Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: February 2007

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Boy In Static : "Where It Ends"

Boy in Static - Where it Ends

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I really enjoyed Boy In Static's support slot with 13 & God back in 2005 at Toronto's Lee's Palace. I enjoyed it so much that I have kept a close watch on his development. With one album under his belt already ( "Newborn" which was released by German label Alien Transistor, Boy In Static is set to unleash his next installment of shoegazer guitars and upbeat electronica via Mush Records (Lymbyc System, Pedro, Caural etc). "Violet" is due next may and the video above is of first single. "Where It Ends". Always a generous musician, Boy In Static has also given us the oppurtunity to download the mp3 for free.

His music now seems more melodic and has a certain maturity. The beat-work is, as ever, full-bodied and there some nice string arrangements added to his compositions, that places ths track somewhere between The Notwist and My Bloody Valentine. This could be one of those low-key albums that just surprises everyone.

"Where It Ends" mp3 : Boy In Static

Triptych 2007 Line-Up

Scotland's tremendous Triptych Festival has announced its line-up for 2007. To be held between April 25th and 29th in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, solo performances by Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite and former Arab Strap frontman Aiden Moffat have already been booked. The line-up isn't as good as last year (Aphex Twin, Mogwai etc), on initial impressions anyway. But I am most certainly looking forward to performances by Pierre Bastien and his robotic orchestra, David Pajo and Alexander Tucker. And, as ever, there will be more than a few hidden gems in there too. Full line-up, film listings and news here.

"Avid Diva" mp3 - Pierre Bastien

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Yndi Halda Vinyl Release

Yndi Halda's much acclaimed "Enjoy Eternal Bliss" ep will be getting the full vinyl release treatment. Pre-order's of the double LP and shipping will start next week at their American label, Burnt Toast Vinyl. I may order this myself, despite having the CD, as I prefer the earthy sound of vinyl to any other medium.

If you want a CD version, you can get it from their UK label, Big Scary Monsters. This seems as good as time as any, to post the Yndi mp3 that has been in my inbox for a few weeks now. Of course, even people with only a passing interest in post-rock should know who these guys are, such was the impact their (initially) self-released ep made. If you haven't, for some unknown reason, had the pleasure of experiencing this young band, I demand you download the mp3 below.

Back in December, during his top 5 albums of 2006 post, Vic Spanner gave Yndi Halda this magnificent description:

"Three tracks, 45 minutes. Local heroes Yndi Halda's epic E.P. arrived in the form of a personalised hardback copy of "Danger In Deep Space" (a Tom Corbett Space Cadet Adventure), with nature shots inserted by the band, and a note apologising for the delay in sending it (they like to hand make their cds). The music ?: Epic, beautiful, spine chilling, sad and incredible, the world needs some new adjectives for this music. There's a moment exactly ten minutes into "We Flood Empty Lakes" that sounds like a million superheroes flying through the stormy skies at once. Finally, a band worth giving a shit about".

Dash & Blast mp3 - Yndi Halda

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Cam Butler - "See (Symphony No.1)" (Pharmacy Records)

Cam Butler is the guitarist for acclaimed Australian 3-piece Silver Ray, a touring favourite of Nick Cave. For "See (Symphony No.1)", his 3rd solo outing, Butler has handpicked no fewer than 14 gifted musicians to form his Shadows of Love Orchestra. Each element of the orchestra, be it the strings, guitars, percussion or computer loops, impacts pefectly with Butler's assured guitar work, helping him to realise his dramatic, cinematic vision.

Following on from the likes of The Cinematic Orchestra and The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, "See (Symphony No.1)" is a grandiose statement full of possibilities that is just begging to picked up for a major Hollywood blockbuster. Over the course of its 6 tracks, the album conveys just about every emotion possible in the movie world.

"Does Your River Run Deep?" comes across as if it was the opening titles to Robert Ludlum's Bourne series. There's a real mysterious quality to its epic string arrangement which is accompanied by frenzied guitar work. Its provides a thrilling opening to this album.

"Southern Ocean" follows bringing things down a notch or two with gorgeous strings, mournful guitar work and foreboding percussion. It runs like an updated version of "House of the Rising Sun", building purposefully and becoming increasingly textured with each passing second. It all subsides with a magnificent symphonic eruption towards the end.

Further down the line, "Unlock My Door's" combination of bluesy guitar and flamboyant violins evokes images of the barren trails around the dust bowl regions of the USA. There's a certain edge to this track, that had me pondering how great this would suit something like HBO's Deadwood.

"Exist" comes as a real shock, I was expecting another fast-paced epic adventure of a track. Instead, a tranquil ambient passage slides in. Once you get over the initial shock, though, this 10 minute piece starts to work its slowly-layered charms on you. Its textures and shimmering beauty give this track a certain weight, that has enough power to lull you into a deep coma.

Roots guitar acts as a wake-up call on the introduction of next track "Can't Play The Game". This is the song that propels "See.." from a great album into a truly exceptional piece of work. Witness the majestic orchestral waves at around the 3 minute mark, that could have been lifted from any number of blockbuster films, such is its dramatic nature. The climax of strings, percussion, vocal chants and guitars can only be described as spellbinding.

The final track "See" has a lot to live up to after "Can't Play.." and Butler tries valiantly to match it. This 13 minute track doesn't quite reach the same lofty heights (not many tracks would), but the funereal strings towards the end provide a real poignant moment.

All in all, "See (Symphony No.1)" is a near masterpiece, engaging throughout and polished with a real Hollywood sheen. The string arrangements seem to take most of the lead parts and are backed up with an army of guitars and percussion work straight out of the blues and classic rock handbooks. Such an approach catapults these songs into the upper echelons of cinema music. It will only be a matter of time before one of those big-time producers will be calling on Cam Butler's door. His cinematic punk music is destined to be soundtracking one of those Marvel Comics blockbusters anytime soon.

Rating - 87%


"Exist" mp3 (excerpt) - Cam Butler
"Does Your River Run Deep?" mp3 (exceprt) - Cam Butler

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Points of Interest

1. Mogwai, despite a prolific output in 2006 (Mr.Beast, Zidane, The Fountain), appear to be back in the studio according to their website.

2. Planet Mu have details on their 2007 release schedule.

3. 65 Days of Static have a few live dates up here, including a few at Scotland's wonderful Triptych Festival.

4. You can watch Arcade Fire perform "Intervention" on Saturday Night Live here.

5. Portishead previewed an unmaed song in a low-key performance in Bristol, according to Pitchfork

6. Hidden Shoal Recordings have pre-released Wes Willenbring's "Somewhere Someone Else", which should be of interest to fans of Eluvium, Stars of the Lid, The Dead Texan and Labradford.

7. The Strange Death of Liberal England recorded a session for the Steve Lamacq show on BBC Radio 1. Stream it here. Pre-order their forthcoming single here.

8. Kingbastard has remastered and uploaded another record, this time it is his "5" ep, download it for free here.

9. Pre-order Vessels forthcoming single "Yuki/Forever The Optimist" here.

10. SITE NEWS: in the coming week I will be posting exclusive mp3's from 4 up and coming artists in and round in electronica genre. I am hoping to now make this article a monthly event.

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Neo Ouija To Return

It was a sad day when innovative electronica label Neo Ouija closed its doors in 2005, having released some of the best sounds throughout its short lifespan. 30 albums were released in all including some glorious work by the lieks of Seven Ark, Metamatics, Clatterbox and Accelera Deck.

Well, the good news is, Neo Ouija is set to return in 2007 with a slew of records planned from the likes of Metamatics, Nacht Plank, Millicent and Deer

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Monday, February 26, 2007

New Port-Royal Track

Port-Royal's magnificent 2005 album "Flares" (review)easily fits into my top 10 albums of all time. To say I have been looking forward to the follow-up is a complete understatement. Things, thankfully, are starting to take shape, "Afraid To Dance" is due in April, preceeded by the "Honved Ep". The Italian quintet have posted a brand new track, "Internet Love" (possibly a tribute to Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" ?) and have stuck to their promise of less guitars with this swirling beat-driven number. Stream it here.

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An Abundance of Herbs

Quite a lot of Herb Recordings news to digest here, but I'll give it a bash. Firstly, the innovative Scottish label has released full details of their two latest signees, Engine 7 and Skytree. Meanwhile, Solipsism have made 4 unreleased ambient tracks available for download and Kingbastard has uploaded some older material.


Skytree is the work of Evan Snyder, an Afro-wielding Minnesota-based musician who mixes folk with IDM in his own experimental way. Having released some music via Benbecula and Eaststroke Records, a full length debut for Herb Recordings is expected in the no too distant future. "Windings Of The Dragon Track" will be available via digital download and CD. Listen to the sample track below, it comes across like a less evil Boards of Canada performing in some weird and wonderful forest. This is the real "Campfire Headphase"

"Horizon Rock" mp3 - Skytree


Engine7 is a stalwart of the netlabel scene having released records on 12rec and a few others. It was only a matter of time before someone else took notice. At the tail end of last year, Herb Recordings certainly took notice snapping up Engine7 in time to release his forthcoming "Me, But Perfect" album. His most polished work to date, it retains the heartfelt emotion and those uplifiting melodies. Each track is carefully constructed, with painstaking attention to detail. It is a triumph for organic instrumentation and digital innovation. A must for fans of Sigur Ros, The Album Leaf and Helios.

"Sunrise, Catalonia (7.14 am)" mp3 - Engine7

You can also stream the absolutely tremendous and live favourite "Tempertantrum 11.36 am" here


"Electricty Flows In Squares" (review) is certainly one of the freshest electronica releases I have heard this year. It mixes swirling, ethereal melodies with precise and mechanistic programming, a wonderful contrast. Solipsism have since uploaded some unreleased ambient tracks, recorded during "The Electricity Flows..." sessions get them here.


Kingbastard unleashed the sinister "Bastradize Ep" (review) earlier this year, I described it as "quick-fix of frenzied beats, effervescent melodies and a lo-fi style production". He has now gone into his back catalogue, re-mastering and reloading some of it. You can obtain "Sad Machines & Things That Go Bump In The Night", free for a limted time only, here.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Richard Walters : "We Have Your Head"

Big Scary Monsters rarely get it wrong, so when they send out a bunch of mp3's you generally sit up and take notice. Having already released Yndi Halda's "Enjoy Eternal Bliss" Ep, BSM will follow this with the release of Richard Walters' "Pilotlights" Ep.

The 24-year old songwriter from the fertile grounds of Oxford, UK claims to have the most requested song that has featured on a CSI programme. "Pilotlights" can be bought for just £6 here. In the meantime, here's one of thos mp3's, listen to the ethereal quality of Walters' voice.

"We Have Your Head" mp3 - Richard Walters

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

christ. Live @ Tronic

Tronic have pulled off a major coup in getting christ. to perform at the next installment on March 16th at the 13th Note.

Also joining him is the fantastic Keser, Edge of the Map and Deemond

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Vessels Live @ O'Henry's, Glasgow 24/02/07

O'Henry's, in the heart of Glasgow's city centre, isn't a venue I would normally consider for live music. But, its low roof, miniscule 'stage' and low-key lighting gives it a certain charm. Vessels ensured they used the venue's atmosphere to their advantage throughout a very succesful night for the young band.

I missed the opening band Grozny, but judging by their myspace profile they enjoy a good scream, jangly guitars and off-kilter rythmns. I did catch next act Piano Bar Fight. This was a good thing, their frontman posseses a Morrisey-esque baritone and it is soundtracked by urgent, chopy and jerky instrumentation. There's a decent bit of potential there and Piano Bar Fight are certainly one of the more interesting bands to emerge from Glasgow's underground.

Most regular readers of this site will be aware of Vessels by now. Signed to Cuckundoo Records, their last ep seemed to feature more ideas than most bands manage in their entire career. Last night's show was no different, with the band using a arsenal of machines and instruments to concoct their sound which sways between post-rock, indie, electronica and post-hardcore. It is hard to pinpoint their sound exactly, mainly due to the fact there is so much going on. Instruments were swapped and genres swept through with apparent ease, the drummer kept his focus throughout, putting in a superb performance. One song, (possibly "Armed To The Teeth") featured the frontman sparring with his drummer on a seperate kit, my only complaint being it didn't last long enough.

Some old favourites were aired too, most notably an early inclusion of "The Beast", but it was closing track "Look At That Cloud" that provided the show-stopping moment. I am a bit of a post-rock veteran, I have lost count how many times I have seen Mogwai, this track is as good as anything I have ever heard. It recieved the biggest cheer of the night and is, quite frankly, stunning.

Next up for Vessels is a prestigious slot at BBC's Maida Vale Studios. It seems they are destined for greater things and the 50 or so people who were there at last night's performance witnessed the start of something special

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T In The Park

I managed to get two tickets for Scotland's annual T In The Park festival. It was remarkably painless and took just 45 minutes or so of staring at an ill-informed timer lodged at a 15 minute wait, beofre I could proceed to the check out. As far as I am aware, all 120,000 tickets have gone now. This year's festival will be expanded to a three day event, the line-up isn't that great at the moment. Although both Arcade Fire and Damien Rice have been booked as headliners, now that's worth the £140 alone.

Full Line Up So Far... (I've highlighted the bands I want to see... slim pickings at the moment)

Arctic Monkeys, The Killers and Snow Patrol will be the three headliners and other artists confirmed to appear include Bloc Party, The Coral, Lily Allen, Razorlight, Arcade Fire, James, James Morrison, The Kooks, My Chemical Romance, The Klaxons, CSS, Babyshambles, Jamie T, Scissor Sisters, Kings of Leon, The Fratellis, Paolo Nutini, Goo Goo Dolls, Kasabian, DJ Shadow, Interpol, Maximo Park, Mika, Damien Rice, Amy Winehouse and Tori Amos

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Bitcrush : "Colder"

bitcrush - colder

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n5md have released a few albums over the last year or so that have been glued to my stereo. Last Days' "Sea" was one of my favourites last year, while this year, despite only being 2 months old, both SubtractiveLAD and Tobias Lilja have unleashed two of the best in and around the electronica genre.

So in celebration of n5md's quality and individuality, here is a video of Bitcrush's "Colder", which was shot by Liam Franklin. Check out his other work here.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Last Days Almost Spring Mix

Hot on the heels of my cinematic mix yesterday, it is now the turn of the professionals. Last Days has completed the follow-up to his Best of 2006 and New Year Mix. It's entitled "Almost Spring"....

"This quiet mix ended up being quite ambient and classical with some recent favorites and some i'd forgotten i had.
About half way in is a sample from a 45 minute piece of audio art by Alvin Lucier 'i am sitting in a room' from 1970 in which he records his voice saying one short statement then plays it back while recording that on another machine. He then plays that back while recording it on the first machine. After an hour all that can be heard is the natural droning reverb that particular room provides. His words explain why he conducted this experiment. It's hardly the kind of thing you'd put on in the background when having friends round for dinner and perhaps it's not right to mess about with such a piece in a mix but it's a fascinating piece of work."


00.00 - 04.54 D_rradio - Perfect For The Fall
04.45 - 07.45 Your Ten Mofo - 3
07.37 - 12.09 Isolee - Picture Loved
11.56 - 14.42 Khonnor - Rooms
14.24 - 19.17 Andrew Hodgeson - Set Your Feelings Free
19.10 - 24.11 Marsen Jules - Chanson Du Soir
24.07 - 28.11 Kazumasa Hashimoto - Milmils
28.08 - 33.05 Fourcolor - Empty Sky
30.22 - 39.49 Alvin Lucier - I Am Sitting In A Room
36.32 - 40.03 Jóhann Jóhannsson - Ef Ég Hefdi Aldrei...
40.03 - 47.20 Ludovico Einaudi - Primavera
47.18 - 51.12 Erik Enocksson - The Lingering Procession
51.08 - 54.45 Bjork & Lars Von Trier - Overture

Get It Here

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"Welcome, Ghosts" (Live) - Explosions In The Sky

Explosions In The Sky were remarkably chosen to play on the Conan O'Brian show last night, performing "Welcome, Ghosts" in front of an audience of millions. This must be the first time a post-rock band has breached the mainstream.

Anyway, this song (as expected) sounds fantastic live.

Welcomw, Back!

Explosions In The Sky : "All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone" (Temporary Residence)

Explosions In The Sky need no introduction, the Texan quartet have set numerous standards with their previous albums. 2003's "The Earth Is Not a Cold Place" is considered by many, as a benchmark album of the post-rock genre. Since then, many have tried to match it, most have failed. In fact, I would go as far to say, that the thousands of acts who have aped EITS sound, have almost succeeded in cheapening its value.

However, it's 2007 and "All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone" is out and EITS are not messing about. They are back to reclaim their throne, from the legions of poor man's post-rock bands, and they mean business. "The Birth and Death of the Day" heralds their return with a rattle of guitars, bass and drums within the first 30 seconds. It's a real statement of intent and after a couple of minutes of intense build-up this track explodes into a crushing, galloping rythmn, resembling the charge of a cavalry at the start of an ancient war. I will eat my hat, if this is not the set opener on their forthcoming tour. The glorious start and triumphant chorus of "The Birth and.." would be worth the admission price alone.

The good thing about "All of a Sudden..." is the Texan quartet haven't screwed with their sound too much. There are no "Kid A" style left turns here, asides from the slightly forced sounding piano washes on "So Long, Lonesome" and "What Do You Go Home To?". But we can forgive a band for experimenting, can't we?. Besides, give "What Do You Go Home To?" a few more listens, the melody will burrow itself into your head and it will catch you in the back of the throat.

The main problem here is the fact that the album has been leaked on the net for over 3 months now, enabling people to form their opinions and basing them on poor quality mp3's. Most have dismissed this album as a poor return from EITS. Upon hearing the stunning 13 minute "It's Natural To Be Afraid", complete with the trademaek intense build-up, followed by a volley of heavenly, cascading guitar interplay, I would have to disagree. It's a near flawless return, with some of the tracks having real potential to become crowd favourites. It is as if they have never been away.

My only (minor) gripe is that not one track stands out over the other. "The Earth Is Not..." had "Six Days At The Bottom of the Ocean" and as gorgeous as the likes of "Welcome, Ghosts" is here, it doesn't quite match the emotional impact of past glories. But, I have always maintained that Explosions take things to a different stratosphere ,let alone level, in a live setting. Listening to the monolithic "Catastrophe and the Cure", I can almost picture guitarist Munaf on stage with his legs apart, swaying hypnotically to the music.

Every single element that makes EITS so special is intact on "All of A Sudden..". The guitar interplay, the intensity, the swooning melodies, the militaristic percussion, it's all there. Explosions In The Sky are back and have reclaimed their throne. They are the Post-Rock Kings once again.

"Welcome, Ghosts" mp3 - Explosions In The Sky

Rating = 80%

Hype Machine Mp3's
Alternative Review (1)
Alternative Review (2)

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Besnard Lakes

Now here's a band that could give Arcade Fire a run fot their money. I first posted on The Besnard Lakes, back here, after reading about them. They sounded very intriguing to me and Stylus have agreed with that assessment

"Beach Boys harmonies (yes, really), well-toned psychedelic guitar solos, closets full of noise and haze, and an attentive palate for the gaffes and perfect imperfections of the first-takes, basically everything that makes the indie cognoscenti salivate right now—and molded it into something softly fierce and primal. In fact, at times, its lyrical themes—all gasoline-burnt and obscure—are difficult to imagine perched atop such glowing harmonies, but the Besnard Lakes somehow turn that dichotomy to their advantage, forging intangible epics out of splinter-wired amps and codas of excess".

The mp3,below, is absolutely tremendous and I detect a little Syd Barrett influence in the glorious chorus.

"And You Lied To Me" mp3 - The Besnard Lakes

more mp3's at The Hype Machine


Boring Machines Mix 1

I am aware that this site lacks the mp3 depth of other more visited sites and blogs. But I don't really agree with posting music illegally, and any mp3's posted here before have been done so with the permission of the artist or label. So to combat this, I have decided to join the growing number of D.I.Y mix-makers and may make it a monthly occurance. This first mix is deliberately expansive, bringing togother epic and cinematic songs (and a tad of electronic sounds to space things out), some are my favourite tracks of old and others from my current playlist. Of course, it goes without saying, if you like any particular artist, check them out. I am particularly enjoying Myppa recently.


1. IBM 1401 Processing Unit / Jóhann Jóhannsson (taken from IBM 1401, A User's Manual)

2. The Scratches of the Window In The Doors of Each Cell / Library Tapes (taken from Silva)

3. Altruistic Behaviours / Myppa (taken from Altruistic Behaviours)

4. I Chose Horses / Mogwai (taken from Mr. Beast)

5. Laureline / The Gentlemen Losers (taken from the self-titled debut)

6. Part 2 / Jasper TX (taken from the Harrisburg 3")

7. Velius / Helios (taken from Unomia)

8. Accelerating On A Smoother Road / Labradford (taken from Praizion)

9. Part 5 / Mono & World's End Girlfriend (taken from Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain)



Monday, February 19, 2007

Celtic Vs Milan

My beloved Celtic take on the Milan millionaires tomorrow night in the first leg of our Champions League clash.

I am desperately hoping for more of the same in this video

C'mon The Hoops

Sean Moore : "Signs of Potential Life" (Post Records)

Firstly, I have to admit to not being the biggest of fans of singer/songwriter albums. As the rest of the world fell over themselves praising Sufjan Stevens, I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. Having said that, though, there is a select few artists that have managed to break down my singer/songwriter barriers. Jeff Buckley's "Grace" is one of my all-time favourite albums, while Elliot Smith has the ability to make even the most pedestrian of acoustic guitar and vocal tracks sound completely heart-breaking.

So it is a pleasure to hear that Sean Moore's vocals, on this debut solo album, has a similar endearing quality to that of Smith. Not only that, on opener "Reluctance Towards A Force That Pulls" he displays a keen understanding of the pop hook. You cannot help but be whisked away by the sheer euphoria of his multi-tracked vocals and bittersweet melodies. It provides a strong start to the album and will have you humming along all day long.

The Orlando, Florida based musician plays in a number of bands, it is any wonder how he found the time to record an album that is chock full of ideas and production touches. The 3 years Moore spent making "Signs of Potential Life", seems like time well spent. This isn't just a musician with a voice and an acoustic guitar, "Coughing In The Clouds", for example, touches on the epic, psychedelic benchmarks set by The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds". It turns from the simplest of numbers into a gorgeous, cinematic symphony in the blink of an eye. The coughing sounds, disguised as percussion, nods to the work of Brian Wilson.

At times, however, "Signs of Potential Life" feels slightly too over-blown for my tastes, the sheer volume of ideas throughout ensures they are almost bursting to get into the mix. "Collection Expense For Conversing In Codes" jumps all over the place and loses focus towards the end. "Ticket Stubs & Spent Love", on the other hand, is equally as schizophrenic but there is an alluring quality to Moore's vocals and the psychedelic horn section, violins and glockenspiel work a treat.

But then, the basement aura of "Visibilty Anxiety" is different and provides a song with a real lo-fi charm. Starting with some lovely guitar-picking, Moore's richly textured vocals emit yet another infectious melody, proving he can operate in a stripped down atmosphere too. It is the perfect closer for an album that literally explodes to life from the get go.

While "Signs of Potential Life" recalls The Beach Boys on a number of tracks, there is number of poignant moments wrapped up with gorgeous vocal melodies, that even the most stone-hearted person could enjoy this one.

Rating = 70%

Mp3's (Hype Machine)

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hidden Shoal Recordings Music Player

Here's a playlist, lifted from Last FM, featuring the melancholic side of Hidden Shoal. There are a few others here, too

Sankt Otten : "Wir Koennen ja Freunde Bleiben" (Live)

SANKT OTTEN - Wir koennen ja Freunde bleiben

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Here is some hard evidence of Sankt Otten's (review below) awesome music, a live version of album title track "Wir koennen ja Freunde bleiben"

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Sankt Otten : "Wir Koennen ja Fruende Bleiben" (Hidden Shoal Recordings)

Germany is really an under-rated nation, in terms of what it has contributed to the music world. Consider Tangerine Dream who, way back, in the early 70's laid out the blueprints for, what is now, contemporary electronica. Then Kraftwerk unleashed their "Man Machine" on an unsuspecting world, changing it forever. Even this side of the millenium, The Notwist proved, with "Neon Golden", German creativity is at an all time high. Sankt Otten's "Wir Koennen ja Freunde Bleiben" deserves to be held in the same esteem as those aforementioned albums.

Roughly translating as "Let's Remain Friends", this album from the Osnabruek quartet is an ultra-cool cinematic experiment, that should be soundtracking the atmospheres of smoke-filled jazz clubs in some futuristic world. The brainchild of percussionist Stephen Otten, one of the most alluring aspects of "Wir Koennen..." is the differing styles of rythmns, from trip-hop to jazz and electronica to straight barrelled rock. "Hoeneraush" contains a dirty hip-hop beat, its massive, clunking sound is warpped up with a melody with a dark heart. You can't help but nod your head along or tap your feet to this sinister track.

There is also a certain something about Oliver Klemm's guitar tone, on several tracks his work is simple, but devastatingly effective. On "Zum Schweigen Verdammt" his rich, swirling textures combine immensely with the washes of strings creating a noirish soundscape. The album, as a whole, is such an expansive effort, there are a number of reference points, but they are all presented in a unique Sankt Otten way. "Bluehende Landshaften", for example, recalls Massive Attack's "Angel", with its seductive undertones that are overlayed with guitar, piano and string parts. The brooding beat ensures "Bluehende.." builds tensely for over five minutes before simmering and then quietly dying out.

"Fandenscheing", meanwhile, would not feel out of place on a Miles Davis album and evokes those smoke-filled jazz club images again. While, "Fallen and Fangen", one of the few tracks that contains vocals, provides this album's most upbeat moment. The seductive female voice provides a respite from the darker tracks and ensures "Fallen and.." is one of the more optimistic sounding numbers on here.

"Wir Koennen..." is a melting pot of influences and sounds. A grandiose statement that touches the cornerstones of noir film soundtrack, atmospheric rock, jazz and Trip-hop. At times it matches the brilliance of Portishead's "Dummy" or Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" and should certainly be considered by fans of those albums. The differing sounds will guarentee that this will be an alluring listen every single time you hit the play button.

Rating = 85%

Last FM

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tronic @ 13th Note, Glasgow 16/02-07

A bit of a mixed bag last night at Tronic, although they delivered their promise of the harshest of the harsh sounds, and then some. I missed to first couple of acts, but did catch the last track from Zero Defect. Who are two guys a mic, a laptop and a guitar, said track seemed quite amatuerish to me.

Next up and all the way from Norway was Xentrick, his face-pummeling laptop set, intercepted with cartoonish sound clips made me feel like I had went 12 rounds with Muhammed Ali. He spent the entire set hunched over his Apple Mac lost in his own world of complex rythmns, not realising he had laid waste to the venue and its occupiers. A difficult listen at best and times the beats were discracefully harsh.

Binary Zero injected a bit of passion into his guitar/laptop set. Combining metallic barre chords and IDM beats is a good idea and brought back fond memeories of the under-rated Pitchshifter.

I went to the toilet so I am unsure if it was Strontium or Acrynm that went on next. Whoever it was, his large group of friends were dancing spasmodically to his intenseive beats, but by this point I could take no more and left.

A brave venture for Tronic, but one that didn't quite work. Here's to some nicer sounds at the next installment.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Vessels : "Twazzer"

I am most looking forward to the Vessels gig next week, so it is always good to get some updates. According to Cuckundoo Records, Vessels have achieved BBC Radio 1 airplay on The Huw Stephens Show, with their forthcoming single "The Yuki". Well done lads!

Here's another new track for good measure, the bizarrely titled "Twazzer".

No, I don't know what it means either.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Majestic Star : "Fining" Ep Preview (Hidden Shoal Recordings)

My Majestic Star -

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Finding Perth, Australia-based label Hidden Shoal Recordings could rightly claim to be in the top 10 best things that ever happened to me, such is the qulaity and diversity of their roster. Barely a year old, they have already unleashed the stunning "The Sound of Lights When Dim" by Slow Dancing Society (review), the intelligent jazz/post-rock of Dilatazione (review), the up-beat indie rock stylings of The Hero Cycle (review) and the expansive, cinematic rock/electronic fusion of Sankt Otten (review to follow).

My Majestic Star's "Fining Ep" is Hidden Shoal's latest release and is the solo project of Glassacre's Chris Mason, himself a Perth native. Using just a guitar, piano and computer, Mason has created a sound that encompasses the structures of Eno and the dynamics of the famous Shoegazer acts.

"It is the subtle narrative crafting that makes “Fining” so special. Songs, turn so gently as to make you unaware that you have been left somewhere far different from where you started. Structures are allowed to fall into themselves then pick up again with new binding and direction." <-- Press Release

I have a friend who travelled to Perth a year ago or so, to visit his girlfriend who was travelling the world at the time. He came back raving about the city, saying it was such a different way of life, everyone was so nice to one another. The video above doesn't feature on "Fining", but I reckon, without having actually visited the city, it reflects the calming nature of Perth perfectly. There's not much else to say really... just watch this video.

Order and Stream "Fining"

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Vanessa Van Basten : "La Stanza Di Swedenborg" (Radiotarab)

Vanessa Van Basten hail from Genoa, Italy and are bizarrely named after the wife of Dutch footballer Marco Van Basten. This duo operate somewhere between the heavy post-rock world and the experimental metal tendencies of Neurosis. La Stanza Di Swedenborg is a beguiling mix that is augmented by God Machine-style distortion and occasional Mike Patton-esque vocals.

Using a glut of electronic, distorted and acoustic instrumentation, it all starts with the impressive title track. A tense 3-minute build-up of Italian spoken word and apocalyptic synths soon explodes with some tremendous, melancholic guitar work and industrial-sized drums.

This album flows seamlessly, with some tracks being interspersed by ambient drones, cinematic passages, and eerie sounds. On “Dole”, however, Vanessa Van Basten again opt for those pulverizing distorted riffs, this time overlaid with superior acoustic guitar work and blended with gigantic drumming.

The percussion is particularly impressive throughout, but is most notable on “Giornada De Oro”, which is surely the world’s first industrial/folk song. Combining echoed harmonica, acoustic guitars and elephantine rhythms, it is a highly original and surprisingly contagious piece of work.

Floaters” provides La Stanza Di Swedenborg‘s best moment. Recalling Faith No More at their finest, the crystal clear melody soon erupts into a collage of euphoric sounds and Patton-esque vocals, the distorted guitars becoming denser with each passing second.

"La Stanza Di Swedenborg" is a welcome shot in the arm for the world of intelligent metal. Combining moments of true beauty with head-shattering drums and monolithic distortion, it provides a refreshing snapshot of emotionally heavy music.


Rating = 70%

"Dole" mp3 - Vanessa Van Basten

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

EL Heath : "Winter Soundtrack" Visual Pilot

EL Heath Winter Soundtrack EP Visual Pilot

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If you are interested in EL Heath after reading the review below, then you will enjoy this visual pilot for his forthcoming "Winter Soundtrack" ep. Although it is not yet finsihed, he assures me progress is being made.

I've had the pleasure of hearing a few tracks with the sinister sounding "Non Romantic Waltz" and a demo version of "Awake All Night" sounding particulalry excellent.

I should also point you in the direction of My Formica Table, who have released several free zip files of music by the likes of Eric Heath, Patrick Farmer and Strap The Button's Jack Hunter.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

EL Heath : "Reflecting (Ambient and Loop Tracks Autumn 2006)" Ep (Good Name For A Racehorse Records)

Shropshire based artist, Eric Heath is a busy fellow indeed. Not only does he record as Loveland, EL Heath and, simply, as Eric Heath, he also finds the time to perform, as a band member, with The Hungry I and records with visual/art/ improv project Scaly Hand. Furthermore, Heath will be contributing a lot of different ideas and tracks and videos to My Formica Table. If that is not enough, he has several releases in the pipeline with Good Name For A Racehorse, including a split tape with Jack Hunter of Strap The Button and a, as yet unfinished, "Winter Soundtrack Ep". But, I will concern this review with his "Reflecting Ep" which is the first of his releases due out on the eclectic Good Name For A Racehorse Records.

Recorded using his El Heath moniker, the "Reflecting Ep" is a collection of ambient and loop based movements, but with a few crucial differences. First off, Heath is in the possesion of one of the scarcest instruments on the planet, the Ondes Martenot. The eerie sounds emitted from this vintage instrument gives his compositions and air of individuality. Secondly, each of the 5 movements are recorded using an 20 year old tape recorder. Each track sounds as of it is slowly decomposing by the second, the melodies seem to disintegrate before your very ears. It leaves a very mysterious impression overall.

Much of the music seems improvised, with Heath building walls of sound, using the out-dated recorder to his advantage. It enables him to completely modify the sounds from his ondes, piano, guitar and his voice. On occasions, such as "Ambiance D'Organe de Corde", his music resembles a warped version of Eluvium or Stars Of The Lid. "Ambiance.." is a woozy and unsettling passage of drones and organ-like textures that seem to slowly drip into one another.

"Macau" makes use of a shadowy melody from a muffled guitar arrangement, overlaying it with some haunting ondes martenot sounds. It lasts for two, alluring, minutes. On "Dragons Chasing Their Tails" you can actually hear the old tape recorder clicking on. Its tape hiss and static almost dominates the overall sound of this passage, sounding as if it was recorded hundreds of years ago, and not in the 21st century.

"Epick", meanwhile, recalls some of the more heavenly moments on Vangelis' "Bladerunner". It has a real cavernous quality about it, with cascading drones merging and overlapping with obscured voices and chants. It provides a monumental ending to this unique Ep.

It is refeshing to hear music recorded using vintage equipment and instruments, especially in these days of constant digital manipulation. Using such techniques allows EL Heath to create his unique compositions that are, in parts, mysterious and chilling, but always captivating.

Rating = 77%

No Release date as of yet, but it will be out on Good Name For A Racehorse soon and for a modest price too.

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Vessels : "The Beast"

Here's a band worth bothering about. You may have seen this review of Vessels' 2006 self-titled ep, where I said it "combines some powerful instrumental music, post-hardcore structures and a touch of electronica throughout its five tracks". I also remarked "...nothing will stop this band!", such is the diverse nature and ability to transcend genres at the blink of an eye.

The quintet from Leeds are about to embark on an extensive tour of The British Isles and going by the venue for the Glasgow gig, will be your chance to see this band up-close and personal before they explode, as they deservedly should. The tour seems to be covering most major cities, check for details here. Cuckundoo Records will also be releasing a 7" single expected to be feature "The Yuki" and "Forever The Optimist". The single is, apparently, past the test pressing stage, so a release date should be around the corner.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

SubtractiveLAD : "No Man's Land" (n5md)

To the untrained ear there may be nothing particularly new about SubtractiveLAD's compositions. But for those with a keen sense of musicianship and good knowledge of recording techniques and equipment in the electronica field, it is a different matter. It is interesting to note that n5md, head honcho, Mike Cadoo, upon hearing SubtractiveLAD's music for the first time, instantly noted his completely unique sounds and recording techniques.

For the Vancouver-based musician, also known as Stephen Hummel, develops his own instruments and software, accumulating over 20 self-made devices over the years. Throughout "No Man's Land", his 3rd release on n5md, devices such as home-made synths and patches, drum-boxes, effects units and feedback noise generators are used and combined with analogue instrumentation, on some occasions to breathtaking effect.

Look no further than standout, and title track, "No Man's Land". A 12 minute epic centre-piece that starts off so very calmly, but an undercurrent of distorted guitar work is apparent almost from the outset. As this track weaves between blissful ambience and towering waves of distortion, you find yourself totally immersed in SubtractiveLAD's world. It is one of numerous heartfelt and intensely emotional moments on this release.

Although a number of tracks incorporate subdued, but inventive programming, it is on the more reflective ambient passages where the album truly shines. "Of Sand and Seas" takes its cues from German pioneers Tangerine Dream, but adds layers upon layers of synths and hazy guitars. There's a real earthly element to his compositions, which is surely a product of his home-made synths (or possibly the subtle field recordings throughout). "Of Sand and Seas" conjures images of dormant volcanos in my mind.

That being said, the compelling IDM rythmns on "The Shell" and "The Sun In Your Eyes" show SubtractiveLAD in a different light. The former is a spectacular album opener using compressed beats, driving guitars and celestial synths, bridging the gap between the post-rock and electronica worlds. The latter is a multi-textured piano-led piece, that transports the listener to the ocean front, with its field recordings and calming tones, before rousing you with a series of playful, under-stated programming.

The music contained throughout "No Man's Land" shows a staggering attention to detail. Gentle piano lines, lulling synths, drifting vocals (especially on the gorgeous album closer "The Lucky Ones") combine gracefully with ascending waves of guitar distortion and captivating field recordings. It is rare for an album, with so many ambient moments, to pack such an emotional punch. But then have we come to expect anything less from a n5md artist?.

Rating = 80%

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Points of Interest

1. Amazon have a pre-order slot and release date scheduled for Radiohead's 7th album. They are quoting August 6th despite the fact the band are nowhere near finished recording the as-yet untitled album and the fact that they are currently unsigned. There are some rumours that there is a 1-album deal in the pipeline with Warner Brothers, though. Update: Radiohead have since denied this.

2. Jasper TX has a limited 3" Cd-r, titled "Harrisburg", available. In fact, the 75 copies have almost sold out already.

3. The Charles Atlas/Textile Ranch split CDEP is out now via Boomkat or Static Caravan.

4. Winterpark, you may remember, featured on Aerotone's "Electronica Unplugged" compilation. Their debut CD is now available to order here.

5. Rafael Anton Irisarri, A Seattle-based composer, is definitely worth further investigation. Boomkat have given his album, "Daydreaming", album of the week accolades, calling it "...Utterly beautiful and then some". Check out the gorgeous "Lumberton" here.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

8-Bit Operators - "The Model"

8-Bit Operators are a collective whose roots lie in various web communities, such as Myspace, Live Journal and Nanoloop. This internet project has been established for around two years, growing into "8-Bit Operators: An 8-Bit Tribute To Kraftwerk".

This concept involves reworking famous Krafywerk tracks like "The Model" and "Showroom Dummies" using vintage computer game systems. If you think some of the sounds sound familiar, it will be done to the fact that some of the equipment used includes Gameboys, SNES and Commodore64's, as well as circuit-bent Furbies!.

Wire Magazine's Simon Reynolds calls it "..techno filtered through an indie-rock lo-fi amatuerism and archness". Disquiet has an mp3 of a Gameboy/Atari 2600 collaboration from 2004. While head over to Myspace to stream some of the Kraftwerk numbers.

Order the album here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Silent Ballet Compilation 3

Head over to The Silent Ballet and downlaod their latest free compilation, that includes several acts that have featured here. The 14 track release features Romance of Young Tigers, Absent Without Leave, Dilatazione and Roncatto Braathen amongst others.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Thom Yorke : "Black Swan"

This one is for Noel Gallacher, see below.

Friday Rant : Noel Gallacher

I nearly choked on my breakfast this morning when I read this rather criminal opinon from Oasis' Noel Gallacher. Bear in mind that, this is a guy whose career has consited of being a roadie for The Inspiral Carpets and ripping of The Beatles back catalogue.

On Radiohead..

"Thom Yorke sat a piano singing, 'This is fucked up' for half-an-hour. We all know that Mr Yorke.

"Who wants to sing the news? No matter how much you sit there twiddling, going, 'We're all doomed,' at the end of the day people will always want to hear you play 'Creep'. Get over it."

On U2...

"Play 'One', shut the fuck up about Africa"

Should we expect anymore from a man who likes to sing about cigarettes & alcohol (yes we know they are bad for you), living forever and champagne supernova's (what is that supposed to mean anyway)?.

Do us a favour Mr Gallacher, go back to your palace, strum your 3 chords, write a big hit about lager or packets of crisps, bother the charts for a month or so. But, please leave the important issues to the musicians with integrity and intelligence.


Solipsism : "Electricity Flows In Squares" (Herb Recordings)

Herb Recordings is a label that is all about innovation, cutting edge programming, deft production and the exploration of fresh sounds in and around the electronica genre. It is important, therefore, that (Herb Owner) Craig Murphy, using his Solipsism guise, sets the standards and provides the benchmark for the rest of his stable to adhere to.

Starting of as a solo project, Solipsism has since evolved into a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Ed Drury, to the point that he is now a full-time member. Murphy, himself, counts Frank Zappa as his main influence and in collaborating with Drury, a man with unlimited musical knowledge, Solipsism can tap into the diverse and other-worldly nature of the prolific experimental genius.

"Electricity Flows In Squares" is the 3rd Solipsism release and is an experiment of dance music that gets your brain thinking, rather than your feet moving. In other words, don't expect dumbed down beats and half-hearted synths, this one is for the purists. Right from the outset, on "Bad Circuit" it's apparent that there is something different about "Electricity Flows..". The melodies are light and float in the mix, while they are contrasted by precise beat work. "Bending Light" reinforces these sentiments and sees the duo create a mixture of a euphoric melody, overlapped with twinkling textures, with robotic drum patterns

However, it is on tracks such as "Glass Rod" and "Electricty Flows In Squares" that this combination strikes the perfect balance. The former uses 3 or 4 psychedelic melodies that float, overlap and merge together, evoking images of space. This is contrasted with a series of harsh, mechanistic programming. These conflicting styles shouldn't work, but Solipsism pull it off and it's impeccable. The title track, meanwhile, employs the crisp production techniques of Bola, but are equally as innovative in their own right. The machine-like precision is intact as the etheral synths swell around it.

It's not all accuracy and precision, though, "Flying" (first previewed on this site a few months ago), is a hovering ambient passage, that shimmers with a warm, analogue soul, while "Plug Me In" comes across like an updated version of the "A Clockwork Orange" main theme.

"Electricity Flows In Squares" has an nostaligic feel to it, advancing on the themes explored by artists such as Bola, Autechre and Bochum Welt. The pristine melodies posses a real other-worldly quality and are perfectly contrasted by the accomplished, mechanistcic programming. It is an engaging listen that begs for an emotional response. In a word : Tremendous.

Rating = 88%

Solipsism @ Myspace
Solipsism @ Last.FM
Order the Album from March 1st

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Points of Interest...

1. Thom Yorke has posted sporadic lyrics from a new song
entitled "Burn The Witch".

2. Brainwashed has details of three very, very anticipated albums. Fridge (featuring Four Tet; Adem etc) will return with their 5th LP "The Sun" out through Temporary Residence on May 15th(Details). Another TR band, Grails, will unleash "Burning Off Impurities" on May 1st(Details). While, Yellow6 will release his first recording with Resonant, "The Painted Sky" on March 19th (Details)

3. According to The Silent Ballet, the entire ranks of Romance of Young Tigers have joined forces with Kenoma. No official word from ROYT as of yet.

4. It seems Massive Attack have been gone for a long time. Well they are set to return, here's an interview with The Guardian.

5. Tobias Lilja's "Time Is On My Side" has created quite a stir across the web. n5md has collected all of the reviews together. Also read Brett Spaceman's thoughts on this album.

6. The Vanessa Van Basten review I wrote has been selected for Italian webzine, Rockit's, The Foreign Legion column. Check the site out there are a few other reviews too, they are printed in both English and Italian. It would also be great if any Italian speaking readers could translate what they have said about me in my profile.

7. Arcade Fire's forthcoming album, "Neon Bible", is shaping up to be equally as good as "Funeral", if this live performance of "Intervention" is anything to go by.

8. Herb Recordings has revealed details of two new signees, who will release material later this year, they are Scotland's Engine7 and USA-based Skytree.

9. Pitchfork has an mp3 and details from Calla's forthcoming "Strength in Numbers" album, out February 20th. Go here.

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Ulan Bator : "Pensées Massacre"

For those of you who read the Dilatazione review and were wondering who Ulan Bator are.

This is my favourite song of theirs. I love the vocals and the French accent. I had no idea there was a video for it.

The Wire Magazine are usually several steps ahead of everyone else, this is what they think of Ulan Bator.

"Ulan Bator music follows an eccentric orbit, while their power is usually kept simmering in reserve. The player investigate the borders of song structure. They build up enormous tension (...) they played a marathon three hours set with faust early last year. hard to imagine, given Ulan Bator's inherent sense of control: halting on the brink before complete freakout sets in is what makes the group so special "

Check this great band out.


Dilatazione : "Too Emotional For Maths" (Hidden Shoal Recordings)

Post-rock is fast becoming a tired and bloated genre with most releases these days sounding like a bad copy of the hundreds of acts who have gone before them. Even Explosions In The Sky aren't safe from plagarism accusations anymore, even though they are one of the bands that initially blew the barriers down. It does take something truly special to stand-out in the mire of mediorcity. Recently, the Italians are having a right go at this with a handful of acts such as Port-Royal, Larsen and Vanessa Van Basten creating some challenging music.

What stand's out about Prato-based, Dilatazione, is the impeccable percussion courtesy of drummer, Alessio Graffedi, who performs admirably throughout the 38 minutes of "Too Emotional For Maths". It comes as no surprise, that Graffedi has since became a member of Ulan Bator, as his incredible timing is perfectly suited to the sound of the French experimentalists.

That's not to say this album is for percussion enthusiasts only. On "Solo in una Strada Afollata", chiming guitars and a driving rythmn combine brilliantly with a horn section, that brings to mind former post-hardcore heroes, Bob Tilton. "Cendre In", meanwhile, employs breathy vocals in a similar vein to contemporaries Ulan Bator, only the Italian dialect sounds so much cooler.

The real challenge with "Too Emotional For Maths" is, that to fully enjoy the subtleties of this album, you must first find the key to unlock the rewards. When the key is found, the treasures available are a joy to behold. There are so many intricate intertwining guitar parts, twisted chord structures, illusive percussion touches and smatterings of electronics. This album, unlike many lesser post-rock efforts, is not an instant quick-fix of quiet-loud dynamics, it's an intelligent effort, that requires a certain degree of concentraition. Most importantly, though, this album is guarenteed to grow on you after repeated listens. Thinking about my record collection, some of my most cherished albums pan out this way.

Using the foundations laid by Chicago veterans, Tortoise, gives Dilatazione the canvas to truly express themselves. As the album progresses the sound slowly starts to become more dense and there is a sense that these Italians like to let loose too. "Ivano Marchetti" launches into a furious jam complete with phaser-laced drums, while "Cendre In" expands on these themes, proving Dilatzione aren't all about intricate guitar lines and technical proficeny, there's plenty of passion too.

Closer, "Tutto si Dimentica" is undoubtedly the best track, it is as if the band were slowly buliding their way to this moment. Towards the end, for three euphoric minutes a glorious sound is amassed using slightly off-kilter percussion and slabs of reverbed guitar. Then it all ends abruptly, just about the point it should erupt into a post-rock cliche. It's a confusing end, but then, Dilatazione prove throughout "Too Emotional.." that they like to keep the listener thinking.

Or perhaps they felt we have been rewarded enough?.

Order it here.
Stream The Album

Rating = 75%

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bill Van Loo & J. Schnable

Superblog/Bible, Opuszine, recommends this collaboartion between two long-term friends, Bill Van Loo and J. Schnable. Released on Van Loo's own Chromedecay Label, "Raindays" sees the duo create 9 compositions of 'electronica with soul', with influences including Richie Hawtin, John Fahey, Tortoise and Derrick May.

Press Release

"Raindays" originated as a side project for both artists - something worked on when time permitted, schedules coincided, and inspiration struck. Sonically, there is a strong correlation between the atmospheric reference in the title and the emotive tonality of the music. Both vivid and introspective, the songs are balanced with an energy that doesn't explode, but blossoms and slowly emerges in unexpected ways.

The title also alludes to time off, free time - time for something different. Thus, here are the fruits of their "rainy day" project. Spanning just over three years, and multiple cities and states, the track titles reflect the tension of distance, time, and the importance of the events and music created in between.

This release was mastered by Joshua Eustis, one half of acclaimed Hefty recording duo Telefon Tel Aviv. It features a clear gatefold sleeve.

"These Dubious Moments" Mp3 : Bill Van Loo & J. Schnable

Pre-Order Info
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((Konntinent)) : "...If Anything Should Happen" (Self-Released)

((Konntinent)), London-based musician Anthony J Harrison, claims to be heavily influenced by Vangelis' "Bladerunner Soundtrack" as a child. He must have studied the tranquil atmospheres contained in the film and conveyed throughout its expansive score, because he has produced an impressive range of compositions on this self-released effort. "..If Anything Should Happen" makes use of ambient textures, drones, lonely sound effects, electronics and muffled drum patterns to create a work that touches all the cornerstones of the best electro-acoustic releases out there.

Other influences can be heard throughout each of the 10 compositions too, with Pan American and Labradford being the most apparent, to these ears at least. However, a look at his blog on his top 50 albums of 2006, suggests Harrison has eclectic tastes.

Which is why it is no surprise that opener "I Tripped and Fell" starts off with a haunting mixture of lonely wind sounds and crackles of hiss, before veering into a Susumu Yokota inspired segment of dampened beats and high-pitched tones. "Nassau Tree" follows and again, a sense of lonliness is apparent. What sounds like an abandonded televsion in the background is augmented by a glistening melody, sombre drones and forlorn acoustic guitar work.

"The Partisan's" pulsing bassline immedaitely gives this track a certain edge over the opening two numbers, while staggered electronics and some distant harmonica sounds are added. This track is so alluring, for a start there is an unbelievable atmosphere all the awy through, and when the Cinematic Orchestra style percussion kicks in, it leaves a real hair standing on the back of the neck moment.

On "It Was Effortless", I could swear the breathy female vocals are courtesy of Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon. Even if this isn't the case, ((Konntinent)) does a good job of revisiting one of his earlier influences, producing a track that could be lifted right from SY's seminal "Evol" album.

While other tracks, such as "A Grace 15", employ a similar unsettling atmosphere, this is by no means a one paced creation. There is plenty of variety contained on this disc. "Nasse" changes tact, angling off into the expansive cinematic territories usually occupied by Deaf Center. "Paco's Reverie", meanwhile, expands on Fridge's cut-up piano blueprint, augmenting it with filmic distortion and lulling strings.

Ending things with "Primary/Tertiary", ((Konntinent)) provides, arguably, his most beautiful moment. It is as illuminative as anything Labradford has laid their hand to, floating past gently in a cloud of ambient distortion.

What surprises me about about ((Konntinent)) is the fact he is unsigned, there must surely be some record label interest. The music contained on "... If Anything..." shows immense talent. It would be wrong to say that there is potential to fill, as it seems ((Konntinent)) has already arrived at the his perfect sound.

Rating = 85 %

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Crepusculum : "Sky Diaries" Ep (12Rec)

There are a series of videoes on Youtube that I just happened to stumble across a few weeks ago. They depict a young London-based musician, known as Fred Baty, who records under the moniker Crepusculum. Normally, videos of random people playng acousic guitar hold my attention for all of ten seconds, but there was something about the "Open Gates" (video) that kept me watching. It wasn't until halfway through the song, that I realised this youngster was an incredible guitar player.

Further investigation revealed that netlabel 12rec had seen those same videos and offered to release some of Crepusculum, banding them together as the "Sky Diaries Ep". It's predominantly an instrumental offering, but such an insignificant statement would not do this Ep justice, as the guitar work here is multi-textured and insanely melodic.

Guitar harmonics sparkle throughout the glorious "Momentum" and are used within a highly inventive chord structure. It's a warm composition that just seems to get better with every listen.

Many acoustic and instrumental albums suffer from lack of variety, but there is no danger of that happening here. The superior guitar work is augmented with Album Leaf-style chimes and some delicate keyboard sounds. "Anachronism" uses this approach with a degree of perfection. Every scrape of the plectrum across the strings and every hand movement upon the fretboard is picked up on this poignant recording, giving a certain atmospheric edge.

As the lovely melody of the, aforementioned, "Open Gates" washes over you, you will be in no doubt that Baty is and incredibly talented individual, and 12rec appear to have picked out a pearl from the bottom of the ocean with this Ep.

Only a remix of "A Sheltered Life" seems out of place, temporarily disrupting the flow. But this can be forgiven, as the other six compositions all contain gorgeous moments and glowing guitar work.

Download it here.

Rating = 82%

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Dungen : "Panda"

Swedish psychedelic retro rockers Dungen have announced release details of their next album. Entitled "Tio Bitar" it's due out on 1/5/07.

I witnessed this band at Lee's Palace in Toronto in 2005. It was a performance full of lengthy jams, extravengent guitar playing and even some prog inspired flute solos. It was also terrific and I bought the album "Ta Det Lugnt" (review), which the song above ("Panda") is taken form.

You can read the first impression of "Tio Bitar" over at Filter Magazine


Monday, February 05, 2007

Tobias Lilja : "Time Is On My Side" (n5md)

n5md base the concept of their label around the mantra "emotional experiements in music". Last year saw the release of their most emotional recording yet, Last Days' epic "Sea" album. That collection of affecting compositions contained all of the hallmarks of n5md's individuality. Fast forward to 2007, and "Time Is On My Side" by Swedish electronic composer Tobias Lilja reinforces n5's commitment to music that is just that step ahead in terms of emotional intensity and creativity.

Lilja has created a sprawling album based around the concepts of time, choices and longing. Having spent two years studying sound engineering, Lilja was disillusioned with the boundaries of technical sound perfection. "Time Is On My Side" is his response to those barriers, a deeply emotive album that evokes images of decay and degeneration. Most importanly, though, this album is upfront and extremely intimate.

The most startling aspect of "Time Is.." is the way Lilja has incorporated his voice into the compositions, giving a feeling similar to "Bachelorette" period Bjork. His hypnotic voice is backed by a soundtrack of crumbling beats, static-soaked sounds and desolate melodies. Opening number, "A Ruthless Beast" sounds expansive, yet there's a real feeling of isolation an claustrpohobia, with Lilja remarking "Am I tied up or am I clinging on?.." over and over. In fact, this album is a mass of contradictions, it's dark yet shards of light seem to break their way through all the gothic gloom. It's bleak yet incredibly beautiful in parts. "Blood Tracer" is a prime example of this, intially enevloping the listener with a sense of remotelessness. Deadend beats collide with one another, almost like an almighty storm, as Lilja's multi-tracked voice, once again, becomes the focal point. This near nine-minute mini-opera explodes beautifully towards the end, though, culminating in a stunning mix of ethereal female vocals with despairing synths.

"Beginner's Optimisim", is another stand-out with a repeating cycle of strained orchestral sounds and supressed electronics. The beats seem to escalate euphorically, before subsiding into a mass of drones and filtered vocals, with Lilja again uttering "Am I tied up or am I clingling on..."

Lyrical themes are important to "Time Is On My Side", while the titles of some tracks ("A Settlement Of Dust, "Gas of Forgiveness") reinforce the sense of controlled despair. The latter allows desolate sounds to assemble ominously, while Lilja hypnotically informs us that he "slept like a king". Tracks like this bear some resemblence to some of the darker moments on Thom Yorke's "The Eraser" opus.

"Time Is On My Side" is the first important album of 2007. It is constantly interesting, grabbing you with a vice-like grip, suffocating the listener with each of the 11 apocalyptic compositions. At times it's bleakness seems relentless, but a subtle melody or a dim string passage breaks its way through now and again, conveying a sense of hope. It is not until the last static-drenched strains of "To Be Thought Of" that you can pause for thought. Lilja's brooding vocals ensures that this album is thoroughly captivating throughout. A constantly evocative and deeply personal recorded document, "Time Is On My Side" is an outstanding achievement for Tobias Lilja and an excellent find for the ever-impressive n5md.

Order "Time Is On My Side" here.

Rating = 90%

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