Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Wicked Lake" (director: Zach Passero)

Hmm. So I keep trying to think of something good to say about this no-budget sleaze/horror flick by Texan director Passero. It's made notable due to the inclusion of a 'score' arranged by Alien Jourgensen. And the man hisself appears in it, albeit briefly. But even THAT I can complain about. It's not so much a soundtrack as a sampler of Jourgensen's 13th Planet songs - album cuts from Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Prong, Ascension Of The Watchers, etc. Ah well. The film? Well, it's a tale centered around a quartet of lovely (and often naked) college girls who give a backward hick-town (and it's nasty, predatory men) more than they bargained for. It's bloody, mean, crude, and really pretty poorly scripted. The titillation is mild and pedestrian, even cold. The characters are unlikeable and undeveloped. The acting is often choppy and over the top, and the blood is, well, the strong point of 'Wicked Lake'. Not a film for discriminating horror fans, and probably only of interest due to the Ministry/Revco connection. Nah.

Wicked Lake flash site

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Olafur Arnalds - "Variations Of Static" CDEP

With just his second release, Icelandic composer Arnalds creates a vibrant and intimately beautiful set of 5 instrumental tunes that combine the austere classical melancholy of Arvo Part with the modern sounds of glitchy electronica (think Autechre or Aphex Twin). It's an incredible (and all too-short) collection, embracing rich and sonorous strings, bittersweet piano, and, on occasion, looping yet subtle textural manipulations. The first track, "Fok", marries some minimal booms and skitters to the sensitive string/piano foundation, and "Lokaðu Augunum" is a stunning treat in the ambient tradition of Stars Of The Lid. As a complete work, this 21+ minute release flows effortlessly, ripe with emotion and delicacy. 'Variations Of Static' is a mature, thoughtful, rich, and stylish set of warmly evocative music that shows Olafur has quite a future if he can keep up this kind of quality. That's a full-on recommendation. (Erased Tapes)

Olafur's personal site

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pan American - "White Bird Release" CD

Mark Nelson (formerly of Labradford)'s 6th album as Pan American is a superlative and evocative set of dense, moody, and atmospheric proto-ambient soundtracks. And with the addition of drums, vibraphone, and bass to some tracks, the approach seems to lend an almost 'band' feel in spots. The opener, 'there can be no thought of finishing', is an ambient glacier of tones and shoegazey-distant vox. 'for aiming at the stars' brings on a dubby bass rhythm to accompany the Fripp-ish guitar textures. 'both literally and figuratively' continues the lonely, natural travelogue with wide-open vistas of blurred guitars, bass, and drums - and accented by whispery vocals. This is perhaps the closest Nelson's Pan American project has come to making 'pop' music in the broad sense. 'how much progress one makes' harkens back to Pan American's earlier works - a submerged minimal electronic pulse that seems like an underwater approximation. The closer, 'in a letter to H.G. Wells, 1932', is a gentle drone that eventually builds itself up to the point of being a cacophony of electronic static. If Pan American seeks to paint expansive visuals in sound form, then 'White Bird Release' is unequivocally a success, conjuring a sense of nature with a hint (or warning) of something bigger than us. This is some truly beautiful music that follows no formulas, yet ends up affirming what is really important about life - the journey. (Kranky)

Pan American info@kranky

Labradford site