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Reviews Written by
C. Quinn "totality denier" (County Louth, Eire)
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Momentum
Momentum

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monolake's finest hour (and 18 minutes), 11 May 2005
This review is from: Momentum (Audio CD)
If you're new to Monolake, this is the one you want. I'm sure many fans prefer their Monolake more downtempo and dubby than this, and to be fair that's how I first encountered it. But the essence of this stuff is spaced-out minimal techno, and that's what you get here - a full spectrum of clicks, washes, clangs, echoes, whispers, thuds, every beat and effect timed and tweaked to perfection. Other Monolake records work as aural narcotics; this one seems like a whole world you could walk into (if you didn't mind getting hopelessly lost, that is). No one else has come near to achieving what Robert Henke has done in this genre.


Skynet
Skynet
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £26.91

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Juan yet, 11 May 2005
This review is from: Skynet (Audio CD)
This is the best I've heard from Juan Atkins; a little like Model 500 but more minimal, less R&B-tinged (not R&B-tinged at all, in fact!). A collection of beautiful, biomorphic techno tracks, ideal for those who find a lot of techno too brittle-sounding. Chilled this ain't, though - it's as dark and intense as you'd expect from Tresor, just a little fuzzier and more organic than most.


Under A Stone With N
Under A Stone With N
Price: £27.33

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Metal LIVES!, 29 April 2005
This review is from: Under A Stone With N (Audio CD)
There's a whole new wave of metal around (I mean NEW, not 'nu'). Sweden's Anata are a fine example of modern metal -- not particularly concerned with conforming to any one of the bewildering array of subgenres, more interesting in simply rocking hard.
There's a bit of Morbid Angel death/thrash in here, a bit of Entombed's "death'n'roll", a hint of Immortal-esque blackness, some of Meshuggah's polyrhythmic madness (although less mathematical), and a generous helping of the old-fashioned pummelling of classic Metallica.
Anata can grind when they want to, shred when they want to, dazzle you with breakneck time changes and ornate arrangements when they want to. Damn, I can't think of much they can't do. And none of it sounds contrived, like they've deliberately thrown together all those bits I mentioned before. It's just absolutely where metal has got to today.
No one with an interest in the genre should be disappointed with this. You might even want to play it to non-metalheads, just to show them what can be done. Outstanding.


Stag
Stag
Price: £7.69

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Atlantic years, 14 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Stag (Audio CD)
This is probably the best album of Melvins' fairly brief career as major label recording artists. The riffs are heavy, but bright and bouncy rather than mired in sludge, and the 'experimental' elements are always hitched to great hooks. 'Bar-X the Rocking M' has a killer trombone solo, 'Skin Horse' is both hilarious and oddly touching, and 'Black Bock' is probably the most surprising track in Melvins' catalogue.
Less radio-friendly than 'Houdini' or 'Stoner Witch', but not nearly so weird as some other reviewers think. If you want Melvins at their most adventurous, try the excellent 'Honky' -- the next record they made after Atlantic dumped them for not selling as many records as Nirvana -- or the legendary 'Lysis', the only full album featuring Joe Preston (Earth, Thrones). But there's no Melvins record that's not worth having.


Goatsnake/Burning Witch
Goatsnake/Burning Witch
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £27.45

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 stars for Goatsnake, 5 for Burning Witch, 9 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Goatsnake/Burning Witch (Audio CD)
Goatsnake represent the friendlier, stoner end of doom -- huge, slow and heavy to be sure, but rarely threatening, and with a disconcertingly sane-sounding vocal style. Their two tracks here grind along effectively enough, but there's a nagging sense of tweeness about Goatsnake that I can't quite shake off. Maybe even a whiff of real ale amid the dope smoke. (We are only talking comparative tweeness here of course. They're not Jethro Tull or anything.)
Burning Witch, on the other hand, are frightening. Not much music frightens me, and most of what does is classical or soundtrack music, but the two 'Witch tracks here are truly nightmarish. It's not just the vocals -- which sound genuinely disturbed, not just metal-pantomime deranged -- or the ear-splitting, unpredictable shards of feedback, or the stuttering rhythms punctuated by gaping silences. It's the sense of sonic adventure that's really shocking in this genre. However ugly it gets, Burning Witch is always musical. Listen to the way the lurching ghost train of 'Bleeder' emerges into near-ambience in the final couple of minutes. It's like some of the genre shifts on Scorn's classic 'Vae Solis', but even more unexpected.
Be warned though, Burning Witch are uncomfortable listening. But if you can take it, there are rewards richer than just having your skeleton rattled.


The Tired Sounds of
The Tired Sounds of
Price: £19.35

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen!, 3 Mar. 2005
This review is from: The Tired Sounds of (Audio CD)
Everything the other reviewers say is true, unless they say 'ambient' -- THIS RECORD MUST BE LISTENED TO! Ambient music is just there as background. SOTL want you to get involved. Believe me, it will make a difference. This music can make you cry. Ambient music cannot do that.
Contrary to what you might think, it isn't easy to make such minimal music. It's even harder to make it so moving. I can't think of anything else that 'does' so little yet packs such an emotional punch.
If you like this, try to find SOTL's early 'Music For Nitrous Oxide'. More electronic, edgy and menacing, but also very fine.


If Only A Sweet Surrender To The Nights To Come Be True
If Only A Sweet Surrender To The Nights To Come Be True

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most musical constellation release, 3 Mar. 2005
In retrospect it seems inevitable that a band as big as Godspeed You Black Emperor! -- in terms of both personnel and musical ambition -- would have so many offshoots. There was so much different material on F#A#oo and Levez Vos Skinny Fists that it would take numerous bands to develop it all, and Godspeed had the numbers to do it. Interesting also, that subtle name change -- the shift of the exclamation mark from the end to the middle -- on Yanqui U.X.O., the first Godspeed release after the 'side-projects' really took off.
Yanqui U.X.O. itself (and the choice of producer Steve Albini) seemed to stake out slightly more formally conventional guitar/rock territory for the parent group, with A Silver Mt. Zion set to carry on down the crazy preacherman/frazzled folk path and Set Fire to Flames to seek out the more avant-garde noise frontiers of the Godspeed universe. Which, to complete the overly simplistic analysis, leaves Esmerine to expand on the 'contemporary classical' undertones of the first few Godspeed releases.
They do it beautifully, in a series of pieces which, as other reviewers have pointed out, avoid the more familiar 'post-rock' tricks in favour of a suprisingly sophisticated compositional approach. There's less of an improv feel and consequently a greater differentiation between tracks. Yes, there's a hint of Arvo Pärt (as there is with A Silver Mt. Zion), but there's also more than a whiff of Takemitsu or even Bartok. All the playing -- and recording -- is sumptuous, even the parts where the cello sounds like an overdriven guitar. And 'Where There Is No Love There Is No Justice' shows that Esmerine can rock too.
William Burroughs eventually concluded that any state drugs could get you into, you could get into without them if you knew how. And anywhere guitars can get you, you can get to without them -- listen to Esmerine if you don't believe me.


Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn
Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.18

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the best in this 'genre', 1 Mar. 2005
There's so much different stuff on constellation/kranky these days that it's impossible to lump it all under 'post-rock' (if it ever was possible). This is one of the best records I've heard in this so-called genre -- like Godspeed if the world wasn't about to end or Tortoise with soul. Warm, fuzzy and full of life and interesting (but not gratuitously odd) sounds. Play it after F#A#oo if you want to feel better; do it the other way round if you don't.


The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely. If you don't want lovely, look elsewhere, 25 Feb. 2005
This is beautiful music, but post-rockers -- particularly those who prefer the more raucous moments of GYBE, Mogwai etc. -- may initially feel somewhat underwhelmed. This is something altogether prettier, with chiming, brittle guitar lines forming the (fragile) backbone of every track. If Coldplay went prog and Chris Martin stopped singing it might sound like this -- and that's meant to be a compliment, by the way.
There are crescendos, of course; there is martial drumming. There are long, meandering tracks. This is definitely post-rock. But it's an altogether more ethereal take on the genre, wistful rather than angst-ridden.


Disintegration
Disintegration
Price: £8.03

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Cure album after 'Pornography', 15 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Disintegration (Audio CD)
There are musical and lyrical connections between this and 'Pornography' (for example, anyone who remembered Smith singing 'I will never be clean again' in 'The Figurehead' would have raised an eyebrow at 'You make me feel like I am clean again' in 'Lovesong'). Although 'Disintegration' is far more listenable, the two albums do represent The Cure's career peaks; you can certainly ignore everything that came after them and most of what was in between (ahem).
Nearly all the tracks build slowly through sweetly intertwining lines, providing a welcome distraction from Smith's monotonous 'singing'. In fact if the album had been recorded without his vocals, just with a lyric sheet to read while listening to the instrumental versions, I'd have given it four and a half stars (if Amazon allowed half-stars). As it is, the old whiner manages to mar yet another good record. Oh well, at least the lyrics are worth hearing -- dark, of course, but in this case even darker than you think.
The final half star deducted because it's just too much for one sitting, and as it seems to be some sort of emotional concept album it really needs to be heard in one go. The original vinyl version was a couple of tracks shorter -- 'Last Dance' and 'Homesick' were cut, I think -- and better for it.


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