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somethingexcellent (Lincoln, NE United States)

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Kosmischer Pitch
Kosmischer Pitch

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jelinek tackles Cosmic music, 13 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Kosmischer Pitch (Audio CD)
Jan Jelinek has been a busy fellow the past couple of years, releasing not only two albums under his own name, but a couple more under pseudonyms (Farben, Gramm), and a collaborative project with the electronic jazz group Triosk. Of all his work to date, it's that latter project with the youngsters that I found the most impressive, as 1 + 3 + 1 was an impressive back-and-forth that played to the strengths of both parties involved, striking a nice balance between murky electronic jazz and loopy micro programming.
If all his previous work was his take on jazz music, then Kosmischer Pitch (Cosmic Pitch) finds him delving into another genre (Kraut and other "cosmic" music) for inspiration and the result is something more mystical and developed than any of his other previous solo projects. While it's true that the release isn't a dramatic departure from his earlier work, it is something that moves in a slightly different direction and because of the source samples involved, it has a different overall feel. "Universal Band Silhouette" opens the disc and it's easy to hear the slight changes as the track starts slow but builds steam with dense layering of synth sounds and even some filtered guitars, turning it into a delightful 'trance' track (without all the implications that that label entails).
"Lemmings And Lurchen Inc" is even more trippy, weaving little more than some mesmerizing melodies over one another in disorienting ways while "Vibraphonspulen" takes things down a notch, spiraling multiple chime layers into a gauzy, heady haze. Really, the whole atmosphere of the album is one of the reasons that it succeeds so well. While I felt that some of his earlier work fell into a bit of a rut in terms of sonics (mainly from getting stuck in the same loop over an over again), that issue actually plays to his advantage on Kosmischer Pitch, because most of the tracks are less focused on rhythm and the spacey overlapping loops only draw the listener in further.
One of the only real mis-steps on the album is "Im Diskodickicht," which warbles the same bass melody for the entirety of the track without changing things up sufficiently, but elsewhere Jelinek has found fertile ground for stretching space and time with his unique production style. The album opens with a bit more of a pulse and that pulse wears away even more as the album progresses, eventually leaving the listener in some sort of free-floating hammock of washes that certainly conjures up a dreamy landscape. My favorite Jelinek release yet.
(from almost cool music reviews)


Songs Of Green Pheasant
Songs Of Green Pheasant
Price: £9.73

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding lo-fi folk debut, 13 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Songs Of Green Pheasant (Audio CD)
Songs Of Green Pheasant is one of those releases that was recorded a couple years ago, but sounds like it could have been created any time in the past thirty years. Duncan Sumpner actually recorded the release several years ago and sent the demo to Fat Cat Records, but due to a series of bad email addresses and other circumstances, it took them several years to finally reach him and agree to release the album. Recorded entirely in his kitchen on a four track recorder with a variety of different instruments (including acoustic and electric guitar, bass, drum machine, effects, and random other trinkets, every song on the release is coated with a soft haze and hiss that only adds to the mystique.
It's also one of those albums that seems to grow with each listen, and despite the somewhat limited circumstances in recording the release, Sumpner has created something that sounds truly unique and sounds a little bit like Mojave 3 mixed in equal parts with early Flying Saucer Attack. "I Am Daylights" sets the tone of the album with repeated acoustic guitar melodies and layered vocals that are all bathed in a warm reverb while a closing recorder part lifts things ever so slightly. "Nightfall (For Boris P.)" is even better, following with acoustic and electric guitar that wind around one another while soaring vocal melodies take the track to sublime places. The closing, rocking section swirls with a dreamy shimmer that puts other more high-technology artists to shame.
Other tracks bring to mind influences of UK avant folk, as even the short "Knulp" keeps things interesting with some almost random percussion and subtle changes while "The Wraith Of Loving" calls to mind the aforementioned Flying Saucer attack in more ways than one with the repeated lo-fi drum machine backdrop and multiple layers of guitar before dissolving into an almost oceanfront breeze of sprightly sounds. Really, that's one of the major strengths of the album, as even though it tends to mine similar musical territory, Sumpner keeps things interesting with small musical turns, great vocal harmonies, and inventive instrumentation (like the swirling electronic guitars, shakers and chimes in "Truth But Not Fact"). Songs Of Green Pheasant is an unexpected gem that's both rustic and psychedelic.
(from almost cool music reviews)


Pohlitz
Pohlitz
Price: £9.06

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great minimal, percussive pieces, 13 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Pohlitz (Audio CD)
It seems that just about every Norwegian artist on the Rune Grammofon label is part of at least three or more different groups, and Thomas Strønen is no exception. In addition to being the founder of the group Food, he has also played with groups Parish and the Maria Kannegaard Trio. Last year, he teamed up with Supersilent keyboardist Ståle Storløkken and released the excellent Humcrush album. Pohlitz is his debut album, though, and on the release he steps far outside the normal boundaries of what you would consider from a percussionist, creating a varied album of music performed and processed in real time.
The album opens with "Heterogeneous Substances," and although the track is based around watery-sounding, repeating percussive patterns, the instrumentation is melodic and active, calling to mind the infinite guitar work of Michael Brook (who released a couple great albums on 4AD almost 10 years ago). "Ingenious Pursuits" follows, and sounds influenced more by Indonesian percussive music touched on and expanded upon with digital processing. Chimes and tones ring out and repeat in dancing patterns, but are bent and swayed, punctuated by impossibly low hits and skipping and stuttering blips that move the track out of the organic realm.
The next couple tracks both follow in similar paths, exploring slightly different spaces both rhythmically and texturally. Strønen has an amazing ear for keeping the listener engaged, and even though the tracks sound like they're using the same source sounds, he manages to keep things varied enough to draw you in (especially in the more sparse moments of the excellent "Dispatches," where the track fades to near-silence in places before being punctuated by rips and weird filter-blasts). From there, he takes things down a notch, with both "E...qulibrium" and "Mutti" exploring ultra-minimal repeated chime motifs, with the latter shearing off about halfway through into a deep, murky improv space.
Because the release is all done in real time, it's not a disc that overpowers you with multiple layers of sound. Instead, Pohlitz works that fine line where one musician attempts to wring everything they can out of a single instrument (and some clever and timely processing). At under forty minutes, the disc is just short enough that it doesn't overstay its welcome, although it does slightly repeat itself a bit in terms of overall sound. I would have loved for Strønen to revisit some of the themes of the first track, but he never quite does, and although the release touches on everything from traditional gamelan music to the minimal work of Steve Reich, it never quite reaches the transcendent work of the best of either of those. That said, it's still a fine release from a talented young artist, and if any of the previous sounds intriguing, this will probably sound quite nice to you.
(from almost cool music reviews)


Pale Glitter
Pale Glitter
Price: £13.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent electronic pop debut, 13 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Pale Glitter (Audio CD)
Even though he's been an active member of the Berlin-based music scene for some time now, Pale Glitter is only the debut album from artist Miwon (Hendrik Kröz). Last year, he scored quite a coup with the release of his very first 12", landing a John Tejada mix of his song "Brother Mole" on Andrew Weatherall's acclaimed Fabric 19 mix. The original version of that song is included on this debut album along with 11 other warm electronic pop tracks, and the solid release should mark Miwon as an artist worth paying attention to.
"Pop" is always such a subjective term, and his music doesn't come close to touching on bouncy, vocal-driven pop. Instead, this is electronic pop via way of Berlin. It's minimal, clean, dense, and warm. "Semafora" opens the disc with pulsing gurgles and some soft textural layers while rhythmic elements gradually make their way into the track but never quite kick in enough to push it over onto the dancefloor. The aforementioned "Brother Mole" follows, and while it doesn't quite have the obvious hooks of the remixed version (where they've all been pushed to the forefront), the wiggle-factor is undeniable as simple synth melodies bounce perfectly off the playful vocals.
Some of the best tracks on the album are also the ones where Miwon strips things down and simply lets his minimal dancefloor side roll. Both the album-titled "Pale Glitter" and "Hush" thump along with relentless 4/4 kicks and loads of textural washes (similar to what one might expect from the late-great Force Inc label). Elsewhere, he drops micro-sampled loops and clicky beats ("Flakes"), super-murky, almost dark experimental ("When Angels Travel") and a couple of tracks that push the envelope of dance music cheese-factor (the dated synth warbles of the album-closer "Tempo Woman").
One of the best tracks on the release is actually a remix of a song by the Estonia dream-pop group Pia Fraus. On "No Need For Sanity," Miwon melts away most of the original track, leaving in a pitter-patter beat, some minimal synths, and filtered vocals that change the entire direction of the track while still leaving it engaging. On "Spiralize," he drops some gritty sounds and a thumping beat for what sounds like a nod back to Weatherall by channelling the dirty electro-funk of Two Lone Swordsmen. As a whole, Pale Glitter is a pretty engaging disc, despite a couple soft spots that don't seem to have the same lush aesthetic (namely the aforementioned "Flakes" and a couple others). Considering it's just a debut, though, there's plenty to love about the album, and hopefully Kröz will refine his sound even more in the future.
(from almost cool music reviews)


The Dream House
The Dream House
Price: £10.54

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning return from the duo, 13 Feb. 2006
This review is from: The Dream House (Audio CD)
Windy And Carl are one of those groups that I've managed to keep tabs on, despite not managing to review many of their releases on this site. In fact, the last (and only) album that I reviewed by them was their Portal full length, which is more or less their debut (a re-release of their early work). In the years since that time, the duo have refined their sound ever so slightly with each release, and when I heard that they were going to be putting out a limited EP earlier this year dedicated to their dog, I thought it would be a good time to re-discover them.
That release was their Dedications To Flea EP, which was the inaugural release in the Brainwashed handmade series, and hearing it made me glad that I decided to give them another chance. For those that didn't manage to pick up a copy of the limited EP, the group has included it along with The Dream House for a stunning double-dose of music. What you get with the release in total is four tracks and nearly eighty minutes of music split between two discs. The Dream House opens with "The Eternal Struggle," which mixes fuzzy, sustained keyboard chords with low, delayed guitar notes that seem to trickle down into all the right places. Running over thirty minutes, the track is all about slow evolution, but it's absolutely hypnotic, and sparse chimes and closing drone that finish the piece sound like the aural equivalent of clouds parting and letting the last few rays of sun through on a cold winter day.
"I Have Been Waiting To Hear Your Voice" combines more sustained, droning chords with ebow guitar and the result is another subtle piece that shifts in slight ways to slide inside your consciousness and make you feel that despite all the bad things going on, life might just go on. The aforementioned Dedications To Flea is slightly different in source sounds, but no less stunning, as the group mingles field recordings of their departed dog Flea with sparse, but completely lush, layered guitar playing. "Ode To A Dog" is downright uplifting, as overlapping tones dance and mingle with one another while "Sketch For Flea" seems to take a slightly darker turn, as if the entire life of the dog has been compressed into the two long tracks with the happy moments leading into the sad decline of health at the end.
Considering the duo hasn't released a full-length album for almost five years, this long release (split into two beautiful pieces) from Windy And Carl sounds like they haven't skipped a beat. Coupled with beautiful sleeve photography and detailed, heartfelt liner notes written by Windy herself, The Dream House definitely feels like more than just another ambient/drone piece without any thought put into it. If you haven't heard the group before and are interested, this might just be one of the best places to start.
(from almost cool music reviews)


Unlimited (1979-1983)
Unlimited (1979-1983)
Offered by inandout-distribution
Price: £27.86

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars gem of an album from a before-their-time group, 30 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Unlimited (1979-1983) (Audio CD)
To be perfectly honest, I'd never heard of Maximum Joy before I listened to Unlimited (1979-1983). As it turns out, they were a fairly progressive pop group that mixed a touch of afrobeat and funk (and a touch of reggae) in with their adventurous pop music. The result is something that is vibrant and buoyant still over two decades after it originally came out. During their heyday, the group even recorded a couple BBC Peel Sessions with the legendary John Peel. Unlimited (1979-1983) is a collection of rare and hard-to-find 7" and 12" tracks, and for fans of retro-leaning pop music, it's a true gem.
The album opens with "White & Green Place (Extraterrestrial mix)" and from the one track alone it's obvious that the group is working in a different area that most artists of the time (although concurrently, the Talking Heads were pulling some similar strains of music together). The track mixes funk basslines with bursts of horns and all kinds of pummeling percussion while singer Janine Rainforth adds her playful vocals. In fact, it's the horns and Rainforth that are key components of almost every song on the release, with different elements around them changing and keeping things interesting.
On "In The Air (7" Version)," the group hustles out a horn-laced disco-funk track while "Building Bridges / Building Dub" is just what the title states, with echo effects raining down on another infectious bass line, horns, and more spoken-word style vocals. On "Stretch (Disco Mix / RAP)," the group gets even more lively, bursting at the seams with strutting chikka-chikka guitars, saxophone, rattling percussion, and odd alternately screamed and sung vocals that continue the positive message of the group (with Rainforth screaming, 'Don't say maybe / Tell me YES!') .
Even when they shift up styles, the group sounds completely ahead of the curve, and when they tone things down and drop off into more atmospheric work (as on "Silent Street"), they sound like the precursor to trip hop groups like Laika with spacey sound effects and dubby bass that swirl around minimal beat work. With several tracks running well over six minutes long, the group probably could have whittled things in places and made their work even more tight, but considering their slight jazz influence, the extended workouts don't sound too out-of-place. Completely different than some of the groups creating claustrophobic music at the time, Maximum Joy is definitely a group worth rediscovering (if you don't mind lots and lots of horns in your pop music).
(from almost cool music reviews)


The Acme Novelty Library: v.16: Vol 16
The Acme Novelty Library: v.16: Vol 16
by Chris Ware
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another beautiful entry from Ware, 30 Jan. 2006
I've been waiting for this one for awhile, so I was happy to finally get my hands on it a couple weeks after what was supposed to be the initial release date.
Overall, the ACME Novelty Library #16 delivers more of what you would expect from Ware. In this short hardback (64 pages), he delivers intertwining stories by pulling them together uniquely on the page for the first section, then intersecting the strips as the characters finally converge in the same place. As always, the drawing and design is amazing, and he gives us a small insight into his process (including what seems to be an ongoing, almost debilitating case of self-doubt) of creation.
I have just about everything that Ware has done to date, and the only reason that I'm giving this book 4 stars is because his always dreary stories are on the cusp of starting to get to me. Jimmy Corrigan was beautiful and sprawling masterwork that had a small sense of redemption at the end, but in the time since then (including The Acme Novelty Library and this new piece), his downer storylines have felt more and more claustrophobic. It's probably just a personal preference, and I know I'll keep buying his work since he's such a unique and talented artist, but I felt I had to explain my less than 5 star rating. As mentioned above, if you're a fan of his work, you're not going to go wrong with this one. You almost feel guilty getting such an exquisitely designed and printed book for such a cheap price (considering some of the poorly-conceived rags that are foisted upon the literary world).


More Than Tongue Can Tell
More Than Tongue Can Tell
Offered by speedia-media
Price: £7.44

3.0 out of 5 stars Glitchy, ethereal pop, 30 Jan. 2006
Avia Gardner is the name created for a nameless woman in a photograph. Musicians Mitchell Akiyama and Jenna Robertson found the old photograph with the woman in it and concocted a series of songs about her, starting with a single track that was featured on the Intr.Version compilation Saturday Morning Empires (which features some other great exclusive tracks as well). More Than Tongue Can Tell is the true debut release from the duo (with the help of some friends), and it's a seven song, half-hour journey through fractured instrumentation and song.
Akiyama is a very busy artist, having released not only Small Explosions That Are Yours To Keep earlier this year under his own name, but also the recent Dead Letters To Lost Friends as one half of Desormais with Tony Boggs/Joshua Treble (who contributes a couple remixes to this short releases). The opening, album-titled "More Than Tongue Can Tell" is actually one of the standouts on the entire album, starting out with filtered piano and vocals from Robertson before some skittery beats, horns, and washing layers of noise turn the track from parlor song into an electronic jazz whiteout.
The rest of the release isn't quite as successful at blending the different styles together. "Oceans Of Almost Rushing" is another outstanding piece with deconstructed elements clanging around at full speed that suddenly drop off to reveal delicate structures, while "If You Lose The Key, Throw Away The House" is about as straightforward as they come, a sultry slow-burner with live drums and saxophone. Elsewhere, Robertson lets her dramatic vocals get wrapped up with fairly standard sounds, and the result (at least on "Waiting Wonder") sounds like Renaissance Festival versus the glitch, as if the two don't really fit together. Both versions of "Dread And Dreaming" start out with some field-recording and strings, then drift off into more acoustic and organic second halves that seem to highlight one another well. As a whole, the release feels like a true debut, with some great tracks offset with a couple that sound like an artist still trying to figure a few things out.
(from almost cool music reviews)


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