The NBT Review 117

Evi Vine reviewed by Martin Smit

Muffled Shine reviewed by Cobus Rossouw

 And So The Morning Comes – Evi Vine (independent release)

 This is before sunrise music, those eternal minutes where the darkness fools you that It’s never gonna leave, but somehow the lamplight is losing it’s power to soothe or distort (was it ever comforting really?)

This is music floating in that waiting world, where hope is not quiet born and sister despair is not as charming as she was just a few hours ago.

This is intimate, just you and the singer, the music the cool air you breathe as you conduct this personal conversation. You cannot imagine studio or electrics, cables and buttons and mixing desks, you cannot imagine close ups of strings and bows and microphones. You’re too busy being IN the song and the singer and her music is too busy being IN you.

And yet.

That said, it is also music that makes you want to betray that privacy, the second it is done, and tell others, so that they too can be lost, just them and the singer.

So tell us about the music, you plead, well its stripped down Mazzy Star, its the most fragile blues, its those thoughts you had when you fell in love and you knew you would one day fall out of love.

It can make all the beauty in the world a lonely frightening thing but it can also softly urge you to keep dreaming to dare not wake up right now.

I had this vision that as the music drifted into a bus full of noise and chaos, one by one those that heard it closed their eyes, warped slightly out of focus, let go.

Stops were missed, timetables forgotten, the future became flexible.

It really was that simple.

http://www.evivine.com/

 Muffled Shine – Just (Independent Release)

 In 2003 Frédéric Chaubin began a journey to document some of the Soviet Union’s incredible architecture. I stumbled onto the story of this adventure together with a sample of some of the photographs (click on Frédéric’s name above) and was immediately struck by how the architecture somehow conveyed a sense of the Cold War era while being very distinct from what was created in the US. The buildings have a close, claustrophobic feeling; even as they stretch creativity far further than the West did (well, mostly).

When I first heard this EP from Muffled Shine it immediately brought back the images of those buildings. Landscapes of graceful emptiness filled with architectural displays that are brutal, yet harmonic and somehow triumphant. This is a personal reflection though, and while I am sure that we cannot escape the effects of our environment I am also sure that Muffled Shine intends far more with this EP than to depict a fascinating past.

Gregory Khanin & Dmitry Gubin create music that falls within the “Industrial”, genre but it would sell their EP, “Just”, short if you tried categorise it that strictly. The reason for this is that “Industrial” so often conjures up the idea of grinding discomfort, agitation, angst, whereas Muffled Shine have produced something that is reflective and meditative without being mawkish or overtly spiritual. This album will not make it into a Tibetan monastery, but if it did they’d learn something.

The music is so evocative that it transforms your local landscape. With autumn fast approaching in South Africa it metamorphosed afternoon traffic into an epic adventure, a slow progress to some homecoming, some imminent arrival. It is such a familiar feeling that I listened to the album three times in succession without once feeling like I’ve heard it before. (I knew I couldn’t find the words to describe this feeling, so I’ll settle for “nostalgia”).

Since receiving the album for review I have probably listened to it more than twenty times, and I could listen to it again, right now and I know I’ll be moved. I also know that I’ll be moved in a different way, and that it will provoke an emotional response. This is my album for contemplation, for deepening the world, for delving inside.

 http://muffledshine.bandcamp.com/

  Both Muffled Shine and Evi Vine will be featured on the NBT DarkElectric and Flagship Podcasts going out on the 29th and 30th March respectively

 and both are playlisted on the NBTMusic 24hour Radio

 http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/

 

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The NBT Review 116

  Aftermath – Alozeau & Jean Montag (Independent Release)

 the best music is a soundtrack to a movie in our imagination.

 Scene 1.

 the monster wakes up, the technical thing, the mechanical thing shakes off its sleep and pity and compassion coils into itself, throbs, then shoots up.

 We are flying now.

 The world..even as a stark map, negative photo, smudged photostat, is (in it’s final moments) serene beautiful.

 We are the soul of the bomb, this is the music that explains how it soars, these are the seconds before release. This is the coldest sensual. The prettiest brutal.

 If you were a man. Watching it fall from the pale sky. This would be the intake of your breath, slowed down, slowed down in a vain attempt to straighten out those insane jumbled thoughts, those terminal thoughts.

 And if you survive, this is now your music too.

 Scene 2.

 the seconds before. The seconds after. Ghosts inherit the landscape. The panic, the crowd frenzy, the voyeuristic vipers of TV land are silent. And what price this calm?

 Scene 3.

 switch focus now.

The soul

the journey into heaven, hell or where exactly? Does it really matter? But oh it is scary, dangerous, so now we know, we can still be frightened, still be thrilled, the tension is unbearable, but orgasmic. We do not want this imploding to end. Forget the hush, bring the noise.

 Scene 4.

 and in the electro darkness, the deep green deep, the murk, sparks slink out timid, search for mother, search for lover. Rebirth almost happens, sighs, fades, then almost happens again. The composer’s compassion interferes, flickers into the fluid. Hope can be such an ambiguous thing.

 Scene 5.

 and then we are born again.. into the bright bright new world.

 Find your own movies within this incredible music

http://jeanmontag.bandcamp.com

Several tracks from Jean Montag and his Collaborators appear on the NBTdarkElectric Podcast and

the NBTMusic24Hr Radio

 http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com

 http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/

 

The NBT Review 112

 Polar Dust is reviewed by Martin Smit

One Eyed Mule is reviewed by Cobus Rossouw

 Selected Demos – Polar Dust

 It is apt that I start with ‘Between The Lines’ as I swim through this selection. Because this music is all about space and weight, the dreaming, the waking, the thoughts in between those states of being.

This is music that seems both Heavy (not as in powerchords or metal but rather that tempting release of allowing ourselves to SINK) and Floating (not as in insubstantial but bravely floating, untethered to darker places)

 As these are demos there is a tiny bit of fear shooting through this reviewer, that when the songs are given ‘full’ life the band may be urged to ‘clean up’ the murk, the delectable dirt, the ‘otherness’ of these recordings. But it is not the shiny that entices here , rather like an ancient mirror, its the warped reflections, the fragmented visions that keep us captivated.

 We are asked to dive into the ‘Deep End’ while sparkly electronics do sonic battle with bass machine rumble, an industrial thing a pop thing, and then the vocals slip in, benign hallucinations.

 These manage float tween euphoric and lament, they are love songs that the enemy sings to you, lullabyes from suggestive strangers.

 They ask you to get lost In them, With Them and not care about the destination.

 I suggest you get tempted, it is well worth it.

 http://www.ilike.com/artist/Polar+Dust

 You can hear some of these Demos and more on the NBTDarkelectric Podcast going out on the 5th March

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com

 and the band is playlisted on the NBTMusic 24 hr streaming Radio

http://www.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio

 One-eyed Mule – Drifting To A Happy Place (Artiscope Music)

 Anyone hearing One-Eyed Mule for the first time would be forgiven for imagining the band originates from the American heartlands. Their music is standard Americana, so standard that it came as a substantial surprise to hear that they were formed in Denmark and recorded this latest offering in Sweden.

Scandimericana then, easy on the ear, beautifully recorded and always interesting. It’s not an album that sets new benchmarks in music and it’s not avante garde or challenging, but it is wonderful. You see, for me it’s enough if music imparts a mood, evokes an emotion. I don’t always need to think, sometimes I just want to feel, and my word this album did it for me.

Starting off with a happy melancholy, a “September Sigh”, imagery of bleakness and yet hope, something warm, either in the past or the future. Rasmus Dall’s voice could feature in any band, its strength is its ability to express beyond the words, to drag you into the heart of the songs. By the time you reach the second track – “Rain keeps falling on you” he’s dragged you into the album and you will be hooked.

After a crazy week I left the office last week and as I hit the open road the track “Drifting to a happy place” and I wish I could make you all feel how it lifted me. Everything was suddenly ok and the weekend had been set up for joy. And this is why this album is so good. It touches all the nerves, it arouses the happiness junkie in me, it doesn’t so much “keep me going” as “makes me go”.

Now, before you start thinking that this is a simple album with little intellect let me caution you, this band knows its music and the album shows off all the chops without ever being self indulgent. Each song expanding in instrumentation, with banjo, cello, sitar and even jew’s harp. And nowhere is there a trace of overeager ego. In its place is perfect sensibility, which is rare.

It’s even difficult to pick a favorite track, although if I was forced to it would “All your love is gone”. I can’t hear it without singing along, and there’s a Velvet Underground feel to it that I have to love.

So in short – not a single note out of place, never boring, happy without being sentimental, melancholy without being maudlin and a range of pfectly constructed songs – ladies and gents, what One-eyed Mule have given us is a perfect album, perfect in every way.

 http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Eyed-Mule/176292165300

 you can hear tracks from this album on the NBT Podcasts going out on the 4th March and last weeks show as well.

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

and One-Eyed-Mule is playlisted on the NBTMusic Radio

http://www.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio

The NBt Review 106

Selected Music -Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt (Independent Releases)

This prolific creator of ambience and noise has so many works scattered across the web, that even three blogs would not do it justice, so for now I must be content to write about just a few and let you, the gentle curious reader explore deeper.

We start out extreme with Son Of Thunder’ (a Kitty On Fire Records release), setting us down upon a twisted playground from an alternate past, once there were jolly warm glowing lights and souls, now they have been allowed to fade into the grew howl, leaving only a trace of a winter market melody behind. The barricades constructed here shift spookily, allowing glimpses of lonely choirs lost, till all is the swarm. The pleasure here is the dream of comfort never quite achieved, the artist making sure that it is the journey that is important.

Now Blisters take us further into the grinning gasp of darkness, where the assurance of scratches and static hide the slomotion glide of rooms and old men and flickers of dancehall memories. Imagine yourself out on a cold winter’s night, looking up at complacent hunks of residential buildings, lives shining from behind curtains far up above you. Add a sense of humour and horror to the experience and you are close to this.

Onwards now, bravely to the manipulation of ‘The Accidental X Change’ where the artist proves that the fabric of our reality can be stretched thin, even to breaking point and then like an overtired child lost within a train journey we slip into something that perhaps is not there, cannot be explained to mother or father and will slip away soon enough, traces of it haunting us still into adulthood.

And finally (for this review at least; remember this is only a tiny taste of this artist’s work) we attempt to float up the TwoRivers, up because these soundscapes push high into space, subliminal spikes jutting out allowing our tender soul brief sanctuary, then spilling back into the murmur, the saddest blur ever felt.

http://www.vimeo.com/16657554

http://www.vimeo.com/16636235

http://www.myspace.com/seandcmarquardt

http://www.avachorda.de/

You will be able to hear a lot from Cooper Marquardt on
upcoming shows on all the NBT podcasts in the new year

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com

The NBT Review 82

Music As Weaponry – Post Death Soundtrack (Overthrow)

Sit down, push the CD into the computer, and press play. The magic begins. A swagger slow swing transforms a city building into a night flight, essence of exotic eastern, subtle perilous. The words sing soft for the destruction of lie, and in the melody the aggression builds but tightens within itself. In this tension the power stays.

These are revolution songs, fierce and intelligent, a battle against the bland the blind the soft focus, indeed as the tune screams, ‘taking back the radio’ the noise is refined, made razor sharp to cut into the nothingness of the normal.

Music as battlefield, the camera swoops into the thick of the fighting, the overlaid blur of social politics, and hedonistic rock frantic, even if the price paid is sometimes a’ life gone solitary’ (this miniature piece is both full of dread and quite beautiful)

Wake up and listen, this is a world where the vampires are the ones who preach and rule us from the televisions and parliaments, and this band make it easy to listen, to wake up. They cloak their truth within a euphonious shape-shifting structure. No rhythm is forced, no instrument overplayed, the mix is perfect, strong and provocative.

It is this restraint, this coiled madness that elevates this band, they embrace the chaos when needed, the love the fury when set free, but they know that darkness loves the frazzled intimacy, and they swoop down to whisper these confidences directly into our willing ears.

This entire album intrigues and captivates but for me the closing horror movie crash of a lullaby is the stand out. With this song,’I’ll Meet You At The End’ the possibility of this band taking back the radio is now very real.

Find at more and join in the revolution

http://www.postdeathsoundtrack.com/

Hear trax from this set and brand new songs too on the NBT Dark Electric Podcast going out on the 3rd August 2010

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 69

Starlit Apocalypse

Air

Endless – SNMT (Black Flower Music)

Plus Brand new Tracks from an upcoming release

I decide to listen to this music in the basement of my postwar (forever tween modern and ancient) German small town flat. I have this feeling that the ambience of the musty dark room full of wounded and dead appliances will suit these tunes. That as the sounds drift over the discarded machines of fun and comfort, and cardboard boxes packed to overflowing with no longer loved or listened to vinyl and comics begging for a future generation to love them, the rust and the glitter, the oil and the blood contained within the ragged rhythms will reveal themselves.

I have Three sets to go through plus new songs yet to find a home, and as a tense grey storm brews out there on the street I press random, then press play, lean back against the hard concrete and let the musicians have their chaotic way with me.

So if you expect some sort of order, the stability of one collection then the next, you are in the wrong place. This is for the senses, for the emotions provoked.

Oh I love the slow crawl into AWAKE that the first tune offers, airspace full of the crackle and shock of the moody electric. On this Floating Bridge, one must tread carefully, because it shudders and this is no silent vacuum of stars, here the squeaks shoot out sharp, always tempting the delicate balance to betray itself.

In this Graveyard, the ghosts are bloated, stumbling raw, they puff outward abrasive, yet believe (to the very core or their distressed hearts), that they can hug you, wrap around your soul, blanket like. So they chatter picking fraught phrases from the static. They are lost and there is something beautiful about that.

Now it’s time to fly once more, into a drift that is both unsafe and gentle, a shy startled seductive trip somewhere Between Space. The calm is deceptive though and The Turbo Lolita burns, as she drags us into her, this is Ragnarok , but no Gods on this level, these are men women, demons swimming in the heat, the confusion of yesterday’s failed flirting and tomorrows heavy rampage. They throw out the thoughts in waves that, to LoveYou is to fall, is to surrender to this fine noise, to perhaps find the melody where you may and ride it deeper (not AWAY) but inwards.

Then abruptly the Charm of an orchestra full of the scared and the hesitant brave, take a seat in the empty auditorium watch the blur on stage, the colours shifting as the music finds ways to heal itself. the Deep White entices, you want to dream here, though the unease shifts, sighs in its sleep abandoned baby birds, (clockwork or digital or just projection?) nag at us, to not relax too much, don’t let the REM movement take over

With this music

You may never come out.

Find out for yourself how one band makes so much chaos and beauty. Download from a vast selection of great albums here

http://blackflowermusic.com

You can hear tracks from all these sets on the next NBT Dark Electric podcast going out on the 17th June

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

And Black Flower Music will be the featured label in July on the http://nbtmusic.de website.

                              If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of SNMT’s Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

                           (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

The NBT Review 68

Fly Gallery – Frequency Theater (independent release)

One mans journey into the heart beyond the switches, travelling along the giddy current, he rides the dark sparks into a unique messy world.

The intro hints at the disturbance to follow, ancient voices saved perhaps from apocalypse, counterpoint the alluring lethal future siren full landscape.

Fragile mechanical rattle shivers for a few seconds then POW the song explodes, driving martial foot-stomp brave, call to arms call to dance call to PoP over artifice, call to commercial breakthrough, the chorus will save us.

Then we feel the wave motion, sultry swim of the Modern Myth, recalling the exact moment the young boys from the Depeche machine, plugged in, tuned out and lost their innocence and found a wry sense of melody.

                                Ahh the poignancy of the retro electronica, the percussion slinks in, all criminal rough telling us this ballad is being lead, willingly, lovingly to the slaughter.

This Theatre loves the chaos, but loves the sadness too, hear how the almost drum and bass chaotic rumbles detached as a gentle tune unfolds. This is Frenzy sure, but a wry thing indeed.

The vocals are unwrapped from their steel camouflage, allowed to be flimsy even personal, within a song that dares to be modern soul, the orchestral syrup of the latter day urban.

The pilot of this rocked up spaceship, Nathan Butler has a keen ear for hooks and a steady grasp of the human emotional behind the flickering effects. These are chart songs shooting down from a cool planet.

Finally the squelch slow build as we are pushed Over The Edge, sculpted tension the song spirals seductively outward.

The bodies undulate, the trance smokes in, and all too soon the song gurgles out.

Take a breath.

Press play

Begin the journey again.

http://www.frequencytheater.com

Hear tracks from this album and thoughts from Mr Butler on the NBT Dark Electric Podcast going out on the 17th June 2010

http://nbtdarkelectric.podbean.com/

And later in June on the NBT Flagship Podcast

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

                              If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of Frequency Theater’s Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

                           (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

                             A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/