Sunday, 9 June 2019

The Knife ‎– Deep Cuts (2003)

Style: Electro, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Brille Records, Mute, Rabid Records, Hussle Recordings

Tracklist:
01.   Heartbeats
02.   Girls' Night Out
03.   Pass This On
04.   One For You
05.   The Cop
06.   Listen Now
07.   She's Having A Baby
08.   You Take My Breath Away
09.   Rock Classics
10.   Is It Medicine
11.   You Make Me Like Charity
12.   Got 2 Let U
13.   Behind The Bushes
14.   Hangin' Out

Credits:
Mastered By – Henrik Jonsson
Mixed By – Christoffer Berg, The Knife
Music By, Words By – The Knife
Recorded By, Producer – The Knife

In promotional photos, the Dreijer siblings appear in comically oversized crow's masks; when performing live, they obscure the stage with a gauzy mesh overhang and peer out impassively from behind bodysuits and balaclavas; on record, they delight in vocal distortions, each one emanating some inhuman grotesquerie. Theatre is the Knife's lifeblood. It's incorporated so completely and convincingly into their persona that, much like Pitchfork's Amanda Petrusich's conviction that Tom Waits "exists in a world populated only by freight trains and barmaids, rodeo clowns and shortwave radios," it's next to impossible to reconcile Karin and Olof with the banalities of day-to-day life. 
That desire to transcend the mundane drives lots of art, but despite that they've been making music for the better part of the decade, it didn't really crystallize for The Knife until earlier this year. That moment came, of course, with the release of their third album, Silent Shout. More than just a great pop album, the record boasted a truck of exotic characters, textures, and ideas. In the sense that it etched out a world with a strange but identifiable internal logic, it felt a little bit like a fantasy writer's breakthrough novel, except with the Dreijers playacting their way through every goblin, ghost, and spook. 
Not surprisingly, the relative success of Silent Shout has paved the way for a re-examination of the band's first two albums. Issued in America for the first time courtesy of Mute Records, neither 2001's eponymous debut nor 2004's Deep Cuts approach the feral highs of Silent Shout; but, taken in a lump, this streaky collection of buoyant pop, creepy denouements, ill-advised genre exercises, and flashes of brilliance spell out the Knife's journey from a sprightly, steel drum sampling, electropop outfit to something much darker and more refined.

Stacked side-by-side-by-side, the Knife's discography is pretty much a textbook example of increasing returns, which means 2001's The Knife is the weakest link in the chain. With the exception of the sproingy "Kino", the nasty guitar squalls of "I Take Time" and the retooled Celtic folkisms of "Parade" (all of which are great), everything else here feels a little limp and unsure; latter-half tracks like "Bird" and "A Lung" practically crumble to an end. Nonetheless, between Dreijer's voice (a thing of strange beauty, even in untouched form), the mutated vocals in "A Lung", and the gently percolating synths of opener "Neon", there are plenty of moments to suggest the Knife's future greatness. 
Brandishing a bona fide calling card single (the superb "Heartbeats"), a toothier production approach, and an increasing debt to house music, 2004's Deep Cuts marked a double-step forward for the duo. If The Knife suffered from seeming a little too tentative and domesticized, Deep Cuts came across as brash and untamed, a streamroller that left overturned chunks of everything from steel drums ("Pass This On") and marimbas ("Rock Classics") to hi-NRG ("Listen Now") and slinky, Timbaland-inspired r&b ("You Make Me Like Charity") in its path. It wasn't always pretty, but the highs-- "Heartbeats", "One For You", "She's Having a Baby", "You Take My Breath Away"-- were more rewarding, and the sense of drama noticeably heightened. 
Where The Knife comes reissued as-is, without extras, Deep Cuts arrives packaged with six bonus tracks and an additional DVD of videos. Between standout Deep Cuts-era remixes from Dahlback & Dahlback, Rex the Dog, and Mylo-- the likes of which would become standard practice for Silent Shout's singles-- and a DVD showing signs of the band's increasing attention to their visual aspect, the bulk of these bonuses have the effect of further bridging the gap between records two and three. Of course, whether you actually want to peek at the duo fumbling behind the curtain in the years before they hit their stride is another question altogether; at the least, any grousing over the unavailability of these records can end now. 
Mark Pytlik / Pitchork

The Knife ‎– The Knife (2001)

Style: Synth-pop, Abstract, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Brille Records, Rabid Records, Mute

Tracklist:
01.   Neon
02.   Lasagna
03.   Kino
04.   I Just Had To Die
05.   I Take Time
06.   Parade
07.   Zapata
08.   Bird
09.   N.Y. Hotel
10.   A Lung
11.   Reindeer

Credits:
Handclaps – Albin Lindblad
Vocals – Karin Dreijer
Written-By, Recorded By, Producer, Mixed By – The Knife
Accordion, Saxophone, Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Organ, Synthesizer, Sequenced By, Sampler, Drum Programming – Karin Dreijer, Olof Dreijer

In promotional photos, the Dreijer siblings appear in comically oversized crow's masks; when performing live, they obscure the stage with a gauzy mesh overhang and peer out impassively from behind bodysuits and balaclavas; on record, they delight in vocal distortions, each one emanating some inhuman grotesquerie. Theatre is the Knife's lifeblood. It's incorporated so completely and convincingly into their persona that, much like Pitchfork's Amanda Petrusich's conviction that Tom Waits "exists in a world populated only by freight trains and barmaids, rodeo clowns and shortwave radios," it's next to impossible to reconcile Karin and Olof with the banalities of day-to-day life. 
That desire to transcend the mundane drives lots of art, but despite that they've been making music for the better part of the decade, it didn't really crystallize for The Knife until earlier this year. That moment came, of course, with the release of their third album, Silent Shout. More than just a great pop album, the record boasted a truck of exotic characters, textures, and ideas. In the sense that it etched out a world with a strange but identifiable internal logic, it felt a little bit like a fantasy writer's breakthrough novel, except with the Dreijers playacting their way through every goblin, ghost, and spook. 
Not surprisingly, the relative success of Silent Shout has paved the way for a re-examination of the band's first two albums. Issued in America for the first time courtesy of Mute Records, neither 2001's eponymous debut nor 2004's Deep Cuts approach the feral highs of Silent Shout; but, taken in a lump, this streaky collection of buoyant pop, creepy denouements, ill-advised genre exercises, and flashes of brilliance spell out the Knife's journey from a sprightly, steel drum sampling, electropop outfit to something much darker and more refined.

Stacked side-by-side-by-side, the Knife's discography is pretty much a textbook example of increasing returns, which means 2001's The Knife is the weakest link in the chain. With the exception of the sproingy "Kino", the nasty guitar squalls of "I Take Time" and the retooled Celtic folkisms of "Parade" (all of which are great), everything else here feels a little limp and unsure; latter-half tracks like "Bird" and "A Lung" practically crumble to an end. Nonetheless, between Dreijer's voice (a thing of strange beauty, even in untouched form), the mutated vocals in "A Lung", and the gently percolating synths of opener "Neon", there are plenty of moments to suggest the Knife's future greatness. 
Brandishing a bona fide calling card single (the superb "Heartbeats"), a toothier production approach, and an increasing debt to house music, 2004's Deep Cuts marked a double-step forward for the duo. If The Knife suffered from seeming a little too tentative and domesticized, Deep Cuts came across as brash and untamed, a streamroller that left overturned chunks of everything from steel drums ("Pass This On") and marimbas ("Rock Classics") to hi-NRG ("Listen Now") and slinky, Timbaland-inspired r&b ("You Make Me Like Charity") in its path. It wasn't always pretty, but the highs-- "Heartbeats", "One For You", "She's Having a Baby", "You Take My Breath Away"-- were more rewarding, and the sense of drama noticeably heightened. 
Where The Knife comes reissued as-is, without extras, Deep Cuts arrives packaged with six bonus tracks and an additional DVD of videos. Between standout Deep Cuts-era remixes from Dahlback & Dahlback, Rex the Dog, and Mylo-- the likes of which would become standard practice for Silent Shout's singles-- and a DVD showing signs of the band's increasing attention to their visual aspect, the bulk of these bonuses have the effect of further bridging the gap between records two and three. Of course, whether you actually want to peek at the duo fumbling behind the curtain in the years before they hit their stride is another question altogether; at the least, any grousing over the unavailability of these records can end now. 
Mark Pytlik / Pitchfork

Paisiel ‎– Paisiel (2018)

Style: Experimental
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Rocket Recordings

Tracklist:
A1.   Satellite
B1.   Limousine In The Desert
B2.   Cause Yourself To Rise, Gong

Credits:
Mastered By – José Arantes
Percussion – João Pais Filipe
Tenor Saxophone – Julius Gabriel

“ A quasi-tribal trance through the language of jazz.” Arte-Factos  
“ A rhythmic plane between Africa, techno, krautrock, and minimalism.” Jazz PT  
“ A driving force that unites past, present and future.” Rimas E Batidas  
Based on an individual exploration of the sound and on the expressive possibilities of their instruments, the duo’s music seeks to join and systematize their influences, albeit without any obvious correspondences or affinities – resulting in textures and abstract melodies propelled by a mechanical and existential percussion that morphs into a kinetic trance.  
Heterodox and digressive musicians, they move freely between the repetition of krautrock and techno, jazz, experimental music and other new musical categories, João Pais Filipe and Julius Gabriel create radio-graphic sounds that inhabits somewhere between the reception and the emission of a signal, like a cosmic telephone exchange. 
This three track album was originally released in 2018 as a ltd edition cassette on the great Portuguese label Lovers & Lollypops. And now Rocket Recordings are extremely proud to be releasing this unique recording on a ltd edition colour vinyl and across all digital channels.  
In 2018 João Pais Filipe has also found the time to release a stunning and highly acclaimed solo album and a very exciting collaboration with fellow drummer/percussionist, and also very talented Valentina Magaletti (Tomaga/Vanishing Twin/UUUU) called CZN.  
Bandcamp

PlanningToRock ‎– Have It All (2006)

Style: Electro, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Chicks On Speed Records

Tracklist:
01.   The PTR Show
02.   Bolton Wanderer
03.   Changes
04.   Local Foreigner
05.   Hiding Where I'll Find Me
06.   Take It Away
07.   Don't Want What You Don't Want
08.   Never Going Back
09.   I Wanna Bite Ya
10.   Think That Thought
11.   Have It All
12.   When Are You Gonna Start

Credits:
Mastered By – Lupo
Mixed By – Cornelius Rapp, PTR
Music By, Lyrics By, Performer, Producer – PlanningToRock

Some musicians are famous for departing their homeland (Scott Walker, for instance), while others don't find themselves until they leave. Janine Rostron, aka Planningtorock, is among the latter. Rostron left England for Berlin and ran into Peaches, Kevin Blechdom, Jamie Lidell, and Chicks On Speed along the way. While Planning... doesn't sound much like her fellow expats, she does share their flair for the theatrical-- she performs live in Elizabethan costumes and masks-- which is fitting considering her video work predated her music. 
Part travelogue, part self-help manual, Rostron's debut album details the transformational powers of getting the fuck out of town (in her case Bolton, England), and using the self-imposed alienation to examine personal truths and discover survival skills. "Bolton Wander" is a straightforward narrative of her move and the reasoning behind it. "Local Foreigner" moves on its belly, with eerie percussive vocal stabs and tambourines slithering in and out and Berlin's empty buildings echoing in the song's hollow corners. 
If half of Have It All is about leaving home, the other is about never going back. The sprightly "Changes" explains her metamorphosis. Here her lower vocals are backed by a higher, ghostlier version of the same, as if her different stages are duking it out for supremacy. Eventually the more confident Berliner wins out. On album centerpiece "I Wanna Bite Ya" Rostron flips "I hate your guts" on its head : "What happens if/ I start on your little finger/ What happens if/ I'm halfway up your elbow." This is Rostron's central strength: Her ability to collapse the distinction between threat and enticement, and make you forget that there ever was a distinction in the first place. It's violence rendered playful with a flirty xylophone trill, and sex stripped of any innocence by a guttural growl.

Despite her location and label, Rostron doesn't make dance music. Planningtorock also separates herself from her label mates by keeping her vocals pure, expressive, and soulful; she eschews electro's lifeless monotones and IDM's synth manipulations. The title track has the album's only true beat and bass lines. Most of tracks on Have It All stay away from bass-heavy dance beats, but her songs are more flexible without that backbone. Rostron's Janis Joplin-like runs are able to cover the distance between melody and primal scream, leaving her free to exploit her entire expressive range. 
Have It All* is only one part of a three-part system (along with her costuming/performance and her videos). After all, the album's first track, "The PTR Show" welcomes you to her show, not her album. But Have It All is unique on its own, and sounds like nothing else that's come out this year. The Knife's Silent Shout could be a reference point (and Rostron has remixed a song for them) but their otherworldliness and theatrics alienate the listener. Rostron invites us to become a part of her alienation, and injects the experience with a sense of humor. It repulses as it beckons; the more you ignore her, the closer she gets.
Jessica Suarez / Pitchfork

João Pais Filipe ‎– João Pais Filipe (2018)

Style: Experimental, Free Improvisation
Format: CD, FLAC
Label:  Lovers & Lollypops

Tracklist:
1.   Kavusan
2.   Nine Doors
3.   Konorak

Credits:
Composed By, Performer – João Pais Filipe
Mixed By, Mastered By – José Arantes
Recorded By, Producer – Brendan Rui Hemsworth

Figura incontornável dos circuitos da improvisação e do experimentalismo em Portugal (o seu currículo refere dedicações como Fail Better!, Rafael Toral Space Quartet, Pedra Contida, Sektor 304 e HHY & The Macumbas), João Pais Filipe tem neste disco homónimo o seu primeiro a solo e aquele em que tudo o que vem realizando converge num mesmo conceito estético – um conceito a que não é alheio o seu trabalho paralelo como construtor de gongos e outros instrumentos metálicos de percussão.  A este chama de “ethno-techno” porque explora, em simultâneo, características que pertencem tanto às músicas ditas tribais ou ritualísticas como à electrónica de dança. Outras referências podemos ainda encontrar ao longo dos três temas reunidos, “Kavusan”, “Nine Doors” e “Konorak”, e estas vão desde o melodismo baterístico de Max Roach ao “groove” obsessivo e hipnótico de Jaki Liebezeit, o que define bem o carácter inclusivista e sincrético das perspectivas aqui magnificamente aplicadas. 
Se, como seria de esperar, o ritmo está na base de tudo o que ouvimos, e regra geral com métricas que têm tanto de precisas quanto de estonteantes, neste álbum cabe igualmente um visionarismo harmónico que chega a ser tão assombroso quanto os “beats” armados com peles e pratos. O que um pianista pode ter de orquestral naquilo que tira do teclado é o que Pais Filipe faz com a bateria, dando a esta outros papéis que não aqueles que lhe são usualmente configurados – nesse aspecto, justifica-se plenamente a alusão promocional de que estamos perante uma «nova direcção sonora». As construções podem soar mecânicas na sua implacável repetição de módulos ou na minimalista e lenta (apesar da rapidez das batidas) transfiguração sofrida pelos mesmos, mas não podiam ser mais orgânicas na expressão. Só isso bastaria para que o músico do Porto se destacasse, mas há mais em oferta: um sentido de musicalidade que aspira sempre a ir mais além. Bravo! 
Rui Eduardo Paes / jazz.pt