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  • Cane 141 Lost at Sea
    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Not only do I love Irish sonic composer Michael Smalle's (AKA Cane 141) Lost at Sea, I love the whole damned idea of it as well. Let's just examine that formula: pulsing electronica that is epic yet accessible, with a heavy dose of looped ocean waves thrown in the mix, as former Royal Navy Commander Bill King tells war stories, all accompanying the visual doodles of Roisin Coyle. It's quite easy to understand why I'd like this music!

    The music itself is downright beautiful; Smalle does a fine job of capturing the come and the go and the to and the fro that is the ocean; these songs don't really require the samples and the loops to convey that feeling. Bill King's stories are interesting, what little bits and bites you get, and the spoken word bits that aren't King are not superfluous, as they all tie into the nautical theme. Hearing Japanese mixed with English is an interesting approach as well; it makes you think two soldiers on two sides are telling their stories decades after the fact. Maybe they are? Don't know. As you'd expect, there aren't proper "songs" on the record; all fourteen tracks are interwoven and form a wonderfully cohesive whole.

    I'd love to see how the visuals play into the music, but, really, the concept and execution of Lost at Sea is strong enough to make Coyle's visual element nonessential. That's not to disparage her art; it's a strong testament to the strength of Smalle's soundtrack. I think seeing the visuals intended for the music would be interested, but I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. Others might think differently, but I frankly do not care about the opinions of others...

    Listen To: Lost At Sea, Section Four

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 11:26 AM   0 comments
    White Rainbow Prism of Eternal NOW
    Saturday, February 16, 2008

    Adam Forkner is a guy who knows how to make heady mind music. Yume Bitsu, anyone? The Portland-based musician has headed up a number of musical projects over the past few years, and his main focus now is White Rainbow. Past releases include an aural love letter to Honey Owens (aka Valet), and a five-CD set of out-and-out psych-rock bliss. Prism of Eternal Now is his Kranky debut, and it's also one of his most refined albums to date. Mixing the sound of quiet introspection with the occasional lysergic bliss of a trip through a prism, Forkner does his best to create music that will open your mind, relax you, and float you downstream. The songs on Prism of Eternal Now don't overwhelm you; occasionally, as on "Mystic Prism" and "Pulses," he offers a beat that will cause you to move. But most importantly, Forkner has created a listener-friendly trip into a beautifully colored sonic world full of primal and modern sounds meant to enlighten, enliven, and rejuvinate your senses.

    Listen To: Mystic Prism

    Prism of Eternal Now is out now on Kranky

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 10:00 AM   0 comments
    Instruments of Science & Technology: Music From the Films of R/Swift
    Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    Richard Swift has made a handy and quaint little reputation for himself as a talented singer/songwriter. "Kisses for the Misses," I let it speak for my life. If his songwriting continues to grow as it has grown, he's going to wind up being our generation's Randy Newman--a need our generation sorely needs. What is neglected by those who talk about his music is that Richard Swift is something more than a talented singer/songwriter: he's also a studio composer and arranger, a side heretofore unexplored on his records.

    Instruments of Science & Technology: Music From the Films of R/Swift will piss off and confound some of his fans. I can't put it any other way. Other than the excellent Heldon-style rock of the ironically-titled "Inst," the album contains no vocals, and even then, those 'vocals' are merely sampled from an instructional exercise record from the 1960s. The rest of the record consists of brief instrumental passages that are intertwined and connected to make a thirty-minute whole. The songs range from rock freak-outs to drones, from gorgeous melodies to mind-numbing repetitive rhythm tracks.
    You can't really appreciate the record on a track-by-track basis; taking it apart takes away from the record, and single tracks don't really seem to make much sense in a standalone setting.

    I like this little diversion--I think.I have to be in the mood to listen to it, that's for sure. It's been a while since I've heard a record that's really challenged me to change my perceptions of its creator, but this record has certainly done so. I do admit, though, it's nice for an artist to release something as radical as this record. Somewhere, though, I think Richard is smiling about it all; challenging an audience is what a good artist does, for an artist that does not introduce his audience to new ideas is an artist who misses an opportunity to expand minds. Good job, old bean.

    Listen To: "Plan A & Plan B"

    Instruments of Science & Technology: Music from the Films of R/Swift is available now on Secretly Canadian

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 5:13 PM   0 comments
    Soft Circle Full Bloom
    Monday, February 4, 2008

    Soft Circle is the project of Hisham Bharoocha, former Black Dice drummer, and I have to say that it's a wonderful project, too. His music is drone, but unlike his former group, his drone isn't based in the electronic noise of the Twentieth Century; it's the sound of ancient musics and instruments. Unlike his previous band, his music is tranquil, quiet, and meditative. Now, I know some people who find Black Dice to be soothing, and some of their music is quiet, but Soft Circle is a wholly other dimension of sound.

    Thankfully, Full Bloom never overloads your eardrums with high decibel-level noise. When Hisham does get loud, he's not trying to imitate the sound you'd hear if you stand next to a jet engine. Instead, he's trying to capture some sort of postmodern tribal new wave native bonfire ritual that will make you dance. It's not hippy-dippy rave electronica, but it's close; the groove of "Earthed" sounds a lot like the grooves found in early-90s Wax Trax releases; specifically, Greater Than One, but I'm not trying to be pedantic. Other songs, like "Shimmer" and "Whirl," sound like a 21st Century take on World Music; heck, if they were so labeled, I'd believe these were Mickey Hart recordings.

    Overall, Full Bloom is a beautiful trip in a sonic world that beautifully mixes drone and tribal sounds. My interest in Hisham's music is definitely piqued; this recording is beautiful, and I anxiously await his next record.

    Listen To: "Shimmer"

    Full Bloom is available now from Eastern Developments

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    posted by joseph kyle @ 12:11 PM   0 comments
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