LA DUSSELDORF: Individuellos (Japanese import CD on Captain Trip Records, 3-17-14 Minami-Koiwa, Egogawa-Ku, Tokyo, Japan).
Keyboards enter with quasi-metronomic drumming. Fill in the cracks with more electronics and insert echo-shout vocals. Originally released in 1980, this classic album has been reissued in Japan with the addition of two tracks from an ultra-rare 12" single from 1983, filling this CD out to 53 minutes of dynamic electro-rock as only Klaus Dinger (aka Neu) can make.
LAND: Land (CD on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston, 3072 Victoria, Australia).
Jeff Greinke has quite a following in the electronic music genre. This time he's teamed up with Dennis Rea, Lesli Dalaba and Ed Pias as LAND. The result is a curious style of new age jazz--sinuous percussion, scalding guitar, a trumpet fusion of Miles Davis and Jon Hassell, and particularly igneous keyboards and electronics. Calling this CD jazz though is an understatement. The music effortlessly flows from ambient to haunting jazz to quirky dance to somber world music.
THE LAND OF GUILT AND BLARNEY: The Land of Guilt and Blarney (60 minute cassette on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
Very interesting... abrasive yet melodic electronic music with an industrial edge. There is one song with vocals that plays more like the reading of a manifesto of national decay. Side B features a long piece of twisted electronics and heavy percussion. This band is actually a collaboration between Carl Howard (from Nomuzic), Louis Boone and Reginald Taylor.
THE LAND OF GUILT AND BLARNEY: Mugged by Life (60 minute cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
This time it's a mixture of high energy electronic rock and robotic fusion with raw guitar and raging synthis, with a few modern avant minimalist songs with spacey percussion. This band is actually a collaboration between Carl Howard (from Nomuzic), Louis Boone and Reginald Taylor.
THE LAND OF GUILT AND BLARNEY: Shillshocked! (The Age of Perpetual Militarism) (cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Ave., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
This 46 minute tape is a collaboration between Carl Howard, Reginald Taylor, and Louis Boone. Side one features two pieces chocked full of industrial pop rhythm machines, mournful sax, the garage growl of angry guitar, and electronic weirdness oozing everywhere. Side two is a long piece that dwells in the dark like a haunted basement of surly electronics--drone keyboard, soaring tones and chittering computers.
LARD FREE: Untitled (French import CD on Spalax Music).
Lard Free is an old European band lead by Gilbert Artman from the space music scene on the Seventies. They have only a handful of releases, so a new album is cause for curiosity. Well, surprise: this 51 minute CD is totally different. It's a live blend of chaotic and trancey jazz recorded in the early Seventies, with shuddering horns, playful percussives, searing guitar, thump bass and drone organ.
LASSIGUE BENDTHAUS: Overflow (CD on KK Records in Belgium)
More grating sonics in that quirky sample crazy sound at which LS excel. Hard electronic pulses at a monstrously frantic rhythmic pace abound throughout the five mixes of the title track (two of them by Mark Bell from Speedjack & LFO). Top notch mega cyber stuff.
LASSIGUE BENDTHAUS: Render Audible (the U.S. Remixes) (on KK Records in Europe).
52 minutes of remixes from LB's brutal "Render" album? Yow! True to form, the sounds are rapid sample and insectoid. The pace for these remixes is only slightly less savage than the original, with an hypnotic edge. Ahh, hypnotic isn't the right word--enthralling ecstasy that drifts into view and you can't ignore it--it's love at first audible synthetic note. The music (through various sampled voices or just overt electronic instrumental fury) communicates an intensely futurist quality--tomorrow is today--hi-tech and live with it!
BILL LASWELL/TETSU INOUE: Cymatic Scan (CD on Subharmonic Records in USA).
Material bassist Bill Laswell joins forces with Japanese minimalist Tetsu Inoue to create a seemless hour of grinding ambient intensity. The sounds employed are very dark: deep drone cycles, alien cries and the groans of charred machinery. Yet the effect of this ominous piece is quite relaxing. For the most part atonal, there are snatches of a recurrent rhythm underlying the music, giving a melodic cohesion to the whole.
BILL LASWELL/PETE NAMLOOK: "Psychonavigation" (CD on Subharmonic Records in USA).
Laswell--well, he's from Material--we know who he is. Namlook--he's this German electronic musician who's gained quite a respectible reputation in the ambient rave scene.
The blend of Laswell's thick world music funk sense and Namlook's astral projection style of electronic landscapes--a total joy and certainly an excellent CD! Soft sounds, gurgling pits and machines Bringing on the horizon. Slowly entering the mix: calm percussion, a softshoe baseline, then the weirdness begins to bubble all over the place (we are now 11 minutes into the first--of 3--songs on this 70 minute CD). A melody is literally evolving right before your ears. The next track is far more atonal, littered with sampled radio broadcasts and hightone E-swoops. While the last track is melodic again, with percussion and a stronger baseline and drifting classical passages.
LCD: Endorfun (CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
High energy jungle techno. Beat oriented with lots of zooming, beeping, and lyrical snippets and vocal effects. There's definitely plenty going on to keep both body and mind occuppied. A heavy mechano groove harnessed into snappy tunes. A total charge in the vein of the Chemical Brothers or the Future Sound of London.
LEAETHER STRIP: Fit for Flogging (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
Omnipresent E-perc, angry electronics and growling vocals are Leaether Strip's forte, in the ruptured vein of Skinny Puppy and Front 242. Klaus Larsen (who is Leaether Strip) is one of the more talented musicians in the cutting edge international industrial scene. Brutal, rhythmic, full of political cynicism and S&M sensibilities
"Fit for Flogging" collects songs from Leaether Strip's early EP releases ("The Pleasure of Penetration", "Aspects of Aggression", "Science for the Satanic Citizen" and "Object V"). Savagely tasty, this 50 minute CD is an excellent introduction to the works of this industrial maven.
LEAETHER STRIP: Legacy of Hate and Lust (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
Angry--very angry music. An hour of thick industrial fury held in check by the tempo and those keyboards that sound like a heavenly choir. Lots of lethal electronics with E-perc dominating the mix, but the real agitation comes from the ghostly vocal growl, lyrics festering with distemper and intensity. For the most part, the music is not all that frenzied. The intensity lurks in the menace and doom that prevails throughout the songs...that barely restrained pause that madmen take right before they explode in your face. The last track backs off from any outburst with a softer (albeit still tense) instrumental of almost ambient quality.
LEAETHER STRIP: Self-Inflicted (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
Claus (aka Leaether Strip) Larsen's music is usually rapid with hyper-industrial BPMs. This time the music has a somber touch to it, a dark and dangerous detachment from the
frenzy. Harsh electro percussion, growling vocals, deep bass rumblings and nasty keyboards. The industrial music is focused on anguish, torture over guilt and self-inflicted suffering. The 59 minute CD also features Leaether Strip versions of the X-Files Theme and Kraftwerk's "Showroom Dummies".
LEAETHER STRIP: Serenade for the Dead (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
I've got some older Leaether Strip releases, all of which are brutal, hard rhythmed industrial rock (if pressed for a comparison, I'd have to say the music is like Ministry and Skinny Puppy meet Front Line Assembly). Well, this new LP is quite different--it has no vocals.
The music has replaced the brutality with a somber intensity, but the rhythms are still hard and the electronics remain as industrial as ever. Replacing the growling frenzy of vocals, now there's an epic symphonic rush to the music (as in a soaring multilayered church organ rather than by an orchestra).
Dark melodies--66 minutes of them--creepy tunes, haunted sensibilities...if you expected anything else with a title like "Serenade for the Dead", get a better sense of intuiting the obvious. Go take all the Peewee Herman out of Danny Elfman, then bury him alive with a few nicely ripened corpses--you'd get something like this CD--a disturbing soundtrack for a madcap tribal Crusades burial ceremony. But then it didn't disturb me one bit. I found the music to be just plain shining.
THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN: Thrang Thrang Gozinbulx (CD on Discipline Records in USA).
Guitar legend Robert Fripp is probably best known for his work with King Crimson (under its various incarnations over the last two decades) and his Frippertronics (alone and with Brian Eno, who helped him design the system back in the mid-Seventies). Few are aware of his work with Blondie, Daryl Hall or Janis Ian--but those are really obscure references.
Another of Fripp's obscure projects was his League of Gentlemen band in the early Eighties, whose intellectual instrumental take on pop was a formative example of grange noise. A straightforward approach of guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, the music was way ahead of its market, perhaps explaining the band's brief lifespan. Fripp went on to other projects and the other Gentlemen went their way... ex-XTC keyboardist Barry Andrews went on to Shriekback, and ex-Gang of 4 bassist Sara Lee went on to do session work with the B-52s.
This new League of Gentlemen release is the official bootleg of their 1980 tour. It excellently captures the band's raw energy and wall of chromatic structure. In 1980 this music stood alone; now, with the popularity of Nirvana and Soundgarden, it should receive the praise and interest it deserves.
LEFTFIELD: Leftism (CD on Columbia Records in USA).
Hard techno with strong reggae influences (manifesting in rash rap vocals). High energy stuff with surprise vocals on two songs by Toni Halliday (from Curve) and Johnny Lydon (a slightly different version of "Open Up" from the ones on the EP ).
THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS: Chemical Playschool Volumes 8 and 9 (double CD on Terminal Kaleidoscope in the Netherlands).
The Legendary Pink Dots are without question one of the weirder bands stalking this planet. Their music is such a hybrid of styles and modes that it actually creates a genre of its own with a very distinctive sound. Rock, space music, chamber music, progressive music, attack electronics...just as soon as you think you've pinned a label on them, Pink Dots shoot off into another sonic zone. It's easy to say: keyboard dominated with quirky percussion, tortured guitar, grumbling lizard bass, urgently mournful horns, weirdness aplenty and haunting psychedelic vocal crooning --but just simply listing the instrumentation does not prepare you for the sheer audacity and impressive nature of Pink Dots' music. Awesome--is more on the mark.
"Chemical Playschool Volumes 8 and 9" is a special surprise in a universe where every Pink Dot release is awesome. "Chemical Playschool 8 & 9" is the most awesome release of them all. One minute it's wall of teeth sythi time; the next it's vocal chants; the next it's Henry Cow on amphetamines; the next it's grooving like a Man band jam (pre-Deke Leonard); the next it's drone ambient; the next it's a dreamy shade of Van Der Graaf Generator--this style-hopping goes on for 132 minutes. The common thread is weirdness: the Pink Dot trademark.
THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS: From Here You'll Watch the World Go By (CD on Soleilmoon Recordings, PO Box 83296, Portland, OR 97283, USA).
This 54 minute CD starts out firmly rooted in progressive folksy ground, but soon diverts into the weirdness for which the Pink Dots are so legendary. Plaintive vocals, direct drumming, wailing sax, a seething sea of keyboards and electronics, guitar, bass and such... it's amazing how they can take such conventional instruments and produce a music so damnably awkward to categorize. A song may start as a somber ballad, but with a sudden electronic outburst it'll leap off into trance and slowly percolate into a pop tune with agro jazz overtones. And all the while the music retains a quirky spark that is undeniably Pink Dot's signature sound.
THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS: Sterre (Polish import CD EP on SPV Poland Records).
You want Pink Dots weirdness? You get 23 twisted minutes here of their cold-emotion prog-folk: quirky, unpredictable and dense.
The high point is "The Elefant's Graveyard", a ten minute mad modern jazz epic that includes a chorus of horns speaking in elephant voices. Is very cool.
ROBERT LEINER: Visions of the Past (CD on Apollo Records in UK).
This CD is a superb dose of ominous trance electronics. There are frequent rhythms, but the overall feel is one of languid trances with intense density.
EDWARD GRAHAM LEWIS: Pre-he (CD on WMO Records in UK, in USA contact: Wire Mail Order, PO Box 29133, Los Angeles, CA 90029-0133, USA).
One is used to intensity in the solo works of ex-Wire member Lewis, but the moody nature of this release is quite abrasive. This 52 minute CD is a compilation of material by Lewis in 1983 prior to beginning his He Said project. Included in the collection is a Mzui piece by Lewis, Gilbert and Mills.
Expect loud electronics, grinding and growling, brutal with bite and brilliance. Some melodies are employed, but the pieces are primarily attack noise with a brief appearance of vocals in the last piece.
LEWIS/GILBERT/MILLS: Specific/Pacific (CD on WMO, PO Box 29133, Los Angeles, CA 90029-0133, USA).
Brief history time: Lewis and Gilbert began in Wire, a UK punk band that swiftly evolved into avant garde pop stylists. Then Lewis and Gilbert went off and did a series of even weirder solo LPs under the name Dome in the early Eighties. For one project, they teamed up with artist Russell Mills (who might be remembered for his design on the Brian Eno book "More Dark than Shark") and these three did a performance art piece that ended up seeing release as the "Mzui: Waterloo Gallery" album.
So: the "Specific/Pacific" CD is not a CD reissue of "Mzui". It consists of three Dome pieces live on the BBC in 1980, a Mzui performance in Australia and a radio interview. The Mzui performance is notably minimalist: atonal and unfocused. The real gems here are the live Dome tracks, one of which entitled "Anchors" is indeed a crisp and energetic new version of "Ends with the Sea".
Highly recommended, but mainly to Wire enthusiasts who know what to expect from Lewis and Gilbert's solo endeavors.
LOBE: Lobe (CD on Swim Records in UK, in USA contact Wire Mail Oder, PO Box 29133, Los Angeles, CA 90029-0133, USA).
A very tasty release of melodic instrumental electronic music, classifiable as ambient rave although the pieces frequently possess an energetic edge. Intriguing beats and quite cooking compositions.
Atmospheric like the Orb and moody like early Seefeel.
LOOP GURU: Amrita (...All These and the Japanese Soup Warriors) (CD on World Domination Recordings, PO Box 8097, Universal City Station, North Hollywood, CA 91618).
Often techno bands utilize world beat and ethnic strains in their sound. You might think that Loop Guru fall into that class, bu the truth is, this music comes across as world beat using techno strains to achieve their sound.
Percussion driven, this music mixes a variety of elements in the electronic bath: female choir, Gregorian chants, Middle Eastern vocals (with emphasis on the Malasian monkey chant), Morroccan treble and singsong squeeze box. The pace is generally rapid (uplifting rapid, not frantic) with a few trance pieces as rest stops in this sonic world tour.
LOOP GURU: Loop Bites Dog (CD on World Domination Recordings, PO Box 8097, Universal City Station, N. Hollywood, CA 91618-8097 USA).
Loop Guru return with their brand of deep Eastern influences immersed in a 74 minute seething lake of transcendental rave.
You will thrill to the sinuous interplay of mega-intricate percussives with dense thums and frolicsome Middle Eastern throat noise of a non-lyrical nature, throbbing bass and ascending keyboards, excellent use of toylike sax and ethnic woodwinds, and a profusion of teeny squeaks, boops, wooshes, ricochets, twirlings and stunning (yet playful) clouds-fall-out-of-the-sky effects.
But wait--let's not overlook the oozing heavenly electronics, honeycoating a superb assemblage of cosmic compositions that blend Ambience, World Beat and Rave into dynamic rhythmics. This release is an excellent dose of snappy tuneage that you sincerely do not want to miss.
LOOP GURU: Skin Heaven (CD EP on North South Records in UK).
This 20 minute EP features four takes on the title track. The music is uptempo techno with heavy world trance influences--what one has grown to expect from Loop Guru. Lush with intricately multitracked ethnic percussion and haunting electronics, saturated with fem vocals.
LOOP GURU: Soulus (12inch EP on World Domination Records, PO Box 8097, Universal City Station, North Hollywood, CA 91618-8097).
Loop Guru's trance take on world music has earned them much interest and respect. Here you have a 37 minute EP featuring a pair of remixes of two songs from their "Amrita" LP (on CD in USA on World Domination Records too). These remixes give a particular underwatery touch to the ethnic percussive soft rhythms and dreamy electronic bells and drifting background synthis.
You can expect great things when you listen to Loop Guru, and you will not be disappointed.
LOVE SPIRALS DOWNWARDS: Ardor (CD on Projekt, Box 1591, Garden Grove, CA 92642, USA).
Looking for calm music shimmering with a sob intensity? This band delivers just that with strong progressive guitar (electric and acoustic) and haunting female vocals. There's a touch of electronics and percussion going on, but it's generally ambient and unobtrusive. The total sound is very comparable to Cocteau Twins at their best.
LUSH: Split (CD on 4AD Records in USA).
Previously a band known for dreamy ethreal rock, Lush has let loose this time with an intensity that knocks the listener over. Hard guitar rhythmics, in your face percuasion and breathy vocals--all meshing to create a pulsating mass of angry music.
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