Murcof – Utopia Remixes

June 19, 2008

There is a certain intensity to what can be termed ‘glitch’ – the constant barrage of sound, the repetitive twitches, accompanied more often than not by an underlying, thumping beat. It’s not necessarily an uncomfortable or uneasy ride though, as is the case with Murcof.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that before picking this up I had only heard mention of Fernando Corona’s alias when it cropped up on several best-of lists, and because he is signed to The Leaf Label. One of those acts that seem to fit neatly into my existing musical spectrum when I listen to it now, offering something new and prompting me to question why I had never bothered to actively listen before.

Murcof - Utopia Remixes EP

The Utopia Remixes EP is two remixed tracks (on the 12″ vinyl) from Murcof’s debut album Martes. Sutekh’s Trisagion mix of tune Memoria soars in its use of cut-up strings and minor glitch additions. Being unfamiliar with the original track has in no way hampered appreciation of the remix. The second side is Fax’s remix of Ulysses. It takes a different route, surreptitiously sliding into the region of minimal tech as it starts off with a gentle echo and builds to a cluster of breaks over a 4/4 beat. Given this was released sometime in 2004, this track seems far ahead of its time and sounds as contemporary as anything given the proliferation of deep and warm bass particularly in dubstep and minimal house.

Delicate and tantalisingly short, this is one of the finds I will definitely be coming back to again and again.


Variodivers – The Battle

June 18, 2008

Sometimes, I’ll be rifling through the bin and something instantly stands out. Certainly, being inundated with promos and records makes getting someone’s attention pretty hard, so a band has to do anything and everything to get noticed.

Harking back to the cartoon era of illustration, a touch The Life Aquatic and Sealab 2021 inspired, comes the beautifully packaged debut EP from Canberra band Variodivers. It’s no mean feat to make an album that looks intriguing and invites you to open it up to find out what lies inside. As difficult as it is to avoid the adage of judging a book by its cover – and as much as I am reluctant to admit it – the reality is, covers garner attention and, naturally, sales.

Variodivers - The Battle

The packaging works on a three-fold system, with the disc itself enclosed in the centre by the front cover and the third panel. Glossy embossed inlays of the giant octopus in battle are almost mesmerising to look at, another treat before you reach the CD. The back cover is reminiscent of a movie poster after having mated with a commercial DVD package, with credits played out in elongated typeface and the “Special Features” section listing the band members and their duties. Visual pleasure aside, the tactile relationship with the packaging is so intense that the music itself plays second fiddle to its container.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I heard the five track disc. Fairly straight up rock and roll with some strong percussive elements and repetitive lyrics, but nothing intensely unique. But then again, perhaps my preoccupation with the packaging overwhelmed me so much that really, the music washed over me. Whether or not this was the band’s intention is another thing altogether.


Dan Mangan – Postcards and Daydreaming

June 17, 2008

Dan Mangan - Postcards and DaydreamingIt’s almost certain that according to the style of music you play, there are a multitude of stereotypes that make it easy for the music journalist to fall back on. Electronic? Check the introverted guy or girl sitting in the corner making beats on their laptop, black rimmed glasses optional. Folk? See the guy over there in a flannel shirt, acoustic guitar slung over one shoulder and a gruff, world-wearied voice to match.

Of those last three attributes, perhaps Vancouver’s Dan Mangan has one – that voice, rough and gravelly that belies the youth of the man who owns it. Mangan’s songs on his album Postcards and Daydreaming echo the sounds of many who have come before – Damien Rice perhaps the most pertinent.

His compositions involve quiet arrangements of acoustic guitar, drums and cello. In the middle of this sparse sonic range, Mangan’s voice cuts through with a gruff resonance that mellows when required. As delicate and subtle as this all is, this album has a tough time standing out from all its competition when the strongest tracks are shuffled towards the latter part of the album. Closer Reason to Think Aloud captures the essence of what Mangan does differently from his peers, as electric guitar and the subtle sounds of a weathered piano crescendo to a seemingly endless spiral of sound.


Starting Here

June 17, 2008

The Free Bin is all about those little free CDs, singles, EPs, sometimes vinyl LPs and maybe even a DVD or two that gets thrown away in a little plastic bin for someone else to pick up and enjoy. I’ll review as much as I can, whether it’s an official CD or a little demo some aspiring muso has put their hard work into. Anything and everything, no holds barred.

The best things I’ve ever found in the bin have been:

1) Stateless – Stateless
2) Herbert – 100Lbs

Here’s to finding heaps more.