[ESTWeb Home Page] [Music Reviews Index]

Everything reviewed below should be available from decent UK record shops, unless otherwise noted. Contact us if you have any difficulty finding something, and we'll try to track it down. Where the label is given as the primary source of availability, it is quite possible that at least one of the large mail-order distributors may also stock it: Ultima Thule, Empty Quarter, RRRecords, Odd Size and Artware Audio all carry a wide range of material, for example. If distributors are listed, these are only examples, and several others will probably stock it too. Anything sent for review will be reviewed! Only the format an item was reviewed on is normally listed (unless others are known) - some items may be available on other formats. Reviews are by Brian Duguid, except: [MG] Marc Gascoigne & [MFR] Matthew Riley.


Arcane Device / P.G.R.

Fetish CD (Silent Records SR 9009) 52 minutes

This release presents one long composition by David Myers of Arcane Device, and four shorter ones by Kim Cascone's Poison Gas Research. Arcane Device's piece uses only rhythmically repeated short and sustained long feedback tones, but contains a remarkable amount of variety all the same. It's something like an inexplicable alien communication, vibrations, static and resonances with no conventional meaning but still an ability to transmit feelings. A sort of sonic body language, gestures and positions that you understand only unconsciously. P.G.R. attempts something similar with the use of a sampler and various sound effects, creating slow, billowing, quietly droning clouds of ominous sounding vapour. Ambient music with a paranoid aura that can't help but leave you feeling uneasy. It's soft and minimal enough to remind me of some of the more extreme American minimalist composers like La Monte Young, and suffers the same problem of potentially inducing boredom in a listener who doesn't come to it with the right attitude. [Available from Silent Records; or try RRRecords]

Armageddon Dildos

Never Mind / Pressure 12" (Zoth Ommog ZOT14)

Intimidating fellows these two, by the look of the photograph on the front cover: dark glasses, shaven heads, arms crossed, muscles bunched, bare torsoes, black leather ... A little cliched perhaps? Unfortunately, what matters most, the music, is far from challenging, and pretty embarrassing when experienced outside the nightclub environment.

Vocalist and lyricist Uwe "Rex Dildo" Kanka (?!!) is perhaps the weak factor in these songs. His lyrics are straightforward and his delivery is poor. His voice is too weak, especially for all the grunting that forms a large part of each song! This, plus the lack of a really hard, mean bassline doesn't make for a memorable release. A club DJ should be able to produce something worth stomping to! [MFR]

Autopsia

Death is the Mother of Beauty CD (Staalplaat STCD 004) 32 minutes

There must be something about Yugoslavia that produces groups like this. As I write, Serbian troops are attacking the Croatian town of Zagreb on my television, and this is, unfortunately, the perfect soundtrack. As far as I know, Autopsia are Slovenians. Background ambience is provided by sampled bass voices, creating a feeling both distinctively Eastern European and very ominous. The music itself consists of militaristic brass, strings and percussion, all created, I believe, with samplers. Bits of Orff appear in there somewhere, for example. It's far more reminiscent stylistically of a 19th century war, but it's still not what I need to hear right now. A masterpiece of appropriate timing. (The music's excellent too!) [Available from Staalplaat]

The Black Eg

The Black Eg LP/CD (Creation CRELP 086)

The ludicrous sleevenotes suggest that this record is the work of a globetrotting Czech expatriot, but in fact the pseudonym hides the far more mundane Jazz Butcher, more 'famous' in the past for ramshackle indiepop jangles like 'Southern Mark Smith' than sample-heavy hardbeat. The man's intentions in recording - and releasing - this record are far from clear. The music is entirely competent, and uses some interesting samples, but it is almost totally lacking in any kind of spark (even humour) that would set it apart from the dozens of equally uninspiring bands who do this kind of thing for real. The recording quality is very poor, suggesting a four-track demo rather than a fully realised work. Ultimately, it is all just very dull. [MG]

Brume

No-Body CD (La Legende des Voix LDV 004) 19 minutes

This is decidedly strange stuff. Squittering bursts of noise, voice and cut-up sounds ripple out of the loudspeakers, electronics, tapes, horns, metal and the like in strangely juxtaposed shapes and sizes. It's hard to pin down - it draws on various musical traditions, ranging from industrial music to musique concrete, to create it's own highly peculiar brand of super-real sound. Most people will find the structure too arbitrary, or the sounds too unconventional. I certainly did. However, if you have an open mind and a love of the bizarre, you may well go for this in a big way. [Available from La Legende des Voix, c.o. Lacasa E., 21 rue de 8 Mai 1945, 37270 Montlouis, FRANCE]

Harold Budd

By the Dawn's Early Light LP/CD (Opal/WEA 926649)

The latest instalment of Budd's 'lovely music' sees him fully embrace the wide open vistas of the old west in a way he has not done since the early 80s. Helping him on his journey is a full band, including Bill Nelson and - most importantly - steel guitarist B.J. Cole. In the past Budd has worked more or less solo, but the extra musicians add less than one would have thought. Budd's arrangements, dealing as they do with texture and tones rather than noticeable components such as melody and structure, have always been deceptively complex; Nelson, Cole and co. have instead added different textures to those Budd would have. As always, though, it is his treated piano or synth lines which are central to each piece, drifting in a heat-haze blur amidst the general accompaniment. Points must be knocked off for the inclusion of several of Budd's poems; they are nice, with everything that dreaded word conveys, but anything but essential. The other twelve tracks, however, are as gorgeous as anything Budd has produced. [MG]

Cabaret Voltaire

Percussion Force mini-LP/CD (Crepuscule TWI 951)

Wherein the Cabs reveal yet again just how overtaken by events they have become. Compared to the stark mindwipe techno of LFO and Nightmares On Wax, this anonymous selection of aimless semi-tunes is distinctly limp. What irritates even more is the knowledge that Richard Kirk's work with Sweet Exorcist and Xon has been at the vanguard of both the electronic avant garde and dance music for the last year or so. All of these six tracks start, grumble on with a faked complexity for a while, then fade from the memory without ever having touched it. They are so bland they leave no impression on me whatsoever. Ultimately music like this gives the truly exciting developments in techno dance music a bad name. (There are 4 extra tracks on the CD version, but who cares?) [MG]

Can

Unlimited Edition CD (Spoon/Mute SPOONCD 23/24)

Everyone interested in any form of innovative music should own something by Can, and thanks to Spoon and Mute's commendable reissue program this can be the case. The latest release is of a collection of studio outtakes first issued as Limited Edition in 1974 and reissued with many extra tracks as a renamed double album in 1976. All of Can's music stemmed from studio improvisation captured by the ever-rolling tapes, which means that the tracks here are as good as anything on more coherently compiled releases. The nineteen tracks encompass the band's entire career from 1968 to 1975, lasting between a minute and almost nineteen minutes, and covering a gamut of styles. There are four excerpts from the wonderful EFS (Ethnological Forgery Series), including a sublime gamelan; there are searing guitar workouts, rippling mutant jazz interludes, mind-scrambling rock pieces and all manner of styles between. True beginners should start with Tago Mago, but enthusiasts will not need any urging to rush out to obtain this collection. [MG]

Coil

The Snow mini-LP/CD (Torso 12180)

Five fairly radical remixes of the Love's Secret Domain track, including two by Jack (Meat Beat) Dangers, plus the long mix from the CD version of the album. Jack's mixes are naturally the hardest and closest to current techno styles. Others are more delicate constructions, allowing the mournful vocal samples to add an appropriately cold feel. This is a minor release by any standards, but well executed. [MG]

Controlled Bleeding

Hog Floor LP/CD (Subterranean SUB 67) & Plegm Bag Spattered CD (Dark Vinyl DV 02)

As the world finally catches up with Controlled Bleeding, so the demand for earlier, out-of-print releases and unreleased items hots up. These two collections showcase the 'before' and 'after' sides of the bands' neo-Gothic style. Plegm Bag Spattered (sic) collects six horrifically long slabs of untitled noise, mostly from the sessions for 1983's thankfully long-deleted Knees & Bones. Scraping, grinding, screaming, mutilating, and for the most part pointless noise. Most of it is very badly recorded, and it all seems to last several lifetimes. Hog Floor, by comparison, shows a far more coherent side of the story, presenting remixes and unreleased tracks from 83-88. The opener Dying/Reliving, intelligently remixed from the aforementioned Knees & Bones, shows what really can be achieved using pure noise in a constructive way. By side 2, the gentler, more operatic style that typified their middle period comes to the fore. More than worthwhile for CB fans and intrigued parties, but Gag ((reviewed last issue)) is a better compilation than either of these releases. [Hog Floor available from Subterranean, P.O. Box 2530, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA] [MG]

Dark Enigma

Revelation cassette only (IRRE-Tapes IT054) C46

Dark Enigma is Mitch Rushton from Birmingham and a variety of synths. This album contains six tracks of electronic music. The first is different in style to the rest, with drifting, low windy sounds, a quiet and unintrusive soundscape. Gurglings and restrained knockings join the proceedings. It reminds me most of Alto Stratus, or perhaps a quiet and unfocussed Soviet France. It's too restrained and lacking in development to be at all memorable however. My favourite effort, The Heart of Matter, is a spacier and more interesting piece, drawing on seventies "cosmic" music for its dated abstract electric and electronic sounds. The other pieces combine more rhythmic and structured sequencers and effects. Although a bit more together, they're also a bit more cliched in terms of style. They certainly manage to combine their amiable synths with a few nice background textures. Overall, the tape will be of most interest to fans of so-called cosmic music, who will probably find some passages very attractive indeed. It's not at all bad, but suffers a little from the lack of structure and purpose in some of the tracks. [Available from IRRE-Tapes]

Delerium

Stone Tower LP/CD (Dossier Records D9024)

This is grand! Those Frontline Assembly lads, Leeb and Fulber, certainly know when they've discovered a musical formula, and they know how to explore that formula to the full. Delerium produce darkly gothic electronic textures, augmented occasionally by digitalised drum patterns that never threaten to swamp the highly atmospheric environments that are the trademark of this particular alter-ego.

The formula employed is incredibly effective: commencing with long, swirling, notes, merging with sampled bells, detailed keyboard programs, infrequent snatches of found voices and Eastern / Arabic chants. Then, just when you think the track should be coming to a close, in come the regimental marching drums, sampled violins and string sections. In a split-second, the grandiosity of the track is doubled.

This is Delerium's fourth long-player, and whilst providing an interesting alternative to the electro-thrash of F.L.A., and the surrealist works of Noise Unit, this release isn't really a step forward from Syrophenikan, Morpheus and Faces, Forms and Illusions. This is no bad thing. Often classical in nature, and reminiscent of Coil's Hellraiser Themes, this is highly recommended and should be experienced. [MFR]

Delta-12n

Volatile 12" (Hangman HGN 60)

From the label that brought you the very enjoyable Naked Raygun / Ministry team-up The House of God comes a further three-track blast of wired and warped technoslam. The two mixes of Volatile twist a blurred set of drug-related sampled voices over strangely funky horns and dubbed-up percussion. Feel Safe, meanwhile, runs more sampled voices and guitars over a peculiar abstract vocal loop to nicely disorientating effect. [MG]

Discipline / Sebastian Gandera

Schizophrenic Dreams cassette only (Mind Scan)

This is a split cassette containing a variety of songs by both groups. Discipline offer up music in the vein of early Clock DVA or Portion Control, mixing in vigorous rhythms, occasionally tribal percussion, metal clankings, menacing drones, plenty of echo effects, upfront pulsations of energy and bog-standard singing. It's actually quite well done, certainly as well as many of the early eighties bands managed, and if you're into those sort of people this may well be worth investigating. Gandera is quite different, using a variety of synthetic, repetitive musical phrases to create something peculiar and Gallic, including looped snippets of voice, piano-like keyboards and the like. All of this stuff cycles round and round like a delightful little accordion-playing Bruce Gilbert. An enjoyable cassette. [Available from Mind Scan]

Dominator

Dominator 1 cassette only (Mind Scan)

The only sensible way to review this is to be as straightforward as possible, I reckon. Switch on a pot kettle, wait until it's whistling away as irritatingly as possible. Locate some industrial machinery or a swarm of locusts behind the nearest hill, so the buzzing, rumbling sound is broken up and never quite heard properly. Maybe do the same a bit nearer so there are some more audible drones too. Next, get some guy to set up a contact microphone attached to a large, very thin sheet of metal, and get him to shout very raucously at it (have him say something like "cot death" repeatedly), so that his voice is heavily distorted and pretty much incomprehensible. Then get hold of some power tools and start assaulting some metal and timber somewhere nearby. The same method is applied to all the tracks you want to record. The result? "Difficult listening". It has all been done before, however, and real life is still more extreme. [Available from Mind Scan]

D.Sign

Burning Cells 12"/CDSingle (Antler-Subway AS5047)

Yet another collaboration of Marc Verhaegen, this time with Elaine and Philippe Fichot, better known as Die Form. Apparently, Die Form are renowned for their alienating music and shocking artwork. With this collaboration, the result is four fairly danceable, slightly surreal house tracks. The vinyl version has two tracks only. As with any project involving Verhaegen, the emphasis is on restraint. Vocals are kept to brief exclamations while little poppy rhythms weave in and out of a regimented bass pulse. I don't think this is heavy enough to become too popular in British clubs, but I expect those Belgians will approve. [MFR]

Electric Noise Twist

The Electric Noise Twist LP (Vision Records VISION 23)

For me at least, this label helps to define a new genre. This album, recorded in 1989 by a trio consisting of label supremos Christoph Fringeli and Alex Buess, along with Markus Knuhbühler, marks an angular collision of jazz, rock and hardbeat music, if such a thing can be imagined. If industrial jazz didn't exist before, then it does now! Heart-pumping drumbeats underlie fuzzy blares of noise, mixing influences from rock bass through to screaming jazz sax. The best moment comes with Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my image track? which mixes the noise, drums and almost John Zorn-styled sax very well. Some of the other tracks either lack a powerful enough or fast enough beat to really shift things along, or suffer from the general shapelessness that plagues a lot of improvised jazz. The idea's a great one: blaring sax and/or clarinet across a powerful boombeat sounds great, but this album really only has the noise without the get-up-and-go to propel it forward quickly enough. Interesting stuff which is worth a listen, even if it doesn't quite reach the target it seems to have set itself. ENT are hoping to start playing live extensively this year. [Available from Vision Records / Rec Rec]

Entre Vifs

L'Ordre par le Bruit CD (Artware Audio) 63 minutes

This album comes complete with packaging designed to confuse your musical filing system, and contains three tracks of chaotic noise, sorry, "lyrical noisecraft". And that's exactly what it is: seemingly random, arbitrary, noise swirling and rushing all over the place. Scattered and compacted storms of audible brain demolition: you can almost feel the cells shuffling off this mortal coil. Although you couldn't call it structured, it is organised, with enough effort paid to setting complementary fields of noise against each other to make it almost listenable. As a result, it's a more worthwhile listening experience than some other attempts at noise music: it is capable, if you're receptive, of deranging your perception, of bemusing and entrancing you. On the other hand, it's also a noisy mess, and unless they're very open-minded (or on a violent kick), most people will struggle to get anything out of L'Ordre par le Bruit. You may well wish to regard this as a challenge! [Available from Artware Audio]

Eon

Fear: The Mindkiller 12"/CD (Vinyl Solution STORM 33)

Midi Rain

Eyes/remix 12"s (Vinyl Solution STORM 31/31R)

Depth Charge

Depth Charge vs Silver Fox 12" (Silver Fox/ Vinyl Solution FOX 001)

Three more hifi-destroying techno-dub monsters from the ever reliable Vinyl Solution. Eon's last single was the wonderful Dune-sampling Spice and while this excursion into 'Outer Limits' territory doesn't quite match up to that, it is still a prime cut of terrifyingly heavy bass and storming electronics. The a-side mix '... with added bats' lives up to its name too: expect to hear the squeaky things sampled on a dozen other tracks by the end of the month! Midi Rain are more mainstream (if the mainstream includes Top 40 techno monsters like Cubic 22 and T99, that is), but the remixes by labelmates Depth Charge are pleasingly oblique and downbeat. Depth Charge (aka J. Saul Kane) himself links up with hardcore rappers Gunshot to return to the territory of his very first single, again quoting huge chunks from an obscure martial arts movie over a demolition bass line while strangled dub effects writhe in and out of the mix. Very heavy, very hardcore, totally recommended. [MG]

De Fabriek

Made in Germany CD (Artware Audio) 75 minutes

Although it claims to contain several tracks, this CD by Dutch group De Fabriek ("the factory") is in fact only one long track, not even any indexing. I suppose it discourages home taping. I'm fed up of CD compilers already for not employing indexing on long tracks, and this latest instance of obtuseness didn't do much to put me in the right mood for listening to this. This release is compiled from the group's work since 1977, and is a collage containing all sorts of disparate musical and anti-musical elements. Found tapes, spoken word (including recordings of people speaking about De Fabriek), peculiar musical backgrounds, musique concrete, toy instruments, unusual sound textures, all manner of music is glued together here. It continually threatens to break off in new directions, introducing melodic themes then dropping them, mismatching sudden loud voices to long soft conversations, throwing in machine-like noises and then wandering off into new realms. Overall, it's an impressive montage of sounds, although it suffers from a few less interesting stretches. To really appreciate you do need to hear the whole thing, I guess, but it would have been nice to be able to skip past the duller bits more quickly. [Available from Artware Audio]

Fat

Hit LP only (These Records THESE 4) 41 minutes

Fat are a Canadian trio of drums, bass and guitar, augmented with delay effects and nothing else. What they produce varies from rock music at its most powerful and adventurous through to raw textural explorations bearing a definite resemblance to some of the work of Elliott Sharp, who did in fact mix a couple of tracks. It opens with New Power, rolling racketing guitar and drums in a wonderful freight-train of raw rumblenoise, full of delicious harmonies and metal noise. Other highlights include The Mock King, a sawing, ringing, resonating hypnotic wedge of rhythm; Unwound Round with its mixture of regular drumming and more flimsy, wobbly guitar; and Jangled, which has a less straightforward sensibility, wavering guitar noise placed on top of a steady percussive rhythm. The whole album has a distinctive New York styling, and mostly it stands head and shoulders above some of the more self-indulgent experimentation to come out of that city. The instruments are played with great skill, the noise has an identity that begs few comparisons, and it's a forceful reminder that the corpse of rock is not yet dead. Occasionally the sound doesn't really gel together, but on the whole I definitely like it. [Available from These]

F/i

Paradise Out Here LP (Human Wrechords 004)

Blue Star LP (RRRecords RRR 067)

The world's greatest early Hawkwind-influenced industrial rock unit have been silent for a while (allowing our blistered pockets to rest awhile following their retrospective box set, perhaps), but are now firmly back on course with a pair of very listenable albums. Paradise Out Here presents them at their most controlled, with four hypnotic workouts interspersed with related snippets of speech and noise. The standout piece is the sidelong Om Twenty-One, a track which reappears, in moderately different and certainly much shorter form, recorded live in Germany on Blue Star. Just three tracks here; I can't wait for the inevitable one-track CD album. The title track accounts for side 2 and is as far out as anything the band have done since their formative 'noise' days. As they themselves detail, the influence of improvisation and early Pink Floyd is coming more to the fore, opening up whole new areas of retrogressive, progressive, trance-inducing rock. [Paradise has UK distribution via Southern; for Blue Star contact RRRecords]

Final Exposure

Vortex 12" (+8 PLUS 010)

Another slab of American-import mindfuck techno from current hotshot Joey Beltram (aka Code 6, Mental Mayhem, Second Phase & very many more) plus label boss Richie Hawtin (aka FUSE, Cybersonik). Similar in structure to Orbital's neo-minimalist classic Chime but far noisier, the spiralling synth riffs circle and weave around each other, becoming more distorted and modulated with every pass. If you like the extremes of electronic dance just about everything on +8 is worthy of your attention, but this is simply superb! [MG]

Fluid Mask

Flesh Sparks to the Beat 12" (Vision Records VISION 29)

This EP, third release from a group featuring Vision stalwarts Buess and Fringeli, amongst others, contains a punchy, in-your-face electric noise/beat grind, mixing manic tough beats with growled vox and growling metal wattage, both synthetic and guitar-produced, and with just a little hint of jazz deconstruction thrown in to keep things unpredictable. These guys are having a party, and it shows. There's a raw, gritty feel to this which really attracts me. Fluid Mask clearly live right down close to their music: there's none of the detachment that makes some electronic releases seem so obviously artificial. Soul music for the amphetamine crowds! [Available from Vision / Rec Rec]

Die Form

Corpus Delicti LP/CD (Parade Amoureuse PHOE 017) 42 minutes

Die Form's latest album seems to be a miscegenation of Depeche Mode with some stereotypically obnoxious Belgian hardbeat band. The bizarre offspring shares the former's tinkly, clear electropop with the latter's processed vocals and desire to shock, here by means of Die Form's continuing obsession with taboo sexuality: S/M and the like. The fetishism sometimes seems a bit too strained, with little relation to anything involved in real-life bondage, for example. The vocals are sometimes a bit weak too, although maybe this is just my national prejudice against foreign accents ... The music at its best is full of a nice stiff, phallic energy, or a peculiar Kraftwerk individuality, but a lot of it is disappointing. Only Savage Logic is really completely memorable, putting Elaine P's vocals to good use. Overall, I can't admit to being impressed, as it's too left-field to work as electropop and definitely too weak to stand up as electronic body music. [Parade Amoureuse, c/o Boy Young Fashion GMBH, Klingerstr. 24, D-6000 Frankfurt, GERMANY; distributed by S.P.V.]

Max Goldt

Die Majestätische Ruhe des Anorganischen LP/CD (Fünfundvierzig 35 / EFA LP4535)

Singular and odd. What else can I say about such a highly individual blend of experimentation and whimsy as Max Goldt has put together here? One minute we're listening to him talking in a silly voice over subdued and exceptionally bland piano tinklings, then the next a toy version of Einstürzende Neubauten is thrust in front of us. Not being able to speak German I haven't the faintest idea what he's talking about, but if it has the same eccentric humour as his music it's probably well worth hearing. Don't go assuming this is just a trivial and silly record unworthy of any serious attention either: the music and sound of Max's voice(s) are mildly enjoyable in their own right! [Available in shops or contact Fünfundvierzig, Schmiedetwiete 6, 2411 Labenz, GERMANY]

Gorgonzola Legs

Bunker cassette only (Exart EA 028)

Sometimes you can predict how good something will be simply by means of the intuitive vibes you receive from the track titles: Fishing with the Black Cow in the Movies immediately reminded me of Dalí. The music doesn't, however. That particular track opens with slowly intensifying underwater metallic resonances, eventually joined by a lonely saxophone, and somehow ends up as a sort of relentless heavy jazz-rock thrash session. It's frequently open to interpretation: you can impose all sorts of mental pictures on top of Gorgonzola Legs' quieter moments. At its loudest it's a lot less approachable, unless the heavy jazz idea appeals to you. Throughout though, there's some superb musicianship, and some very effective music, all recorded live. [Available from Exart]

Gorgonzola Legs

Piscatorial Debris CD only (Exart EA 031) 43 minutes

Gorgonzola Legs is a Dutch audio/visual collective, founded in 1984. They produce a partly improvised music, using guitars, percussion, tapes, sax, clarinet, drums, piano and vocals. This CD has its origins in the soundtrack to the twenty-minute video Piscatorial Debris, sharing some of the same music and exploring plenty of new ground. The music shares some of the attributes of improvised jazz and other improvised music, like AMM. There are long stretches of softly wavering, droning noises, overlaid with sparse and irregular metal percussion, grotesque and misanthropic vocals, lyrical sax playing, and various strange atmospheres. It varies from the almost silent to piercingly loud noise, communicating a range of mostly unhappy emotions. It would make an ideal soundtrack to an early Burroughs novel, and it's not the kind of music you want to play to someone who's depressed or going through withdrawal. Some people will find the structure too arbitrary, or the instruments too conventional, but this is absorbing and imaginative music which combines its improvised elements sensitively. The sound quality is a bit hissy at times, but it doesn't really detract too much. [Available from Exart]

Greater Than One

Index 12"/CD (WaxTrax WAX 9164 (USA))

Listen to the Rhythm Flow / remix 12" (React 12001/12002)

John & Julie

Circles 12" (XL XLT-18)

Michael Newman and Lee Wells reveal another three aspects of their distinctly schizophrenic personalities. The Index EP showcases their sample-heavy hardbeat style, with four smartly constructed slivers of noise (five on the CD). Listen ..., credited to GTO, starts where their last single Pure left off to produce another slam up-to-date techno anthem that will have them spinning on the floor from Glasgow to Ghent. Finally, Circles takes the GTO sound into more dubbed-up realms, with four mixes of very hard and distorted bass-heavy dance. One worry: if these two keep up this release schedule we'll need subscriptions just to keep up. [MG]

Jeff Greinke

Changing Skies CD (Multimood Records MRC 009) 55 minutes

Jeff Greinke's music has been compared to that of Brian Eno, and it's a fair pointer to where he's coming from. His stated aims are to explore harmony, timbre, space and texture through simply atmospheric music. He employs a mixture of instruments, including synthesisers and acoustic instruments such as trumpet, voice or percussion. On this, his seventh release, most of the rougher and noisier edges that informed his earlier albums have gone in favour of a subdued, polished sound, more the result of increased experience than any change in direction. The music consists of layered atmospheric sounds, slowly changing and slipping past each other. The moods elicited remind me most strongly of Eno's album On Land, with its strong sense of location, and its uneasy moods. Some tracks employ ethnic sounding percussion to up the pace a little, others lay back in a wash of effective harmonies. It's extremely well done, with a very careful use of the various sound sources to create an effectively-balanced atmospheric texture. No particular highlights, it's all quite consistent, and perhaps a little too understated to make it easy to pick any stand-out moments from beneath its shifting surfaces. Eno fans should definitely check it out, as should anyone into abstract, beautiful ambient music. [Available from Multimood]

The Hafler Trio

Redintegrate CD (Staalplaat STCD 014) 26 minutes

The Hafler Trio's work could be claimed to be some of the only truly magickal music being produced nowadays. It's aim is to communicate directly rather than through the use of symbols, which inevitably fragment human experience. It should be experienced intuitively rather than considered intellectually. It should not be subjected to relativist analysis: it is what it is and no more. On a mundane level, it consists of looped, cycling, droning, rumbling noises, tapes, voices, cut-up and collaged into totally abstract soundscapes. Most of the sound sources are recordings of natural sounds, voices, the media etc, the idea presumably being that these types of noises are more likely to produce some sort of unconscious response than artificial / electronic ones which will be unable to trigger the same memories and half-memories. The Hafler Trio are perfectly capable of presenting soundscapes as boring as anyone with no imagination and a couple of tape machines to their name, but they couple their music to texts designed to open up the listener's mind, allowing them if they are willing to actively experience the music rather than passively listen to it. The music here isn't particularly entertaining, but that's hardly the point, of course. [Available from Staalplaat]

Jon Hassell

Earthquake Island CD (Tomato 2696122)

The Surgeon of the Nightsky Restores Dead Things by the Power of Sound CD (Intuition 746880)

Flash of the Spirit CD (Intuition 791186)

These three CD reissues from different points in the career of one of the most consistently innovative modern musicians provide excellent demonstrations of the way his method has developed. Earthquake Island, first released in the late 70s, sets Hassell amongst the Latin-influenced percussion of Nana Vasconcelos and sundry cohorts. The music has a firm structure, overlaid with impressionistic and mostly wordless vocals and underpinned by Miroslav Vitous's jazz bass; Hassell's trumpet sound has not quite mutated into its inimitable swampy glide. But by The Surgeon of the Nightsky ..., recorded live in various locations almost ten years later, the arsenal of effects and treatments has transformed Hassell's trumpet into a totally new instrument. Set over Michael Brook's shimmering 'infinite' guitar and J.A. Deane's gently tribal percussive backing, it swoops and soars, or stutters and staggers, like an entranced shaman dancing in the form of different jungle animals. Finally, the 1988 collaboration with Farafina, the 8-piece ensemble from Burkina Faso, sets Hassell's modern primitivism against their ancient / sophisticated African tones. The result makes both parties sound somewhat compromised, the end product being for the most part a little too restrained and structured, as if 'tasteful' was the adjective they were all searching for, but Lanois and Eno's production is as excellent as ever. [MG]

Kleg

Eating and Sleeping (#15) CD only (Barooni BAR 003) 50 minutes

Five guitars, some drums, a bass, clarinet and sax, plus some manipulated turntables. Kleg are a Dutch group, playing puzzling, tight, virtuoso ensemble pieces which alternate between moments of total silence, slow lyrical clarinet and narration, and sudden bursts of frantic noise. At their most intense, the guitars and sax squeal together in a densely textured storm of sound, the next moment breaking abruptly for some sparse record clicks and quiet ambience. As the voice says, "Eating and sleeping is not like loving and breathing". This could bring joy to all sorts of people, especially experimental jazz-rock fans, with its love of unexpected juxtapositions and its attention to the palpable fabric of the sound. Vibrant, energetic, splendid stuff. [Available from These; or contact Barooni]

Thomas Köner

Gongamur / Nunatak CD only (Barooni BAR 002) 48 minutes

Despite the totally uninformative inlay cards, this claims to be music for gongs, using digital echo and other effects to manipulate those sounds into something far less mundane. The blank white snowscape on the album cover is a suitable point of reference: the soundscape created by Thomas Köner is hollow, cold, quiet and still. The low, slow, reverberating tones stretch out as far as you can hear, echoing across the ice. Wind and snow and loneliness. Long sounds yawn out of a vast horizon and slide straight back there. Sometimes it's forbidding ambient music, sometimes meditative, sometimes melancholy, always clear and flawless. If Lustmørd's album Heresy is the sound of the abyss, then this is the sound of the void. [Available from These; or contact Barooni]

Krackhouse

Drink. It's Legal CD (Metamkine MK CD002) 39 minutes

No I don't know why an American rock band is being released by a French label associated with musique concrete either. Claiming to have met in a crack house, this group play a very American anti-rock, with very simplistic socially and politically motivated lyrics, and distorted guitars and ugly vocals. The more I listen to it the more I'm sure it must be a joke project, so simple and ridiculous are some of the vocals, especially given the highly unconventional instrumental mix e.g. tape loops, sax, doubleneck guitar, radio, synths, no drums. The music is experimental rock with a very strange sense of humour. In fact, in it's less driven and more fragmented moments it's something like what a concrete musician might make if asked to produce rock music. [Available from Metamkine]

Die Krupps

Metall Maschinen Musik: 91-81 Past Forward 2LP/CD (Mute / The Grey Area KRUPPS 1) CD 61 minutes

This is a very welcome compilation from Die Krupps' 80s musical activity, most of which rarely saw the light of day in the UK, and which deserves to be a lot better known. The music here varies from the pulse-perfect teutonic electrobeat of Machineries of Joy and Germaniac, with the latter's sample of "No human contact with the Germans - who by the war crimes they have committed place themselves outside the society of civilised nations", to the high-voltage guitar and percussion of the slightly tedious Stahlwerksymphony. It's as distinctively German as early Propaganda, a group who Die Krupps founder Ralf Dorper spent some considerable time with, and also begs comparison with fellow electro-stompers D.A.F. Very occasionally it ends up a little bit on the weak side, but for fans of the genre it's a must. Of the ten tracks, three are new mixes and one previously unavailable.

Andrew Lagowski

untitled demo cassette 20 minutes

Andrew Lagowski is a name I only know from his contribution to T.O.T.A.L. #1, and his work with Brian Lustmørd on the Heresy CD and on the Terror Against Terror project. The aspect of his solo work showcased on this cassette consists of very professional, quiet techno in a similar vein to ClockDVA's Buried Dreams album, although with more of a groove to it. Washed out tendrils of synth combine with plenty of murmuring electronic pulsations to produce a very attractive sort of ambient / techno dance music. One track in particular, Storms, contains a dark and deep bass sound that really gets into your spine. Expect to see Lagowski (or an obligatory pseudonym) up there with the other well-known techno acts in the (hopefully) near future. [Contact Andrew Lagowski, J73 du Cane Court, Balham High Road, London SW17 7JX]

LFO

Frequencies LP/CD (Warp WARPLP 3)

It's a pity industrial music is followed in the main by spotty white boys who can't dance, for the outer extremes of the techno area of electronic dance music are more mind-mangling than anything else around at the moment. Along with labelmates Sweet Exorcist and Nightmares On Wax, LFO are almost certainly kings of the hill. Their self-title debut single and the more recent We Are Back are classic records, more physical entities than 'songs' or 'tunes'. In common with the other tracks on this record they sound like they are being beamed in from another planet; no one cares who made this music, nor how they did it. It exists, for itself and by itself, and is highly recommended to all who enjoy innovative electronic music. [MG]

Lieutenant Caramel

Lieutenant Caramel CD (Metamkine MK CD001) 57 minutes

The problem with a lot of the more academic avant garde is that their obsessions have resulted in the deconstruction of music to an extent where meaning is lost in the search for the moment. Lieutenant Caramel fit very neatly into the French musique concrete tradition, chopping up recorded sounds into tiny particles, then refusing to put Humpty back together again. Individual sounds last for very short lengths of time, are individually very interesting, and generally seem to have minimal relationship to whatever the next sound may be. The listener is left stranded in a universe lacking any structure or meaning. You can retrain your ears to enjoy this stuff, and it's not really a difficult journey, but it's one that I'm not sure has anything of substance waiting at the end of it. [Available from Metamkine]

Lights in a Fat City

Somewhere CD/LP (These Records THESE 3 CD) 45 minutes

Lights in a Fat City are a trio combining didgeridoo, drums, other percussion, and various treatments and effects. Unlike the original inventors of the didgeridoo, they produce music that is immediately accessible to western ears. Unlike most western players of the instrument, they create extremely effective and competent music. This is a very enjoyable album, easy to get into and very rousing. The various overtones and undertones produced by the didgeridoo create some very attractively textured drones, and the percussive rhythms drive the whole thing forward with a great deal of energy. The first track, When I Go Up (I Feel Like Shouting) marries some really groovy percussion to back-rubbing didgeridoo, invigorating and fun. Thunder uses the didgeridoo in a slightly more authentic manner, combining it with a brisk rhythm that I found quite exhilarating. Valley of the Winds puts the drone up front, and its resonant, vibrant, deep pools of sound work very effectively. Guboo is the longest track out of all eight included, at nearly thirteen minutes, and consequently the most spacious and least rushed. [Available from These Records]

Lustmørd

Heresy CD only (Soleilmoon SOL-9-CD) 63 minutes

Well, this certainly wasn't what I expected. The only previous Lustmørd that I've heard was his LP on Side Effects Records, Paradise Disowned, a terrifying storm of roaring, shrieking and hammering noise, all nonetheless quite musical and listenable, far superior to most other noisemakers. Heresy is a much less immediate experience. Taking full advantage of the clear low frequency response of the CD medium, this album compiles work from 1987 to 1989, using location recordings from places like mines and crypts. Basically it's ambient music, although unlike, say, Eno, it's not designed to be ignored if you so desire. Turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and lie back. Moaning, billowing, shuddering waves of sound make up most of the tracks. Part I sounds like metallic whales very deep in the ocean. Part IV uses higher pitches, dropping brass and woodwind shimmers into an echoing, milky cavern pool. It's claustrophobic, rumbling, disturbing stuff, the sound of dinosaurs at the end of their life. The sound sources are rarely identifiable amidst the resonant landscapes presented here, but it certainly doesn't matter.

Highly recommended, although it deserves to be listened to in a suitable space, and might take a while to grow on you. Its abstract nature makes it easy to dismiss as mere soundtrack doodling, but it has far too much strength for that. [Available from Soleilmoon; or Staalplaat]

Man Machine

Step Into Time CD/12" (Outer Rhythm MMAN 4)

With a name like that you can be fairly certain of what you are going to get, but Man Machine (alias Ed Stratton) deliver far more than just a rehash of some sampled Kraftwerk riffs set to more current drum patterns. Ed is so heavily into the whole cyber/robotics thing that his music has become the ultimate techno expression. This ten track resume of singles and new remixes (only 6 tracks on 12") is littered with people talking about robots, cybernetic systems, electromotive power and all things futuristic, all set to furious techno dance rhythms. The one exception is the gorgeously ambient title track, which resets a track from Djivan Gasparian's I Will Not Be Sad In This World, a haunting LP of Armenian duduk music on Eno's Land label, over slow-motion sequences and a Julee Cruise-style vocal. Dreamy and delicious, a world away from all those 'an-nn-nn-nn-ihilator robots'. [MG]

Meat Beat Manifesto

Now 12" promo (Play It Again Sam PROMOBIAS 11)

Coming in a sleeve bearing nothing but the track title and number, this is a red vinyl promo for MBM's (possibly) forthcoming single, featuring three remixes of the 99% cut. The a-side mix had boosted the reggae bassline to an abnormal degree, turning the track into a slow-burning dancefloor monster. The other mixes are less successful, being little more than variations on a theme; all three, however, are a must for MBM fans. [To obtain, get very pally with your local dance store, or pray for a proper release] [MG]

Melx

Mind Machine 12" (Vision Records VISION 30)

More freaky noisebeat mayhem from the Vision crew, this one being mostly the work of Alex Buess. Buzzing electricity, no-nonsense sharp, hard rhythms, music for the hyperactive and aggressive amongst us. There's none of the jazz-influence that colours some of Vision's other releases, although there's still a devil-may-care willingness to abuse the rhythms, stop and start, and break things up a bit before pounding back onto path. Maintains that consistent Vision sound and consistent gutsiness. [Available from Vision Records / Rec Rec]

Miranda Sex Garden

Madra LP/CD (Mute STUMM 91)

Perfection in miniature; 25 tiny madrigals from the early 17th century sung in crystal clear a cappella by the three winsome Mirandas. I suspect Radio 3-style purists will detect some flaws in the just intonation of the voices, but the performances are generally excellent to these distinctly untrained ears. My one regret is that the dancebeat backing of the single version of Gush Forth My Tears has not been used on the album at all; there is certainly scope for a companion LP of house mixes! (Strange footnote: this 45 rpm LP sounds even better at 33! Do M.S.G. actually exist, or are they a bunch of ugly male choristers sped-up?) [MG]

Ennio Morricone

The Thing CD (Varese Sarabande / MCA VSD 5278)

Just look at these track titles: Contamination, Despair, Sterilization, Bestiality. Nope, not a set of Skinny Puppy's greatest hits, but the reissued soundtrack to John Carpenter's splendid 1982 movie about the parasitic alien that looked like stretchy pizza topping on spider's legs. Carpenter is famous for his own pulsing electronic scores, but for this soundtrack Morricone took his own style and added a deeper, maturer orchestral sub-text. The music moves from sinister strings to a frigid landscape of stark electronics, matching the alien creature's gradual takeover of the snowbound base. Deep listening, disturbing and innovative nine years ago and still relevant today. [MG]

M.T.T. Mauro Teho Teardo, with Nurse With Wound and Ramleh

Caught From Behind LP (Minus Habens MHR 006)

Caught From Behind is a celebratory desecration, a series of hymns in praise of Pan and all the other bastarf pagan gods. At least, that's what I surmised from the track titles (e.g. Rapemaster D., Anal Total and Jesuspermary), and the iconic album cover images. Actually, Caught From Behind is a series of quiet bad-trip sound abstractions, eery drones of noise coupled to collaged hints of voices and construction clanking, background whispers of ambience disdainfully ignoring the scratches and scrapings that chatter to each other in the foreground. No, that's not an obvious enough description. Seriously, Caught From Behind is sound collage in the vein of N.W.W., producing disturbing atmospheres by merging moody long noises with intrusive short noises and occasional disjointed melodies. Soundtrack music for Eraserhead perhaps. I liked. [Available from Minus Habens Records]

Heiner Müller & Einstürzende Neubauten

Die Hamletmaschine CD (EGO / Rough Trade Records RTD 197.1208.2) 32 minutes

Half an hour, all one track, and far from value-for-money stuff. This is not an Einstürzende Neubauten; rather, it is written by Heiner Müller, with music by Neubauten, and one of the characters, Hamlet himself, narrated by Blixa Bargeld. How authentic or innovative the narrative may be I have no idea, as it's all spoken in German except a few short English phrases. The background music is Neubauten in Haus der Lüge mood, piano-type sounds and easy-on-the-ears metal-banging, and is purely functional. It's there to accentuate the text rather than stand on its own. So, if you speak German then you may well be able to get something of value out of this album. Noone else need bother, even fans and collectors. Bargeld's voice is nice to listen to, but that's it.

My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult

Sexplosion! LP/CD (WaxTrax! WAX 7163)

I really was dumbstruck when I heard this for the first time. I didn't know what to expect, but what I did hear I didn't like very much at all. TKK were at their best with Confessions of a Knife ..., hinting at perverse pleasures, sex, drugs, and their own warped brand of Rock and Roll. This, however, is a simple House album, and it's not particularly memorable when compared to other albums of that ilk ... I mean, there's even that damned piano on most of the tracks! I think Sexplosion! is some kind of homage to the Fifties and Sixties, recalling those fun-filled days on the beach playing volleyball and watching the body-builders flexing their well-oiled muscles. But ... it's so boring. TKK are playing out their "cool to be cats" image to the full - and this time it doesn't work. Titles such as Dream Baby and A Martini Built For 2 are filled with cliched, harmless rhyming couplets lifted from any second-rate porn film. John Waters would probably like this effort because "it's soooo glam!" Know what I mean? "Groove on, assume the motion ..." No thank you. [MFR]

Narwal

The Album LP only (Artware Audio)

Coming in a limited edition of 500 copies, each very nicely packaged, this release inevitably triggers all my bias against the elitism of limited editions. Nonetheless, the music is very good. The side-long Ademtocht is a strange, mysterious soundscape produced by layering atmospheric glimmers of abstract sound on top of otherworldly rhythms and melodies. It drifts along nicely, hypnotic undulations of synthetic sound mixing it with lyrical slabs of squeaky yet powerful noise, sampled choral vocals and so on. Nirvana fills the other side and employs everything from Indian-sounding strings through to both ambient and rhythmic synthesisers. It's all edited with a definite degree of sensitivity, and evokes comparison with everything from industrial music to the more spaced out explorations of the latter-end of the sixties. It has some similarities to the album by H.N.A.S. and Vox Populi reviewed in E.S.T.#1, and should definitely appeal to everyone from fans of cosmic music through to post-industrial listeners. [Available from Artware Audio]

Negativland

U2 12" (SST 272)

The much-threatened slice'n'dice of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by the Contra Costa County cowboys has finally hauled itself across the ocean, and what a monster it is! There are two very different but complementary mixes, which present the U2 hit as just one part of a wider (Negativ)landscape of ham radio operators, tape cut-ups, outtakes of Casey Kasem swearing every time he screws up, a cute little dead dog called Snuggles, and the omnipresent whining narrator/singer trying very hard to get to grips with Bono's words on his own warped terms. Let us hope U2 fans buy it in their thousands, hoping it is a new single called Negativland; rock music will never be the same again, again. [MG]

Nightmare Lodge / Blackhouse

Ice Skin / The Gospel According to the Men in Black LP only (Minus Habens MHR 007)

Nightmare Lodge, who include label boss Ivan Iusco, fill their side of this split album with several tracks of "nightmarish" musical atmosphere. All the tracks feature fragmentary, processed voices somewhere in the mix, emphasising them to one degree or another. The opening piece consists of nothing else: sampled, looped, layered and reverberated voices growling brief syllables, whispering and hissing to create a slightly disturbing feeling. Others employ more musical effects, particularly the last, with its continuous sequences of identifiable notes, hissy and reverberated quiet drums, and various other synthetic contributions, along with the inevitable background processed voices to prevent it all from sounding too obvious. Enjoyable stuff. Blackhouse, with their samples, rhythms, vocals and noise, don't sound all that different, despite their reputation as supposed "Christian industrialists". The first track here overlays subdued and somnolent rhythms with rough whispered vocals which don't really sound particularly pleasant. Even when the rhythms get louder and more insistent, the vocals even more distorted, it still doesn't sound like Christians are supposed to. You begin to wonder if all this ostensibly Christian propaganda is in fact only a big joke by some "industrial" musicians having fun. Ultimately, if they are Christians, then this music certainly won't help convert anyone. It's slightly less enjoyable and effective than Nightmare Lodge's side of the record, occasionally ending up as little more than distorted noisy raucous rock music, albeit with a fun rhythm behind it. Overall though, a pretty good record. [Available from Minus Habens Records]

Nox

Killin' Drive Power CD (Permis de Construire PER 019) 50 minutes

I think this deserves the frequently misused epithet of "industrial rock" if anything does. Aggressive, shouting and growling voices, angry guitars and rapidly pulsating percussion. "We crush you!" they scream, and I almost believe them. Maybe my amplifier isn't turned up high enough, but I think Nox are being a lot more restrained here than they really need be. It's always too easy to imagine something, faster, louder, or stronger. Hate Song is one highlight, joining raw guitars to even more raw guitars, creating a vibrant, grinding rhythm. Cannibal Night is also a particular stand-out, being a wonderfully sick little song with low background vocals (gradually turning into intense groans of anguish) and quiet, dark percussion. Falling as it does somewhere between hardcore, heavy metal and "industrial" rock (ie Ministry et al.) the music forges out a very unique space for itself. [Available from Permis de Construire, BP 256, 54005 Nancy Cedex, FRANCE]

Om

Older Brother From the Rock 12" (B-Tech BRO 121)

That's Ayers Rock, I would guess, judging by the swathes of digeridoo that cover this delicious three-mix ambient / techno import from Sweden. Repeating loops of bassline, percussion and samples of tribal chanting glide in and out of the mixes, creating a sound not unlike the Orb gone aboriginal. It's too gentle for use on the dancefloor, but very pleasant for home consumption. [MG]

Onomatopoeia

It's Onomatopoeia LP only (Cheeses International CI 01) 42 minutes

Well, no, not strictly according to the dictionary definition it's not. Still, there are plenty of jitters, crackles and rumbles here, part of a set of three strange soundscapes that all share only a minimal relationship to Life As We Know It. If these were paintings then they might result from the cooperation of Kurt Schwitters and Jackson Pollock. Take some noise, distort or echo it as much as possible, then spray it all over the place and mix it all up together. The side-long It was due to a disordered mind is the most interesting, with processed scraped, hit and plucked strings working very well amidst the other sonic chaos, resulting in a range of moods, none of them especially cheerful, but all very effective. This certainly justifies the price of admission. [Available from Cheeses International]

Ordo Equitum Solis

Solstitii Temporum Sensus CD (Musica Maxima Magnetica EEE 07)

Continuing Musica Maxima Magnetica's reputation for releasing music of an almost uniformly high quality, this release presents mystical, magical, ritual atmospheres in the musical tradition of Dead Can Dance or In The Nursery. It has a subdued, cautious feel, employing keyboards, vocals, percussion, zither, piano and guitars to create a mysterious ambience. The music is never insistent, always content to sit back and let you do the work of listening properly. As a result, it's not particularly immediate, and may take a few listens to really appreciate. Compared to, say, Dead Can Dance, it may seem a little depressing, with enough mournful minor harmonies to prevent it from being a particularly uplifting experience. Leithana certainly lacks the rich voice of a Lisa Gerrard, and Tony Wakeford's singing on one of the tracks is simply terrible. But these are quibbles: I'm criticising a good album simply because it isn't a masterpiece, which is unfair. I suggest you stick it in your personal stereo and go and sit in an unlit churchyard some time shortly after midnight, as that's the way to really understand what it is you've got hold of here. [Available from M.M.M.]

Para

Zentese LP/CD (Antler-Subway AS5016)

This is one of several new projects that revolve around Marc Verhaegen, formerly of Klinik. Collaborating with his wife, Sabine Voss, best known for her photographic work accompanying many Klinik releases, Verhaegen presents a more subdued, wistful approach to his music through Para. Could this be the result of female influence perhaps?

Para is very much situated within the abstract electronic world of Klinik: minimalist rhythms, eerie disembodied samples, distorted vocals and so on. However, when compared to Klinik (as it has to be) the frustrations and tension of Verhaegen and Iven's work are replaced by an uneasy form of ambience, which has an altogether different effect on the listener. Whereas with Klinik one feels the urge to stomp, shout and protest, with Para the listener should lay back and immerse himself/herself in the atmosphere. Zentese is new-age music with a soft, padding purr of a beat. The plastic beats of Dich combine with minute mechanical operations to evoke images of a germ-free society. At its centre some mysterious entity presides, preserving the uneasy status quo. "Logan's Run" springs to mind. In Lift, a spontaneous, impulsive sexual encounter is described in breathless whispers by the female, reliving those glorious moments. The back-beat subtly enhances this narration, lending emotions perhaps not conveyable through speech alone. [MFR]

Pearsongs

Smile! cassette only C60

This is the fifth solo cassette by Gary Pearson, representing some sort of experimentation with different sounds and styles to his previous releases. It includes some instrumentals, as well as song-based work. Some of the former created just with keyboards, atmospheric ambient stuff, whilst others switch on the drum machine, add some guitars, and create a much more upbeat, even poppy mood. It sounds obviously amateur, but it also sounds suprisingly good given the restrictions this imposes upon it. The actual song lyrics (which only account for three out of thirteen tracks) are all very bland. Combined with the sometimes a little too sweet sound of a few other tracks, this can result in stretches of unabashed tweeness. Still, there's a sugar fiend in all of us. [Available for £1.50 from G Pearson, 24 Glen Turret, St Leonards, East Kilbride G74 2JT, U.K.]

Laurent Pernice

Axident CD (Permis de Construire PER 018) 56 minutes

Laurent is a member of Nox, handling some of the percussion duties for that group. Axident is less noisy than the group's album reviewed above. It shares a certain uncompromising singularity however. Here, there is plenty of rectangular, bouncy, abrupt percussion, used both as the basis of instrumentals and songs. The latter see Pernice half-shouting, like a more restrained Peter Hammill, or a deeper voiced David Byrne, quirky and very enigmatic lyrics. The regular rhythms run happily along while keyboards, guitars, trombones, and various vocal recordings jostle for place on top. It's far from formless, sometimes obviously a refugee from left-field rock, sometimes a muddier mixing pot of styles. The metallic beats vary from the clear and bright to the dulled and thudding, always precise and flawlessly placed. It's original and charming. [Available from Permis de Construire, BP 256, 54005 Nancy Cedex, FRANCE]

Pessary

Layed to Rest & Unnatural Causes cassette only (Mind Scan)

I'm in two minds about these. Layed to Rest is a sort of mixture of gothic-cum-cyberpunk horror soundtracks, ranging from shrieking and squealing noises whirling around like a cloud of acid-brained bats, through to mournful drones over the top of isolated echoing percussion and wailing muezzin. Especially near the start the sound quality is a bit poor, and the keyboards noticeably cheap sounding, but as it goes on things improve steadily. It never quite shakes the low budget feel, but there's some very well done nocturnal, atmospheric music on here. Unnatural Causes treads through similar graveyard territory, but has a more industrial styled sound, with fuzzy static and slightly distorted instrumentation playing a larger part. It would benefit considerably from superior instrumentation and recording, but it remains quite listenable stuff. [Available from Mind Scan]

The Psychick Warriors ov Gaia

Mænad 12" (KK 069)

Three lengthy ambient / industrial drones set over techno beats, with added digeridoos and sound effects. Slightly more distinctive than the last single, Exit 23, and quite relaxing, but still no greater than the sum of their parts. Beware: the Temple ov Psychick Youth can seriously damage your quality control. [MG]

Rasputin

Life, Love and Liberty (Vol.1) cassette only (Glass Bead Music 023) C60

This is highly individual work, with few easy comparisons to hang on to. It mostly consists of various alien electronic textures, using vibrato electric shivers, bleepy, twangy sound, spacey whistles, too artificial drum-machine, repetitive sequences etc. On top of this Rasputin recites various passages of surreal, grotesque narrative. The effect varies: Time & Tide couples the spoken spleen of a Mark E Smith to cosmic Hawkwind synthesisers, while Thin Man / Fat Man somehow produces a neat little narrative of paradoxically down-to-earth surrealism. I'm not sure exactly how much of this was written by Rasputin himself. On one track he repeats some of Aleister Crowley's better known words, and Hanging High! certainly has Burroughs' style down perfect, although I don't recognise the words. One track tries something noticeably different, cutting up found voices and splattering them over and under a hyped-up, jittering bed of wailing vibrations. The mix is far from perfect, the voice in need of some work, but this is a very promising cassette from someone who should be well worth keeping an ear out for. [Available from Glass Bead Music]

Jake Rardin

Human Island cassette only (TVM Productions TVM 001)

All the profits from this release go towards the homeless people of West Virginia, USA. Entirely written and performed by Jake Rardin, the music claims to represent the "feelings and emotions shared by the homeless in the world today". What you get is a variety of synthetic instrumentals, sequencers, keyboards and electronic percussion, with occasional lead electric guitar thrown in too. All too frequently the result reminds me more than anything else of Jan Hammer's television themes and soundtracks: faultless musicianship, cliched ideas and sanitised emotions. There are moments when recordings of wind and sampled human vocal sounds are thrown in to create a suitably bleak mood, but in general this is music for an American TV show, not music designed to accurately reflect the experience of homeless people. If it was, it might be just a little less clean and comfortable. Having said all that, a track like World Around, with its very intricate sequencers and processed, high-pitched vocal sounds is at once more competent and more experimental than it might seem on the surface. TVM quote the price as $7, but I expect it must cost more to people outside the USA. If you like, you can listen to it on MUSIC ACCESS: 1-900-454-3277 for $.95/minute. [Available from TVM, P.O. Box 1328, Huntingdon, West Virginia 25715, U.S.A.]

Lou Reed

Metal Machine Music CD/MC/2LP (Great Expectations PIPDL 023)

Picture the scene. 1975, and Lou Reed was riding high on the critical and public acclaim for Transformer. His next release was this record, four sides of La Monte Young-influenced, flailing electronic drones closer to static interference than music. Was it just to piss people off, or was he really experimenting? Listening to the thing from a 1991 perspective, I can still hear why Reed fans returned it to record shops in droves, yet it is difficult to ignore the fact that so many (more recent) groups have now greatly surpassed it in terms of atonality and sheer brutality. As a landmark it deserves its new lease of life, but it is now more of a curiosity piece than a work of art. [MG]

Hans Joachim Roedelius

Der Ohren Spiegel CD only (Multimood Records MRC 010) 52 minutes

Coming in an attractive little card wallet, this represents Roedelius' thirty-third release, including several as Cluster with Dieter Moebius in the early seventies. Throughout he has remained a talented composer, although for my taste some of his work has veered too much towards a sort of insipid new age jazz piano sound. This is certainly not that.

The longest piece here is Reflektorium, twenty five minutes of mildly bizarre music stirring numerous instrumental and slightly jazzy motifs into the mirrored mixing pot. Slow metallic tones float around, slightly toy-like rhythms wander back and forth, piano, sax and strings all stroll through the sound, and it's initially difficult to find any reference point to grab onto. Some of it sounds like distorted excerpts from cheap film soundtracks, some is atmospheric and delightful. At one point a high-pitched synthetic alarm shoots upwards while soft muzak puzzles the listener in the background. All very musical and very carefully put together too. The other six tracks explore a variety of instrumental rhythms and moods, drawing on jazz and classical sources but not tied down by either. The best are Der Stille Schrei des Mondes, stately resonant metallic tones, undertones and overtones, and Ruf der Städte, shards of dark space and sax combining to atmospheric effect. It's a bit hard to get into, but quite rewarding. The rather mundane musical influences which colour a lot of it may be slightly off-putting, but that's the only problem with an otherwise well-composed piece of work. [Available from Multimood Records]

RRReport CD+magazines (RRRecords RRR-CD-01) 60 minutes

This package contains a CD by Due Process, being a radio broadcast compiling and collaging various contributed tapes, ranging from people talking through various ranges of nihilist noise. Mostly too unstructured for me, or simply too obnoxious, although certainly not without its moments of head-scrambling ecstasy. There's also a special edition of Dutch zine Vital (20pp A5), containing interviews with many experimental musicians, such as Merzbow, P16D4, Hafler Trio and Giancarlo Toniutti. The main item though is a 64-page A4 magazine containing a variety of contributions: artwork, writing by Schimpfluch, an o.t.t. tale of the Hanatarash, ads, an article on the possibly fictional noise-musicians Moslang and Guhl, aphorisms by G.X. Jupitter-Larsen, interviews with Merzbow and Robert Rutman, and more. Worthwhile if you have a lot of interest in the artists featured or like experimental noise music. Otherwise, disappointing. [Available from RRRecords]

SA123

Societe Anonyme cassette (Danceteria TUEK 9107)

This is a solo project of Die Form's Philippe Fichot, and a strange and unexpected sort of thing it is too: cheap, tinny electro-pop dance music. The synthetic rhythms seem to be aimed at the dance floor, but miss by several hundred yards and sound terribly dated given the nature of some of the most modern techno dance music around. It's quirky enough and light enough to appeal to any number of people who wouldn't normally go near Die Form's more provocative and aggressive material. The problem is that the drum machine, synthesiser and processed vocals tend to lack any kind of body or energy, not to mention often needing a better rounded mix, and as a result they hark back to the thinner sounding music of Kraftwerk or Yello rather than the vibrant, healthy sound of today's LFO or 808 State. And it's way too stiff and detached to appeal to soul fans. Only a few tracks really feel totally together, and not totally behind the times. The second side is definitely better than the first, especially on one track where the melody line echoes Kraftwerk, and everything suddenly gels. If you like a lot of that early electropop you may well find you enjoy this. [Available in shops or try: Danceteria, 222 Rue Solferino, 59000 Lille, France]

Sack

Tip Top: Best of Sack cassette only (Hypertonia World Enterprises HWE 047) 27 minutes

Yes, this is it, the best of Harald "Sack" Ziegler! At last, everything the world has waited for, including some classic live performances! Rawknrawl, man, it shur is one god-damn crazy world. This tape includes some of the muddiest-recorded most out-of-tune, most ham-handed music I've ever heard: childish rock music and apalling vocals. Y'see, Sack knows he's the greatest singer that ever lived, God's second gift to mankind, so if he says this is the best way to sing, then this is the best way to sing: believe! All of his most heartfelt emotions exposed for all the world to see, Sack lays his soul bare for you. Can you do anything other than worship at his musical feet? [Available from Hypertonia World Enterprises]

Satori Techno Primitive Sound System cassette only C46

Dave Kirby has had music released through the cassette scene as a member of bands such as Satori, Einsatzgruppen Patrol and Bruise, as well as solo. This is his current solo project, and it's a far cry from some of the harsh electronics and industrial noise he's been involved in previously. The Satori Sound System combines his own synthetic sounds and rhythms with samples from everybody from the Waterboys to Throbbing Gristle and even some Touvan throat singing. What results is some thoroughly professional electronic dance, reminiscent of the Orb in its ambient, unhurried nature. It's exceptionally pleasant stuff, perfect as background music or as the focus of your attention. It's aware of and influenced by current musical trends but still remains highly individual. This is only a demo release, and it will be properly recorded in the studio at some future point in time, but don't let that stop you from getting hold of it right now! [Available for £3.50 from Dave Kirby, Making Life Difficult, 24 Manfield Road, Northampton NN1 4NN]

Sigillum S

Dispersion: Sliced Carrions and Pixel Handcuffs CD only (Minus Habens MHCD 001) 59 minutes

Wonderful music from an increasingly well-known Italian group. The album title is representative: one surreal sound-track is titled Hydraulick brains from tolemaick torsion, a radiant factory. The music is a highly individual blend, with what seem to me to be frequent echoes of the diversity and character of Coil's music. The opening track evokes a dark ritualistic feeling through its tinkles, rumbles, and hollow laughter. In total contrast, R.A.W. Mindfuck mixes buried quotes from the works of Robert Anton Wilson with purposeful shards of noise and pounding percussion. The words don't get through but the music is still efficiently hostile. The final, 24-minute long Die Pest ranges through any number of little music worlds, from very unfriendly chanting to peculiar warbling sound-squiggle: a delightful little symphony for the damned. One or two tracks will appeal only to the sort of people who still get a kick out of treating themselves to unlistenable music, but on the whole this is a varied, imaginative and very enjoyable release. [Available from Minus Habens]

Slant

Hive LP only (These Records THESE 5) 50 minutes

These Records like to think that they only release music of the highest quality, keeping their schedules as minimal as possible. Hive is five in the series so far (number six will be a debut by Barbed next year). The label feels that since the music they release is the sort that's going to be around for a while, they needn't be in any hurry to rush things out. Slant's music is complimentary to the other projects on the label. It has some of the inventiveness of This Heat, and some of the emotional drive of Fat or Lights in a Fat City, topping it all off with lavish helpings of their own eclectic eccentricity. There are all sorts of jazz, classical and rock influences here. The songs combine graceful instrumentation (strings, woodwinds, guitar, harmonica, percussion, tape and synthetic effects) with a very personal sort of outlook. Something like Hugo Largo with a more domestic sense of humour. Other reference points include Talking Heads - this shares the same warm but nervous mix of artfulness and humanity. It's polite without being mannered, playful without being silly, thoroughly charming, and obviously recommended. [Available from These]

Sleep Chamber

Sexmagick Ritual CD (Fünfundvierzig 50 / EFA CD4550) 69 minutes

One piece in the puzzle that is German label Fünfundvierzig's Sleep Chamber reissue schedule. If this is what John Zewizz's idea of sexual magick is then I think I'll remain celibate! Voices moan, drones hum, bells tinkle and clank, percussion rumbles and various unidentifiable sounds wail and shriek through a fog of distinctly disturbing ritualistic music. It's certainly not for the faint-hearted, being a particularly intense blend of nightmarish noise. As well as being more imaginative than a lot of Sleep Chamber's other material, it's a lot more competent and musically satisfying. In fact, it's a classic, especially for the wonderful 28-minute long Flesh Trixsen, which shares a strong similarity to Lustmørd's finest vinyl moment, Paradise Disowned, with lots of resonant, abrasive textures. [Should be available through normal distribution channels, but in case of difficulty, contact Fünfundvierzig, Schmiedetwiete 6, 2411 Labenz, GERMANY]

Sleep Chamber

Sins ov Obsession LP/CD (Fünfundvierzig 31 / EFA LP4531)

Not part of the Fünfundvierzig reissue set at all, but an earlier release featuring five new versions of already available tracks (including a couple from Spellbound Submission) plus three completely new pieces. As such, it collects some of Sleep Chamber's poppier obsessions with sexual fantasies into one place. "Poppier" is of course a totally unfair description since none of this is ever likely to make it into the charts! The newer tracks in particular are abstract and atmospheric whispers of noise heading towards the style of Sexmagick Ritual. Anyway, these are all inoffensive little tunes to soothe lovers of sensual electronic pulsations. I found it frequently a little too inoffensive. [Availability as above]

Sleep Chamber

Sleep, or Forever Hold Your Piece CD (Fünfundvierzig 51 / EFA CD4551) 57 minutes

Yes, still more Sleep Chamber. This is them back in poppy mode, electronic rhythms sharing a bed with whispered, husky vocals and various sound effects. This is the least interesting of the three CD releases, becoming quite tedious after a while. Maybe I'm just suffering from a surfeit of Sleep Chamber? It's not as smooth as Spellbound Submission, and as a result the soul-less electronics leave themselves with few redeeming features. All these tracks consist of is rhythm plus vocals and they aren't particularly interesting rhythms or vocals. Monotonous and uninspiring. [Availability as above]

Sleep Chamber

Spellbound Submission CD (Fünfundvierzig 49 / EFA CD4549) 55 minutes

This release is superficially more accessible than some other Sleep Chamber material, although basically boiling down to another series of electropop songs. But the comparison evoked is not Pet Shop Boys, it's Cabaret Voltaire in a sex-oriented frame of mind. Hence tracks like Fetish, Odoratus Sexualis and Kiss the Whip. The synthetic rhythms have a certain primitive physicality to them, and they are assisted by various strange bleepings and quiet wails of noise, similar to mid-period Cabs. The vocals are generally spoken rather than sung, and are mixed into the sound-pool at a level that never allows them to totally dominate proceedings. At first I found the music a bit off-putting, seeming a little out-of-date in it's styling, but it gradually grew on me. It's quite carefully arranged, reasonably individual, and (unless John Zewizz's accent or the obsession with sex really puts you off) ever ready to insinuate itself into your subconscious while playing in the background. [Availability as above]

Smell & Quim

Jesus Christ LP (Stinky Horse-Fuck Records SHF 001)

This is one for those obsessed with extremes of unpleasantness. Smell & Quim combine some highly distinctive cover photos, distinctive song titles (e.g. Beaver Full of Spunk), and surprisingly tasteful music. Gurgling voices, mechanical rhythms, ominous drones, industrial saws, distortion and shouting - not quite as unlistenable as the album cover had led me to expect. There are even some melodies lurking in here as part of the horror soundtrack feel. Obviously I'm just not playing this loudly enough to appreciate it properly, but I certainly doubt that my neighbour would enjoy the experience. I wasn't impressed but then I'm not a fan of the genre. If you are, this isn't such a bad place to go ... [Available from SHF Distribution]

Splintered

Pigmeat / Blaspheme 7" (Fourth Dimension FDS26)

Guitars, bass and drums and everything you'd expect from that combination. The guitar effects sound strangely 60s but the muddy growled vocals sound very eighties and the whole thing is great fun played loud, if ever so predictable. [Available from Fourth Dimension]

Carl Stalling

The Carl Stalling Project - Music from Warner Bros Cartoons 1936-1958 CD/MC (WEA 26027)

Bugs Bunny on Broadway CD/MC (WEA 26494)

In his sleevenotes to his fine record Spillane, John Zorn discussed the heavy debt his music owed to Carl Stalling, the composer behind the surreal orchestral music for most of Warner Brothers' classic animated cartoons. Now he has been given a chance to repay this debt somewhat, joining with Hal Wilner (of Disney and Kurt Weill tribute LPs fame) to present a stunning selection of some of Stalling's most inspired work. It starts with the man in action, trying for the perfect take of a furious 8-second vignette for 1951's Putty Tat Trouble; it takes the band four tries, at the end of which they are starting to sound like an orchestral speed metal outfit. More regular soundtracks follow rapidly, highlighting the incredible collage effects Stalling used, combining minute snippets of favourite tunes to signpost on-screen activities, interspersed with transposed melody lines and themes, and original character themes and overall melodies - all within five minutes! The ultimate highlight of an incredible disc, though, has to be the soundtrack to Porky's Preview, where Stalling provides a hilarious rubber-band and biscuit tin parody of himself to match the on-screen ineptness of Porky's DIY cartoon! The 24-page CD booklet and longbox packaging are decorated with fine cel and preliminary artwork, and there are several useful essays on Carl Stalling's work by the producers, but most of all there are 78 minutes of sheer genius that I would consider absolutely essential, a monumental Record of the Year. The second release on Warner's 'Merrie Melodies' label is a much slighter work. Bugs Bunny on Broadway is a souvenir of the recent US stage show which presented classic cartoons accompanied by a live orchestra. Some of the music on this disc is new, but there are several original scores complete with dialogue, that instantly recognisable title music and a closing "Th-th-that's all folks!" It is all great fun but far from essential, except for cartoon obsessives (who, if they are like me, must now be praying for a collection of Scott Bradley's Tom and Jerry soundtracks!) [Limited UK distribution by Greyhound] [MG]

The State

Control cassette/CD (Sound Sound) 60 minutes

The State is Stephen Tanza, ex-Bourbonese Qualk, and also a past contributor to the music of Nocturnal Emissions and Muslimgauze. Superficially this doesn't sound dissimilar to some of Bourbonese Qualk's material: there's some rhythmic guitar and other instrumental noise that echoes their discordant vision quite a lot. There's less emphasis on vocals, and seemingly a bit more on electronics, including heavy synthetic percussion, although plenty of acoustic instruments wind their way in too. It's strange stuff: jazzy motifs thrown in amidst industrial sound textures and aggressive rhythms. It's quite conventional in many ways, always with one finger still hanging onto its rock roots, although it confuses the issue pretty well. It's not quite coherent enough or intense enough to be really memorable, but it is an imaginative, competent and quite individual hour of music. Video due out soon. [Available from Sound Sound and distributed by APT]

Swamp Terrorists

He Is Guilty 12" (Cod Records 19303)

Comprising three tracks: Traci, Remain Firm, and Bitch Pig, this was a big disappointment following their excellent debut album Grim-Stroke-Disease on Machinery. Perhaps these tracks are the reason they've changed labels?

Bitch Pig is a disjointed semi-metal, semi-electro grind with rather plodding vocals. The problem for these foreign bands is their grasp of the English language, often resulting in clumsy attempt at sophisticated sentence structure. Having said that, the chorus "You are ... bitch pig!" doesn't claim to say anything particularly important. The cover notes emphasise the fact that the track Remain Firm gallops along at 150bpm. This is fast. Consequently the song sounds downright stupid, even laughable. Swamp Terrorists need to combine their heavy beats and metal guitars more naturally if their hybrid sound is to last. I cannot figure out where they've gone wrong with this release. Perhaps the material is simply not good enough. Reluctantly average. [MFR]

Tan Dun

Nine Songs - Ritual Opera CD (Composers Recordings Inc. CRI CD 603) 72 minutes

Chinese composer Tan Dun has produced music of real magical quality here. Not by any stretch of the imagination an "opera", this is a work for a large ensemble mostly made up of vocalists, percussionists and winds players, based loosely on Chinese poetry from the third century BC. The music is an uninhibited if sometimes too unstructured celebration of the relationship between nature and humanity. The vocalists whisper, shriek and wail, shout with joy (or perhaps pain), enjoying themselves immensely and inevitably affecting the listener if he or she is open to the emotions conveyed. The percussion, on traditional, metallic and ceramic instruments varies from the quiet and almost imperceptible to huge blasts of frantic rhythm. Plenty of authentic Chinese influence, and some authentic New York avant-gardism, but it's still fairly accessible. You have to turn up the volume to hear the quiet bits properly, so just watch out for when they pounce furiously upon their instruments again! Having seen Tan Dun conduct a live ensemble in the performance of the enchanting and uplifting Soundshape, I have to say that this is a poor substitute, but it's nonetheless joyous, astounding stuff. [If you can't order it locally contact: C.R.I., 170 West 74th Street, New York, NY 10023, USA]

Tankhog & Windwalker

The Mint is a Terrible Thing to Taste 7" (Mint Records MRS-001)

This minty-green coloured single matches two cover versions of tracks from Ministry's similarly named album, respectively So What and Burning Inside. Tankhog strip away the original's raw, bludgeoning power in favour of something slightly more conventionally rocky, while Windwalker's vinyl debut take a trip down the same road, humanising and guitarifying their track, making it just different enough from the original to be almost interesting. But only almost. [Available from Mint Records Inc., #699-810 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC Canada V5Z 4C9]

Techno-Animal

Ghosts LP/CD (Pathological PATH 8) CD 72 minutes

This combines the talents of one member of Godflesh and one member of God, producing something quite unlike what you would have expected given the noise-with-guitars background they possess. Instead, it's noise-with-samplers: relentless rhythmic industrial poundings, screams, wails, metallic clashes, weird atmospheres. It's a sea of corrosive timbres, brutal rhythms and drugged harmonies: listen to it loud if you want to really appreciate what it's all about, as it's completely meaningless without the volume, and absolutely astonishing with it. A bit of structure and some sort of remission from the frequently wearing rhythm loops definitely wouldn't have gone amiss, but it's otherwise very effective, surpassing the efforts of many who make industrial music their first home. Points of comparison everywhere from Soviet France to Throbbing Gristle to the Young Gods, although of course they sound like none of these. A couple of tracks adopt a more ambient approach, more effective due to the dropping of the rhythms, including the absolutely superb CD-only 23 minute God vs Flesh. Bring me some painkillers!

Technogod

Cola Wars EP (Nation NR 009T)

Nation are a record label devoted to releasing "world dance" music; that is, house and techno overlaid with whatever ethnic snippets its artists have managed to pilfer from other records or location recordings. Some of its releases, such as those by Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart and the original Temple Head by Trans-Global Underground, have been spot on, while others have verged on the hopeless. This six-track 12" is ethnic only if one counts sounds of the streets of New York, and verges towards generic hardbeat. Stand-out track JC Jack hacks up PiL's Religion and several slices of religious music to savage effect, but the rest is so-so. [MG]

Technostria & Telepherique

presents "1986" cassette only (Irre-Tapes IT 056) C46

Inspired by the events at Tschernobyl five years ago, this is another cassette of strange, abstract, instrumental music of obscure origin. The first, and best track, Russische Erde, uses numerous high-pitched whines, low background drones, and a synthesised male vocal drone to create an eerie, strange soundspace. The high tones make it particularly weird as these elements change slightly throughout the track's duration. A particularly strange rattling occasionally surfaces into a piece that is highly unusual if ultimately a bit synthetic. Throughout this release, the artificial sound sources are too easily identifiable, making it sound dated, with the electronic noises typical of a couple of decades ago. It's a sound beloved of one or two cassette labels, including Rat Music and Alternate Media in the UK and Audiofile Tapes in the USA, and I must admit to finding it's frequently tinny and plastic electronics off-putting. However, this is the only real problem with an otherwise interesting array of music. The atmospheres can get pretty effective, and they're all very distinctive, keeping well away from the cliches of mainstream electronic music. [Available from IRRE-Tapes]

Test Dept.

Proven in Action LP/CD (Jungle Records DEPT 2) 39 minutes

Recorded live in Canada late in 1990, this is the live album to accompany Test Dept.'s recent studio magnum opus Pax Britannica, containing a selection of the same material. The sound quality is pretty poor, although certainly superior to any bootleg, but it's a recently accurate reproduction of their live set. Some of it doesn't really work on CD: Territory only really makes sense when they emerge from a smoke-filled stage beating it out on their miked-up, sample-triggering riot shields. But some of it is simply stunning: domineering industrial and militaristic rhythms without parallel. Unlike Pax Britannica, none of their raw anger is sacrificed, and it's an intense reminder of just how good they can get. I'm not sure how well it will communicate to people who haven't experienced the live show, but for those who have, or fans of furious metal percussion in general, it makes invigorating listening.

Third Ear Band

Music from 'Macbeth' LP/CD (Beat Goes On BGOLP 61)

CDs may be a pain (isn't it amazing how many alleged cyberpunk technoheads hate them!), but they have persuaded record companies to start reissuing long forgotten classics in their droves. This soundtrack for the Polanski movie adaption of the play first appeared in 1972, and it still makes surprisingly harrowing listening. The film is dark and disturbing and the music matches its tone perfectly, melding folk instruments and abstract electronics into a grim landscape of courtly pavanes and misty moorland reels. (Incidentally, the record features the only non-vomit inducing Roger Dean sleeve ever). [MG]

Trespassers W

Roots and Locations LP (TW Records TW 1009/ ADM-Disc ADM 18975)

Eeeek! A concept album! With gatefold sleeve, and a book of artwork and lyrics too ... Telling the story of a boy living in the Hague in the 50s, this is music that sounds surprisingly English to me. Cor Gout's lyrics (all in English) are thoroughly down-to-earth and accessible. Musically it's very Recommended Records in style, a sort of deliberately naive rock fusion with echoes of everything from folk singers to Brecht, with an emphasis on texture and rhythm. It refuses to develop along conventional song-chorus lines, and changes in style quite rapidly from one minute to the next, always maintaining its old fashioned fringe-rock feel. The lyrics remain the most important facet and are observant, honest and direct. It won't appeal to most followers of experimental music, but for those with a liking for seventies Rock-In-Opposition and personalised folk-rock with a unique edge to it, this is a friendly and pleasing album. [Contact TW Records, Javastraat 27a, 2585 AC Den Haag, The Netherlands / ADM Discs, P.O. Box 15582, 1001 NB-Amsterdam, The Netherlands]

Tuxedomoon

The Ghost Sonata LP/CD (Les Temps Modernes LTM 2303)

I read something recently that described this record as the industrial equivalent of Smiley Smile, the Beach Boys' infamous 'lost' LP. Certainly, it has taken its time getting released in this complete form; its first public performance was as long ago as 1982. The band themselves split up several years ago, but reunited to produce this final superb record. Styles range from lush chamber orchestra to scratchy electronic atmospherics. It all sounds divinely decadent and quintessentially European (not at all bad for a bunch of decanted San Franciscans). If this record had appeared after Suite En Sous Sol it would have pushed the band to the very forefront of their field; as it is, it stands as a sublime epitaph to one hell of a band. [MG]

Vocokesh

Ispepnaibara LP (RRRecords RRR 068)

Arabic industrial grindcore anyone? The latest release from the after-hours project run by Richard Franecki, bassist with the mighty F/i, sounds like that group might do if they read less Michael Moorcock and more Paul Bowles. The music stomps and glides pretty much as usual, but there's a strong eastern feel to it that somehow manages to sidestep most of the belly-dance cliches. The eight tracks sway from harsh electronics to fairly standard driving Hawkwind-style rock delivered with grace and style, and the whole package is perfect for a long summer evening ingesting the kind of substance that made hookah pipes so popular in the first place. Neat 'splattered baby' coloured vinyl too. [Available from RRRecords] [MG]

X Marks the Pedwalk

Abattoir / Solitude 12" (Zoth Ommog ZOT 15)

A surprisingly good effort this. X.M.t.P. are a distinctive crossover between techno and industrial dance - these two tracks satisfying purveyors of both worlds. Solitude is a flowing, rhythmic, tuneful affair. Angst ridden vocals, twisted to a painful pitch, reveal a rather private pastime: "Perhaps I should try to masturbate, perhaps I need an orgasm ..." This particular track has been gaining loads of air-play on Colin Dale's "Abstract Dance" show on KISS 100FM. Abattoir is very aggressive club dance. Seriously hard rhythms almost drown out Sevren Ni-Arb's tortured vocals. Paradoxically, these drum patterns are so clever that the song has an "intricate" feel, rather than one of blunt-beat dance. Well worth a purchase. [MFR]

Richard Youngs

Advent LP (No Fans NFR 01)

One piece in three movements, starting with gently repeating piano, and slowly but certainly adding Robert Wyatt-esque vocals, some screeching oboe, and eventually (over the whole of side 2) shimmering waves of guitar feedback. The recording quality is a little shaky - it's plainly a budget production, as the very minimalist sleeve indicates - but the trance-inducing infusion of repeating piano and mutilated guitar is pretty damn wondrous. [MG]

Z'ev

1968-1990: One Foot in the Grave 2CD only (Touch TO:13) 156 minutes

This comprehensive compilation of Z'Ev's work is intended to define his place as one of the most important sound artists of the last two or three decades. It certainly ought to achieve that. If nothing else, it'll dispel whatever preconceptions those only familiar with narrow aspects of his work may have. As well as 2 very full CDs, this package includes a CD-sized 124-page booklet, containing interviews, photos, discography, recording information, conversations, compositions and other writings. It's extremely well designed, and an informative survey of the ideas regarding communication, energy and evocation that recur throughout Z'Ev's work.

The music itself ranges from experimental vocal manipulations, using tapes and high distortion, or multiple layering, through extreme versions of rock as part of the group Cellar M, to the brightly hued metal bashing of early 80s performances. Some of it suffers from being poorly recorded or underdeveloped. Some of it is simply shapeless noise. If Joe Bloggs had asked Touch to release these tracks he'd have been laughed at, but because it's Z'Ev ... Another problem is that for many of Z'Ev's performances the visual information, in terms of his movement on stage, was as important as the sound, and with only the latter reproduced here it can get a bit meaningless. There are certainly several brilliant moments, including Metal Bizondere Plastik, with clear chiming, reverberating metallic rhythms, and the manic metal energy of Beautiful Music. The appeal is mostly in the range of sound textures created, frequently metallic or otherwise percussive, and at times entrancing. If you want the definitive Z'Ev then this is it: however, uninterested observers risk wondering what all the fuss is about. Overall, slightly disappointing. [Available from Touch]

Zone

Born of Fire CD only (Potentia Records ZONE 003 / Musica Maxima Magnetica eee 005) 40 minutes

Zone tell us that their one aim is to communicate to the listener Love, Light and Life. Yes, it does sound a little bit twee. But, against all expectation Born of Fire succeeds. This is a mature, perfectly poised album. At times it's serene and delightful, as on Beautiful Machine, which announces itself with a single bold chord, going on to combine Gregorian chant, bright, clear piano, bells and soft synths to create something refreshing and beautiful. At others, it becomes more intense, creating a shimmer of wailing sound via peculiarly harmonised synths and rhythmic percussion, although it's never overbearing. Miles from New Age nonsense or shapeless soundtrack noodling, this is purposeful, emotive, expressive music. My only criticism is that there simply isn't enough of it. [Available from M.M.M.]

Various Artists

The Aerial #2 CD/cassette (The Aerial AER 1990/2) 66 minutes

This is a compilation bringing together innovative music and audio art. Mostly they seem to include serious-minded, "respectable" composers. This issue, including a booklet with a couple of pages of information on each artist, focuses on so-called "environmental" sound, i.e. sounds recorded in the environment and manipulated to produce something at least vaguely musical, or music inspired by nature or the environment. Only a few of the ten tracks are duds, and even they are surrounded by some strange but wonderful music. Two examples: Poison Hotel, composed by Jon Raskin and Bob Davis, is a duet for two female voices combining strange counterpoint and a slightly bleak feeling to create a glacial little piece which I really enjoyed. David Dunn's Chaos & The Emergent Mind of the Pond is a compilation of recordings from North American freshwater ponds, nine minutes of buzzings and clickings that are surprisingly satisfying and relaxing to listen to. A sense of the pond's wholeness is conveyed which drew me in completely. Those are far from all that make this a recommended item. [Available from Nonsequitur or These]

Various Artists

All In A Day's Werk 12" (DEF/Tanzklang EEF 91)

Kraftwerk are second only to James Brown in the Most Sampled Artists league table; the five techno tracks on this cute EP seem to be trying to redress the balance just a little. Pro-gress's Autobahn is the only direct cover version, a more assured techno-styled update than Kraftwerk's own recent remix. Gobo-Loco's Neon-Eon owes a great debt to Neon Lights, and closer examination of writing credits reveals it to be a cover for Colin Angus from the Shamen. The other tracks - by Westbam, Time-Code and Eskimos & Egypt - sample the Düsseldorf demigods to a greater or lesser extent; that the samples are so integrated into the overall feel of the music just goes to show how deep Kraftwerk's influence is over all forms of techno dance. [MG]

Various Artists

Dry Lungs IV LP/CD/cassette (Subterranean SUB 68)

The latest instalment of Paul Lemos's series of samplers of heavy industrial music from around the world benefits from the wider distribution Subterranean seem to be getting via the UK's indie network. Of the 10 tracks, pride of place goes to the tracks by Lemos's own Controlled Bleeding and his collaboration with James Levine, which storm along in their usual techno-gothic style (CB's Save Us was originally an extra track on the CD version of Trudge). Far less impressive are the bursts of sheer noise by the Gerogerigegege and Helene Sage & Francis Gorge; once you've heard a million noise bands you've heard them all. The scratchy, almost traditionally 'avant garde' babblings of Heinrich Mucken and Un Drame Musical Instantane are better but nothing very new, and all are fairly abominably recorded. Very much out of place amongst the cacophony is Robert Rich's gorgeous Sanctuary, which floats and rumbles beautifully. On balance, I'm glad that this stuff is out there, but I didn't care for most of it. [In case of difficulty contact Subterranean, P.O. Box 2530, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA] [MG]

Various Artists

Ecstasy by Current Vol.II LP (Schizophonia SCH 8902)

Ten groups contribute to this collection of industrial and post-industrial music. The highlights are all from Sweden or Belgium, strangely enough. They include the hard but witty rhythms of En Halvokt I Folie; In Slaughter Natives' excellent track (very similar to Controlled Bleeding); droning, oscillating industrial ambience from Hybrids; and wonderful scraping metallic shimmering from Vidna Obmana. The remainder generally echoes the noisy, distorted abstract workouts of T.G. or S.P.K., which is all very well if you like that sort of thing, but isn't really very innovative. There are some excellent tracks on here, let down by a lack of imagination in the others. [Contact Schizophonia, Grossbeerenstr. 90, 1000 Berlin 61, GERMANY]

Various Artists

Hypertronics cassette only (Hypertonia World Enterprises HWE 059/91) C60

This is a collection of instrumental and electronic music from around the world, and given some of the music that comes out of the cassette scene it's surprisingly good. All the contributors maintain a consistent quality - yes, not a single dud. I wouldn't want to try and pick out any of the 15 artists, but the music varies from the more experimental, mechanical rhythms or explorations of bass oscillations through acoustic guitar pieces and nicey-nicey synthesiser music to uptempo popbeats coupled to more exotic sounds. Puritans may disagree but I found the mixture of the further out tracks with the pretty, tonal ones to be especially pleasant. Recommended to open-minded electronic music fans everywhere. [Available from Hypertonia World Enterprises]

Various Artists

Insane Music for Insane People Vol.25 cassette only (Insane Music INS.51) 57 minutes

Another in a very long line of compilations from Insane Music, this one presents music varying from the professional pop of Modern Art to the nursery rhyme / toy instrumentation of Disism. And that's just for starters: this is a large platter of ear food for the broad-minded. Eleven artists range across Europe and America, the most well-known being Canada's Frontline Assembly, who deliver exactly what you wouldn't expect (male choral voices, strings, etc). Also interesting are Geoff X. Alexander's strange narrative Shanghai Nightmare with its stereotype 'Chinese' synths underlying its processed voice, the wailing vocals and instrumental drone of Chant #3 by Roberta Eklund, and a track by Andrzej Dudek Durer, with nice buzzing, droning Indian-styled strings. The tape is perhaps a bit too varied for some tastes, and it's too limited to function as any kind of cassette scene sampler, but it does function as a great introduction to perhaps ten unconventional artists most of you won't have heard before, and some of whom are well worth encountering. [Available from Insane Music]

Various Artists

Knock Out CD (Vision Records VISION 35) 67 minutes

This is a sampler from the back catalogue of the Swiss Vision Records label. And it's as rare a fusion of high-voltage tub-thumping hardjazzbeat electro as I've ever seen. Whether it's the brittle and paranoid sample-dance of Hirnschlag, or the vigorous overdrive of Fluid Mask, this is music guaranteed to derange and re-arrange your senses. There's a deep and heartfelt sense of the bizarre, an anything-goes attitude that produces spot on results. It may be a cliche to call the Swiss crazy, but this certainly is, throwing alienating machinery rhythms at you one minute and trippy acid jazz sax the next. A perfect introduction to the Sound of Vision. [Available from Vision Records / Rec Rec]

Various Artists

Moroccan Trance Music CD (Sub Rosa SUBCD 013-36)

Sub Rosa's 'Le Coeur du Monde' subseries continues with this intriguing collection of ritual music produced by the Jilala and Gnaoua of the Maghreb, recorded live on location around Morocco last year. There is also a pair of tracks recorded in the 70s by Paul Bowles; a full album of Bowles' recordings has just been released by the label too. As befits music recorded in the raw, as it were, much of it is somewhat ragged and unfocussed, but the swirling, interlocking repetitions are - somewhat unexpectedly - genuinely entrancing, a world away from cheap images of camel drivers and belly dancers. [MG]

Various Artists

Music to be Murdered By CD only (Bruits Blancs BB9101) 46 minutes

Bruits Blancs ("white noises") is an umbrella organisation covering three Nancy-based labels, including Permis de Construire. This is a well presented compilation of otherwise unavailable recordings by 12 artists all working outside the mainstream. Highlights include Maghreb, by Laurent Pernice, with exotic plucked strings and its strange rhythmic sonorities; Patafisiskal Re-Polska by Pascal Comelade, with its very musical blend of the naive and sophisticated; and Laurent Petitgand's lush theatrical soundtrack Chi Wy Ku. But this is an impressive compilation all round. Buy it as a suitable companion to that other French CD, Mouvements (reviewed last issue), which concentrated on more abstract and less rhythmic areas. [Contact Bruits Blanc, 38, rue des Soeurs Macarons, 54000 Nancy, France; or try Odd Size or Permis de Construire]

Various Artists

Sexy but Chic / Ode to Samantha Fox cassette only (Insane Music)

Sammy Fox is obviously more of a European phenomenon than you might have thought given the twenty-nine artists lined up for this compilation. Plenty of stalwarts of the cassette scene are here, from the Dead Goldfish Ensemble to Bene Gesserit. Most of the music is eccentric electro-pop, frequently with outrageously moronic lyrics, presumably as a mark of respect to the subject matter. Some of it is more experimental, such as M. Nomized's layered voices all saying "Samantha Fox". Ultimately, it all ties itself sufficiently tightly to its heroine that unless you find the whole idea amusing, then the music probably won't appeal on it's own. [Available from Insane Music]

Various Artists

Pioneers of the Hypnotic Groove LP/CD (Warp WARPLP 2)

This essential compilation presents most of the best of Sheffield's Warp label's output over the last two years in one handy package. Alongside the fairly well-known (Top 20 stars!) LFO and Tricky Disco (aka Greater Than One), there are singles by Sweet Exorcist, the Step, Tuff Little Unit, Tomas, Nightmares On Wax, DJ Mink, and the one that started it all, the Forgemasters' majestic Track With No Name. Without exception, the music is electronic techno dance, scattered with dislocated samples, plumbing the depths of bass frequencies and ultrasonic bleeps. It is stark and inhuman, but by no means forbidding. Perhaps the next few years will reveal this music to be as naively 'futuristic' as the Spotnicks or Gary Numan, but for now it fits the bill perfectly. [MG]

Various Artists

The Tyranny of the Beat cassette (Mute / The Grey Area GREY 1)

This is an eclectic sampler to introduce people to Mute's new offshoot devoted to rereleasing the more innovative works of the great and the good. If you're unfamiliar with the artists concerned, this is a fair place to start. If you know them already, you can safely give this a miss, although you should keep an eye out for the accompanying limited edition video. The Tyranny of the Beat includes one of S.P.K.'s finest moments (In Flagrante Delicto), as well as great stuff from Dome, Einstürzende Neubauten and the Cabs. Plus some good and some dull material from people like Swell Maps, T.G., Monte Cazazza, Wire and D.A.F. A lot of these suffer from an inevitably dated feel: after all, Charles Dickens may be an important contributor to the development of the English novel, but I'd usually rather read an author who deals with the modern world!

Various Artists

U.K. Electronics Vol. 1 cassette only (Mind Scan)

A strange mixture of artists are brought together here. Of the eight contributors, the best are Richard Leake, whose Homelands is an unusually musical selection, mixing fragmentary synth melodies with wooden percussive rhythms, and The Headmen, Below Ground creating a slightly ominous aura with soft floating tones and a very well used "ethnic" rhythm. Other artists, such as Pessary and Birth/Birth, have a few interesting ideas but never manage to make them gel into very satisfying pieces of music, or lack the budget and purpose needed to really let their talents show. A very useable sampler of various amateur and little-known artists, but unfortunately not a compilation you need to rush out and buy. [Available from Mind Scan]

Various Artists

Victims of the Mixing Desk Vol.1 LP (Vision Records VISION 22)

This is a collection of seven tracks by Vision artists, remixed by that man Alex Buess to create what they've called "metalhouse", a fairly typical Vision-ary blend of industrial beat and high voltage noise. They also call it "dancemusic" although that's a more dubious claim. It's music you could body slam to, but it's a bit too stiff to be music you can groove to. It's also further evidence of just how coherent the Vision sound is across all these diverse projects and artists. Victims lacks the jagged sparks of brilliance of the Electric Noise Twist album reviewed earlier, and is generally less impressive than some of the other Vision releases. Not the best entry point into their world. [Available from Vision / Rec Rec]

Various Artists

Volume One CD + book (World's End V1CD)

... being a new venture from Rob Deacon, whose previous projects have included Sweatbox records and the Abstract series of magazines-plus-records. This time he has produced a smart, full colour, 192 page book (same size as a CD box) with a 17-track, 78 minute CD stuck in the back, priced at under a tenner and fairly widely available. Of particular interest to E.S.T. readers are the exclusive tracks or remixes from Meat Beat Manifesto, Thrill Kill Kult and Consolidated, and those by the likes of the Orb, Fortran 5 and the Shamen are also well worth investigating. Other cuts are by more traditional indie bands ranging from New Order to newcomers Papa Sprain. The book features extensive (though sometimes mistake-littered) articles on each band plus other features, and on the whole is interesting without being stunning. It is a brave venture, however, that deserves support even if you are only interested in a few of the featured bands. [MG]

(C) Brian Duguid 1995 or of the other original authors as noted