•  •  •

CABARET VOLTAIRE: International Language


(both CDs on Instinct Records in USA).

Early Cabaret Voltaire releases rank among the best industrial dance/trance music around. Towards the late Eighties, their output began to become quite become candy-coated though.

But with the "International Language" and "Plasticity" releases from the mid-Nineties, the band has returned to a point of greatness with tight and gritty with an electronic edge. The vacant dancehead had been replaced with a strong undercurrent of social cynicism (just like in the old days). And "International Languages" turned out to be quite a surprise--as the band take an ambient techno turn, pulling off the trance state with comfortable expertise.

•  •  •

ROBERT CALVERT: At the Queen Elizabeth Hall (CD on BGO Records in UK).

Calvert is sadly departed to the next plane, but he has an excellent new release--a live CD, featuring classic material including: "Gremlins", "Lord of the Hornets", and "The Work Song". The music is crude, but the emotional content is high and tough.

•  •  •

CAN: The Peel Sessions (CD on Strange Fruit Records in UK).

Hey, you either love Can or you have no auditory sense. It's been years and years since Can were together as a group or released any new material...which makes this CD collecting some of their live performances from the John Peel shows circa 1973 to 1975 a gem that could be worth killing for.

Kill for it, but don't get caught until you have the opportunity to lavish over the incredible pre-trance hypnotics.

CAN: Sacrilege (double CD on Spoon Records in Germany, and on Mute Records in UK and USA).

It's so refreshing to see the legendary German band Can getting acclaim (long overdue) for the ground they broke musically almost decades ago. This double CD is a remix project, wherein modern "names" take turns mutating old Can classics into dance frameworks. Be forewarned: if you dislike techno music, this release is not for you.

The list of contributing mixmasters reads like a who's who of modern music: Brian Eno (who's track is only 58 seconds long, but blindingly brilliant), Sonic Youth (adding avant grunge to Can's melodic sensibilities), Bruce Gilbert, from Wire (You know that sound your CD player makes when a disc skips? Well, he uses that sound in his remix, resulting in a very high annoyance factor--you think the CD is skipping but wait, it isn't...), The Orb (taking an early Can classic out beyond Pluto to drift and swirl), Sunroof (featuring Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones), Pete Shelley and Black Radio (Yes, that's Pete Shelley from the Buzzcocks, delivering a thrilling and respectful Can dub), System 7 (who mutate two Can tunes for the duration of one track), and more from: Carl Craig, A Guy Called Gerald, Francois Kevorkian and Rob Rives, 3P, U.N.K.L.E., Secret Knowledge, Westbam, Air Liquide, and Hiller/Kaiser/Leda.

•  •  •

CAPTAIN SENSIBLE: The Universe of Geoffrey Browns (CD on Humbug Records in UK, has been released in USA, but no label info).

I must admit--I dunno when this album came out (1 found it in a bargain bin and the bloody thing has no date anywhere on it). Not that it matters once you start to listen to it--awesome!

Psychedelic power rock--and a concept album tool Follow the tale of Geoffrey Brown as he deciphers a message from space and struggbs to spread the word. The songs are framed by spoken word pieces that move the story about. The music, though--oh, the kickass music--is rich with growling guitar and rip-yer-face-off drums and the Captain's irascible vocals (still in as high form as in his days with the Damnedl.

Whenever this album came out, it slipped through the cracks and civilization will forever be the worse for it. Help save society and track down this wonderful album!

•  •  •

CHARLES CARPENTER: A Cypher in Holes (cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Ave., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).

This 60 minute tape features thrilling keyboard electronic complexities with power drive and riveting melodies. A delicate touch permeates this strong instrumental music, a virtual tour de force of progrock with sturdy percussives added to the drama.

•  •  •

CATHEXIS: Exempli Gratia (CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

Cathexis are George Sarah and Dean De Benedictis.

The presence of vocal samples and recitations in some songs on this 76 minute CD hardly alter the basic instrumental nature of this softly surging electronic trance music. There is also frequent usage of nonword vocal effects as an instrument unto itself in the swimming mix. You'll find the usual unexpected repertoire of electronically-generated sounds utilized as

E-perc or weavy keyboard riffs or pingpong tempos. But these tempos do not jar the listener, rather they energize the calm.

•  •  •

CHANNEL LIGHT VESSEL: Automatic (on Gyroscope/AlI Saints/Caroline Records in the UK).

This is a modern music collaboration project between Bill Nelson, Roger Eno, Kate St. John, Laraaji , and Mayumi Tachibana. It is a wondrous delight of quick pieces, each possessed of a higher energy than one would suspect from any of these musicians. The pieces are clever, sophisticated and very memorable.

CHANNEL LIGHT VESSEL: Excellent Spirits (CD on All Saints Records in USA).

This second group effort by Bill Nelson, Roger Eno, Kate St. John and Laraaji proves to be better than the previous--a mean achievement considering how awesome their debut album was.

You get a thrilling exotic mix of soaring horns, wailing guitar, intricate percussion and molasseslike vocals. The music often has a quasi-Oriental flair to it, but maintains a steady modern rock direction.

When the day comes that the government outlaws fun music, this album will be at the top of their hit list.

•  •  •

CHAOS FACE: Doom Ride (CD on Subharmonic Records)

Very VERY intense electronic chock industrial music. The pace is impossibly frantic (fairly high ratio of beats per second) and the electronics are heavy HEAVY handed and constantly in assault mode. There's this brutal heavy metal influence in the vicious wall of dark teeth too. Overall, a thoroughly exhausting listening experience--high in clever tempo and curious noises.

•  •  •

CHRIS AND COSEY: Twist (CD on T&B Records in UK).

A collection album with--can't avoid it, sorry--a twist: all the Chris and Cosey songs are remixed by a troupe of modern electronic musicians who cite Chris and Cosey as an influence in their own work (like Carl Craig, Tusken Raiders, U-Ziq, Vapourspace) and Coil, who are contemporaries of Chris and Cosey--subfile the Throbbing Gristle connection. Each mixologist lends their own mark to the songs, but the music strongly retains Chris and Cosey's hyper rhythmic dreamy sense.

There's a fair range of Chris and Cosey material, stretching from their current work all the way back to their 1982 "Trance" album (a personal fave of mine). Ah, but Chris and Cosey's own remix truly triumphs over all with its busy intensity.

•  •  •

CHRIST ANALOGUE: In Radiant Decay (CD on Cargo Records in USA).

Dark electro industrial rage rock with an intriguing twist: each song is seen through the eyes of an electronic Christ as he ruminates on the mistakes he made then and now as he appraises the modern world. Anger and angst.

The music is sharp, bristling with razored E-perc and agitated electronics and shriek vocals and grind guitar. Rapidly uptempo, the attack music on this 38 minute CD has an undercurrent of sultriness beneath the angry sonic landscape of blooded blades. The melodies are quite interesting too.

•  •  •

CLOCK DVA: Collective (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

At first glance, this is packed with lots of DVA's more classic pieces. Closer investigation (the inner liner notes) establishes that most of these 14 tracks are alternate mixes of the songs. Over 77 minutes total, this is an intense dose of DVA's intellectual industrial rhythmatics. High on science and cranked up with cyber notions, Clock DVA's music is dramatic electro-art rock with a personal style that has earned them high regard for years.

Well worth it for the curious and the completist.

•  •  •

CLUSTER: Appropos Cluster (CD on Curious Music, 1990 N. Main St, Dubuque, Iowa 52001).

This CD is a wonderful blend of their early, playfully insectoid electronics with the quasi-ambience of later works, replete with dainty keyboards, vibrating electronic percussion, zany special effects, heavenly computer string choirs, and a horde of synthesized noises. The erratically rhythmic songs are toylike...quirky, yet this weirdness is marvelously harnessed, and the music flows with a dreaminess that frequently achieves a quite dramatic quality. Creating background music that refuses to be ambient, while never becoming abrasive, is quite an accomplishment.

•  •  •

COCTEAU TWINS: Otherness (CD EP on Capitol Records in USA).

CT's "Twinlights" EP was fairly humdrum, being an experiment in the acoustic range. The 22 minute "Otherness" EP is another experiment. This time the target is ambient trance and the result is undeniable awesomeness. Applying ambient techno sensibilities to Cocteau Twins' dreamy vocal fx and soft instrumentation, Mark Clifford (from Seefeel) produces an instant eureka!

I suspect that the source music is derived from older CT songs, but the treatments are so superb that another plateau has been achieved. No contest: this is the band's best release in many years.

COCTEAU TWINS: Twinlights (CD EP on Capitol Records).

This EP is a particular slump if you're looking for calm grandeur. The music is directly acoustic and intentionally laid back, producing a session that is lacking in the band's strong points and tries too hard to go unplugged.

•  •  •

CODE ZERO: Process of Improvisation (cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Ave., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).

This 60 minute tape features a pair of fairly lively improv e]ectronic pieces with overlapping growling sequencer runs and shrill keyboard accompaniment...and another pair of pieces best described as duels between psycho violin and frantic-picking acoustic guitar.

•  •  •

CODEX: Codex (CD on World Domination Recordings, PO Box 8097, Universal City Station, North Hollywood, CA 91618-8097 USA).

A very strange CD, dosing out pieces in a wide range of defined genres...
Spectral art rock vibrant with the chill of electro-manifestations and aridly simmering bass long-thums. There's electronics and treatments galore, but in a soft way--even the E-perc is delicate. Coffee-house vocals as densely highbrow lyrics.
Then a sudden excursion into dynamic Drum & Bass...then switch to a mysterious Eastern sound wrought with exotic percussive rhythms...then some more weirdness.
This 50 minute CD ends with a long industrial auralscape.
Versatile, but not disjointed. Enjoyable, but not distracting.

•  •  • 

AL COMET: Comet (on Mutant Sound System, 67 Irving Place S, NYC, NY 10003).

Oooo look, it's an instrumental experimental side project by Al Comet (aka Alain Monod) from the Swiss industrial rock band The Young Gods.

This CD is a 74 minute jaunt into abrasive electronic music, replete with abrupt noises, in your face sampling, and frenzied attack electronics. Sample crazed pulsations. Highly rhythmic, with a few true ambient pieces, including a 21 minute epic of passive cycles. Imagine Aphex Twin from the dark side of the mixboard.

•  •  •

TONY CONRAD & FAUST: Outside the Dream Syndicate (CD on Table of the Elements Records in USA (PO Box 423838, San Francisco, CA 94142).

This music most resiliently remains art. At first hearing, it is monotonous. Upon reflection, it is minimalist. After repeated exposure, it is monstrous! And it's finally been reissued on CD This classic Krautrock masterpiece from the early 70s has often been compared with Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" for its sheer annoyance quotient. More cyclic minimalism than honest Krautrock, this reissue scores bonus points for including 20 minutes of previously unreleased material (which turns out to be just an alternate take on one of the album's sidelong pieces, with little if no apparent differences).

There is also a seven-inch single (also on Table of the Elements) which features two totally different unreleased tracks--again, minimalism with attitude.

•  •  •

THE CONSPIRACY: Prozak (60 minute cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA) (available for 8.50 post.paid).

Tight psychedelic rock with a tasty edge of grunge, quite appropriate for their cover of Neil Young's "Over and Over" song. The vocals dissect society from a cynical POV, while snarl guitar and free concert drums carry the British style pop. Side two features some folksy acoustic guitar and mournful harmonica, introducing a more positive quality to the lyrics, accompanied by swooshing electronics.

•  •  •

CONTROLLED BLEEDING: Inanition (double CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

Unfamiliar with this band? Then this is a perfect release to pick up.

The first disc is new work--76 minutes of it--all rich with sonic menace and transcendent intensity. The second disc is a collection of their older works, ranging from 1985 to 1994--75 minutes of this-varied tenses, but the adjectives are still the same: dark, rhythmic, electronic. This release is quite fabulous, full of burbling and undulating electronics and densely moody tones, all walking an insistent tempo drifting through regions of mechanical darkness.

Very very tasty nasty electronics in the vein of an industrial Steve Roach or an angry Tangerine Dream.

Recommended? Damn right!

•  •  •

LINDSAY COOPER: Rags/The Golddiggers (CD on Recommended Records in UK).

This release pairs Cooper's first two early Eighties film scores, reissued on a single 74 minute CD.

"Rags" is a heavily sociological study of the needdlewomen in 1840s London. Their struggle to survive is expressed in politically active anthems and elitist supperroom tunes. The music is full of quirky melodies, with a forlorn but lush interplay of bassoon, saxophones, oboe, and flute. The nimble percussion is supplied by Chris Cutler, with the guitar wizardry of Fred Frith adding just enough to remind one of Henry Cow (from which both of them and Cooper originate). Various strains of cello, keyboards, bass, and accordion flit about as ample male and female vocals recount the needlewomen's plight. I found it immensely educating.

"The Golddiggers" (where Cooper is joined by many musicians of note, among them Lol Coxhill) is less heady and more musically fanciful. Horns still dominate, with keyboards coming in a close second. This is not to diminish the importance of the rest of the instruments, which often crash together in such synchronicity as to fuse into a pulsating yet cohesive fury.

•  •  •

COP SHOOT COP: Ask Questions Later (CD on Interscope Records in USA).

A searing attack bass dominated excursion in ultimate intensity and very enticing music--hard edged, razor going for your throat stuff--not for the squeamish.

•  •  •

COSMIC COURIERS: Other Places (CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

Take the electronic otherness of Dieter Moebius (from Cluster), mix it with the rhythmic weirdness of Mani Neumeier (from Guru Guru), and inject the overt craziness of J. Engler (from Die Krupps), and you have a very strange combination indeed...producing 60 minutes of highly different electronic music: rhythmic and pulsing, squealing and sultry, dynamic and dreamy.

This music is wonderful to behold, a true sonic adventure that keeps alive the old German style of electronics from the Seventies, adding new ground with modern sensibilities and savagery.

•  •  •

THE COSMIC JOKERS: Planeten Sit-In (CD on Tempel Records in France).

The last of the old Cosmic Joker releases to finally see CD reissue after all these years. The Jokers were: Klaus Schulze, Manuel Gottsching, Harold Grosekopf, Dieter Dierks and Jurgen Dollase--jamming together for a series of sessions that rocked the electronic genre, leaving ripples, the effects of which can still be perceived. Awesome, trippy, furious electronic music, "Planeten Sit-In" has always been my personal favorite for its sheer no-holds-barred attack synthi mode.

The other COSMIC JOKERS CDs include: "TheCosmic Jokers", "Galactic Supermarket", and "Sci-Fi Party" (all on Tempel Recordsin France. All are extremely worthwhile to the electronic audiophile.

•  •  •

CRANES: Loved (CD on Arista Records in US).

This album is not recent. I found it in a bargain bin and picked it up on a whim {initially sparked by a dim but pleasant memory of a Cranes video a year or so back). I got a whole bunch of stuff in this bargain bin, so it took me a while to get to this disc. But when I did, it grabbed me like a sultry wolverine in heat.

Picture a nuclear blend of the crueler aspeck of 4AD bands and the searing guitar front of Curve...and add the sweetest baby-voiced candy girl vocals, winsome sighs. It's the weirdest junction of different sounds you could imagine--but it works. It works in volumes with twisted pop tunes that haunt and scare and entice.

The CD includes a few remixes by Flood which are tasty, but sincerely pale next to the brutal glory of the original versions.

Major rant for this album. (Warning note: I've found that other releases by this band seem to be missing the harsh power and thick with soft folk sounds.)

•  •  •



THE CURE: Sideshow (CD EP)


(all on Elektra/Fiction Records in USA).

It's been a while since I mentioned any Cure releases. I hear them on the radio too much, so my subconscious relegates them to a commercial backburner. But...a few of their releases eluded the top 40 market with wit and gleam. "Show" (with its "Sideshow" EP) and "Paris"were the band's pair of 1993 live albums. "Show" features a song line-up drawn mainly from the band's recent airplay hits, and it's quite solid and tasty. "Paris", though, is made up of performances of older material, and it's the real winner. And on a guitar note, their "Wish" album (don't be put off by that dreadful "Friday I'm in Love" pop drivel) features absolutely ecstatic guitar highs in the "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea" song--one of the band's best all-time moments.

•  •  •

CURVE: Cuckoo

CURVE: Doppleganger

CURVE: Public Fruit

(all CDs on Anxious Records in USA).

Curve's music is a sure-fire route to in-your-face raw, unbridled power rock with a dark edge. Guitar dominated is an understatement here--numerous simultaneous lead guitars and a solid wall of bass and drums pushing it all towards you really fast. Add gutsy female vocals and offcenter lyrics and sit back for the ride. More hooks than you can shake a leg at.

"Public Fruit" is a collection of the band's early EPs. Very worthwhile for added intensity.

Also of note: there are two CD EPs from the "Cuckoo" CD ("Blsckthreetracker" and "Blackthreetracker Two") featuring remixes by Trent Reznor, the Drum Club, and the Future Sound of London.

•  •  •

CUTLER/DIMUZIO/VRTACEK: Preacher in Naked Chase Guilty (CD on Ponk Records, PO Box 3664, Bloomington, IL 61702).

Experimental music in a freeform cacaphonic vein by chris Cutler (from Henry Cow, and Art Bears), Thomas Dimuzio (Americam synthesist), and C.W.Vrtacek (from Forever Einstein). Utlizing instruments including lowgrade electronics, percussion, radio, digital sampler, analog sythesizer, processors, guitar and ray gun, this trio have produced a 44 minute soundscape that is intriguing as it is unsettling. What first seems to be chaos slowly melts into a flow of modern noise that is far more intellectual than industrial.

The long piece is electronically broken into 25 tracks and the liner notes urge the listener to reprogram their CD player and listen to the tracks in a reshuffled order to keep the music alive with refreshing changes.

•  •  •

HOLGER CZUKAY vs DR WALKER: Clash (double CD on Tone Casualties Records in USA).

Czukay used to play bass with Can, while Walker is aka Air Liquide. In 1997 they toured together, clashing onstage. This CD release documents the USA end of that tour.  It begins with atonal ambience bordering on industrial and slowly evolves a percussive beat and wavering short wave rhythms, becoming a totally cool hard trance. Bass tones cavort with outer space noises while melodies punctuate the mix. And it just goes on and on...delivering tasty rhythm riff after sample-heavy dense ambience.

By far, this is the best Czukay release in more than a decade--totally worthy of his reputation; totally wonderful.

There's a video release from this awesome tour. You can find out info on it by visiting Czukay's WebSite (http://www.czukay.de).

•  •  • 

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