Electric Frankenstein/Hookers - Split CD
Jeff Dahl - Heart Full of Snot
Nils Petter Molvaer - Khmer
Les Nubians - Princesses Nubiennes
Maroon Colony - Dayz Like This
PJ Harvey - Is This Desire?
Rush - Different Stages
Season Of Mist/Holy Records Label - Sampler CD
Six String Samurai - Soundtrack
Skinny Puppy - Remix Dys Temper
DJ Skribble - Traffic Jams
Twelve Thirty Dreamtime - Gorst

Electric Frankenstein/Hookers - Split CD
Man's Ruin Records

Man's Ruin Records
Victory Records

When displaying the phrase, "For Those Afraid to Rock, We Say Fuck You," on the inner cd sleeve, you'd better rock hard. Each and every guitar-oriented cut will burn a little bit deeper into your rot-filled rock'n'roll heart, displacing all the weaker crap that's been hiding there. From the classic Kozik art on the cover to the 16 speed-induced tracks that hold so much punk 'n' roll fever that they will transform your zombified feet into burning blue suede meteors...This just kicks everyone's ass.

For nitpickers, this little jewel has Steve Miller singing for Electric Frankenstein again. This is the third EF release in about three months and every release ups the ante a little bit higher for the rest of the wannabes out there. If you aren't familiar with Electric Frankenstein, they are from Jersey, sound like the toxic, mutant offspring of the NY Dolls crossed with the Dead Boys infused with speed to burn. The Hookers flame with the same burnout intensity. The Hookers sound like EF cousins raised on a steady diet of horror movies and wrestling in the South. There's a touch of Motorhead, Misfits, and Antiseen to their music, but all in all it's fantastic lo-fi, hi energy punk that will remind you of the Hellacopters or the Dead Boys amped on angeldust.

The Hookers include Uriah Heep (Look At Yourself) and Antiseen (Hammerhead) covers. Besides, who can resist a bandmember named the Rock & Roll Outlaw (Hookers). These guys really do kick out the jams. They'd probably mug Wayne Kramer...just to prove it.

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Jeff Dahl
Heart Full Of Snot
Triple X Records

Dahlhouse - Official Jeff Dahl website

Oh dear, I really like Jeff Dahl and I really want to like everything he does. That as a preface, understand that I am really disappointed by his new album. It's okay for an average band, it's below average for Jeff Dahl. I listened to it and wished it could be different, but it isn't. It's like listening to a new Ramones CD...you want to like it, but there's just nothing to get excited over. It has been done before, and it was done a whole lot better the first time. It's not like it sucks. It would be - well, average - if it were by anyone else. But when it's from someone who you know can do more...it really sucks. Pretty cover and nice jewel box. That alone should have scared me. Just go and listen to Motherfucker 666 or Dahl's I Was A Teenage Glam Fag. Both are semi-recent and kick the living dog shit out of Heart Full Of Snot.

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Nils Petter Molvaer
ECM Records
Let's jump to the end: This is my favorite disc from last year. Nothing else really came close. That's not to say that there weren't other fabulous discs in 1997, but Molvaer's was stellar enough that I wanted to put it at the top of my list again this year, arguing that its domestic release in 1998 qualified it for the list.

It reminds me of Miles Davis' On the Corner (purists are already getting their sharp sticks out to poke me with) in that it defies easy categorization and simple listening. It isn't as nearly outwardly funky as On the Corner, but has similar drive. It begins with "Khmer," a slow opening of bass and drum in the distance with Molvaer's muted trumpet dancing in the foreground like a wisp of smoke. And this tug of war breaks out between the trumpet and the murmuring background, neither really relenting, neither really winning, but slowly bringing your attention into focus on the music.

And then with "Tløn" we segue into a denser rhythm, a long note stretched out over a rapid heartbeat. You can feel the build beginning almost immediately, the rhythm getting tighter with introduction of repeated rise and fall of guitar melodies until the main section bursts through with the tight dance between the 'talk box' and the horn.

"Song of Sand I" has a shuffling rhythm that feels like the shifting heat staggering across the wide dunes of a desert sea, the squeals of guitar and horn like the ever-present sting of heat. "On Stream" is a breathy melody, surrounded by the tinkling rhythm of water transcribed through modern instrumentation. "Platonic Years" and "Phum" fill the middle of the album with a tight introspection that leads into "Song of Sand II" where melodies and rhythms are repeated and stretched until we reach "Exit." "Exit" opens with a lamenting e-bow guitar, adds acoustic guitar and a hint of the opening melody of "Khmer," and slowly fades out. No trumpet, just the death of wind as if the trumpet has lost its voice and the rest fades soon after.

It's a fantastic album that wraps itself around you with the wail and swarm of its instruments, that transcends the simplistic categories of 'jazz' and 'electronic music' that seem to be where it ends up in the record store. I sat down with On the Corner and followed it with Khmer and felt that one wasn't far from the other. The same spirit which came out of Miles' horn has found similar life in Molvaer's fascinating album.

-M. Teppo
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Les Nubians
Princesses Nubiennes
Higher Octave

Les Nubians

I've been listening to Princesses Nubiennes, a cool smooth album by a pair of sisters from Bordeaux, France - who mix easy rhythms, soothing French lyrics and a little ethnic hip hop fire into tasty repast. Admittedly, I think the album sounds better on shuffle, minus a few songs, but it is very palatable and the sistahs' French is easily translatable - stuffed with good, almost fluffy messages of self affirmation, and a hint of gallic sensuality. The comparision to Sade is not lost, as they cover "(Sweetest) Tabou" with a French rap performance tossed in for authenticity. Other worthy songs: "Demain," "Princesse Nubienne," and the brief interludes which show a lot of promise for the future. Not too poppy, but too long. Listen to some cuts, not all of it.

-Rev. Bruce Gordon
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Maroon Colony
Dayz Like This
Colony Media

Maroon Colony

Looking for a way to rid yourself of that Puff Paddy aftertaste in your ear? Then check out Maroon Colony's Dayz Like This.

Straight out of the (206), elements from the now-defunct Live Band/Hip-Hop group Anonymous have re-emerged as Maroon Colony. Their style is a meld of lounge room jazz, spoken word and raw live groove funk! It's refreshing to hear some talented cats taking hip-hop and jazz influences and making something new, Lounge Hop?

As I listened to the CD, images of a dark, smoke filled room filled my head. Inside there are cool cats in black, and hip sisters with braids. On stage a live band is throwin' down jazz-influenced grooves, while some slick brothers deliver spoken word rhymes on the mic. I order a hot ginger peach tea as my head is nodding slowly to the beat. Yeah, actually I'll take a scone with that if you don't mind, I think I'm going to be here a while.

"Hey, man, if you like what you're hearing, I can hook you up with their CD for a 10-spot." Never taking my eyes off the stage, I dig into my pocket and hand the brother a twenty. He slips the CD on the table, I tell him to keep the change. Somewhere behind me I hear a female voice mention the Roots CD is coming out soon. If she's right, I'm going to be another 20 bill down. Oh well, at least that aftertaste is gone, for now…

The CD, I notice, is dedicated to John McGregor, slain member of Anonymous. I never met the brother, but in the back of my mind, I know he's smiling down from up above, noddin' his head. These Maroon Colony cats are nice. I'll have to tell a few friends about them. This spot however I'm going to keep a secret. I like it just the way it is

-CB Yasutake
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PJ Harvey
Is This Desire
Island Records (UK)


ten out of ten

You are standing at a very crowded and loud party, suddenly time stands still and all attention turns toward one person. I have a very funny suspicion that this is the effect PJ Harvey has. There are certain people on this earth that have looks, ability, stature, etc. They have it all from where I stand. Polly Jean Harvey gets just as close to this as any human can get.

And so does her new album, Is this Desire. Is This Desire is ten inches thick with dense rhythm, simple melody, and intoxicating flow. It's as perfect as an album can get.

The surplus of female artists who subscribe to the current trend of the now very "in" female rock sound is numbing. This sound has reached critical mass faster than the speeding bullet called "grunge" we witnessed whizzing by for at least half of the 90's. PJ Harvey is exactly what the world needs to rescue us from this homogeny.

PJ's attachment to poetic stories of saints, sinners, salvation and long lost women is apparent in every song. Each an inner search in varying degree making the sum of these parts an emotional roller coaster. Going down delicately, writhing with "Anglene," the hauning "The Wind," and "The Garden." Then back up again furiously howling with "The Sky Lit Up," "A Perfect Day Elise" (the album's sure hit), and "The River."

There is not a bad moment on Is This Desire, and my desire to take this one out of my CD won't come around 'til Harvey's next album. PJ-I love you.

-J. Ashley
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Different Stages
Atlantic Records

The National Midnight Star

Much has been made of Rush's pattern of one live album per four studio to "sum up that stage" of their career. But Different Stages, their fourth live album, goes beyond that; it summarizes their entire career. By including two discs compiled from their last two tours, and one disc from the 1978 "Farewell to Kings" tour, it offers the chance to compare and contrast over a span of twenty years.

Billed as a "bonus" disc, the third disc consists of the band's February 20, 1978 performance at London's Hammersmith Odeon. It is one of the most complete and unadulterated live performances available as a legitimate release, and contains four songs from the Farewell to Kings album not represented on any of the band's other live albums. It also provides an example of characteristics many detractors harp on, yet long-time fans love: Geddy Lee's high-pitched nasal vocals (managed even though suffering a cold), and an almost hyper-energetic performance.

Twenty years later, the band has matured--as all mortals must--and the first two discs reflect that. Lee's voice no longer attains the heights, and he seems comfortable not attempting it. The band has also left behind the sense of immediate urgency, choosing instead to step back a bit and let the songs--new and old--stand on their own. Some might consider this the act of musical dinosaurs, but the older songs prove their excellent pedigrees by rising to the challenge without requiring radically new arrangements to "update" them. "The Trees" particularly benefits from this, maintaining its power while leaving behind the melodrama of earlier presentations.

25 years of recording, 16 studio albums, and now 4 live albums. Different Stages is a definite must-have for every Rush fan. At less than the price of normal two-disc sets, and in some cases only slightly more than the cost of one, it would also serve as an excellent in-depth introduction for those who are not yet fans.

-Paul Goracke
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Season Of Mist/Holy Records Label Sampler CD
Season Of Mist
24 rue Brandis
13005 Marseille - France

Holy Records
BP 59 - 77260
La Ferte sous Jouarre - France

Not much in the line of information on this little cardboard sleeve sampler: no liner notes, no band bios, nada...but some fairly impressive music. I'm not into gothic music or devil worshipping and I'm sure that would only enhance my appreciation of these bands. However, I'm very impressed, so impressed that I keep playing this gem over and over. So the general breakdown would be that all of these bands are on either Seasons Of Mist or Holy Records and most of the tracks are previously released.

The majority of the bands are gothic metal with highly atmospheric embellishments although a few have a black/death/doom metal orientation. The first band is Gloomy Grim (song: "War") best described as a really creepy gothic band with a singer that possesses a laughably macabre voice. Gloomy Grim is the worst band on the compilation. The music is highly atmospheric and creepy, but their vocalist is just hilarious. And Oceans contributes "Som Oppna Bocker" and is an excellent atmospheric grind band, replete with the lovely grind vocals - absolutely fantastic. Septic Flesh pops out the third track, "The Eldest Cosmonaut," which seamlessly melds gothic metal, choirs and atmospherics with an elegant operatic touch. Bloodthorn contributes "The Embodied Core Of Darkness," which is gothic-embellished doom metal. Sup offers "The Fall Is Too Long," the best song on the compilation; a bit more straightforward metal, but with a catchy melody. Oxiplegatz brings "Exerpt," which is a very gothic, very atmospheric piece with male and female vocals. Nightfall contributes "Lesbian Show," which starts with a sampled scream ends with a rocking doom metal juggernaut. Bethzaida is next with "Frozen Wastes," melding gothic rock with medieval music and features sore throat devil vocals. Legenda gives "All Flesh Is Grass" a piano intro and then plunges straight into dark metal territory - growling and snarling out a melody. Anata offer a demo version of "Infernal Gates" that is fast and furious - definitely death metal. Misanthrope contribute "Futile Future" which has a distinct industrialized gothic metal sound. Furious Trauma's "Worth To Live" is a very distorted, death metal-styled cut with some wanky guitar fills. Godsend's "A Wayfarer's Tears Part II" is another gothic rock masterpiece just dripping with apocalyptic atmospherics albeit slightly woosy vocals. Anorexia Nervosa contribute "Some Miracles Of Entrails" which breaks out in an industrial crunch with utterly evil vocals and explodes into a death metal then mellows to a progressive metal then explodes and winds down then back up, ad infinitum! Stille Volk is up next with "Ode Aux Lontains Souverains," which sports female vocals with creepy English folkmusic. Not my cup of tea, but quite different. Corpus explode with "B?D?itch," industrial metal with a vocalist that sounds remarkably similar to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Yearning's "In The Hands Of Storm" is an eclectic gothic metal operetta with a highly accomplished vocalist (maybe a little too operatic for the music). On Thorns I Lay contribute the last track "In Heaven's Island," which combines death metal vocals with a distinctly mid-eastern female wail in the background, the music is gothic metal...and pretty good.

I don't know if I'll ever search out any of these band's albums, but I do know that I will listen to this sampler for a long time. If you enjoy gothic or death metal, and are looking for something just a little offbeat, these labels have something for you.

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Six String Samurai
Palm Records
The movie, Six-String Samurai, is a wonderful fairy tale about bringing a new king of Rock and Roll to Vegas and the hero/humanity tangle that most protagonists grapple with. Good entertainment. See it if you have a chance. It may not be Oscar material, but it's chock full of stuff to please just about everyone including swashbuckling, bad guys and guitars. It's not the good-lookin' star/producer/director or the sweltering desert sets or the humoresque subtle dialog or even the wonderful-on-a-budget-but-done-artfully fight scenes that gets your attention. It's the soundtrack.

Whoa, a movie with a good soundtrack!

Russian Rockabilly? Siberian swing? Yes, it's the Red Elvises!

Outside of the actual dialog to the film (some of which is included on the CD) and the actual score by Brian Tyler, the soundtrack is the Red Elvises. Their sound fuels the fight scenes with an energy that only guitars can supply: twangin', driven' and raucous. That rockabilly feel can really remind us that there was something good happening in the music biz before "cocktail culture." The sound is all of what is supposed to be of Rock and Roll - fun, danceable, likeable and groovy, with guitars - but with one outstanding addition: uh...I could swear they were singing about Siberia and, isn't that melody a traditional Hungarian dance and, what was that about Chernobyl?

The press kit for the band says that they were formed in the mid-nineties in Los Angeles, after Igor, Oleg and Zhenya achieved residency and a firm grasp of the American language. Originally a trio, they hooked up with Avi, an american drummer, prior to album #2 and going on the road. The instrumentation is as should be for "russo-surf-a-billy," guitars and drums and a big-ass 3-stringed Bass Balalaika and the sound is pure high energy surf fun. Try imagining Dick Dale born in Vladivostok. That's Sea of Okutsk surf, baby. Hey did you know that currents in the Sea of Okutsk revolve counter clockwise?

The soundtrack is primarily work from their first two albums, but that doesn't matter much when one is twistin' to "Love pipe," or "Boogie on the Beach" or singing along with "My love is killing me," or "Siberia" ("...where women take vodka shots...land of broken bombs and cottage cheese...").

So you need some party music with a twist? The Six-String Samurai soundtrack will get you a-toe-tappin', whether you like it or like it a lot.

-Rev. Bruce Gordon
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Skinny Puppy
Remix Dys Temper
Nettwerk Records


six out of ten

For fifteen years Skinny Puppy constantly reinvented a genre; their influence on modern electronica runs deep my friend. I'd go so far as to say that bands like Nine Inch Nails / Ministry / Maralyn Manson / Prodigy and the like would not be upon us in nearly the same fashion if not for this trio from Vancouver, BC.

Starting out with a mixture of synthpop sensibilities and punk angst, Skinny Puppy would later evolve into a three-headed high-tech electro monster. Wrapping layers of chaos, paranoia & dissonance into an indescribable thing of beauty. After infighting, a label switch gone sour, and ultimately Keyboard Wizard Dwayne Goettel's death, the band self destructed in 1995 while recording its last, The Process. With Vocalist Nivek Ogre and Keyboardist cEvin Key involved in countless separate projects (Rx, Download, etc.), it's unlikely that any new material will be released from this band that is still the most relevant electro / industrial sound around.

Remix Dys Temper is a testament to this relevance. In contrast to the gazillions of "Puppy-wanna-be's," Dys Temper (which contains material over 10 years old) sounds pretty damn fresh. The song choice is impeccable, and the disk hosts a fantastic variety of hands to do the remixing:

  1. "Rodent" - Ken 'hiwatt' Marshall Not to distinguishable from the original except maybe to say it's longer and harder. Added guitar and keyboard sequences over the original song structure and vocal line retain the soul and integrity, which I can't say about all of these remixes.
  2. "Addiction" - KMFDM This one is pretty damn good. It uses standard electonica formula, Ogre's vocals sound great over this. Extra points for the choppy vocal loops.
  3. "Smothered Hope" - Ogre & Mark Walk Wow! This one is sick (fucking excellent!). It's…It's jangly - it's got a damn jangle in it! Great vocals, great remix programming; this is so almost as good as the original. I love it.
  4. "Killing Game" - Autechre
  5. "Love in Vein" - Neotropic These two remixes are exercises in deconstruction. Not a bad thing here, they just don't sound a thing like the original. If you told me that it was Download I'd believe you. The first sounds like it came off of the schizophrenic Charlie's Family Soundtrack and the second off of the more structured The Eyes of Stanley Pain - cool.
  6. "Worlock " - Rhys Fulber Did someone say Delirium? The ex-Frontliner and Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad) whip up a swirling trip-hoppy goth fest with this Puppy classic. I was afraid to hear this at first because I adore the original so much., but it's a great spin on a great song.
  7. "Spasmalytic" - Deftones I don't want to come out guns blazing here because I don't like the Deftones or this remix, but I have to. This one is album filler. If you can program your CD player, autoskip this one. I don't know what Mr. Deftone was thinking here, but it sounds like he was being forced against his will to remix this. Here's an idea: just put on "Too Dark Park" and get on with it.
  8. "Tin Omen" - Adrian Sherwood Ohio! Ohio! What the fuck…go Ohio go! This remix starts of with something akin to a pep assembly cheer. The original "Tin Omen" preceded all electro/industrial acts that added guitar or metal acts that added programming. The original is a god damn firestarter. Remove guitar, rearrange song structure, add live vocals (I think), and wa-la, halfbaked remix.
  9. "Testure" - God Lives Underwater "Testure Lite." I wouldn't even call this a remix. It sounds like GLU covering the song with Ogre singing.
  10. "Dig It" - Mark Walk Whoa…easy on the Macintosh speech function there big fella. This remix doesn't sound a thing like the original nor does it pay the song any due. A one way ticket to boresville.
  11. "Assimilate" - Chris Vrenna I'm gonna go ahead and admit that I love Nine Inch Nails and Chris Vrenna. Contrary to a lot of the reviews that I have read about this one I have to give it a thumbs up. Chris kept the song intact, all the pieces are still there but there are subtle differences. More dubby & spatial.
  12. "Censor" - Guru This is crazy. I love hip hop just as much as anyone, and have secretly always wondered what it would sound like to hear Ogre over this kind of a beat. It's Fantastic. The contrast between the smooth rolling of Gurus beat and the violent tone of Ogre's voice tickle me to death.
  13. "Chainsaw" - Josh Wink This mix is super dark, dense and dubby. Very atmospheric. If you've heard Key's Plateau the mix is very similar to music for grass bars. Cool stuff.

Nothing on this recording is as good as its original. Ogre's liquid resonance is the glue that holds it all together. But it's safe to say that if you like Skinny Puppy's beautiful chaos theory, you'll like most of Dys Temper.

-J. Ashley
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DJ Skribble
Traffic Jams
Christmas for this reviewer has come early and couldn't be more welcomed thanks to one DJ Skribble's "Damn that DJ made my day!" For years I've wanted that Hip Hop club sound on disc and with the release of Traffic Jams Vol. 1 the search has finally ended, and it was more than worth the wait.

Every since my first club outing some 13 years ago where I first heard the musical stylings of one DJ Sugar Bear I've been hooked on the way a good DJ could manipulate the crowd with his music selection and presentation. Many a night since has been spent looking for others of his talent and skill, though very few have been found. More often than not I get top forty garbage spun by a mindless drone to indiscriminate crowds. All I wanted was someone who could do more than push the play button. Someone who could, for example, take the vocals of a popular track and play them over the instrumental of another (I love that). Someone who could take a funky break and transform it into a completely new song, tease a vocal hook over its musical backdrop, scratch, blend, etc. With all the technology available today, there is no excuse for lame DJs and lame would be the last thing anyone could ever accuse Mr. Skribble of being.

The CD starts off in classic mix tape fashion with a little 2 minute ditty called "Skribble's Intro." Traditionally this is done to introduce the DJ, and keep others from frontin' like it's their work. It's also a time for the DJ to represent his skills and notoriety with vocal samplings of famous people mentioning his name, cut the hell up on the wheels of steel. This lets you know what you can expect throughout the rest of the CD--dope ass turntable work and slick sampling. And then, as if he's paying homage to true hip hop, he selects KRS One's "Step Into My World" to lead off his seventy minutes of non-stop music. Again, it's not just the fact that he's picked a hip hop classic and a giant in the hip hop community. It's the scratch work and remixing he does to the track that takes it to that next level: 5 mics and a bag of chips.

Trust me, it only gets better from there. Forget all those pretenders out there (Dance Mix USA, Party to Go, Ultimate Dance Mix, etc.). If you're looking for that true club sound, and you're a fan of hip hop/R&B, DJ Skribble is untouchable. If it's not in your collection, you ain't a Fan or Friend. Consider yourself in the dark like a KUBE 93.3 listener (the Gary Payton show excluded!). I haven't been this hooked since I discovered DJ Riz at the Re-bar.

-CB Yasutake
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Twelve Thirty Dreamtime
Pentapus Records
Don't I know this sound from somewhere? Ah, yes...the bittersweet days of early high school, when the joining of hard rock and pop sounds helped this young boy deal with the insecurities of growing up. Punchy, powerful riffs provided a sense of confidence and simple, memorable choruses offered a chance to sing along and feel like you belonged.

Unlike most trips down Memory Lane, Twelve Thirty Dreamtime have managed to live up to the (inevitably rose-tinted) memories. The trio's left behind the worst aspects of the sound--big hair, big egos, and big guitar solos--and distilled the best into their own home-brewed intoxicant.

Due perhaps to the ten-year gestation period (during which time the individual members were also involved in bands such as Treepeople, Dangtrippers and Voodoo Gearshift), this debut album is surprisingly varied. The songs are individually hand-crafted and readily distinguishable from each other; the bouncy fun of "Fall & Rise" (including a nod to the Beatles), breakneck double-time pace of "20m," and American Bandstand-through-factory-car-stereo sound of "Goin' On" demonstrate that Twelve Thirty Dreamtime aren't just producing cookie-cutter variations on a theme.

Could I really enjoy an album containing lyrics such as, "Yeah, alright / my girl's out of sight," and, "I'm burning your stratosphere?" It doesn't look like I have a choice; it's been years since I've had a more enjoyably guilt-ridden half hour without a safe word. Now if I could just keep the chorus to "Jaded Fox" ("Jaded Fox / girl you rock my world") from popping to mind at the most inopportune times.

-Paul Goracke
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