Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Loved One - "...... Further Observations" CD

Recorded way back from 1979 to 1982, this selection of early electronic weird-alien pop is tweaky enough to appeal to fans of stuff like early Cabaret Voltaire or Fad Gadget. Ashamedly, I'd never heard this act, though they made appearances on the relatively influential compilation "Some Bizarre Album" and Third Mind Records' "Life At The Top" LP. Consisting of Dryden Hawkins and Zeb Yek, two fellows seemingly from London, The Loved One's music is balanced between accessable electronic pop and avante soundscapes. Some tracks, with vocals, would fit well alongside early work from the Legendary Pink Dots or Chrome, while the artier, strange-noise pieces assert an almost proto-industrial soundtrack direction. Combined, "Further Observations" has aged really well, despite the technological advances in recording and electronic gear. It sounds as relevant as any electronic music today, and these thick analogue rumblings are strangely compelling and quite listenable. "The Depressionists" is a morose and affected critique of po-faced artist types, showing that Hawkins and Yek had a fine sense of humor, too. A highly enjoyable recording, and one that definitely deserves more attention, even if it is 27 years later! (Metaphon)

Loved Onespace

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jóhann Jóhannsson - "And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees" CD

Known as much for his production work (Barry Adamson, Pan Sonic, Marc Almond)and for his band (Apparat Organ Quartet), Icelandic composer Jóhannsson here has crafted a gorgeous modern classical score. Using the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra to realize these pieces, the sound is deep, crystalline, and definitely not your grandparents' classical music. The opening "Theme" is a wispy and hopeful string composition, with a slight air of mystery. The seagulls and thunderclaps at the end bring a peaceful close. "City Building" seems to enter more dangerous environs, with shadowy undercurrents and a minimal chorus of voice, piano, and violins, all gelling into a dramatic yet subtle conclusion. But it's not all traditional, either. Among Jóhannsson 's strengths are his incorporation of nontraditional sounds to these structured pieces. "Rainwater" uses effected field recordings to add an element of grit to an otherwise simple piece of music. "Pods" utilizes deep, cavernous reverberations to add menace to the piano/strings. And "Escape" has an air of tension in it's drones. "End (Snowing)" is an aptly-titled 6+ minutes of stunning piano and strings, with a chilly arctic air -- perhaps the finest song here. It's this modern sound-sculpting that brings Jóhannsson's compositions into more avante garde territories, all the while remaining accessible and quite lovely. This beautiful set of songs is quite limited, so act now or pay collectors' prices later. (NTOV Iceland)

Jóhann Jóhannsson site

Dessau - "The Truth Hurts" CD

It's been a long road for Nashville-based industrial rock act Dessau. Centered around programmer/vocalist John Elliott, Dessau saw relative success in the form of actual MTV airplay and a club hit with 1990's "Isolation". Elliott worked alongside such genre heavyweights as Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker of Ministry, as well as famed Joy Division producer Martin Hannett, among many others. And, truth be told, these co-conspirators are a good way to describe the overall sound of Dessau. "The Truth Hurts" isn't so much a new album (the last one of those for Dessau was 1995), but a collection of unreleased sessions, alternate mixes, early vinyl cuts, and a pair of live Joy Division covers. In short, a treasure trove for fans, and a superb intro for the uninitiated. Dessau's work here moves from the brooding cover of Ministry's early synthpop gem "Revenge" (here amped up and ready to fight), to the boldly anthemic (yet catchy) "Sun", to the dubby trip-hop instrumental "Chalkline", which boasts of production by Chicago's Die Warzau team. It's hard and heavy all the way on "The Truth Hurts", with good hooks, as in the concussion-inducing dance rock leviathan, "Beijing", presented here in an unreleased mix/version. The earlier material (recorded circa 1985) is a little less angry, and more melodic, as evidenced by tracks like the almost new-wavey "Crutch Of Utility". All-in-all, a uniformly consistent collection, and hopefully a harbinger of new material for Elliott and Dessau. (WTII Records)

Godsend Interview with Dessau, 1995

Dessau Discography @ Godsend