CABARET VOLTAIRE. Methodology '74/'78 Attic Tapes. Mute Records Cabs17CD
This is an extraordinary document (a 3CD box set) of the very early trio of Cabaret Voltaire i.e. Richard H. Kirk (synthesiser, guitar, electronics and wind instruments), Chris Watson (tapes, electronics, organ and voice) and Stephen Mallinder (bass guitar, voice, electronics). At first I thought it was going to be an extension of this Sheffield group's 1974-1976 retrospective album released in the early eighties which featured such pieces like 'Ooraseal' and 'Sunday Night In Biot'. What we are presented with here is a box of gems quite literally culled from the attic, well Chris Watson's loft as it happens, a few years before the development of their legendary Western Works studio in the late 1970s and a far cry from their 1980s material that lit the blue touch paper for Detroit technocrats Derrick May and Juan Atkins. I could write a sizeable chunk about this presentation, but I'll keep the affable editor of MD from sweating and make it short(ish!). CD1 is packed to the gills with pure experimental pieces, the titles sometime describing the actual sound as on 'Treated Guitar', 'Jet Passing Over' and 'Treated Clarinet'. We are also treated to their early voice experiments in the process. On the brooding 'Magnet' you would think is was an outtake from 'Tago Mago' era Can.CD2 shows their aural experiments becoming more formulated and shows a side to The Cabs rarely heard with tracks like the haunting 'Fuse Mountain' which evokes some strangely concocted theme from the lost dark ages which is then offset by the next piece, the fantastic "Calling Moscow" which displays their growing obsession with the William Burroughs sonic cut-up technique, put to inventive use in their hands. On to CD 3 and we can see the fascinating transition where The Cabs find their ground to step out into the melee that was 'post-punk' Britain. They sounded strange all those years ago (1978) when their recordings started surfacing to public view, but on hearing this brilliant set, it looks as if they had toned it down for public interest!! This last leg of the box set brings us earlier versions of tracks that would be on their first few releases, especially their debut album 'Mix Up'. We are also treated to an early version of 'Nag Nag Nag' prior to the spit and polish production applied by Geoff Travis and Mayo Thompson for the 1979 single release. Anyone out there who listens to Faust (circa 'Faust Tapes'), Throbbing Gristle etc. should be over the moon with this stuff. Apparently Richard H. Kirk had asked permission from Messrs. Watson and Mallinder to let these recordings see the light of day and thankfully they were all for it! Stephen Mallinder is still involved in music and living in Australia, Chris Watson is now an established sound artist and field recordings editor (he has recently provided the recordings for some of Sir David Attenborough's marvellous wildlife programmes) and that leaves Mr. Kirk who has carried on until the present day with his various projects that take in the whole palette of electronica, sometimes fused with experiments in various ethnic musics and of course, the curator of all these recordings and an unsung talent to boot, his 'Disposable Half-Truths' album is a forgotten classic of it's kind. The early recordings by CV and all their associates were akin to a ship sailing into unchartered territories, a time of great awe and wonder indeed. No more to say really except that this is a wonderful glimpse into the 1970s British underground and an ensemble who together with the likes of Throbbing Gristle, set the wheels rolling for the need to advance technologies in recording and performance and to show various flecks of genius and insight that would permeate into some music we now here on daytime radio. As the late 'Uncle Bill' Burroughs used to say when throwing light on his 1950s tape experiments..."the future leaks through". File under INNOVATIVE. (Jim Tones)


VARIOUS. Mixed by Slam. Fabric. 09
This excellent series continues with a release of mega proportions, which features the mixing potency of the Scottish based duo Slam. Their version of house is legendary within the genre and nineteen tracks receive treatment to blend them into a coherent mix. Probably the best known artists are Envoy and Sven Vath and these are pumped up, soaked in adrenaline and purely designed to keep the dancefloors alive and kicking. The joins between tracks are perfectly blended to maintain balance and rhythm. It all starts with the Cannibals by Tony Thomas in which the reverb is set at maximum before the beat crashes in. You couldn't fail to let your body move in sympathy with Afro Deep's Style Dish with its abundance of growling basslines. Certain parts will seem familiar, but you won't quite be able to place them. Make no mistake, the rhythms are dance friendly and on John Thomas's Reworks, this is put to the test with all the usual snippets of club music included, yet tempered by those syrupy sounding strings. It would not be right for Slam to exclude their material and a couple of remixes have been slotted into the mix. If the dub mix of Seventeen by Ladytron is not up-tempo enough then why not try Bryan Zentz's D Clash. If you can't go to the dancefloor tonight then the best substitute is Fabric 09. (Brooky)

COLLEEN. Everyone Alive Wants Answers. Leaf. BAY31CD
This is so simple; I was surprised that it has not been brought to my attention. The thought of just one person, a Parisienne playing a few instruments that are in various states of repair. Yes could you imagine playing a broken musical box or perhaps a glockenspiel and making music that does not sound very dated. Cecile Schott is a mere 26 years old and her debut album has a large degree of maturity when you look below the surface of these thirteen instrumentals. The general sound verges on being distinctly jangled but it does have a lot of warmth and you probably won't have heard anything quite as quirky as this before. If anything the prospect of uptempo sounds is avoided here, so melancholy is much more appropriate. The opening title track combines bird sounds with guitar to inspire the masses. Ritournelle has lots of character, but some may find the lack of rhythm to be perplexing, but the melodies are really beautiful in a melancholy way. At first I found the sound difficult to appreciate, there's no discordant noise or abrasive techniques used here, its just different. If you use this as background music, the impression received is that all the tracks sound a little similar, but please listen again and you'll discover that you were completely wrong. The warmth of the Glockenspiel is to be found on Blushes and the finale starts with what appears to be a looped sample of a musical box. This is then woven into a mesmerising piece that equates to a haunting approach with beauty in similar proportions. It's entitled Nice And Simple and that's exactly what this release appears to be. Don't be fooled, this excellent debut is for experienced listeners. (Brooky)

Dbkaos. Art Of Sacrifice. DIN. DIN14
You just know don't you when your really gonna enjoy a track on a CD by only listening to the opening bars. Well here on the Star Look Down, a masterful ambient performance of hypnotic beauty has been assembled which must surely be accepted by those among you who enjoy their music: the gentle ambiences naturally haunt the mind. Casting aside the floppy notes and wallowing sounds here you'll find a tightly structured lesson in how to make quarter of an hour seem like only three and a half minutes. It develops in an exemplary manner and half way through the low notes could rattle your ribcage. It's all the work of Dave Hickman who recorded and mixed the six tracks at Blueomni in Cornwall. The second track, Mirror 2 Level 4 is more unsettling in nature with it's slightly off key bell sounds that give a distinct Japanese flavour. Perhaps the sequenced After The Migration, with its Tangerine Dream inspired structure will please many, yet dbchaos is no copycat as you will notice whilst listening to this ten minutes section. The next piece is more introspective and there is a feeling that its all about textures, but Endelyon Alpha proves us wrong as it develops into another wonderful lesson in how to make instrumental music fascinating. As you would expect from the title, Hydrosphere contains a deep ocean of sound and is not scary in any sense. The title track in comparison is very scary and profoundly menacing. There's no sacrifice to be made listening to this CD, rather the exact opposite. Lovers of ambient music take note, don't miss an opportunity to show off this CD to your friends. (Philly)


MANTACOUP. Equinox. DataObscura. DOCD002
Ambient in nature but professionally executed, the sharp ringing sounds are tempered by melodic beauty as this intriguing opener is guaranteed to make you sit up and take notice. Yes it's designed for the late hours but that should not detract from the fascinating aural picture that is sculptured on Shamool. I imagined that 3 1/2 min of this would be far too long, yet even after 8, I find myself being drawn into the complexities and probably could listen to it all day. Is this a sign of quality? Having been inspired by the opener, the gentle sounds of Slap greets my mind with care and the mellow aspect makes this simply superb. Modified guitar riffs and musical type box sounds don't compete but rather compliment each other in correct proportions that could have been composed with my musical preferences in mind. It's worth buying the CD for just this one track. With a total of eleven tracks and the first two being of a very high standard, I have got to say that this is another winner for this label. On Tres-Bas gentler moving sounds that soar as though they were actually floating in ambiences. If your preference is for brooding bass notes with gorgeous rich melodies on a gentle backdrop then perhaps Bern is for you, because it's certainly a great piece of music for me. Jeroen Vermeent can be justifiably proud of this work. (Brooky)


AURELIE. Desde Que Naci. SWIM. WM25

This duo have taken a continental girl's name to record under. Atmospherics at the start then guitar notes with reverb and bass notes that surprise, which don't seem quite to be in the same tempo, then like magic it all suddenly comes together. And that's only the instrumental qualities of the first title track. The longer it plays the more recognisable it becomes as music and I end up feeling that I've just heard a great piece of music. They know how to convert a music sceptic to their way of thinking. The subtle sounds created with a double beat that turns into heart beat, with backward sounds all contribute to the magical sound. The best is left to last with I Am Here, where a truly genuine haunting instrumental that's hallmarked with quality throughout has at its centre piece a simple riff that ebbs and flows. Having found a niche in the market that is definitely their own, the duo can only further exploit the possibilities with this style. (Phil)


SOMA MESTIZO. Deep Dark Sexy Demo. www.somamestizo.com.
At over seventeen minutes, this tidy little cd demo give more than a taste of what the band are about. On their website they say they're influenced by world music as well as Bjork and Bowie. There's three tracks here, and all of them sound very similar - and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. It's a very clever blend of deep beats, dub and chill. Silversuit kicks the album off like an audio blackhole - you're pulled in straight away. There are a lot of influences shining through the demo, but Soma Mestizo don't show these influences in a crass or trashy way - more a tip of the hat or a wink of the eye. Nail In Her Coffin and Sunshine all share that same chilled out, dead-relaxed feel, and y'know what? It works incredibly well. (Dw)

STEFAN MANCEAU. Didn't See It Coming. Pornflake. PORN005
A three track EP of melodic and quirky techno released on the interestingly named Pornflake label. Hailing from France, the Pornflake crew have developed a different aspect to the sound on this 12" and although the A side by Manceau displays a lot of commonality to the standard fare, there is just sufficient there to make it a good track. Sure the flip side has a techno beat, but the quirky synth riff, which is marginally modified by the use of speed, always makes you listen more attentively to hunt out the variations. The riff is replaced part way through by rhythms cut up to form a sort of melody before it returns. I know it shouldn't be, but it's all slightly amusing. This is a fine representation showing that techno is not all bull at a gate syndrome. Followed by a stormer of a track, where cut up beats and samples are assembled in an excellent manner. It would'nt be techno if the beat were missing, although without it, it would be far less appealing. On the evidence here, he's the ability to transform diverse ideas into techno of the highest calibre. (Philly)

SEBASTIAN. Hew Hoppers Base. Burning Shed Records.
Burning Shed Records was set up a couple of years back to promote exclusive cdrs, and a lot of bands and artists that Modern Dance has reviewed over the years are appearing on it. The two such artists are Ian Simpson and Lewis Gill, who go under the name of Sebastian. Also, a first for MD is the fact that (thanks to Ian and Lewis especially) this is the first release on Burning Shed I've actually had! Ian's work is in the electronic/soundscape field although he does play 'proper' instruments. Lewis Gill (also the other half of Vivahead). It's a smashing little package, very sparse, a cardboard folder in which the cd lays with a single sheet of paper. On the paper we have a rather tasty black and white photo and the reverse has the track listing (either my eyes are getting worse, or it might have helped being in a larger font size). Nine tracks that are mainly drone orientated, with the odd lively flurry or flutter escaping from those dark corners. Incredibly atmospheric, but I wouldn't have expected anything less, really, knowing these two guys' work. It has a healthy playing time of just over 68 minutes, and whilst it isn't an album to get folks dancing, it's actually a great way to come down, or utilise the amazing palette of sounds to kick off the imagination. You could well imagine all kinds of videos and images to the soundscapes herein. A dark room, with headphones, relax and forget everything, drifting on oily, colourful waves of a black ocean... Great. (Dw)

JOHAN SKUGGE. Quarters EP. Mintek. MITEK8EP
Vaesen starts with a clicking beat and introduces atmospherics. It's obviously a lot more complicated than that, but I sort of expected techno. This isn't trance either, but a form of melodic electronica with slightly edgy scratching noises. It has a distinct beat that would do well in the clubs although this is no ordinary dance record and just listening in my bedroom brings rewards. Perhaps it's a little quirky, but it's certainly fascinating. The following track, Eko is more difficult to describe as the scratches form the beat with dark, subtle ambiences being introduced. These minimal changes then seem to become the norm until you're awakened by what appears to be a missed beat. It's there to make sure that you're paying attention. The textures are mainly on the mellow side and despite this being late night music, I could get really attracted to it. On the other side, a more complicated arrangement of clicks is found on a track entitled Kyrkogaard and this weaves quite an intriguing sound. The finale has a slower introduction onto which a faster techno beat is applied with low growling bass riffs to test your system to destruction. I suppose it's a collection of glitchy beats assembled in a slightly unusual way. Pool is one of those curious tracks that will always have you guessing where it's really going. Skugge has developed a style that is just a little different and of course can be recommended by this magazine. (Brooky)

BITMAP. Alpha Beta Gamma. Gentle Electric.
Bitmap is actually Luke Barwell, who used to be in Salako, and has produced Fonda 500. I was actually quite surprised with the album as I was expecting an electric dance type thaang. The main feel is similar to The High Llamas, in that Barwell's filled almost all the songs with steady yet infectious melodies and charming hooks. Nothing here to blast your speakers off the wall, this is kind of Sunday afternoon or late evening listening. The man has got a very credible ability at writing real melodies and clever songs. There's twelve songs in all, and songs like Don't Be So Hard On Yourself, Spyrograph, Everything Gone Wrong and The Morning Wine are all Beach Boys(esque) whereas Adult Education With Pregnant Denis Mortel and the title track are well different, indeed Adult Education is a bit of a wake up call and sounds strangely right, but so out of place. Hellishly impressive. (Dw)

THE CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA. Man With A Movie Camera. Ninja Tune. ZENDVD16
The opening sequence of the film provides a 2-minute period of silence as the audience goes to their seats in the cinema to view a classic film by Dziga Vertov. Made back in 1929 and obviously in black and white, these imagines of soviet life have been given a completely new soundtrack. Spending over an hour watching seemed at first to be rather a labour of love, but it wasn't long before I became engrossed in the visuals and how sympathetic the new score was. Instead of reviewing the music, which I have already done, I will only comment the whole DVD. The way the sync between sound and vision has been achieved is spot on and the music does not seem out of place despite the 70-year gap. The visuals range from industrial workers to new babies, the good and not so good and provides a fascinating insight to the period. It is a bold move to re-invent the musical score of such an old film and in this case it has worked. Don't forget that there is also an extra 40 minutes running time, which includes live footage of the Cinema Orchestra at the Cargo in London last year. (Brooky)