Friday, April 11, 2014

DeeperNET - "One" CD

Top-shelf electronica

Portland, Oregon-based sound designer Andrew Miles here presents his debut release, as DeeperNET, and it's a well-done mix of trance techno and ambient electronica. Opening with the 9-minute deep goa pulses of "Elementary Particles", the psy-trance elements of "Mind At Large" even harbor some industrial elements alongside the steady 4/4 beats and celestial sequences.

"The Eagle Has Landed" is a nearly 9-minute techno-goa beast, while "Tiny Paper Squares" is another insistent rhythmic pulse, with percolating analogue sequences and intricate programming. "Moksha" opens with a lovely deep-space ambiance, and "Neptune" is darkened black light electro that would fit perfectly well on a club floor sandwiched between Front Line Assembly and some hypnotic trance thumper.

"One" is a perfectly realized album of extended deep club cuts that don't approach any outward commerciality, thankfully. Miles' powerful and clean electro-trance is dark, edgy, and more than enjoyable to these (usually) jaded ears.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Beer: Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus Bock

HACKER-PSCHORR HUBERTUS BOCK (Munich, Germany) - 4.25 (exceptional)

This exquisite and limited German brew pours a fairly light golden-amber in my Hacker-Pschorr stein. Head of carbonation is substantial and lace is lovely and detailed.

Aroma is toasty grains, with a tinge of caramel and bread. Maybe a bit of citrus in there, too. Definitely appealing.

Flavor is more of the same -- toasty bread, yeast, and caramel malts. A hint of hoppy citrus arrives just around the finish, making this a delightful and well-rounded brew. Superb and well worth finding.

As well, be on the lookout for other limited seasonal brews for US distribution from Hacker-Pschorr: May 2014 will bring Sternweisse (an amber-hued wheat beer), July 2014 brings Festbier (a golden lager), and coming in November is Animator (a heavy doppelbock).

Many thanx to Charles Stanley at Paulaner HP USA for the sample, info, and swag! Prost!

Monday, March 24, 2014

"All The Labor" DVD (director: Doug Hawes-Davis)

Gourd bless...

This feature-length documentary on Austin, TX-based roots/Americana band the Gourds serves as an audio-visual love letter to the band. As well, it's a perfect introduction to a band that's survived nearly 20 years and released armfuls of albums, yet has never made it to that "next level". I'm almost embarrassed to mention that I'd never heard this group before, either.

Recorded at home and on stage with the band, "All The Labor" shows the obvious love these guys have for each other and the music itself. Despite a feverish (yet small) fan base, these guys continue on without much promise of "the big payoff". Love of the music is their drive, and that's certainly admirable and noble. So what's it like? Imagine Americana, with a sense of humor and an almost jam-band like predilection for extended improv, and you're close. The Gourds are great showmen, and project energy, charisma, and passion as well or better than so-called "national" touring acts I've seen. 

"All The Labour" is well-filmed, inspiring, and an enlightened portrait of a band with their hearts in the music. Worth a look, for sure.

Gourds dot com

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lou Reed - "Tribute" 3xDVD box set

Shameless cash-in, some worthy info

Another opportunistic repackaging from Pride DVD, this set includes 3 previously-released (unlicensed) documentaries featuring Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. With Lou's passing making recent headlines all over the world, this re-release, however worthy, is still rather shamefully mercenary.

The first DVD, "Punk Revolution NYC", focuses on the 1966-1974 New York proto-punk scene -- The Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, and CBGB's feature most prominently. Also discussed are Television, Suicide, Wayne County, Blondie, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, and Andy Warhol's influence on the scene. Many of the original artists are interviewed, alongside the usual critics and journalists. This 87-minute film includes a great many historic videos and photos, and with the insights of the artists' themselves, it all makes for a superb portrait.

The next disc is "The Sacred Triangle: Bowie, Iggy & Lou 1971-1973", examining the personal and artistic symbiosis that went on between these rock legends in that era. I've already reviewed this release, on it's own, back in 2010:

Finally, the remaining DVD in the set is "The Velvet Underground: Under Review". This one covers the band's entire existence and all major releases, and features archival interviews with most VU members and colleagues, as well as Andy Warhol, historians, journalists, and even fans like Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna). With plenty of live footage and photos, this is probably the closest we'll ever get to a comprehensive documentary on the Velvet Underground and their legacy.

So despite serious fans likely already having these volumes, "Tribute" does include some worthwhile material, and could be a good bargain for those who didn't already purchase  these DVDs individually.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bells Into Machines promo teaser

Classic Wax Trax! fans rejoice -- for coming soon, Bells Into Machines will be releasing their double-CD debut. What's Bells Into Machines? Gentleman Chris Connelly fronts the band, alongside old mates Paul Barker (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Lead Into Gold, etc.), Lee Popa (Pigface), and others.

Check this video promo sampling several cuts, and visit their websites:

BIM dot com


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rational Youth - "Live 1983" 2xCD

Synthpop resuscitation

Rescued from cassette oblivion by electro-industrial label ArtOfFact and Rational Youth synth keyboardist Kevin Komoda, this double-set captures the Canadian synthpop pioneers at the height of their powers, in 2 shows from Winnipeg and Ottawa.

The first disc is the Winnipeg set, and it contains 15 tracks of electro-pop that's as well-done as anything out there of it's era. Having no previous experience with this influential group (shame on me), I hear pretty much what I'd expect --  synths, live drums and guitars, and sensitive, melodic vocals. Regional hits like "Dancing On The Berlin Wall" or "Holidays In Bangkok" sound crisp and clean, and as with all of this disc, it's of a superb recording quality. 

The second disc is "Live In Ottawa", and though it features a similar set as the Winnipeg disc, it's also a superb archival recording, somewhere between audience bootleg and soundboard quality. 

Rational Youth's music is best compared to their peers, Vancouver synthpop darlings Images In Vogue (who gained notoriety for opening a show for Duran Duran and for giving Kevin Crompton a boost towards his Skinny Puppy future). Sadly, Rational Youth never achieved the status of notoriety of IIV, and they remain but a footnote in Canadian pop music history. For fans, this is a must-hear set, and for unfamiliar listeners like myself, it's a good education.

Klaus Schulze & Lisa Gerrard - "Big In Europe 2009 Vol. 1 - Warsaw" 2xDVD+CD

Wonderful live collaboration from 2 legends

This live document of electronic pioneer Klaus Schulze features his sometime-collaborator Lisa Gerrard (she of Dead Can Dance and soundtrack fame), and it's a wonderful combination of Schulze's cinematic textures and Gerrard's evocative, ethereal vocal stylings.

Opening with the Schulze's moody, string-laden "Voices Of Weilun", and continuing into the uplifting, aerial textures of "Kampania Wrzesniowa", Gerrard joins in for the 28-minute "Selbsterkennede Ganzwerdung", where she takes the forefront among Schulze's ambient sounds and synth percolations. "A La Recherche Du Printemps Perdu" again showcases Schulze's classic Berlin-style sequencer work, before Gerrard rejoins for the solemn 10-minute closer, "The Da Varsaw Code".

The first DVD is simply a pro-shot video of the same concert, recorded during the duo's 2009 European tour in Warsaw. It's a well-done video capture, and shows the pair's brilliance in their respective fields -- Schulze the synth pioneer and analogue wizard, and Gerrard's unearthly, mystical, glossolalia. Together, they blend their respective talents into a cosmic ambiance that could only come from these pioneers.

DVD2 is "A Moogumentary", produced and directed by James L. Franchon, (the same videographer as the concert). But rather than being a documentary about the Moog synthesizer itself (as I somehow expected initially), this is a look behind the scenes of this unique concert, and we get to meet the forces behind the show, from Schulze's road crew to the concert organizers. In-between, interviews with both Schulze and Gerrard give insights into their collaborations. It's 50 minutes of fascinating visuals and sounds, and a perfect nightcap for viewing after the show.

My only complaint is the awful, bootleg-looking cover design. What's up with all that big, intrusive, off-balance lettering? That aside, "Big In Europe Vol. 1" is a lovely, warm and inviting set of Schulze's famous electronic textures with Gerrard's unmistakably unique voice.