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You can remove the guy from Stereolab but you can't remove Stereolabfrom the guy. Short and deliciously sweet is the first eponymousrelease from the relatively new instrumental outfit formed by currentStereolab bass guitarist, Simon Johns. It's difficult not to makecomparisons to Stereolab when the songs sound almost exactly likefamiliar Stereolab tunes, only in instrumental format. Johns onlyrecently joined the Lab for the last full-length album and EP, two ofmy least favorite releases from the groop. The strange thing is that Iactually enjoy these five songs quite a bit whereas I strongly dislikedthe two similar sounding Stereolab releases. On 'Imitation ElectricPiano' the five-member band sounds like they're executing songs the Labeither turned down or didn't have enough time to record. Much like theLab, this group is tight and provide perky upbeat post-modern bachelorpad tunes, primed for driving a trendy european automobile with thewindows rolled down. The production, however isn't as sparkly orshimmery as McEntire's knob twiddlings. Perhaps this is ImitationElectric Piano's saving grace: the same type of output but with a soundremeniscent of the older, much rougher days of the Lab — a sound whichturned most fans and critics ON to the groop in the first place. Theonly thing really missing is vocals most English and French speakerscan't understand. This 21-minute five-track EP was originally releasedon Duophonic in the UK late last year and is now available in massquantities in North America through Drag City.



4130 Hits

Keith Fullerton Whitman, "21:30 for acoustic guitar"

Generally speaking, a great organic musician has the potential to be agreat electronic musician. This is exactly what I think of whenlistening to music from Mr. Keith Fullerton Whitman, somebody mostpeople know from writings, remixes, compilation appearances and onealbum as Hrvatski. The second release from Lucky Kitchen side-labelApartment B is a 21+ minute CD from Whitman recorded a few years ago(yeah, it's actually listed as Keith Fullerton Whitman but I figuredwho'd read the review if they didn't know he was Hrvatski?). This discis the essence of what somebody can do with minimalism. Each 10+ minutetrack makes the most incredible usage of one source - acoustic guitar,processed in real-time through 4-track and other unlikely gear. I can'tfully explain everything used without quoting the entire cover, but Ican say with 100% confidence that Whitman has a lot to teach theEuropean and Japanese laptop clickers about composition, form andstructure. The first track starts off with a simple, searing,high-pitched melody, other octaves get added in, first lower then muchlower, then much much higher, yet remaining simple, subtle andcaptivating. More and more replicas are added to the blissfulprogression, resulting in a stellar cosmic mix. Track two is anotherten minute piece in which Whitman exploits tones and relative tonesmeshing with each other, this time most likely toying with guitarharmonics (if he is indeed using the guitar again). After the half-waymark, the overlapping tones are greeted with more energetic, melodic,shimmering, glistening notes, building up into an aural bird sanctuary,then quelling down with newer droning tones. Wow. Perhaps I'veexplained this all wrong, but boy does it sound tasty.



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"Folktales no. 1"

The latest release in the Crouton catalog is perhaps there mostambitious to date. Jon Mueller has collected the works of threemusicians — Chris Rosenau (of Pele fame), Hal Rammel, and JohnKannenberg — and placed them on 3 3" CDs, packaging them in a beautifulquadruple gatefold sleeve complete with an exquisite corpse textwritten by the three artists and Mueller. The first piece is "Two IceFields of the Exact Same Size" by Chris Rosenau, a beautiful and starknineteen minute electroacoustic piece inspired by a trip to Iceland."Two Ice Fields" begins with the haunting wail of an acoustic guitarand a wine glass and slowly disintegrates into a juxtaposed collage ofacoustic guitar, heating vent, dry ice, and egg shells among otherinstruments. Ending abruptly in its 19th minute, the first cd of thiscollection leaves you stranded in a cold, but beautiful wilderness oforganic sound. The second disc, "Three Days from Anywhere" byimprovisor and composer Hal Rammel begins with the sound of whatappears to be a single fly recorded by a stereo microphone. Themicrotonal sound bounces from structure with faint electronics fadingin and out of the piece, the fly continuing until it encompasses you,only to disappear and give way to found sounds arranged by Rammel. Tofully appreciate the second disc, you have to listen to it onheadphones to experience the isolation and aural textures of the music.The final disc of the series is by John Kannenberg. "Lave" compilesbass and synth along with field recordings and shortwave frequencies.The loudest of the folktales, it's also the most dense, creating athick blanket of sound that surrounds the listener and washes over himor her in ambient fields. Interspersed with minimal electronics, "Lave"creates an alien landscape of shimmering minimalism. Created todocument specific moments captured during a particular time by theartists, Folktales succeeds in offering beautiful stories of sound thatoffer passage to distant emotions and captured moments.



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rollerball, "trail of the butter yeti"

As multi-instrumentalist improvisational rock-based music becomes more popular with the emergence of groups like Volcano the Bear, Jackie-O Motherfucker, Pele, and others, Rollerball's music pursues a more structured, orchestrated environment on their current release from Roadcone. "Trail" sees this Portland, Oregon-based quintet adding more blocky beats, electronic processing and effective use of not playing to the mix. In addition, there's more focus instruments as various members often take the lead with horns, clarinet, vocals or stringed instruments.

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4653 Hits

The Experience, "One Amazing Day"

"One Amazing Day" is the result of field recording trips to Greenwich's gargantuan (physically and financially) Millennium Dome structure, the official celebratory site of the new millennium. Prior to its closing a few hours before 1/1/00, visitors could come and trudge through 14 interactive zones of futuristic themed exhibits and view a sort of three dimensional, mid-air ballet live show.

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4570 Hits

bip-hop generation 1 & 2

In less than a year's time, the highly ambitious French-based Bip-Hop collective has launched a webzine and fairly hip label with 4 releases readily available and more on the way. Unafraid to flood the market, the first two releases, "Bip-Hop Generation" volumes 1 and 2 gather various tracks from some of their favorite electronic acts from all over the world. Luckily these folks have good taste and great connections. Marumari from the USA, Massimo from Italy, Phonem from the UK, Goem from Holland and Ultra Milkmaids from France and Schneider TM from Germany only contributes tunes for Volume 1. Here, the spectrum ranges from beat-organized cuts from Marumari to shrill sonic substructures and medical sounds from Massimo and Goem.

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4158 Hits

Anja Garbarek "Smiling & Waving"

The sophomore release by Anja Garbarek, daughter of Norwegiansaxophonist Jan Garbarek, will be poorly compared by many anunimaginative writer to Björk. But, I guess it's easy to make that sortof leap when dealing with female artists who record outside themainstream - just like writers who compare every trumpeter to MilesDavis. Garbarek seems to have inherited the "less-is-more" aestheticher father used in helping to define the "ECM sound" by infusing sparsechamber-jazz with false electronic ambience, creating a personal warmthrarely captured in the studio. Of course, with help from such legendsas Robert Wyatt (providing incindental vocalisations on "The Diver"),ex-Japan-sters Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri, and Talk Talk's MarkHollis (who, along with collaborator Martin Ditcham, contributes bassand melodica, as well as some arrangements, like on the, uh, Björkishur-jungle fuzz of "Big Mouth"), capturing genius isn't hard. Garbarek'svoice floats gently over swelling strings and staticky glitch eruptionson "Her Room", like a lucid Beth Gibbons of Portishead, pouring sweetlullaby melodies in your ear. Garbarek's "Smiling & Waving"approaches the sublime beauty of the recent electro-acoustic jazz of"Bodily Functions" by Matthew Herbert, as well as latter day Talk Talkor the mellower aspects of Lamb, but still stakes a claim to a lushmusical landscape that is all her own.



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Kurt Ralske is a NYC-based artist, composer, producer and engineer akaCathars and former head of late '80s/early '90s indy popsters UltraVivid Scene. These days Ralske composes entirely upon a g3 Powerbookwith the Max/MSP language. "//amor. 0+01" is the debut under his ownname and it is very similar in sound to the Cathars album "", both ofwhich are from 1999. The title track, as the title seems to suggest,briefly expresses love with digital bits: a melodic loop, a tidal cloudof sound, intermittent glitches and bass swells. "new kyrie" does muchthe same for nearly 14 minutes, minus the glitches and loop and plus aconstant thump that sounds much like a steadily dribbled basketball.The final track "forgiven" takes up the better half of the disc at justunder 30 minutes and proves to be the most minimal and rewarding. Herethe only sound is long swathes of deep drone and drifting ambiance.Whereas the first two tracks leave me somewhat indifferent this one ispurely captivating, either as foreground or background soundtrack.There is also a ROM video for the title track, but unfortunately noneof the 4 computers I've tried were able to read the disc - audio ordata - so perhaps there's an error with the discs. I'll be e-mailingSub Rosa soon to find out.



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current 93, "cats drunk on copper"

One of the most memorable nights in my adult life now has a soundtrackcompanion. The night on that summery evening at the Union Chapel in1997 is still fresh in my mind. I got to spend time with one of my bestfriends Andrew, as we met Coil for the first time in person on the wayin, and sat in a crowd pointing at various WSD-celebs like StevenStapleton and other supporting cast members like Mika from Panasonic,Ivan Pavlov of COH and John Everall of Sentrax. The concert opened withreadings from John Balance and a couple others (one of them lives in NYI think) and subsequently continued with the current cast of Current93: Rose McDowell and Michael Cashmore on guitar, Karl Blake on bass,Joolie Wood on violin and James Mannox on drums. Special other guestson hand that evening included Bill Breeze, Martin Stone and Big BucksBurnett, all joining in the big "Christ and the Pale Queens" closer.The unobtrusive audience gives me the impression it was recordedstraight from the sound board, but unlike many similiarly recordedshows, I don't feel there's any loss of depth here. Put the music on inyour livingroom and it feels like you're actually there. "Cats Drunk onCopper" was initially made available to the audience at the recentreturn to the Union Chapel, and now it's available through WorldSerpent. For a track listning, some photos and other specifics, checkout the Current 93 page special page on this particular show right here.




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richard devine, "lipswitch"

The downfall of the modern age is that any 19 year old with rich parents and an arsenal of computer software can record an album in their house. But what do these vicious young upstarts really know about melody, composition and structure yet?

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7011 Hits

monster movie

First of all I want to say how much of a thrill it was to see thatsomebody else from Slowdive is finally releasing music again. Slowdivewas possibly one of the best components of the shoegazing movement thattrickled out of the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, before the groupsplit, they released a departure from the blurry guitars and buriedvocals, 'Pygmalion', which despite being a fucking incredible release,was nowhere close to the charm and happiness experienced with 1993's'Souvlaki'. So the group called it quits and the singer went on topursue Mojave 3, which was decent in my opinion, but never something Iwould pull from the racks and listen to on a regular basis. Now thisshows up at my doorstep - a five-track EP from former Slowdiver SeanHewson with somebody I'm unfamiliar with, Christian Savill. From thefirst blurry guitar chords, it's refreshing to hear notes from a soulbehind a three of my favorite albums of the last decade. When thevocals start, however, it becomes painfully apparent that these chapsare neither good singers nor lyricists. To its defense, the EP hasgrown on me very very very slightly over the time that it's been in mypossession. Plus, these songs will probably be able to muster up somegood press and a decent amount of attention from college radio. At theend of the 20 minutes, however, I'm left unsatisfied, but all the whilewaiting to see if they can get their shit together for a decent debutalbum.



4473 Hits


Over the past few years bass maven Jah Wobble has collaborated with anumber of varied artists including his own Deep Space ensemble, MolamLao members, a brief stint in post-rock outfit the Damage Manual andhere virtuoso saxophonist Evan Parker. "Passage to Hades" consists offour 9 to 14 minute tracks combining trademark Wobble band hypnoticworld-dub groove with Parker's circular breathing, free jazz abstractsoundscaping. The title track settles into a smooth, lumbering bassline and sticks with it as Parker gently drones in tenor and Deep Spacemembers Clive Bell and Jean-Pierre Rasle add flirtations of Thai pi sawflute, harmonica and bagpipes. "Giving Up the Ghost" varies the tempomore by fading Wobble and drummer Mark Sanders out a few times and backin at a different pace. Parker flutters and squawks in soprano, takingon a shimmering quality as notes are swallowed up and fed back throughthe mix. "Full On" features the most aggressive bass workout but Bell'sstereo goathorns are a bit too overbearing thus, unfortunately,dominating the track. And on "Finally Cracked It", Sanders lays down amildly funky rock rhythm for Wobble's rigorous bass line to lock into.Parker is in exceptional form here layering tenor drones and darting inand out with pretty reverberated riffs. Altogether, "Passage to Hades"is another successful collaboration for Wobble with predictable butbeautiful results. It seems that most anything and everything workswell with Wobble's low end led liaisons. Jah Wobble and Deep Space willtour major U.S. cities in May



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"re:kusaki, michiko kusaki remixed"

Come on baby, let's rock baby. With all the different mega-buzzworthyamusing modern electronic artists collected on this one CD, all I canthink of after hearing 17 remixes of and tributes to "Come on baby,lets rock baby" is exactly that. The disc starts out with aninstrument-free spoken word track from Chicks on Speed and continueswith contributions from American, European and Japanese electronicistslike GD Luxxe, Console, Adult, Pita, Sylvester Boy and DMX Krew. It'sthe eighth release from Angelika Koehlermann, an Austrian label formedby people from the Cheap and Mego labels. I suppose it would make moresense to me if I actually owned the 1999 release from the fragile andfeministic Osakan singer Michiko Kusaki, whose album released by AKallegedly had 8 top ten singles from, of which the hit "Let's RockBaby" was born. Since everybody apparently missed all these hits fromMichiko Kusaki, Angelika Koehlermann felt it their duty to compile atribute to the record. Whether it's the blippy Adult, cute Japanesestyles of Shinto, the horn-stem-funk friendly Mixmup, noise onslaughtof Obscurum, children's tv show theme-esque Bodenständig 2000,Casiotone tunage of Yoko Tsuno or the New Order-worshipping GD Luxxe,these tracks never get tired or worn, old or uncool. Summer is on itsway and this disc provides a great soundtrack for a trip to the beach.I'm now itching to hear what the hell the hoopla is all about from theoriginal release from 1999.



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Au Revoir Borealis (clever name, eh?) are a four piece band fromDetroit who have played live with Jessica Bailiff, Windy & Carl,The Autumns, LN and the like. They appeared last year on volume 1 ofE+J Recordings "Sculpting Nick Drake" tribute and "Tienken" is theirself produced and released debut EP. Six tracks, half of which aretitled songs and the other half untitled instrumentals, make up the 25minutes. Points of reference for their sound, besides those they'veplayed with, might include Cocteau Twins with a dash of Sigur Ros and apinch of My Bloody Valentine. "Heavens Downward" poeticizes a nighttimesnowfall against a lush electric guitar/synth cloud and gentlebass/drums pulse. Stephanie Halpert's heavenly voice repeats 'I couldlose myself in this' as I think the same thing to myself, though I'mreferring to the music rather than the precipitation. "Waldorf TheftSong" is a tad more upbeat with more of a synth pad presence andguitars restrained to non distorted tones. Lyrically it centers aroundthe mysterious lines 'falling away into the waiting field' (or is it'into the way you feel'?) and 'the Waldorf is something I might like tosteal'. After the rhythmic synth gurgling of interlude track 4, thedeeply moody "Monolith" slowly takes shape out of the atmosphericaether. Here the words are more personal and full of longing, Halpertbegging 'hold my heart in your heart, say I can stay, can stay'. Thefinal track gracefully closes the disc with pretty de-tuned guitarnotes in an effected wash. A wonderfully emphatic and impressive debut.Here's hoping the next disc gives us much more. Be sure to play withtheir fun to navigate web site



4126 Hits

The Rip Off Artist, "Brain Salad Surgery"

Bumped into Matt Wand of Stock, Hausen & Walkman as he was hawkingthe new Rip Off Artist CD to the Manchester shops. Opening his box ofHot Air to reveal brains aplenty: "You can have one for a fiver if youwrite a good review!" Thus bribed I went home to ruminate on whetherthis Rip Off Artist was some kind of scam since my first impression wasthat this could feasibly be a follow up to Stock, Hausen &Walkman's wry techdance appropriator 'Oh My Bag!' Hot air has neverbeen proven magnetic so maybe it's just a case of like attracting like.Whoever he's ripping off, the bribe was not necessary. The Rip OffArtist is said to have recorded this in Southern California. There aresome quirky Matmosian shuffles in there, or am I just hearing thisbecause I played this right after the 'California Rhinoplasty' EP? TheRip Off Artist, or Matt Haines as his mum probably insists on callinghim, uses a smaller range of sounds, or at least his sources seem lessdramatic, mostly relying on good old frazzled bleepery, but he has alighthearted foot shuffling fluid beat organisation technique which isexactly what you might expect from Hot Air, if indeed you expectedanything at all from this slightly odd and idiosyncratic label. The RipOff Artist is alleged to have helped out Uwe Schmidt with recording andhas thus been accused of ripping off Atom Heart. I haven't heard enoughAtom Heart to know if that's so, but this is certainly a rapid motionmelodic addition to the ever expanding quirky sampled cut up beatsglut. Is the cover picture of a brain just a ploy to get a glowingwrite up on this Brain? No, it's not, but how can an album that openswith a track about how 'Asparagus Spears My Artichoke Hearts' possiblybe less than soupy?
Hot Air website:



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Moblin is Chris Ragnar Bergen, multi-talented artist and apparentproprietor of Bergen has an obvious predilectionfor old school computing and gaming, namely Dos and 8 bit Nintendo, asevidenced from the moniker (a character from the NES "Legend of Zelda"series), title and artwork. Perhaps it's this love of fun and engaginginteractive machines that provides his penchant for likewiseelectronica. The 11 cute and/or oddly titled tracks that make up the38+ minutes of "CPrompt" draw upon the playfulness of those classicvideo game themes and the influence of fellow modern electronicswizards such as Kid 606 and Matmos. Moblin's sound set is predominantlywarm tones, bass and beats with similar samples and the occasionaloutburst of static or noise. At times it's a chaotic barrage of splicedsamples and at others a markedly restrained ambient walk in the park.But it's Bergen's skill in data sequencing and attention to precisedetail that makes these tracks special ... test tones, ripplingglitches, minuscule loops, fuzzy melodies and appropriated rhythm bitsseemingly fall into place rather effortlessly. This is really highquality stuff that bears repeated listening. Judge for yourself withmp3s of four full tracks at thistownisdoomed/moblin. Next up for Moblinis 2 tracks on a 7" for the Itcfwak label and a new EP entitled "TheWar On Drugs is a Joke."



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mogwai, "rock action"

Mogwai are back, but are they better than ever? Fans of these Scottishlads and their music tend to be rabid, so this is one of the mosteagerly awaited CDs of the year. Much more concise than their otherreleases (read: shorter), Rock Action is Mogwai's most musicallyambitious release in terms of arrangements and their finest effort todate, warts and all. Gone are the 16 minute epics that marked "YoungTeam" and later releases; here to stay are killer melodies and lovelyarrangements. Yes, there are a few let downs. The opening track, "SineWave," while scary and malicious, sounds a bit too much like "A WarmPlace" by Nine Inch Nails/"Crystal Japan" by David Bowie. And "RobotChant" sounds like what Mogwai ends their shows with: distortion pedalson stun + volume on 11 = fuck the audience! The high notes leave thesemissteps in their dust. The finest track, "2 rights make 1 wrong" willthrill fans everywhere with it's melodic beauty, and "you don't knowjesus" sounds just like the title suggests, destroying your faith atits basic levels. There's even vocals on four tracks, including a fineguest appearance on "dial:revenge" by Gruff Rhys from Super FurryAnimals singing in his native Welsh. On "Take Me Somewhere Nice," it'sclear just how much guitarist/vocalist Stuart Braithwaite's deliveryhas improved, and the lyrics are far more understandable this time. Allin all, a great release for them and you. Earplugs are recommended,even with your headphones on.



4726 Hits

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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4072 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.


3800 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)


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%.




4028 Hits