Mini-Reviews of Music
Note: I intend to review music in the context of music to "Web"
to. This column will thus not be intrinsically about the music -
but rather how it fits into the context of the Net. Also, I will
review which ever CDs I happen to be listening to as I Web or
write this column - so the reviews will grow to cover any and all
of the types of music I own or borrow from friends. Please send
any comments you might have to me at
Recent decent Techno and Ambient purchases:
- Euronervous Techno Travel Compilation. A slamming HARD techno
CD. With tracks by Sir.Cus, Carl Cox, Laurent Garnier, DJ Sonic,
Kenny Larkin, Miss Djax, Joey Beltram, Estelle, etc. Sweet! on Nervous/Sorted
- the Orb, Auntie Aubrey's Excursions Beyond the Call of
Duty: The Orb Remix Project. A nice 2-cd collection Orb remixes
of other artists. Note however that much of the music is MONO for
some reason. GRRR. On deviant records
- Possession: African Dub, Off World One. A nice mellow dubby
african-inspired project on Sub Meta by Bill Laswell, Fousseny
Kouyate, Duday Musa Suso, and Aiyb Dieng.
- Textures: 2-CD remix project of the Trance Europe Express
Series by Darren Emerson (Trance CD) and Alex Patterson
(Ambient). While I am a HUGE fan of the Orb, I am not so
impressed by the ambient mix. However the Trance CD is very VERY
smooth. Seek this out. On Vital?
- Less recent T-Power: the self evident truth of an intuitive
mind. Ambient/Intelligent Jungle. AMAZING. I have not been a big
fan of jungle until hearing Method One spin at Mosaic in
Baltimore. Intelligent Jungle is amazing because it brings the best
dreamy elements and flow of ambient to the hecticness of drum
and bass and marries these two distinctly opposite elements into
an amazing mix. wow :) on Sour
- Xandgix: Amazing smooth trance on Fax.
Review of Dead Can Dance's NYC stop at City Centre.
Drop everything and go out right now and
buy Stereolab's Emperor Tomatoe Ketchup. They are
just one of the most engaging pop bands making music today!
Wowowowo, Stereolab's latest collection of singles, Refried Ectoplasm
(subtitled Switched On Volume 2), is simply incredible. I always find
a "new" album from the lab so incredible fresh and inovative to my ears.
While their sound is not "fresh", it is definitely welcome change from the
standard top-40 schlock pop fare, ditties by the number or by pure amount
of unstrategic use of feedback. In any case, this album is a keeper and I
intend to do a proper review, when I have the time. Lab on!
Review of a recent Chemical Brothers
CMJ '95 Reviews
Pluto - the Orb Live at Roseland Ballroom
Space - reverb, loop, male, female. Nice. Lots of emotions let out here.
A really nice work. Worthy of attention. Currently only available on
UK's Creation label. Slowdive are no longer signed to SBK in USA. So wait, or
purchase the import. [grumble: Slowdive is no longer slowdive, they
are now Mojave 3 on 4AD.]
My description of great music is music that moves me and otherwise effects my
emotions in different ways - not necessarily good or bad ways. Some recent
albums which do that for me include
First, a couple of "alien" albums - music which is sublime, but oh so different
than anything else I have heard in a while. Sort of takes one away
to a foreign landscape...
- Plastikman Musik, on Novamute. Alien in a way - but a good way.
Paints a soundscape which seems very sparse and unfamiliar. Great album.
Great listening music. Sparse Detroit techno from the wizard Richie Hawkin.
- Woob em:t 1194 on Instinct/time records.
Healing, helped me through finals. Very Beautiful woven in with different
samples. Ambient Techno with an occasional beat. [Catchy cover of a penguin!]
- Robert Fripp 1999: Soundscapes - Live in Argentina on his own label
Discipline Global Mobile. Again, very "alien" - not what your used to
hearing - but much better than much out there. This is Fripp doing
"frippertronics" updated for the 1990s. Sounds different. Solo guitar and
effects units sound different than frippertronics. Amazing walls
- Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works II. Sire
Just does it. weird long soothing, as with the rest not your average
pop music, but much much better. Just guess I need to practice writing
about music more in order to get my feelings straight.
- Portishead "Dummy" on Go!Beat?. Sultry songstriss on top of some
happening music [a lot of hip hop beats, nice "dirty" (not as in the
state of my mind thank you) samples from Mission Impossible, Weather Report,
Issac Hayes and so on. My favorite songs are the first two, last two,
It's a Fire, and rest are 50/50. I expected a album long spy movie.
Rather we get an album of singles. Good music, but not as effective as
possible in this genre. Some dopey journalists in Englandland label this
genre as "trip-hop." Apparently Portishead's music is similar to stuff by
Massive Attack, the Mo Wax label (I really want to pick up Headz),
and possibly the NTone Label. [I DID pick up Headz - good groovy stuff!]
- Praxis "Metatron" on Subharmonic. Great great stuff.
Guitar/Bass/Drums/Samples/Toys! Basically instrumental and better than much
"ambient techno" or "ambient house" out there. Not quite the same as there
is that "riff" and it is harder, but worthy and much more towards the
aesthic. If someone else can describe this better...please let me know!
Kinda funky in a "hard-rock" way. But NOT the same as say Faith No More,
Red Hot Chilly Peppers, etc.
Enigma - MCMXC a.D. 1990
Cool musical meshings - combinations of a softer (but not quite
ambient) dance sound with various samples with some good female
half spoken/singing lyrics. The use of the the monk chants work
really well when they are used. However, I did not think they
were used enough for my taste. I think I preferred the first half
of the album over the second half. (I really did not like the
last part of the last track - The Rivers of Belief from Back to
the Rivers of Belief) The Album can can be described as sensual
in a sense. Use of french lyrics every so often and "heavy breathing"
give it a soft sensual feeling. I guess my hesitantancy to rate this
album is because I prefer the more ambient side of the new dance
music to the dance side. Thus, I like the older progenitors of
the current Ambient House trend (like Tangerine Dream, etc)
as compared to the dancier roots (techno/rave, etc). But tons of
other people really grove this album, and you might too -
so like anything else I write here, take it with a grain of salt
until you actually get to listen to an album!
[One more quick meandering point - I would probably
grow to like this album more if I had it and listened to it
more...but we shall see.]
Oh, but back to my original idea for this column - this would
make good webbing music - not throbbing annoying (to me) like
some techno, and not devoid of interesting sounds (like some of
the ambient scene.) so good as a background to your probing of
Negativland - Points 1981
Wonderfully weird stuff. Dunno if I would listen to this CD
again, but a once through is definitely worthwhile. Negativland
play with "found" sounds. Not unlike sampling but different. I
think the entire album is a collage of these sounds they have
taken out of their normal contexts. It makes for a wild ride, as
you never know what you will hear next. I do not know if it would
stand up to repeated listenings however. When I saw a discography
of these guys works, I remember it saying that Points was from
early in their career (1981) and that later stuff is more
accessible from a pop sensibility, or more structured towards a
[Warning - this review is the result of a first listening and I
wrote it before I listened to the whole album, so your mileage my
Scarce and Yo La Tengo at Irving Plaza in 1994
My Review of a Stereolab/Unrest Concert at the Grand in NYC
My Review of a Stereolab gig at the Mercury Lounge in NYC
Review of various Techno/House Parties (raves) from 1996 and 1997.
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You can reach me at email@example.com / Michael Hauben