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Rock: Arca, New Model Army, Stripsearch, Von LMO

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ARCA: Angles (CD on Les Disques du Soleil et de L'Acier)

This release from 2003 offers 44 minutes of experimental instrumentals.

Arca is: Sylvain Chauveau and Joan Cambon, with Jean Pierre Isnardi, Julien Brandwyk, Geraldine Devillieres, Matthais Meier, and Widy Marche.

Demonstrative keyboards urge along a melody of pensive cellos and steadfast drums. Jarring guitars and glockenspiel duel over a wailing escarpment. Voices disagree in French, but this argument is swamped in ascending rhythms. Spastic-fingered strings trill like luminous icicles through a haze of electric guitar strumming and mono-impact percussion. Clarinets drone away, while pleasant guitars stroll arm in arm. Lurking in the mix, the bass is slinky and well-hidden. Electronics abound, but they show themselves mostly in their treatment of other instruments.

The melodies are intriguing. The interplay of guitars achieves a trance state amid the swaggering temperament adopted by the other instruments. While energetic, the tunes are generally relaxed and easy-going. Even the crescendos exhibit a melancholy restraint in their outbursts. There is a modern, post-rock flair going on, evident in the dense nature of the music.

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NEW MODEL ARMY: Great Expectations: the Singles Collection (CD on Superfecta Recordings)

This release from 2003 features 70 minutes of stylish punk music. This CD features an excellent sampling of 18 of the band's singles culled from the past two decades.

New Model Army has been around since the early 80s, producing three-piece (guitar, bass and drums) hard-edged rock tuneage that blends pop and punk with remarkably appealing results.

Searing rock guitars generate simplistic chords that strike emotional strings in the audience's heart. Growling bass agitates viscera with a resolute bottom determined to circumvent conscious response. Powerhouse drumming pummels the air with beats that can be relentless in their envigorating influence.

Justin Sullivan's haunting vocals belt out lyrics tinged with anger and modern angst. Reproach is aimed equally at lost love and world situations, giving a voice to dissastisfied youth who have grown up in a world that reuses to improve.

The tunes are compact and direct, delivering their message with compelling melody and forceful attitude. Catchy riffs combine with over-the-top tempos to produce anthems of the downsized.

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STRIPSEARCH: Stripsearch (CD on Magna Carta Records)

This CD from 2003 features 48 minutes of gritty instrumental rock.

Stripsearch is: Mike Elizondo (who has provided bass for Eminem and many Dr Dre recordings), Josh Freese (the drummer from A Perfect Circle), Michael Ward (the Wallflowers' guitarist), and Jason Freese (part-time member of the Vandals) on saxophone.

This percussion-driven music is definitely for those who favor in-your-face instrumental rock. Overt drums explode with relentless rhythms, pounding out manic propulsion for the heavy guitar licks and growling bass.

The guitar blends fever-fingered riffs with diverse feedback, achieving an enormous tension that offers no breathing-room for the exhausted audience. Establishing a frantic velocity, the guitar's energy is infectious and invigorating.

The basslines possess a liquid turbulence, fusing funk and fury into a subterranean rumble that etches its way into the listener's guts.

Although not present in every song, the saxophone lends a jazzy blaze to those tunes, wailing with emphatic outcries that spiral like luminous snakes overhead.

The songs are raw but slickly structured, cut in a mold that is comparable to experimental King Crimson and more inventive heavy metal bands. The tunes fuse metal and progrock and jazz into a furious morass of aggressive but entertaining melodies.

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VON LMO: Tranceformer (Future Language 2,001) (CD on Munster Records)

This release from 2003 offers 74 minutes of raucous space rock, a compendium of Von LMO's 1981 album "Future Language" and 36 minutes of rarities, demos and live recordings.

Searing guitar licks strain to outshine a stellar dazzle with their frantic riffs. Pounding drums generate a rock-out foundation, titillated by rumbling basslines that vibrate the gut. Savage saxophone injects a frolicsome edge to the head-thrashing demeanor of the music. Coarse-but-passionate vocals give emphatic definition to the earthbound frustration, giving voice to a yearning to return to the galactic void.

Grinding chords crash into a wall of percussion, ricocheting off through a cloud of wailing saxophone. Authoritative vocals coax the audience to transform from flesh into pure energy.

Despite the basic garageband template of this music, Von LMO elevates the songs from controlled chaos to a region far beyond the stratosphere with dedication to space age sensibilities combined with gritty execution. Raw power explodes to form extraterrestrial links between mankind and interstellar vistas.

Von LMO's music is a stunning captivation of earthly punk music filtered through cosmic sensibilities, producing gutteral tunes that stir the soul with astral awe as they motivate the feet to explore the dancefloor. It's like the Ramones collide with Hawkwind.

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