Amon Tobin - Supermodified
Bahamadia - BB Queen
Belle and Sebastian - Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
Bucolic - Dzyan Blood
Cinemaphonic - Electric Soul
Cleaner - Solaris
Corvus Corax - The Atavistic Triad
Crease - Vindication
Finger Eleven - The Greyest of Blue Skies
Glassjaw - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence
Gluecifer - Tender is the Savage
Grandaddy - Sophtware Slump
Infestation - Mass Immolation
In Flames - Clayman
Jimi Tenor - Out of Nowhere
Linea 77 - Too Much Happiness Makes Kids Paranoid
Lucy Pearl - Lucy Pearl
Misery Loves Co. - Your Vision Was Never Mine to Share
Neil Young - Silver & Gold
The No WTO Combo - Live from the Battle in Seattle
Opprobrium - Discerning Forces
Pole - 3
The Project Hate MCMXCIX - Cybersonic Superchrist
Rapoon - Navigating By Colour
Rorschach Test - Peace Minus One
Secret Hate - Pop Cult Vomit
Sinergy - To Hell and Back
Snake River Conspiracy - Sonic Jihad
Source of Labor - Stolen Lives
They Might Be Giants - Working Undercover for the Man
Urban Dance Squad - Artanica
Various Artists - Four Ways of Saying H30
Various Artists - Metal Dreams, Volume 2
Voltaire - Almost Human
Wild Planet - Wild Planet
Witness U.K. - Before the Calm
The Yo-Yo's - Uppers and Downers
I was afraid of funk for a long time. Absurd, is it not? I've always
been a sucker for the long (think Floyd, or Mogwai) 12-measure drone.
For the longest time, I assumed I couldn't handle funk. It was too
rhythmic for my stone soul. Then little bits and pieces of it found
their way into my rack. Slices and knickknacks that made funk not so
Amon Tobin has made me fear funk again. In Supermodified, he has braided it with sampled jazz, blues, rock, hip-hop, and orchestra. He has preserved strange saliva sloshing sounds from his mouth and used them as beats. Crushed insects, smacked lips, weed-whacker engines...all of these are hoodlums in his cartel. I'm scared out of my wits, but I can't stop listening. Track 1, "Get Your Snack On," pulls you into the album en medias res. There's no buildup or loud thunder crack...just a merging of lanes, at 70mph. "Four Ton Mantis" sends you up to 85, and brings the smile as you begin passing crimson convertibles and hipster SUVs. The textures of these beats are wonderfully complex, but remain unmuddled. Shadow and Krush still hold the torch, but Mr. Tobin has opened my veins to some true addiction. I want to keep being afraid. I want to continue creating heart-pumping coincidences between Tobin's tight, sonic music and my driving decisions.
Good Vibe Recordings
Bahamadia, queen of all hip-hop, especially of the underground variety has just released an EP of seven tracks as a follow up to her 1996 debut Kollage. "Special Forces" features her peers Planet Asia, Rasco, Chops, and DJ Revolution. With a nod to drum and bass comes "Pep Talk" that features Bahamadia's quick flow of words over some crazy beats. "Commonwealth (Cheap Chicks)" features Bahamadia's rhyming skills dedicated to all the ordinary females along the way. "Beautiful Things" speaks to the future generations of kids who despite all the negativity that the media seems to spoon feed them, that it's important to reinforce positive images. "Philadelphia" is a smooth jam that is pays tribute to the city that she's from and spawned some of the finest hip-hop artists like The Roots, Eve and Beanie Sigel. "One-4-Teen (Funky For You)" swings with a jazzy feel with the help of fellow Good Vibe artists Slum Village. If you want to hear some hip-hop that keeps things real, pick up this Bahamadia EP.
Belle and Sebastian
Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
Bittersweet. Melancholic. Sorrowful. So many emotions well up when
listening to Belle and Sebastian. Beginning with the elegiac mood of
the opener "I Fought in a War" through the hopeful swell of strings
and joyful hand-clap percussion of "There's Too Much Love," Belle and
Sebastian deliver a multifaceted hour of introspective pop songs with
their new release, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant.
There may be too much rain and too much wind in Scotland and the weather has driven this septet indoors to indulge in a little internal examination of the heartbreaks that populate the wretched landscapes. And they manage transmutations of these sad sentiments into wonderfully crafted pop songs. Unafraid of extended instrumentation (harp, cello, trumpet, pipe, and various other exotic instruments), they draw fascinating combinations of sounds into a cohesive whole. They have clearly been unafraid of baring themselves to their audiences and Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant is an album that will cement the love of their fan base as well as introduce them to an entire new realm of fans seeking music with emotional impact both in the lyrics and music.
File under: Fiction Tribal & Bass.
Imagine yourself somewhere in a jungle of machinery, dripping water, and distant voices. Running from something and you don't know what. Or playing on the monkey bars on the space station Mir. Well, Dzyan Blood is the soundtrack.
The music itself is arguably rooted in dub and drum 'n' bass, some of its elements are rooted in neither, and its execution is something of a different cloth altogether. Consisting of remixes of live and improvised cuts, Bucolic take low-fi vagrants and spare parts and make mechanical communication seem like a second language. There is something strangely "decades old" about the whole contraption as well. Buried deep in each mix are sprinkles of voices, melodies, and other scraps that are gone in an instant like a fleeting memory. Put into the mixer dub, jazz dub, dub-hop, and drum 'n' dub for an end result called "science-fiction dub." '60s science fiction at that. Haunting and complex, this record is a must for those who revel in the ultra-low end fuzz of dub and electronic music that requires the attention span of a million-piece puzzle.
As much as we deride the '70s for its garish fashion and crap hair bands, there is a certain musical flair that is just, well, so tasty as to be sublime in comparison with nearly everything else from that era. I'm talking about incidental film music. I am not talking about the porn-slap whocka whocka bass (that's a different story), but rather incidental music that had its heydey and quickly vanished, lost in dusty libraries and decrepit vaults.
Well, some of it has been found. Los Angeles DJ David Hollander came across a ton of the stuff in the archives of Major/Valentino Records, dusted off a few stacks, and has compiled a sweet compilation of what he calls "noir-ish film jazz, electronic grooves, and schizo disco." It's sweet chill room jazz that has both a nostalgic feel and a European blend that you just can't find anyone innocent enough to make out here in the cynical landscape of U.S. music. The composers of this music toiled in relative obscurity week after week, making music that was heard once--maybe twice--and then forgotten. Some rose to some fame like Walter Murphy. His "A Fifth of Beethoven" from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack actually tracked on the pop charts for a while in 1976 and he's been doing some music work for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I'm not one for tripping retro. For the most part, I keep my head forward and am pacing the front-runners in the race towards the future of music. But, occasionally, it's nice to step off the track for awhile and relax. To nod your head familiarly with something that makes you feel real good. It's not rocket science and it certainly isn't Stockhausen. But that's what makes it so wonderfully great to have. For those not quite ready for an upgrade, Electric Soul is power for the old diodes still hanging off your ticker.
This record demonstrates exactly why too many side projects can lead
straight down mediocrity lane. Yet another incarnation of Daniel Myer,
Cleaner is the same idea as Cleen, sans Thorsten Meier. And with him the European electro-pop groundings that made Cleen stand apart from the rest of the D. Myer projects. Basically this is Cleen, just not as clean sounding. Leftover Cleen ideas with a Haujobb bent.
Each song is constructed with identical rythmic techno/dance structures. Each synth sequence is completely predictable and uninspiring. And the distorted vocals are delivered with all the conviction of a bored Bill Leeb. Not what you'd expect from Mr. Daniel Myer considering his work with Haujobb, Newt or Architect.
Solaris sounds like the work of a man who is under contract obligation to get another album out there. Not even the dreamy female vocals on "Harey" could save this sinking ship. Perhaps is just a hurried effort, the song titles and cover artwork would support this. Example: 1, "Gattaca (Schizo)"; 3, "Neuromancer"; 4, "Gattaca (reprise)"; 6, "Anti-Arctic (Hard Vox Version)"; 10, "Neosanta." Tracks 12 and 13 are both called "The Voice," just different mixes and are actually the only interesting parts of the album. 12 with its wicked galloping pace and a previously unheard vocal treatment and 13 a remix that sounds almost Thrill Kill Kultish, Daniel comes alive for a few moments. The supporting design work is also a considerable backstep compared with the highly conceptual environmental, European clean look that all of Daniel Myers' projects were getting.
Cleaner is by far the weakest thing Meyers has been involved in. A turning point that will have me questioning the next release be, whatever it is.
The Atavistic Triad
Corvus Corax's pagan symphonic black metal sounds a lot like
avant-garde atmospheric metal to me. This type of metal incorporates
musical textures rather than song structure. The metals fused are
atmospheric, gothic, symphonic and melodic doom. While highly
atmospheric, The Atavistic Triad isn't always pretty; sometimes
it's intentionally ugly so that the pretty seems even more beautiful
because of the contrast. The Atavistic Triad is atmospheric in the
sense that the music surrounds you like raindrops inside a cloud.
Sometimes the view is gorgeous, smooth and quiet and sometimes it's
ominous and uncertain before tumbling into an outpouring of vehement
anger well-soaked in piss and vinegar. The lows are doomy, depressive
and gothic influenced with loads of intense atmosphere and unknown
intentions. You must sit back and listen and just gel to truly
appreciate the pictures that your mind will conjure in Corvus Corax's
presence. If you're looking for an intelligent group that doesn't rub
your face in their IQs, fans of black or medieval folk metal, gothic,
industrial or the avant-garde will definitely find pagan salvation in
The Atavistic Triad.
Hailing from the below sea level state of Florida, Crease are working
for radio airplay. Having worked out the bugs of the record industry,
they have a full-length release on Roadrunner Records. Crease play
straight up radio rock 'n' roll with catchy, infectious guitar
riffing and excellent vocals performed by Kelly Meister. It sort of
reminds me of the better early '80s rock: not necessarily metal, but
groovy guitar rumbling mixed with a great rhythm section and
well-sung vocals. I can't think of any bands in particular to compare
them to, but that doesn't mean it's good or bad. For the direction
that Crease are headed, the quality of their musicianship will carry
them to higher ground. I just thought of something: they are like Bad
Religion in their middle days. Maybe it is just the vocal style and
the backing vocals. The guitars seem to have a sense of purpose and
drive. Some songs are somewhat punky and others start as ballads,
only to go ripping off in this maddening fretwork direction. Crease
seem to be headed to the right place.
The Greyest of Blue Skies
"Finger Eleven is not a penis. Finger Eleven is not your middle
fingers corralled together in a triumphant 'Fuck You!' Finger Eleven
is an instinct that lives in the back of your brain. It's a decision
made true to yourself, with a complete disregard of outside
influence. It's that one extra finger that you use to point you in
the right direction. It's the path of most resistance and that's why
it's the perfect name for this band."
And with that, really, what more could I possibly add? After daring myself to go beyond the band's name and the intro to the bio, I hit "play" and prepared myself to be completely underwhelmed. And while not exactly setting high water marks in the melodic nü-metal sounds Finger Eleven swim in, I was rather pleased with what I heard. Taking the angular, down-tuned sounds and psychological paranoia of Tool and mixing it with Pearl Jam's smarter melodic hooks, Finger Eleven employ and embody what most bands of genre miss: a sense of timing and an understanding of musical space. The songs are suffocating examinations of relationships both with oneself and with others. Singer Scott Anderson's vocals switch from a howl to a whisper almost without notice.
My own prejudice against formula aside, the only minor complaint here is that the band straddles metal and melody with an almost too-perfect display. I found myself waiting and wanting to be struck senseless by an unforgiving down-tuned metal romp just once without having the song dive into hushed dynamics. Something a bit more gritty and dark, less polished and shiny, less contrived. The months spent inside the comfortable confines studio come through here, almost too good. That aside, Finger Eleven stand to be at the forefront of their scene, if they can survive their bio intro.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence
Fuck, yeah! It's really the only way I could properly describe the
debut release from these four Long Island kids. Henry Rollins could
learn a thing or two from twenty-year old vocalist Daryl Palumbo on
pain, anger, hurt, lost love and how best to inflict them on the
listener. Palumbo's fucked-up sincerity is so revealing that more
than once while listening to the album I had to restrain myself from
the urge of dialing former girlfriends and leaving Everything... in
its entirety on their answering machines. The coup to this epileptic
fit of hardcore angst is producer Ross Robinson, who's best known for
work with Limp Bizkit and Korn, but who now calls Glassjaw "the new
post-millennial destroyers of Adidas rock, R.I.P." And if Glassjaw's
follow-up work is anything near the musical and lyrical sonic bombast
of Everything..., we have a lot to look forward to. Everything...
is simply stunning from front to back. The fact that it's Glassjaw's
pent-up debut only adds to its power. I didn't think it was possible
for people to make music this unadulterated and this sincere anymore.
Tender is the Savage
Gluecifer, Norwegian Rock to the highest degree, next to Turbonegro,
are out to show the world how rock was meant to be played. Slash and
burn is their style, along with 800 pounds of Scandinavian meat to
toss around. Gluecifer's way is not a blitzkrieg, they are in for the
whole rock campaign. As Biff says, World War II took six years to
end, so they still have a ways to go to conquer all the great lands.
Having laid waste to Europe and Canada, they are now in the final
assault on the States. These guys could even steal Greenland from the
Danes if they wanted to. What you get is an honest street level sound
that seems part Dictators, Rolling Stones and Lemmy's speed-ridden
toothy grin. Add in blood, sweat and the integrity of rock to this
manic-fueled package from this Oslo five piece. Wrenching the bar up
a few notches, Tender is the Savage is classic riff-heavy,
swaggering energetic rock for the clueless souls who pull the strings
on the fashionable MTV and VH1 crap! Why can't a band make something
fun to toe-tap and rock-out with? Well, Gluecifer have done just that
with their latest release on Sub Pop.
I don't know why, but I was hoping for something more from this
release. That's not saying that Sophtware Slump isn't as good as
anything else Grandaddy have previously released, or simply a fine album
by itself, but after having been graced by several of their mesmerizing live shows recently, I still
found that I wanted something more from this album. It stands well
enough on its own as a fine example of the low-key
Radiohead-meets-Flaming Lips sound Grandaddy so lovingly cultivate,
and when listened to from a distance without focusing on the bends
and curves, it slides inside your subconscious like a warm lover,
gently massaging your cerebrum and coaxing out lyrics at the oddest
of times. "Well sir I'm the only one to get back your stolen guns /
I should have been your son" ("Hewlett's Daughter"). Then I realize
that this is exactly what I found was lacking with their previous
full-length, Under the Western Freeway--you expect more from the
music when you should just simply enjoy those spaces and longings for
what they are. Definitely a keeper, pick Sophtware Slump up. And
don't pass up the chance to see Grandaddy live, because it's there
that the earnestness of their music takes the life it deserves.
Awesome death metal. I guess I deserved this since I declared death
metal to be dead except for Pandemia last issue. If anything,
Pandemia has found their Swedish partners in technical death.
Infestation lays down thick riffs, slashing guitars, and gorilla-growl
vocals that will knock your socks off. Declan Malone's out-of-control
drumming was the icing on the death metal cake. The major difference
between Pandemia and Infestation is that Infestation is more polished
and technical where Pandemia maintains a level of rawness in their
sound. Infestation is as technical as a young Morbid Angel or Theory
in Practice but every bit as hard as Houwitser or old Sepultura. I
can't pick a highlight because I loved every second from beginning to
end. Every track is quality technical death metal with just a hint of
brutality and genius.
In Flames are at the pinnacle of the melodic Swedish death metal
pile. I was looking forward to hearing the new In Flames disc: I
loved Whoracle and Colony and was sure this would rock hard. Then
they threw me off the trail and varied the formula. First off, they
put off the "riff" until song eight: "Brush the Dust Away." I never
really felt like I was listening to In Flames until that track.
They've smoothed off some edges and Anders Friden's vocals are less
deathy and more croaky than before. Friden's clean vocals are
well-done, non-sissified, and are actually better than his deathy
vocals. The music is highly accessible but without sounding
compromised or commercial. At first I was disappointed; I felt like
they had moved too far away from what I had defined as my In Flames
parameters. But I got a grip of myself and realized that they were
probably ready for a change in sound. I guess the change is less
bouncy, more serious; less death and melody, more dirgy atmospheres
and an alternative feel with vastly improved vocals and more song
structure. In other words, In Flames have taken their style and flair
to a new level, one that I am sure they will dominate until they
decide to transition.
"Brush the Dust Away" is the most immediate because it has the "riff" at the beginning and jams like a group of crazed maniacs. Other highlights include "Bullet Ride," "Pinball Map," "Suburban Me," "Sattelites (sic) and Astronauts" and "Only for the Weak." Clayman would be worthy of radio play on any metal or alternative station. Stations that don't play In Flames will be missed eventually. Eventually all living things will have to admit no matter what In Flames does they always come out smelling like a rose. They even sound better production-wise this time and I've never thought their production was shoddy. They aren't Claymen; they are successful perfectionists.
Out of Nowhere
You never quite know what to expect next with Jimi Tenor. His latest
opus starts with (smartly enough) "Out of Nowhere," a paean to
Stravinsky-inspired riot music of the earliest twentieth century--just so that you can't miss the 60-piece orchestra he's got under his thumb for this record. Then we wander into the "Hypnotic
Drugstore" where he mixes falsetto lounge vocals with tablas and
wailing saxophones and disturbingly piercing flutes; even a theremin
for good measure. The air is rarified up there in Finland and
something has gone to Jimi's head. Something from the fifth dimension
It's a wild dance across the stylistic map: orchestral crooner with "Paint the Stars," a nocturnal jazz-bar saxophone wanders through "Pylon," fuzzbox guitar wrestles with orchestra and chorus in "Blood on Borscht." You really need to hear it for yourself. Call this one guilty pleasure or required listening; call it something and ask for it by name when you drop by the local record store. Jimi hasn't really come out of nowhere with this record--you can hear the early indications of this destination on his earlier releases--but he has arrived. And hopefully, for the betterment of intelligently crafted genre-busting music, he's here to stay.
Too Much Happiness Makes Kids Paranoid
Linea 77 is coming to take you away. Where they are taking you is not
very well explained in the confines of Linea 77's new disc. Too Much
Happiness Makes Kids Paranoid combines the elements of several
styles of the metal genre into the likes of an Italian
nightmare...and I don't mean the spicy sausage and tomato sauce kind.
These Italians use tons of energy to fabricate the likes of Korn and
Limp Bizkit without their whimpering backwoods homeboys. Linea 77's
songs run the gamut of tough lyrical melodies mixed in with the
spasmodic crunchy guitar breaks and craziness of Slipknot's
electronics. Linea 77 seem to also meld together hardcore grooves amd
catchy breaks of the Beastie Boys and Downset, though it all is
ground up and squeezed through a meat grinder--coming out as little
nuggets of intensity, balls-out angst rock-metal-hardcore-bouncing
off the walls and nut breaker insanity. From the strength of this
release, it would not surprise me if Linea 77 were the next big MTV
band of the year.
Pookie Records/Beyond Music
The cure for what ails ya might be the debut release from the star-studded trio Lucy Pearl. Tony! Toni! Toné! front man Raphael Saadiq, Dawn Robinson (former lead vocalist of En Vogue fame), and Ali Shaheed Muhammad--DJ and producer for the recently defunct rap group A Tribe Called Quest--combine their talents to cook up some tasty musical soul food.
Just like your Mamma's Sunday dinner table, there are plenty of delightful offerings to feast upon on this self-titled debut. Putting me in a strange and unfamiliar position as of late, this CD contains so many good tracks it would be easier and more economical to talk about the bad ones than the good. Songs like "Everyday" and the rock riff-inspired "Hollywood" are the closest things to throwaways on the CD. Which leaves you thirteen tracks to bump loudly in your jeeps all summer long.
If I had to choose just a few delights to put on my table, I would first start with some tasty stuffing in the form of "Lucy's Pearl's Way." Full of delightful herbs and spices, this side dish is a must. Then I would add a helping of "Lala," which reminds me of those candied yams or sweet potatoes that I can never get enough of. Bouncy and whimsical, this little funk ditty may prove to be highly infectious if radio gives it a chance. Then there's "Trippin'." One cannot have soul food without some slow simmered fatback-flavored collard greens; thus a double helping of this crock-pot perfection is in order. Finally for the main course, usually fried catfish or ham, there's "Can't Stand Your Mother" and "Remember the Times." Ah, but no meal would be complete without my personal favorite that only my grandmother can make to my liking and that is macaroni and cheese. This distinguished honor would go to "Without You," a seductive anthem on love and devotion that will get playtime for years to come.
But enough of this food-inspired musical foreplay, my stomach's growling. I need to eat, and you have some shopping to do, unless you don't like soul food?
Misery Loves Co.
Your Vision Was Never Mine to Share
Misery Loves Co.'s third release sees them moving farther away from
their epic first album, which was industrial-metal's supposedly new
direction of bruising metal, buried in a dense dark fog of
electronics. With Your Vision..., these Swedish merchants have
crawled further into the dark scary depths of despair; at times
slowly brooding along only to unleash the contents of what's left of
your charred body in a disturbing claustrophobic darkwave nightmare.
The deeply dark and haunting melodies clash with Patrick Wiren's
chillingly ice-cold lyrics, leading the listener on a hazy trail to
the center of a demented warped mental breakdown. Your Vision... is
not in the frenzied pace that their first LP, but more deliberate in
its mind-bending black din of emptiness, forcing the listener to
reevaluate that which stares back at them. Upon my first exposure to
this CD, Joy Division kept coming to mind only with added interludes
of crushing guitars. Misery Loves Co. washes you with lushness only
to bludgeon your head in with a tire iron, while reminding you how
graphically horrible life can be.