Monday, May 9, 2011

Hifana – Channel H [2005]

Hifana is a Japanese breaks duo notorious for their live shows in which they trigger all samples by hand.  I imagine that they must cut a lot of studio tracks based on that kind of live improvisation as well, as you won’t hear a lot of intricacy in the layering of sounds in the tracks on Channel H.  Instead, a few carefully-selected samples are cut and collated into continuously shifting phrases that can be intuitively understood.  I’m surprised at the mileage the duo can get out of something like a few bars of shamison music or whatever the bamboo-sounding percussion is in track five.  Generally I prefer music that feels more carefully composed, as opposed to “jammed,” but the good source material and playful feel make this easy to recommend.

 [YouTube] Hifana - Wamono

[Artist Website]

01 - Channel Push Breakin'
02 - Wamono
03 - Mr. Beer
04 - See'em
05 - Tanglang
06 - Now Thinking
07 - Nampooh
08 - Now Playing
09 - Ryukyu Long Board
10 - Akero
11 - Raggachin H
12 - Waiyandub
13 - www.Hifana.Com
14 - Peeteejay
15 - Asalato

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Machines of Loving Grace [1991]

By the mid nineties every major label had an industrial pop rock band in their back pocket, cleaning up the disposable cash of NIN and White Zombie fans.  Not all of the bands probably deserved the attention they received.  Machines of Loving Grace benefitted modestly from that trend, if mostly from track they had on The Crow soundtrack.  Really, Machines of Loving Grace is a rare case of a 90s industrial rock band that should have – and, I think, could have – been bigger. 

I like this album the best, their 1991 self titled debut on the then-still-indie Mammoth Records.  It’s easy to draw comparison between this album and Pretty Hate Machine.  Hard rock guitars, programmed drums, samples, synth, occasionally processed vocals, check, check, check, check, check, but beside the point.  What makes the albums kindred is the quality of pop songcraft.  While most of their peers were reveling in the mechanical coolness of electronic music production, MOLG created not necessarily warm, but at least human sounding music, with real hooks and catchy choruses.  And, unlike a lot of studio-based artists of the time, it sounds like an actual band.
Rumor has it that the demo submitted to Mammoth Records consisted of the very same audio tracks that were released as this record.  That may explain why the recording lacks a robust bottom end, but otherwise sounds good for an 8-track garage recording.

01 - Burn Like Brilliant Trash (at Jackie’s Funeral)
02 - Cicciolina
03 - Rite of Shiva
04 - Lipstick 66
05 - X-Insurrection
06 - Content
07 - Weatherman
08 - Terminal City
09 - Number Nine

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ulver – A Quick Fix of Melancholy [2003]

So Ulver just came out with a new album and it’s pretty good!  Thing is, those guys are so talented, I can’t help but be a bit disappointed at “pretty good.”

It reminded me that I haven’t posted any Ulver on this blog, so here: A Quick Fix of Melancholy.  This 2003 EP is has been described as neoclassical, but that’s just because it makes heavy use of symphonic pads and some string samples.  The melodic line of each song isn’t explored or expanded, but left to unreel into the dark and cavernous space around each track.  Too repetitive and dynamically sparse to be classical, but too eventful to edge into ambient territory, I guess this could be triangulated by Nico, Coil, and Arvo Part. 

01 - Little Blue Bird
02 - Doom Sticks
03 - Vowels
04 - Eitttlane