MATT ELLIOTT: The Calm Before LP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs

mattelliottthecalm

MATT ELLIOTT: The Calm Before LP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs

Some people will be aware of Elliott’s tenure with The Third Eye Foundation and just how influential they were in Drum n’ Bass circles.  This, his eighth solo album, couldn’t be any further removed from that act, with a collection of weird singer/songwriter numbers.

Matt has brought together a collective of musicians that clearly know as much as he does, just how capable they are.  For the most part, ‘The Calm Before’, is acoustic in nature with the odd stumble into madness (where it almost appears SWANS like); and would have been the path I trod down throughout if I were him.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this album at all, let me get that clear.  It’s well played, well produced and well constructed; but it’s just not my bag as a whole.  I prefer music of this ilk when it ravages the senses, ten times as desperate; and this is just a little too easy on the ear for my tastes.

7/10

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STEFAN WESOLOWSKI: Kompleta LP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs

kompleta

STEFAN WESOLOWSKI: Kompleta LP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs

Polish composer Wesolowski and six of his compatriots, have here, formulated a beautifully produced album, where electronics meet an array violin and cello. Musically speaking they’re on point, with an emotive orchestration that tugs at the heartstrings. That is of course until everything goes cataclysmically wrong.

Wesolowski himself brutalises the ears with pitiful display of tone-deaf vocals. Luckily he has his colleague Maja to provide her dulcet tones; but she can do little to blot out Stefan’s wailing and moaning; and in essence she should have sat him down and advised him to keep his trap firmly shut.

I am not knocking the compositional skills of Wesolowski, not one jot. But to be fair, it is his friends who are doing the work, yet he is the one taking all the credit; and when you have one job (to sing), you better make sure you’re capable of doing so.

‘Kompleta’ is a frustrating album because of its key pitfall. Moving forward, Stefan should stop taking all the acclaim, tape his mouth up, and orchestrate his band, whilst giving them some acclaim and give the project a collective name, rather than his own.

7/10

AIDEN BAKER: The Sea Swells a Bit 2xLP Ici d’Ailleurs

aidenbakerseaswells

AIDEN BAKER: The Sea Swells a Bit 2xLP Ici d’Ailleurs

The Ici d’Ailleurs label have been re-issuing a fair bit on their catalogue of late and next up is Aiden Baker’s 2006 album ‘The Sea Swells a Bit’; an album, which shows Baker shining brightest when he is without collaborative interruption.

The opener and title track is a beautiful array of simplistic guitar chords that glide repetitively with low-key pads and muted drones. This lengthy track rarely changes kilter throughout, nor does it change its key structure; but ultimately shines in holding the listener in a hypnotic state.

In contrast ‘When Sailors Die’ and ‘Davey Jones’ Locker’ utilise percussion, drifting between space rock and elements of Pink Floyd; both of which are uplifting and invigorating in equal measure.

The last side of the 2nd vinyl is a live version of the title track and for me is somewhat a cop-out when the space could have been utilised more effectively. Overall however, ‘The Sea Swells a Bit’ is one of Baker’s better works and the title track itself is excellent (and that’s both versions, studio and live). If you have never listened to any of Aiden’s work before then you wouldn’t go far wrong starting here.

8.5/10

DÄLEK: From the Filthy Tongues of Gods and Griots 2xLP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs

dalek

DÄLEK: From the Filthy Tongues of Gods and Griots   2xLP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs

In 2002, the duo that is Dälek met up with Mike Patton (yes, he of Faith No More fame) and he released this very same album (the bands second), on his Ipecac label. This release eventually went out of print and has now been picked up by Ici d’ailleurs.

For those that have not yet been initiated, along with producer Oktopus, Dälek produce a grime ridden Industrial visceral mash-up of Hip-Hop that is as brutal and dark and relevant as it has ever been. The lyrics of ‘Spiritual Healing’ drip with many a question tinged with overtones of contempt and the underlying message that music is actually their only saviour.

I have to admit; I am not the greatest lover of Hip-Hop overall. However, ‘From the Filthy Tongues…’ does strike a chord with me in its construction and amalgamation with its more than fitting Industrial overtones. If truth-be-told, it’s more industrial than many an artist that lay claim to the moniker, due to its gritty nature and guttural urban grind.

Versatile in rapping and spoken word, Dälek also manage to hold sway with pace. The tracks work seamlessly as a whole and give the necessary pick up when things get darker. Dynamically sound as production values go, there is many a string to their bow that set them apart from the norm; and it’s good to see this release see light of day once again. Hip-Hop may not be a genre of choice for everyone (myself included), but Dälek really do things that little bit different to everyone else.

9/10

GEINS’T NAÏT + LAURENT PETITGAND: Je Vous Dis LP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs / Mind Travels

geinst+petitgand

GEINS’T NAÏT + LAURENT PETITGAND: Je Vous Dis   LP/CD Ici d’Ailleurs / Mind Travels

With a duo that is engrained in composing soundtracks to independent film making, there was much on the press release to this album that struck a chord before I even played it; and in a lot of respects the eight tracks here are of no surprise, considering the career paths mentioned.

An obscure array of electronics and structures permeate ‘Je Vous Dis’ from the offset; fluttering between an backdrop of Trip-Hop and Jazz influences, the odd guttural growl and whisper (on opener ‘Bella), to the calming piano over demonically visceral scrapings of ‘Explo’.

‘Iroshima’ provides a cascade of treated harmonic vocals; that falters and waver amongst a muggy electronic foundation with a flutter of analogue instrumentation. Altogether peculiar, yet hypnotically engaging there is a beauty to this track that comes as a key marker to the two sides of the artists, setting the tone for the altogether old school Industrial concoctions that follow.

As stated earlier, the key to this release is the historical work that found itself in creating music for independent cinema; and this is none more so evident that on the title track, with a beautiful apparition of piano led harmonies, riding a wave of squelching beats and distorted keys. Genuinely engaging and engrossing, this is another pivotal stage in the albums structure; allowing for the more visceral intersections of the release to be appreciated, even by those that would normally run away from such aural interpretations.

As a blend of early 80’s Industrial ethics, Dark Ambient leanings and experimental electronics; there is much on this album to appease the ears of many an alternative music fan, whist retaining an edge that bridges gabs to the mainstream at lower levels of introduction.

8.5/10