Archive for December, 2010

Get well soon – Vexations

Posted in Album reviews, Rants on December 6, 2010 by Bruno

A concept album about stoicism by a German one man band. Okay, get your arse back here. There’s nothing to be scared about. Au contraire, mon cher Watson. I’m even making this the second participant in my randomly chosen top ten albums of 2010. Before any of you German-concept-album-liking freaks (we know where you live) point out that the album was released in Prussia at the end of 2009: I KNOW! But since this blog is all about ME, these are albums I discovered in 2010, so shut up.

If you think this might be a bit too highbrow for you, go back to your http://www.waynerooneyisagod.aargh or your http://www.pamelaandersonhasthenicesttitsever.cum. If you think the lyrics on this one might be a bit too pessimistic for you, get up, walk to your window and look outside. Anymore questions? Didn’t think so.

The voice behind Get well soon is Konstantin Gropper. His timbre has been compared to that of Tom Yorke. I couldn’t tell you, because every time Tom Yorkes voice echoes through the confines of my apartment, it’s being overpowered by the rolling thunder of my barfing. Gropper first caught our attention with his cover of Born Slippy. Konstantin didn’t put as much effort into his songtitles this time as he did on his previous album. What to think of the brilliant(ly named) Witches! Witches! Rest Now In The Fire, a song that would have sounded perfect on Hooverphonic’s Jacky Cane (you remember, those times long gone when we used to care what Alex Callier had come up with).

This second installment does continue in the same feel though. Seneca’s silence starts of with marimbas, before a Teutonian hord of Walkyres casts out the mariachi band. I’ll bring the poison, will you bring the knife? Very Sufjan Stevens if you ask me.

And then there’s A voice in the Louvre. An orchestral production that makes you wish Rufus Wainwright would brokebackmountain this German, so he can finally deliver that magnum opus we’ve all been yearning for. Not the happiest of tunes, lamenting: Deep in the swarm, hold on, mother, to these shaky hands. In open water, save me, father, from the rising flood. But what about that sweeping chorus, urged forward by a battalion of violins, marching to the sound of the Glöckenspiel, culminating in a grand outro you wished would never end. If only I wasn’t so afraid.

Werner Herzog gets shot is the strange tale of German film producer Werner Herzog… getting shot. Aureate! starts of with a harpsichord, before being interrupted by break beats, leading the way for the orchestra to take over. Angry young man delivers all it promises, before the album finishes of with We are the Roman Empire, an eulogy for so-called western civilisation. Top ten of the year? Elementary, my dear Watson.

Completely exposed

Posted in the mind wanders... on December 5, 2010 by Bruno

I’ve been hurting for days now, the phantom pain of missing you, a piece of me. Because since you’ve walked into my life, you’ve filled a void that I ignored even existed. A dull ache has come over me and has just recently been replaced by a sharp sting.

Don’t flatter yourself, girl. It’s not you. It’s this tooth filling, a piece of a molar the size of Larsen B that’s broken off, leaving the nerve as exposed as a virgin on her wedding night.

David Sylvian – Sleepwalkers

Posted in Album reviews on December 5, 2010 by Bruno

If Scott Walker is the voice of God, then David Sylvian must surely be that of the Son and the Holy Ghost. Ever since Japan, the angelic murmurs of Sylvian have been able to sooth us after a day of mayhem. Secrets of the Beehive and Dead bees on a cake were just two of the very bright pearls Sylvian cast into a pitch dark sea of pop music. Unfortunately, David thought less was more and his two last efforts were a bit too minimal to our taste.

Sleepwalkers
is a compilation of rare collaborations spanning the last decade. A sort of best of with a twist. The title track springs into life with some noisy distortion, until Sylvian comes down from the heavens to preach to us: “Wake up from your cultural slumber, you fucking sleepwalkers.” A slow incantation that nestles itselfs in the back of your mind. Money for all starts in a trip hoppy kind of way, like Portishead on a summer holiday, until it evolves into a gospely singsong. Some of the tracks on this album were written with former Japan drummer Steve Jansen. Ballad of a deadman sees Policewoman Joan Wasser join their ranks, to make a country-folk ballad that slowly rides into the sunset.

Never shy of an experiment, Sylvian lends his voice to a bit of spoken-word next, before we bump into an old acquaintance: Ryuichi Sakamoto, World Citizen par exellence. Five lines, a sort of contorted piece of chamber music, brings us to another Nine Horses song The day the earth stole heaven. I’m optimistically inclined, Given time she’ll change her mind

Playground Martyrs is a little musical fingerling with Steve Jansen, swimming up a gentle river of piano and strings, before reaching eastern shores again with Exit/delete. This gentle guitar ballad on lost love, is a collaboration with multi instrumentalist Takagi Masakatsu.

Pure Genius, teams Sylvian up with Chris Vrenna, former Nine Inch Nail producer. Dark and eerie, a shining anachronism amidst soft treading jazzy efforts like Wonderful World, that is shattered to pieces by the brittle voice of Stina Nordenstam.

Transit
is a return to the minimalism of Sylvians latest albums, thanks to Austrian button tweaker Fennesz. Next up The world is everything, a piece of chamber music like Playground Martyrs sets the stage for Thermal, the spoken word piece for Arve Henriksens Cartography. Sugarfuel is an itchy, nervous, luscious, drum and bass driven ballad that leads us to the Trauma of goodbye, that last one a throbbing of gentle, yet discomforting noises, leaving you startled and vulnerable after a journey through the many faced garden of Sylvians world.

Stakeout

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2010 by Bruno

So, apparently, today is going to be the day that hell freezes over. Since I have no fireplace to roast me some chestnuts, I had to make sure I had other companions to get me through the blizzard. Of course, a few Irish and Scottish distillates will get you a long way, but something was missing. Whilst the stew was gently simmering away, I put on all of my clothes and walked out into what seemed Hoth. Two steps out, I sank ankle deep into the snow (then again, one should remember I have flat feet, so about an inch would do the trick). Destination music man with the voucher we got at work to get me a few companions for the coming winter.

Unsurprisingly, some of the usual suspects made the cut. David Sylvian, an all time favorite, with his latest effort, Sleepwalkers was the first one to join me. Sleepwalkers offers a panoply of collaborations and hides little gems like the gospely Ballad of a deadman, featuring Joan as a Police Woman and former Japan partner in crime Steve Jansen or Wonderful World, that’s been haunted by Stina Nordenstam. An early live album by Tom Waits came a close second. And when Loudon Wainwright III and Joe Henry team up, do I really stand a chance? To warm things up a bit, I finally bought Jamie Lidells Compass. And I will never ever walk away from a Neil Hannon who’s going cheap in the sales, especially since the Emerald Isle is in such dire straits.

The weather outside pointing my compass firmly North, some new shores were to be beached upon. So new to my audio cabinet: German Get well soon, who made the perfect winter version of my drunken adolescence soundtrack Born Slippy. Since the music man was all out of Wendys, I got me two Lisas. Lisa Germano and her Magic Neighbor and Lisa Gerrard, of former Dead can Dance-fame, teaming up with Patrick Cassidy for Salem’s Lot soundtrack, Immortal Memory. And to round things of a bit of jazz. Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin must be one of the most inspiring jazz bands around since the untimely death of Esbjörn Svensson. It might not last ’till spring, but it might just get me through a few snow packed nights.