Ambiances Magnétiques


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NEWS NEWS AND VIEWS **************************


Ambiances Magnétiques, the distributor
of fine electronic recordings of musique actuelle goes by the acronym
DAME. A prolific label of fascinating albums, DAME is now working a bevy of
new and current releases. From the duo of Martin Tétreault and Otomo Yoshihide
comes the three-mini-CD box set Studio-Analogique-Numérique. The pair
recorded Studio live in the studio, with no reprocessing, although the
set was edited. Letting in chance and eschewing compositional form, this is
an organic collage of turntables and electronics. Like a gathering storm this
collection of monstrous sounds is ominous and almost unsettling. Then, each
took the tapes “back to the lab” for lone reconstruction without input from
the other. Tétreault opted for antique tape equipment on Analogique,
which adds warmth and even charm to the sounds. Yoshihide went the opposite
route and employed state-of-the-art digital reshaping on “an ultramodern computer”
and a crisper, sharper piece emerges of low volume, high-pitched drones and
alien, cybernetic ruminations… Instead of contrasting styles, personalities
merge in the following case. Soshin is a modern guitar album from Antoine
Berthiaume. The lead, title track is a solo piece that is a vague meandering
but suggests that this guitar album is not about riffs and leads. The rest is
duets with masters of the experimental guitar: Fred Frith and Derek Bailey.
The pieces flow into each other as the sound architects twang, rub and groan
their instruments with sustain only science can give. How was that done? One
wonders with each moment. A moaning dog arises out of “Wolf’s Wood” before the
disc disappears as subtly as it came in “Aquathèque”… Often, we find ourselves
enjoying sounds that are not music, but put forward by our environment.
It is this reverie induced by Grain from Klaxon Gueule. The album was
recorded in a barn and the mostly electronic and homemade percussion sound mosaics
offer a barnyard of impressions. In “Fonte sur Plomb” I hear the ducks and roadside
traffic of a suburban lake. “Fer Blanc sur Frêne” is the fast-paced chatter
of an industry of metal-munching machines… On Asymémtries we have reeds
this time being re-evaluated as to how to make sound with them. The Swiss pair
behind this disc is Bertand Denzler (tenor sax; Günter Müller, Bob Ostertag)
and Hans Koch (bass clarinet and soprano saxophone; Cecil Taylor, Elliott Sharp).
The duo goes for a deconstruction that cuts so close to the bone that the pieces
are often made up of merely amplified respiration and the sharp squeak of a
breath cut in half by a reed… But it is not all about dismantling and rebuilding
reeds. Tim Brady offers to bridge the past and the future through his exciting
chamber works for saxophone and ensemble on Unison Ritual. The set of
three works leads with two that are tightly constructed and fiercely demonstrated
examples of post-classical modernism. The final piece is “Kappa” which reconstructs
with studio multi-tracking Brady’s 100-wind instrument live outdoor performance
of 1983…


The 4th Annual moe.down’s line up, now confirmed, includes Flaming Lips, Antigone
Rising and They Might Be Giants. The festival is in Turin, NY, Labor Day Weekend,
August 29-31. Hardworking moe. performs six sets over the weekend, including
three sets on Saturday, between sets by Rusted Root, Yonder Mountain String
Band and more. Says moe. guitarist Chuck Garvey, “We’ll be playing in the company
of friends that we’ve known for years, as well as influences both past and present…”
Tickets are available at


Record label Life is Abuse has a lot
of really noisy, and scary stuff but its wicked sense of humor comes out in
Le Scrawl. Check out the album Too Short
to Ignore
. It’s full of miniature grindcore songs ala A.C. but it mixes
in a wealth of musical genres – jazz, pop, and world dance riffs taken from
the Brave Combo songbook. It is like Mucky Pup on one end and the Cookie Monster
sound vocally (Cannibal Corpse, etc.) on the other with a zany multi-genre approach.
The styles change at breakneck speed and it is best to sit and enjoy and not
try to predict the hyper-eclectic ensemble. Too Short to Ignore is the
entire discography, so far, from the band on one CD… For more consistent heavy
noise rock get with the self-titled Brainoil album. On the one hand this is
like wall-of-noise in the vein of Neurosis, but on the other hand it is ossified
stoner rock, like Acid King… Also heavy and malevolent is Teen Cthulhu. This
group is heading more toward doom metal with its vicious sludge but boasts the
same Cookie Monster vocals. Teen Cthulhu is black metal with a hardcore heart,
delivering vicious omens with bloody, murderous themes…


Among the happenings at the Mute label: The Warlocks
sign a record deal and Nick Cave is releasing his first-ever DVD. While the
Cave DVD is through Mute, Cave continues to work with Anti/Epitaph. Mute Records
signed four-guitar group The Warlocks to
its international roster. Mute North America will provide promotional and marketing
support to Phoenix, available through Birdman Records domestically, raising
awareness of the swirling neo-psychedelic gem. Mute UK will release Phoenix
in the UK on September 1, 2003. The first single is “Shake the Dope Out.” Nick
Cave And The Bad Seeds’ God Is In The House DVD is due out August 26,
2003. The DVD contains live footage from Le Transbordeur in Lyon, France, as
well as the John Hillcoat directed documentary No More Shall We Part – The
Recording Sessions
. The documentary has exclusive film of the band recording
No More Shall We Part at Abbey Road. The DVD includes the videos Hillcoat
directed for the singles “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side” and “Fifteen Feet Of Pure
White Snow.” The Lyon concert from the 2001 No More Shall We Part tour
features the line up Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Blixa Bargeld, Thomas Wydler, Martyn
Casey, Conway Savage, Jim Sclavunos and Warren Ellis.

Listen to or Buy Phoenix at

to or Buy No More Shall We Part at


No, it’s not the name of a space adventure set far into the future. Sixty One
Sixty Eight is a co-operative of artists put together by Bob Green (Grassy Knoll)
and Peter Beddow (Absorption) that shares the financial burden of promotion
while the artists maintain full control and ownership of their wok. The CDs,
available only at the website,
are similarly packaged in cardboard sleeves. A compelling urban visual in a
middle band on the cover separates the band name above from the CD title below.
The first disc on this label I will bring your attention to is the first disc
from Absorption. This slow-groove, ragged electronica is a project from Peter
Beddow that includes two members of Grassy Knoll: Bob Green on bass and David
Revelli as one of the guitarists. The lo-fi, trippy music has an early trip-hop
feel (Portishead, Massive Attack) but is sans vocals… Grassy Knoll itself has
a record on the label, Short Stories, and it does have vocals. Bob Green’s
post-electronic experimental rock project uses electronic styles, like repetition
and beat, and tools to create music. This CD is built on samples of New York
spoken word artist and actress Becca
as well as trumpet tracks from Chris Grady. This is the first Grassy
Knoll album I’ve heard with prevalent female voice and the result is similar
to Meg Lee Chin’s album… Squadra Fantasma by Jettatura
brings us back to an instrumental sound. Jettatura uses fat bass grooves and
brisk break beats in a formula that is deconstructed funk in a space music style…


Mark Insley migrated from Kansas to Los Angeles and developed his post-Bakersfield
Sound ala Buck Owens. Supermodel (Rustic)
is an achey-breaky collection of narrative ballads is an
excellent album featuring top-notch understated guitar work from Insley, Rick
Shea (Dave Alvin), Greg Leisz (k.d. lang, Beck, Smashing Pumpkins) and bassist
Bob Glaub (Jackson Browne, John Fogerty). Ex-Butthole Surfer David Raven handles
percussion and the distinct voice of Clare Muldaur delivers backing vocals.
This daughter of folksinger Geoff Muldaur recalls Geoff’s ex-wife (not Clare’s
mother) Maria Muldaur… David Allen Coe has had a three-part career starting
as an outlaw country purveyor of “country porn” and then the outlandishly garbed
“Masked Rhinestone Cowboy” but is now an elder statesman of country music and
pre-eminent songwriter. Sounds like the lead “Ain’t that the Way (Love’s Supposed
to Be)” in duet with Kim Hastings indicate his talent as well as “Take this
Job and Shove It” on Live at Billy Bob’s Texas (Smith Music Group). Still,
Coe never obtained the mainstream recognition he deserved. Johnny Paycheck built
a career on “Take This Bob and Shove It” such that the number of Paycheck albums
with that song rival in number if not surpass the number of albums Coe has at
all. Indeed, much of Coe’s material is marked by near desperate name dropping
and hagiography like the excellent songs “When I was a Young Man”, “If that
Ain’t Country” and “Longhaired Redneck” here updated as “Long Haired Redneck
2001”. This updating marks Coe’s acceptance by hip-hop figures Uncle Kracker
and Kid Rock, bringing Coe to bring hip hop into this song and others, like “You
Never Even Call Me by My Name”. Such populist moves didn’t upgrade Bo Diddley’s
repertoire and it doesn’t help this Coe set. Dig into Coe’s signature “You Never
Even Call Me By My Name” and you will find excellent songwriters Steve Goodman
and John Prine. Dig into country music and you will find premier songwriters
Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and David Allan Coe. That much will
always be true. This concert from the stalwart legend is also preserved on DVD
from Smith Music Group… Coe also gave us an excellent version of “Storms Never
Last”, the song Waylon Jennings and Jessi Coulter made famous as a husband-wife
duet. On Lonesome, On’ry and Mean: A Tribute to Waylon Jennings (Dualtone
), Allison
Moorer does the song solo and the tribute to the original outlaw country singer
concludes with a revved-up title track by Henry Rollins. Standouts tracks include
Guy Clark (“Good Hearted Woman”), Robert Earl Keen (“Are You Sure Hank Done
it this Way”) and Randy Foster with Roger Creager (“Luckenbach, Texas”). This
mix of pop, rock and country artists, including Nanci Griffith, Dave Alvin, Norah
Jones, John Doe and Kris Kristofferson, produced a remarkably consistent and
solid compilation… A generation before the outlaws, Western music was all about
popularity, not marginalization. Nolan Bruce Allen pays tribute to this whole
time when western music fused country, jazz and pop into western swing on Nolan
Bruce Allen Salutes the Bob Wills Era, Vol. 1
Music Co.
). The 22 tracks from New York’s “King of Western Swing” on this
first installment in a three-volume series features such stellar players as
guitarist Tommy Allsup (Buddy Holly) and, when a female voice is needed, Chris
O’Connell (Asleep at the Wheel). Also from Asleep at the Wheel, Tim Alexander
plays piano. Steel guitar is an important instrument in this genre, and Allen
has a legend on hand: Tom Morrell, whose Western swing resume goes back to the
’50s. The rhythm section is Western swing greats Mark Abbott (upright bass)
and Greg Hardy (drums)… Also having Western swing roots is brothers Willy (vocals/guitar)
and Cody Braun (vocals/fiddle/mandolin/harmonica) of country-rock band Reckless
Kelly. The Brauns toured with their father in Muzzie Braun & the Boys, a Western
swing band. The new Reckless Kelly album is Under the Table & Above the Sun
(Sugar Hill). It is a tasty dozen country rock songs that tend toward the John
Mellencamp end of the spectrum… Eleven
Hundred Springs
does it with a Texas swing on Broken Dreams (Last
). This album features Kim Pendleton (Vibrolux) on vocals. This group
of twenty-somethings plays excellent, refined music worthy of their forebears…
Just as the Western swing formula continues to thrive, so does the Bakersfield
country plus rock formula, mixed with outlaw elements and base humor by Billy
Joe Winghead on Precious Moments with Billy Joe Winghead (R.A.F.R.).
Vagina jokes (“Hairless Kitty”), real bathroom humor (“Rest Stop Romeo”) along
with a strong backbeat and nods to hardcore are all found here. These Okie punkers
culminate this “best of” compilation with a version of “Freebird” replacing
the guitar with theremin… Collaboration is a sort of living cross-tribute and
this is what we find when Cracker and Leftover Salmon unite for O Cracker,
Where Art Thou?
(Pitch-A-Tent Records).
Recorded live in the studio, Cracker’s David Lowery and Johnny Hickman sing
with Leftover Salmon providing bluegrass-inspired backing. This one-off recording
project sprung from an impromptu performance of “Eurotrash Girl” by Hickman,
Lowery and Leftover Salmon after the duo and group met in Cracker’s home base
of Richmond, VA…

to or Buy Supermodel at

to or Buy Lonesome, On’ry and Mean at

to or Buy Nolan Bruce Allen Salutes the Bob Wills Era, Vol. 1 at

Listen to or Buy Under the Table & Above the Sun at

to or Buy Precious Moments with Billy Joe Winghead at
Listen to or Buy Broken Dreams at

to or Buy O Cracker, Where art Thou? at

DVD REVIEWS ****************************

Rachel Amodeo
What About Me
Eclectic DVD

Amodeo’s tale, starring herself, is the story of a cast-off that slowly descends
through successively more desperate and futile societal strata. The gritty black-and-white
picture works well as a vehicle for the Johnny Thunders sad ballads that punctuate
it. (As for songs, I was greatly pleased to hear “Another Girl Another Planet”
by criminally underrated The Only Ones in the party scene.) The characters Rachel’s
character meets on her descent are a who’s who of the underground. Nick Zedd,
Richard Hell, actor Richard Edson (Let It Ride, Do the Right Thing),
beat figure Gregory Corso, actress Judy Carne, Thunders, Thunders bandmate Jerry
Nolan, Dee Dee Ramone and actress Rockets Redglare (Down By Law, After Hours)
are all in this film. Included on the DVD of this Lower East Side tale of one
woman’s fall into street-life are two Amodeo shorts. The silent Rest in Peace
co-stars actress/musician Dame Darcy with Amodeo and is a ghost tale with double
exposure special effects. Pierre Paolo sees Amodeo exploring a town in
rural Italy. (3.5)

on the DVD from

Nina Simone
Live At Ronnie Scott’s
Wadham Films/MVD

This DVD of a 1984 performance starts abruptly, but powerfully as Nina, worked
into a trance, slowly and intently sings “God, God, God” as she plays piano
softly, but briskly. This sets the tone for the first half of the concert; intimate
and personal. In between the songs interview segments are interspersed. Nina is
quite chatty and entertaining in these talks and it works well with the set,
as we can imagine her conversing the same way with the audience on the songs,
as she was wont to do live. The second half of the concert is more energetic,
starting off with a medley of “Mississippi Goddam” with the Brecht/Weill tune
“Moon over Alabama”. The only accompaniment Simone has at the legendary jazz
venue is drummer Paul Robinson (Van Morrison, The Proclaimers). Robinson ably
supports and reacts to Simone in this memorable concert. (4)

on the DVD from

Shane MacGowan
If I Should Fall From Grace: The Shane MacGowan Story

This is a revealing and humanizing documentary of Shane MacGowan, singer for
The Pogues. Apart from his famous drunken and unpredictable behavior, this DVD
glimpse into the life of MacGowan shows him to be a warm and gregarious person
comfortable at clubs and pubs as well as with his parents and partner. While
this highly talented songwriter may never come across as articulate he also
appears well-read and intelligently motivated for his art. A large number of
songs by The Pogues, which can be searched directly on the DVD, make this a
musical treat for fans of the band, too. Along with other members of The Pogues,
Nick Cave comments on Shane. Cave’s interview is more lengthily sampled in the
extra’s portion, which also contains the iconoclastic MacGowan’s thoughts on religion
and a conversation between Shane and Paul Simonon (The Clash) about Italian
cinema and more. (4.5)

on the DVD from

BOOK REVIEWS ************************

Larry E. Sullivan, Editor
Bandits & Bibles
Akashic Books

This is a fascinating read of essays, poems and recollections written by 19th
Century American convicts. The title may make one think that this is about some
sort of Christian reform movement, but the influence of bibles on the life and
subculture of these cons is just one of the many facets exposed by this kaleidoscope
of the belly of the beast. Some pieces touch on infamous history like Cole Younger’s
recollection of his final ride with the James-Younger gang. Some pieces are
telling glimpses of human nature problems faced re-integrating with society,
as in “Problems After Release” by D. B. Smith. Generally autobiographical, these
memoir excerpts are revealing and telling windows into a dark and remote corner
of society from over a century ago. As with Civil War letters, Frederick Douglass’
Narrative and more, 19th Century writing seems imbued with such a gift
of literacy and description compared to popular writing of this day when e-mail
supplants letters and The Biography Channel replaces biographical books. This
collection is another example of such vivid prose. There is also a very entertaining
and detailed analysis of period con slang that should not go missed. (4)

More on the book from

Bobby Borg
The Musician’s Handbook: A Practical Guide to Understanding the Music Business
Billboard Books

Besides time with Warrant and Beggars & Thieves as well as his own band Left for Dead, Borg has a long history writing music magazine columns and method books. In this book, Borg unites his experience in working bands with his journalistic experience for an informative and detailed text on the mechanics of the music business. Along with bandmates, a musician needs a more extensive team to navigate the practical matters of a career in music. Borg details the roles of the attorney, personal manager, business manager, talent agent and record producer in this team. Borg also goes far to explain the perennially mystifying topic of royalties, advances and music publishing in the complex revenue stream generated by songs and recordings. Borg also explores different employment scenarios, like contract versus self-employment as well the approach of being a solo artist/employer. These helpful chapters are unusual in books of this type. Sections of the book are enhanced with Q&A interviews with such people as Henry Rollins, Fred Croshal (GM at Maverick Records) and Neil Gillis (VP of A&R at Warner/Chappel Music). (4)

More on the book from

CD REVIEWS ****************************

Cuneiform Records

Bill Brovold’s Larval continues to be the voice for intelligent and challenging
sounds with a hard rock basis out of Detroit. This CD sees Brovold relying less
on a wall-of-sound guitar dirge to offer more complex arrangements featuring
the strings and horns. This post-threnody Larval is menacing and ominous. Dark
clouds gather here on this most moody and reflective of the Larval albums. (4.5)

Listen to or Buy at

Jumbo’s Killcrane
Carnaval de Carne
Crucial Blast

Like The Jesus Lizard meets Einstürzende Neubauten, Jumbo’s Killcrane is an
ominous, doom rock attack that is trenchant and terrible. This is early Sonic
Youth amplified to over-modulated levels crossed with that amazing heavy stuff
that was coming from Amphetamine Reptile and Touch & Go in the late ’80s/early
’90s like Melvins and Killdozer. Jumbo’s Killcrane plays a sophisticated, progressive
post-grunge sludge rock that wants to be played at maximum volume. (3.5)

Listen to or Buy at

Spring Heel Jack
Thirsty Ear

This is Spring Heel Jack’s ultimate exploration of free jazz meets electronica,
This 75+ minute extravaganza caps a trilogy with the preceding Masses
and Amassed. With Masses, Spring Heel Jack worked with American
improvisers, employing their European counterparts for Amassed. This
live document is a cross-Atlantic summit that includes the American representatives
Matthew Shipp (this time on Fender Rhodes) and William Parker. Ambassadors from
Europe are saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Han Bennink. Helping to keep
it cosmic is Jason Pierce, a.k.a J. Spaceman (Spiritualized, Spaceman 3). The
entire instrumental set is a thrilling, majestic exploration of improvisation
as this all-star ensemble of guests jams with Spring Heel Jack. (5)

Listen to or Buy at

Tom Teasley
Global Groovilization
T&T Music

Tom Teasley is a percussionist of international renown. He performs solo as
well as with jazz groups and as a symphonic soloist. Like Grateful Dead drummer
Mickey Hart, Teasley also sees percussion rhythms as a unifying principle in
music of all cultures. Here Teasley promotes that idea through fun, stylized
tracks creating funky beat music out of a grab bag of rhythm foundations from
India, Brazil, West Africa and more. (3)

Slurry Records

This four-song EP from this new Brooklyn band is an introduction to its music.
A full-length release is slated for fall, 2003. This is sophisticated trip-hop
melding exquisite slow-soul vocals from Marilyn Carino with trashcan downbeat
rhythms from an unhurried, post-industrial Benjamin Rubin. Mudville is
Portishead pulled in the direction of classic West Coast cool jazz. (4.5)

Listen to or Buy at

Canned Heat
Friends in the Can
Fuel 2000

Friends in the Can is an excellent blues/rock album from lead veterans
of the genre. Several guests appear on this album to spice things up. This includes
Roy Rogers on “Bad Trouble” and Walter Trout on “Home To You”. The posthumous
inclusion of a John Lee Hooker narrative on “Never Get out of These Blues Alive”
featuring Taj Mahal recalls the days Canned Heat exposed Hooker to a national
audience when these record collectors and rockers signed up The Healer Canned
Heat for the massively selling album Hooker ‘n’ Heat in 1970. It is largely
still 1970 and a heady mix of true blues and real rock on this excellent album
Canned Heat. (4.5)

Listen to or Buy at

The Swords Project
Entertainment is Over if you Want it
Arena Rock Recording Co.

This is the first album from an ad hoc project that grew up from regular jam

sessions held between the groups The Icebreak and Slower Than. This is a multi-layered
experimental pop project that recalls the noise-pop experiments of the Seattle-Vancouver
scene like Sky Cries Mary and Mecca Normal. This also heads toward the shoegazer
arena, in a detached, floating neo-psychedelic way. (3)

Listen to or Buy at

Ian Eccles-Smith
Ian Eccles-Smith

Like some of the music of Tangerine Dream, this is an ambitious, prog-rock album
heavily based on electronica. The instrumental pieces largely succeed as powerful
and somewhat eerie pieces. The London-based composer varies the mood of his
compositions from a potent juggernaut to a tranquil melody. All this change
and variation flows easily and naturally over the entire CD that can be heard
as a unified opus. (3.5)

Loop Guru
Bathtime with Loop Guru
Hypnotic Records

This is the first CD of new material in five years from electronica veterans
Loop Guru. As the title suggests, this is a relaxing album of slow-groove beats
that would enhance a relaxing soak in the tub. This serene feeling is enhanced
by the tranquil sound of horns performing understated and simple melodies answered
by synthesizer. As such, this album marks a conclusion of a trilogy ambient
atmospherica from the group. The album is also exotica, incorporating ethnic
themes, especially the eastern and Asian Indian. The sum total is a warm and
bubbling medium of trance electronica to soak the troubled mind and carry way
the stresses of the day. (4.5)

Listen to or Buy at

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