MALACODA: Cascade (on World Domination Recordings, PO Box 8097, Universal City Station, N. Hollywood, CA 91618-8097 USA).
Here we have 53 minutes of percussion driven music turned into a sort of trance by the presence of dreamily wheezing electronics. It could almost be pop music if it didn't sound like an unearthly thrash fest for mutant warriors. Imagine a blend of World influenced Bill Laswell funk ambience meshed with an experimental Wire edge. Sometimes there are vocals: usually harsh megaphonic growlings. No matter how you categorize it, this music is highly melodic and really intensely interesting.
DIDIER MALHERBE: Zeff (CD on Tangram Records in France).
This release by the saxophone alumnus of the original Gong is an oddly experimental outing for the jazz musician, especially considering how uptempo and melodically his last release, "Fetish" was. For all its atonal qualities, though, "Zeff" proves to be a thoroughly enjoyable LP, just unexpectedly different.
MATERIAL: Hallucination Engine (CD on Axiom Records in the USA).
This time, Laswell and his world ensemble have put aside the funk to dish out a superbly rendered trance album. Good hooks and a signature thick mix--very very satisfying. The album features a cool track called "Words of Advice" with a William Burroughs monologue threaded in the hypnotic rhythms (his advice to young people rift).
An interesting sidenote to this Material release can be found on VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Big Hard Disk, Volume 2" (on Smash Records in the USA). This compilation of techno music features an extended mix of Burroughs' "Words of Advice"; another Material remix of a song from an earlier album; two Yello techno remixes, two standout Sheep on Drugs tracks, a Grace Jones master race remix, and an Orb version previously unreleased. The Burroughs is real long, the Material and Orb are tasty, the Yello tracks worked better in their original form, Sheep on Drugs are slick, and if you haven't heard what Grace is doing lately, you really must check it out--her niche is fashionable again.
JOE McMAHON: Shatterday Fire (CD on Atomic City, PO Box 81175, Pittsburgh, PA 15217-0675, USA) ($18.00 post-paid).
Delicate electronic melodies with a hint of hidden power, much in the vein of Kitaro's softer music. It may sound like crystalline keyboards and shuddering electronics and rolling percussion and atmospheric flute--but it's all electronically generated on an Ensoniq. The trick is what McMahon does with these sounds, constructing a fairly equal balance of uptempo synthi stomps and arctic snowdrift ambience with a shot of lounge jazz on this album. Also includes a shot of Ron Post (discussing his--and Joe's--instrument of preference, reprinted from SAVAGE HENRY 28).
MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO: Original Fire (on Nothing Records).
Calm down. Not a new album, just a collection of obscure tracks. Worthwhile? Oh yes. MBM (aka Jack Dangers) has evolved a truly snappy dance edge to the band's industrial electro rap foundations. The older of these collected tracks represent the birth of MBM's sample-heavy peppier tunes. They are featured on this 67 minute CD along with new versions that seethe with catchy hooks and intricate electronics. There's also a 13 minute Orb remix of MBM's classic "Radio Babylon".
MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO: Subliminal Sandwich (double CD on Nothing/Interscope Records in USA).
This release by Meat Beat Manifesto takes some getting used to. The band's harsh hyperrapid industrial hip hop sensibilities have given way this time to a lusher trancier sound. Not to be considered lacking, this release explores new ground for Jack Dangers and crew. The listening instructions say: "play twice before listening," and it's not just being clever. The music grows on you, creeping out of the subconscious to sit smirking just at the edge of your peripheral attention.
MELTING EUPHORIA: Beyond the Maybe Machine (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
Here there lives a pleasant blend of ethnic percussion, swimming synthesizer, astral voices, space guitar and subtle foundation bass. These portions evolve through power rock with strong psychedelic overtones right out of Haight Ashbury. Despite the galactic communication voices, this dynamic music is purely instrumental, escalating sonic structures of a highly melodic nature and cosmic quality.
Fans of Hawkwind, Gong and very early Pink Floyd will immensely enjoy this 51 minute CD that keeps space rock alive.
MELTING EUPHORIA: Upon the Solar Winds (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
Quite a good dose of strong space rock (school of Hawkwind, Orb, and Ozric Tentacles) originating from Frisco. There's lots of surging percussion and cosmic guitar to this music, but the emphasis is on the electronics and the intricate rhythms derived from their astral use. Although mainly an instrumental album, some vocals do occur in the form of Iyricless space voices. Trancy stuff, yes, but with vital kick and drive.
MENTALLO AND THE FIXER: Where Angels Fear to Tread (CD on Zoth Ommog in Germany).
This band produces a tasty savage sonic attack following the Skinny Puppy sound: coronary for the normals kind of stuff. Good street sensibilities to the tunes.
METLAY: Band of Fire (CD single on Atomic City Records, PO Box 81175, Pittsburgh, PA 15217-0675, USA) ($9.00 post-paid).
I was quite taken with the TEAM METLAY debut album:"Bandwidth". Well, Atomic City has done a solo release by Mike Metlay: the limited edition "Band of Fire" CD maxi-single. The single contains one track 17 minutes long, comprised of slowburn electron oscillations and sequenced percussion. Although the music has an ominous edge to it, it is not dark. The electronics are far from dry mechanics too, containing power and urgent emotion.
This single also features cover art by Matt Howarth. (One of my really better pieces too.)
DOUG MICHAEL & THE OUTER DARKNESS: Silent Decay (cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Ave., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
This 60 minute tape features some very tasty, very sophisticated instrumental music which carries the flavor of an exotic high energy ECM release with strong undercurrents of progressive electronics. The catchy melodies are executed with dramatic flair: some extremely striking guitar, sultry percussion, and a versatile synthi kit-bag of sounds. The weirdness is in electronic abundance. (So taken was I with this tape, that I promptly contacted Audiofile and clamored for more. He sent along: a self-titled release, "Opening Remarks," and "Outlet." All very cool and full of glistening wonderment.)
MISTER MAGIC'S NIGHTFLIGHT: Mr. Magic's Nightflight (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
This one is instrumental techno with a tribal flair. Delicately throbbing keyboards swirl through a maze of trance percussion and pulsing electronic weirdness. There is a subtle urgency to the electronics that gives the music a mystical edge, an aspect further enhanced by the periodic addition of heavenly choral vocal effects. Considering the sonic mesh as a whole, the melodies are sneakily catchy and deftly dense with grandeur. There's quite a variety of sounds going on too. Why, at one instant I could perceive flute, many violins, ethnic wood percussion, sweeping keyboards--and all synthesized, of course.
MO BOMA: Myths of the Near Future, Part 2 (CD on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston, 3072 Victoria, Australia).
Here we have a very appealing mesh of modern jazz and native tribal music with intricate ethnic percussives and snarling snake guitar. The melodies are distinctive (taking it beyond normal world music) and memorable (delivering quite addictive compositions).
MO BOMA: Myths of the Near Future, Part Three (CD on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston, 3072 Victoria, Australia).
This third installment in Mo Boma's series sports a different sonic mode for their sultry African influences. This time the music is softer, more ambient an arrangement for the searing guitar, lush electronics, and ethnic percussives. The compositions are exotic and enticing, delivering a fun 41 minutes of instrumental entertainment.
As with the CD's title, many of the song titles are homages to stories by J. G. Ballard.
MOBY: Everything is Wrong (CD on Elektra Records in USA).
This is a very weird album, almost chaotic with its tendency to jump from one form of music to another. Where previously MOBY has cut his sonic teeth with techno dance music and ambient house stuff, now he's spreading his patchcords like an eagle to dive into--hard rock?! Heavy metal?! Yo --it's a major jolt to go from a soft trance piano into hyperfrantic dance techno--but to leap from that to growling heavy metal is enough to make you check your CD player for a Twilight Zone malfunction.
Okay, the techno is top notch: massive bpm doses with soaring female vocals. Strong on the positive side of life with frequent shots of peppy piano and chugging engines of rhythm. The frightening part is how well MOBY does heavy metal too--especially the torn-out throat vocal style.
So, the LP totals in at 13 tracks: 4 techno, 4 ambient, 2 softrock, 1 hard rock, 1 heavy metal, and one 37 second rap piece. After a few listenings, the stylehopping is less jarring, achieving the feel of an enjoyable musical circus.
Two CD EPs came out before this album: "Feel So Good" and "Everytime You Touch Me" (both also on Elektra Records in USA). "Feel" is 47 minutes long with 7 dub versions of "Feel", one nonLP heavy metal track, and the parts to do your own dub of "Everytime." "Everytime" is 31 minutes long with 5 dub versions of "Everytime" including the UK and USA winners of the MOBY Remix Competition (remember the parts track on the earlier "Feel" EP?), and also includes a nonLP track which starts off as new age spoken words about dolphins, then turns briefly techno before it explodes into a hard rock piece. Very odd.
MOEBIUS/PLANK: En Route (CD on Curious Music, 1990 N. Main St, Dubuque, Iowa 52001).
The late Conny Plank was (and remains) a legendary icon in the European electronic culture. More renowned for his production work with Kraftwerk, Eurythmics, Devo, Ultravox, Killing Joke and more, Plank had only a few musical releases of his own, most of which were collaborations with Moebius (whom the astute should recognize from Cluster). So the discovery of "En Route" sent an anticipatory chill down my spine.
The 55 minutes of music on this CD flows over my joyous mind with great impact. I am a die-hard fan of this style of electronic music: rhythmic and wraught with weird sounds and insectoid chitterings. And "En Route" delivers all that with a severe dose of quirky tunes--anthems for spasmophilic robots and shuddering alien creatures of immense size. Less frantic than their earlier work, "En Route" qualifies the quirky melodies with a seriousness, endowing the weirdness with a sedate charm. The introduction of horns to the glistening mix of mechanical and ethereal sounds reinforces this approach.
Fear not, longtime followers, the music is still thick with the counterpoint between deep bass and the frolicsome high end.
MOEBIUS & RENZIEHAUSEN: Ersatz II (on Nova Era Records in Spain).
Moebius is a founding member of Kluster (aka Cluster) and a mainstay influence in the electronic European sound of the 70s and 80s. The sound of this release may smack of modern techno, but it is the sound of a master doing what he's always done. The tones are deeper than most British techno, and the time signatures often change in midpiece, like a broken robot suddenly lurching out of line to careen off as a new parade leader. (This album is potentially not that easy to find. It came out in 1992, but remained unknown to me until late 1994. No sign of "Ersatz I" can be found. Anybody out there who can help me find it?)
MOTHERS GAPING HOLE: Colostomy Picnic (60 minute cassette tape on Hoffman Cleaner Cathode Company, only 8.50 post.paid from HCCC at PO Box 4073, East Norwalk, CT 06855, USA).
Trance music of a weird nature-ambient in intent, but industrial in execution. Cranking electronics and clanking percussion accompanied by a magic kitbag of voice samples. That makes it sound rather simple, doesn't it? Ahh, but you have to shove all this through Mother's Gaping Hole. Now you've got it-distant crooning vocals, hypnotic mechanoid percussion, an electronic kaliedoscope. And don't forget those rapidfire voice samples, they add such an outsider's-shock-at-it all edge to the music. Irreverent stuff with a good beat.
THE MUFFINS: 185 (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8427 USA).
A thrashfest of funloving percussion, chugging horn wails, growling bass and cafe piano... these are the sounds that gained the Muffins international acclaim in the late Seventies as an avant progressive band.
Originally released in 1981, "185" was the Muffins' final studio album and excellently displays their quirky devotion to unpredictibility and sonic weirdness. Add Fred Frith to the music and the weirdness gets even quirkier. Imagine if the Residents took over Henry Cow and weren't overly cryptic with the domination.
Well, Cuneiform has reissued this classic 41 minute album with 31 bonus minutes being a remixed take on the non-improv pieces sane an electronic edge (which better represents the band's live sound).
Sure to please fans and intrigue new listeners.
PETER MURPHY: Cascade (CD on Beggars Banquet Records in USA).
This is an engaging dose of sultry hard artrock with a touch of a dark sense of grandeur. You know, the usual thick mix of wild guitar, stable drums, atmospheric bass, varied keyboards and strong vocals. Although admittedly not as superb as some of Murphy's previous work, the addition of ethereal guitar by Michael Brook makes the whole thing worthwhile.
PETER MURPHY: The Scarlet Thinq in You (CD EP on Beggars Banquet Records in USA).
In typical art rock form, Murphy delivers strong vocals for the sturdy music found in 4 tracks: LP version of title track, alternate version of another LP track, nonLP track and live track. Sadly, this EP is only 19 minutes long. It should have been longer, but at least what you get is top notch.
ROBERTO MUSCI & GIOVANNI VENOSTA: Messages & Portraits (CD on Recommended Records in UK).
Curious music this...an energetic blend of ethnic sounds and tribal rhythms with growling synthetics...yet the result is a very soothing sonic atmosphere: lulling and passive. It is a strange balance of classical moods and the vocal roots of much world music. Armed with tapes of tree trunk percussion, pygmy chants, talking drums, sacred chants from Bali, Afganistan, Australia,and elsewhere, and various exotic string instruments, Musci and Venosta electronically treat the sounds, intertwining them with their own computers and synthesizers to produce a mixture of old and new.
This 75bminute CD is compilation of two previous releases by Musci and Venosta: "Water Messages on Desert Sand" and "Urban and Tribal Portraits". Five pieces have been deleted from the originals due to CD time restrictions.
MUSLIMGAUZE: Citadel (CD on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston, 3072 Victoria, Australia).
If you are unfamiliar with this band, certainly their name places the music's dominant influence. Take this ethnic sound and wrap it in multilayered hyper E-perc rhythmatics with ethereal electronic edges. There are numerous instrumental samples and voices (not vocals), but the intricate percussion is the instrument that carries each melody. The use of many varied percussive sounds gives the music a lush quality. That makes the music Worldbeat, but it fits more comfortably into a trance groove of superior quality.
There's an EP from this album. The "Citadel" LP is 47 minutes long; the ''Infidel.' EP is 67 minutes long. The many remixes add more electronic weirdness to the ethnic percussive quality with some genuinely surprising results. Highly recommended.
MUSLIMGAUZE: Veiled Sisters (double CD on Soleilmoon Recordings, PO Box 83296, Portland, OR 97283,.USA).
This is a passive departure for the band. Gone are the quirky industrial hooks, leaving behind long ambient ethnic strains...not bad at all.
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