Low, "Things We Lost In The Fire"

LOW, "THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE"
The sixth full-length Low CD release comes after a year of releasing enough music for three CDs and one baby girl. Like the last one, this one both appears on Kranky in the US, Tugboat in the UK, two bonus songs on the vinyl edition, and production by Steve Albini. While Low's songwriting skills get amazingly stronger and stronger, I'm finding more problems with Albini's production. To their credit, songs like "Sunflowers," "Dinosaur Act," and "In Metal" carry on their own style of somewhat abstract lyrics matched with breathtaking vocalizations, unchallengable synergy with a fondness of dissonance. To experience Low in person as a collective entity, you'll find that each of the three members create a triangular symmetry. Albini however completely disregards this with songs as "Black Like a Forest" (as he did with "Will the Night") by retiring Mimi's vocals to the background, ignoring the vocalists' harmonic set up. I'm also confused with the album's opener where the hell the strings came from as the music's going, going, going, flowing nice, but then a harsh fade up of strings from out of nowhere almost makes no sense without setup. Perhaps I'm being entirely too picky but after a while these things become out of place threads in a carpet. Disregard these things and you've got a perfect slab of wax, suitable for framing. samples:

3649 Hits

Lesser, "Gearhound"

LESSER, "GEARHOUND"
This week's mad scientist is a Californian named Jay. Starting off on this journey, the breaks are very disjunct and the transitions between tracks are so choppy, it's even confusing to me when new songs begin or if there are indeed different songs. It almost seems like he's making a conscious effort to avoid anything semi-conventional like establishing a rhythmic base or a bass foundation. But then SMACK! The track with Blectom from Blechdom and the "Gearhound Suite" provide that important plot twist, this guy is actually going somewhere with this! It's almost as if this disc is a physical journey up a mountain, hard steps and unclear paths on the way up, many choices and much on your mind, the sweat beads down and you fall short of breath and tell yourself how much you need to get out more. You reach the peak, have a nice look around, enjoy a refreshing bottle of water and begin your descent, looking down on the beautiful planet from high up, as you encounter various attractions on the way down. Keeping this analogy in mind, the remainder of the disc sort of heads down a rather soothing path, without giving up the digital choppery however. Three-dimensional visions burst into my head, giving the impression of lying on a soft waterbed that keeps shifting around, or running my finger on a densely-filled helium balloon, ready to burst. The end of the disc is the end of our journey, back on the earth with a sense of accomplishment behind us. Lookng back up the mountain we just climbed the whole picture seems clear but we're glad the heavy legwork is over. Lesser has successfully navigated a flight in the face of convention on many levels here. First off, he placed the peak in the center as opposed to most albums throwing a killer bang-up opener and a memorable fade for the closer. Then, consciously or unconsciously, he threaded a certain congruency between rather abstract and disjointed pieces. A disc which I originally thought would make more sense to me in the distant future has become much clearer with the proper attention. We, the listeners can be far more guilty of attention defecit than what many critics will accuse the musicians of.

3325 Hits

Him, "5 & 6 In Dub"

HIM, "5 & 6 IN DUB"
Mighty Doug Scharin has a new sound for Him once again for the latest release. Last year saw the release of two full-lengthers, one with a modern electro-jazz feel, the other with a pure force of improvisational mayhem. This 32-minute three-tracker dives into the deeper, cooler side, known simply as dub. The opener, "Five" clocks in at over 14 minutes with long delays, hypnotic bass loops, trickling guitar, latin percussion, warm organs, and an unobtrusive sax. Track two's the shortest of the three tracks and a nice stop-gap which explores sound almost through entirely synthesized by analogue electronics - a primitive drum machine, older keyboards and tons of delay. The last track, "Six" takes an approach completely void of the standard drum kit - electronic or organic, with the group taking a sort of plugged-in "unplugged" mentality, all members grooving together without anything clocking the beat. Sure, these are remixes, meaning the originals have been tampered with, but where are the originals? This release is wonderful but it's a tease, it's way too short and the remix aspect gives me the impression their next album didn't start out this far into dub. Who knows except for Him?

3507 Hits

Shadow of The Vampire

To use a word commonly used by my friend Jeremy, I would call this one "Crap-tacular!" While this film showed promise with a plot based on the mysterious filming of the classic "Nosferatu" and a cast including Eddie Izzard, Willem Dafoe and Udo Kier, it started off bad and got worse. The accents were terrible and disgustingly mismatched, both American and English actors clumsily fumbled through the German tongue, John Malkovich being the biggest offender, slipping in and out of his accent faster than you can say "Robin Hood." The continuity problems were an eyesore, with different typings of "Orlock," a seeminly endless ladder walk and mismatched cigarette positions. Most important of all, the story was shit, leaving holes everywhere in the plot. The warning signs were all here however. First off: Executive Producer Nicolas Cage—they must have shopped this one around quite a bit before landing on somebody as rich and inexperienced as Cage. Next up was the single preview syndrome—if you only see one preview over and over again then even the promotions team couldn't find any better clips to show. (I did want to spank everybody who laughed at the "I'll eat her later" line, since everybody's heard it a million times by now.) And finally: director Edmund Elias Merhige. While he may have been praised for 1991's "Begotten" for his stylish imitation of classic black-and-white film, he hasn't directed anything else, automatically qualifying him for the "discount director" award. Stay far away or go rent Ed Wood.

6744 Hits

Snatch

If you liked "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and want to go see it all over again, then this film is for you. This time around, the pretentious cooler-than-thou wankery of Mr. Madonna has materialized into an even more MTV-generation-ready Brit flick obviously made for export. While the camera shots and editing tricks were slick and involved, it didn't put this film on par with something like a Mamet or Tarrantino gangster film with plot ironies. There were some fun and cheap laughs, like the dog who swallowed a chew toy and squeaks every time he barks (this kept Tom the Fish laughing in the row behind me throughout the flick). But it's too much to believe that everybody in England talks with the same cockney accent or can get simply get the guns they had. Brad Pitt was surprisingly entertaining, which lends evidence to my theory that Hollywood rubbish like him and Tom Cruise can be good in roles where they're not the lead. Benicio Del Toro, who can usually save a failing movie was disappointingly under-utilized however. My fear is that more films like this will appear, getting worse and worse and worse. Long-term effects may result, including English kids pretending they're all bad-ass and the ever-annoying stereotype of all Brits talking like cockneys being perpetuated from abroad. For the most part I disliked it but if you loved "Lock Stock" then you've already seen this film and will send hate email to me. Fuck off in advance.

6958 Hits

Boyd Rice, "The Way I Feel"

BOYD RICE, "THE WAY I FEEL"
Boyd Rice is no stranger to heated discourse, especially when it comes to much of his heavily spoken releases. This compilation is one of collaboratives, including songs with Tiffany Anders, Shaun Patridge, and Little Fyodor as well as Douglas P, Coil, David Tibet and many others. The irony here is that while Boyd's music as Non can be brutish and aggressive yet completely void of personal interjection, the music on 'The Way I Feel' is full of gentle and serene music as a backdrop for his vocalized feelings which frequently echo a dark side that most people won't admit to having. Songs have been hand-picked by Boyd himself and provide a nice variety with the inclusion of instrumental things like the Sickness of Snakes track "Many Hands" or the "Pearls Before Swine" theme. Music is included from 'Hatesville,' 'Music, Martinis & Misanthropy,' along with various cuts originally only available on 7" and compilation albums. Tactfully absent are diatribes which could be interpreted as Social Darwinistic or fascist. The disc includes all previously released songs, but features some rarities and things you'd never want to purchase in their original surroundings, like "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" from the 'Grace of My Heart' soundtrack. Boyd is a writer, noisemaker, prankster and poet, undoubtedly an entertainer. Unfortunately music listeners generally don't believe a song can be as fictitious as a book or film. This is where much of the problems of interpreting people like Boyd Rice, Douglas Pearce and even older Coil music comes into play. These music makers should be regarded like fiction writers or impressionistic painters, taking influence from uncountable sources and artfully spitting them out for our entertainment and introspection. Make them into something more and then you've become the entertainment, getting into angry fights over email lists is something these guys want you to do.

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5269 Hits

Dark Star, "Travelogue II"

DARK STAR, "TRAVELOGUE II"
Nearly seven years ago a CD resembling this one appeared, sharing seven tracks, four of which featured members Edward, Phil and Ryan of Legendary Pink Dots. The main core of Dark Star decided to record a sequel but it never surfaced. In the meantime, the original disc was difficult to obtain and most likely went out of print. This release basically serves a couple purposes. It reintroduces seven songs from the first release, keeping the music available and adds four newer ones, remnants from an uncomplete sequel. For LPD fans who don't already have the original release, this is a great chance to get all the songs as they originally were recorded, fans of the original release can get over a half hour of new music, while people who bought it and don't need to hear any more can easily pass on slapping the money down for it. As for the music itself, the four new songs fit rather well with the rest. The music is generally an eerie mid-paced electronic throb with either a distorted guitar or ballsy bass. Both old and new songs would appropriately score a chilling futuristic horror film. My only issues lie with the tacky lyrics from the non-Kaspel singer.

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4124 Hits

Mahogany, "The Dream of a Modern Day"

MAHOGANY, "THE DREAM OF A MODERN DAY"
Call it what you will, electro femme vox twee dreampop, this debut album from Mahogany fills emptiness left in your heart when The Sundays stopped recording albums. Indie geeks have been known to sport rods hearing the super-high pitched airy vocals of bands like this or Pram, I find it rather irritating, dull and get damn sick of it before long. Personal preference aside, the vocals are truly poorly mixed, without much depth or clarity. The duets between the female and male vocalist are even more unnecessary. Unfortunately some of the music on this disc is absolutely incredible sounding, an almost perfect match of delayed atmospheric guitars with electronic percussion and effects. In all honesty at the end of the disc, I'm rather fond of it and have a couple tracks stuck in my head. Damn you, damn you, I can't really hate anything from Dearborn, Michigan.

3613 Hits

Pan(a)sonic, "Aaltopiiri"

PAN(A)SONIC, "AALTOPIIRI"
Ilpo and Mika have come a long way from their beginnings as Panasonic. The music which at one point utilized a minimal amount of effects and sources, creating an aggressive and direct mixture has become a more resourceful blend with a deeper understanding of variety and reflection, sonority and permanence. Their fourth full-lengther together is once again rather chunky to swallow all at once. With 17 new tracks totalling over an hour's worth of music, I must admit I wasn't a big fan at first. Further listenings have unearthed what appears to be both organic and synthetic sounds, a production approach which is very matured in comparison to 1997's 'Kalma,' and a distinct identity between songs. Minimalism, this isn't. It's not all subtle and introspective, however. Unlike 'A,' this album does indeed reach a climax. Towards the end of the disc, the energy builds up to a monsterous roar, good for some wall-shaking needs, which leads me to believe they might be storing an arsenal of more beefy 808-kick tracks for another 12" release as stellar as 'B' was.

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3566 Hits

Shipping News, "Very Soon, And in Pleasant Company"

Jason Noble and Jeff Mueller's musical collaborations first manifested on the only release from Rodan back in 1994. Following the split, Jason went to the Rachel's and Jeff to June of '44 but the two came together along in 1996 to record with for the PBS program "This American Life." Kyle Crabtree (from Eleven Eleven) joined in 1997 and a debut album, "Save Everything" was released. Four years later, a second album has arrived with help from Christina Files (Mary Timony, Victory at Sea) twiddling knobs.

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3685 Hits

Sybarite, "Music For a Film"

SYBARITE, "MUSIC FOR A FILM"
Synthetics and organics coexist in harmony on this full-length release from multi-instrumentalist Xian Hawkins. Some might recognize his name from the Silver Apples reunion assembly as the "other guy" than Simeon, but this New Yorker has an identity all his own. This music originally served as the score for a 1999 independent suspense/thriller film by Patrick McGuinn, "Killing Me Tomorrow," and is composed of 14 tracks which total about 41 minutes-worth. The songs are short, sweet and waste no time, with shimmering guitar melodies, subtle string sounds and low-tempo electronic beats in parts. The unobtrusive mix makes it perfect for a film score, with fade-outs it has obviously been slightly tailored for the commercial release. I'm now looking forward to finding out where Hawkins' career is headed next.

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3997 Hits

In The Nursery, "Hindle Wakes"


There are certain thingsyou can always count on when purchasing a release from In the Nursery.The melodies are always emotionally charged, the production shines witha signature decadent brilliance and the sounds do an excellent job ofimitating a full orchestra.

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4023 Hits

Antony & The Johnsons, "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy"


Three days in mypossession and I can't stop playing this three tracker over and overagain. For those who have been fortunate enough to witness Antony &the Johnsons live, this provides an excellent souvenir of favorites noton the debut album.

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4008 Hits

!!!


Slammin' mutherfuckingballsy-ass shit. This debut CD release is probably the most excitedI've been about a new rock-genred band in as long as I can remember.The energy is fierce, the music is fast, funky and full of wakka wakkaguitars, crazy effects, beefy bass chops, electronic and organic drums,wild cheering, hoards of percussion and a splash of horns.

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3927 Hits

AMERICAN PIMP

Two years in production, with 30 pimps interviewed in 15 cities has come together in one of the most bold, entertaining and insightful documentaries in the last few years. Questions like "Why does a ho need a pimp?," "What does a pimp do?," as well as definitions like Mack, Player, and Knockoff are all covered in the words of active and retired pimps and hos. From the ruthless player types to the seasoned professional, from the nation's capital to Hawaii, the characters are genuine and enlightening. 'American Pimp' documents what is generally believed to be the origin of the pimp, through the uprise in popular culture to the present day, where many of the film's stars have retired and moved on. The truth can be glamorous yet unsettling, with the perpetually looming dangers of drugs, jail and death. The lyrical mastery and swave debonair of real-life players Fillmore Slim, Payroll and Gorgeous Dre are alarmingly more animated, intelligent and lovable than much of the fictitious characters often portrayed on the screen. An undertaking like this is a triumph for the Hughes Brothers, as the subject matter must make it difficult to seek out the stars and capture them in their own words. Seek it out.
8963 Hits

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

I can truly say I agree with Tom the Fish on a movie. Although the bastard was too lazy to write about it, I thought I'd give it a shot. This Chinese film centers around a restless, disrepsectful and arrogant aristocratic young girl, Jen (played by Ziyi Zhang) who is facing an arranged marriage she doesn't want to go through with. Chow Yun Fat plays a legendary warrior who is tired of the warrior life and is trying to retire a 400-year old magical sword, the Green Destiny. The love of his life is a female warrior, Shu Lien, who is played by Michelle Yeoh. From early on, young Jen expresses to Shu Lien that she too wants to be a warrior and leave the aristocratic life. Little did everybody know from early on that Jen is indeed the hidden dragon: powerful yet stupid. Chow Yun Fat might be the most Amercan known actor in the film but the ladies take center stage in this film, all of whom kick some serious ass. The fighting scenes are stunningly choreographed, meshing martial arts, ballet and inventive camera angles and effects. The scenery is breathtaking on the large screen and the interplay between Jen and her true love, Lo are amusing and entertaining as well. Throughout the course of the film, an alarming number of people take an interest in leading young Jen down a path they all feel is right for her. I'm not going to give the ending away, but I will say the three of us who saw this film on Christmas Day all had a different take on what actually happened in the end. It all depends on how pure you, the viewer, believe her heart actually is. This movie has definitely become one of my top choices for best film of 2000.
7850 Hits

"45"

Bill Drummond is most known for his involvement in the KLF and related incarnates, but the guy has put in his time as a musician and record executive since the early 1980s. "45" was planned when he was 33 1/3 years old, in 1986 upon his release on Creation Records as The Man. The book collects various thoughts and observations of the music world around him through his experienced, yet jaded and cynical eyes. Various short stories provide basically a snapshot in his life at 45, including some of the bizarre attempts at cheating pop music and scoring well with the masses, comments on self-righteous and somewhat worthless musician pop stars. It's an entertaining and light read, with dimensions that would fit perfectly with other 45rpm 7" records. Worth tracking down even if you have to order it from the UK.
9662 Hits

Out of Darkness Cometh Light

I want to take the time to wish everybody the best for this holiday season. It's too easy to get wrapped up with bitterness around this time of year with the increasing hostility of shoppers, advertisements, drivers, and other factors which are most peoples gripes about the season. What's remarkable to me personally is a tradition which seems to be part of nearly every religious undertaking during this time, something simple as light. In the Northern Hemisphere these are the darkest days of the year, and if you're celebrating Mithras, Channukah, Jesus or Kwanzaa, something is most likely being lit. Whether it's a tree, menorah, downtown display or front porch, the efforts put into bringing light to the darkest days of the year are a wonderful sight to see when walking through a crisp and pleasant cold winter evening. While watching my generation's definitive holiday film, 'A Christmas Story' on TV yesterday, I was reminded of one of my favorite lines in a film, "Only one thing could draw me away from the warm glow of electric sex in the window." Yes, for me, it's all about light displays. Okay, and drink some egg nog too. Have a great day off, however you celebrate it! I'll be getting Chinese food and watching a film with some Jewish friends on December 25th!
11381 Hits

DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?

James and Andy of V/Vm wake up one morning to find a lifetime supply of pudding in their cabinets, Andy's car is missing and neither can remember what happened last night. An answering machine message is left by their girlfriends, the twins, played by Mira Calix and Andrea Parker, bitching them out for the mess they made last night and how they forgot it was their anniversary. Now the two are screwed because they can't find their car with the anniversary gifts they bought for the girls. On their journey into the town Wendy Carlos tries to run over Andy, Colin Newman and Malka Spiegel try to run over James. They meet up with their old friend who's played by Andrew Mackenzie. From there, the three drive to get some Chinese food, where Takako Minekawa gives them hell on the drive-through intercom. After a small incident, Mackenzie takes off and leaves the two to try to piece everything together. A hot girl from school, played by Bettina Richards sees the two on the street, flirts with Andy as her boyfriend and some other thugs (played by the Isotope fellas) show up and threaten to beat our two heroes up. A run in with a transgendered girl played by Riz Malsen (Neotropic) at a strip club adds another twisted piece to the ever-growing puzzle, while an Asian tailor, played by Masami Akita hooks them up with hip Addidas outfits with magical pockets.

Upon leaving the shop, the two are abducted by the Add N to (X) folks who play a gang of underground nerds trying to communicate with space. This is where it gets weird: the Add N to (X) crew (who later torture the main characters by playing some of their music) inform them that they need the Continuum Transducer to save the universe. Once our heroes break free from the nerds, Chicks on Speed show up also wanting the treasured Continuum Transducer. But it gets even more bizarre: Stefan Betke and Florian Hecker also appear in the film, claiming to be the keepers of the Continuum Transducer and well, the rest of the story has young James and Andy running around, trying to get the car and save the universe and figure out what happened last night. Honest!
9973 Hits

Kriedler

The eponymous thirdfull-lengther from Kreidler is almost a futuristic nod to theinnovators of 70s Kraut Rock. The disc is nearly all instrumental, savetwo tracks with vocal contributions from artful indie clown Momus andArgeninian pop star Leo Garcia (not to be confused with the Dominicanbaseball player, professor, Wyoming politician, classical guitarist, orSalsa dance instructor). The quartet is down to a trio since theirbassist departed as his side project, To Rococo Rot become more of amain outlet. The bass lines are beefier than ever however, and whetherthe songs are serene throbbing electronic easy listening gems like"Bewitched", a Can-like vocal tunes as "Mnemorex" or a Kraftwerkianhook-based ditty like "Do It", the production is slick and inviting.Kreidler's tunes are pretty damned catchy and their generally jovialfeel suggests these Germans are undoubtedly having fun. Put yourlaptops down and start having fun.

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3703 Hits