2005-10-31 02:06:00
There is a track that makes me collapse. Yet I cannot not listen to it, it's very emotional. Brian Reitzell & Roger J. Manning Jr's Shibuya.

Especially when it comes to an end and you hear shinkansen announcement. Ambient music is great, it can bring recollections, so strong that they will hurt or uplift... I was there and I still remember how it smells, how it looks and so on - when you hear announcements in JR. And I know the best place in the world to buy music - Shunjuku Tower Records. On my last day in Tokyo I was walking along Shinjuku subway stations and recorded an hour of Shinjuku sounds. Never heard it since then and probably will never do, so emotional it is.

Who are those Brian Reitzell and Roger J. Manning at all? They are session drummer and keyboardists or Air, as much as I know. They delivered two wonderful tracks on Lost in Translation OST but I never heard anything else from them.


2005-10-29 05:16:00

There will never be anything new.
There will never be an energy flood.
Whoever understands, will never be near.
Phone will only deliver calls from those unwanted.
Postman will only drop spam into the box.
People will remember from time to time, but never will get in touch.
Old favorite bands will split and leave not waiting for new ones.
Heart will ache, memories will hurt.
People will start families and go do their own business.
New people will demand more energy, which cannot be offered any longer.
All the old ideas will be accomplished by the others.
All the new ones will remain unknown.
Friends will give up, enemies will forget.
Relatives will vanish, unable to meet and see.
Equipment at home will go off and will be replaced by temporary things to last forever.
Colors around will fade out to binary scale.
There will be a hope for a tide to turn, it will last longer than anything else. And there will be a glimpse of real change, but soon all will get even worse.

In the end, there will be no friends, no ideas, no interests, no hope. Only ruins of what sometime in the past was adored and explored.

Important Bands New Albums: Yann Tiersen - Les Retrouvailles

2005-10-28 14:53:00
Yann Tiersen is one of those musicians who originates from folk and knows how to craft wonderful melodies with no need for orchestra or a band. His minimal music is just enough to open charming landscapes where it's possible to live under ruling of free thoughts, emotions and memories. This picture reminds of the island of Ouessant, where the album had actually been recorded. A place of perfect blue skies, clean houses and the spread sheet to dry on a breeze. And beautiful women on bicycles.

Tiersen's talent can easily compose an anthem for this segment of ideal world, but he prefers variety art. There is obviously a small waltz with the accordion, a ballad with the piano, some divine songs. A plenty of guitars, sometimes even a little rough sound, much of a luminous yet melancholic energy.

Album has some famous guests appearances on it, like ethereal voice of Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser on Kala and Mary, Tindersticks' Stuart Staples on A Secret Place and some others. Jane Birkin herself appears on Plus d'hiver, a song probably too political for Tiersen.

With his whimsical, melancholic music, Yann Tiersen has become a sought-after composer, not only for his soundtracks (enough to mention Good Bye Lenin!, Amelie set everyone's teeth on edge), but also for his own works. Borrowing from French folk music, chanson and street music, as well as avant-garde, classical and minimalist influences, Tiersen's deceptively simple style has been linked to Chopin, Erik Satie and Philip Glass, which is really reasonable.

Since Yann's debut records, his creative world seems unchanged. The listener still lets himself rock on emotional soft sounds that emanate from the skies and memories. Maybe it does not comprise enough evolution compared to the precedents, but that's because it's not about evolution. It's about maturity.

Aulis Vierhovssen
October 2005

Important Bands New Albums: Biosphere - Dropsonde

2005-10-28 09:55:00
Biosphere is a native tromsean (Norway) composer and performer Geir Jenssen who got into a public spot in the mid 90s after releasing a number of successful ambient albums, including Patashnik and Substrata.

Since then, Jenssen refined his sound into less melodic yet more induring. If Substrata was a imaginary soundtrack for almost silent science documentary on Arctic, Dropsonde (just like its sleeve) is a one for a gorgeous photography of a clouded skyscape. Or intricate ice patterns, they both look the same from a distance.

This album utilizes themes of ice and air, since dropsonde is in fact a weather reconnaissance device dropped from an airplane to the ground. And while dropsonde is falling down, it's moving in air, so does the album. It's not so terminally frozen like Shenzhou, rhythmically it resembles more of Patashnik or Microgravity, what seems to be a few steps back for Biosphere. Technically, it's all about looped filtered drums and keys layered below the massive fuel of sonic drones.

It says, Jenssen is moving towards the jazz colors of Miles Davis and Jon Hassell, but actually I don't see that much of similarity, maybe just sample hints, hidden deep inside.

As always, Biosphere is a pleasure plus dread of arctic sound. Like in Carroll's Looking Glass, you need to be able to go deeper in order to get higher. Biosphere always acts on a level of emotions, even in its most carefully measured tracks like Altostratus or Sherbrooke.

Dropsonde encourages you to drift into a haze of athmospheric images and cloud scenes, where spectacular beauty hides unseen danger. It's more danger here than in Autour De La Lune or Shenzhou - dropsonde is moving and you never know where it'll drop down.

Aulis Vierhovssen
October 2005

Important Bands New Albums: The Orb - Okie Dokie It's The Orb On Kompakt

2005-10-28 08:04:00
Perhaps, I still want to listen to The Orb and hear Jimmy Cauty in its sound. Perhaps, I want to feel a kind of a space journey. Or whatever. But not dry micro house or minimal techno, for god's sake.

The Orb are widely considered as originators of ambient music (along with The KLF, another Cauty's project). But by the way 'Okie Dokie It's The Orb On Kompakt' starts off, it becomes obvious mister Thomas Fehlmann applied his touch to the music this time. Comparing to Blue Room or Orblivion times, the sound got less spacey, more sequenser based and much less melodic. Listening to Complication, I suddenly got a glimpse that it's all in one key! Lunik makes an attempt to be the real Orb, but fails. Too monotonous, and the vocals don't exactly fit into The Orb image.

Lolo sounds like Alex Paterson gave a few notes to Fehlmann, who later turned them into a boring loop.

The tide is surprisingly turning on a rubber bass track Cool Harbour, already known by The Orb's single on BadOrb label from the early 2000s. Later tracks are closer to ancestral domain of trance-inducing pulsating ambience, for which we know and love The Orb after all. Before Because even starts with russian language TV sample, what I see as a following the traditions of early Orb's albums.

Hushed environs of the album's second half delivers famous Paterson's cascading melodies and chiming digital suburbia, and in the end you see that The Orb is still on, in the higher charts of downtempo soundscape music.

So to put in short, I dislike Kompakt's name in the album title. It's pointless, I guess The Orb is more important than Kompakt. Second thing, I would fire Fehlmann, he's of no use in The Orb. Let him play his hard boiled music somewhere else, will you Alex?

But again, such an album from a band who once collaborated with Robbie Williams sound unexpectedly and surprisingly good.

Aulis Vierhovssen
October 2005

Billy Mack

2005-10-27 06:20:00
When I get older, I want to be like Billy Mack. He fades like noone else can. He's still vivid, he is loved, he's a star. Yet Christmas Is All Around is probably his last top track, and he's now more into whiskey than into hit making, he's much above all the youngsters.

What I also like about him, is that he doesn't care about women. When surrounded by numerous female Santas in a video, he just doesn't care. He's on fire, he exposes himself, he shocks and epater.

Doesn't look like he had much success in the past, but he had enough. He had enough to understand what it's like. And now he doesn't care about it either. I even think he doesn't care about Christmas getting to the first place, at least it's not a creative desire.

And about whiskey - it's only a chemical way to temporarily switch off a never ending thinking process. Imagine what he does when he gets back home alone. He thinks and that surely disturbs him.

Hold on, Billy Mack.

Russian Electronic Music: Part 1. Soviet Times

2005-10-21 23:33:00
Like in the most part of the world, first use of electronic music, or more like "sounds" at that time, was associated mainly with TV and cinema needs. Easy-listening classical and pop music performed on early synths, often with orchestra played on TV and radio stations a lot. A model of those times electronic music could be an orchestra of electronic musical instruments guided by Vyacheslav Meshcherin (Ансамбль В. Мещерина). Many of you also probably know Eduard Artemyev, famous composer of Solaris / Stalker / Mirror soundtracks and electromusical composer.

Information space of USSR was quite closed from broad foreign influences, so russian electronic music was developing based on its own traditions. And appliances and instruments as well, with "Yunost" (Юность) as one of the most representative. That's a synth that could behave 'electronically' enough, if treated a special way. Often desired sounds were achieved by connecting to self-made distortion boxes or a manually manufactured wah-wahs.

Since 1985, ignoring the pressure of the administration of Rock Laboratory (a semi-professional organization, initiated in 1985 by Mnistry of Culture, KGB and Komsomol in order to unite and control numerous underground rock groups), membership in which allowed musicians to perform legally, some bands started to abandoned traditional rock instruments (except for guitar) and started using exclusively drum machines, keyboards and synthesizers. Examples of this can be found on some early Ночной Проспект (Night Avenue), Взвод Василия Чкалова (Vasily Chalkov's Squad) and Василий Шумов's records.

Electronic arsenal of those bands was for sure far from perfection. They used variants of Soviet electronic organ FAEMI, different cheap Casio synths and Vermona instruments (made in GDR). In the 80s soviet industry also launched various keyboards on the market, including the best known Elektronika instruments, electric organs Lel’ (Лель), as well as Polyvox synthesizer, resembling the legendary MiniMoog. However, these instruments, in spite of their low prices and therefor accessibility to general music scene, were quite unreliable in operation, unpredictable in controlling and rough-sounding. Ironically, only by the end of 90s could people appreciate all highs of these instruments, even naive sound of Polyvox could easily compete with Richard D. James creations. Since then, soviet synths became particularly demanded for creation of industrial and experimental music, and turned into highly collectible rarities.

In the 80s garage bands recorded on tape, using a UHER and NOTA reel recorder, and used similar scheme for perfomances, playing guitars and simple synths live. This practice later by the end of 80s later was adopted by various pop groups (Ласковый Май, Мираж), who applied complete lipsing instead of playing live just anything at all.

By the end of 80s electronic scene was established in Moscow. It mainly inclined to pop forms, but also revealed some innovations and searching for independent ways of playing and composing electronic music, which is rather reasonable, if to remember for how long soviet music was secured from direct foreign influences. One of the main references for Russian musicians was Depeche Mode, whose popularity was, and still is,immense. Among all others, it would be right to mention such bands as Биоконструктор, Альянс, Вектор of Vladimir Ratskevitch Владимира Рацкевича, Доктор, Вторая Группа of Alexei Tegin, duo Прощай, Молодость, Союз Композиторов of Alexander Sinitsyn, Метро of Yuri Tsarev. Many popular rock bands like Центр and Звуки Му experimented with electronic sound a lot, and finally moved to electronic field for good. In Leningrad there were at least two most notable projects: Новые Композиторы and avant garde Сергей Курёхин. Rather strong electronic scene was in Baltic republics, for instance, estonian Sven Grunberg, latvian Zodiac (their LP was in almost every soviet family) and lithuanian Арго.

Early russian electronic bands faced many problems at concerts. First of all, acoustic systems of those days were of poor quality and mainly designed for rock instruments, if not to say for folk concerts. On the other hand, the audience was very skeptical about electronic music and just couldn’t apprehend experimental forms of music, neither could do different party experts and musicians attesting new bands. Comparing to mobile rock-bands, electronic musicians with their synthesizers looked awkward and ambitiously. It took a long time for them to plug and tune and, in the result, they sounded unconvincingly and flabby. That resembles Ralf Hutter's stories, doesn't it?

With the fall of Soviet Union, attesting commitees vanished, musicians could play independently and support themselves financially as well. Although, history of soviet electronic music stops here.

To be continued ...

by Aulis Vierhovssen for "russian electronic music"
using interview of Alexei Borisov

Scooter - Hello! (Good To Be Back)

2005-10-21 04:52:00
There are a few bands who's new releases I always adore even prior to release date as such. They are mostly bands that I've been listening to for many years now. Sometimes I send out these good news to all the people in my address book. Today I've got a new single of Scooter, german dance outfit.

Hello! (Good To Be Back) (Leander/Glitter/H.P.Baxxter/Jordan/Frog)
Originally launched by Gary Glitter, "Good To Be Back" was a worldwide hit in 1973. Scooter's new version is a typical track for the band, with all the shout-out-louds etc. It is the first extract from the act's new album "Who's Got The Last Laugh Now?". BTW, the track starts with a sample (shooting and "This is Radio Freedom" bit) from 3am Eternal. Another Scooter's rip-off, to put in short.

A b-side for the single is absolutely pointless hardcore Path.

HP is quite older now on a cover photo. I wonder what keeps him in form. Although, since 2002 they behave almost identically on every concert, no new tricks at all, which is sad but predictable. But of course, I don't want the band to stop recording new songs, they are very good and loved by me infinitely.


2005-10-20 05:45:00
Sometimes, stop me in the middle of a conversation and ask to tell anything at all - I'll get stuck. I really wish to write here more often, but I get stuck.

I watched entire Fantomas trilogy today and Green Card with Gerard Depardieu yesterday. French cinema is the best. Vladimir Cosma and Michel Magne are great composers. Especially Cosma - who at all said Ennio Morricone was any better?

Suddenly, so many people around. Thaw?

I was in a chinese store today. It smelled like Japan over there.

... and I had a bad dream again last night.

Now I also started to understand why I take so much rest. It's the last rest in my life, later it will never be the same.

No new musical openings this week. Ralf & Florian are on a strong rotation.

Conspiracy: Alexander Bard & his projects

2005-10-04 08:34:00

I consider Bodies Without Organs as a solo project of Alexander Bard. Other people there are only tools for achieving some desired result, some visual image, it's understood. Marina is obviously a crowd scene. Martin Rolinski is a spare singer, who is not the first one in a row, and not the last. There were others before. For instance, Bard + Marina + former singer = Vacuum. Bard + Marina + Martin = Bodies Without Organs. Bard + maybe Marina + the next one = the next band.

Bard surely has some rich sponsors, probably gay lobby or euro-intergrators. Bard is involved in politics, he's a co-founder of a social network (correct me if I'm wrong but its name is N), related to a change of iranian government.

In his interviews he mentions ability of perception of music for different nations. The burden is that "we all are europeans and the fact that we all like my music unites us".

He also did a lot to promote a sexual revolution being in Army of Lovers (which is mostly his project too). Such mass pop cultural projects don't exist on their own. In Vacuum he pushed ecological ideas extensively. I'm sure somebody paid for that.

I guess Alcazar was an exception, Bard himself says Alcazar was a "prostitution" for himself, he just wanted to earn some money. And his pre-Army Of Lovers solo project Baard was just an experiment.

The start funding for Army Of Lovers came from Bard's parents, high-ranking diplomats, close to swedish royal family. There are rumours that the King of Sweden himself supported Army Of Lovers through Bard's mother.

Indeed, Bard is a advertising agency that says: we will deliver your ideas to the masses. And please note: to the masses of young people, who accept things with more enthusiasm and energy.

Bard publishes on a label Stockholm Records, co-founded and owned by himself. This mean, he has infrastructure instruments to promote his music.

Everyone who read his book "Netocracy" knows that Bard is political utopist. All his books, political and economical lectures all over the world, social ideas delivered in his music show that Alexander Bard is by no means a simple musician. He's a genius indeed, he has a strong feel for good melody, probably because he's a Swede.