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Issue #54 August 2003

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Cheap Trick: Special One

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Vintage Chill Vol 2
Enter Compilation
Facing East
Hilltop Distillery

Various Artists
Vintage Chill Vol. 2 Summer

Kriztal Entertainment
14 Song CD

The dog days of summer are here, and it's time to chill. What better way to get your groove on than this delicious acid jazz collection from Kriztal Entertainment. There are 14 tracks represented here, from the likes of DJ Nob Tee, Physics, and Willie Bobo, and every tune cuts right through the summer haze like a cool breeze.

The fun part about this one is finding the small, hidden references to music's past, with a "Dilo!" yell from Perez Prado jumping out of the mix in Cuica's Cuidado, or the nod to Santana in Bobo's Spanish Grease.

Whether you're taking one more road trip, having a party on the deck, or just hanging by the pool, this is the compilation to waste away the rest of your summer in bliss.

MISH MASH Mandate: Cool Fun In The Summertime

Kriztal Website

Various Artists
Enter: Unschooled Records Compilation V1.0

Unschooled Records
14 song CD

When I first saw the cover of this CD, I immediately thought of Radiohead's OK Computer. Then, I thought to myself, if this is a compilation of bands trying to sound like Radiohead, I'm going to gag the entire way through. Thankfully, this is nothing of the sort. What I ended up hearing was less like RH and more like Kraftwerk.

The Unschooled comp is a collection of neo-electronica tunes from over a dozen electronic artists. The tracks range from slightly danceable grooves to experimental industrial noise, all with a slightly retro flare. I hear a little bit of everything in the way of influences, from the quirky Kraftwerk-like blips and bleeps of Doofgoblin's Frazed to the evil NIN-inspired aura of Goyle's Shank. My favorite, however, has to be the manic and cartoonish sounds of Decomposure's Matches, which rattles on in abstract rhythmic insanity (apparently, the sounds were created with the sounds of actual wooden matches).

If anything, the timeless nature of electronica is well represented here, showing that the present holds as much promise as its storied past.

MISH MASH Mandate: KraftHead

Unschooled Records Website

Stage One

Vibrophonic Recordings
5 song CD

Can anyone say David Bowie? With Bowie producer Tony Visconti at the helm, along with the classic rock space oddity imagery---nevermind the fact that singer Todd Jaeger sounds just like him---it's hard not to make the comparison. So much so, it must have been done with tongue planted firmly in cheek, which the goofy Thunderbirds artwork can attest to. So, with that having been said, how does it sound? Spectacular.

If you can get past the Ziggy Stardust concept connection, you'll find that the songs are beautiful and drippy glam pop, more than happy to scratch your space suit itch. The EP (or "mini-album") begins with the big sounds of Of The Alien Christ, which oozes with orchestra strings and pouty posturing from Jaeger, with the requisite British accent. We move on to the sad piano ballad lines of The Devil's Address and the bouncing catchy pop of Preternatural Baby, only to venture into the driving rock guitar of The Libertine. The CD is rounded out with Sad Foolish Robot, which has all the pretension and grandeur of a 70s rock opera.

Even though it begs not to be taken seriously, this EP is simply dazzling and a joy to listen to. So put on your platform shoes and start strutting your stuff, space boy.

MISH MASH Mandate: Wham Glam Sham

Marizane Website

John Wubbenhorst & Facing East
Facing Beloved

11 song CD

This is a great example of what happens when musical cultures collide in perfect harmony. East meets West in Facing East, as flutist John Wubbenhorst and Co. team up with South Indian drum masters Subash Chandran and Ganest Kumar. The musical melange that's mixed up here is absolutely breathtaking, as a wild experiment of rhythm and melody that takes the listener around the world. Indian music is intertwined with traditional Irish sounds and progressive jazzy grooves, bringing a whole new sound to life.

Continuous Celebration begins the album on a positive note, giving us a tease of what's to come without giving it all away. There's a presence of Indian drums and a touch of flute, just enough to get the interest up. Soon after we begin a wild ride on John Beyond, where Chandran puts his vocal percussion skills to work. The sounds made here are incredible---random and complex rhythms coming from a voice which is barely human in its delivery and more like a beating drum. Irish Raga brings together two distinct sounds together as one, while Infectusoso Groovatissimo is a fun track which runs along with rhythmic abandon, laying down a fast and funky bass groove with a flowing flute rising above it.

This one holds all the mystic rhythms of the East, while maintaining a true grip on Western musical ideas. It's a beautiful marriage of music and culture.

Facing East Website

Hilltop Distillery
...Died In The Woods

State Bird Records
9 song CD

Talk about dissonance! That's just about all that Hilltop Distillery is about. They take the angst-ridden noise to its logical conclusion, blending off kilter guitars and minor progressions into a disturbing aural smash that saturates every square inch of the record. There is no pop here, this is the anti-pop. Think of the Jesus Lizard, remove the vocals, remove any semblance of structure, and slow it down to a lazy drag, and there you'll have something close to it.

Host Of A Chance opens the disc with a droning guitar dual, and then they add to the cacophony on Mach. Studder by adding distorted radio voices into the mix, creating another abstract instrumental layer. There's an avant garde jazz feel to Ky. Suite, which meanders in directionless improvisation, sounding completely made up as it goes along. From there the band throws everything against the wall, hoping something will stick. The dynamic back-and-forth keeps it all moving along, at times creepy quiet and the next moment screaming loud.

It would be an understatement to say this is moody and depressing, but it caputures angst so purely that it's hard to ignore. Not to sound the cynic here, but it's hard not to when you're being bludgeoned over the head!

MISH MASH Mandate: Manic Digression

Hilltop Distillery Website

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