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Alog, "Amateur"

cover image Espen Sommer Eide and Dag-Are Haugan return as Alog for yet another fantastic album. They further refine their symbiosis of natural and electronic sounds, always sounding at once earthy and cosmic. Never utilizing weird sounds just for the sake of it, the dozen tracks on this CD are all pieces of music that sound more than beautiful. As expected from Alog, this is a remarkable album that reveals more and more with each listen.

 

Rune Grammofon

What I enjoy most about Amateur (and this applies to pretty much all the other albums put out by Rune Grammofon) is the attention to detail in terms of sounds and sound treatments. Eide and Haugan are not afraid to leave a sound as it is if it has the right character or to tweak it if it needs a little help fitting in with the rest of the sounds. Although I must admit, sometimes it is hard to tell what has been treated in the studio and what is a "real life" sound as there are so many unusual instruments used on and built for the album. Not only that but Alog approach voices from an interesting perspective, the vocal layering of "Write Your Thoughts in Water" sound like a living church organ (and from what I can tell, there no little digital trickery going on here).

Amateur has a dreamy, meandering feel to it. Many of the pieces (especially the aptly named "The Learning Curve") begin with random sounding noises, like the recording has started while the two musicians are trying to figure out what instruments they are playing. However, as if by magic, it all comes together to form a delicate and captivating whole. A good example of this is "The Future of Norwegian Wood," which for the first half of the piece is a cut up of the sound of nails been hammered into wood which makes for interesting listening on its own. When the treated piano comes in over this unusual percussion, the effect is startling and gorgeous.

Most of the album is fairly laid back but Eide and Haugan can bring the music to the boil when they want to, the powerful staccato of "The Beginner" and the middle part of the lengthy "Bedlam Emblem." While Amateur is far from a boring album, it would have been nice to have one or two more livelier pieces on it but that might be entering the realms of greed. As it stands it is a cracker of an album, a logical and fitting continuation of Alog's journey through sound.

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The Eye: Video of the Day

Emil Beaulieau

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Review of the Day

the black eyed snakes, "rise up!"
Chairkickers
The Black Eyed snakes got our attention a few years back with their debut: a quaint but forceful tribute to the Delta Blues from a polite quartet fronted by Chicken Bone George, whose years of repression, living under a different guise and keeping the volume down has made him yearn to break free. The second full-length release is even more commanding as it's louder, noisier, and far more aggressive. Rise Up! wastes no time and no space as it opens with the one note intro, then blast, of the album's title track. Without a second to spare, the group barrels through another after another in the onslaught of wall-shaking guitars, loud drums and percussion, and a screaming voice, distorted almost completely beyond recognition. In the years this outfit has been playing and recording, their sound has become notably tighter and rougher at the same time, and with a variety of songs ranging from under the one minute mark to over eight minutes, it's far from predictable. Rise Up is dirty, sexy, and edgy enough to hold the attention for the 40 minute duration. Accompanying the 11 original tunes (and one Swans cover) are two videos. "Rise Up!" is a different version than what's available at the band's web site, with tons of aggressive stock footage of wars, bombs, and fights, while "Good Woman Blues" is a hilarious conceptual video of the group getting violently wrestled in the ring by a powerful woman.

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