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Music Reviews

Arovane – “Minth ” – [City Centre Offices]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

Seemingly able to imbue a greater human presence to pop electronica than
many a peer, Berlin’s AROVANE (aka Uwe Zahn) blends piano chords, ambient
electronics and subtle beats into a refined, tasteful and minimalistic flow
that
is rich in emotional dimensions. Programmatic, painless and clear as bottled
water, AROVANE consistently achieves the evocative with his trademark pro-
duction sound, kissed always by menthol and melody. Zahn has collaborated
with PHONEM (Elliot Perkins), released nuanced electronica on records,
and remains a label favorite of Thaddeus Herrmann ,
who is issuing the second AROVANE LP, ‘Lilies? in June 2004 on this same
Hamburg imprint.

MITCH June 2004

Arcana – “Body of Sin ” – [Cold Meat Industry]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

The occasional project of Sweden’s Peter Pettersson, this finds
ARCANA in between ‘The Last Embrace? (2000) and ‘Inner Pale
Sun? (2003, which featured the A-side, ‘We Rise Above?), marking
a return of sorts to earlier formulations of romantic/ethereal dark-
wave fringe. Dulcimer riffage trapped in electro-symphonic melodia,
kettledrums primordial, liturgical Latin – the female voice this time
out is Ann-Mari Thim – Pettersson plows the majestic and medieval
to fine effect with ARCANA, channeling his more emphatic overtones
for sister project SOPHIA, a more symphonic & progressive foray into
grandeur. Also featured in a duo project with Thomas Ordo Equilibrio
(VICTORIA), Pettersson is a world-class creator of the fantastic and
enormous in the media of music.

MITCH October 2004

Allergic to Bullshit – “You & Me, this Is What We ” – [Left Off the Dial]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

Never mind the 100 clear blue vinyl copies and the half dozen or so test
pressings, this is the Iggy Scam and Ivy, Mission District SF, next-chapter
in the saga of MIAMI, ALLERGIC TO BULLSHIT EP we’ve been sucking
down Southern Comfort and leaving behind mountains of Marlboro butts
waiting for?’tremendous assault upon the minarets and the parrots of
‘change?’..’and I see our heroes nodding off to sleep / asleep without
dreams?..’, Ivy leaves a trail of rubber and acrid smoke in her wake,
pausing to acknowledge the mythical mull of magic and manos?..’a
picture of voodoo taped to the wall?.’ ; ATB finally end it all with a most
preposterous (and logical) cover of BOBBY ‘BLUE? BLAND’s ?’I’m Not Ashamed?.
From the label who brought you THIS IS MY FIST and the fabulous LAB RATS,
Track one has LANGUAGE, the rest is pure truth. Hola.
MITCH Dec 2003

Add N to (X) – “Revenge of the Black Regent ” – [Mute]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

ADD N TO (X) is the London trio of Ann Shenton, Steve
Claydon and Barry Smith (aka Barry 7), who released a
debut album on before signing to in
Early 1998. B-side ‘Iron Man? is from the group’s second
LP, ‘Avant Hard?, plundering as it does FOCUS & other
Prog curiosities. ‘Revenge of the Black Regent? is a 1999
Barry 7 / Dean Honer production, a wild valkyrie ride of
Main title proportions evoking a vast crane shot of late-
Victorian equestrian battleground (see Tony Richardson’s
Charge of the Light Brigade) magnificence, complete with
falling standards, heroic sacrifice to the sound of military
drums, and the heavenly vocals of ALISON GOLDFRAPP
wafting as requiem for survivors of the denouement.
A preview of the third ADD N album, ‘Add Insult to Injury?
(2000), ‘Revenge? blends programmed synths with a pair
of live drummers to maximum indelible effect, proving that
the sun never sets on British electronic weaponry. Steve
Claydon exhibits installation art in UK galleries, Ann Shenton
publishes a satirical newspaper (The Deadworth Echo), and
Barry Smith runs a NY record label, and a club
night billed as ‘Destroy it Yourself?. Outstanding premeditated
shockwave.

MITCH Dec 2002

Aberdeen – “Sink or Float ” – [Better Looking Records]

mitch   6/24/2006   7-inch, A Library

Nearly a decade after their debut (and a
long sabbatical in-between), ABERDEEN returns
as a full band (formerly they were a duo of John &
Beth, plus drum machine) with two great tracks from
‘Homesick and Happy to be Here? (2002). Denizens
of Palm Desert, CA – it seems J + B were in love once
upon a time, fell out of it and fell back into it five years
later, thereby resuscitating the musical concept of the
[not surprisingly] romance-based ABERDEEN. Beth
Arzy was heard vocalizing on TREMBLING BLUE STARS
‘Alive to Every Smile?, and both bands will tour the U.S.
this Fall. The approach is similar, a warm-breath-in-the-
ear kind of feeling with attendant delicacies, but the sound
is much fuller with drums/guitars/bass/keyboards/ supplying
an even more voluptuous & charming appeal. Excellent
writing meets great musical sense for this pair of keepers.
And they lived happily ever after?..

Aug 2002 MITCH

Paper Legs / Sharks With Wings Split [coll] – [Heat Retention Records]

Max Level   6/20/2006   7-inch, A Library

Two noise tracks around 5:45 each. Paper Legs make plucking and scraping string noises on what sounds like a deconstructed guitar, with reverberating metallic tones in background. Sharks With Wings play around with almost-annoying high-pitched tones, fuzzed-out vocals, and percussive thumps. Fun stuff. Note: 33 rpm recommended by label, however I also got interesting results playing this at 45 rpm.

Hog’s Hole – “Siriusly ” – [Seres]

Max Level   6/19/2006   7-inch, A Library

Originally a bonus 7″ included with the No Neck Blues Band’s 2003 ‘Ever Borneo? LP, which is well worth a listen. Hog’s Hole is evidently a No Neck side project with others. This 7″ deals less with musical instruments, such as one hears with the No Necks, and more with field-type recordings. Side A is kind of quiet and clicky, Side B is ceremonial-sounding with louder percussion sounds and a few crazy-man vocals. Both sides probably come from the same recorded event, whatever it was; one wonders, however, if maybe some strange substances weren’t ingested by the participants somewhere between Side A and Side B.

Waldo the Dog Faced Boy – “Suite American ” – [Win Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Damn, where is Waldo now? This is bounty from the
2000 Mayhem Special on the splendid W.I.N. Records
Label, launched by this band’s bassist Devin Sarno
( W.I.N.= Waldo International Network)
Released back in ’92 as a single to “Tingle,”
two tracks here are taken from that full length.
“Suite American” is really the lp’s “western”
portion of that suite…has some stops
and starts to it, gentle gingham picnic
pop over rattling rimshots and a clearly
front and center tromboner – Jim Richards!
“Rumpus the Muncher” has a trombone nearly as
blissfully obscene as its title. Saucy
female carney vox from Mary Ellen Mason.
“John” is the piece unique to this 7″, we hear
the early rumblings of Devin’s love for
big boom bass drone. Poop Alley-head Tom
Grimley adds skittish guitar, and more
arcing t-bone. Fiesty free.
Putting the riot in patriots…. -Thurston Hunger

Polly Shang Kuan/Smack Music 7 [coll] – [Ecstatic Peace]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Tape manipulation experiments from Thurston
Moore’s “Ecstatic Peace” label. A side
project named after a Shaolin warrior
actress? Recalls Alga Marghen style, French
de/re/composition of language lessons?’
“Cadillac” and “cl-cl-click” loopage lead up
to a rather stellar locked groove. B-side
brings us “Smack Music 7”, and the piece here
could be called “Smile”, clearly the response
to too many force photogenic moments. Sounds
a little like Alvin and the Chipmunks on
an avant garde tip. Homemade hypnosis…
-Thurston Hunger

Slusser/Utah Kawasaki [coll] – [Dolor Del Estamago]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Intriguing bandido label that may have been
started by Charlie Ward back in 1986 near
New Hampshire?’ But did the Nafta shuffle
at some point…or did they? Releasing
avant material, that may not be licensed
to them? A mystery wrapped in an enigma,
deep fried in a chimichanga. ?’s continue
here as I’m not sure if Slusser is David
Slusser, a dash of theremin on one side
might suggest it is. Someone enlighten us.
Meanwhile the music
Mask side is a live audio adventure –
cathode arcing, wood creaking, speaker
freaking, Mexican radio thefts, dancing
mainframe LED’s, theremin curlicues, a
digital waiting room, vocal percussion,
harpsichord terpsichore, wobbly analog
waves. Recommended headfun.
The flip (Utah Kawasaki?’) is high
pitch twitchy glitchiness. With the
feel of a series of false starts at a
track race. Irritainment. -Thurston Hunger

Monkey Power Trio – “Chasing Monsters with Love… ” – [Pochahontas Swamp Machine]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

How does a band keep from getting too good
at their instruments, from losing their
original insurgency, from inundating the
market? Or to put it another way, how do
four high school chums stay in touch? How
about recording once a year? You think you
were wound up and ready to go as front-
toothless 7 year old on Christmas Eve?’
These guys are raring to go and deliver…
hell it probably takes lead singer Mark
Maynard a year to get his voice back.
Solid stupid rawk, with a self-deprecating
anthem in “Run From Fights” Three-chord
songs with a chord to spare. And they’ve
added some squiggly keyboard thing, or
maybe it was on and they couldn’t figure
out how to turn it off. Anyhow it sure
beats high school reunions. -Thurston Hunger

Pekinska Patka – “Demo 1979 ” – [None]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Rockin’ punk anthems, who cares what language
they’re singing in…you’re phonetically forced
to scream along. “Bloodstains Across Yugoslavia”
led us to this high grade blast of retro-Belgrade.
Late 70’s/early 80’s swagger, fueled by some
killer hooks. Despite the locale and time this
is rawk born more of sexual frustration than
political frustration. Still lead vocalist
Nebojsa Conkic-Conta was there when Peking Duck
was peaking. Very thorough liner notes inside,
read ’em and bleed. You go, slavia! -Thuston Hunger

Drums and Tuba – ” ” – [Grey Flat Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Drummer Anthony Nozero
Tuba and other brass tactics Brian Wolff
Guitarist Neal McKeeby
A sort of Christmas(?) single from a gifted,
warped band. Drums and Tuba reigning as *the*
swinging rock band of the moment. “Office Pieper”
offers a reverse camera Dragnet episode. A story
is told between blurting bursts, two cops (let’s
change their names to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle
Dumber) try to provoke the innocent. On the flip
a vague version of “Joy to the World” gives pause
then gives way to a spacey tuba-dub wonderland
(with Woolf on overlapped alter-horns as well).
Heavy drums, combustible guitar and a tuba as
powerful and graceful as a tip-toeing linebacker.
-Thurston Hunger

Outhud – “1ST Single O the New Millenium ” – [5 Rue Christine]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Sacramento band, w/ connections to the Tourettes
Totally infectious riff rock for us riff raff,
tapping into the ol’ alligator brain. Programmed
drums snap like crocodile jaws and the guitars
flicker through vibrant, reverb drenched, sort
of No-Wave funk…but sorta something different.
We’ve got their *Natural Selection* 7″ as well,
the recipe is solid. Closer listening turns up
little synth squishes and violin swishes. This
is exceptional instrumental guitar propulsive
pop – with a bright, ringing sound.
Go ape over this! -Thurston Hominid

Lost Sounds/Vanishing [coll] – [Cochon Records]

Max Level   5/28/2006   7-inch, A Library

One would probably tend to lump these two bands together under the heading of GothSynthDeathRock. Lost Sounds brings us two songs about darkness, rotting, and death, with jumpy guitar/keyboard rock ‘n? roll backing, and male and female voices. The Vanishing puts female vocals in front of a bass/drums/synth lineup. A more deliberate feel on this side. The first track is about pale faces, smeared lipstick, and fear, and the second is a creepy, foggy four-minute instrumental. Added to the library on October 2003, just in time for Halloween.

Cigarettes – “Gimme Cigarette ” – [S-S Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/27/2006   7-inch, A Library

An essential reissue of early oddball punked pop but so much
more; the A-side’s opening soaring mellotronic keyboards and
Norse war drumming had me thinking Gabriel-era Genesis, but
then in comes the teeny preeny falsetto vox singing with
accidental javanese tones, and the guitar starts romping.
Lyrics just sort of jut out some spot of the subconcious.

The angst oh, a new-wave staple, is showcased on the B-side
with those piqued and tweaked freaky falsetto vocals,
singing a despair love song. Little Yes keyboard flourishes
sneak into this one. But it’s got a Phil Spector feel too?’
Even odder, it’s got one Philo Cramer before Fear.

It’s as if everyone formed this band thinking, we’re going
to be a glam band or a prog band or or a punk band or a
girl group of boys, certain that they could overpower the
other interests. A tremendous collision that didn’t last
long, but I’m sure glad they re-issued it. Carefree ain’t
careless…this is a gem. -Thurston Hunger

Haiku Review:
When visions collide
Sparks fly, cigarettes ignite
Your ear’s the ashtray

Plastic Crimewave Sound – ” ” – [Captain Spazz]

Max Level   4/23/2006   7-inch, A Library

Loud, crude psychedelia from this Chicago quintet. Layers of heavy, noisy guitars, feedback, and electronics blur together into a pounding acid rock sludge. Bandleader Plastic Crimewave’s spoken/chanted vocals are pretty much buried in the mix for the duration. A1 and B1 are dense two-chord vamps, hypnotically repetitious. B2 has five or six chords, for a nice change of pace, but such involved song structure doesn’t seem to be what this band does best. They do, however, get super extra bonus points for having a guitarist named Cat Chow.

Belastungsprobe – “A.E.T.Z ” – [Play Loud]

Max Level   3/19/2006   7-inch, A Library

1980 art-punk from somewhere in Germany. Eight short songs about who knows what. Guitar, bass, drums, a cheap keyboard or two, and talking/shouting vocals. If late-’70s Wire had a sense of humor, and one of them liked the Velvet Underground, and they had never moved out of the garage into a proper recording studio, my guess is they would have sounded something like this. Weird punk rock fun, in other words. I tried to look up English translations of what’s going on here, but didn’t get far. The group’s name evidently translates to something like “stress level test”, and that’s about all I could figure out.

Buffets V Buff Medways [coll] – [Damaged Goods]

Thurston Hunger   3/16/2006   7-inch, A Library

Mirror, mirror on the ceiling who’s the buffest and the most
appealing. The Buffets committment to permanent adolescence
is fierce, the world is their garage. Sugar bomb back-up
vocals make sure this punky pimple goes pop. Both songs are
as cute as the scrawling on a teenager’s notebook. On the
flip, it’s Childishness of an even truer form. You can smell
the tubes on the amps, the warm crumple of guitar, and a
twist of tambourine at the end of “David Wise.” Things get
even slurrier on “What You Got,” including a micro guitar
solo preserved in the amber ale found at the bottom of a
bottomless pint from 1966?
Them’s good rockin’. -Thee Hunger

A.M.P. Studio – “Misstype Dolittle ” – [Earworm]

Thurston Hunger   3/11/2006   7-inch, A Library

Richard Walker of Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation
and the mildly confusing group named Amp, is here just solo
as A.M.P. Studio. But he’s not far from the cloudbanks of
those other projects. This single sided 7″ begins with a
buzz-hum and guitar chord shake that slides up then down,
with a sort of Popol Vuh druid reflection. Sound is beyond
billowy, distal drums wait for the guitar to distill, and
then we here a chewy synth do a slow motion raga in the
mix somewhere. The ebb and flow of the stacked sounds can
almost feel like a vox human. Static fireworks come on
towards the end, they anger the guitars that then mass into
these huge rainclouds. This is old, 1997 originally, but
found recently and enjoyed eternally. Driftbliss. -Hunger

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