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pan sonic "live in london, 1995"

The second release in the over-priced under-packaged series of livediscs on Mute's Jenny Divers label is another concert from Panasonicrecorded in 1995. This recording however was from one show in London,(as opposed to the two-show in NY release reviewed a few weeks back).The sound is much different as the group knows how to cater to thedifferences in fans and concert goers in both cities. While the NY showwas full of meaty bass-heavy beats, this disc is littered with moreintrospective art-school class "A" electronica, with much aim to pleasethe stuffy London chin-scratchers searching for irony in an electronicconcert. The disc is considerably shorter, totalling only 53 minutesbut thankfully is indexed track-by-track. Once again, only the seriousfans need to worry about shelling out the stupid cash to pay for thisslab of black plastic accompanying the CD, each without artwork. 


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Matmos, "A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure"

Kid 606 wasn't far from the truth when he claimed that "Matmos are the A-Team of electronica" — the new full-length album is a triumph for this San Franciscan duo. Their fourth album follows along the progression taken with 'The West,' moving even further away from random technological fuckery on their first two to create a cohesive, conceptual, organized result.

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The band that made aname for themselves by loudly invoking their own anonymity andobscurity since 1972 is not really about secrets anymore. Many of theirprojects from the late 1990s up until now have been very high-profile,with backing from large software companies, international tours, andtons of product ranging from the typical t-shirts to little statuettesand build-'em-yrself model kits. Even the faces and identities of theband members — once the carefully guarded secret around which theybased their marketing — are apparent enough to the fan who does alittle bit of research. 'The Residents' has become, quite deliberatelya brand that is applied to a range of product. That's why the groupwants to be sure that the product with their brand name on it is up totheir quality standards. When it isn't, as in the case of this CDreissue of the "Assorted Secrets" cassette of rehearsals from 1984,when they lose a bit of that control, is when the music gets the mostinteresting.
The band is obviously very interested in its appearance, not just withregards to identity-obscuring costumes, but in the release only ofconcept albums of the highest technical sound quality. Ideas that nevermade it into album form are hardly ever made public or even discussed,and rehearsal tapes are almost unheard of. Their material from the1970's is perpetually being re-recorded on newer electronicinstruments, remastered according to their ever-higher standards, infive-speaker surround sound. The Residents immediately regrettedreleasing something that was as unfinished and poorly recorded (thetunes were, after all, only for their own rehearsal) as these tunesfrom "Fingerprince", "Mark of the Mole" and "Tunes from Two Cities".These songs would eventually become overdubbed, EQ'd, and edited andcleaned up, but the imperfection evident on "Assorted Secrets" linksthe songs more to the post-punk and DIY bedroom-electronic music thatwas happening at the time. One complaint about the Residents' post-1979output is that it's too sterile. That is certainly not the case here.Thus the reissue exists due to massive pleading by their fans, and notbecause the band is proud that it exists. The original tapes werescrubbed as much as possible for the reissue, but hidden in a cardboardwrapper printed with warnings like "Please go away" and "They hateit!". The band's name does not even appear on the wrapper, but theireyeball-in-a-tophat logo does, albeit with the iris covered with alarge black bar of the type that government informants use to protecttheir identity on TV news programs. The reissue is printed in arelatively tiny pressing of 1200, perhaps with the hope that only thatthe die-hard fans will hear it and stop asking about it, and thegeneral public won't even know of its existence.
The last thing the band probably wants is for some reviewer to suggestto his readers to run out and buy this CD, one of the most excitingdocuments of the band yet. The low recording quality and the rawness ofthe playing makes the Residents sound like a performing band comprisedof real people, as opposed to the slick and streamlined, high-techhi-fidelity group that the band wants you to hear. Four distinctplayers can be heard making mistakes, standing too close to themicrophone, saturating the tape at times, sounding rough and alive in away that's been uncommon for the last two decades of the Residents'recorded career. After all, the Residents are a band that printed awarning right on the back cover of their debut CD, "Meet theResidents", to not buy it if you hadn't already heard the subsequentalbums! Clearly, they shouldn't be the ones to judge. In most cases, Iprefer the versions of the songs on "Assorted Secrets" to the ones thatmade it onto the records. The reason they don't want you to hear"Assorted Secrets" is the same reason why it's great. It contains thepassion of a band that's playing simply to hear themselves, not caringabout what their audience will think. When the band started out, theylaboured under their "Theory of Obscurity", which stated that anartist's best work was done without an audience in mind. Their attemptto downplay "Assorted Secrets" proves that they don't really believethat anymore. Available only at their website,
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Somewhere way up north,an Opera is coming together featuring Stockport's finest. V/Vm wasthere in secrecy at the scene of the crime: the Crown Inn, MD in hand,stealing the sounds coming from the stars. Little did they know thattheir secret revolutionary plans were to be documented, exposed,reproduced and distributed. Four contributions from five of the starshave fit on this slab of thick black wax, seven inches in diameter(where would the music community be if everybody turned to metric,huh?) Meatgrowth, Miss Bill Apauling, Mrs. Attitude, and a stunningduet between White Sox and Sandals have all made their appearances.Select audio transition periods have been carefully inserted withlittle intervention from the V/Vm Test Records label. Listening, Ithink I've heard Sandals before on the AuralOffalWaffle - recordingoriginally as CC White, this stellar singer is now performing duetsunder a sneaky new guise. I don't know what the full opera is going tosound like but it's destined to become one of the year's best of theworst.


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Thread is essentiallyJames Izzo and "Abnormal Love" is his debut for Middle Pillar.  Izzohas obviously put much effort over the past year into making this albumdynamic and diverse with a strong sense of continuity.  Each song flowsinto the next, several with the aid of brief segue tracks, to make onecohesive whole out of all the pieces.  We shift naturally throughpassages of sample collage, electro/ebm, orchestra, dub, pianoarrangement and ambient soundscape.  Three songs have vocals.  Izzo'sare a bit pallid on their own, as on part 2 of "The Horror of theUndeserved Gift", but more functional alongside those of former SWANSmember Jarboe.  "Biomechanical Intercourse / The Malformed Heart" getsthings pumping with a steady electro heartbeat rhythm.  "In SweetSorrow (Duet Version)" differs from the single version (see Thread "In Sweet Sorrow")in that it's shorter and adds Izzo's low pitched masculine voice ascounterpoint to Jarboe's light feminine vocals.  "Blue Darkness(Orchestral)" blurs unintelligible voices amongst foreboding orchestralsynth melodies.  "God's Morse Code" is a groove-y 9 and 1/2 minute livejam of  underwater alien dub featuring the help of two extra players. "Contours" is a bizarre and somewhat difficult mix of percussion andduet vocals, Jarboe especially taking on a more devilish persona. "Saudade" (Portuguese for 'homesickness') is a beautifully sparse solopiano piece.  And "Skyscrapers and Sand" and "New Horizons" bring thealbum to an optimistic close with over 8 minutes of mellow ambiance. Altogether "Abnormal Love" is Thread's most accomplished and impressivework to date.  This is not merely a haphazard collection of randomtracks, but instead a carefully thought out and arranged album.


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Part experimentalcommunity theater and part Ryoji Ikeda, this disc is the studio versionof what has been performed around the world since October, 1999. Fromthe start, much of the music seems to be built on sounds and conceptswhich appeared first on Ikeda's "Time and Space" CD set. Rhythmicpatterns are constructed from a small collection of electronic bytes,on top of this are added various other drones, squeals and abrasivenoise, along with the occasional spoken word from Simon Fisher Turnerand Rene Eyre. Much like a disc from Ryoji Ikeda, special attention ispaid to sound depth and spacial conceptions, but there's a magical,almost human element of surprise. Unexpected jolts of energy strikelike a flash of lightning, bringing almost completely unbearable whitenoise sounds. Subsequently, other tracks move away from the familiarIkeda sound, incorporating drum-machine generated beats and truemusical compositions. Short pieces provide atmospheric yet sonicallychallenging aural matrixes, weaving patterns perhaps constructed forinfinite repeats while well-crafted light displays illuminatepost-industrial backdrops so artspotters can scratch their chins insilence. Keep in mind, this disc could very well be somewhatsouvenir-like of the live installation, something of which I haven'tseen and can't really comment on, but there's diagrams available ofstage setup and requirements listed at the Dumb Type website.


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I must admit that Ihonestly don't remember this record being this good when I got it onvinyl two years ago, but now that it's on CD I feel it's worth amention. The Montreal trio known as Exhaust consists of Gordon Kriegeron clarinet, bass and guitar, godspeed's Aidan Girt on drums andvarious other things and Mike Zabitsky in control of reel-to-reel tapecut-ups. Their first release from 1996 was only on cassette, threesongs from that were remixed and appear on this eponymous release. Thetrio not only know how to interact well with each other on this disc,creating moderate tempo grooves and spacey cuts from improvisedsessions and limited sources, but they know when to quit and start thenext track. The ten tracks on the disc just barely squeak in over 30minutes, which is perfect for something as enjoyable yet somewhat thinas this. On each track it seems as if the recordings are going straightto the tape without overdubs of more instruments and effects. Aiden'srhythms are simple yet beat-box influenced and hyper-manipulated inparts, Gordon's musical contributions change from track to track andcan be a dub-sonic bass loop, squelching guitar or calming clarinet.Almost taking center stage are the samples and tapes, which unlike inthe godspeed setting carry no profound message and seem to be used forthe sole sake of their sound. Godspeed fans shouldn't jump into thisrelease expecting to hear something similar to A Silver Mt. Zion orMolasses, Exhaust is much different.


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The debut release fromJoon Hong and Varunee co-operator Chokdee Rutirasiri and hasmaterialized as the third release on the young Boston-based labelVarunee. Miro's first full-lengther was co-produced in Chicago withMatt Lux (of Isotope 217) and features contributions from Lux and a fewother area players. The disc opens up with an enjoyable Mouse OnMars-influenced instrumental bit, a moderate-paced melodic yet glitchypiece, from there the disc becomes somewhat sour and repetitious. Thefollowing eight tracks are good starts, but seemingly underdevelopedand homogenous. What works on here is the experimentation of sound: thecollective has found great uses for their gear, plays it well and hasmade the sound work for them in a great environment. The charming organsounds and analogue keyboards mixed with digital processing is somewhatof an accomplishment. Unfortunately the production is a bit muddy andrarely allows the instruments to really stand out with their ownidentity. What doesn't work on this disc is the overly dramatic yetflat vocals: this album should have been either entirely instrumentalor only had voice on two tracks. (Which ones I can't decide on becauseI'm not terribly fond of the singer or context.) On the up-side ofthings, I'll be interested to hear how this group progresses, as thisstart certainly has quite a bit of unrealized potential. Hint of advicefor new bands: start with singles, get experience, work your way up. Adebut album is an ambitious undertaking, both financially andpsychologically, rarely is somebody going to make a stellar debut. Evenif you do, chances are you'll always be compared to that debut or killyourselves trying to top it. Create a buzz and leave short but powerfulimpressions on the listeners.
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Nurse With Wound, "Automating Volume 1"

20 years ago these songs began to surface on various compilation recordings. By the end of the 1980s, Senior Stapleton began collecting tracks together on 'Automating' collections volume one and two. Finally, the first volume is available on CD for the first time. The tracks here span the years from 1981 through 1984, a pivotal phase in the the NWW timeline as the music became less improvisational noise-based and more compositional in nature. All of the original tracks are here from the LP release plus one bonus, "Automating (Again)" from the 1984 French compilation 'Born Out of Dreams', which has never appeared on a NWW release. Listening with the LP and CD back to back, the differences are few but prominent: there's nearly one minute missing (a squealing intro) from the first track, "Duelling Banjos", plus the end of "I Was No Longer His Dominant" has a repeated loop of the last spoken phrase cross-fading into "Ciconia." One thing I can't decide on is whether all the sounds have actually been enhanced or if my vinyl version of this is just old with the grooves worn thin! That aside, the sound quality and mastering job are very pleasing to the ears. It also helps that are also some of my favorite NWW songs, with the downright silliness of "Duelling Banjos" (a different version than on 'The Ladies Home Tickler') through the spacious atmospheric "Fashioned to a Device Behind a Tree" and the severe annoyance of the looped girl singing "Na Na Na Na, Kiss Him Goodbye" in "Nana or a Thing of Uncommon Nonsense." Couple things to note: consult the website for a tracklisting as it's unlisted and excuse the catalogue number (as it shares the same number with Santoor Lena Bicycle!)



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Alva Noto is digitalsound and visual artist Carsten Nicolai, aka Noto, head of the Notonhalf of Germany's Raster-Noton cooperative label now known simply asRaster Music. This disc is brought to us by fellow German electroniclabel Mille Plateaux and is referred to by them as being of the'digital processing' style. The 10 untitled tracks are a continuoussuite of minimalist compositions constructed of the familiar soundsthat seem to naturally emanate from everyone and everywhere in Germanythese days. For nearly 18 minutes Nicolai precisely codes structured,layered loops of clicks, pops, artifacts, 'beats', waves, tones,pulses, static, silence and noise into pleasant and listenablemini(mal) symphonies. The active evolution of each piece is both on amacro and micro level and the stereo field is fully explored ...attentive headphone listening ensures the full effect. And though thesounds are similar throughout, there's plenty of variation in how theyare presented within each track and from track to track, this alongwith sharp composition skills are the keys to maintaining my interest.Nicolai is simply one of the most talented in the field. The titleliterally means 'an original model on which something is patterned' soI can only assume that these prototypes will spawn more in the nearfuture.


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Kilowatthours' debutalbum is a solid set that should please rock fans of all persuasions.Something like emo-pop that dabbles in post-rock, theirs is a stream ofsound with a gentle drift, deliberately channeled so that even at theirnoisiest, the songs are still melodic and sensitive. Tracks like"Kayla," "Run Home," and "Elipses" follow the tradition of dark pop ala Bob Mould: energetic rock with a sparkling sharp edge. Other songsvary in their inclination. Opening the album, "That You All Played"starts off with orchestral ambience soon brightened by a repeated lickand then a surge of warm guitars. Even when the song really starts tochurn, the grind is flavored by a mellow sweetness. "Strain of PositiveThinking" begins like a more hopeful Red House Painters with hushed,overlapping vocals, and bursts into a thundering wave of guitars andcymbals. A paradoxically playful and hopeless cover of "Candy Says"stays fairly faithful to the original version, though it turns theringing guitar arpeggios of the first into a twisting music box tinkle.Guitarist Chris Renn's dissonant off-key vocals are an affectionateparody of Doug Yule's ever sharpening pitch on the Velvet Undergroundrecording. Though the overall production is clear, it can sometimesseem a little flat, with vocals frequently buried in the background.Another complaint is that the Kilowatthours' carefully constructedsongs can sometimes seem a little restrained. Still, more intricaciesbecome audible with every listen, and it's hard not to admire theamount of conscious control with which Kilowatthours has apparentlyshaped its songs.


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Emptylight and Hed Nod/Hushush gather 15 exclusive 'dark hop' cuts for this 75 minute compilation. Artists include several names I was already familiar with - Mick Harris, Ocosi, Su8m3rg3d, NOS, Dijislov and Not Breathing - and others that are new to me: The Dustmite, Zero ID, Shinitaika, Olivier Moreau, Silk Saw, I-drik, Montagnn, Larvae, Turn and Alien Radio Station. Most all of them do relatively the same thing, here at least, with beefy Scorn styled head nodders.

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Two brand new CD-Rs arenow available from Terminal Kaleidescope in the EEC and Beta-LactamRings Records in the North America. First up is the third installmentof needles from Edward Ka-Spel. The disc includes more songs from oldvinyl releases "Dance China Doll" and "Perhaps We'll See Another ThinBlue Line" left off of 'Down in the City of Heartbreak and Needles'volumes one and two. Also included here are rare tracks like "TheColour Xhine" from 1993's 'Tape a Break' cassette-only release, "Fuse,"the B-side from 'The Man who Never Was' and some previously unreleasedcuts "Charlotte! Stop Climbing the Curtains" and "Mosquito Munch FullGlory" (an alternate mix of from 'The Blue Room'). While it's great tohave these classic songs available on CD finally, the various sourcestossed together in this CD-R makes for an unclear listening only arabid fan would really love. I'm also somewhat disturbed by the choiceof throwing transition music between a couple of the tracks on here, asa purist of sorts, I'd rather re-assemble the albums in their originalrunning orders. Due to destroyed masters and various other problemsthis wasn't possible however.
Nextup is a gathering of stuff hinted to for years, 'Kollabris' featuresten songs from friends and family of Legendary Pink Dots, including thegorgeous acoustic gem "Bring the Rain" from the 'Artwork' album, thehaunting "Pretty Something" from Lydia Tomkiw as well as a few TearGarden outtakes and unreleased LPD jams. Once again the die-hard fanswould find these songs excellent to have like the alternate versions ofTear Garden's "Bump" and "Georgie" as well as the amusingly titledshort but sweet album closer, "The Bomb Bomb Loopa Tribe Go to Swansea(and eat it)" or the 14+ minute extract from the Empathy session.Similar to the other collection, the artwork is simple and inexpensivewhile the price is rather steep. The rewards are high as a largepercentage of these songs have never been available to the public. Withthe help of BLRR in the USA, these two along with the first three TeKaCD-R releases are now much more easily available for those who don'thave access to Eurocheques and would rather not pay pricey shippingcosts. In the end, the cost works out rather even, so if you were gonnabuy them, you would have bought them anyhow.



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The debut album of ex-Blue Airplanes member Hazel Winter is a blues-tinged, distortion-wracked set of ruminations on bad times and uncomfortable intentions. Winter's voice shifts from cracked whisper to murderous wail, evoking Portishead's Beth Gibbons and PJ Harvey. Coincidentally, perhaps, Put Away the Sharp Knives features the contributions of Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley and Harvey producer and collaborator John Parish.

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It's been nearly threeyears since the last full-length album from the Michigan-based Windy& Carl, but the duo have hardly been inactive in the meantime.Along with the album released in 1999 as 5 Way Mirror with GregGasiorowski and various performances including every year's Terrastock,the couple have also been operating their own Stormy Records musicstore full-time. Thankfully a new album manages to surface capturingtheir signature sound of drifting guitar effects, drones and occasionallow-volume mix vocalizations from Windy. I'm almost left wonderingwhere the missing album is as their evolution from 1998's 'Depths' isan incredible leap. 'Consciousness' begins simply with a beautifulswirling glistening guitar melody from the opener "The Sun." The albumcontinues on with a mesmerising "Balance," a sligthly altered versionof "Trembling" which appeared first on 'Brain in The Wire Disc A.'Here, the almost indescribable shaking hum combined with warmundertones conjures images in my mind of traveling on a train throughautumn foliage with the sun strongly blaring in my eyes. I'm nearlyfloored by the almost real string sounds both in that song and thealbum closer, "Resolution", that once again I regret not being intoillegal substances! The rest of the songs show an impressive display ofspace and composition, molding the sound into a serene daze, buildingthem up and then letting them fade at the perfect time. Songs like "TheLlama's Dream" are almost too gorgeous for words to even describe, withan intense wash of sound blanketing the warm bass tune driving the songforward. 'Consciousness' might be one of those albums which could beused as ambience for many low-intensity activities, but the duo'smastery of subtleties results in a blissful experience from listeningat loud volumes in dark rooms.


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Noise/Girl (R.I.P.), "Discopathology"

The second release in V/Vm's highly limited color-coded distressed-audio series has arrived as an orange/black splattered platter. Stockport's finest has delivered a top-notch selection of intense beefy noise cuts based on rawkus dancefloor anthems, with all due respects paid to Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers.

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Colin Potter works as astudio engineer at IC Studios in Preston, UK and is probably best knownfor his work with Nurse With Wound and Current 93. "And Then" is hisfirst solo CD with 5 tracks cleverly titled "before", "...", "next","and", "finally". The disc itself reveals the full message: "before itwas inside, ... but now it is outside, next will come examination, andall will be revealed, finally however nothing is certain, and then?"Drones and curious percussive sounds dominate and are panned across thestereo field. "before" and "next", 11 and 20 minutes long respectively,feature contemplative ambient/noise drone work on par with NWW's"Soliloquy for Lilith". The former opens with a wind swept barrage thenmoves into a deep surging presence while the latter remains relativelyquiet but churns with mechanical undercurrents. "..." begins with abouncy spring like sound which is soon overwhelmed with drab beats andlater dressed up a bit with twinkly bell tones and a preset effectswash I've heard far too many times prior to this. This track strikes meas brutish, amateur and just plain out of place. "and" is a clankymilitary march that slowly builds into a cacophonous climax andrelease. "finally" returns to ambiance with natural environment soundsand a constant surge underneath later giving way to strange metallicwire pings and pluckings. It's really a shame that the tedious 15minutes of "..." are a permanent fixture of this otherwise fine disc.Hooray for the skip button! Potter will likely be involved with theslew of upcoming NWW and c93 releases due out later this year.


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Ce groupe associé avecle collectif fameux québecois godspeed you black emperor! formula undisque des sons divers et rhythmes exotiques. Oh, to hell with a Frenchreview, as the sound on this release hits on a more global level. Thetitle, which translates as "Sedative in frequencies and grooves" prettyaptly describes the album's atmosphere. Although only a short thirtyminutes, the three songs on the album seem to coast effortlesslybetween cantering basslines and minimal electronic interludes. >Fromthe beginning of "De cercle en cercle..." you are bombarded with whatseems to be a simple jumping bassline and drum beat on which shards ofguitar feedback, electronic glitches, and metallic drones are laid. Itseems that these guys love their dichotomies, becuase they effortlesslyfly from this form of noise-pop to beatless ambient atmospheres andexperimental noise. They seem to take this formula and run with it,applying it to their second song, "éfférant/afférant" and then steppingback to view the album from a macroscopic level and ending it with"micro sillons," a four-minute noise work that slowly fades the albumout into sonic oblivion. While the formula can be a little boring attimes, the result is an album that shifts between various moods andatmospheres that produces cerebral visions of diverse grandeur.


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Troum, "Tjukurrpa (Part One: Harmonies)"

Troum are a Bremen, Germany based duo formerly of the 'ambient-industrial' band Maeror Tri. Tjukurrpa is their third full length CD, follow-up to a Mort Aux Vaches and first on member Stefan Knappe's Transgredient Records. It is also the first in a trilogy under the name (meaning "dreamtime"), this one concentrating on 'harmonies' and the next two on 'drones' and 'pulsations'. And that is Troum's objective: to put the listener into a dream-like state of unconscious exploration.

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While the lightning andthunder originate at the same time, we see the flash first — it'sbright and immediately grabs our attention, from the intensity we canmake a good guess as to the thunder's magnitude. This EP preceeds alarge milestone in Matmos' musical career and the flash is indeed quiteintense. Following last year's tour with dates in Europe and shows inthe USA with the Rachel's, Matmos soon are forking over an incrediblealbum cleverly based on and constructed from uncountable sounds ofvarious surgical gear and practices. The "California Rhinoplasty" EPintroduces us to a stunning 10 minute 'cut' from the album in itsoriginal form and then follows it up with an honorable cover tune ofCoil's "Disco Hospital" and two remixes of the title cut. Not only willthe following full-lengther "A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure" betheir first release on Matador worldwide, but they're currently in NewYork finishing up the production on an album from a young relativelyunknown up-and-coming female singer from Iceland who goes by only onename (hint: her name almost rhymes with New Yörk). The original versionon this EP grooves pleasurably with a flawless, clean precision, whilethe remixes could almost be given completely different names due totheir bold retoolings of the original. Get this thing now before Matmosput everybody else out of business.


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