Music releases


Published Mar 8, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Ulrich Schnauss

“A Long Way to Fall”
Domino Records
In the week that has seen fellow German electronica pioneers Kraftwerk play their eight albums across eight nights in the wondrous surroundings of the Tate Modern in London, and a new album from My Bloody Valentine the band that give shoegaze its name, it is highly appropriate that the new Ulrich Schnauss album finally arrives after a six-year wait.

Schnauss has lately been busy working in collaboration with other artists, Jonas Monk of Danish electronica band Manual and Mark Peters form Engineers predominately, but he has consistently pushed at the boundaries of electronic music and sought to add elements of the shoegaze aesthetic whether that be into his work, in collaboration with others or as an in demand producer/remixer for others.
— Jez Collins, PopMatters.com

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

“Push the Sky Away”
Bad Seeds Ltd.
Songwriter, novelist, singer, screenwriter and dramatist Nick Cave's 15th record with his longtime backing band the Bad Seeds, “Push the Sky Away,” is not a work to be appreciated casually. Cave delves into a meandering, meditative world that rarely offers the kind of hooks or tethers that dictate toe-tapping singalongs.

But Cave fans understand that following such a mercurial and curious artist dictates adjusting expectations, adapting to new scenarios and, most important, listening closely.

The slow-burning pace of “Push the Sky Away” requires all of the above, as well as a love for gruff piano and string ballads and Cave's conversational warble. In the title track, lyrics remain predictably mysterious, with disconnected lines about the sky, an unshakable feeling and a belief that rock 'n' roll “gets you right down to your soul.”

“Push the Sky Away” isn't going to change many minds about Cave. Those who have little time for his full-throated delivery, his dark, meandering tones and gradually unfolding structures will find little to love. But those with a patient appreciation for Cave's dramatic sense, and the ways in which his singular musical voice has evolved over years, will find much to focus on within.
— Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times

Iceage

“You're Nothing”
Matador Records
This young Danish punk band began turning heads outside Copenhagen in 2011 with an arrestingly urgent debut, “New Brigade,” and chaotic live shows that seemed to result often in some kind of physical violence. Now signed to a high-profile American indie label, Iceage appears cognizant of the demand to regenerate that electricity on its second album.

“Pressure, pressure/ Oh God, no!,” Elias Bender Ronnenfelt howls not long into “Ecstasy,” which opens “You're Nothing” with a death-disco snarl; later, in “Coalition,” he spits the word “excess” four times in a row, as though warding off the threat of a complacent sophomore slump.

The incantation worked: Iceage still thrills here, hurtling through tangled, fuzzed-out hard-core jams that rarely stretch past the three-minute mark. Yet Ronnenfelt and his band mates haven't passed up the opportunity, so juicy on an anticipated follow-up, to deepen their sound. In “Wounded Hearts” they brandish a naggingly catchy melodic hook, while the shifting tempo of “In Haze” demonstrates that Iceage's rhythm section can do more than gallop. And with “Morals” Iceage has produced what feels like its version of a ballad, complete with plaintive piano and evocative lyrics about leaving one's body and bleeding into a lake.
— Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times

Jamie Lidell

“JAMIE LIDELL”
Warp Records
“Jamie Lidell's” success lies in this warped musical schizophrenia, which pays homage to a litany of influences but doesn't shy away from its electronic roots, thus allowing Lidell to craft the finest and most coherent account of his vocal and musical talents to date.

Interesting and innovative, it doesn't feel as needy as his previous outings and is better for it. At last, pushing the spotlight away from the gimmicks, he explores that space in-between, leaving you with the feeling that his finest work may still be ahead of him.
— Tom Fenwick, PopMatters.com

Portal

“VEXOVOID”
Profound Lore Records
Death metal usually has some kind of obscurantist content, secret messages to reward the listener's desire to belong. In the Australian band Portal's case, it's the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction, which inspires a great deal of the lyrics heaved out in guttural bursts by its singer, who is known as the Curator. But to listen to Portal's new record, “Vexovoid,” without reading the lyrics — assuming, let's say, that you have a total lack of interest in amoral fantasy novels loosely derived from Sumerian myth — is to focus on issues of surface and sound and aural design.

Portal, basically, is about tone and motion. All the information you need to know is in the flattened haze of the guitars, the chop and resonance of the drums. All radical style becomes streamlined after a while, in the search for a common language; death metal, no exception, gradually lost its sense of straining and discomfort since the late 1980s. Now it often sounds efficient. One of the best things about Portal has been its refusal to fall in line with death-metal sound aesthetics. Its music never sounds efficient.

It sounds upside-down and backward. Most Portal songs are loosely connected chains of arrangements; the unity is not on the song level but on the largest level, the band's constant use of certain modes and rhythmic patterns. You don't remember how the songs go, but you do remember their weird feeling, their atmosphere.

Every beat is articulated, and because of the upward guitar-strokes and the fast, ungainly drumbeat combinations, the rhythm sounds like rising rather than landing — as if the beats are being pulled upward out of the drums. Sometimes, as in “Plasm” — this record's best and most varied track, with a couple minutes of numinous soundscape at the end — the music sounds like a viscous batter being hand-mixed with vengeance.

“Vexovoid” has a different sound than the band's previous three albums. Each one reinvents the guitar tone; what you hear on “Vexovoid,” from the guitarists Horror Illogium and Aphotic Mote, is clearer and more elegant, a little less scoured and crackly.
— Ben Ratliff, The New York Times