Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dean De Benedictis - “Salvaging The Present” CD

Inventive surrealist sound

Veteran composer De Benedictis has been around for some time, and “Salvaging The Present” is a unique melding of elements from various musical streams, gelled into an immersive and uniquely inventive and personal mix that would easily function as a soundtrack to a playful surrealist film.

Opening with the curious “To The Ends Of Elation”, which joins elements of prog-rock with immersive ambiance, De Benedictis brings together unusual and often disparate elements into his hallucinogenic sound stew. “Micro Souls Anthem” has a similarly upbeat and lively vibe with nicely deep mixing. “Pagoda Tiempo” uses a sampled and effected slice of dramatic orchestral strings before drifting into a more celestial ambience. Just beautiful and so very effective. “Never The Sacred Stretch” could easily function as an electronic soundtrack to a surreal interpretation of “Alice In Wonderland”. “The Purity Of Season 279E” brings to mind a rolling Western desert landscape, somehow, whereas “Whisper County” is a gentle reverberation from times past, as remembered from a wooden porch and a rocking chair. “Regret In G (The Sky Remembers)” closes it out with a drifty, almost shoegazey haze. 

De Benedictis isn’t afraid to cross genre boundaries, and calling this an “ambient” album is a disservice. Aspects are there, but “Salvaging The Present” is a modern electronic music journey that doesn’t have limits or boundaries. It’s a journey that I’ll want to make again.


En Esch - “Spank!” CD

Cool electro-rock from former KMFDM wildman

The enigmatic former co-frontman for KMFDM and Pigface here releases his second true solo album, and it’s a solid, enjoyable electro-rock album that falls right in line with his past work, with elements of hard rock and metal as well as clubby dance elements.

Opening with the club-metal of “12345” (which features a guest appearance from Tim Skold), the album heads into the anthemic “Hard On”, which would fit well on any KMFDM album. “Give The People What They Want” recalls Esch’s 1993 solo album, “Cheesy”, with a groovy electro-funk grunge sound. “Soul To Steal” is a trance-electronica cut that brings the exotic vocals of Trixie Reiss to the forefront. Further cuts bring present En Esch’s sense of humor (as in the silly interlude “I Hop”) before diving back into his aggressive rock-dance melding (the menacing “No Guts No Glory”). En Esch has retained the sound(s) that made him famous so many years ago, as well as kept the sense of experimentation that seems to have left Sascha’s KMFDM a long time ago. As much as I hate comparing En Esch’s work 20 years later to his formative act, the link is still there, and En Esch does it as well or, in many cases, better. 


Sunday, January 8, 2017

John Gregorius - “Still Voice” CD

Wonderful ambient guitar pop

Veteran guitar player and producer Gregorius has found his niche with this collection of melodic, ambient guitar works that generates a warm and pastoral existence, uncluttered by trends or genre. The opener, “Grounded In Mystery” is simply a beautiful and gentle wisp of soft harmonics and fleeting guitar. 

Gregorius’s songs are essentially heart-lifting soundtracks to films that don’t (yet) exist. His soft guitar melodies are placed simply atop beds of electronics and processed guitar, crafting an instrumental pillow of dreamily introspective ambient “pop”. “Benevolence” picks up a wafting rhythm, but remains a positive and reflective tone. “True Self” brings an almost droning post-rock, shoegaze vibe and works amazingly well. 

“Still Voice” is a lovely, heartfelt, and emotive album of gentle ambient guitar compositions that I very much appreciate after too much angry noise and cluttered sounds. It’s the perfect album to wind down to, and Gregarius is a highly skilled composer who I’d love to hear more from. Bravo!



Nick Cave - “Maximum Nick Cave” CD

Shady audio biography, not music...

This unauthorized “CD-Audio-Biog” is basically a rather dated 55-minute narrated history of Cave’s career up until 2005 or so. There are several interview audio clips, with Cave himself here, but overall, this CD is a rather thin and unnecessary document that seems aimed at fooling Cave fans into unwitting/unwilling purchase.

The rather basic biography of Cave’s history is spoken by Sian Jones, whose voice recalls a British newscaster, and incidental music by Amanda Thompson are only slightly interesting. Jones’ gross mispronunciation of Einsturzende Neubauten is pretty awful, and this package’s lasting impact and replayability are quite limited.

Serious Nick Cave fans — pick this up only at a drastic discount, as there’s very little here to learn about the legendary songwriter and frontman.