the ground where the proving gets proved and the doing gets done
it's a cassette if it doesn't say otherwise

PO Box 376 East Northport NY 11731 USA
“Night Into Light (Activity Pals Theme)” is a jump-up take on Luscious Jackson’s bogus honkey funk with a dude rapping and fuzz bass! “No Feel” is a lo fi acoustic track that recalls, er, Violent Femmes with its self-loathing lyrics and whiny-ass delivery. “Ewok Ebonics” takes a more Soul Coughing approach with nonsensical wordplay over a throwaway groove. “King Midas’ Daughter” uses a Casio and sounds like The Fall! Like it was thrown together on the spot. “Time-Share Sue” is lofi-er than heck and may have been recorded live. Pure new wave with a vocal line that sounds like 1979 XTC! With which I am currently unable to argue. “Nuclear Extinction” too! “Deathlips” is song title of the month! Jumpy lo fi new wave! Get with it!
Ian C Stewart

Middle Pillar PO Box 555, New York, NY 10009 USA
Though a more apt title would be WHILE YOU LIE AWAKE NERVOUSLY WATCHING THE SHADOWS, this album is a traumatic, extremely impressive piece of work. It’s a virtual soundtrack to a nightmare... suffocating, claustrophobic, doomed. Not even the scariest, most twisted Current 93, Coil, or Skinny Puppy album could compare to the perfectly orchestrated fright on this CD. I swear I won’t be able to sleep for weeks! The music is a contorted mesh of soundscapes, blending what seem like harrowing moans at times with cellar banging and thunderous tones. This is the kind of thing that gets you locked up.
Hyacinthe L. Raven-Douleur

ATM PO Box 527 Jarrettsville MD 21084 USA
VVL 1720 Tallyrand, Brossard QC J4W 2J2 Canada
This is one of the best splits I’ve heard, ever! Both sides are very well structured and inspiring to go create more noise myself. ATM kick this puppy into gear with “Lost Children Seek A Greater Force,” filled with throbbing pulses, at times get rather bassy, and whirling static that could throw your cat into an epileptic seizure. Wheeeeee! On the flipside VVL whisk us away to audio heaven with a more spacey sounding track. Lots of digital delay and tonal manipulation. Trippy at times with the reverb but interrupted with violent blasts and decayed high-end whirls and bleeps. Very talented material from both entities. I am looking forward to hearing more from both.
E Crowe

Ivey DeMilo Recordings 2411 Woodson Dr
Knoxville, TN 37920 USA
Hey, I’m warning you now, if you don’t like gushing reviews, just skip on to the next one. John T Baker rules. This guy does it all himself, and like C Browne Jr or Sean Padilla he’s got it all; great songs, decent drumming, guitar hooks up the wazoo, vocal harmonies, catchy-quirky pop sensibilities, yada yada. Get this CD.
JH Christ

Slipstream Presents PO Box 331351 Miami FL 33233-1351 USA
Boy, I hate to trash something, but I didn’t really like this at all, and I’m a big fan of the acoustic singer-songwriter genre. These folks are all singers but maybe not songwriters. This CD features one track from each of twelve artists, all performing solo acoustic. My favorite track was “Shiny Town” by Diane Ward. I’d love to hear more stuff by her.
JH Christ

Studio Seventeen Productions PO Box 461363, Escondido, CA 92046 USA
Not exactly mimicking the title, this CD is really a collection of positive ambient songs. Bubbly and energetic at times, it reminds me of something playful Edward Ka-Spel would want to get his hands into. Other songs gurgle their way between engaging beats, though never sounding cluttered. I found this to be great background music to activities that are usually quite boring, and not only did it help me get a lot of stuff done, but it also got me hooked! My CD player wants to play this baby constantly!
Hyacinthe L. Raven-Douleur

Studio Seventeen Productions PO Box 461363, Escondido, CA 92046 USA
Uterine ambient plonky noises, not unpleasant at all, but sounding like a zillion other blippy, trippy things we’ve all reviewed to death during many years. Ambient-heads: enjoy. Normal, balanced people: use only to accompany candlelit baths.

Mission Control PO Box 12 Maryport Cumbria CA15 6GA UK
Any CD that features handcuffs, fishnets and a gagged woman on the sleeve, plus some tasteful graphics and overuse of that Gothic font that’s everywhere (I don’t know its name, but if you saw it you’d know what I’m talking about), never fails to attract my attention, so I confess this was the first CD I listened to out of the bunch. The content is 100% pure EBM. No more and no less; just 10 slightly overlong exercises in orthodox British EBM, with EBM killer thumpa-thumpa-thumpa rhythms, EBM groaning voices, the lot. I never understood people who listen to EBM at home, because I think this kind of music only has some meaning in an overcrowded Goth disco and at ear-splitting volume (though you’ll see me walking out of the dancefloor, because I’m one of the old school). It is, however, within its genre, a huge blast, and violently recommended to any fan. Bio-Tek even wants to show you it’s got a sense of humour, by covering PLACEBO’s “Pure Morning” (let’s teach a lesson to that lipsticked sissy midget!), not that we felt any need for it. As in any EBM CD, all the songs are rather indistinguishable, (or is it me?) but the quality remains outstanding throughout. Second best of this month’s bunch (my first are PICTURE THE BEAUTIFUL, because I’m mellowing out with age).

2148 Texas Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84109 USA
Bryan Baker’s CD features various songs he’s recorded over the years, with a variety of styles that veer from Roger Waters-Comfortably Numb-era Floyd to up-tempo Glenn Frey rockers to big electric guitar riff rock to Hunky Dory-esque quirk rock. The music demonstrates Bryan’s dexterity with a variety of instruments as well as the recording process itself. Some of the lyrics are pretty heavy. The most intense moment is when you hear a hand-clap stomp ala Queen’s “We Will Rock You” suddenly veer off into a spacerock suicide lament. Homemade classic rock from the editor and publisher of Gajoob. What more could you ask for?
JH Christ

Black Apple 156a South St #11 Jamaica Plain MA 02130 USA
A concept tape about The Borg. It’s as bad as it sounds. I don’t know what prompted these people to spend hours recording this, probably it was an inside joke between them, in which case, I hope they had fun. The “music” reminds, in its best moments, of those kitschy old sci-fi movies and, not surprisingly, of the sounds in Star Trek (the _good_ Star Trek, not that modern pile of heavy-dialogue crap). The scary thing is that these people don’t even sound like imbeciles, even when they chant “noooo aaaaniiiimaaaaaalsss” for five minutes straight. Are they real musicians who did this for a laugh? In this case, where is the real music? And how many brothers are there in the Esposito family? I count here, Charlie, Echo, Augie and Anthony Esposito. Come on, Italo-Americans can do better music. Like, uh, Bon Jovi. Or Gary Cherone. Or Frank Stallone. Or Gino Vannelli. Or .....<snip list of useless Italian musicians>.

PO Box 3728 Eureka, CA 95502 USA
A live set from November 14, 1998, in the best folk-rock singer-songwriter tradition — right down to the Dylanish harmonica (on “Kiss and Run”). And like many another such, the “songwriter” side is generally stronger than the “singer” — he can carry the tunes and everything, and sometimes gets the right emotional effect on me, but at other times he sounds sort of, I don’t know, too sorry for himself or something. I like the tunes and have even found myself walking around singing “Janie Sims”. The near rhyme “emotion’ly/close to me” is pretty memorable all by itself. Rob’s a strummer as opposed to a picker (again in the best tradition): the guitar is there to get you to listen to the lyrics. Rob Enge sits in on bass on the last four (of eleven) tracks. It says here there’s a couple more albums (SMILE SLIGHTLY and THE TRUTH HURTS); I like this one well enough to have played it several times and look forward to hearing the others.
Indy Ana Jones

PO Box 3728 Eureka, CA 95502 USA
THE TRUTH HURTS falls into that category between country, folk, and rock which sounds a little like each, but fits into none. The sound on the album recalls early American Music Club musically, flavored with Bob Dylan on such tracks as “Free for All.” The lyrics stick to this obscure category as well; most of the songs deal with unrequited love mixed with anger and regret. The songs have a slow, lingering sound, which is almost a hindrance, as most of the tracks exceed four minutes. The result is an album which is exhausting at times. Unlike the aforementioned AMC, which provided variety in the form of musical experimentation and lyrical humor, there is no real respite from the slow songs with aching lyrics. An exception is the track “Promises,” which picks up the tempo and may make the listener wish Christensen had supplied the album with more diversity. However, the songs that are there are good, and for fans of the co-fo-ro sound, it may be well worth trying.
Megan Heller

PO Box 3728 Eureka CA 95502 USA
Rob is a singer-songwriter in the fashion of those for whom that tag was invented; Dylan, Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Randy Newman, etc... In fact, Rob’s vocal style puts me in mind of Randy Newman by way of Jim Shelley. Rob writes, plays and records his own songs which employ a straight ahead folk-rock approach. The lyrics explore the singer’s emotions regarding various relationships, and like the songwriters I mentioned above, Rob is usually able to coin a phrase for the chorus that sums up his attitude about the situation, an attitude that most listeners can identify with. Of the three CDs, AT THE END OF THE DAY is recorded live in front of a bar/pub audience, and features Rob alone on the acoustic guitar. The up-tempo rock tunes suffer a little here, but the more folky tunes really come alive.
JH Christ

Artifact Recordings 1374 Francisco St. Berkeley CA 94702 USA
A treat for noise fans who can’t quite go all the way, this layered composition repeatedly pulls itself back into its ambient womb between kicks. The juxtaposition of itching clamor and creeping silence gives the whole album a marked uncomfortable feeling, kind of like being alone in a subway at 3am. Disjointed, the three songs scatter their way from clanging metal junkyard noise to distant, nervous near-silence and back again. An interesting piece, but steer clear if you can’t handle a bumpy ride.
Hyacinthe L. Raven-Douleur

Clears HQ PO Box 41953 Memphis TN 38174 USA
Holy Casio rock! Wow. If the little clay renderings on the cover are anything to go by, this band uses all vintage analog synths, live guitar + bass and drum kit to craft their organic candy-pop ear-confection. The first track, “Frozen Fun” kicks off rather dirgily, sounding like Swans jamming with Devo. By track 2 it’s time out for fun with “The C.L.E.A.R.S.” and everybody knows that when bands spell out their names in songs it’s generally a time to do that little head-bop dance. They ain’t playin’ around when it comes to the Casios and other low-end keyboards either, every song has some manner of chimpy keyboard action on it! Where has this band been all my life? The tracks are catchier than all hell and the production is damn fine. Very playful and fun! Toward the end they get all arty with an unnamed track that basically consists of a long synth drone with a ton of effects and shit thrown at it. In a good way I mean. “Ties Me Up” opens side two and is very huge! The main verse riff almost sounds like Godflesh! Almost. Relatively. If Godflesh played on Casios, of course. “Blue Doctors” sounds like first-album Ministry with coed vocals! It’s that good! Needless to say I have a new favorite album...
Ian C Stewart

Tangerine Tapes PO Box 84642 Waco TX 76798-4642 USA
A 20 (!!!) song throwdown of post-adolescent angst over post-MBV shoegazing frenzy. The performances are all quite furious and note-perfect. Math-rock leanings. Sean’s lyrics are the same obsessive documentarian style as always. The songs are crazy, sometimes it seems like everything is harmonizing with everything else. The wide-ranging styles hint at an almost immediate assimilation of prevailing styles of modern rock. His voice sounds like that dude from The Charlatans at times. The beginning of “Your Secrets” gives the fuzz bass all the melody. “Graduation Day” comes on all hoptronica with tambourine and a vaguely hittin’ drum loop. But then there’s that xylophone sound and those chords! Very not big-beat! “Alone In The Apartment” sounds a little Portishead; mopey torch song with a phat beat. Sean Padilla is the fucking master, that’s really all there is to it! Listen to this highly awesome album and you’ll get to know everything about him!
Ian C Stewart

Tangerine Tapes PO Box 84642 Waco TX 76798-4642 USA
Sean Padilla’s new CD picks up where the last Spaniels collection of songs left off-our hero has finished high school and is now adjusting to college life. The beauty of the CS series of albums is that you follow the narrator through the tough teen years via some great sub-indie pop-rock. Sean plays all the instruments, sings, writes all the songs and records the whole thing himself. He’s a solid, creative drummer- something you don’t hear on too many recordings, let alone those where the artist plays and records everything himself at home. Sean also excels at sound manipulation, getting great Bloody Valentine-esque guitar treatments along with some other sounds entirely his own. The songs are catchy and always tell a story; the textural, melodic and tempo stylings are mostly mid to late ‘90’s alt-rock. Sean’s voice takes a little getting used to, but his approach to layering multi-track vocal harmonies is worth hearing. The lyrics may seem corny at first, but he comes up with some surprisingly mature and lucid insights for a nineteen year old songwriter. If you like the homemade pop-rock of C Browne Jr or John T Baker then you’ll be right at home with The Cocker Spaniels.
JH Christ

GPO Box 2118 Hobart Tasmania 7001 Australia
Davros G wastes no time in getting down to some rhythmic soundscraping with squelchy guitar and feedbacky rhythm patterns. End Show’s “Near Life Experience” is more broken, ghouly dreamscapes for multiple guitars and digital delays. The Gentlemen’s “Hostage” takes lo-fi to uneasy extremes with a focal bass line eclipsing all else: drums, singing, guitar... The vocals are yelled but are buried in the mix so who knows. Page 27 “Elevator” is one reverby keyboard piled atop another... Kind Winds “All Moons I” is lofi space rock improvised through a big reverb tunnel or something. Do You Mind If I Stab This is the band title of the century! Although the same cannot be said for their track “Yellow Food Day,” which is so much endless guitar noodling and overdone feedback. Rent Boy “2000” is uptempo sampledelica though the samples all sound like they were recorded from about 3 blocks away. So the drums sound very distant indeed. The Connected Mind of Hollowed’s “Post-Modern Love Song” is 8 minutes of drums, guitar feedback and screaming. I mean, what did you expect?
Ian C Stewart

Daron Key 2108 1/2 Lincoln Ave, Alameda CA 94501 USA
Sounds like an orchestra warming up at times. Total free flowing free form experimentation with the use of a variety of instruments, like percussion, violins, horns and whatever else. I wasn’t really all about this when I first got it, but it grew on me rather quick.
E Crowe

Evol Egg Nart Recordings PO Box 570763 Miami FL USA
Say hello to the mutant offspring of Funk 49-era Steve Walsh and Decade-era Neil Young, with a little ‘90’s style retro-psychedelia thrown in. The Hair is Jeff Rollason’s band project and features Maria Marocka’s female vocals complimenting Jeff’s trademark whine-twang. The way-cool ‘70’s riffs here are held together here with some solid drumming and sturdy rhythm guitar, plus that great keyboard sound like Beck uses sometimes. SuperGOLD.
JH Christ

Torture Music Records PO Box 685, Cannon Beach OR 97110 USA
22 tracks for 72 minutes. No song titles, just descriptions, which is pretty cool actually. Nearly everything is based on playing the guitar in a nonstandard way. Prepared guitar pieces abound. Some are cool in a spooky way, others just sort of diddle along for a few minutes before fading out. Roger Hayes and Robert Clutter get into some seriously scattered damage on the songs where Clutter guests. Man. Also the tracks with the classical guitar run through the Whammy pedal sound like convoluted music boxes! Track 14 is a full band treatment with guitar, bass, drums and sax. Hayes’ guitar action sounds like all of Sonic Youth rolled into one headstock-snapping axefuck. Yeeowch!
Ian C Stewart

PO Box 14078, London N17 9WR, UK
The first song is a piece of eerie folk/blues-tinged music set to a sampled rhythm loop. And it works. The next track is an instrumental, not quite as successful, kind of a bland, jazzy blues-rock piece, with a spoken sample showing up part way through. The third song blends folk and rock with some pedal steel, “a 60s thing, without the sex.” Like the mildly distorted guitar, but it doesn’t do much for me otherwise. Song four is more folky stuff, a couple of acoustic guitars and a tambourine with multitracked vocals. Onions, God, no God, don’t try to understand it...okay. Fifth song. Bad synthesized bird call starts it off. I’m going to stop now.
Kevin J. O’Conner

Zzaj Productions 5308 65th Avenue SE Olympia WA 98513 USA
This is what they call a “spoken word” recording, with Ernesto’s poetry delivered by himself over a smattering of midi-clean synth noodles courtesy of Rotcod. To be fair, I’m not the biggest fan of the spoken word/improv genre, but I would’ve liked this better had the vocal delivery been a little less monotone and the synths a little more noisy. My favorite track was “Escape Our Minds” due to its greater dynamic texture.
JH Christ

PO Box 10391 Columbus OH 43201-0391 USA
A DJ mix CD that fuses all kinds of disparate elements into a fun and funny hour of body rock and uh, straight-up lounging. Like that Quincy Jones song with drum ‘n bass action all over it. Hyper-groovy! The beats start and then are added to and subtracted from along with other related (or not) music and sound effects. Audio collage in the truest Meat Beat Manifesto sense. It’s fat and funky and very good with potato chips and a pickle!
Ian C Stewart

Break Up! Records PO Box 15372
Columbus OH 43215-0372 USA
Bridging the gap between The Damned at their most pop and Cheap Trick at their least - crunchy pop rocks that, if the band all had long blond hair, could slip in undetected between Enuff Z Nuff or whatever the hell that band was called. Add some Replacements too for bad measure just because. The production is veddy nice indeed, leaving nothing to the imagination. Attack of the 3 Minute Pop Song! Times twelve! “The Chills” sounds less like the band The Chills than early Social D. And “Oh Robyn” sounds nothing like Robyn Hitchcock! How’s that for truth in song titling! More like a campfire Warrant with a better image! The energy level is very high throughout and the performances rock like a mutha. “Tell It To My Gurl” sounds like that Twisted Sister remake of that doo-wop song, with verses borrowed from the Stray Cats?!? “She’s With Me” is a jumpy yeller of a song, pogo pop to hell or something. Which can pretty much be said for the whole CD!
Ian C Stewart

Break-Up! Records PO Box 15372 Columbus, OH 43215-0372 USA
This record is a trip back to the late 80s and not just because it’s an actual record. Unfortunately it’s one of those trips you used to take with your parents where instead of going somewhere new and exciting, you wound up spending the summer with your grandparents. “It’s About Time” is very reminiscent of Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me.” I’m not sure why. PDAHMW’s song is played at a more frenzied, undanceable pace. But every time I listen to, sometimes flashbacks are a bitch. “Declaration” is Bon Jovi all the way. If there was a good way to be like Bon Jovi, this would be it. But we all know that’s impossible. Don’t get me wrong, I think this band is talented, just not all that original. And originality wins over talent every time. I wish.
Michelle Nollan

Reticulated Records PO Box 580878 Minneapolis MN 55458 USA
Via Satellite features a newer, more robust Eason sound, with Terry playing alongside some great drummers, bass players and a violinist. Since my whole review style is based on comparing stuff to well known commercially available recordings, I’ll do it again here and say Terry works in the fashion of Robyn Hitchcock.
J.H. Christ

Lo-Finn Rooftops Are My Heaven, Karukantie 2, 33800 Tampere Finland
The Echo half of this clear vinyl LP is dirgey, damaged art rock with a chickie singer. The songs have the air of improvisation to them. The playing is fractured and fragmented and distorted. “A T-Shirt Pass To Heaven” opens the record with a slow, spinal drumset patter (yes, patter) and a couple of feedbacky guitars loping together. The singer sounds about 12 years old and 2 inches tall. “There Was An Evil Christ On Me” sounds like a Swans 1981 throwaway. Distorted bass clumps and minimalist tribal drumming. But then there’s that singing. “We Have The Power To Darken Their Stars” builds up a squall of treble noise at the climax. And that’s it from Echo Is Your Love! Swans 1981 with a young Bjork singing. Kemialliset Ystavat just basically don’t give a fuck. “Scubadiving In Oxford, Bali” opens with a simple drum beat followed by a distorted guitar, penny whistle. Okay. Heavy on the scree. Recording quality be damned! The rest of the “songs” (well, they’ve got titles, so they must be songs!) fare no better, with most consisting of little more than acoustic guitars strummed vigorously, atonally and with no purpose whatsoever!
Ian C Stewart

EI MAGA compilation
Timo Palonen Hepokuja 6 B 26, FIN-01200 Vantaa, Finland
Why does Finland have so many great underground bands, yet we seldom hear anything from other countries in Scandinavia? Geko leads off the tape with a creepy rock song called “Mary Likes The War Zone” which features a female vocalist and effects-laden wailing guitar. Punisher kicks the shit out of your speakers for a few songs with their nasty thrash metal. They’re pretty good as far as choppy-guitar-and-grumbling-vocals bands go, and “Ignorance is Bliss” is pretty catchy at times. Side two features a few songs from W.O.R.M., a good punk band that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the San Francisco punk scene of the late 1970s. Proton Burst is a psychedelia-meets-death-metal band that fucks your shit up with “Stone,” which features a chorus that sounds like a lion roar and a vocalist who could be the understudy for the guy in Laibach.
Ken Miller

Tekito PMB #432, 828 Royal St, New Orleans LA 70116 USA
Stultified improv skronk for guitars, percussion, drums, guitar. Wah wah action. Bass. A timestretch here and there for effect. Sax? “Tinsel Termites In Barbed Wire Brassieres.” Sure. “Mind Of Ashes” launches with some tribal drumming and primal yelling over squibbly synth blips and backward soundfuckage. A psychotic jam session relaunched into a digital sound editor and then multiplied by itself. The odd yelling and fake singing/screaming are very cool touches. Oh yeah, there’s a bass in there somewhere too. This shit is OUT THERE. “Hushed Plateau Of Celid Elves” opens with a barge of feedback or something flapping in the wind, reverbed out to hell and back. Percussive tapping back up in there somewhere. And a floaty sax in and out. Hmm. All of the CD tracks seep together to form one big fucking glop of scree. “Snappy Smarm” fades in with a nice live drum beat and some dub bass stabs with guitar splay that’s in need of defragging! What? And the yelling dude returns to perform some totally guttural vocalizations that sound like Robert Wyatt on Viagra. “Extracting Epiphanies From The Thicket Of Implausibility” fades in with flanged, backmasked action that turns itself back around about a minute into it. Where it becomes a Built To Spill dirge with buzzing guitar solos, pizzicato strings and more of that dude singing! Very awesome. “A Hep Cat’s Electric Hair Ball Apparatus” is space-tek-jazz of sorts. A cut ‘n paste drum beat under sampled and clipped horns, strings, keyboards and whatever else. Ambient dub later. With horns. “Deglazed And Malaised” recalls Talk Talk’s more soundscapey moments, though this takes it pretty far out. This CD is amazingly original and awesome! It fucks with your head and cleans your teeth!
Ian C Stewart

ELEGY #4 CD compilation
EE Tapes, c/o Eriek Van Havere, Clement Heirmanstraat 10, 9100 Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
The title of this album suggests that it is “a moody collection for dark ambient souls,” but it’s far more dynamic than that. ELEGY #4 is introspective, but not at all broody, and it sports some very interesting pieces. Ranging from tribal to electronic to atmospheric, this compilation contains songs composed well enough to create distinct images and talent to make their length (average about 6 minutes) an asset. I also appreciate the fact that EE Tapes took the time to carefully position each song so that, despite the eclectic mix of pieces, there exists continuity and solidarity in the work as a whole. For those of you looking to add something a little different to your music collections, I recommend this CD. It is a very high quality offering.
Hyacinthe L. Raven-Douleur

Fiend 18 Canal Rd, Sowerby Bridge HX6 2AY UK
Wholeness Recordings PO Box 155 Smilax KY 41764-0155 USA
First up is Expose Your Eyes, an explosive, well-structured collage of sound that stretches out 23 minutes. Grinding and scraping, intense static chaos and layers that build up into a wall of noise then recedes into minimalistic noise. Experimentation with sonic waves and blasts mixed along with tape manipulations and so much more. Very interesting material. The Implicit Order is much in the same vein in the varied sounds and experimentation. This track runs just over 25 minutes long and is filled with rhythmic pulses, tones/drones, tweets, blurbs and some music thrown in for good measure.
E Crowe

Anchoress Records Po Box 19510 London SW11 5WR UK
Gothic Dexy’s Midnight Runners? Ha, just kidding. Sort of. I mean, it’s a rock band with prominent violin bits and layers of lush female vocals. REJOICE is a pro-produced EP that sounds crisp and clean. The lyrics to “Round And Round” are introspective and almost self-loathing in a manner not seen since Robert Smith was at his peak. “Jilted At The Altar” is an uptempo crunchy rock number with fiddly drumming (but, oddly, not drummy fiddling). It’s like Sarah Mclachlan with a distortion pedal. “Lifer” rounds out the disc - another moody rocker. Mmm yeah. The violin line sounds almost like, er, Metallica in a way, just that little riff. Mmm yeah.
Ian C Stewart

3342 Brockton Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501 USA
More folky, freaky, flaky Dylanesque music made for the grandfather in all of us. I just don’t get it. Who listens to this stuff really? “Talking Ballroom Blues” is a spoken word bit that’s slightly silly and slightly more annoying. Did you see the Saturday Night Live when Dana Carvey played Jimmy Stewart reading from his book of poems while drunk? It’s like that, but less funny. The songs are just more of the same, except not. Very retro 60’s hallucinogen-induced melodies with alcohol-induced lyrics (or is that the other way around?) kind of stuff. Bill Foreman is a talented guitar player, but I think he should leave playing the recorder to the third graders. Mr. Foreman certainly doesn’t let his lack of singing ability stand in his way either. It seems that he enjoys throwing his gravely, off-key voice in my face. As a matter of fact, there are times when I think he’s yelling at me! Or was that Paola’s gnome?
Michelle Nollans

Jason Campbell 553 Ontario St, London ONT N5W 3X7 Canada
Hello and welcome to the wide world of noisetronics. This is a C-60 with 2 tracks. 1) “Dedicated to the trench coat mafia”, yayee, these guys need credit for what they did; fighting back! This track about captures what they were possibly where feeling at the time of retribution. Lots of low-end rumbling, blasts mixed with slightly shrill tweaks and furious pulsating bursts. Seems like most of all from a digital delay. 2) “Dedicated to the basque witches” is more chaotic digital delay! This track has more pauses and changes in tone, switching from high end to low distortion. Both tracks are 30 minutes, but neither wear thin nor become redundant.
E Crowe

Jason Campbell 553 Ontario St, London ONT N5W 3X7 Canada
COCK ESP PO Box 580218 Minneapolis MN 55458-0218 USA
First up is Four Flies On Grey Velvet with some signal manipulation experimentation. Pretty much laid back which is unusual for Jason’s work, until track 4 and 5. It has a darker feel with a lot of high-end signal squelch and some low end booming, sorta reminiscent of Merzbow. #9 is an all out audio assault. I love this the best; a lot is going on here. There is a lot of metal smashing/scraping, frequency squelching, high-end ear blistering action. Cock ESP serves up some excellent electronic destruction. The first track switches back and forth from a sample with lots of reverb that gives it a real dreary sound/feel to high-end static blasts. From there we move on to a more cut and paste super-choppy kind of thing, mixing people talking, music and electronic blasts. The other tracks weave in and out of sanity with clips of samples and grinding audio terrorism that can be quite raw at times.
E Crowe

Subversive Records PO Box 341 Fivedock NSW 2046 Australia
Man. These guys went to a lot of trouble! All of the tracks run together to make one grand unit of the individual songs. There’s even a little kid doing narration on the first couple of tracks! Track two, “Future Unseen,” is an epic ballad type thing that just soars. It’s like Queen with better synths and more imagination. “Caught Between” is incredibly bizarre: funky bass-heavy drum machine action, acoustic guitars, choirs of vocals, synths from every direction, a nice ‘n tight bass line and an almost psychedelic air of melancholy! “Lovekult” just bubbles under until it reaches the chorus and blows up! It’s even funkier and more psychedelic! The singer sounds like Brett Anderson from Suede. The song itself is a cross between T Rex and Jesus Jones. Separating the song are “dream sequences” — ambient soundfack to further develop the plot. “Guided (Conclusion)” combines all of the above elements — tech-folk-rock and ambience — to stunning effect. This is an incredibly original album! And the production is basically amazing. It’s approximately 200,000 times better than THE WALL. Not that I’ve ever seen it.
Ian C Stewart

Duckweed Records 2442 NW Market St. #354 Seattle, WA 98107 USA
Duckweed Records has put together a lo-fi compilation that puts the “vary” in “Various Artists”... or something like that. Covering 71 minutes, 27 tracks, 11 bands, and five countries, the entirely home-recorded collection ranges from the sublime (Brazil’s Grenade, whose “Basson Boogie” is the high point of the album) to the ridiculous (Seattle’s Down With The Ants, and California’s now-defunct The Busted Fans), with some variations on folk in between. Somehow, with the range displayed on this CD, it does not suffer from a lack of consistency. The “thank you” to Ween in the liner notes is fitting, because that duo’s strange inner diversity is reflected in this collection. “Orange Peel Headache (Shecky Montague)” by Bill Foreman, a funhouse treat with speaker tricks, is easily followed by the underproduced and vaguely shoegazer “Leonard Cohen” by Air Hockey Injury. While there will no doubt be tracks that a listener will not enjoy, with twenty-seven, it’s likely bad will be well outweighed by good.
Megan Heller

Axction Black PO Box 425623, Kendall Square, Cambridge MA 02142-0012 USA
Dude! It’s black metal and they obviously love Satan! And they sound like a more together version of Venom. So it should be painfully clear that I already love this band. One dude drums and the other one does all the guitars, bass and singing on the disc. Based on all the knives, nails, swords and who knows what else they’ve got behind their backs there in that graveyard photo, one would be forgiven for thinking that there’s probably no room for anyone else in the shot! Though even I must concede that no amount of face paint and Satanic lyrics are worth crap if the songs aren’t there. So it is with great pleasure that I report that the songs ARE in fact there. Musically, it’s pretty much riff-based metal that’s probably more ornate than I’m remembering Venom to be. The production is damn fine, especially the drums. But what’s up with that wack-ass harmonizer on all of the vocals? That’s not very ghouly! Personally I’d prefer a wall of moaning and shrieking to the mechanized clamor herein BUT it’s yo thang, Goat Thrower. Also not sure about the borderline Nazi sentiment of “Pure Hate” but then again, I mean, if a band is going to worship Satan, they might as well kiss some Hitler ass while they’re at it. These dudes should be on the ball enough to make Lady Firethorn the fulltime vocalist. She’s fucking crazy on “Praise Be Thy Goat.” The keyboards are highly, powerfully ghouly. I think they’ve pointed the way to the follow-up. I hope! Fewer Nazi implications. More Lady Firethorn, more keyboards and more Satan!
Ian C Stewart

710 Stinaff St. Kent OH 44240 USA
NOISE PRESCRIPTION preserves most of the repertoire of this sadly defunct college band —a power trio featuring Mike Dee on bass, Greg Herlevi on drums, and Fred Wright on guitar, with vocals by all three. Fred, by the way, is a fellow zinester (drinkdrankdrunk) and author of a Lacanian analysis of zines and zinesters (his master’s thesis). But never mind that. What’s important for us here at AUTO is that these guys rock, rock, rock. Herlevi’s unrelentingly crisp, driving beats are the most outstanding feature musically; the lyrics are often entertaining in a “hey, yeah, that’s true — and I never heard anybody sing about that before” kind of standup-comic way. It seems pretty likely that Devo was a major influence (though the only cover song I recognize as such is from The Cars). There’s 29 studio tracks, plus 4 live songs from their last show. Maybe a little much to listen to straight through, but perfect for short car trips.
Indy Ana Jones

Y&T Music 9475 Sunset Drive, Suite 220, Miami FL 33173 USA
Wow, um Sheryl Crow? Crossed with Paula Cole? I kind of wonder if this CD wasn’t sent to AUTO by mistake. It’s obviously got a great deal of financial push behind it (those CD-ROM videos don’t come cheap! And those posters don’t fold themselves up and insert themselves into digipak covers!) which means absolutely nothing in the scheme of Good Music Vs Bad Music. This here is pro-produced pop rock like VH1 plays. Commercial music. What more can be said? Female college freshmen will enjoy this, as will the brother in law who got dragged to the Lillith Fair show and is only now getting around to expanding his CD collection. I will say this: I’d rather see her on VH1 than the repulsive Beth Hart who looks like somebody chewed up her face and stuck it back on with their eyes closed. Oh yeah, there’s that Devo cover too, but it doesn’t save the day. Bob 2 is spinning in his gravy.
Ian C Stewart

Scott Candey PMB 105, 4644 Geary Blvd San Francisco CA 94118 USA
Whoa, this is excellent. Cold and desolate soundscapes, either to plot a murder to, or murder yourself to. Atmospheric, but not in a hippy psychedelic way. Laid back, deep and haunting cold winds and echoes mixed with a bit of a harsher element, (only on side 2), to create a great apocalyptic sound track.
E Crowe

Carlo Furii, fraz. Castagneto 1, 64010 Teramo Italy
I recently read a very bad review of this tape in an Italian Gother-than-thou zine, but I think they missed the point. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR are a toy band, the Furbys of Goth bands. Their goth-rock is pleasant, bubbly and ultimately useless, but you can listen to it several times with a mild feeling of entertainment. They just sound like some pretty jolly guys who just happen to own a CURE bootleg more than you. The tape offers five tracks, all reminiscent of one ancient Goth band or the other. “Aspettando Domani” sounds like “Killing an Arab” backwards, and I hope they did it on purpose, I mean, it’s too shamelessly evident. “Embryo” is their short KRAFTWERK moment, which they probably invented as a test when they bought their brand new keyboards, and it can make you smile (but only once). The rest is average; it could be a moderately fun party band - more precisely, a party-in-your-living-room band, nothing more ambitious.

2148 Texas Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84109 USA
Bryan Baker has started an online record store for artists who record their own music at home, and this is a CD sampler of all those on the label. If you are a hometaper you should get involved, and if you’re a fan of unpretentious new music you should get this CD. The stuff is all over the map (literally; the artists are from all over the world), noise, spoken word, pop, rock etc... Okapi Guitars do African Pop with an electro-Brit sensibility; John T Baker is Tennessee’s own one-man-pop-powerhouse; Joseph Benzola makes avant garde soundscapes; and these are just a few in this musical salon.
JH Christ

6 On The Dot PO Box 313 Peru IL 61354 USA
Dark, epic, rhythmic ambience! And it’s purty too! “Skin Corruption” is the 14 minute opener. There are several themes explored that sound like separate pieces. And they all is hott! “Triggers” is more sinister though no less engaging. Bells and other unidentifiable percussion sounds. “Abandoned Web” is pure melodic ambience that slowly shifts across the uh, sonic horizon or something. There might be a guitar in there somewhere amid the patient pillars of synthetic strings and whatever else. “Sounds Of A Mind” is a psycho little soundtracky piece that’s a little unsettling. Okay, a lot. “Dissecting The Magician’s Hands” is half an hour of flanging and tittering synth sounds and effects at the end of the CD. Very sexy overall. Good music for worshipping Satan to, I’d bet.
Ian C Stewart

Kevin Debolt 16651 88th Ave, Orland Park IL 60462 USA
Mature, handcrafted homepop taking its cues from mid-period XTC, Robyn Hitchcock and whoever else. Opens with the herky, chiming acoustic guitar/drum machine/synth bass/layered vocals alt-rocker “Stay With The Horse,” which has rather splendid backing vocals and a highly sweet chorus. Don’t ask me why any pop song that sings about horses reminds me of The Icicle Works, just nod like you know what I mean. The Icicle Works, man. A great song to open the album with. The MIDI sequencing seems a little stiff at first but the guitar and vocals humanize the songs back to a comfortable level. The songwriting itself is definitely the focal point here. “Lose The Pain” is uptempo folk-rock I guess. I mean, the acoustic guitar is prominent so it must be some type of folk derivative. Many of the tracks (like “Everyone’s Named”) tend toward the serious, almost to the point of being dramatic. Sometimes (“Little Faith”) overly so, to the point of almost being cheesy. “All I Want To Feel” is an insane Thomas Dolby/Bob Seger hybrid that I must confess I didn’t think was possible. “The Moon Has Nothing On You” is an interesting response to Andy Partridge’s “You And The Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful” (or perhaps it isn’t); piano ballad with delay-soaked singing that comes off like a nocturnal Yazbek or um, uh, like, uhhhhhh that other piano guy, Ben Folds Five. So yeah. Good song. A couple of tracks remind me of Irish homepoppy guy Daniel Prendiville. Despite being recorded from all chronological points in the 1990s, the production remains consistently fine throughout. Stay with the horse, dude!
Ian C Stewart

Holy fuck, this shit rocks!!! This is without a doubt the best independent music I’ve heard so far. I can’t stop listening to it long enough to write about it. Obviously influenced by the Beatles, there isn’t a bad song on the whole album. I was instantly hooked by “Secrecy”, because it has a Three Dog Night feel to it. I think it’s the organ. The slightly mopey “I’m Just The Rain” has some more of the organ thing surrounded by upbeat guitar playing and depressing lyrics. “God, Athena” and “Heart Set On Sunday” are awesome XTC/Beatles-inspired tunes. Close your eyes while you listen and try not to think of John and Paul. I dare you. You can’t do it, can you? Me either. Whatever, it’s still an album full of guitar-driven, kick-ass songs that Jason Garcia describes as “infectious pop, some fast and loud, some not.” Yeah, I’d say that about covers it.
Michelle Nollan

136 Woodland Drive Hampden, MA 01036 USA
The Ramones. The Donnas. The Howards? This is fresh competition for bands with three power chords and an attitude. This trio is all about rock ‘n’ roll, with a huge ’50s influence and some street-smart romance tunes like “Sara” and “Jumped By Love.” Most of the ten tracks are less than two minutes, gone before you realize how much they kicked the establishment’s ass.
Kenyon Hopkin

Composing a description of Brain Drain is not an easy task. At times it sounds like Severed Heads without the lyrics. At times it sounds like the background music to an experimental piece by a film school student. Unfortunately, it is never very intriguing. Most of the songs seem to consist of synths and speaker tricks that don’t go anywhere. About half of the tracks use guitar, and these show the most potential on the collection. The play between the guitar, electronic beat, and distorted synth create a style that draws the listener for a moment, but only a moment before the repetitive nature of the music causes interest to wane again. There is a potential in this cassette, and a lo-fi experimental sound yearning to breathe free — do not write off The Invasion entirely. Unfortunately, BRAIN DRAIN proves too apt a title in this case.
Megan Heller

907 Caser Dr., Sykesville, MD 21784 USA
Man, with a name like that, I was really hoping to like this band, unfortunately, they’re just sad. “Lets Go Shopping” starts off the 4-song CD and sets the pace of poor vocals, dumb lyrics and barely competent “high energy power-pop” music. Are they being sarcastic about wanting to go shopping and spend a lot of money? Do I even care? It’s like your friend’s brother’s band that your friend is always trying to get you to listen to, you know? Just barely able to play instruments and sing, without a hint of an original idea that would make up for the lack of talent, so you make polite comments like “that was a good guitar solo” or “I like that intro” when all you really want to do is throw the tape out the fucking car window because it’s just painful to listen to something so pathetic and unoriginal. These guys would lose the community college “Battle of the Bands” competition to a band that does nothing but Pink Floyd covers.
Sven Golly

Insane Records 7670 NW 15th Court Pembroke Pines, FL 33024 USA
Unquestionably some of the most hilarious music I have ever heard. The Jokes claim that this album is intentionally awful, which explains all the irritating feedback, crappy sound quality and the extra songs at the end of each side of the cassette. Hidden tracks or a recycled tape? I can’t decide and that just makes it better. I am curious to hear what would happen if/when they actually tried. Anyway, the entire album sounds like it was recorded on a Mr. Microphone with instruments purchased at Toys R Us. Everything has something to do with being in a dungeon: “Meeting the Phantom And Talking It Over In The Dungeon,” “Nintendo In The Castle,” “Let’s Run Away From Th’ Bats” - that’s some funny shit!!! And it goes on for eleven songs! Even though I won’t ever listen to it again, this tape will definitely never be forgotten.
Michelle Nollan

AM PO Box 1428 Swindon SN2 1ZY UK
Holy moody soundtracky ambience! Beautifully done I might add. Pianos and string fluorishes and female vocals! Yow! That’s just track one (“From A Deep Sleep”) too! Track two, “Covert,” (no, not the Lush song) is no less cinematic, adding a live drum and bass guitar groove to the mix. Equal parts Barry Adamson and Dead Can Dance and Massive Attack and Rain Tree Crow. Or a very slow Propellerheads. With a female vocalist. “Second Sight” (no, not the Lush song) adds classical guitar and female-vocal oohing and aahhhing. Ditto for “Transference.” This gorgeous EP is just a half-hour taster. I’m ready for a whole album now...
Ian C Stewart

Blue Hat Records PO Box 250649 New York, NY 10025 USA
Its too bad they used a drum machine on this recording instead of a real drummer. The songs that have no drums are actually better. Anyway, this CD features a Mr Paul Braus singing and playing his own songs in multi-tracked line-in electric guitar style, with the aforementioned drum machine cheesing things out bigtime. I don’t know how I’d describe Paul’s songs- he’s got some quirk-rock that’s kinda like a lofi ZZ Top; a cool C&W poprocker called “Get Me To Nashville”, and a ‘50’s stylee guitar ballad called “Binge”: “I didn’t mean to binge, I didn’t mean to get as drunk as I did and shoot him.”
JH Christ

Ding Ply Records 549 Second Street #1 Brooklyn NY 11215 USA
“MTV” should become a musical genre - you know, pop, punk, metal, ambient, etc, and MTV. The MTV band is easy to spot in the wilderness of contemporary music. It will be irritatingly goody-goody, have catchy melodies and a permanent endearing smirk. The production will, of course, be hyper-professional and immaculate (the MTV band won’t settle for less - there is so much competition out there, and after all MTV only transmits 24 hours a day; such high standards, such little chances for an airing). The MTV vocalist will sing earnestly and with the aid of perfect little choruses and harmonies, and will sometimes sound, as is the case here, like Bon Jovi (which is already bad enough in the case of Bon Jovi, but at least he’s got the tight butt and the floppy haircut). MTV music is not painful to the ears, and is not bad in the real sense of the world (I’ve heard bad, trust me), but it’s just generally cloying, and we’ve heard it all before. Your 17-year-old little brothers may buy it (literally and figuratively).

Prikosnovenie, BP 50113, 44001 Nantes Cedex 1, FRANCE
This is one of those arty French instrumental lofi things. I’ve got my beret on now and I’m sipping some espresso. Toy sounding instruments, woodwinds. Lovely instrumental songs that grow up around beats generated by small non-electric household appliances.
JH Christ

Star Destroyer Recordings PO Box R363 Sydney NSW 1225 Australia
At first listen, Kreisler sounds like it’s going to be some sludgy metal. But hold on a minute! It’s instrumental post-rock ala Trans Am! Credit for only bass and drums are given, but there is an occasional passing of vocals and some kick-ass sound effects. These guys prove minimalism is the max and it’s remarkable what they have accomplished here. The recording is a little muddy, but other than that, THE HISTORY OF ELECTRONICS is an excellent concept and a great title for a record. I like the stickers that came with the tape because they are shaped like band-aids. Not to be confused with electronic act Kriedler.
Kenyon Hopkin

Serious Records PO Box 24564 Baltimore MD 21214 USA
Think gritty R&B, then blend in apalachia and the US Civil War. Take it all to an underground bohemian art gallery boutique poetry jazz thingy. The Gruntpack has that tight, dry r&b sound but they write songs with an arty, post-rock sensibility. To say that I liked this CD would be the understatement of the year. I listen to it constantly. The singer has that strung-out but hopped-up urgency in his voice, and the lyric imagery is vibrant, surreal, funny but not in a corny or jokey way. These guys rule.
JH Christ

PO Box 360811 Strongsville OH 44136 USA
This is ultra awesome. Harsh noise consisting of power tools, keyboards, samplers and a buttload of yelling and screaming. Side one is “Ultra Go.” Side two is “Lost In Space,” which is not as corrosive on the ears. It takes a step back. It’s mostly done on keyboards and has a ambient feel with a harsh edge seeping in there. Both sides end with lock-grooves. If you’re not familiar with those, they make the 7" longer, so when you’re listening you think like 20 minutes later, “fuck, this sure is a long 7”.” I personally recommend this to anyone with an ear for ear torture. This thing hasn’t left the turntable for like 3 weeks now!
E Crowe

5 Chapel Lane, Wicken, Ely Cambs CB7 5X2 UK
Cassette reissue of vintage 1983 vinyl album (complete with vinyl crackling in a couple of spots!). Most of the tracks are sparse instrumentals based around analog synths. Vocals do appear eventually in the form of narration on “Nightmare Trip.” “Absolute Zero” is like a 50s sci-fi version of The Fall. Not in a good way either, I’m afraid. “Drowning In Quicksand” is a drum machine/vocal workout that sounds like Devo doing doo-wop, also recalling Fad Gadget along the way. “Oh God” continues the Fad Gadget comparison with a whispery little melody and chorus of vocals. “Helen Is A Hologram” is like a lost Syd Barrett/Gary Numan collaboration on 2 Moogs and a snare drum. Hmm. “Kiss And Break Up” is punk rock on proto drum machine and vocoder synth. Ditto for “Slash My Wrists.” “Beware Of The Darkness” drives it all home with another great Fad Gadget arrangement. Great lost relic of mid period electronic music!
Ian C Stewart

CD EP 2.1 CD
51-B Roosevelt Ave, East Northport, NY 11731USA
Like the name implies, Melange is a mixture. But it’s not your standard mixture of pop or rock. No, for that you must look elsewhere. Melange is electronic, molding together ambient, trip-hop, industrial and drum ‘n’ bass. The man behind the curtain is Atom, who spends his time tweaking his front line assembly of synthesizers, groovebox and high-tech computer software. The result is a well-mixed, hypnotic journey of airy strings and inventive beats that permeate the mind via tracks like “Android” and “Cloud World.” Musique non-stop, yo!
Kenyon Hopkin

Harsh Reality PO Box 241661 Memphis TN 38124-1661 USA
Uh-oh, Thee Inevitable Reeissues are coming now that everyone has a CDR on their computers. This here is/was a collaboration between Chris Phinney and Carl Howard from 1987-89. This CD is a compilation of 3 previous releases. It’s all synths and more synths and synths on top. Repetetive stabs. Some melodic action but mostly it’s about texture. Track two adds vocals. Track three: “-Four-” has some very nice ambience over a synth arpeggio. “Pigs In The Barnyard” is an odd slice of analogue synth doom with distorted guitar off to the side. “Arliss’ Country Kitchen” is proto-industrial dance like early Ministry. “Look Ma, No Software” opens with a riff straight out of Devo’s playbook but also has some odd sonic tentacles flailing around it. “Too Early For Words” is six minutes of knob-twisting...
Ian C Stewart

Archangel Media Empire PO Box 50392 Minneapolis MN 55405 USA
Singer-songwriter type stuff with loads of guest musicians. The best part of BUZZKILL NATION is the lyrics. They are so true, sincere, and pretty damn introspective. Mike Merz likes to sing about music, the good old days, death and heartbreak. It’s a good thing he printed the lyrics in the sleeve, so you can check out lines like, “All my clothes are dirty so a shower makes no sense.” or “There’s bread crumbs on the rug, to match the debris of my heart.” Righteous, dude.
Kenyon Hopkin

Duckweed Records 2442 NW Market St #354 Seattle WA 98107 USA
“Heavy content!” “No overdubs!” “featuring all 1st take vocals!” “wretchedly lo-fi!”. Don’t say you weren’t warned. There follows a tiny three-track tape. What is it like? Deranged old-style electro sounds (like Tuxedomoon, for lack of a better comparison), a snarling, heavily distorted voice, jolly-folky ditties. They try to sound like Stan Ridgway but sorry, the final effect reminds me more of that irksome little SOUTH PARK theme by Primus. Are the songs bad? Not at all. Did the world, however, need this tape? Not really.

PFC Rec 1911Redondo Ave, Salt Lake City UT 84108 USA
Monobrain is from Holland and is all about ripping shit up, apparently. There’s a no-fi narration running through that side of the tape, a guy introducing the various elements he’s going to use on particular tracks. The tracks themselves are disjointed pure noise made even more disjointeder by being digitally manipulated, maybe on a computer. There’s a stuttering quality and interesting/odd use of repetition like old Max Headroom in the 80s. But noise is noise and this is still pretty much a shortcut to annoying the hell out of anyone around you. Furthermore, this HEADFINCH of COVALENCE is nothing less than a ORBICULAR SPHINGID! So there! The Dictionary Of Noize has spoken. Sonic Disorder? You want some too? Okay: your FIBROMA LINEATION recalls the early SPLANCHNIC MARLITE of the TELUGU. Which is to say that y’all sample the same Steve Martin record I do! D’oh for you! Note to potential listeners: the credit to Erik and Kira for “sex” is no joke! She’s clearly audible from the start, uh, gettin’ it on. So be warned. Or whatever. Heavy breathin’ ahead. That would be “This Is Real.” On “Cybertroll Orgy In Outerspace” it goes all spacy ambient noise, with the overall effect of a space shuttle mission being overtaken by feedback. Bad feedback. Not the kind of feedback like “look, I’ve been noticing a few things about you for the past few months.” The outro, called “Outro,” is a microsecond vocal loop of/by Amanda Parker-Ford. And it’s the winner because it rules and there’s no feedback on it! And it’s almost Eyelighty in its delectability. Almost. This should be the whole next Sonic Disorder tape right here! And I’m out.
Ian C Stewart

DSP Ltd, 56 Darwin Rd., Carbondale, IL 62901 USA
This album is a brilliant concept piece about consumerism with catchy songs, excellent instrumentation and great lyrics. There’s a few funny spoken word pieces throughout as well. “One of These Things” is the first song, and a great one at that, which even has a bass clarinet. “Workin’ Like A Jerk” has a groove most musicians would kill for. “Directory Assistance” is a hilarious 30-second spoken word piece. “Product” is a rockin’ instrumental with samples of Frank Zappa thrown in. “Teenage Wife” is an excellent understated jazzy piece. “Apaxia” is a brilliant piece of work that makes me envy the shit out of these guys for their great songwriting skills and musical ability. How do they DO that?
Ken Miller

Jack Kettle Records 125 S Barbara St, Mt Joy PA 17552 USA
Big, simple pop tunes that feature acoustic guitar, orchestral synths and a spare drum track all done up nice, big and simple. Like a minimalist Psychedelic Furs with no saxophone. If you like ‘80’s pop or are a 4AD fan I think you’d dig this. I did.
JH Christ

Stephen Widmann, Kriegsstr 236F 76135 Karlsruhe, Germany
Phil Blankenship 2590 Durant Ave #240 Berkeley CA 94704 USA
Narbenerde is kinda eerie and dark. Not so much ambient as it is creepy. Low and rhythmic pulses mixed well with a sort of a generator sounding whirling. There are vocals involved, but in such a way that they blend in with the other sounds. The vocals have a super wet swamp monster-phaser kind of thing going on. Lefthandeddecision is harsh-o-rama! Distorted hard-hitting pulses of static with a hint of it possibly “red lining”. Tones pulsate deeper and deeper and then turn rather rhythmic with delay, possibly. All this layered with giblets of samples and radio. This is a pretty hoss split, worth checking out if you dig noise.
E Crowe

Groove Disques PO Box 271 Haddonfield, NF 08033 USA
I don’t know why I thought I was going to like this CD. Maybe it was the band name which is mildly amusing. Who knows. I guess I was expecting too much, because I hated it from the first (and only) listen. Basically it’s charm free. Imagine the Beach Boys + Jackson Browne. Now make it suck twenty times more than that and you’re almost there. At least the songs are relatively short. The melodies are incredibly simplistic which isn’t always a bad thing. But the lyrics are not sophisticated enough to carry the lack of musical distraction. The whole album sounds amateurish in my opinion, like it was recorded by junior high school kids in someone’s basement. But hey, if you like that kind of thing...
Michelle Nollan

The Nude Bomb 126 Justice st Chapel Hill, NC 27526 USA
Pleasant! A tape of slightly 4AD-ish instrumentals, like THIS MORTAL COIL outtakes. We may be in the presence of real talent here, but more material would be needed to make a serious judgement. Also, some vocals would be nice. I play this very often, which does not happen frequently with AUTO stuff (as sad as it may seem).

Lonely Whistle Music Po Box 9162 Santa Rosa CA 95405 USA
Happy birthday Robin!!!!!
But on to the music.
Prologue: during my first year of university, in prehistoric 1988 (a century ago, you can rightly say now) I was traumatized by a roommate who listened to Tracy Chapman all day. The result is that now I abhor any angry young woman with a guitar and “issues”: Alanis, Ani, Sarah, Joni even poor Beth Orton (whom I barely tolerate with the Chem Bros), and all that whiny kind. I’d wait for the next Lilith Fair just to drop a stink bomb in the dressing rooms (talk about killing many birds with a stone...). Despite this, I managed to listen to the whole tape - an alarming 16 tunes - by Robin. What can I say? The woman has vocal talent, but her diamond-clear voice should be applied to something better than these self-important, embittered lamentations with just a couple of skeletal notes from an acoustic guitar to “flesh it out”. I was secretly hoping for “Marianne” to be a Sisters Of Mercy cover, but well.... On the other hand, the simple existence of Lilith Fair means there are women out there who like this music, and find it meaningful and worth listening to. They should contact Robin right now. (Outraged feminists: please pick your number.)

6813 Weedin Place NE #101, Seattle, WA 98115 USA
Deep and hypnotic soundscapes that range from soul cleansing to soul reaping. This, at times, can sound eerie and great to play “creepy crawly” to with some unsuspecting neighbor, to a powerfully soft college. Filled with lots of whirling winds that surround you and accents of drones that whisper sweet murder. This is superb and well worth the fuckin’ cash.
E Crowe

68 Applebee St, St. Peters NSW 2044 AUSTRALIA
The African pop music that this band plays usually features bands with about 20 guys on stage. Okapi Guitars are two guys in Sydney playing it MIDI style. Which could be a disaster or art depending on how you listen to it. Anyway, they’ve got a cute catchy tune called “Fast Driver” that transcends all that.
JH Christ

Jack Kettle Records 125 S Barbara St
Mt Joy PA 17552 USA
Heartfelt acoustic ballads. Most are in the same key and same tempo but are distinguished by lyrics tinged with nostalgia and loss. The strumming is keenly morose and the chord changes all tend to make one very very depressed if not already so. “Summersong” is the high point, a relatively upbeat song. “If Your Dad” is a goofy sendup of the rest of the set basically... Very good, very dramatic folky acoustica.
Ian C Stewart

Serious Records PO Box 24564 Baltimore MD 21214 USA
I’m never sure if Mr. Owen is a naïve genius or a deft stylist. He’s got this 13 year old nerd from 1963 singing about supercomputers and rock music thing down so well. Imagine a pre-teen Brian Wilson but transported to 1999’s hometaping scene. Its great stuff. The lyrics are incredible and the songs are all catchy and short.
JH Christ

13 Park St., Westfield, MA 01085 USA
This here’s yer straightforward two guitars, bass, and drums rock band. I’m not going to call them “alternative”, ‘cause that would be insulting; nor are they a corporate rock or dinosaur band, even though their songs do have guitar solos. I’m not really sure who I can compare Pangloss to (though “Nothing Left To Give” has sort of a Cheap Trick feel to it, and the way the vocals are mixed is slightly reminiscent of early Lush), which is probably a good thing, because it means Pangloss have their own personality, dammit - something sadly lacking these days amidst all the boy bands, Britney Spears clones, and post-gangsta hip-hop landfill poisoning the musical landscape. Like Todd Rundgren following the Motown example, Pangloss have put the best song of this four-track demo CD first. “Ghost In My House” is pretty freakin’ catchy, and is the reason you’ll want this in the first place, though “Hitchhiker” has a supremely cool distorted bassline intro that will have you cranking up the volume in order to enjoy it in all its distorted gloriousity.
Kevin J. O’Conner
Andrea Tabanelli Via Lume 30/C Bubano (BO) 40020 Italy
At first I thought “wow, this is a brilliant band, sort of Italian Talking Heads”, but with repeated listening I decided it wasn’t as fantastic as it seemed. Which is funny, because usually it’s the other way round (a CD does not appeal to you immediately but grows on you later). There are moments of greatness: one song has a small loop that’s like one of those maddening Johnny Marr guitar ditties in a Smiths song, repeated endlessly to delirium, and made me smile. “Yoshi” features a solo by a pained cello (and there are never enough of those in pop music, in my humble opinion). The general atmosphere is inventive and can’t be labeled in any way. What Pan Pipes needs to rise from obscurity is, let’s face it, a vocalist; Andrea’s voice is too wispy to match the inventiveness of the music, so the whole CD sounds like yet another sad case of “the writer insisted on being the frontman too”, which is rarely a good thing.

KAW 2 Carmuir, Forth, Lanarkshire, ML11 8AR UK
What an interesting match-up between Frank Peck (aka Mark Ritchie) and Timo. It’s like chocolate and sauerkraut, completely different tastes, smells and textures, but a person could like both. Ritchie’s side of the album is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Incredibly moving and depressing (I mean that in the good way!), the songs are all amazing. So well-written and delivered, it makes me want to give him a hug to make him feel better. Flip the tape over to hear Timo coughing and hacking up phlegm in the middle of a song. Intentional? Who knows. Hilarious? Hell yes! Bronchitis aside, the Timo stuff is interesting, but in a different way. By the way, are you allowed to start a song, stop and then start over for no apparent reason? I just wondered. Side two is mostly some dude trying to be creepy and psychotic and a little silly and succeeding. I hope I don’t have nightmares now. Seriously.
Michelle Nollan

AIGN Management, Po Box 18, Porth CF399YX, Wales UK
Welsh Band In “Bloody Good CD” Shock! That’s the title that should appear in all the British tabloids, and eventually all over the world (perhaps in smaller fonts). The comparison with other Welsh glories Stereophonics seems unavoidable. It is, in fact, the same brand of clever guitar pop, but this CD is much better than the slightly pompous Stereophonics because it’s full of energy and attitude, good tunes and big roaring sounds. The EP features three songs and a “bonus track” called “Supermodel” (I told you about the attitude...); all the songs kick ass equally, but I should say my personal favorite is track 2, “Blue Car Riot”. Frontman Damien Scott Owens (ain’t it a rockstar name) has a pleasantly subdued, raspy voice, as if Billy Corgan woke up one day and decided that life was worth living after all. “Another rich production from Le Mons, Newport, Wales”. I read on their Web site that they are doing already pretty well in the UK, so you may hear from them soon. Where can I buy the t-shirt?

Feast of Weeds 1685 1/2 Church St. San Francisco CA 94131USA
A curious blend of (1) They Might Be Giants-esque material (offbeat, literate, ironic wit; devilishly catchy tunes) sung by David Hearst on the one hand, with (2) perfectly sincere Celtic-sounding folky stuff sung by Rebecca Marculescu on the other. How these tracks ended up on the same album must forever remain a mystery, but I’m glad they did: it’s all really good. Marculescu’s singing, like, say, Linda Thompson’s, is moving not so much in spite of as to some extent because of its “untrained” quality. On some tracks (“Willie McGee McGaw”, for example), the two styles sort of merge together with a sort of Jethro Tull-like effect. Hey, it’s even got a cool package design. Check it out.
Indy Ana Jones

Macka PO Box 356 Brunswick Vic 3056 Australia
Mixed bag of mixdowns dating from 1991, 1993 and 1998. Nearly everything here is nice drum machine-driven postpunk instrumentals on guitars and bass. “Deadline” sounds like the guitars are tuned down to a low H. “I Like Treble” is uptempo and causes the listener to bop about. It’s a sinister cousin to The Cure’s “Primary.” “Death To The Sun” sounds like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry on a Black Sabbath kick. “The Fear Of Death” continues this theme with some tribal drum machine action and thick slabs of distorted guitar and bass eventually giving way to a spare double bass groove. A little something for everybody.
Ian C Stewart

Praying For Oblivion, 94 Fayette Ave., Buffalo, NY 14223-2708 USA
The Violet Grind, 2605 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070 USA
Praying For Oblivion starts off with “The Great Serpent,” a two-part stupefying noise blast, part one of which features midrange hydraulic sounds and high-pitched grating wind sound. It reminds me of what it would sound like on the wing of an airliner at 30,000 feet. Part two is a bit more sparse and a bit more interesting, with more delay-looped noise which wobbles and changes pitch. The Violet Grind takes the second side with the eloquently titled “black serpent’s tongues are like icy razors,” a bit of heavily distorted atonal synth noise that reminds me of Throbbing Gristle. Very creepy and great for annoying your downstairs neighbors.
Ken Miller

Final Judgement Church Ov The Great Oblivion PO Box 22103 Nashville, TN 37202-2103 USA
It was very difficult for me to listen to this record more than once or twice. Mainly because it doesn’t tell me at what rpm to play it. Every time I listen to it, I’m thinking “this can’t be right.” But after I change the speed, I don’t notice a damn bit of difference!! Also Side I and Side II aren’t labeled so I really can’t tell what I’m supposed to be hearing even though one side was allegedly recorded live. Maybe that won’t matter to the average listener, but a novice reviewer like me needs a little more help. Cut me a fucking break next time, huh? As for the actual music, picture yourself in a spooky movie. You’re walking alone at night through the woods when you see an old abandoned farmhouse. The song that would be playing right now...that’s this!
Michelle Nollan

Syncretist Records, 1112 NW 49, Oklahoma City, OK, 73118 USA
Pulpit Red is a gothic punk band from Oklahoma City that friggin’ kicks ass. The songs are catchy pieces of dark fun, right from the first song, “Zero Night.” There’s not one but two songs (“Cocked and Ready” and “Massacre On The Train”) about a guy going nuts and shooting people on a train, and both of them are great. “Freak Show” is my favorite song on the CD, with a sideshow theme and a great carnival barker part in the middle and a refrain that goes, “baby, baby, baby baby baby!” “Indestructible Boy” has a slick rockabilly feel. The whole album has excellent music and exceptional vocals (kind of a cross between Peter Murphy, Iggy Pop and Lux Interior of The Cramps). My only complaint with the CD is that a couple of the songs seem like filler material, but overall it’s a hell of a piece of work.
Ken Miller

TSM Productions PO Box 609105 Cleveland OH 44109 USA
I seem to have drawn the instrumental rock hand this round, which is too bad, since that’s not really my thing. But I digress... This particular card is an album by the highly musical folks who call themselves Rare Blend. These folks can really play their instruments - and they’re a lot funkier than the Throat Wobbler Mangrove peoples I reviewed earlier. The sound quality of this CD is also very good, if a little too midrangey (something that should have been fixed at the mastering stage) for my tastes - my ears were tired after only the fourth song. I’ll be honest - I hated this CD the first time I listened to it, and the obvious synth presets on a couple of the tracks still bother me tremendously. But, on second listen, it’s not too bad, even though it’s probably not something I would choose to buy. The music is sort of a prog-rock/fusion hybrid, ranging from funky to generic; I could see these guys developing a small but highly devoted following, particularly on the festival circuit. Or something like that...
Kevin J. O’Conner

PO Box 502674 Indianapolis IN 46250 USA
Opens with the title track, an acoustic/acoustic/bass (?) strum-along that initially recalls The Ventures but then drifts off, wherever, basically. “Highway 17 (Driving To Santa Cruz)” is more a cross between The Ventures and a relaxed Dick Dale. Drums. Somewhat traditional guitar solos. Several of the songs are broken down to just a couple guitar tracks; recalling the openness of a desert road or something. “It’s Alright” is an eight minute epic of acoustic guitars and bongos...and singing! Co-ed! And backward guitars. “A Walk In The Woods” is a happy bit of instrumental acoustica. Actually that goes for pretty much the whole CD. It’s not lo-fi but it’s not cold and distant either. It’s a comfortable set of songs...
Ian C Stewart

Star Destroyer Recordings PO Box R363 Sydney NSW 1225 Australia
Now this is more like it! I’m only up to the second song, but I can already tell that STANDING BY... is a seriously twisted spasm of joyful weirdness. Short songs with all sorts of weird effects and noises and loopy energy behind them. Imagine listening to Beck on acid while on acid. This guy should get together with the guy who does the Radiskull toons. Imagine it - Redfive with Radiskull and Devil Doll. “Now it’s time to kick it...!” You need this tape NOW.
Kevin J. O’Conner

2039 Washington Street Wilmington, NC 28401 USA
It took about a hundred listens for me to decide that I’m rather indifferent about this CD. But since I already wasted the time, here are the highlights. Song one “go radio” is highly reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult (is that a highlight? I’m not sure). “Complex Conversation” is decent I guess. Except that it lasts for 6+ minutes! About one-third of the way through, it takes an interesting turn with a little Freddie Mercury action (you know, the overly dramatic delivery of lyrics), building up to some twangy guitar stuff before finally calling it quits. “Another No” is No Doubt without the chick. The rest of the songs just kinda lie there like you do when you’re having sex with someone you don’t really like but for some reason married. It’s not bad sex, just nothing to scream about. Don’t act like you don’t know what I mean.
Michelle Nollan

KAW 94 Main Street, Forth, Lanarkshire ML11 8AB UK
The prolific Mark Ritchie keeps up the pace — but hey, wait, I thought these guys broke up! I’m so confused! And very happily so! The merchants of mope return (or continue, I guess) with more of the sound that’s made them infamous. Acoustic ballads at a snail’s crawl. This time adding keyboards to the mix. About three songs in it turns into a full-band deal with live drums and bass and it’s easily the best thing ever from this lot. “Delta Forever” sounds like a suicide note pretty much. But that chorus digs deep. “Failure Is My Business” sounds like the big radio hit of this bunch — acoustic guitar and distorted bass. “When did I become somebody you used to know?” You see what I mean. “Something Strong” is bolted down tight with a drum machine groove. “First Light” is slow ‘n sulky and features some sweet violin and keyboard action. Feelin’ moody and low? Or just wish you were? Here ya go.
Ian C Stewart

Archegon, Muhlgasse 31, 60486 Frankfurt/M, Germany
Don’t you hate reviews that start off by firing a bunch of numbers at you? Well, try this shit on for size: 47 musicians from 5 concerts in three years making 18 tracks using 20000000 instruments and filling 61:42 of 1 CD. I mean, it’s all true. The premise is interesting on paper: get a roomful of dudes and gear together and just kind of see what happens. And that’s pretty much what the CD sounds like. Nothing planned. Just the sound of a bunch of dudes winging it. Some of the pieces are ambient enough to slip through unnoticed. Most have at least one or two aspects which make them annoying/interesting. The instruments are mostly electronic, with the occasional burst of processed percussion. Real time sound collage. Some tracks sound like the stuff Skinny Puppy used to do between proper songs. Sounds like the stuff Skinny Puppy used to do between proper songs.
Ian C Stewart

BTB Valdemarsg. 56 St TV, 1665 Copenhagen Denmark
Black grind doom! It wouldn’t have seemed possible before I actually heard this that you could have such a thing as moody grindcore metal but here it is! Which is another way of saying that I’m in love! The guitars are all reverby and there might be some keyboards for further meloldic enhancement in there too. The singer is all screechy and pukey sounding while the drums and bass just blast away. “Blot” consists of dreamy upper register ambience later joined by a choir of screams and voc-gurgles and hissy narration off in the distance. Natas liah. Were it not a sunny day outside I’d probably be shitting in my pants right about now. “Dromme Om Evig Nat” gets back to the matter at hand with some fairly severe thrashing action. Sounds like a drum machine but that’s not a bad thing. My guess is that they had to sacrifice the drummer to Satan and were therefore stuck with the machine in the studio. And we all have to make sacrifices. The song breaks down to an epic old school guitar bit in the middle, which is eventually joined by some tympani or something. Okay, fuck the sun, I really am shitting in my pants now. The vocals sound like three dogs eating each other’s heads at the same time. Natas liah. The production is kind of odd, with the drums and guitars representing the majority of the mix. Maybe they toasted the bassist too. “Blandt Gra Monumenter” opens with a scrubby guitar riff that could’ve been from any Sonic Youth album, followed quickly by that incredible screaming! Hey! Somebody release that man’s testes from the blender! He’s obviously had enough! “Sar” features some plaintive piano playing that could be from any of Nick Cave’s records. Or old Dead Can Dance. With distorted guitar scrunge in the background. And bells? Natas liah. “Sorte Tarer” is some toasty mechanized thrash with horrific screaming. Sensing a theme here? “Skumring” is all ghouly rain sound effects, acoustic guitar and piano. Mmm yeah baby. And guess what else! There’s screeching too! I love that guy’s voice. It sounds like pure hell.
iAN c StewArT

Spam Allstars PO Box 414890, Miami Beach FL 33141 USA
Alright, this was one of my all time faves of the last few years. These guys take scratchy old r&b records, sample the best grooves, and mix in all kinds of inane instructional and kids-type found sound. For example, on “Spankings” they get this goofy, funky riff going and then you hear this hilarious edit from Howdy Doody talking about spankings. I guess I’m easily amused. Fans of DJ Shadow, Fzzy Pmpr and Negativland will dig this.
JH Christ

Star Destroyer Recordings PO Box R363 Sydney NSW 1225 Australia
Eccentric and occasionally bizarre, Spod’s SPODEMONIC comes off as a lo-fi, bedroom version of Ween. Whether the tune is acoustic or rocks out, the fairly decent recording quality allows their subtle sound effects and sometimes angsty vocals to come through. The offbeat and interesting “Transfer Of Spectral Line Radiation” throws off the album with helium vocals and synth, but for the most part, Spod sounds as if it just got its heart broken and has had one too many drinks. The second side of the tape starts to waste time, with the lengthy “Playin’ With A Pussy” and people talking too much in between songs. It’s all nicely packaged with cover art of Bill Clinton holding photos of nude women.
Kenyon Hopkin

PO Box 12256 Gainesville FL 32604 USA
Okay, this sounds like it was recorded in a real studio with the guitars actually plugged into an amp turned up loud. Which is a good thing. Pavementy. Which is cool, hey, Pavement is one of my all time faves, but it’s like a Pavement wrapper with nothing inside.
JH Christ
Studio Seventeen Productions PO Box 461363, Escondido, CA 92046 USA
Stafford is an official AUTOreverse Usual Suspect (reviews in AUTO7 & 8; an interview in # 9). This is my first exposure to his actual music; I like it pretty well. It says in the liner notes “I am primarily an instrumental musician, specializing in looped and ambient atmospheres,” whereas this is “a vocal pop album”. A lucky break for me since I’m not all that ambient myself. I’m guessing I’d like some of his other work anyway, though —the instrumental track “Prebendary” is far more interesting than the usual “hey, check out the cool sound my synthesizer can make (over and over)”. Reminds me of JS Bach. Track 9, “Song With No End,” is pretty soporific, on the other hand. As for the vocals, his singing reminds me of John Lennon, as do some of the arrangements (check out “Don’t”). And, in fact, there’s a song here (“John”) dedicated to the man himself. Instrumental credits on certain songs go to Bryan Helm (bass, keys, & loops) and Tom Freeman (drums), but mostly Stafford does it all. He plays one wicked guitar, too, in a wide variety of styles. I hope to hear more from this prolific and talented artist. One-and-a-half thumbs up.
Indy Ana Jones

PMB 250, 30 Dillmont Dr, Worthington OH 43235 USA
Rock! Rock! Rock. The CD opens with a big fat beat that sounds kind of like an octopus with two floor toms. The drums sound damn good, like a vintage Steve Lillywhite job like XTC BLACK SEA or that one Big Country album I’m thinking of. Much strumming of loud guitars playing open chords and backing vocals that remind me of Bob Mould. Many songs start with one guitar playing a riff or chord alone. Er, suggesting it’s a singer/songwriter/guitarist’s show here. The songs are fully-formed and rock where they’re supposed to but me personally I was never a fan of The Replacements or any of the bands that formed in their wake and there’s something very Mats-ish here. It’s not you, guys, it’s me. I’m sorry. I just need some space right now to think about things.
Ian C Stewart

Stone Premonitions 271 Park Road, South Moor, Stanley, Co Durham DH9 7AP UK
15 track compilation from this moody bluesy spacy UK label. The set opens with two songs from Terri B’s WRAP ME IN YOUR SKIN CD reviewed here previously, followed closely by two songs by Body Full Of Stars, who were also reviewed previously! And loved! Several cuts from BFOS’s CD are exceptionally great, though the two here aren’t my own picks for the A-list. Mark Dunn’s fretless bass and immediately identifiable voice hold it all together. Paul Rose’s “Take A Mile” recalls early 80s MOR like Michael McDonald or even mellow Don Henley; followed by “Demons,” which sounds like a sequenced Guns N Roses spinoff or something! An instrumental excuse for a very long guitar solo anyway! Spacehopper goes all pop-rock with their tracks. “Aeroplane” is especially catchy, almost shoegazey in it way. Then “Harmonian Love Song” goes all dreampop. Blissed out instrumental. Oh yeah. Mr Quimby’s Beard were also reviewed before, but yeah: sci-fi space rock. For ten minutes! The Rabbit’s Hat then pulls a coup by doing a Nick Drake cover! “Strange Meeting II” with backing vocals by Terri B. Their version adds a bit of rhythm and, er, “soul,” whatever that means. The guitar playing is right on! And anything at all to further the music of Nick Drake is a good thing. “Sweetmeats Of The Dead” gets all breakbeat-y and dancey. Breakbeats good. Krom Lek actually reminds me of Dif Juz with “Dragonfly.” There’s at least one uptempo track on the Dif Juz album, and it sounds like this! Drum machine plus live everything else, including sax! This song and “Taking Warmth From A Star” both have wonderful reverby atmosphere. Mmm. Neon “Don’t Eat Bricks”! Great title! The production is very good and the chorus sounds like, uh, Free or something. It’s very 70s whatever it is! “Hanging Off An O” is more uptempo and recalls Deep Purple, I think. This disc is a great starting point for checking out Stone Premonitions.
Ian C Stewart

DEMO 1998
Chris 7 Petrel Way, Blyth, Northumberland NE24 3QL UK
Rock band action! “Turn Around” is either a slow Green Day or a fast Silverchair. “Lifeline” is like, uh, like, uh, like Bad Religion or anything else on that thar label of theirs. Melodic, hard rocking rock. But not “hard rock” in the sense of hair bands, you know? “Freak Friendship” makes nice use of a prominent bass line and rocks out a bit. The production is good and the performances all do what they’re supposed to. Yep.
Ian C Stewart

Mumble Mumble Music 7806 S Kilpatrick, Chicago IL 60652 USA
Anybody who can pack two (two!) c-90’s full of actual pop-rock songs that he wrote, sang and played all the instruments on deserves, well, he deserves something. Maybe a producer, or better yet a band. Dan Susnara creates Pink Floydy style bedroom spacerock complete with a faux Brit accent. I’d like to hear this stuff with a full band, real drums and a different singer. Dan’s a great songwriter, but he’s bitten off more than he can produce. I liked his tape collaboration with Micky Saunders better than this stuff- she brings a solid live drumming and pop sensibility to the thing.
JH Christ

Spasmoparapsychotic Records 1720 Talleyrand Brossard, QC J4W 2J2 CANADA
I was slightly curious as to what the phrase “sounds conceived and executed by Phycus” meant exactly. Obviously this is not your typical record. My answer is this: high speed percussive noises with some low-pitched rumbling in the background, a girl repeatedly screaming “I kill you” and a drill, just incase you were wondering too. As for Tem Ohp Ab, I played their song at 33rpm because the other side sounded better at that speed. This one could go either way, but they both sound like Captain Kirk firing his phaser (on STUN) for about three minutes. All things considered, an interesting choice of bands to share a record. I sometimes wonder how and by whom these decisions are made.
Michelle Nollan

Studio Seventeen Productions PO Box 461363, Escondido, CA 92046 USA
Throat Wobbler Mangrove are guitarists Bryan Helm and Dave Stafford (previously known as The Dozey Lumps), and freelance drummer Tom Freeman. LUXURY YACHT is an album of “electric-acoustic power trio” arrangements of Dozey Lumps songs, all recorded live over a three-day period in April 1990. Judging by the songs on this CD (not to mention the almost verbatim lifting of the standard DGM copyright notice), Messrs. Helm, Stafford, and Freeman are huge Robert Fripp devotees. Shades of Fripp (particularly in Crafty Guitarist mode) and/or King Crimson are everywhere. That means there’s some fine musicianship on display here (with some occasional Beatlesque overtones), but the music often lacks that emotional subtext needed to connect with the listener (or should I say, in the manner of the aforementioned Mr. Fripp, audient?) on a deeper level. And, like Crimson, I suspect this music is best experienced live. On the other hand, “Languid” is sublimely so, and the far too short title track rocks. And, unlike Crimson, Throat Wobbler Mangrove keep the pointless noodling to a minimum. Still, I’m fairly indifferent about this album. But then, as the song says, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Kevin J. O’Conner

6813 Weedin Place NE #101, Seattle, WA 98115 USA
Live recordings, most of which taken in Tokyo (now I’m impressed) in 1989. By now, you should all know what to expect from Tinty Music: sparse, ethereal instrumentals, like doodles in space. It’s elegant and aquatic, and the bits have, as an added toy, cute Cocteau Twins-like titles such as “Discovering the Scene of the Crime”, “The Day I Spent Alone”, “Hacking The Boss’s Body To Bits (The Prolonged Agony Version)”. Even though ambient never had me screaming with enthusiasm, this one is agreeable and, dare I say it, New Age (now Kevin will get offended...).
6813 Weedin Place NE #101, Seattle, WA 98115 USA
This here offering is a 22-track CD of electronica. All of the tracks are engaging compositions, either upbeat and playful or cold and crisp, but most are so short they don’t reach their full potential. It’s almost like a sampler of song tidbits than a full album (many of the songs are under a minute long). The mix is also quite scattered, with a beat-oriented piece placed right next to a slow, introspective piece. I found this placement doesn’t establish a consistent mood/theme/idea and would have been better set up as two separate works, one with the more upbeat songs, and one with the more lowkey songs. But, hey, that’s just my 50 cents’ worth. All in all, it’s a good start, and I’d definitely be interested in hearing this artist expand on what he’s created.
Hyacinthe L. Raven-Douleur

6813 Weedin Place NE #101, Seattle, WA 98115 USA
A four-track work of synthesizer and space, THE LEARNING CURVE, VOL IV dispels any lingering myths that it is easy to listen to ambient music. It recalls Harold Budd at times in its minimalist beginnings and structure in movements — the two principle tracks, twenty-six minute long “Penumbra” and thirty-six minute long “The Wonderful Mysteriousness of Unexpected Developments,” are subdivided in the liner notes. “Penumbra” is certainly the more difficult of the two. Its dark instrumental illustration of the space between light and shadow is sometimes hindered by the starkness of the synthesizers, which produce less an affect of mystery and more the affect of a Japanese CD-ROM mystery game. It is repetitive, but it neither reaches a proper level of intrusiveness for melody nor does it fade into the background; it may eat at the listener in a way that is not particularly intriguing. The latter track is much more pleasing. For one, it manages to capture the mood to which each movement strives, and even the feeling described in the lengthy title, something that was lacking in the previous track. The Budd comparison remains, but this track also adds something of a scaled-down Vangelis, or even the synth-pop leanings of an instrumental White Town. For the fan of ambient, it makes up for “Penumbra,” and makes this CD worth seeking. For the listener who is not a fan of ambient — this CD will probably not change your mind.
Megan Heller

6813 Weedin Place NE #101, Seattle, WA 98115 USA
This album is so hard for me to categorize. Is it ambient? How should I know? I don’t even know what ambient is. What I do know is that this CD tells a great story with its huge, flowing, open orchestral sounds. I hear the decline of civilization followed by the end of the world and then some kind of re-birth. Prehistoric, renaissance, industrial, modern and’s all there, just not in chronological order. Or maybe not at all. Maybe none of it is there and I’m totally full of shit. You decide. Sorry, but stuff like this says nothing to me, I don’t get it. I need to feel an emotional attachment to my music and this just leaves me cold. Great songs to fall asleep to, but a little impersonal for my taste. The artwork rules though.
Michelle Nollan

Via Castiglione 91, 40136 Bologna Italy
Fuck objectivity, a new Franco CD is cause for celebration! So let me put my clothes back on and try to form some sentences regarding this album beyond “fuck yesssssssss.” It opens with “P.I.A.N.G.O.” which starts with pensive acoustic guitar strums and singing. Then the fretless bass, drums and percussion slip in like a thief in the night. Oh yeah. Even though Franco’s been proffering this sound since long before their rise to prominence, these songs sound a bit like Dave Matthews Band. Lots of acoustic guitars, fretless bass, great playing, somewhat melancholy melodies. That sort of thing. But better. Track two, “Per Un Ombra Ucciderei” throws down over a drum n bass loop! Despite the bangin’ tempo of the drums, it’s basically a mournful pop song at heart. “Dopa Cenerentola” features some emphatically strummed acoustic guitars, tropical birds in the background. World Beat Folk! Yeah right. Not really. “Regina Do-Re-Mi” is a massive swinging ballad. “Tutta Colpa Di Silvia” sounds like The Beatles covering The Go-Go’s. Upbeat tambourine rock. “Non Mi Passa Piu” goes all grunge and shit! It sounds not unlike Stone Temple Pilots to me. Nearly seven minutes of slow rock action with atonal guitar and a spurty little bass line over open-hi-hat drumming. Except the chorus is just big and weird! “Conto I Giorni Che Mi Separano Da Te” actually sounds like a different Stone Temple Pilots song. It’s fueled by this propulsive internal rhythm that you’d just have to hear. The production on the entire album is glittery and gorgeous. “San Valentino” borrows some of Andy Partridge’s vocal atonality with a spine-tingling effect. Holy cow, this album rules. It goes without saying that Franco Turra is the man!
Ian C Stewart

Via Castiglione 91, 40136 Bologna Italy
This recording sounds so much like XTC at times it’s scary. Franco not only sings like Andy but the songs he and Daniel have come up with are right out of the ORANGES AND LEMONS songbook. The recording sound is impeccable- is it live or Memorex? There’s complex, multi-layered instrumentation based on a solid bed of acoustic guitar/electric bass. They’ve avoided that midi-sterility that I hate, so however they did it, they did it right.
JH Christ
VERANO DEL 99 CD compilation
Elefant Records PO Box 331 Las Rozas 28230 Madrid Spain
Holy sunny pop! This CD blinds me. La Pequena Suiza adds the first layer of suntan lotion with “Viviendo En Los 90,” which features tagteam coed vocals in Spanish! It’s all very Austin Powers in a way. Me Enveneno De Azules pretty much makes even Katrina And The Waves sound like Nick Cave by comparison. Retroer than your mama the second time around! Les Tres Bien Ensemble get all French when nobody is looking on “La Fille La Plus Douce Du Monde.” Me neither. Says here they like Gainsbourg and Francoise Hardy. Me neither. Le Mans “Ay que Triste Estoy!” throws down something like a slow Santana pimp jam with chickay vocals. Mmmm yeah. It goes without saying. Niza “Niza” is Burt Bacharach at Taco Bell ordering french fries! “But Burt,” they say, “we don’t sell french fries.” Burt just huffs and goes away and writes another song... La Monja Enana “Cartas De Amor” is the techno eurotrash float in the parade, which is indeed charming and not unlike Pizzicato Five in its way. Gasca sounds like a continental The Cure! Very nice! Anti “Ride The Tiger” also opts for hints of the eurotech trash disco effect, which is very very hott. Probably what Mark Robinson from Unrest etc has had in mind for years. Magnetic Fields minus the irony? Patrullero Mancuso “Mi Vida Va Bien” opens with a bit of funeral organ action, which is then swallowed whole by the tropical fish that is the rest of the song. It’s uptempo and happy and has a chorus of singers on the chorus. Vacaciones “Imperfecta” is punk trash! Wheeeeee! With female vocals! Juniper Moon is practically a thrash band compared to most of the others on the disc. But I’ve said it before and I’m underlining it now: Beef is the band! Beef “Cosmopolitan” is more dreampop than Bacharach revivalist, almost like early New Order. Very very very niiiiiiiice. Jackson gets the biggest laughs with “Real Cool Boy,” which opens with some New Order synth octave action followed by a dude saying with a hard French accent “Yesss... I Em Famoussssss...” and then something about girls wanting to fuck him! Nice! And everybody knows by now that a great choon don’t hurt none either! Spring “Today” the singer girl makes the Alison from The Cranes sound like an old lady! Don’t play this CD for too long without some sunscreen...
Ian C Stewart

Macka PO Box 356, Brunswick Vic 3056 Australia
Some interesting guitar and noise experimentation going on, perhaps a bit excessive at times but overall it works well. “Dancing Comets” starts off the tape with some great guitar sample-and-loop rhythms accompanied by drums, building slowly into a wall of noise. “Time Taker” has guitar with a bit of Theremin-sounding accompaniment thrown in for a kind of “Dr. Who” vibe. “Altrun” has some distorted-and-delayed guitar noise with some strange thumping percussion for an interesting sound. “Vh’ree” has a drum machine rhythm, bass, a flanging guitar sound, unintelligible creepy vocals and reminds me a bit of Suicide. “Space is Dangerous” is the second side of the tape, with a cool shimmering wall of noise which is great fun to listen to if you like generic ambient noise with occasional sci-fi sounds.
Ken Miller

Lighthouse Cassettes 13587 Osprey Point Drive, Jacksonville FL 32224 USA
This cassette features the songs of one named Bren. I thought it was Plundershop under a pseudonym at first. If you like him or let’s say The Laces you’ll like Vetran. This stuff is good, skiffly surfy pop with real drums.
JH Christ

Troniks 2590 Durant Ave #240 Berkeley CA 94704 USA
The End: here we have what seems to be hardcore/industrial/techno. Fronted with strong, driving drum (machine) beats with lots of bass and hi-hat action and synths. There are vocals, mainly repeated phrases and screams. All this mixed with a hint of noise type soundscapes in the background. Aggressive yet able to rave all night long. Topics revolve around suicide, murder and death. This side ends with 15 minutes of lo-fi guitar cable/line manipulation. The Violet Grind: terrific blend of sounds and the layering is super clean. In the beginning is a sorta lengthy synth piece that’s followed by a more ambient feel with a lot of delay and high feedback. Some vocals are present, but are more for accent, along with rhythmic tapping. It really flows well and guides you effortlessly through this somewhat relaxing piece. Cipher Utopia: sounds are somewhat reminiscent of The Violet Grind with a bit more disturbance in the ambience. It breaks up a little more with a pinch of harsher aspects.
E Crowe

Face Like A Smacked Arse 216 Dividy Road, Stoke On Trent ST2 9JT UK
Let’s see, Jarvis did the keys and guitars and Mr Timid Wagstaff did the voices. “Sex Changers” gets the party started with a highly annoying keyboard toot pattern over which Mr Wags delivers some upper register rhythmless rap. “One Way Out” features a solid bed of organ sounds (or accordion or something else near it on the keyboard presets). Again featuring the buried vocals of Wagstaff who could be reciting a shopping list for all I know. “Back Home” is acoustic guitars and metronomic bass drum loop with yelled/shouted vocals. And so it goes across 15 tracks in all...
Ian C Stewart

Best Kept Secret c/o Alessandro Crestani via Biron di Sotto, 101 36100 Vicenza ITALY
The twenty-seven track WE ARE NOT ALONE consists of as many artists performing an enormous amount of music. There are hints of XTC and the defunct Judybats in the upbeat guitar pop, while Robin O’Brien and Don Campau perform an experimental piece called “Herb Recitation” (a very literal title) which is beyond description. Mike Landucci’s “Ultimate Two-Minute Mystery” echoes Kraftwerk, while Paul Nini performs a fairly faithful cover of Gene Clark’s “With Tomorrow” (later covered by 4AD project This Mortal Coil). This collection should appeal to fans of 4AD, as it resembles that label both in range of styles and consistent quality. The album closes with Kenyata Sullivan’s “And She Whispers,” a beautiful piece which recalls Leonard Cohen as performed by John Cale. There is more quality on this compilation than can fit in this review; simply put, it is splendid.
Megan Heller

Right-Fi Stereo 2 King Street West, PO Box 57053 Hamilton ON L8P 4X1 CANADA
Imagine a dreamier version of Violent Femmes. Yep, its that good. I mean think about it, the Femmes on slow speed. The bass sound on this recording is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Whaleman has cool songs, good drums, good vocals and great bass.
JH Christ

PO Box 48214 Athens GA 30604 USA
Very nicely produced modern guitar rock that hits REAL hard. Like Sugar. Except “Open Spaces” which kicks off with a real tight part that recalls Jawbox. Some of the chords employed are highly large. Likewise for “This Song Sounds The Same” which is rhythmically twisty-turny. And kinda hard-hittin’ in spots. Ya know. Hard, energetic guitar rock! And who can’t get with that!
Ian C Stewart


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