erasing clouds

20 Reviews of Music

by Dave Heaton, Anna Battista, Erin Hucke

The Action Time, Versus the World (Southern Records)

Anger + Youthfulness + Dreams + Hopes + Punk + Northern Soul + Cynicism + Fun. The result of this strange equation is an angry energetic brigade of six elements Billy Nameless, Ms C C Rider, E B Rockets, Miss Spent Youth, Jack Duvall and S K Sparkles all united under the collective name of The Action Time. Avant-terrorists, The Action Time are the sort of band who might start a controversial revolution with only one record which sounds like tamla, rock and punk fused in a special multi-coloured candy flavoured lollipop to suck in the fraction of a second. Versus the World barely lasts thirty minutes, but remember that revolutions happen fast and often don't need a long manifesto to be launched. Besides thirty minutes are enough to include the Eldridge Cleaver- inspired "Soul On Ice", the catchy "Stranded In A Lonely Planet" and the poppy, but rough edged "Stay In The Car." The believe-in-your-ideals-dreams-and-hopes "The World Is Against Us" highlights the album together with the brilliant "Rock And Roll" and the record decorously and riotously closes with the angrrrrry track "The Fire Next Time" inspired by James Baldwin. Next starlets, first group to start a sound punky revolution or just chancers? Oh, well, you decide, but remember that, if you're searching for something sonically angry, you should look in this direction. Now, sorry, but I've got to go and join the revolution. ( battista

Trey Anastasio/Tom Marshall, Trampled By Lambs And Pecked By The Dove (

Both Phish fans and critics tend to agree that the band's main talent lies with their musicianship, but this CD is one more piece of evidence that the songs are just as important, if not more so. Trampled By Lambs and Pecked By the Dove is a collection of demo recordings made by Phish guitarist/singer Trey Anastasio and his songwriting partner Tom Marshall at Anastasio's farmhouse in 1997. The two have written most of Phish's songs over the years; this collection includes many that ended up on the band's most recent two albums, The Story of the Ghost and Farmhouse, plus some that the band has played only in concert and some that are previously unavailable in any form. While these recordings are "demos" in the sense that they record the pair putting down their first versions of the songs, they were recorded with the full use of 8-track recording, and sound more polished than much of the material released by my favorite bands. The main difference between these recordings and the final Phish versions is that these are the songs by themselves, without much exploratory instrumentation or solos. Basically, this is a chance to hear 25 Phish songs before they got the usual Phish treatment. While many of the tracks ("Limb By Limb," "Farmhouse") indicate that the pair had the songs pretty well planned out right from the start, complete with backing harmonies and all, others indicate that the songs developed further when put in the band's hands ("Water in the Sky," "Bug"). For others, the "demo" format helps amplify aspects of the songs that got buried during the full band recording sessions. This is one of the most rewarding qualities of this CD, the way it brings out things I didn't notice in the "real" versions of the songs, like the spooky mood of "Wading in the Velvet Sea" or the lyrics and inherent gentleness in the eccentric "Piper." While the chance to hear the earliest versions of favorite songs will no doubt make fans salivate, what's really exciting about this CD is the number of songs that haven't yet made it onto Phish albums. There's 14 songs here that I hadn't heard before (though I'm sure the heaviest fans will have heard some of them on live tapes), and most are of high quality. There's a few goofy numbers ("Name," "Blue & Shiny"), which are nice for what they are, but there's also a handful of truly memorable rock songs-in-waiting and touching ballads. One of my favorites is "Somantin"; on one level it's a typical Phish story-song, with nods towards fantasy novels and nature, but it has gorgeous vocal interplay and heartfelt lyrics that drive the song's emotional impact way up. Overall, this is an intriguing and enjoyable CD that will likely only be heard by the biggest Phish fans, unfortunately. Of course, this release is likely directed at those fans, yet there's something here for others too, a chance to hear Phish as something more than just a "jam band," a chance to really listen to their songs without all the trappings and see that, for all the "hippie" jokes and Dead comparisons they draw, their songs are unique, have heart and are more than just skeletal frameworks for improvisation. --dave heaton

Arab Strap, The Red Thread (Chemikal Underground Records)

Fourth album for Scottish Marquis de Sade Aidan Moffat and his valet Malcolm Middleton. Filkirk's shame Arab Strap are finally back under the Chemikal Underground protective wing but are also back to recount their stories of nights of debauchery, new conquests, depressingly perverted sex and painful failures. But whereas the incarcerated Marquis de Sade wrote his tales with his legendary quills, Aidan Moffat describes them mumbling in his sombre pissed monotone accompanied by Middleton's mesmerising guitar. Though "Turbulence" is still drenched in the uptempo dancey rhythms of "Cherubs" included in the previous album "Elephant Shoe", "Amor Veneris" contains a striking piano, sinuous guitars flood in "Last Orders" and "Love Detective" is an almost jazzy mysterious track about a guy finding his girlfriend's secret sex diary, the track is the diamond of the whole album either for arrangement and for contents. Epic "Haunt Me", which should deserve to become the soundtrack for a desperate movie, closes the album. Hence, no great novelties for Arab Strap, whose mono-thematic life still revolves around sex, being pissed and splitting up with one of the girlfriend who form their harem. "…and on the way here I swore to myself I'd fuck whoever I please", Moffat happily claims in "Scenery", and that's what they use to do, fucking their way into your ears. --anna battista

The Bevis Frond, Valedictory Songs (Rubric Records)

Nick Saloman puts out an album nearly every year as The Bevis Frond, and most are fantastic. Each is a mixture of 60's-style psychedelic rock and soulful rock ballads, dealing with relationships, the music industry, societal decline and a handful of other topics. Most of his recent albums are relatively similar, with the main difference just being which songs he chose for the album. The latest, Valedictory Songs, does add something new, and that's a band. While The Bevis Frond has been a band in the past, the most recent albums have either been or felt like one-man affairs. For Valedictory Songs, Saloman was joined by Adrian Shaw and Andy Ward (???). The big difference with the full band sound is one of depth and range. Now when the Bevis Frond rocks, they really rock, with force. And when they cry or ruminate or go through other quieter moments, Saloman is supported by a more textured sound. The lyrics are also a bright spot as always--Saloman can word a witty criticism (of society or the music industry, generally) or convey a sense of yearning as good as anyone. There are some songs here, especially "Artillery Row," "Let Them Beautify You" and "We Are the Dead," with melodies so good that they just astound me, that something that pretty can sound so easy to accomplish. With each Bevis Frond album I'm always surprised at the high percentage of just-about perfectly written songs, considering how many songs Saloman seems to write each year. Valedictory Songs might have a few more lulls than his absolute best releases (the best of which is, in my book, the two-CD North Circular, but it's filled with great songs, and has more of a tuneful, complete musical presence than on last year's Vavona Burr. If you're a fan of rock music who's yet to discover the Bevis Frond, any of their albums should have plenty of songs that will convince you, but this one especially does. --dave heaton

Breakestra, The Live Mix Part 2 (Stones Throw)

The Breakestra are a 9-member funk band who build their sound around the "breaks" used in famous hip-hop songs, the pieces of old soul and funk samples used as the foundation of most hip-hop music today. Their live sets flow from one break to another, conjuring up hip-hop history for hip-hop fans and the history of soul music for those more versed in it. Their first widely available CD, The Live Mix Part 2 (Part 1 is available only as an import from Japan) captures one live performance from start to finish, around 45 minutes worth. Essentially their routine is a game of "catch the reference," where every few minutes you're combing your memory to figure out what song that break was used in. So, any hip-hop fan will have a ball on that level, just remembering the past and grooving to it. Considering the short attention span mentality that permeates hip-hop, where everyone's always looking for the next hit, it's nice to take a trip back through the years. But the Breakestra would get boring fast if they were just continually switching from song to song. Instead, The Live Mix Part 2 not only seamlessly passes from break to break, but also segues into lengthier funk/soul blowouts, with the superb musicians matched up with a couple equally superb vocalists. With it all ends up to, then, is not just a novelty or a game but a nonstop party, delivered by a tight band whose motto is "keep funk alive." The musical selections they play will appeal to both hip-hop fans and fans of classic soul, but the way that they deliver them should go over with anybody--this is party music done right, with musical skills, musical history and jubilant fun all coming together. --dave heaton

Calla, Scavengers (Young God)

NYC-based Calla have a minimalist, introspective sound which they use to convey a continual sense of confusion and unease. On their debut CD Scavengers, they play slow, sparse songs built around acoustic guitar, drums and vocals, with programmed ambient sound underneath, giving everything an eerie, dark feel. Calla essentially deliver the impression of slowly entering the human mind at its most depressed. Singer/Lyricist Aurelio Valle voices questions and fears, about relationships and life, in a low, crisp voice. He conveys a sense of bewilderment at people and how to deal with them, a sense that is completed by the band's skill at creating a thoroughly dark scene out of a few elements. As Valle expresses paralysis and regret, the music crawls and lurks, imitating both his hesitancy and his sadness. Calla's bio on the Young God Records web site gives the information the band's other two members, Wayne Magruder and Sean Donovan, are a design student interested in the connection between electronics and rock music and a classically trained avant garde composer. These facts are not surprising; with every slow step forward Calls project a sense of planning, that their music is deliberately designed to create a certain effect with certain instruments, that the band members are trying to convey the most mood and emotion with the fewest elements. If that's their plan, they've won. From the album's start through to the end, a cover of U2's "Promenade" (which comes after an especially aptly titled song called "A Fondness for Crawling"), Calla skillfully create a sense of loss and emptiness without ever beating you over the head. They gently lull you into impending doom. --dave heaton

The Caribbean, Verse By Verse (Endearing)

The Caribbean are the architects, the engineers, the interior decorators of pop music, or something like that… they're always working closely with sonic details to craft an artful creation. Originally based in DC (and now spread across the country), the trio's music is relatively sparse but filled with sounds that reveal a thoughtful form of song-planning. These are smart people--not in the "look at us, we're geniuses" sense of the word, but in the sense that they know what they're doing; that every sound is placed there for a reason. On their first full-length album Verse By Verse (following up a fine EP on their own Little Voice label), they use this skill to grand effect, creating their own unique form of pop/rock. Their sound incorporates hushed rock, folksy shuffles, jazzy balladry, upbeat tunefulness and abstract ditties, often together in the same song. The main instruments used are acoustic and electric guitars, piano, bass, drums and vocals, but keep your ears peeled and you'll hear other things lurking beneath the surface, like the spoken parts in the background of "Front Row at the Rodeo" (the radio anthem of the bunch, at least in my mind). Vocalist/guitarist Michael Kentoff sings in a meandering, nonlinear croon that beautifully fits both the group's personality and their riveting, ever-twisting lyrics. Lyrically, The Caribbean like to switch on you. Take the album's namesake song, for example. It starts off with an explanation of the sadness that comes during a particular season ("Frustration soon takes a hold of me and I can be tough to take"), then moves to a puzzling statement ("Feels like the 8th of July and we're still in summer school!") or two, and then starts to deconstruct itself ("All the ladies clap your hands, sing the chorus and refrain/OK the guys you and I have to tackle the verse, verse by verse"). On other songs they'll give you a sense of eeriness beneath a pleasant melody and good-natured musical mood, like on "To Call Your Very Own," with its spooky mid-song chant of "The fix is in/the fix is in." The effect of The Caribbean's enigmatic quality is to keep you listening as closely as possible, to spur you to think about what it all means. Like most of my favorite musicians, artists and authors, they prompt you to dig a bit beneath the surface, to actively engage yourself with what you're hearing. And after about thirty minutes of shimmering mystery and pop songs, they disappear, leaving you with a silent room, an inquisitive feeling and a strong desire to hit play one more time.--dave heaton

Creeper Lagoon, Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday (Dreamworks)

Creeper Lagoon take a self-assured step toward success with their second full-length Take Back the Universe (And Give Me Yesterday), by taking their melodic, moody pop-rock and giving it the Buffalo Tom treatment--meaning, giving it a big, sweeping, dramatically emotional sound without losing any of the sincerity or heart. Their music rocks more than ever before, and retains a smartness missing from most rock music. Their lyrics are literate slightly philosophical depictions of loneliness, confusion and chaos, set against a backdrop of late night urban scenes, of parties, rendezvous, drunkenness and desire. Lead vocalist Ian Sefchick sings about missing a chance of a lifetime, about breaking hearts, searching for a home, getting lost, getting wasted, feeling like a stranger and trying to find some piece of mind, and in the process throws out poetic phrases like "dollar bills made of sadness" or "and we were born of yellow sand." Their lyrics would seem to be too skillfully crafted and unique for top 40 radio, but this album has the pop hooks and rock crunch that just might take them in that direction. I wouldn't be surprised to find them the next time I'm scanning the airwaves for something decent, and the "alternative rock" world will be well-served if that happens--maybe their smartness would rub off on the Eve 6's of the world. It's fitting that Creeper Lagoon are currently touring with Guided By Voices; both have a "bands who should be radio kings" air about them right now, the way they wield perfect melodies and a relatively traditional style of rock without dumbing their music down for mass audiences. A few of Take Back the Universe's tracks, especially the trio of "Under the Tracks," "Dead Man Saloon" and "Hey Sister," should have forced the album to come with a disclaimer, warning listeners that these melodies are so potent that, after even one listen they can remain in your head for weeks. --dave heaton

Daft Punk, Discovery (Virgin)

Oh, hey, come on, you remember them, the two French dudes who spooked the world in 1995 with their robotic Giorgio Moroderesque disco dance hits such as "Da Funk" and "Around The World" from their by now four years old album "Homework". Hell, they're back and this time with a new project, which involves ruling the world disguised as robots. Er, no, believe me, I'm serious and actually Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo's project is proving really successful as by now they have their band, Daft Punk, their production company, Daft Life and their own Napster thing, Daft Club. Kings of vocoder, scions of disco, friends of the French music brotherhood formed by Air and Etienne de Crécy among the others, we'll probably be listening to Daft Punk all over summer and even more as can be forecasted by the catchy sound of Discovery: Romanthony sings on the ten minutes long "Too Long" and "One More Time", the first single taken from the album. As coloured as the rainbow-like reflections projected by a glitterball, this album contains jewels such as the irresistible "Aerodynamic" and "Digital Love" which gives a nod to '80s classic "Video Killed The Radio Star." And if you want, you can also dive into the computer loved up frenzied "Crescendolls" and the adrenaline rush of "Superheroes", skipping the slower and semi-ambient tracks such as "Nightvision", as they are too inconsistent. And if Daft Punk's fourteen track album is not enough for you, well, surprise-surprise, each album is gifted with a card containing a personal code which once inserted into your computer will allow you to access to the Daft Club, which acts a bit like Napster: from there you will be able to download exclusive material such as remixes and new tracks. So are you ready for the French disco siege to hit your stereo, your ears and your dancefloor? Me? I am almost ready, I just have to find that glitterball I threw away too many years ago and polish it…(A HREF=""> --anna battista

Christopher DeLaurenti, N30: Live at the WTO November 30 1999 (Sonarmap)

N30 is "an orthophonic 'you are there' recording" of the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, Washington in the fall of 1999. This hour-long recording takes up the bulk of the CD's length, with the first two tracks consisting of earlier, experimental recordings by DeLaurenti. Those two, "Cocaine" and "Harbinger" serve as an introduction to the type of artistic work DeLaurenti is interested in. Namely, in taking sounds and making art out of them. "Cocaine" takes drug-related vocal samples, from people talking about drugs to selling drugs, etc., and splices them together to give a quick audio history of the U.S.' disastrous, duplicitous "war on drugs." "Harbinger" uses sounds for more conventionally musical purposes, forming them into a atmospheric, building composition that sounds rather Philip Glass-ish. On "N30," listeners are immediately thrown into the middle of history. For this piece, DeLaurenti made field recordings at the WTO protests and then edited them into a composition. Still, it sounds more like field work than manipulation. You hear activists speaking, gathering, chanting, playing drums, and then police trying to "maintain order," police and protesters clashing, and so on. Plus street noise, traffic, bypassers and other sounds of the environment. If you didn't believe John Cage, Brian Eno, et. al, here is more proof that the sounds around us are themselves music. Listen to this more than once and you'll be remembering, "This is where the car horn comes in, and then the people chant," and so on. There are repeating choruses via the protestor's chants ("there ain't no power like the power of the people cause the power of the people don't stop"), and via scenarios and ideas coming around and back again. "N30" is part historical document, part musical composition using nontraditional instrumentation, part evidence to the importance of the event, and always riveting.--dave heaton

Die Moulinettes , Alfa Bravo Charlie (Shado Records)

In the '60s Italian singers and composers ruled. Lounge was the world, or rather the word, sensual women, as sexy as 007's legendary partners, crooned in their fancy bobs hairstyles and a la Jacqueline Kennedy's pastel coloured tailleurs sugar coated melodies. More than forty years have passed and the last death-rattles of Italian music can at present be heard on the airwaves of the whole country. But this isn't an essay about the decadence of Italian music, neither a tirade about the fact that while Italians aren't anymore able to produce the magic of those times, Die Moulinettes release a record which display all that magic and even more. Marina Records affiliated, Die Moulinettes have released Alfa Bravo Charlie for the Italian market and what a faultless album it is: "Love Air" is practically sung by an air hostess making love in the aisle of the plane with the steward, "Deep Down" is the famous Ennio Morricone's classic revisited and re-launched in a better shape, whereas "Alfio Brambilla" is a booming funny loungy song and "Strano Mondo di Tanti Nomi" is a funny rhyme with such a long list of names that you'll get lost. Italian and German intertwine in the Hammond organ based "Flipper Queen" while a football report is sampled on "Des Letzte Spieltag" and if this stuff isn't enough, well, the album also includes a long long long list of lounge, ambient, dancey, spacey, downtempo samba favoured remixes, by The High Llamas, Stereo Total, The Maxwell Implosion and many more. Die Moulinette turn their world around as if they were playing with a Rubik's cube, what comes out of their music is a thousand shade of colours, nuances and hues. Deep deep down they know it…they've made it! Well, what can I say? Ben fatto, bravi! --anna battista

Doughty, Skittish (self-released, available here)

Doughty (previously M. Doughty, presently Mike Doughty, just Doughty when he put this CD out), former lead-singer/guitarist of now defunct Soul Coughing, released his five-year-old debut solo album, Skittish, in 2000. Recorded in 1995 or 1996, as stated on the plain, white CD sleeve (seems Doughty himself cannot remember), the CD was never released until now, after some experimental mixes of the songs accidentally seeped out onto the Internet to be traded heavily over Napster. Twelve of the songs were finally mixed properly and released as Skittish. Listening to this simple album makes me realize how influential Doughty was in the creation of the music side of Soul Coughing -- not just acting as the face and the voice. Skittish demonstrates not only Doughty's superb lyric-writing abilities, but also his musical talent. Doughty's guitar playing is quite good. The songs rely solely on acoustic guitar (with the minor exception of faint organ and light strings on "No Peace Los Angeles"), an instrument obviously absent or heavily obscured from most Soul Coughing recordings and atypical of their urban/ industrial/ beat-jazz/ hip-hop/ sampled feel. But Doughty's out-of-tune plucking and minor chord strumming plainly reveal the skeleton of the distinct Soul Coughing sound. ("Thank You, Lord, For Sending Me the F Train" and "Language Barrier," in particular.) Skittish comes out sounding pure, clean, unaltered and uncluttered. This five/six-year-old album makes me crave new material from Doughty and mourn the fact Soul Coughing are gone. --erin hucke

The Free Design, Cosmic Peekaboo (Marina)

Multi-instrumentalist The Free Design came together again for the impeccable compiled album Caroline Now! released last year on Marina Records. On this compilation they covered The Beach Boys's "Endless Harmony" and now they have finally re-released some new material after thirty years. Cosmic Peekaboo sees the original line up, Chris, Bruce and Sandy Dedrick, minus busy Ellen, singing in perfect unison with a little help from old friend Tom Szczesniak and from singer, arranger and pianist Rebecca Pellett. This album is a challenge to their talent, a challenge The Free Design honourably carry out thanks to a cappella choirs alternating with strings in an exquisite arrangement to give you the quiet "Peekaboo", the liquid lullaby of "Listen", the epic "The Only Treasure" and "Day Breaks" with a long heartrending cello intro. Voices spiral in the clouds and the sky reaching the heavens in The Free Design world. Let your spirit get free and follow them. Cosmic Peekaboo is an excellent product that shows that Marina Records is a trade mark for quality releases. --anna battista

The French Broads, My Friend Speed (Ivey DeMilo Recordings/Disgraceland)

While most years the albums that make the biggest impression tend to be those that sound stunningly new or offer something truly unique, so far this year I've been caught with a more simple bug, the love of a good song. Most of the best albums I've heard in the last few months have been by relatively straightforward rock and pop bands (California Oranges, Creeper Lagoon, Spoon) who have a knack at writing really tuneful, memorable songs. The French Broads are another band in that vein. From Nashville, TN (and named after a river, in case you're wondering), they're a rock trio taking your standard instruments and doing nice things with them. Their album My Friend Speed opens with "Hook," a bluesy rocker with a killer pop chorus, and continues in that vein: guitar-based rock with catchy melodies and riffs. Yet they're not a one-genre group; they dip into other styles quite nicely, like on the straight-outta-oldies radio shuffle "Summer's Over," or the countryish (more like CCR meets Yo La Tengo's Fakebook) pop tune "Forgotten." There's also trips into surf rock ("Serf") and spacier-rock ("New Year's Day"). Lyrically they take on the universals of everyday life (love, loss, childhood) from a personal point of view. All in all, whether they're lazily pondering summer love or straight-up rocking the house, The French Broads do it with humor, melody, and an overriding sense of fun which carries you off and kindly leaves you with a big grin. --dave heaton

Future Pilot AKA , Tiny Waves, Mighty Sea (Geographic)

Take a collective of artists, possibly from respectable and well established bands, possibly from Scotland. You got 'em? Right, now, put them together, give them a room full of instruments and let them play the stuff they want, yes, let them choose whatever they want and let them freely play. Imagine what a chaos: it would be insane, even worst than cats and dogs fighting in the street below your window. Really hilarious. Well, it would be hilarious if it weren't a project led by genius ex-Soup Dragon, former BMX Bandits Sushil K Dade, better known to the music world as Future Pilot AKA. The guy dared to invite to play Bill Wells, Teenage Fanclub's Raymond MacDonald and Norman Blake, The Pastels' Katrina Mitchell and Stephen Pastel, Belle & Sebastian's Isobel Campbell and Stuart Murdoch, The Delgados' Emma Pollock, Alun Woodward and Stewart Henderson, Eugenius' Eugene Kelly, ex-BMX Bandits' Duglas T.Stewart and Francis MacDonald and Superstar's Joe McAlinden and Jim McCulloch, but to mention a few of them. The sessions were recorded at Teenage Fanclub's studio in Glasgow and they are the triumph of the most disparate sounds, going from the ethereal "Ananda Is The Ocean", the Indian sensual drone of "Darshan", the hymn "Witchi Tai To" and the rockish "Beat Of A Drum". "Shree Ram, Jai Ram" is a choir of angels, "Om Namah Shivaya" is spellbinding. and the final litany "Prayer for Ananda" is wonderfully apt to close this album in which dreamy soundscapes and carpets of sounds, atmospheres of anointed sanctity and heavenly talent entwine. Including an essay by Raymond MacDonald about how the album was conceived, this magic and internationalist sounding project avoids categorisation to gift the artists with the freedom to play what they want and how they want it and gives the listener spiritual peace and freedom of thinking. Shantih shantih shantih. (, battista

Garfields Birthday, Words and Pictures (Best Kept Secret)

Elsewhere in this issue, I mention how many releases I've come across lately where the focus is on writing really memorable pop-rock songs. Here's another one. It's an album where nothing especially innovative is going on, but where the songs being played are so catchy and so superbly crafted that it spurs you to listen again and again and again and again. Garfields Birthday are a melodic, guitar-based rock quartet whose songs are thoroughly built around delivering a melody to your ears; there's little extemporaneous instrumentation, hardly any solos, just people pretty lead vocals and harmony vocals singing a catchy tune over rock music. The 12 songs on Garfields Birthday's Words and Pictures, released on the Best Kept Secret tape label, are pretty much all about women, about looking for love, breaking off a troubled relationship, all of that. The lyrics deal with fairly standard territory, but with a lot of heart and a heavy dose of humor. For an example of the latter, witness the bitter kiss-off "Last Night I Slept With Your Mother." The two vocalists, James Laming and Simon Felton, both have unbelievably sweet, pleasant voices, which add a great deal to the band's whole sound, which reminds me at various times of other fine pop-rock acts like Richard Davies, Tobin Sprout, the Connells, and many of the Flying Nun bands (The Clean, The Bats, The Chills, etc.). Words and Pictures is one of those great pop/rock creations where little intellectualizing is needed. It's like this: Here's some songs, carry them with you for a while, they're bound to make you happy. ( heaton

Global Underground - Destinations, Various Artists (Global Underground)

Ah, Ibiza, the sun, the sea, the holidays, the pure hedonism. Shame we're still far away from summer and probably most of you live too far away from Ibiza. So, here's how to recreate a true Ibiza atmosphere: close the shutters, turn on the lights and pretend the yellow beams from your lamp are the rays of the scorching sun and then finally put on your stereo this Global Underground compilation. Home to Sasha, Digweed, Seb Fontaine, Tony De Vit and Steve Lawler among the others, Andy Horsfield and James Todd's Global Underground boasts of having the world's best DJs on board. Containing all the right house flavoured club anthems, 16B's "It Doesn't Have To End", Katcha's "Touched By God", Vegas Soul's "Junk Funk" and Ian Wilkie's "Guten Morgen", the whole remixed by Nick Warren, Danny Tenaglia, Darren Emerson and Dave Seaman, "Destinations" is a mish mash of house and techno, often hypnotic, but also vapid and banal. The real problem is that it doesn't really have a momentum or any peak time tracks, but it's just a comp for happy happy people and global hedonism. Anyway, what's all this sand doing in my socks? ( --anna battista

HIM, 5/6 In Dub (After Hours/Bubblecore)

Electronic growls and beats kick off the first track on 5/6 In Dub, followed closely behind by a subtly growing, spacey mix of percussion, keyboards, guitar and saxophone, all flowing around your ears to form a musical picture, one that takes off like a spaceship and then quietly settles around you. The musicians find a groove and relax into it, but never leave the overall atmosphere they began with. David Toop once quoted dub master Lee "Scratch" Perry as saying "The studio must be like a living thing," which lead Toop to comment that "This is alchemist's talk: making living matter from intractable substances." On 5/6 In Dub, HIM's Doug Scharin is the alchemist, the dub master, the man behind the mixing board. 5/6 In Dub consists of Scharin's dub mixes of three tracks scheduled to be on the next HIM album. The facts that the original versions haven't been released yet makes it trickier for listeners when you hear the remix before the original version, does it really matter that the original came first, or does the remix become the original? It's also harder for writers, who can't fall back into the lazy habit of reviewing a remix by telling how it differs from the original. Instead, writers must confront the music, which, of course, is what it's all about, anyway. The music here surrounds you and overtakes you, as dub should. The tracks as they appear here are mellow jazz, yet with a worldly flair and an intense series of patterns…but then shot into outer space. The two major tracks, "Five" and "Six" are bridged by "Representation of a Rhythm We Cannot Escape," which wanders through a landscape of weird, percussive noises. All three tracks move at a dreamy pace, and beats, whirs and spooky electronic noises play as key a role as the basic instruments of saxophone, keyboards, etc. As fitting the dub tradition, the mixing board seems to have been as much an instrument as each of the others. HIM's 5/6 In Dub is interesting intellectually but also sensuous and overtaking. As a listener you're sucked into a sonic atmosphere where you never know quite what'll come next, but you know it'll be interesting. --dave heaton

Justice, Modern Retro (Hydrogen Dukebox Records)

You're on the top of a skyscraper: tell me, what do you see? An unreal city. The surfaces of the other skyscrapers around you look like thousands of mirrors and the spaces between them form a net of parallel lines at the bottom of which you can see millions of people scurrying around like ants and cars rushing here and there. And you realise that this city is just a hologram projected by the eyes of your mind, because you're not on the top of a skyscraper but you're on the dancefloor trying to give a shape to your body to follow the rhythms of this album. Tony "Justice" Bowes's third album, Modern Retro, introduces us to a collection of fat beats and bass lines: the sharp grooves of "Tate Modern", the assault of "Wack MCs (Milestone's Mix)", the jazzy "City Flyer", the frenzied "Lonnie's Tune", the killing dub of "Transit (Alaska & Paradox's Mix)" and the sonic "Future Dome" possess the texture of a killing drum'n'bass electro soundscape that blooms like a flower pollinating the world. A must. --anna battista

Kings of Convenience , Quiet Is The New Loud (Source)

Italian writer Giambattista Vico had a perky conception of this world: he stated that history followed a cyclical pattern, a repetition of the same essential experiences. Hence after a cycle of events, events similar to those that started that series would have occurred, shaping once again the world in an endless circle. Imagine what would happen if this theory would be applied to music: we got so far into experimenting with music, that we should now go back to total simplicity and revert to acoustic stuff. Ah, ah, ridiculous! Erm, perhaps it's better not to laugh, as it has already been done. They call them the New Acoustic Movement, they are a sort of international acoustic alliance and the Kings of Convenience are part of it. Heading from freezing Norway, Eirik Giambek Bøe and Erlend Øye, disguised as very nerds look alike Kings of Convenience, provide you with a mass of totally lulling songs and melodies, in polite tones, fully fledged examples are "Winning A Battle, Losing The War", "Singing Softly To Me", "Little Kids", "Summer On The Westhill" and "The Passenger". Very quiet stuff, also very Belle & Sebastian stuff, surely not the stuff riots as made of anyway, so you're advised. Sssshh! Be quiet please, they're playing! --anna battista

Issue 5, April 2001 | next article

this month's issue
about erasing clouds

Copyright (c) 2005 erasing clouds