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Issue #43 June/July 2002
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I was going to write a piece this month called "Why The Recording Industry Is Killing Itself," and then I decided, what the heck? That's no secret. And who cares anyway? So here's a great little site called Orisinal where you can play some cool and creative games this summer. They are (mostly) non-violent and lots of fun, like the way arcade games used to be. Plus, there's just enough of a twist on most of these to keep you coming back for more. Have fun!

The Starside Eight
Emmaline Muchmore
Taliesin Orchestra
Wood: Choice Cuts

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The Starside Eight
Goodnight Noises Everywhere

Electric Frog Recordings
10 song CD

James Eight and J.J. Starside are masters of lo-fi indie rock. Under the name of Starside Eight, they meander through a melancholy stack of slacker tunes, executed with little fanfare and plenty of pop haze. They mix and mingle lazy rhythms with quiet vocal harmonies, topping off the classic home-made atmosphere with the prerequisite unpolished guitar strums.

Memory Lapse begins the record with a cool pseudo-jazzy beat that drifts by slowly, while Trouble Tonight picks up the pace just a little into middle of the road rock. A touch of Elvis Costello can be heard in Fit of Love, which could almost be considered punk if the guitars were pushed into overdrive. The best song on the record by far is the lost-love whine of Breaking, which wraps all of its pop energy around an angst-ridden refrain: "Oh no, my heart is breaking..."

This one has all the elements of a lo-fi masterpiece: mumbled yet heart-felt vocals, jangly guitars, catchy pop, and a twisted sense of humor. They just donít make them like this anymore.

MISH MASH Mandate: Goodnight Moon

The Starside Eight Website

Emmaline Muchmore

Unknown Alloy
10 song CD

Sheís got a name that almost sounds like it could be out of a James Bond flick, and much like Mr. Bondís movies, the songs presented here on Inviolate are mostly hit and miss. But, when Emmaline hits, she hits hard enough to be a classic.

Emmalineís voice is a gem, filled with unbridled soul. So, when she gets a good song, nothing can stop her. Most of the memorable songs follow a smooth drum-n-bass type groove, using abstract hip-hop rhythms and beats---this is when sheís at her best. Evie Slow Down is a great example with itís catchy progressions and mysterious sultry vocal delivery. Itís a great mix, and the song just comes alive. Yet, the best song on the disc is by far Coming Down, a track that lets Emmalineís vocal talents shine. It utilizes the trip-hop beat without being overbearing, which allows her to sing her heart out. The chorus is super catchy and downright infectious. I couldnít stop hitting the repeat button on this one, and it is honestly one of my favorite songs from the past year.

The rest of the album is good, donít get me wrong, but it doesnít quite live up to the potential the best songs would suggest. With a little tweaking of her sound, Emmaline could easily be the next big pop star. Until then, grab this disc so you can say you heard her first.

MISH MASH Mandate: The Spy Who Grooved Me

Emmaline Muchmore Website

Taliesin Orchestra
Thread of Time
The Best of the Music of Enya

Compendia Music Group
11 song CD

As haunting and moving as Enya herself, this project by producer/musician Trammell Starks is revealing by focusing solely on the musical imagery of the New Age diva. An orchestra and background singer back Starks and his electronic gear, turning the songs of Enya into larger-than-life orchestral movements. The elemental sound and feel of the songs remain the same, yet they are explored with a different attitude. The end result is a beautiful translation which is true to the original work, but definitely exhibiting a creative viewpoint.

Orinoco Flow is filled with sweeping strings and grand dynamic changes, while May It Be relies on the quiet vocal phrasings of background singer Felicia Sorensen. The Memory of Tree revolves around gentle woodwinds and flowing strings, and Athair ar Neamh is based solidly in a deep brass foundation. Only Time is given an upbeat makeover, departing from the traditional orchestral structure for a more modern sound.

This is an impressive piece of work, an obvious labour of love with the best of intentions, and it lives up to and exceeds expectations.

MISH MASH Mandate: True Tribute

Compendia Music Website

Various Artists
Wood: Choice Cuts

Tar Media in association with dDrecords
16 song CD

Tar Media and dDrecords have collected and compiled some of the finest underground trance/trip-hop/drum-n-bass acts for a stunning collection of tracks. Itís all offbeat and perfectly abstract, a messy amalgam of bebop jazz and beat-heavy rhythms.

Jake Jefferson opens the disc with The Way, a song rife with urban aggression and menacing horns. A more laid-back approach is found with Noonís Spleen, which builds up around a quiet and meandering piano line. Nevada Driveís Stranger takes on a darker feel, while Viktor Sjoberg feels playful in 435 Is A Joke. Feng Shui throws some Eastern flavor and playground conflict into the mix with their multi-cultural groove LíOmbra Non Sostanza.

The lack of focus simply becomes part of the fun as each new song unfolds. Itís a strange little trip, but one well worth taking.

MISH MASH Mandate: Wild Wood

Tar Media Website

© 2002 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved