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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.



4310 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.



4721 Hits


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.



4215 Hits


 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 ...



4659 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.



4768 Hits

ilpo vÄisÄnen, "asuma"

Also to be filed under the "just not enough" category this week is thelatest solo release from Pan Sonic member Ilpo Vaisanen. The disc alsoclocks in under 40 minutes with eight tracks which seem almostheartless/soul-less when listened to alongside Pan Sonic releases.While it started out rather promising, on the whole the disc feelsbland, thin, repetitive, thoughtless and unfinished. The disc is shortand rather sketchwork-esque in nature. The "songs" utilize the sametypes of electronic sounds and styles that can be heard commonly on PanSonic releases, yet comparitively speaking, the songs here are lackingin depth. While I'd like to be able to separate the different entities,it's hard to listen and not compare the them as the sound sources arepretty much the same. The low-end drone/low-tech pulse combo of"Vallitseva" for example sounds achingly familiar, almost as if it waspracticed live but discarded for album releases. The stereoscopicallyphased-out "Jaett" also echoes grounds covered in previous releases.I'm left somewhat confused, wondering if this was something Ilpo hadpromised to Mego or whether it was something old and kicking around,perhaps rejected by previously issuing record labels like Mute orRaster-Noton.



5134 Hits


Slick Idiot is En Esch and Guenter Schulz, the other half of KMFDM thatdidn't become MDFMK, and this is the mail order debut from their ownItchy Records. Surprise! It sounds an awful lot like KMFDM and that'sfine with me. And goofy band name and album title aside, it sure isgood to hear these guys again. The basic formula is the same: Esch'sdistinctive deep growl, Schulz's metal riffage, dance beat and synthprogramming (less flashy and complex than KMFDM/MDFMK), some femaleco-/backing vocals and sing-along choruses. Lyrically Esch foregoes thesociopolitical rabble rousing of his former band in favor of moreemotional and interpersonal topics. "Lazy" is the most humorous withEsch and a female trading off old school rap styled boasts such as"yeah I'm En Esch and you can't fuck me - I got my shit on your recordand shiny CD". "Forgive Me" drops the guitar while the following tracks"Idiot" and "Get Down - Give In [Sex Song]" provide the heaviest andsexiest riffs of the disc, as well as the barely adequate rapping ofone Middleman on the former. Pretty good, though I know they're capableof more judging from Esch's superb '93 solo album "Cheesy" and Schulz'sremixes for KMFDM. Full length mp3s and video clips are available ...


4081 Hits

clicks & cuts volume 2

I cannot tell a lie, this collection is seriously borderingpointlessness. Pointless to a rabid music fan like myself and pointlessfor just about anybody other than a coffee shop or convenience storeowner. Yes, this is truly elevator music for Generation Y. Even AmandaPalmer commented that the packaging and the cleverly typeset tracklist(which separated artist from song title) "reeks of pretention." And itis quite pretentious. According to the booklet, all of these 39 artistsare part of a "new movement in music" (not a genre) where they're allworshipping glitches, expanding on the concept of a mistake. DoesPanacea, Kid 606, or Ryoji Ikeda consider themselves as makers ofglitch music, exploiting mistakes, eager to be lumped in with AlvaNoto, Vladislav Delay or Fennez? If I were any of these artists I wouldseriously question Mille-Plateaux's motives. Reading onwards in thebooklet, one would interpret this collection as a concept of mistakes.Disc one is truly a mistake with an abhorring mastering job which jumpsin volumes from track to track, clumsily unbalanced tracks haphazardlywhipped up on a computer. By track 10, the cleverly named Random_Inc.makes me almost cry to realize there's another couple hours of thisleft to go. Disc two luckily is a different take, but unfortunately thetake wears weak shortly. The artists here like Brinkmann or Kid 606 arebig disco fans who don't want to pay for or lug around a keyboard. It'slittered with thumpy bumpy artificial bass drum kicks, tacky cheap drummachies, and songs absent of concept, melody, or structure.Unfortunately these "artists" generally end the track two minutes afterit becomes completely unbearable. Disc three has the mostmusically-oriented pieces on here, with contributions from Matmos,Pansonic, CAT Politics, M2,Cyclo (Ryoji Ikeda with Carsten Nicolai) and Kit Clayton. Not only isthe collection on the third disc musically charged, it sounds likeserious, calculated tunes as opposed to accidental sounds over the lastcouple hours. I'm impressed with the opener from Twerk, as well as thewarm sounds of Fennesz, and the comical album closer from DAT Politics.Matmos of course are the A-team of electronica. As far as I can tellthese tracks are exclusive, which is good for fans as the disc doescome at a very reasonable price, easy to skip over the crap. Okay, somaybe I was harsh at first, but if this were reduced to the last CDonly in the set, I'd be behind it 100%.



4561 Hits

danielson famile, "tri-danielson iii (alpha)"

A family group that includes five actual siblings (actual surnameSmith) and three "adopted" members, Danielson Famile was originally thecollege senior thesis of oldest brother Daniel. Their bizarre mix offolk and gospel influences, cacophonous circus-clowns-gone-amok tootand squeal, and Christian message enchants and unnerves listeners ofall and no faiths. Think vocals like Frank Black at his most unhingedand music like the psycho-psychedelic lurch of Captain Beefheartapplied to merry-go-round tunes. Its heavy dosage of sweet and surrealsilliness may make it more of a novelty than a standard in my cdplayer, but the Secretly Canadian re-release of 'Tri-Danielson [Alpha]'includes songs that everyone -must- hear. In fact, I've played"Pottymouth" for just about everyone I know. The majority of the songis a spoken conversation between two girls, in which one of themrelates an unsuccessful first date. Apparently the bad boy is also abit of a klutz — while changing a flat tire, the car falls on hisfoot... which he later drops a bowling ball on. After each incident theunfortunate suitor speaks in a "strange language" (cursing representedby emphatic gibberish in the background of the track, of course).What's a girl to do when, at the end of the night, the loser tries tosteal a kiss? The screeching sing-song tell-off is: "WON'T KISS NOPOTTYMOUTH! AWAY WITH POTTYMOUTH! ZIP UP THAT POTTYMOUTH!" Otherhighlights include "Rubbernecker," a rollicking indictment of lecherousmen, and "Between the Lines of the Scout Signs," which reclaims themiddle finger from its social stigma. Yup: "Shake hands with thatmiddle finger! Put 'em up right now, you heard me! Put 'em up rightnow! I SAID PUT 'EM UP!" If you're not yet enthused, check out aDanielson Famile show, in which the band regularly sports homemadenurse uniforms that symbolize "the spiritual and emotional healingtaking place" and Daniel has performed from within a 9-foot-tall,homemade papier-mache tree.



5045 Hits


England's Pork Recordings is home to many a mellow, pleasant andpolished, jazz inflected electronic downbeat. Tetris are a trio fromRussia, also home of the inventor of the addictive game from which theytake their name, and there's nothing remotely Russian about theirmusic. It fits well within the Pork mind-set with shades of techno,funk, latino, disco, big band, swing, easy listening, porno soundtrackand kitsch. The programmed bass and beats are bright, clean and peppyand are dressed up throughout with horns, organ, female vocals andvocal samples, jazzy guitar licks and vibes and synth stuff. The 9tracks are between 4 and 8 minutes with the exception of the morespacious and slower paced "Recordsman" which lazily sprawls for over 11minutes. I don't feel compelled enough to go into any more trackspecifics, it's not really necessary, suffice it to say it's 'same-y'but with variation. This is happy-go-lucky dance music. "Tetris" isfine but too streamlined, predictable and a bit bland for my personaltastes. I need something more daring, deep and soulful. Or moreamusing. Perhaps the most amusing item is the instructions for making aWhite Russian drink on the jewel case spine ...



4516 Hits


Penumbra is Mark Warren, one half of UK ambient pioneers Zoviet France,and this album on Iris Light is the follow-up to last years solo debut"Anoraks" on Universal Egg. "Skandinavien" explores - for exactly 74minutes - similar dark ambient terrain with the aid of repetitive beatsand natural and not so natural field recordings from the region."Welcome to Skandinavien" quietly drifts for awhile then adds in flightinstructions from a flight to Copenhagen. "Deep Listening" churns withsteady layers of electronic drone wave, reversed audio bits, rattles,bells and a deep percussive thud, a lovely female voice loop beingintroduced by the 10th minute. "Another Rainy Day" features a constantcascading beat pattern and, of course, trickling water by the end."Input from Origin" builds upon a never ending beat with synth swirland mildly annoying sporadic notes. Ditto the never ending beat, onlymore frantic and heavy, on "A Week in the Black Box" as steam hissesand sine waves drone incessantly. "Living on the Borderlines" calmsthings down again ... static sea waves, bird calls, a simple hi-hatrhythm, native bellowing and the gentle hum of an engine (plus 6minutes or so of hidden track - field recording of people conversing,traffic and construction). Relaxing. "Penumbra" is pleasant and sits inthe upper middle of my quality scale for these type of albums ...




5722 Hits

current 93, "the great in the small"

You've all read the story by now. In a dream, David Tibet wasinstructed to release all his material together in one collectionbefore he died, echoing the old wives' tale that when you die your lifeflashes before you. Prior to its release, there was much speculationfrom fans on various email lists, would it be MP3 files? Could itmanifest as another greatest hits? No, the secret is finally out. 'TheGreat in the Small' is one long track of everything playing at the sametime, from 1984's 'Lashtal' single through 2000's 'Sleep Has His House'album. At the helm mixing the balances between everything was Stapletonand Tibet, who according to Tibet had a methodical mathematical systemof doing things. While they may have carefully and meticulously decidedwhere to begin and end tracks, equilizing the amount of sources playedat one single time, the gimmick of this release wears rather thin goinginto the 10th minute. To its credit, the mix is carefully constructedand is truly an adventure either in a properly setup room with loudspeakers or with headphones, listening and picking out popularfavorites as they fade in and out in a tapestry of noise. In total, itstretches over 61 minutes: which can be a true test in patience. Andwhat happens at the end of the journey? Sorry, I can't give that oneaway. Thankfully the release is mid-priced, as it probably won't getheavy rotation in most players.




6745 Hits


Something I've learned over the past few years is to get anything withSteven Wilson's name attached to it - Bass Communion, Porcupine Tree,IEM and now No-Man. No-Man is the UK based duo of Wilson (instruments)and Tim Bowness (vocals, also of Samuel Smiles, Henry Fool) and this istheir 4th album in a decade. Here they are aided by 8 other playersincluding Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree on bass and Steve Jansen (DavidSylvian) on drums and percussion on several tracks. The focal point isBowness' warm voice and poetic words, soft and heavy with aquintessential singer songwriter melancholy and yearning. This isadorned with piano, synth, saxophone, trumpet, flugelhorn, acoustic andelectric guitars and percussion, which is more of an accessory than adriving force. The result is a lush organic balladry with an ambientsheen, crossbred between acoustic and electronic sounds, and blessedwith perfect production. The songs are essentially pop but draw uponlight jazz, classical, psuedo-tribal and experimental influences. I'mespecially enamored with "Carolina Skeletons" (also title track of a1998 EP). It's utterly emotive with forlorn piano, crumpled sound loop,Floydian guitar and Bowness relaying the sad story of 'Cowboy Kate'(Kate Carpenter perhaps?) ... "it's carolina skeletons that make herstranger when she eats". "All That You Are" is another crowning jewel,ending the album on a note of romantic resolution ... "let me take yourhand and love all that you are". "Returning Jesus" is gorgeous,addictive and timeless. It's like a shared bed you never want to getout of ...




4272 Hits

Jean-Michel, "New Medium Softpack"

Jean-Michel's second CD release is an excellent follow-up to Marshmallow Rooms (see the brain vol 3 issue 17),containing some pretty ambience mixed with electro-crunchiness, whackedbreakbeats, and old-school techno, providing a an aurally stimulatingexperience. Like most of my favorite intelligent-techno bands,Jean-Michel expertly oscillates his effects and adds and subtractssounds to keep things evolving, as if a story is being told. But whatsets him apart is his excellent use of acoustic guitar to set theelegent mood, juxtoposed with a seasoning of brief splashes ofhighly-processed, other-worldly noise, guaranteed to grab yourattention.
On the recording side, there is one gripe - his CD tracks frequentlyare at a level which is a tad too high and the overloading, whileperhaps adding character to some of the songs, is sometimes obviouslyunintentional. Perhaps his many vinyl releases do not share thisproblem? His very obscure German record label, Eleganz,seems to be primarily a vinyl shop, always releasing his songs first onthe esteemed 12" format. Good luck finding his stuff on this side ofthe atlantic.




4514 Hits


Christopher Penrose is a thirty something Californian who has receiveddegrees in music composition at UC San Diego and Princeton University.He currently resides in Japan and works as a researcher, composer anddeveloper of audio software for Apple's Rhapsody operating system. Thetwo 20 and 24 minute tracks on this disc are likely products of thatsoftware, possibly his image to sound program. Penrose is obviouslymaking a statement on the Americanization of the world as the digipackfeatures clever artwork by him of Stars and Stripes flags with thestars replaced by other nations flags and corporate logos. The titlerefers to 'one who vociferously supports one's country, especially onewho supports a belligerent foreign policy', no doubt a phenomenon hehas experienced firsthand in Japan. The title track churns throughcountless processed samples and passages, far too many to detail oreven identify, but most are seemingly random snippets of sound andmusic interspersed with several spoken statements: "here is what youthink", "be a winner at losing", "I love my body", "she is America",etc. "MK/Ultra" features an 8 minute wavering synthetic drone, apanicked phone call to a radio station from a recently dischargedsoldier who believes aliens are among us, and a numbered list ofunusual life lessons and suggestions delivered in a digitized voice,culminating with "walk slowly, but kill that motherfucker if he triesto take your money" repeated ad nauseam. Penrose's compositions arejust plain odd, both in content and juxtaposition, but also interestingwith a well balanced mix of ambient, noisy, serious and humorousmoments. Though, without the artwork I'd be somewhat puzzled as to whatit's all about ...




4790 Hits


Aeron Bergman is a founding member of NYC based label Lucky KitchenRecords and this CD is his first for Germany's Tom. "The Tale of theUnhappy American" is a science fiction fairy tale told with words andsounds. Eleven short spoken word tracks are followed by correspondingmusical tracks, all less than four minutes, often to interpret theaction of each scene. The story follows the narrator's journey from thesurroundings of home to a futuristic battlefield and beyond via a hoverbike. There doesn't seem to be any sort of moral really, just a briefadventure then back home. The music is predominantly pretty ambientelectronic twinkles, waves, drones, static and gurgles, with theoccasional noisier passage. These sounds, despite being electronicand/or computer generated as I believe they are, feel very naturalalmost as if they are field recordings of the sounds of insects, powerlines, flight, water, battle, machines, different times of day/night,etc. There's a child-like naiveté to everything here: the concept,story, the music and the packaging. And it works. It's simply cute,fun, warm and relaxing. Next up for Bergman, as 1/2 of Alejandra andAeron, are "Kitchen" a split 12" on Fat Cat and "The Tale of Pip" fulllength on Autobus/LK in April and May ...




4432 Hits


This year, 4AD's UK office has been reintroducing the public to thecatalogue of some of their former brightest stars. Heidi Berry'santhology "Pomegranate" gathers 14 songs from her three 4AD albums andadds a few extra bits. 4AD fans might not know her name but they sureknow her voice, as it's all over the final This Mortal Coil album,'Blood'. Her first album was released in 1989 but her first record for4AD, 'Love' was released in 1991 shortly after This Mortal Coil's'Blood'. 'Pomegranate' jumbles up her tracks in a non-chronologicalorder, with the basic folk-inspired acoustic songs interwoven withsongs with lush string arrangements and captivating swirling pianomelodies. There's something magical about that voice which shines invarious spots but can also get quite improperly placed when accompaniedby the Lost Girls in the collection's closer, "Needle's Eye".
"Life in the Gladhouse" collects 16 album and single tracks from ModernEnglish between the years 1980 and 1984. While most people in the worldwill only credit them for the mega retro feel-good 80s anthem "I MeltWith You," the group had a much darker, angry and artful repertoirestretching over the course of three notable albums. Program the CD toplay the songs in chronological order and you can see how the groupcame into existence during the punk movement and exited during theearly 80s wave of new romantics. While I don't usually agree to "bestof" compilations from groups who only have three albums represented, acollection like this or Heidi Berry's will be helpful to people who arefamiliar with the small slice, but interested in hearing more. InModern English's case it's the big hit, only popularized long after itsinception, Heidi Berry's case being the voice of 'Blood.'
"Ciao!,"on the other hand makes less sense. The group's popularity was muchstronger and to release a best of from a group also with a three-albumcareer like this is rather unnecesary. Unlike the past two collections,there is a chronological order executed here, in reverse however. Thedisc only grabs a few hits and some popular album tracks, heavy on thecatty most recent stuff (including the gratuitous Javis Crocker duetfrom 'Lushlife') and light on the beautiful two-girl harmonies onlayers upon layers of guitar wash, which captured everybody's attentionand love of the group in the first place. I fell in love with Lush'smusic over a decade ago and still hold much of their music dear to myheart, yet I'm not endorsing this collection. If they really wanted torelease a worthy retrospective, a collection of b-sides and compilationtracks would be wonderful. Over their short career, the group hasaccumulated an impressive non-album repertoire which couldn't fit onanything less than two lengthy compact discs.
ThePixies were arguably one of the most influential bands of the late 80sand also arguably the last truly alternative band to gain recognitionon a large scale. They intelligently and almost accidentally combinedsmart riffs with surf-punk and abstract lyrics with hooks catchy enoughto make Lennon and McCartney jealous. In 1991, following the band'sfinal album, Nirvana fucked everything up, thrusting recycled Pixiesriffs repackaged as 'grunge' into the mainstream, merging 'alternative'and top 40 radio, forcing them all to cater to the new incarnation ofpop music. Thankfully it also surpressed hair bands, until thefollowing year when Pearl Jam surfaced as a repackaged Winger. I couldgo on for hours on the subsequent decline in individuality andextinction of daring record companies whose risk-taking was high andrewards were somewhat honorable, but that's another essay. That asidethis collection, 'The Complete B-Sides' doesn't do much more than itclaims, collecting all the singles tracks which didn't appear on thealbums, in chronological order from the start. Absent however are acouple lingering other tracks which appeared on compilations like'Rubyat' and 'I'm Your Fan: Songs of Leonard Cohen.' As a bonus acouple of their music videos are included - their breathrough hit,"Here Comes Your Man" and "Alison," which sadly enough omits the entirefirst part of the music video, "Dig for Fire." The commentary byCharlie Thompson (currently known as Frank Black, formerly known asBlack Francis) is short and direct, not surprisingly so as he's alwaysseemed to be more enthusiastic about current projects than reflectiveof his glory days in the Pixies.




4467 Hits

"No Watches, No Maps"

While the Fat Cat people boast about their committment to introducingfresh new artists, they've played the game relatively safe for theirentire existence. A successful record label has to establish themselvespretty much before they can make bold moves like this one, releasing aCD comprised entirely of demos received by the label from completeunknowns. Fat Cat established themselves by releasing an assortment ofbuzzworthy 12" split singles, sneaking in a relatively unknown act onone side with an established act on the other side. In sales it'scalled the "foot in the door technique" — now that we've got yourattention, try this! The label's intentions are well and this techniquesure paid off.
Conceived over two years ago, this collection gathers 74 minutes ofpeople you most likely have never heard of, many of which will probablynot surface again. While Fat Cat have pointed out that they love all ofthese songs, limitations of the label have only allowed them time,budget and manpower to do full releases of a couple, two of which Com.Aand Duplo Remote have tracks appearing here. The collection issurprisingly impressive, starting off with the brief abrasive noise ofQT?, continuing on with glitch electronica Autechre worshipping soundof Phluidbox, the sci-fi death theme sounds from Jetone and pentatonicAsian taste of Zooey. By the time it reaches the slick production ofthe instrumental Fridge-ish jam, Ukiyo-E's "Val Doonican," the grandscope of the collection is shifted, transforming it from a collectionof random electronics to something more. At this point, the compilationof unknowns begins to strangely mirror a well-constructed soundtrack oran 80s-era cassette-only comp. Changes continue when the poundingabrasive head nodding track from Moneyshot bursts in, a melancholypiano piece from Beans arrives a few tracks later, followed by moreelectronic and organic contributions including the gorgeous low-temposubmission from Cytokine.
While each of the 19 songs on here are quality work, it's easy to tellthat all of these artists are still in the infancy of their careers,with much more to learn about originality, composition and production.Much like releases like the "Rising from the Red Sand" comps forexample, I'm predicting this disc will become one of those collectablereferences on discographies popping up years from now. On the horizonfor the label is a section on their website with exchanges of musiclike this and hopefully more collections.


4754 Hits


It isn't until the fifth track of 'Hoshi No Koe' that you hear musicstrongly resembling the majority of Nobukazu Takemura's previous work.In and of itself, this isn't such a bad thing. To continue to rely onthe same reverb-laden, scratched, looped, and manipulated CD soundswhich have come to be so closely associated with Takemura (as well ashis "Child's View" alias) would have been redundant, if still quitepleasant to listen to. With the release of the "Sign" 12-inch a fewmonths back, Takemura signaled a shift away from the avant-gardeindulgence of 15-minute tracks of skipping digital beats, and towardsan almost danceable mix of vocoder-enhanced vocals, 4/4 rhythms, andcatchy melodies - and which kept his trademark sound as coolornamentation to what was his most single-y track yet.
On 'Hoshi No Koe', Takemura shifts back into the avant-garde, whichagain, in and of itself, isn't such a bad thing. Unfortunately, themanner in which he does so is. Gone are the so fresh, so cleancompositions, walls of sound, and floods of echoes perfected on thelikes of 'Funfair' and 'Scope.' Instead, here we hear a handful ofwell-constructed and intriguing tracks separated by what comes off verystrongly as nothing but filler: throwaway Casio noodling on "One Day,""White Sheep and Small Light," and "A Theme For Little Animals";wanna-be clicky minimalism on "Honey Comb" and "Trampoline"; and slowmeticulous beatless repetition on "Stairs In Stars" and "In TheRoom-Roof-Wood". Some of these tracks are less offensivelynot-thought-through than others, but all display a startling lack ofcleverness and ingenuity, and what is most vexing, a seeming lack ofeffort on the part of Takemura, who plays all instruments and producedall tracks on the album. It is one thing to not exactly "get" the newdirection in which a musician wants to take you, but it is anotherthing to not understand at all why he wants to take you there. This isthe case with 'Hoshi No Koe' - there is a clear lack of directionthroughout the overly lengthy 78 minutes that would probably surpriseanyone who has tracked Takemura's work to this point.
This is not to say that his genius doesn't manage to shine through atleast a few times. "Sign" is on the album (the aforementioned track 5)and its the obvious winner of the bunch, and "Anemometer" is asimilarly terrific (if unnecessarily lengthy) melding of bouncy beatsand trademark Takemura sounds. "A Chrysalis" starts out sounding likeexperimental wanking, but slowly and beautifully evolves over its 17minutes into a downtempo exploration of rhythm and tone that wouldn'tbe out of place on 'Scope'. Finishing the CD is the wonderful "TheVoice Of A Fish," which is similarly subdued, subtle, and complex - allcharacteristics which are in short supply on most of the previous tentracks. For whatever reason, these traits - which made Takemura soexciting on previous efforts - are anomalies here.


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The Angels of Light, "How I Loved You"

The Angels of Light are the current song writing device of Michael Gira of Young God Records. How I Loved You, follow-up to 1999's superb debut New Mother, commits to tape many of the songs from the now legendary first tour and others written since. It is a collection of love songs of sorts with references to various women and Gira's parents, whom grace the front and back cover of the digipack.

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