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DARRIN VERHAGEN, "HYDRA"

Well-known for his work as Shinjuku Thief/Filth, Darrin Verhagen wascommissioned to create the soundtrack to a Chunky Move dance production, andhas released the resulting material as Hydra, a limited edition EP on theAustralian Dorobo label. A quiet snowfall of digital noise, Hydra is bestexperienced through headphones. Combining remixed elements from both hisprevious solo album, Soft Ash, and label-mate Alan Lamb's Night Passage,Verhagen's work on this EP is nearly subsonic: ultra-minimal blips andrumblings with delicate, scratchy ambient atmospherics, only occasionallybursting into barrages of full-on noise. A nice addition to the Dorobocatalogue - grab it while you can!

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3902 Hits

SONGS: OHIA, "GHOST TROPIC"

I wish folks like Jason Molina would stop burdening their songs with rogueH's dropped into words that don't want or need them, such as "The badluh-huck tastes / of the darkS" from the new Songs: Ohia album. It'scondescending and annoying -- and we can blame ol' Will Oldham for making itfashionable again. Having typed this, I'm happy to tell you that GHOSTTROPIC is mostly engaging enough in its funereally paced way to overcomesuch a ridiculous vocal mannerism -- less of which is noticeable on GHOSTTROPIC than on previous ones. Gourgeous, langorous low-end guitar linesslither through Molina's ballads, here and there touched by shivery organ,leaden piano rumblings and rattling percussion. The horror mounts one lethalbeat at a time in songs like "The Body Burned Away," as ritual bells chimein the distance. And though there are too many goofy bird sound effects onthe gorgeous instrumental title track, its unexpectedly lush vibes-and-pianoduet chases away the gloom. At least for a second.
3838 Hits

SCORN, "GREETINGS FROM BIRMINGHAM"

Remember bringing homeScorn's "Gyral," "Ellipsis," or "Evanescence" and being absolutely inlove with the sound? Following the medium-well release of "LogghiBarogghi" there wasn't much excitement with the Scorn name affixed tothe product. Mick Harris pursued other avenues of sound sculpture whichhave all been fairly decent while releases like "Zander" or "Whine"weren't anything you'd pull from the shelves to listen to all thatoften. But then, almost out of nowhere, Scorn is back through Ant-Zen'sever-growing Hymen imprint. The four-song "Imaginaria Award" EP wasreleased earlier this year giving me faith and hope for something goodbrewing. When "Greetings from Birmingham" arrived, I was as thrilled asthe kid who finally gets his Luke Skywalker action figure he alwayswanted. "Fuck, yeah!" Scorn indeed does rule again, with powerful harddub and metal influenced beats screaming from the speakers. "PLAY MELOUD" the music shouts in my ear. I follow the orders and am not letdown. Thanks Mick, we missed you.

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5791 Hits

"VARIIOUS"

Intransitive Recordingshas given us a souvenir of a non-existant wrap-party for the firstseries of recordings from this discriminating label. "Variious" alsofunctions as the start of series two for the label. Featured recordingartists on the set include a Richard Chartier, *0, Pimmon, Mark Behrensand Brume. The music is for serious listeners only with a serenemesmerising headphonic contribution from Taylor Dupree to an auralrollercoaster by John Waterman, cut and processed field recordings byJustin Bennett to a sea of radio waves from Michael Prine. Chicago'sown Kevin Drumm's bit sounds like electronic mice scurrying through anunderground train station while an improvisational noise track fromlabel-owner Howie Stelzer and Boston-based electronician Brendan Murraywas pulled here from a live in-store recording at the local TwistedVillage, and that's only the beginning! Exploring various avenues ofimprovisational and calculated sound textures, Intransitive hasessentially been taking audio snapshots of movement. With this in mind,this 2xCD set is much like a photo album featuring some of thephotographer's most favorite pictures. With all Intransitive releases,this disc is limited and I'm predicting it will be a much sought afteritem before long.

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3838 Hits

Chicks On Speed, "CHIX-52"

Conveniently packaged on a small extended-play single are four tracks from the best all-girl group since Wham! Contained herein are three B-52s covers, "Give Me Back My Man," "Song for a Future Generation," (both on 'the Un-Releases') and "Strobelight." A fourth track, "The Chixmachine" is original and new.
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3838 Hits

DOWNLOAD, "EFFECTOR"

While this is probablyone of the better Download releases, nothing with the Download name hasmade any lasting impressions on me. The first album, 'Furnace' was arather lukewarm release and is by far my favorite. On 'Effector,' theproduction job is excellent, very clean and crisp. Unfortunately, whileCevin Key has strongly developed some excellent instrument sounds, themusic essentially lacks momentum. In the true sense of going nowhere,by the end of most songs, the melodies haven't varied one bit from thebeginning. I've almost completely given up hope until the 6th track,the disco-bass influenced "Chrysanthemum" breaks the theme ofpost-Autechre drivel. I'm thrown back, rather shocked that I'm actuallyturning the volume up, trying to get the most out of the experience,but close to the two-minute mark, I'm finding myself bored. Much likethe rest of the album the beats are fine, but where are you without agood motive? What's on TV tonight?

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3877 Hits

THE LIVING JARBOE "DISBURDEN DISCIPLE"

Jarboe returns with her second self-released album, the fifth to date ofher solo career. In the past two years she has continued to develop asa person and artist through world travel and numerous new collaborationsand projects, such as a live performances with the new The Living Jarboeband and an in depth, interactive web site. This disc is actuallyvolume 1 of an eventual 4 under the "Disburden Disciple" title. Jarboeconsiders the first post SWANS album "Anhedoniac" her 'disease' albumand this one the 'healing' album. Both seem to me to be part of thecathartic, exploratory process of re-birth and growth, a further movingaway from the music, image and love/hate issues of her past. Most songshave a guitar/bass/drums band based core interjected with bits of MiddleEastern flavored percussion, loops, piano and strings. And, of course,the voice. The many poetic voices and moody personas that Jarboeconjures and unleashes from within ... from the starkly beautiful to thedownright frightening. Overall the album is fairly quiet and restrained,in a good way, save for a raucous rock and roll outro for "Bound" and ablood curdling scream finale for "Scarification". The mid-section of thealbum (most notably "Kiss of Life", "Under" and "The Seance") veers offinto more 'artsy' areas with theatrical lyrical/vocal passages and soundeffects - the relative low points in my opinion. "Consume Me","Scorpion", "Forbid" and "Forgive" provide the more gentle moments withpretty voices and lush guitar atmospheres. "Dear 666" features aslightly acidic voice set against the intriguing slow motion interplay ofrough around the edges guitar and bass lines. "Scarification" and "PureWar" are both primal in feel with the vocals and percussion groove at theforefront, the latter also embedded with field recordings from Israel."Disburden Disciple" is everything you'd expect from Jarboe: a genuinelyunique and richly varied listening experience that will take much time tofully digest. This is the result of someone successfully carving theirown path and thankfully sharing those results with others.

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3932 Hits

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!, "LIFT YOUR SKINNY FISTS LIKE ANTENNAS TO HEAVEN"

Ok, I admit, the new godspeed release might not be the bestnew album of the year. However, it may just be the best album of theyear.The material released on 'Lift Your Skinny Fists' isnothing new to me. Instead, through live mp3s that have beencirculatingaround on the internet and via CD-Rs distributed by the band's mailinglist,I've heard the vast majority of the music collected on the two discs.While itcould be said subsequently that the disc is nothing more than anofficialrelease of already known songs played during their more recent tours, Ihaveto interject that the versions presented here benefit from their studiorefinement and the great production. More than their first album, thisalbumsshows the band's maturation and missing are the long, stark ambientsegmentswhich may have seemed like filler between the bands more dynamicmoments. The album starts off with the franglais title track "levez vosskinny fists," a benefitingoverture to this collection of these tracks, which are both symphonicandexpansive in nature. Perhaps the album's most remarkable moment occursat thebeginning of the second disc, when the wailing guitar of "Monheim"seems tohauntingly filter across a stark background and eventually build into amilieureminiscent of "Moya," from last year's 'Slow Riot' ep.Another highlight is "World Police," which shows the band at their mostfundamental, finding equilibrium and running with it, consuming intheir pathall the dynamics and rhythms the band members can muster. Even if youhave themp3s, caught them on their recent tours, it is highly recommendedthat you pick up this document of this innovative band coming to age.

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4149 Hits

ADD N TO (X), "ADD INSULT TO INJURY"

Boy am I in a weirdposition with this disc. First off, I'm thinking, "Am I the only onewho doesn't find it great any more? The formula has been used by theseguys for four albums and the songs aren't getting any stronger at all."From the first few songs (try 11) I feel strangely like I've heard thisentire album before. In fact if anything, it seemed as if this grouphas completely run out of ideas. Most of the songs start up incrediblypromising but become way too repetitive all too soon, going nowhere inthe end. But I listen on, remembering that I have liked their albums inthe past, and this group does indeed put on an incredible live show[hint: if they ever get off their asses and do a proper tour ratherthan small industry showcases, they might gain some fans outside of thecritic community]. The kitch-and-moog combo has become stale this timearound, and loads of extra session musicians hasn't seemed to help. Nowthat you've hoarded all this vintage analogue gear, learn how to writesome good songs with it, folks! The saving grace almost arrives at theend with the epic closer "The Regent Is Dead," and I'm thinking "wow,one great song!," but it's already too late. They pull the old "let'sthrow in 10 minutes of blank space after the song's over" routine,completely ruining this album for me once again. Sorry folks, you'rejust not 'cute' anymore.

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4264 Hits

ANTI-POP CONSORTIUM "TRAGIC EPILOGUE"

Anti-Pop Consortium are the NYC based MC trio of Beans, Priest and M.Sayyid and producer/engineer Earl Blaize. "Tragic Epilogue" is theirdebut, 3 years in the making, and is obviously the product of learnedmen - former art students and serious hip hop fans who've paid theirdues in the underground spoken word and writing scenes. Anti-Popdon't seem concerned with the mainstream but they do expose all ofit's weaknesses out of necessity. Old school influence embraces theafter-future, musically and lyrically, to create something I've neverquite heard anyone do before. The complicated, tongue twisting rhymesof each MC calmly flow out of the speakers in a mind numbing yet beatprecise manner and may at times require a dictionary, thesaurus and afinger on the rewind button to decipher. Topics are far from limitedto the usual MC-isms and the occasional disses make most every otherdis you've ever heard sound generic in comparison. Blaize's productionis a fittingly sparse foundation of melody, low end and beats rich withalien atmospheres and interstellar sound bytes. Think minimal hip-hop.Think New York City. Think intelligent, imaginative and uniquely odd,minus the usual contrived genre cliches. "Tragic Epilogue" might bechapter one of the future of hip hop, or at least I hope it is. Thedigipack includes sharp liner notes by Greg Tate and a bonus cd-romwith some software and a slick quicktime video for "Sparadic" by 75 ArkRecords (75ark.com) label mates Encore. Also available from Anti-Popare remix singles for "Lift" and "What Am I? / Laundry".

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4054 Hits

SCHLAMMPEITZIGER, "AUGENWISCHWALDMOPPGEFLOETE"

You'll find the usual Cologne suspects on the list of Dankes in the notesthe latest Joe Zimmerman release. But as the cover art (a circle oftraditional Teutonic dancers caught in a mid-air leap) visually suggests, themusic is brighter and poppier than the output of most his A-Musik labelmates.Like much of Sclamm's previous work, 'Augenwischwaldmoppgefloete'(Eyeswipeforestflute or somthing like that) takes a flighty, melodic bent,sounding more like a video game soundtrack than any type of hip pomo pastiche:it's more Alex Kidd than Kid 606. (Actually, the opening track"Konfliktfickfahig" is more Super Mario than Alex Kidd). This aesthetic senseof unity and seamlessness is what characterizes most of the Cologne crowd andsets them apart from imitators, and Schlammpeitziger takes it even further withan almost naive simplicity of bouncy rhythms and Casio bleeps. Rather thansounding pedestrian, it's refreshing to the ears. If you liked any of hisearlier stuff, you'll dig this one.
3776 Hits

ELECTRO ORGNIC SOUND SYSTEM, "ROOTS WRECK REMIX"

Jake Trusell's firstfull-length release through Varunee compiles two of his 12" singlespreviously issued on his own Bliss Recordings label. The disc howeveris divided up into three sections: Roots consists of the songs"Carrot," "Radish," "Turnip," and "Beet." All of which are somewhatmedium paced, musically conscious, beat heavy gems. Wreck is the nextsection featuring four lengthy decontructed dub-influenced serene,hypnotic numbers. Remix rounds out the collection, featuring Jake's ownremix of "Percussive Wave" from the 'Wreck' portion and an outstandingglimmering remix of "Carrot." [Hey Vat-boy, when's the next fuckingalbum???!!] What separates Jake Trusell from many of the other viciouselectronica upstarts is his ability to incorporate fine melodies intohis interplay. All too often electronic beat-oriented artists will gofor the cutthroat dancefloor stuff which will be forgotten once thehangover clears. Young Trusell here appears to be more focused onmaking albums for listening and pulling from the shelves to hear longafter the current trends are forgotten.

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3811 Hits

THE FUCKING CHAMPS, "IV"


Every thirtynothing andtwentysomething was a teenager once, many were in their youths in the80s and weren't exposed to good music for a long while. Hence, manyfans of indie rock, post-kraut, electronic and other stuff that broughtyou to this website were into very bad popular metal in the 1980s. Mostare too embarassed to admit this private and personal matter, exceptfor the Fucking Champs (formerly known as the ch43p5). "IV" rings inwith a sound all too familiar, thankfully the worst part of the 80smetal (the makup and lead singer) are left out of their formula. What'sleft are pure, raw steaming wanky guitar power and drum solos, readyfor the Yngwie Malmsteen fan we left behind. Look for them on tour withPole and Red House Painters next spring. 

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3742 Hits

"FOUR WAYS OF SAYING H3O"


Borrowing the title fromHafler Trio's "Four Ways of Saying Five," this tribute CD from Hushushis divided into four equal 15 minute parts and arranged alphebeticallyby artist. Featured here are Aube, Lilith, P.A.L. and Propeller. Thefour selections are both tributal and derivative. Much like HaflerTrio's work, all are very spacious, intoxicating, compelling anddreamlike, pulling the listener into a trance and then yanking the rugout with a sudden change. They are cold-calculated and devious,everything is intentional. These pieces are in no way easy to digestnor do they rest well with the listener, which make them all the morefascinating, much as Hafler Trio's work. Perhaps this is why I've saton this disc for months now without saying a word. Listen to the tracksand judge for yourself.

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3980 Hits

VOLCANO THE BEAR, "THE ONE BURNED MA"


Volcano the Bear returnswith their second full-lengther, this time without the help of StevenStapleton. "The One Burned Ma" is a collection of 4-track recordingsand is truly stellar in parts, downright bizarre in others. What wouldyou expect from a surrealist rock band? Violins, organic samples,electronic fuckery, unconventionally played guitars, creepy melodieswhich might make more sense on hallucinogens, this one's got the works!Each song gently glides into the next making it quite an adventurouscollection which is allegedly a compilation of 4-track recordingsspanning four years. The disc was released on the small, NY-based Misalabel, yet it still has the emotional support from the World Serpentcrew. Don't miss this group on the road in the US right now as I haveno idea what to expect. Dates are posted at the World Serpent site. For more information, go to www.misrarecords.com.

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4099 Hits

LOW, "DINOSAUR ACT" EP


As if Low haven'treleased enough music this year, Tugbot releases this single of threenew songs in the UK this week. "Dinosaur Act" carries the title with asong the group has been performing around the country recently, soon totouch down in Europe. Most definitely the most muscular track on thedisc (others might say 'the strongest') the song jumps in louder andmore distorted than what the Low sound is used to possessing, but oncethe vocals begin and song develops, it's clearly nobody else."Overhead," the middle child is by no means a mediocre track, butclearly rests between the strength of the other two. It's a thunderousLow track where it seems as if the glorious vocal harmony has beenyanked from its original music, and dropped in a sea of sounds echoingand building off each other. "Don't Carry it All" ends the disc withone of those Low tunes you can't believe a young group came up with - asong which could easily be destined to become a rock and roll standardfor years to come. Once the disc ends however, I can't get this damnedsong out of my head for the rest of the day. Small but powerful, thisis one of my fave singles of the year.

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4871 Hits

"FALSCH 01"

It's a neat concept, a 3"CD featuring nearly three hours of music compressed in MP3 format. Thevarious artists featured here include Christoph De Babalon, KimCascone, Oval / Frank Metzger and Pimmon. Throw the disc into thecomputer (since most people reading this are probably most listening tomusic on their computers these days) and use the web page interface tonavigate to listen to each track,... The music has been compressed atvarious frequencies, all of which, (according to the notes) maintainthe original CD sound quality. Perhaps with this type ofcomputer-generated electronic minimal music this is correct, but itwould be interesting to compare sounds on a big stereo withuncompressed music in a CD format. Another neat concept with this isthe interface in which you can play these tracks: nearly every artist'sname has a hyperlink to their home page while the tracks they providewill begin playing when clicked on. The downside is that after eachtrack you have to go back and click something new. There's no option tomake a continuous play (unless you simply load all the songs into yourmp3 player directly from your computer). Portability with this releaseis of course completely shot, but think of it this way: music can befun to explore again! Remember the days of buying records, bringingthem home and throwing them on - you had to be there to enjoy themusic, so you were provided a big lyric sheet, loads of big pictures,etc... While cassettes were the portable media, CDs pretty much killedthe magic of vinyl for most consumers. I hope this is the beginning ofa series, one which may feature more diverse acts than chin-scratchingemail checking laptop fuckers. For more information, check out fals.ch.
4723 Hits

V/VM, "SICK LOVE"

 If it's sick and it'slove, then it's undoubtedly V/Vm. The latest CD release from thisStockport pig farmer includes no less than 21 violations ofInternational Copyright Law. 'Sick Love' includes V/Vm's latest singlerelease, "The Lady In Red (is dancing with meat)," first premiered inBarcelona at Sonar. Other timeless classics include "Take My BeefAway," "Blue Thighs (Baby's got)," and "I Need Lard." This is thecurrent direction of V/Vm—a reaction to the mainstream pork—turningmundane pop shit into golden moments of pure chewing satisfaction. WhenI think of all the painful times I've walked through the aisles ofvarious shopping environments, subjected to Celine, Whitney, and AlanParsons, I'm thankful I always have some V/Vm recordings waiting for mein the car, in my walkman or at home. Thank you, pig.
5025 Hits

I AM SPOONBENDER, "TELETWIN"

\It's been nearly a yearsince the first issue of this, I Am Spoonbender's second CD. The vinyledition of this extended-play single comes in a 3-sided 2x12" set. Boththat and the first-edition CD are limited to numbers under 1,000. Now,Vancouver-based Mint Records brings us these 6 tracks to keep ourbreath sparkling fresh. I've become truly addicted to this CD. Theproduction brilliantly combines toyful electronic and driving rocksounds into a heavenly rhythmic mishmosh. Clever melodies and lyricsare all too remeniscent of a time in the 80s when pop music was createdfor the sake of making something sound good, long before wanky guitarsolos, macho vocals and tired chord progressions took over. A surprisegem on the disc is a parody of Berlin's "The Metro" where the singerbellows "Where do all the words go?" Pop is good, pop is fun, and thisis the real sugar - there's no saccharin here, baby.
4899 Hits

KID 606, "P.S. I LOVE YOU"

The wait is over, the NEWfull-lengther from Kid 606 gets released from Mille-Plateaux in Germanythis week to thousands of waiting fans. So it's not the onlyfull-length new release from Kid this year, so what! On this disc, Kidprobes into deep rhythms, microdissecting sounds at shrillingfrequencies. Gone are the bombastic dubbastyle gabber techno noiseassault tunes on this album. Concept? Perhaps not, but conceptualindeed. Much like the Soccergirl E.P. release earlier this year, thefeeling on this record is love. Perhaps it's a statement on irony asthese songs sound more mechanical and less freestyle. Either way thesounds are charming and the beats change enough to make you wonder howon earth Mille Plateaux released this gem!
5656 Hits