She's a Dancing Machine


A 6


The Legend of Bird's Hill


Consider The Lilies…

[CleanFeed Records,]



Scotty Hard's Radical Reconstructive Surgery

[Thirsty Ear,]

Working for a Nuclear Free City





[Monotreme Records,]

Holiday For Strings


Ne Plus Ultra


Western Shanghai

[Semprini Records,]


[Rune Grammofon,]


[Malicious Damage Records,]

Gene Packs

[PSF Records,]


[Universal Egg,]


[Dunya / Felmay,]

The point in this lengthy one-banger, all categories encompassing review is to briefly glimpse at the back-log I've recently been faced with. Due to a number of personal and professional commitments, these releases somehow got buried under the rubble [my bed and my drawers and some where possibly "lost" in my car and my basement]. Not to imply any lack of respect for any of these artists, but sometimes, brief is beautiful.
Named after someone close to my own heart, Magda comes out with a full length mix CD. An all encompassing mix of people such as Lordy, Marc Houle, Disco B, Gaiser, Plastikman, Tractile and countless others, she spins records and adds her own particular flavour to the whole party. Loud, raunchy, with oomph to spare, if acid was still cool and rave scene was still the "thing", Magda would be a goddess! Two New Zealanders - guitarist Daniel Beban and percussionist Chris O'Connor - rake it up with style and a certain amount of improvisational restraint. If The Necks rocked it up a notch and if improvisation was actually their main focus, they may have ended up sounding as spacey as this pair. One continuous 40-some-odd minute piece that is marvellous and psyched-out stuff that is definitely worth seeking out! Though I was born thousands of miles away, still a true Canadian at heart, I couldn't be indifferent to a little Canadian content. Manitoba's home-boy Bryce Kushnier and his VitaminsForYou is a project that is one part electronic madness, one part shy folk prankster and one part melodic pop machine. Swirl the mix a little, let it simmer, try not to burn the crust at the edges, and you've got yourself a delicious [though clocking in at 80 minutes - a tad too longish] cake. Can you hear me licking my fingers right now? Yummy!
Recalling his glory days during the "Touchin' On Trane" trio [Gayle/Parker/Ali - who were an absolute powerhouse on stage], "Consider The Lilies…" warms my heart with memories of the past. Sure the personnel has changed - Hilliard Greene on bass and Jay Rosen on drums - but the spirit is still in tact. Considering at forty minutes, this is the shortest recorded Gayle encounter I'd ever heard, his trio packs more explosive punch per minute than anything else I'd heard from him over the last few years. Not only do we get to hear Gayle on ferocious alto soloing, he also plays some nicely laid out piano barrages. An amazing addition to the fire music fostered by the likes of Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp.
Hammer dulcimer has not received the respect it deserves among the contemporary music scene, which is why Dan Joseph's debut "Archaea" is such a welcome sign. This hammer dulcimer player and composer leads six piece ensemble through three extended pieces that glide along the minimal path, while at the same time, retain a certain rich improvisational edge. Harpsichord player Marija Ilic along with string section [violinist Tom Chiu and cellist Loren Dempster] are largely responsible for this never-ending concoction of glistening sound that moves as much as it remains still in one place. Through and through, this is an outstanding release.
Though John Medeski and Matthew Shipp studied together back at the New England Conservatory of Music, their paths strayed miles apart over the next fifteen years. It's only now that with the help of producer Scotty Hard, they've finally come together as a musical partnership. As much as I'd like to be fair to each member of the collective, they end up closer to Martin, Medeski & Wood [or even Praxis] than anything Matthew Shipp has approached. Medeski's signature organ sound overpowers everything in sight, while the rest are relegated to secondary positions. Sure, the rhythm section is tight [William Parker on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums] but the show stealer is DJ Olive, who is heard wrecking turntable havoc throughout. I wonder if someone has thought of getting Medeski and Shipp into the studio for an intimate duo recording. Now, that would be a blast!
British four piece Working For A Nuclear Free City took their name from a peace sign, though they claim they're not tree-huggers as such. Their eponymous debut is a stretch into psychedelic, dance-oriented, melodic rock. As much as they try to turn away from Spaceman 3 / Beach Boys territory, the melodic buzzing guitar force-field seems to pull them back into the realm. Warm record and a stunning way to make themselves be known to the world.
From Hebrew, "Minsarah" translates as prism, which makes perfect sense in terms of the trio aspect of this outfit. Pianist Florian Weber, bassist Jeff Denson and percussionist Ziv Ravitz come together like three pieces of a small puzzle and create music that is rich in colours and meticulously composed and rehearsed. Make no mistake, this is jazz in its conventional mode, with little surprise ahead. Still, the trio's music is full of simple nuances and poetic flavour, which makes it perfect listening in front of a warm fireplace on a cold winter night. Cuban cigar is a mandatory addition to make the experience a rewarding one. San Francisco outfit Lower Forty-Eight is not just a metal/punk band in the loudest sense of that word. They're an outfit that understands the purpose of melody. Each of the ten tracks on their latest "Apertures" release is packed to the brim with tasty morsels of melodic slab. From a lyrical perspective, we've got the same motifs of blood, gore and death, though smartly written from a perspective of someone who is pissed as hell. Some call it dirge metal; some will refer to it as grainy and fun. To me, this band signifies all that is best about bang-your-head intense and noise fest. Fuck metal, let's sing!
Apparently Swedish band Holiday For Strings used to be a shitty band that played bad rock. Then, they fine-tuned their sound and got into atmospherics. Their self-titled debut is an exercise in self-restrained melodic pop that is as guttural as it is inviting. They do seem to get lazy and some piece stretch a bit too long. Imagine a self-contained, slightly processed Feelies on acid and you're almost half-way there. The beauty lies in their approach to the long, drawn out sound. In repetition and a light, nearly dub-like beat, they caress the mind and even tend to touch the soul.
The re-issue of Warne Marsh Quartet's "Ne Plus Ultra" which was recorded back in 1969 is a crucial reminder of the understated power of this saxophonist. Though largely ignored during his lifetime, Marsh's music speaks louder than words. The inclusion of two Lennie Tristano originals ["Lennie's Pennies" and "317 E. 32nd"] is the highlight in the set. Listen to the duelling, laid back soloing between Marsh on tenor and alto sax man Gary Foster. The fifteen minute "Touch and Go" [the only track where all four members of the quartet get writing credits] is a scene stealer as well. Oftentimes, the band alternates between the cool jazz sounds and then move right along into more dangerous, stark waters of improvisation. "Ne Plus Ultra" is not just a great record but an absolute necessity in any serious jazz collector's library.
All of this brings us back to Montreal, where we meet up with Call Me Poupée. Made up of guitarist/keyboardist and electronics guru Ken Fortrel and Poupee on guitars and vocals, this band really knows how to kick it up in a kitschy style on their debut "Western Shanghai". Imagine a raunchy version of Gainsbourg [except Poupee's vocals are sweeter and sultry like Mitsou] done in a rockabilly Cramps fashion and you'll just about picture this band in your mind. Musically, a very fun experience though not a lasting one. Like bubble gum, you can only chew so much before the taste is all sucked out and you can't make bubbles any more.
Moving away from Montreal, we reach Norway, where drummer Thomas Strřnen [Food] and keyboardist Stĺle Storlřkken [Supersilent] have just released their second album going under the weird name "Hornswoggle". The duo named simply Humcrush move into a number of directions all at once. This is where the confusion sets in as you're left with a blank slate. Is the duo pursuing improvised sounds or are they simply trying to rock out in a proper sense of that word? Album's most exciting moments come when Strřnen juggles things up with his sparkling electronics work. Somehow, at the end of the set, the duo's jagged concoction of music fails to leave a significant mark in my mind. Just maybe, they were trying to hard?
Shriekback's tenth album [has it really been that many already?!] "Cormorant" is a strange concoction of the wondrous, ominous, lyrically perceptive vision of today's landscape. Vocalist / lyricist Barry Andrews still retains the same angry, grind-your-teeth vocal sound, while musically the band moves onward, albeit in a more tender fashion [this may be caused by the passing of Andrew's dad, to whom the record is dedicated]. Everything from dub ["The Strongest Bird that Blows"], middle-eastern electronic mix ["Reason with the Beast"], to the lovely ambient / world passage "Il Mystera Del Tempo". I suspect this was a personal voyage of self-discovery for the whole band.
"Gene Packs" is the first release by a duo that has played around Japan for the last number of years. Vocalist, hichiriki and loops-master Hirotomo Hasegawa along with bassist, one string and loops master Shizuo Uchida have performed with bands such as Aburadako and Nijiumu. Together, through the duration of three extended pieces, they concentrate on setting a mood, rather than simply playing for the sake of playing. Hichiriki has a dark upper-register sound that reverberates throughout, while Uchida's bass is prominent, though never taking forefront. Together, their brand of mood-inducing music is cleanly executed, played with much harshness and tender all in one go. This is stuff that moves and develops slowly, allowing the listener to guess the outcome of a movement, without revealing the shroud hanging over the proceedings. A masterpiece of tribal proportions straight from Japan's underground into your earpiece.
Featuring a who's who of some of the best dub vocalists, Abassi All Stars break it big with their full length debut "Showcase". Hard-hitting dub-wise beats, combined with socially conscious lyrics are featured on fourteen tracks [along with a CD-Rom video]. Everyone from Earl 16, Sis Sanae, Junior Kigwa, Luciano, Fitta Warri, Dubdadda to Kenny Knots share their vocal prowess with the band. Trombone player Sebastian "Bigga" Harzmann and trumpeter David Fullwood have some truly wicked moments as their wind blasts are heard up front on each and every track. Guitarist Selim "Miles" Humbaraci plays it cool, while Neil Perch [who produced the whole session] on keyboards, bass and drums gives us that deep, deep bass we all crave. Personal highlight for me is Sis Sanae's rough vocalizing heard on two stand-out tracks "Suffering" and "Free Jah Children". Smooth, rock-steady rhythms wrapped up in monstrous beats and ass-shaking wobble factor. It just doesn't get any better than this!
Italian melodeon player Riccardo Tesi joins powers with saxophonist Claudio Carboni to produce one of the loveliest mountain region records I'd heard this year. Imagine a Celtic music sang in Italian with a nice horn section and a robust rhythm section, coupled with a leg-moving sense of dance. This ensemble means business. Whether they're rising up a storm with a mid-tempo waltz or kidnapping their audience with a glorious polka, it's all good. Highlight of the record [which showcases traditional music from mountain region of Italy] are the corralling and warm vocals from Ginevra Di Marco. Check her out on the tear-wrenching ballad "La Pesca dell'Anello". Coupled with Nico Gori's bass clarinet, Ginevra's vocals are honey in your mouth. Sweet like nothing you've ever heard before. "Crinali" is a perfect record for those times when you have to raise your pint glasses in an occasional rowdy cheer.

- Tom Sekowski

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+ Freestyle Candies 2
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+ Peter Brotzmann/Hamid Drake - The Dried Rat-Dog / Billy Bang/Denis Charles - Bangception. Willisau 1982 / Matthew Shipp Duo with Roscoe Mitchell - 2-Z / Max Roach/Anthony Braxton - One In Two, Two In One
+ Tree People - Tree People
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+ Sabine Vogel - Aus dem Fotoalbum eines Pinguins
+ Ferran Fages/Will Guthrie - Cinabri
+ Howlin' Ghost Proletarians - The Singer

- - - - - - - - -

+ JANEK SCHAEFER - In The Last Hour
+ IMMUNE - Sound Inside
+ ELLIOTT SHARP - Sharp? Monk? Sharp! Monk!
+ ALEXANDER TUCKER - Furrowed Brow
+ sunnO))) & BORIS - Altar
+ NEW LOUSADZAK - Human Songs
+ VARIOUS ARTISTS - Beyond Istanbul - Underground Grooves of Turkey / VARIOUS ARTISTS - Shtetl Super Stars - Funky Jewish Sounds From Around The World
+ GILBERT HOLMSTROM - A Celebration of 50 Years in Jazz
+ BARZIN - My Life In Rooms
+ ASTROPHAGUS - Casualties
+ THE BAD HAND - This is No Time for Modesty
>> MAGDA - She's a Dancing Machine / DOCTOR QUIRKEY'S GOODTIME EMPORIUM BAND - A 6 / VITAMINSFORYOU - The Legend of Bird's Hill / CHARLES GAYLE - Consider The Lilies… / DAN JOSEPH ENSEMBLE - Archaea / JOHN MEDESKI, MATTHEW SHIPP - Scotty Hard's Radical Reconstructive Surgery / WORKING FOR A NUCLEAR FREE CITY - Working for a Nuclear Free City / FLORIAN WEBER / JEFF DENSON / ZIV RAVITZ - Minsarah / LOWER FORTY-EIGHT - Apertures / HOLIDAY FOR STRINGS - Holiday For Strings / WARNE MARSH QUARTET - Ne Plus Ultra / CALL ME POUPEE - Western Shanghai / HUMCRUSH - Hornswoggle / SHRIEKBACK - Cormorant / HASEGAWA-SHIZUO - Gene Packs / ABASSI ALL STARS - Showcase / RICCARDO TESI - CLAUDIO CARBONI - Crinali
+ HERESI - Psalm II / KHLYST - Chaos is my Name
+ OLIVER LAKE QUARTET - Live / TRIO 3 - Time Being
+ TOM DJLL - Bellerophone - Smudge - Mutootator
+ BROADCAST - The Future Crayon
+ FOREST JACKSON - Cymbalism

- - - - - - - - -


+ Avant Festival - relacja z festiwalu w gdańskim Żaku (29-30.10.2006)
+ Soulful groove music - rozmowa ze Splankiem (Zombie Nation)
+ Too much beats - rozmowa z Marco Haas'em alias T. Raumschmiere
+ Lawina dźwięków - wywiad z Bartoszem Słatyńskim, Tomaszem Gołuchowskim i Michałem Gołuchowskim (Avalanche)