ALBUM REVIEWS

Death Sentence: Panda!
Tour EP (Special Lord Records)

With nothing but a flute, a pitch-shifted clarinet, and a drum kit at their disposal, San Francisco noise delinquents Death Sentence: Panda! channel the energy of animals in revolt. Responsible parties Chris Dixon (Murder Murder), Paul Costuros (Total Shutdown), and Kim West (Crack: W.A.R.), execute their sophomore attack, the Tour EP, in much the same way as 2004's Puppy, Kitty, or Both did: in violent bouts of frantic drumming, fuzzed out clarinet, and fits of shrieking vocals. Clocking in at eight minutes for five frantic tracks, the Tour EP is barely shorter than its full length predecessor and maintains all the same cartoon antics that DS:P!'s debut did.

The Tour EP's explosive opening track, "Slumber Party," juxtaposes West's charged, playful vocals with Costuros and Dixon's mischievous musical compositions, only to segue abruptly into the jerky, deadpan styling of "Tribal Boyfriend" moments later. The band's signature East Asian influence is present throughout the EP, most notably in the flute-and-gong-heavy track "Yao Yao Tou," confirming the band's solid roots in traditional Chinese folk music while nicely polishing off DS:P!'s second official release. Look out for future recordings from this promising Bay Area band with the 10" vinyl re-issue of "Puppy, Kitty, or Both" on UK label Upset The Rhythm as well as an upcoming cassette from Folding Cassettes, both slated for 2005 releases. In the meantime, pray to God they tour the east coast. -Jacqueline Castel


DJ Glow
Wise to the System (Trust)

Vienna's DJ Glow says the latest release on his own Trust label "takes cues from the bleak dystopian visions of Don DeLillo's ʻCosmopolis, '" but there's nothing bleak about the beats on this (literally) phosphorescent 12". The title track balances straightforward clippy kicks with bouncy synths that topple around the stereo field effortlessly. "Day of the Rat" moves along in the same style, kicking up the low midrange with an unrelenting back-andforth slide layered neatly with groaning pans and ominous whines.

The flipside pays more direct homage to electro technicians in the Underground Resistance vein at all the right places, fiddling more readily with staggered, reversed snares, bit-crushed vocal hits, and jazzy, reverberating pitch bends.

Wise to the System won't provide any high-flying club climaxes, but the 12" does an excellent job riding between any number of electro-tinged styles. The tracks end as suddenly as they begin, without any pomp or stylized breakdowns, but the subtly imaginative beat timing and straight-forward approach to sonics and EQ will quickly inspire countless shakes of the rear; DJs will certainly take note and cast their eyes towards what looks to be an increasingly involved Austrian electro landscape outside of the seminal Cheap label. -Trent Wolbe


Readymade
All the plans resting
(Where Are My Records?)

There's a certain degree of transparency to All the plans resting. It's pretty easy to identify citations (conscious or otherwise) of such formative shoegazers as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Bark Psychosis, Roy Montgomery, et al. Drawing from such a well-traversed repertoire of wavy guitars, breathy vocals and heavy reverb, one might expect All the plans resting to be kind of, well, dated. And yet somehow the album avoids coming off that way, most likely as the result of the album's relatively short track lengths. Whereas their forebearers often pursued haziness as an end in and of itself, Readymade seems focused intently on maintaining a rigorous pop sensibility. Shoegaze production aesthetics are deployed resolutely in the service of pop melodies, and the result is at times strikingly tight.

The album is parsed roughly into three segments, each marked off by a brief instrumental interlude, and comes to a close with the suggestive coda "The futility steps." The first three tracks are difficult because it is on these that vocalist Arch's precariously emo vocals are foregrounded, but pay off in the end—the three tracks combined convey a decadently lachrymose sense of helplessness (specifically, the explosive parts of "The fake but no finish" and the subdued guitar howling throughout "Nightsky of exit signs"). The second segment of the album is significantly darker than the first, and the most clearly reminiscent of Bark Psychosis. Things begin to pick up (in terms of affect) with "Hengshan reeling," and there's a decided shift toward major keys characterizing "Rehearsed disaster" and "Rememberforget." After the final interlude, "The futility steps" offers a lofty space of detachment from which to apprehend the album as an entirety. Having come all the way through, holding your hand the whole way, Readymade's larger project here comes into view. And, all things considered, the view's pretty swell. -Christopher Fraga


Various Artists
VIVA O SAMBA!

Every time I've gone to Williamsburg's Black Betty on a Sunday night, I've been surrounded by smiling sweaty dancers, shaking hips and popping feet. Greg Caz, one of the Djs responsible for this weekly Samba funk party called "Brazilian Beat Brooklyn", has been generous enough to put together three promotional mix CDs covering some of the highlights that keep all those Sunday night people so sweaty and happy. Viva O Samba! is definitely my favorite so far. Covering the more rootsy side of Brazilian dance music, this compilation is non-stop, backto- back rare gems from the sixties and seventies. Built on a bouncy percussive foundation, topped with uplifting jazzy vocals (often a soloist backed by a full chorus), this music is also blessed with some serious swing. Legendary Brazilian artists (Elza Soares, Beth Caravalho, Sergio Mendes, Clara Nunes, Wilson Simonal, Martinho Da Vilha) are put in the mix alongside the lesser known and under-appreciated. My particular favorite is the fat-bottomed groover "Bobeira" by Edson Frederico & A Transa (who I'd never heard of before), but really there's not a dull moment throughout the entire 80 minutes. -Charlie Bethel


Machine Gun Romantics
Everything So Far
(Dangerously Small)

One can be almost absolutely certain that a record is going to be worth checking out if it promises thirty-five songs in less than thirty minutes. It takes dedication, endurance, and a certain degree of chutzpah to rock that hard that quickly, and Houston, Texas' Machine Gun Romantics have got all three in spades. From the opening seconds of this recently-released compilation CD, collecting their debut EP, two demos, and a live show, MGR assault the listener with filthy guitars, high-pitched shrieks and blast-beat-accompanied tempos that defy the laws of physics.

While keeping it predominantly faster than hell, they do throw in some mosh-worthy breakdowns, metal "riffing," and sing-along choruses, assuring that the kids get ample opportunity to stomp around and point their fingers at live shows. For those of you worried about the built-in disposability of this kind of fastcore, fear not: the lyrics offer plenty to come back for, serving up smart, tongue-in-cheek barbs at the hardcore scene and everyone's favorite republicans, alongside some good old-fashioned Descendents-style antagonism directed towards macho kids (plus the occasional reference to ninjas and Evil Dead). In other words, prepare yourself for raging thrash, played by folks who know when to joke around and when to call out their enemies. -Max Tremblay


Venetian Snares
Rossz Csillag Allat
Szletett (Planet-µ)

Aaron Funk's latest effort begins unexpectedly with what sounds like the normally cantankerous drill n' bass producer sitting at his piano module messing around pensively. The first tracks are a bit disappointing, but when the third song rolls around, Rossz starts cracking skulls. "Öngyilkos Vasárnap" is built over a splintered hip-hop break with Billie Holiday's "Gloomy Sunday" lying in pieces amidst the bass and drums. Some die-hard Snares fans may be put off by its relative accessibility, but ultimately this may be one of the best Snares tracks in existence, and a prime example of the genius behind Rossz. He's putting his anything-buta- four-four-time-signature style of sequencing over something a bit more melodic—Funk has finally added a bit of obvious prettiness to his searing sequencing creativity. This same formula applies to the numerous drumless instrumental tracks on the album; the edge is there, but the melodies are a bit more complex and appealing than something like "Stairs Song". Funk's introduction of familiar harmonies and live instrumentation could have resulted in a diluted final product, but the result ends up being nothing short of chilling. Essentially this is Mr. Funk's "Hard Normal Daddy," and proves once and for all his prowess in production and pure musicianship. –Nat Weiner


Triola - In Funftonraum
(Kompakt)

Jorg Berger (The Minimalist) has adopted the new moniker Triola for his latest project, In Funftonraum. The 10-track LP showcases a gentler side of Cologne's Kompakt Machinelabel by bringing a sense of peace to listeners' ears through its assemblage of placid beats, balmy melodies and deep textures. From the bubbling waterscape of "Neuland" to the warm resonance of "Unland," Triola's music unfurls like the petals of a blossoming flower yet never departs from its cohesive aesthetic. Rest assured dancers, there’s plenty of thump and bump on several cuts. "Wanderlust" and "Traumschon," the punchiest and funkiest tracks respectively, though polished by Kompakt's vanguard sound, unload propulsive grooves with control and precision while retaining a natural and human quality. It’s synth-laden but not synthetic. In Funftonraum is the kind of record that satiates the palates of a lounger or a horticulturalist; the music is perfect for relaxing in an aquarium-lit basement after hours or watering some plants on a sunny spring day. In time, hopefully Jorg Berger will continue to develop and release the lush sounds of Triola. - Momo Araki


Various Artists
Reggae Goodies v. 1 & 2 - Wackie’s Music
(Basic Channel)

The latest re-issue of material from the fabled Wackie's label includes two early- 1980's compilations. It's a quintessential Wackie's record; there are plenty of decent syrupy love songs, a couple of throw-away tunes that are too "80's" in their production to be enjoyable roots music, and four or five of the most wicked minor-chord reggae selections you've never heard. If you haven't bought a Wackie's record and aren't familiar with this pattern, it can be a bit annoying at first, but after a couple spins you'll come around. The first volume is definitely deeper than the second, and the record's overall inconsistency doesn't lend itself to start-to-finish play. But the cream of the Wackie's crop features some of the most pure and raw reggae rhythms ever recorded—the couple gems you're likely to find on any given Wackie's release always end up justifying the record's purchase. This disc is no exception. Stand out tracks include Wayne Jarrett's salute to his "African Woman," Stranger Cole's hauntingly sparse "Captured Land," John Clarke's politically-charged "Recession," K.C. White's previously ultra-rare "Selassie," and a nasty instrumental, "Black Root," to close out the record.
-Wilson Karaman


Missing Foundation 1933 (Hungry Eye)

Missing Foundation's forthcoming release on Hungry Eye records is a refreshing reminder that the days of dirt and art on the Lower East Side are not altogether gone. The industrial-noise band formed some twenty-odd years ago in the LES, and have worked with the likes of KMFDM and DJ Hazard. This CD is a kind of re-release, containing tracks from the Missing Foundation albums 1933 and Nature Revolt, collaborations with Surreal Hazzard, and a good helping of previously unreleased material; a DVD of their explosive live shows is also a part of the package. Peter Missing, the band's founder and vocalist, comes off as an apocalyptic prophet: most of the tracks here warn of things like water crises and corrupt pharmaceutical companies, mixing in Mayan mythology and riot-inducing live recordings from Tompkins Square to haunting effect. Lyrics and messages do occasionally repeat themselves from track to track, but it's no accident – it's simply the passion and drive to get his message across to what Missing saw, 20 years ago, as a decaying society. Highlights include "I Want SUV", "News Ticker" , and the acoustic (!) "Love Love Love." Prepare to be more frightened of society than ever.
-Liz Zimmerman


Frame
afo 4
(Mousike Lab)

The audio portion of Frame's CD + DVD collaboration with video artist Nina di Majo is an enveloping work that deserves a good amount of concentration. Experienced in front of proper speakers, epic tracks like "music for a merged bubble" wrap themselves warmly around the listener with deep, dusty digital lows and simple bell-like melodies in the top end. Well-placed energetic freeform saxophone carries "pon" and "sequenza quattro," and tones down smoothly for armchair dramas like "madalia." Sticky, cavernous beats take on complex roles beneath airy synth sweeps, stylized stereophonic drips, and thoughtful piano compositions throughout the album's nine cuts. The DVD portion of afo 4 is dedicated to abstract vignettes for the awkward body movements of two actors whose fanciful costumes (wings, gasmasks, wrapped gauze) and contrived, jerky movements make the work hard to take seriously. While much of di Majo's work (composed in response to Frame's music) looks like detached and under- wrought experimentation with editing and processing effects, the videos for "madalia" and "doi guo" are stunningly pieced-together color wheels of human motion that would make Peter Gabriel smile. The visual score would work best not as a DVD for watching at home, but as it was originally presented - a background in an audiovisual installation created for afo 4.
-Trent Wolbe



  STATIC MAGAZINE
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