Short Cuts, the autumn edition
What I hate most about summers is the sudden lack of music. Because the music industry thinks everbody who listens to music is on vacation they won't release any records. Well they're wrong. Music maniacs stay home because they have spend all their money on records and all summer through they are craving for new music. At least, I was.
Summer is over and some good records have been released and I have something to write about again.
Vainio Väisänen Vega - Endless
I guess it must have been a pairing out of mutual admiration. Vainio and Väisänen are the two masterminds behind some of the most intense electronic music of the last five years. Vega is the singer of the rather legendary American band Suicide who were making the most intense electronic music in the early eighties. Alan Vega's haunting lyrics and voice and Pan Sonic's (they dropped one of the letters so they would no longer run in trouble with the international electronics giant) haunting sounds are a perfect mix. This is an intense and dirty record discribing the fear and loathing of the United States and the state of the rest of the world. This is how a political album should sound. Abstract (in sound), yet direct (in words). Best song is Sick Sick USA which in a way exactly depicts the state the USA is in right now.
(Blast First) [JV]
Hefner - Breaking God's Heart
Paul Cox of Too Pure hasn't lost it. It sometimes takes a while, but he'll always discover something so out of the ordinary, and so special. Too Pure did have to fight for Hefner though, luckily the band liked the idea to work for a true independent so they joined the varied Too Pure stable. Hefner is mainly a vehicle for singer Darren Hayman who is a very English songwriter with a rather awkward voice, which people keep comparing to something like Robert Smith shouting. If the listener is willing to accept that voice and even try to like it, he'll be very happy to discover the world of Hefner in which beautiful girls and failing relationships are the main subject. But these failing experiences are nearly always set to uplifting music with some great catchy hooks. Hefner is a hopeless romantic who can turn his troubles into great popsongs. This is only their debut and already it's obvious this guy is going to make some classic popmusic.
Low - One More Reason To Forget
I sadly never had the pleasure to see Low play live, but I thought I could make a good guess of what a Low live concert would be like: slow, quiet, emotional, serene, rather wonderful really. Normal live records catch bands in their most vibrant ways it's usually a perfect capture of what a band was like at a certain moment and they strip out the bad parts. Low live isn't vibrant, it's almost like a ceremony. If it wouldn't be for the people talking at the start of the record, the cheering after every number, you wouldn't notice this is a band playing live. Low play songs from all their four records and the best on this is probably Do you know how to waltz? their most abstract and expansive song to date. This record is one more reason to remember what a great band Low is.
(BlueSanct Musak) [JV]
Low - Remix
Another reason to remember that, is the remix album that was released at the same time. Low once did a very special cover of a Joy Division song, by tearing it apart and playing it more slow and making it into one of their own. They now had the guts to let other people butcher their songs and the result is again rather wonderful. None of the remixers: porter ricks, neotropic, tranquility bass, dj vadim, skull valley dub, do a bad job, some are even great. But the best of all was a real suprise to me, they had Jimmy Sommerville and Sally Herbert of Brontski Beat fame doing words and they made the slow rather depressive brooding song into perfect almost happy fastpaced dance record. Amazed. No, flabbergasted!
(Caroline/Vernon Yard) [JV]
Swell - For All The Beautiful People
Since their drummer left Swell have been changing, they purposely left the loft they used to record in and left the sound, the sound of dark alleys drunken winos and the city, behind. Their last was the first record they recorded with a producer. This time David and Monte have tried it again on their own behind the mixing desk. They set out to make a headphone experience. Well, in that they did succeed. The sound is coming from all over and is best experienced with a good set of headphones, but I wish they had taken more care of the songs rather than twiddling so much knobs. Some of these are definitely under par compared to what we're used of Swell. If they had taken away some of the songs, toned down all the experiments with thunder and rain sounds, this record would have turned out right. But now it's nowhere near as good they have done before. A pity. But hell, they're still better than most bands especially to what they get compared with at the moment like Granddaddy.
(Beggars Banquet) [JV]
Various - Variations
These days they'll turn anything into a remixing frenzy. Ectomorph one of the guys behind the From Beyond series had done a few great endless loops on volume one of Interdimensional Transmissions and now some guy asked all his friends to do remixes of that one loop. Skinless Brothers, Lowtec, Ecotomorph himself, Deep Space Network, Le Car, Disturbot, Da Halz, Medium Length Hair, Sandbenders, DJ Pete, S-max, all have a go and all make some perfect new song of that one loop. Sampling is a great thing. Hopefully they'll remix something of this album soon.
(Science City/Neuton) [JV]
The Notwist - Chemicals EP/Shrink
The German band Notwist started out as a hardcore band, with a difference though, their singer sang in a normal voice and their music was almost orchestral compared to other hardcore bands. Now, their heavy side has long gone and all members have been experimenting with all kinds of music over the years. Shrink is their fourth album and it's very rich and experimental. Songs switch from quiet and jazzy to electronic to guitarbased. As ever the mood of the album is tense and almost scary. Especially on Chemicals which is also released as a single the tension can be felt thanks to lyrics like: 'Chemicals will knock you down'. Don't know what it's about, but it worries me.
(Big Store/Virgin) [JV]