Sunday, December 30, 2007

Maquiladora - ritual of hearts (2002)

Maquiladora remain one of the best kept secrets of contemporary Americana, probably the most atmospheric and also one of the most emotional alternative-country outfits.

"The Secret" is a ghostly waltz worthy of the Black Heart Procession, while "Ritual Of Hearts" is a dreamy lullaby that weds the Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star, and then vanishes in an industrial whisper. The ghostly atmosphere reappears in "Heaven", which drapes the singer's evocation across a mirage of guitars, pianos and strings.

Another meditation, "Sweet After", takes the desert-rock of Calexico and gives it an eerie metaphysical dimension. In comparison, "I'm In Love" sounds much more traditional but no less tender. Then the brief vignette "A Vow" sounds like whispers carried in the wind through romantic ears, leading to "Sound Of Rain", half bittersweet hymn and half melancholy ballad.

The album reaches it's apex with the last 3 songs, featuring their best attempts at an otherwordly ambience. First, "Chinese Girl", which garnishes the intimate melody with an organ drone, fragile harmonicas, playful piano and a delicate beat. The mood that prevails is resigned melancholy. Then the anemic dirge "She's More Beautiful To Me" transforms this melancholy to an incorporeal entity, as if the soul is leaving the body after a long and painful journey. The journey then ends with "Static Hum", which is almost dream-pop and slowcore (Low crossed with Slowdive), with the blurry instrumentation clearing to reveal a sweet melody. Still, as this heavenly illusion fades into nothingness, a reprise of "The Secret" leads us back to where we started, back to the start of the circle.

Get it here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christian Death - deathwish (1984)

Deathwish EP is in fact the first recording of Christian Death (from 1981), but it was only released in 1984 by French label L'invitation au Suicide.

"Deathwish", "Desperate Hell" and "Cavity" suggest psychedelia, distorted hard rock riffs, existential terror and a horrifying intensity. "Romeo's Distress" adds romantic elements to the recipe, "Dogs" displays doom synths and electronic effects, while "Spiritual Cramp" is a punk maelstrom.

The record demonstrates the formidable power of the first Christian Death line-up, and features excellent guitar & vocal work by Rikk Agnew (ex Adolescents) and Rozz Williams respectively.

Get it here.

Oh, and one more thing, merry Xmas from IAS. -)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lizzy Mercier Descloux - mambo nassau (1980)

Already hinted by the previous Press Color, Lizzy Mercier Descloux adopted the mutant-disco stance with Mambo Nassau, a hyper blend of energetic funk ("Slipped Disc"), bloated disco beats ("Funky Stuff"), Caribbean flair ("Lady O K'pele"), oriental ballet ("Sports Spootnicks"), and often presented as cubist reconstructions ("Payola") or feverish music-hall ("It's You Sort Of"). In short, another excellent album by Ze Records.

Get it here.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ludus - the seduction (1981)

Ludus bridged post-punk and the progressive jazz-rock of the 70s (think
Soft Machine).

"Unveiled" and "Herstory" (with a middle section made entirely of concrete sounds), are complex compositions that seem to be made of out 15 different songs, and also funky, danceable and raw.

In addition, "My Cherry Is In Sherry", "Inheritance" and "See The Keyhole" even incorporate lounge-jazz, punk-funk and synth-pop, while "Dynasty" is almost free-jazz vs classical sonata. Finally, "Mirror Mirror" and "Escape Artist" are more pop-orientated but still complex.

Get it here.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fred Frith - gravity (1980)

The new impetus for Fred Frith brings short experimental sketches exhibiting enormous variety.
Check the jazz-ethnic cacophony "The Boy Beats The Rams", the naive Canterbury melody "Spring Any Day Now", the hysterical Latin dance "Don't Cry For Me" (that ends as a vocal freak-out), the Middle-Eastern/ bolero/ electronic-jazz crossover "Hands Of The Juggler", the prog-jam "Norrgarden Nyvla", the acid guitar solo-ing "What A Dilemma", the smooth and yet unsettling jazz "Come Across", the surreal ditty sabotaged by electronic noise "Dancing In The Street", the Celtic folk-dance with dissonant outbursts "Career in Real Estate" etc.

A marvellous album.

Get it here.