateways and never spoke again. In actuality it's Robin Storey (of Rapoon)and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions) and the fictitious story is themost entertaining aspect of this disc. 'The World Turned Gingham' is asomewhat sparse and limited version of KLF's timeless monumentalclassic 'Chill Out'. It's laden with old western tunes twanging away ingated echoes, meshing in with a sparse Angelo Badalamenti-wannabekeyboard background, mixed with radio broadcasts which could be real,but probably fictitious. While the disc worked for unobtrusivebackground noise while filing taxes and recovering from a fatteningEaster dinner, I honestly couldn't stop thinking of how I'd rather belistening to "Chill Out."

 

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4849 Hits

JURGEN DE BLONDE, "HIDDEN RABBIT"

In most places where this is listed for sale, it is called "1", not"nullpluze.nz"; just so you know if you're looking for it. MichaelFakesch (Funkstörung) wrote a glowing review of it, and that is whatmost folks post as a blurb. And why not? Fakesch (and Deluca) releasedit on their excellent Musik Aus Strom, and one can see where it crosseslines with their music. Where Funkstörung just cant seem to helpthemselves in the "I'm-not-gunna-let- this-beat-run-in- straight-meter"tomfuckery, Crunch lets the beats run in straight meter. He picks somehighly digitized sounds and builds with that, none of the 4000 samplesper 3 minutes here. There are changes, great changes, sweeping changeswithin each track even, but it seems more within the scope of thetrack. If you've ever thought or said, "this funkstörung record isgreat but i wish they'd keep a beat and stop showing me how manymillions of samples they have stored", then this is close to what youasked for. Most of the record is decidedly downtempo, eitherhead-noddingly slow, pulse beat or beatless; synth washes are generallyon the somber side, with melodies subtle and often quite beautiful.Most of the programming sounds pretty complex, if controlled.Headphones are recommended for occasional use. Overall, this is verynicely varied electronic music, really one of the best in recent monthsI've heard. Somehow original sounding enough in a genre fast becominghomogenous. If you get the chance, get it on thick slabby double vinyl,in the great sleeve Fakesch got gooey about. I don't have anything badto say about this record and I'm really looking forward to other stufffrom this anonymous outfit. If you want a comparison beyondFunkstorung, none of this would sound out of place on a Schematic MusicCompany compilation. Very recommended. Thank you for your time.

 

3871 Hits

V/A, "SUBSTANCIA 3"

"Substancia 3" gathers mostly exclusive/forthcoming tracks from 11artists on Belgium's Quartermass roster: DJ Wally, Bisk, Benge,Freeform, Shudo, Fisherofgold, Mash'ta, Bump & Grind, Rip-OffArtist, Richard Thomas & Jon Tye and Tal. Now I know why I don'town anything from the Quartermass roster. There is variation -illbient, electro funk, breakbeats, sample mania (think Coldcut, onlynowhere near as cool) - but not much of anything of interest. Justtired and tedious sounds, samples, effects and sequences and songs thatgo nowhere. Freeform's "Cantho" wins the coveted 'sucks the least'crown by trading off atmospheric thumps with cacophonous outbursts ofpots and pans percussion. Benge and Fishertogold's space technoofferings grow dull quick. Shudo's "Bringing Together the Best" failsto do that in its mess of drum loops, drone and cliche scratch sample.Richard Thomas and Jon Tye do something a bit more experimental withvarious samples, but in the end it sounds like a funeral march througha pet store. That's it. I can't take anymore. I want to wash my earsout with something good now.

 

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4031 Hits

james plotkin: trifid project and atomsmasher

While listening to the Trifid Project EP, it became known to me that anumber of email list members have been wondering what Jimmy Plotkin hasbeen up to lately. While the man hasn't been releasing material on thebigger indie labels, a few things have managed to surface. The TriffidProject is a collaborative effort with members of Ant-Zen superstarsCelluloid Mata and Ultra Milkmaids which takes the form of a shortsix-track CD and clear 10" record (limited to 400 copies). It's beenreleased through the young Vacuum label through some unknown agreementwith Ant-Zen. The music is abrupt and attention-grabbing, with quirkysamples, spinning tapes, distorted aggression, processed vocals andchunky beats. While it only stretches about 22 minutes, these are someof the finest electronic manglings I've heard recently — combining awonderful atmospheric makeup with unobtrusive guitar, live bass guitarand coldly calculated, crunchy, intelligent, overprocessed beats.
Atomsmasheris a new group which features Plotkin, DJ Speedranch and David Witte ondrums. While we wait for a full-length release, a pre-release CDR-EPhas managed to find its way into a small number of shops, courtesy ofthe Boston-based noise-loving label, Hydrahead. Atomsmasher, unlike theTriffid Project, is almost pure aggression, with speed-metal resoundingriffage, drilling distorted vocals, and tons of computerized electronicreprocessing. Strangely approaching jazz-like in the way everybodywished Praxis would pursue following their 'Sacrifist' LP. This disc isfairly short too, three tracks and under 10 minutes, but for thesticker price, it's a must-have. Unfortunately its scarcity (limited tosomething absurd like 100 copies) has given this release the potentialto become inflated far beyond the musical value on future onlineauctions. A new full-length should have these tracks. Speaking of thefull-length album, when I looked at this label's website I find nothingon this release or a full-length. What gives, guys? Now you know whatPlotkin's been up to.

 

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5493 Hits

morgenstern, "cold"

Although firmly rooted in the realm of power electronics, Morgenstern'slatest release tends to use this footing more as a springboard forother ideas and actions, rather than as an end in itself. Unlike Slogunand Control, just to name two others who use power electronics,Morgenstern is using this framework as the building blocks that enablethe exploitation of rhythm, distortion, tribal trance and other,darker, elements. Atmospherically, 'Cold' is all about opposites;aggression vs. meditation (or loud vs. quiet).
The first track, which gives the album its name, is a good example ofthe quiet side of this release. Calm, brooding, trance-like, but in theend very unsettling. This trance atmosphere, with the help of somebackground voices, ushers in the second track, which uses similartechniques to heighten the sense of disquiet. The electronics are alsointensified, so while this is not an assault of the type Whitehousemight produce, the sense of serenity is now missing. This bridgebetween the two tracks also a microcosm of the overall release. Worksslowly build and fade, forming a unique texture and flow. It is thethird song "Hypnotized," however, in which the potential of the firsttwo is in bloom. The distortion is way out there, the rhythm ispounding, driving, and the vocals are handled in such a way as to leaveany goth fan speechless (that and the constant church bell in thebackground). This track is a marriage between power electronics attheir finest, and all the best of Muslimgauze's later distortion, withthe fourth track takes expanding on this theme. Thundering, pounding,weaving in and out, the harsher elements are actually somewhatdiminished here, yet the distortion and rhythm are magnified.Furthermore, whatever is being done with the vocals, both in theforeground and background, is a flowering of pure evil. After a ratherghostly ending, an even harder song, the centerpiece of the album'saggression, "Insight" begins. Here the power electronics are at theirmost impressive, the distortion is constant, and the droney elementsare turned way down, which allows the vocals to take center stage.
The unique flow of this release is then restored on the next song,aptly titled "Interlude." Near playfulness a la Nurse With Wound over aheavy undercurrent. Here we are given time to rest and collectourselves, yet when we become aware of our sonic surroundings, they areno less disturbing than everything that has come before this. On theseventh song the slow build starts again. By the ninth track, after asuccession of builds, the intensity subsides again. Swirling anddreamy, the rhythm resembles the beat of a human heart, and one getsthe sensation of gaining entrance to another realm. The last piece,"Over," brings the listener back to the mood created by the one withwhich Cold began. More rhythmic than the first, but is no lessparadoxical, and just as its title suggests, that is how Morgensternleaves us.

 

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3993 Hits

Red House Painters, "Old Ramon"

How long after an album is completed does it take to be released? A few weeks? A few months? Red House Painters' sixth full-length album came out earlier this week - three years to the month of its completion, tied up in major label buyout limbo and searching for a worthy new home. Thanks to the folks at Sub Pop for realizing this record, a warm welcome after years since Songs for a Blue Guitar.

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4398 Hits

arab strap, "the red thread"

Exactly 57 minutes. Ten songs. Slightly sinister. Very sensual. Damn depressing. Though the title refers to the Eastern supposition that each of us is connected to our one, true love by an invisible cord, 'The Red Thread' unravels a fascinating and devastating mess of frayed relationships and tattered egos. It's like watching a violent movie spectacle: you can't help getting sucked in, as much as you believe in real life you'd turn the other way. Aiden Moffat's lyrics, often muttered or tossed off in a thick Scottish accent, grow gradually decipherable with each listen.

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4062 Hits

KANDIS, "1996-99"

Kandis is the first of at least three monikers to date for electronic artist Jens Massel, his releases as Kandis, Senking and Fumble making up the bulk of Karaoke Kalk's 5 year deep back catalog. This digipacked disc collects 14 tracks from the four 12"s spanning 1996-1999, which seems to be the year Massel retired the project. Honestly, it doesn't much matter which name he uses as the differences among and quality of the music of each is negligible.

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4135 Hits

"DID YOU SEE"

"Did You See" is the third various artists compilation from Surrey, UKbased label deFocus. As the title implies, this disc collects tracksyou might have missed from already released deFocus albums and singles,as well as a few tracks from the two v/a 12"s "Do You See" and "Two YouSee". Six artists - Lackluster, Aphelion, CiM, +one, John Tejada andEsem - produce a dozen tracks interspersed with cute half minute'intervals' by CiM. Their work is very reminiscent of the more sublimemoments in Warp's 'Artificial Intelligence' electronic mood musicseries of the early '90s. Lots of space-y pads, warm melodies andmellow beats. In fact, the aural aesthetic of these artists is sosimilar it almost sounds as if all the tracks could have come from asingle one of them and a single rack of gear. But that's more of anobservation than a complaint really. Aphelion's "Click" rolls with adriving, funky drummer rhythm. CiM bring in some scratching and mildfunk hop grooves. Lackluster's "Ix Pen" is the most, well, lacklusterof the lot while the 'brothomstates remix' of "Suntrap" steps up andout with rapidly sequenced synth notes and beats. And Jon Tejada's"Disappear" adds a bit of jazz and house flavor. All in all a niceselection. I still dig this sound nearly a decade after I firstdiscovered it. It's good to hear someone continuing to explore it ...

 

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3642 Hits

ULVER, "PERDITION CITY [MUSIC TO AN INTERIOR FILM]"

Ulver continue to expand beyond and free themselves of their metalroots with this, their 5th full length album, the subtitle referencingan imaginary film that this music provides the soundtrack for. The pastfew releases ("Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven andHell" and the "Metamorphosis" EP, all on Oslo's Jester Records) havealready proven their music to be wide-ranging, elegantly produced andcinematic and epic in scope, but "Perdition City" concentrates evenfurther on subtle and dramatic intensity, atmosphere and decay. Strainsof John Zorn's "Naked City", Vangelis' "Blade Runner" and John Barrysoundtrack are present as emotive piano, strings, saxophones,electronics and the sounds of the city permeate much of the seamlesslyflowing 53 minutes. The first few tracks open the album with fluidjuxtapositions of all the elements, including big live drums andpassionate vocals (in English, a presence on about half the album)."Hallway of Always" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" couple distorted synthswirls with heavy, somewhat hip hop rhythms. "The Future Sound ofMusic" drastically switches from quiet piano motif to a full on bassand drums assault. "Dead City Centres" is the most outright jazzy witha smoky swing and climactic narrative. And "Nowhere/Catastrophe" closesthe album as the most structured 'song' with a crushing vocodedbass/synth chorus being the focal point. Superb. Ulver's music isgenuine regardless of what genre they're dipping into or what directionthey choose to tread. Also included on the disc is a near 4 minute mpgvideo clip for "Limbo Central (Theme from Perdition City)" (from thepreceding EP) full of Revelations quotes and treated car ride visuals.Ulver will begin recording their new EP "Silence Teaches You to Sing"soon ...

 

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3990 Hits

Organum, "Ikon"

David Jackman, the man behind Organum, has for the past several years made a nice name for himself by ripping off the people who might want to hear his music. Whether by charging $20 for new 7" singles, publishing obscenely limited releases, or releasing CDs at full price with no packaging (there were two or three CDs that arrived in shops for $12 + in intentionally empty jewelboxes), Jackman's gall has become the focus of conversations much more often than his music. This CD, the latest in a series of informationless reissues of older recordings, is a full-priced CD that contains 15 minutes of noodly New Age.

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4515 Hits

WAGON CHRIST, "MUSIPAL"

"Musipal" is Luke Vibert's fourth album as Wagon Christ and debut forNinja Tune. I've always been a moderate fan of Vibert, I don't listento his music all that much but I buy everything he puts out, listen toit for a week or so, file it away and pull it back out on occasion.This album is much the same as past ones with lots of goofy easylistening mid tempo dance for the party. Super crisp and clean beatsset the electro-hiphop-soul-jazz-funk foundation for numerous sampleanecdotes and melodies. "The Premise" sets the agenda with plentifulspoken samples - 'the premise of this album is, well, the danceactually, dance business, the highest definition ever achieved inrecording'. "Bend Over" features the sped up tale of a young Brit who'scertain he will have to 'bend for it' to get what he wants. "ThickStew" is quite serious at first, that is, until the animal sounds comein. The spoken mantra that gives "It Is Always Now, All of It Is Now"its title is damn near satanic in its distorted repetition. "Boney L"has an extra thick bass line for its mere 2 minutes. "Tomorrow Acid"intensifies the bleep factor while "Perkission" ends the album on amore up-tempo bossa nova tinged rhythm and even more jungle sounds.Yep, "Musipal" is pretty cool. Vibert will be DJing all over the worldthroughout June ...samples: * Boney L * It is Always Now, All of it is Now * The Premise
4349 Hits

mice parade, "mokoondi"

After two full-length albums, one of collaborations and loads ofremixes and other appearances, Mice Parade is no longer a 'sideproject' of Dylan Group member and Bubble Core founder, Adam Pierce.The man is musically a one-man powerhouse, multi-talentedmulti-instrumentalist, collecting influences like a world travellerpicking up intereting souvenirs wherever he finds them. On the businessside of things, his work with Bubble Core shows a seemingly undyinglove for music and desire to share and exchange others' music from allover the world. [note: Americans can thank him for making Sigur Ros andother Fat Cat releases available in this country along with a selectfew of other odd labels and artists.] Be jealous, be very jealous ofhis incredible amounts of talent, but respect his hard work and skill.Mice Parade's third full-length disc once again is another maximalisticgroove-ride: a joyful adventure down a bouncy instrumentalpost-tortoise-rock path with jazz, beatbox, South American and Asianinfluences bleeding into the mix. The disc opens up with two 'jams' ofAdam essentially playing with himself. On these songs (spread over sixtracks) Adam displays flawless mastery of drums, vibes, guitars, synthand cheng (chinese harp). His relentless skills are perfectlycomplimented by his talent of making great songs: to clearlydistinguish his music from a music performance college final project -to make it enjoyable. While the rest of the following tracks featurevarious ensembles, Pierce remains the centerpiece. The musicsurprisingly maintains a linear and sensical flow, evolving with guestplayers on strings, sax, drums and voices, keeping up the sameemotioanly charged groove and feel established from the start. Everysong on here is a new adventure in modern music. At the end I'mstunned, appreciative and wondering where he finds all the time towrite, practice and play.

 

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4057 Hits

movietone, "the blossom filled streets"

Former member of Flying Saucer Attack Rachel Brook has turned to alighter touch with her current project. Far from the murky feedbackdrenched, distortion driven soundscapes of FSA, Movietone barely peepswith the sounds of subdued Latin jazz, post-rock minimalism, and thewispy coo of Kate Wright. While the result succeeds in inclining theear, the album never really arrives. With a scant range of sparse andslow to deliberate and detached songs-and hardly an emotionalregister-the songs build an impassive tension that never releases. Thesustained mildness, the still and dreamy stroll of Movietone can besuprisingly...oppressive. When "The Blossom Filled Streets" finallyhits a gallop, it's as if the band has stopped holding its breath. Whathas been missing becomes startlingly present: change, direction,attitude. Though many critics have described Movietone as morose andeven "emotionally draining," it seems The Blossom Filled Streets hasmore to do with paralysis than emanation. If there's anythingdepressing about this album, it's the lack of expressiveness ratherthan the expression of lack. The core of most songs is a heavystillness pushed about by varied instrumentation (including clarinet,acoustic and electric guitar, piano, bass, drums, viola, and guicello).Often, the delicate colors added by each instrument seem to gesturetowards the many spaces and silences on the album rather thancommunicate in themselves. Some might enjoy this band's impressionism.Me, I'm not too impressed.

 

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4419 Hits

DANIEL WEAVER, "PULSE"

Improvising cellist Daniel Weaver is best known as a former member ofthat rum bunch of plunderphonic organ transplanters Stock, Hausen andWalkman. 'Pulse' is a dance work for six women, performed by Echo EchoDance Theatre Company of Derry, Northern Ireland. The music Danielcomposed for it displays a more serious side, and unlike the frequentjump cuts of Stock, Hausen and Walkman is comprised of mostly fairlylong pieces which shift and evolve relatively slowly, running into eachother at walking pace for the seventy minute duration.
His brief from the choreographer was simply to allow him to mark awalking beat throughout the piece so he had a pretty free hand toindulge his eclecticism and create a unique piece of art which, evendown to the bubble pack cover, bursts out of any generic bags.
The short 'Hangover' blasts off with Seamus Cater's happy harmonicaplaying drowned in traffic noise recorded during a walk. An easylistening jazzy piano loop looms up halfway through 'Polygamy' only toseep into elephantine wind howls and hoots. Cater's harmonica strollsback over the hill of string strangled tussles.
'Bendover' centres on a beautifully simple acoustic guitar riffreminiscent of the second instrumental from Colin Newman's'Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish' album, but Danielcounterpoints it with lazy tropical sundown melodies that soundHispanic to my ears. However this piece actually evolved from a Malian/ Senegalese model. There's a definite late summer atmosphereshimmering between the speakers.
Beats appear and disappear. The penultimate 'Pullover' begins with ajovial beat construction that initially wouldn't have sounded out ofplace on Stock, Hausen & Walkman's 'Oh My Bag!' but obliquely letsan eastern snake charmer out of the sample basket, before diving intochoppier waters.
'Pulse' ambles off over the horizon with an extended ascending 'SulphurBath' coda, underpinned by some gut rumbling cello groans and wails - achimingly steamy end to an charmingly dreamy stride.
Pulse is available from Pelicanneck in Manchester, who are distributing it. It is also available directly from Daniel Weaver This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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3959 Hits

"SR:AMPLE - A SOURCE RESEARCH RECORDINGS SAMPLER"

 It's a little odd that UK based 'experimental sound based project'label Source Research Recordings felt it necessary to produce a labelsampler at this time considering that they've only released 3 CDs todate: Leif Elggren/souRce research/Matmos "RGB", v/a "Emre [darkmatter]" and Andrew Poppy "Time At Rest Devouring Its Secret" (all ofwhich are recommended - see past issues of The Brain for reviews andmp3s of the former two). But for the uninitiated, this is a perfectplace to begin. Limited to a 1000 copies in a purple vinyl slipcase,"sR:ample" collects excerpts from those discs - including Coil, LeifElggren, Cyclobe - and about 18 minutes worth of previouslyunreleased/forthcoming tracks by Source Research, CoH, Cattivo,AphasRia and Ovum. This music is best absorbed through very attentivedeep listening as much of it is quite mysterious and minimal, thoughnever static or dull. I will concentrate on the new material. SourceResearch's 6 tracks drastically range from quiet contemplation, "DarkStart" being especially so, to violent sonic chaos. CoH's "menuet max."(possibly an homage to Erik Satie) rumbles and dances through computerforged squiggles not unlike those on his own full lengths. Cattivo cutand paste gentle female vocal bits with static on 3 eerie tracks,"neither-neither" being the most accomplished with additional malesobbing and a ghostly guitar (?) melody. AphasRia's "Fckd:mx"gracefully blends a beautiful ambient drift with stereo panned electricdischarge. And Ovum's "Lavin" is barely present with 6 and 1/2 minutesof murky drone. Altogether the new and old material mesh well toshowcase the recent past and recent future of the label's veryrespectable output. Future releases are planned for SteinbrùÙchel,Cattivo, CoH and Andrew Poppy ...

 

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4353 Hits

loren mazzaCane connors, "the little match girl"

Loren MazzaCane Connors has made a career of serene guitarwork:ambient, atmospheric, sparse, spacious, or whichever word you feelwould classify it best. The latest disc pulls together fourteen newguitar melodies for a collection just shy of 40 minutes. While there isa time and place for Connors' music: like having tea and reading a bookbefore going to bed, I personally am feeling rather unsatisfied, almostas if there needs to be something more this time around. I've heardthis entire formula before from Connors on previous releases. On top ofthat, I can't shake the thought that I feel I'm listening to a MarkKnopfler soundtrack the whole while. Connors knows all about making arich and beautiful sound out of one source, treated guitar, but it'sgrowing tired and the guy needs to start working with some people againto get some fresh ideas and external sounds going. Having one CD likethis in your collection is encouraged, having 20 is excessive.

 

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4393 Hits