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RECENT REVIEWS
Ryan Adams
Air
The Arsonists
The American Analog Set
Basement Jaxx
Billy Bragg
The Beta Band
Brian Jonestown
Boards of Canada
Cannibal Ox
Colonel Jeffrey Pumpernickel
D'Arcangelo
DJ Krush
Dntel
Drexciya
Fridge
Fugazi
Gorillaz
Robert Hampson/Janek Schaefer
Richard Hawley
House of Distraction
Ides of Space
Roy Lanham and the Whippoorwills
Low & Dirty Three
MC Solaar
Merzbow
Monolake
Mr Len and Techno Animal
Múm
Jeff Mills
New Order
Papa M
Parker & Lily
Mary Lou Lord
Jim O'Rourke (Rock)
Jim O'Rourke (Electronic)
Gram Parsons
The Panoply Academy
Prefuse 73
Mark Robinson
Matthew Shipp
Silver Jews
Bim Sherman
Superchunk
Tunsi
Transllusion
Vue
Weezer
The White Stripes
V/A - Schematic
The Strokes
Thalia Zedek
Unai
Wilco
Zero 7

The Music Guide - May 2002



Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World


Being too ambitious is rarely good thing. Bands too frequently ruin a good thing by trying to cover too much ground and by refusing to narrow their vision. The classic example of this is The Clash' Sandinista!, a record that would have been a 5-star classic as a single LP, but ended up a mediocre 3-sided recording showcasing the bands influences and lack of restraint.

Super Furry Animal's latest Rings Around the World, never approaches the decadence of Sandinista!, but nonetheless could have used an editor's touch. This double record by the Welsh pop extraordinaires is slickly produced, overflowing with influences, and fleetingly beautiful. Unfortunately, it would have worked better if some of the excesses and electronic trickery had been pared down. If you are new to the band pick up the superior Mwng first; a stronger record that unlike Rings is sung in Welsh and is more consistent as a whole. This said, Rings Around the World is still a highly enjoyable recording reminiscent of Brian Wilson, had the Beach Boys wonder boy had access to a lap top and Pro Tools.

--Robert Lanham



Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit - "Secret Rhythms"
(Nonplace)



Friedman & Liebezeit
This collaboration between new electronic artist Burnt Friedman and legendary Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit has created another link in the evolving genre of digital dub and acoustic jazz fusion. Highly percussive in nature, but surprisingly low-key, the aptly titled "Secret Rhythms" explores seductive moods in a style all their own that borrows from both dub reggae and Eno-ambience.

Rhythm dominates on this release. While they sound very organic and acoustic, many of the percussion sounds, especially the snare and kick, sound extremely dry. The thunk of the snare on the opening track "Rhein Rauf" tends to take away from the chilled-out mood. While easily overlooked on its own, it draws attention to the overly dry recording quality found on the whole of "Secret Rhythms." Fusing live instrumentation with digital prowess is a fine idea, but it has the potential to suck away warmth during the recording process.

That lone gripe aside, this cd takes dub fusion in some interesting, rhythmically-exciting directions. Melodious vibraphones and steel drums vie for attention overtop stop and start congas, snare, kick, and hi-hats. These rhythmic underpinnings create a trance-inducing backdrop for deep basslines, an occasional synth, and guest musician Josef Suchy's super-funky rhythmic guitar. The last track, "Obscured By 5 Extended" draws out all of the aforementioned elements in a very restrained and methodical manner, remarkably recalling the gamelan sounds of Indonesia. Recommended.

http://nonplace.smash.tv
--SK




Sutekh - "Fell" (Orthlorng Musork)

"Fell," the new full-length by California-based laptop rocker Seth Horvitz signals a slight departure from the minimalism of his past releases on Force Inc., Drop Beat, and his label Context. Allowing little to no room for space between sounds, Horvitz has created a new experimental platform with which to create different moods, structures, and ideas.

While the result doesn't always move me, some of Horvitz' new directions are interesting and I have to say I'm glad to see at least one artist break away from the potential pigeonholing of 4/4 minimalism. Actually, some of the tracks featured on his new cd, such as the lovely "Fire Weather," harken back to his days of soulful 4/4 house, but a track like "Recession Clouds" takes the repetitive beat-driven style to another level where silence and white noise alternately compete for dominance to nice effect.

"Privacy," with its organic Rhodes-y electric piano, sounds almost out of place amongst the chaos and digital dryness. Sutekh sounds like a Chicago quintet on this late-night jazzy number. The more musical numbers are mostly surrounded by experimental sound design and abstractions. Horvitz is definately onto something, but isn't quite ready to let go of the minimal rhythms that gained him notoriety. This new release will most likely continue to keep his fans' ears to the ground as he prepares to take his next step.

www.musork.com

--SK




Martha & The Muffins - "Select Cuts From Echo Beach - Remix Versions" (Select Cuts )

Ok, see if you can follow me on this: Ex-label manager for On-U Sound and Crammed Discs Nicolai Beverungen starts his own label Echo Beach, named after the '80s, Toronto-based new-wave band Martha & The Muffins' first hit single. The label is established as a means of releasing modern dub music, mostly remixes of past classics, but doesn't get around to compiling remixes of his Canadian heros until his sub-label Select Cuts is established.

So this new tribute disc on Select Cuts compiles 13 remixes of the Martha & The Muffins hit "Echo Beach." A compilation that can only appeal to M+M's die-hard fans or to folks that have to have every remix by their favorite artist. In this case, the artists include such luminaries as Thomas Fehlmann, Gabriel Del Mar, and Jimmy Cauty among others, who contribute dancey, dubbed out, contemporary versions of this old eighties tune.

The original version is also included here with a slightly digital-sounding upgrade, and surprisingly sounds as if it was made just yesterday, perhaps proving that Martha and her Muffins were somewhat ahead of the curve at the time. However, unlike the original, the tame house and dub versions included here will most likely succumb to a gradual degrading of relevance over time. This disc is strictly for the M+M fanbase.

www.echobeach.de
--SK



V/A - "Inhouse Volume Two - Modern House Sounds From Deepest Germany" (E:Motion)

Here we have a tepid compilation of German house sounds best-suited for international jet-setters and cocktail loungers. Strictly for casual listening, this uninnovative collection of soulful house tunes goes in one ear and out the other. Some of it is nice and sounds pretty good when you're shoppin at the Gap or people-watching at Club Swank, but so what?

It's described as deep house, but rarely gets deeper than track 4's "Walkin Thru Circles (Thump Mix)" by Needs. This track comes the closest to sounding like an old Strictly Rhythm deep house single thanks to its soulful simplicity and classic drum machine sounds. Otherwise this disc is chock-full of inflight euro-house with plenty of diva moans and groans.

www.efa-medien.de
--SK


Andrew Pekler - "Station To Station" (~Scape)

Here's something very tasteful for those who like elements of jazz in their electronica. Andrew Pekler, also a member of the Sad Rockets and Bergheim 34, fuses moody, late-night grooves and dub loops with finger snapping bop on his first solo album. Combining sequenced precision with live instrumentation isn't something entirely new, but Pekler's approach is delightfully subtle and unrepetitive.

"You Are Here" sets the predominately low-key mood with its light, percussive brush work and a nice soulful loop that bubbles under nicely. The mood shifts from track to track, with trace elements of Denny-esque exotica and scat-worthy be-bop, but for the most part it's quite a relaxing listen that leans heavily on Berlin's urban dub style.

The track "Manchild" features jazz veterans Elliot Levin on saxophone and Akira Ando on upright bass, both of whom have played with Cecil Taylor in the past. Pekler also invited others to sit in on piano and trumpet as well. "Station To Station" clocks in at 45 minutes but ends much too soon in my opinion. Here's hoping Andrew Pekler follows up with another helping of smooth sounds.

www.scape-music.de
--SK


Random Logic - "Numrebs" (Tehnika)

Slovenian superstars Random Logic's debut full-length "Numrebs" is a deep, dubby techno disc that will file nicely next to your Berlin glitch and frosty Icelandic beats. These folks have released singles on other, more floor-friendly lables like Kial, Tresor, and Djax-Up Beats, under different names, however these tracks stray from the frantic thump of those labels' four-four aesthetic and lean more towards the blunted side of deep techno.

The "Numrebs" sound is that of an emptied meat locker: Metallic echoes, clicky beats, and creaking floors. This disc has an organic soul that grows in strength throughout each track, with its synth washes and minimal melodies that build upon each track's mood. The bare minimum of melody is surrounded by a rickety, skeleton of rhythmic architecture that has a propensity to stay locked in tempo. There's not much chaos to be found on this disc, aside from the elaborate design of the disc's packaging. It's actually quite simple and subtle, and perhaps uneccesary to own if your collection is filled with these au courant sounds, but the sounds are sweet and composed nicely.

At first listen it may sound familiar, perhaps unoriginal, but it has a hypnotic quality about it that keeps my finger far from my cd player's eject button. "Numrebs" proves to be another worthy addition to the glitch'n'dub pantheon of techno music and is a very enjoyable listen.

www.teh-nika.net

--SK


Metropolitan - "Down For You Is Up" (Crank Automotive)

Once the home of labels TeenBeat and Simple Machines, indie-rock's heyday lives on in Arlington, VA.'s current crop of pop bands, and leading the way perhaps, is the three-piece Metropolitan. Saadat Awan, Shyam Telikicherla, and John Masters have a solid rock sound that combines youthful energy and a good ear for vocal-driven melodies.

John Masters' vocals, emotive and just a tad snotty, suck you in on songs like "Slide Rule," "You Want It," and "Incidental." Musically, Metropolitan refrains from composing outside the realm of what is expected from a pop trio of bass, drums, and guitar. Despite their devotion to Sonic Youth and Television, the end result of their collaboration is more akin to your everyday neighborhood garage band. While some bands belong in the basement, Metropolitan's heart is just too big to be restrained and their tunes just too infectious to ignore.

While some contemporary pop bands try to sound too much like one old band or the other, Metropolitan uniquely blends many old favorites into one cohesive mix that effectively revives the optimistic mood of the early '90s.

www.crankautomotive.com
--SK


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