Woodenspoon-Souff Souff ep

August 27, 2008


Souff Souff 12′ (Warp 1996)


If you’ve read this blog since its beginning, you may know that i am somewhat obsessed with Seefeel and all of its related side projects. Well, scratch the last few Scala records from that statement and then it will be true. I chickened out of buying this ep when it came out in the hopes that there would be an eventual album, but it never came to be.

Woodenspoon was one of Marc Clifford’s projects after the dissolution of Seefeel. He also released an ep and Lp for Warp as Disjecta. Disjecta wasn’t too far removed from the direction Seefeel took on their last two albums, but Woodenspoon provided Clifford an outlet to explore drill and bass, dub and occasionally something approximating dancehall shoegaze. Now, I don’t expect Capleton or the many Ranks to come knocking on his door, but this ep definitely tries something new. It doesn’t always work, but it is interesting to hear him shake loose from his influences. In this day and age, I have lost all interest in any of the drill and bass of the late 90s and its masturbatory usage of rhythm. Just because you can pack so many beats into a minute doesn’t make it it more enjoyable. However, Clifford does incorporate some ethereal drones straight out of Quique to accompany the spasms of beats and it works here. It doesn’t make me want to reevaluate that era, but it is a nice twist on the dub/shoegaze/electronic tomfoolery he perfected with Seefeel.

Overall, it isn’t going to floor you, but any fan of Seefeel should check this ep out since it is interesting to hear their musical inspirations translated into a different arena. Good, but not great.

Zia Mohiuddin Dagar

Shuddha Todi/Raga Yaman(Nimbus 2000)

Shuddha Todi: http://www.mediafire.com/?in0qxr9xkrh

Raga Yaman: http://www.mediafire.com/?wimyhmlrpoj

Alternately known as Z.M. Dagar, Zia Mohiuddin Dagar was the master of rudra vina, a larged stringed instrument primarily used in Hindustani music. It sound closely resembles that of the sitar, but the rudra vina seems to get a deeper, more resonant tone than any sitar I’ve heard. Dagar’s bread and butter was the raga, a slow, meditative form of Indian classical music that slowly unfolds with circular melodies that gently wax and wane. I’m no expert on ragas, but I’ve always loved Dagar’s work because of the rumbling bass that centers the slow motion reverb of the sitar or rudra vina. Spirituality was never my strong suit, but Shuddha Todi taps into something larger than music for me. It is kind of a meditative tool in my life that provides my mind time to breathe and process the events of my day. There is no climax or crescendo, it just becomes what you need it to be at that moment. It’s amorphous qualities and psychedelic atmosphere kind of lifts to a place that few albums do. It fills up the room and all you can do is bathe in the waves of slowly plucked notes as they echo until another one rolls your way. If all you know of ragas and Indian classical music is Ravi Shankar, then check out Shuddha Todi and see a different facet of a music that reminds me of how music can transport you to other levels of consciousness. Although I’m not a religious person, certain albums, songs and performances have done a number on my noggin. Shuddha Todi/Raga Yaman belongs to that rare breed of music that taps into something indescribable as it whisks you off to some mental island where you feel impelled to examine life more closely than you would otherwise. I don’t listen to this often, but it mellows out the rough edges in my life and I couldn’t ask any more of a piece of recorded music.

Killed by Death-Volume Ten

August 27, 2008

Various Artists

Killed by Death-Volume 10


I’ve been a bit lax with posting the series of Killed by Death comps. I am still missing volumes 11-14. If anyone could send me these to post, it would be an entirely wonderful act. Again, the quality dips slightly with each succeeding volume, but it still contains so many slabs of angst and rage. Personally, I like to go running and listen to these as a way to inspire hate towards the treadmills and roads on which I race.

Vomit Pigs-Useless Eater
Tragics-Laughing Lover
Desendants-Unnational Anthem
63 Monroe-Hijack Victim
Executives-Jet Set
Grim Clone Band-Heat’s Rising, Jehovah’s Witness
Cringe-Spit on Your Grave
Voodoo Idols-We Dig Nixon
Red Squares-Time Change

Gentlemen Of Horror-God Knows You By Name
Normals-Almost Ready
Discords-Dead Cubans
Trend-Band Aid
Count Vertigo-X-Patriots
Unnatural Axe-The Creeper
Skinnies-Out of Order
Sick & The Lame-Ate Days a Week

Just an interlude to inform everyone that updates can be attained by befriending us at http://myspace.com/magicistragic21. If you do so, then I’ll forward links and reviews that can be found nowhere else but in these impotent forwards. You may also inform us about broken links or send requests to magicistragic21@yahoo.com.

You too can be a part of this red hot mess. Have you ever wanted to compose a passionate ode to an unloved album? Send your longwinded review to magicistragic21@yahoo.com and make your wish come true. All genres are welcome. No review will be rejected as long as it is thoughtful and lovely.

Papas Fritas-s/t

August 27, 2008

Papas Fritas

s/t (Minty Fresh 1995)


Sometimes it seems as if hyperbole is the magical word of the day here at magicistragic, but here is yet another album deserving of all my favorite adjectives and stroking maneuvers. I keep singling out 90s indie-rock albums, but those were my formative years, so I really cannot help myself at times. However, this is one of those albums that I saved for a later date so I didn’t post everything i love in three days and blow the proverbial load. However, the evenings are long and sobriety wears thin, so let us take take a half-assed stab at Papa Fritas’ debut album.

There is something to be said about bands that possess two members able to harmonize perfectly. By no means am I making a direct comparison to Exene Cervenka and John Doe or the Everly Brothers, but there is something magical about two voices complementing each other. Now, Tony Goddess and Shivika Asthana’s harmonies are very imperfect and rough around the edges, but they do work that same magic, albeit in a more humble fashion. It isn’t elegant like bernaise sauce and steak, but more like the simple, but harmonious interplay of salami, provolone and a crusty roll.

On the surface, their debut is just a smart, catchy indie-pop album, but it subtly draws from 70s and 80s rock bands like the Modern Lovers and NRBQ. It is a joyous, kind of sloppy album that relies on the power of a simple hook. They sound so damn excited to record an album and their enthusiasm is catchy and propels some of its lesser tunes into a higher stratosphere. It’s a twee punk album that isn’t afraid to pluck ideas from its idols and you get the sense that the musicians had a lovely time bringing this to fruition. Yes, many bands have fun recording an album, but Papas Fritas is so bushy-tailed and bright eyed that you buy into songs that you normally wouldn’t.

Now, this album didn’t worm its way into my heart on sheer enthusiasm, there is much more at work here. Their debut has its weaknesses, but half of this remains in steady rotation thirteen years later. It always reminds me of the power of harmony and the satisfaction that can be derived from a seemingly simple pop song. There isn’t anything fancy or innovative about it. They just wrote excellent songs and their voices happened to congeal in a wonderful way. I always come back to this one and hope you do too.

Roland Dahinden

Flying White (Mode 2005)


I get positively tongue-tied when discussing classical music since I lack the context, background knowledge and musical vocabulary to do it any justice. I’ve always been a dilettante and a casual observer of classical music and have usually gravitated towards the repetitive minimalism of Steve Reich and the apocalyptic sounds of Gorecki, Penderecki and Ligeti. That’s kind of where my knowledge ends, so I cannot tell you who or what has influenced Roland Dahinden to compose such crushing compositions, but I can tell you that I am kind of obsessed with Flying White.

Roland Dahinden is a Swiss composer and trombonist who studied under Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. In addition, John Cage and Pauline Oliveros have composed works for him to premiere. I guess Flying White does owe a bit to the drones and minimalism of Oliveros and Lucier, but it is also its own peculiar beast. Many of you will find Flying White to be a never ending parade of gently scraped strings and rumbling, but this isn’t for everyone. It is kind of a difficult listen in that each composition seems to bleed into the next resulting in a woozy and eerie atmosphere reminiscent of Artemiev’s soundtrack for Solaris. However, it definitely sets a mood, albeit a very uneasy and paranoid one. Flying White kind of reminds me of rough waters. Short swells of sounds that are immediately interrupted by something more unsettling that point to trouble ahead. There is no climax, only a constant build that is repeatedly interrupted before it can ever approach a climax. It is an exercise in frustration, but a gorgeous one at that.

Moose-Sonny and Sam

August 27, 2008


Sonny and Sam(Virgin 1992)


During my teenage years, I became obsessed with shoegaze and faithfully trekked to Philadelphia’s 3rd St. jazz and Rock to pick up any ep or cd remotely associated with this poorly named genre. I’m not trying to come off as some precocious wisenheimer since I also purchased albums by 24-7 Spyz, Hoodoo Gurus and 3rd Bass. However, I heard a track from My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything on WKDU and spent by bicycle messenger salary on every NME, Sounds and Melody Maker to search out similar sounds. Through these delightful and sometimes ridiculous rags, I fell in love with Slowdive, Swervedriver, Lush and other bands that adopted MBV as an influence and spun it in their own kaleidoscope of feedback and buried melodies. These three acts among others achieved relative success and are still fondly remembered by fans today. However, there were many worthwhile bands that fell through the cracks or lost their bearings after a brilliant single or ep. England’s Moose definitely fell into the latter category even though they released a few albums afterwards.

Sonny and Sam collected tracks from their first two eps and added a couple odds and ends in the hopes of attracting an American audience. It’s a pretty concise summation of what made them stick out from their peers. Moose’s music adhered to the shoegaze blueprint, but there was something tender and habitually heartbroken about their music that set them apart as the sad sacks of the scene. That’s why I loved them since their romantic odes to butterfly collectors and a lover’s morning gaze appealed to the maudlin side of me. Plus, they knew when to turn off the spigots of feedback and toss in a minimal ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on Sarah or Creation records. They had some diversity and their music wasn’t constantly drugged and distant. Moose wanted to be loved and wallow in noise as well as their alienation and woe. Now, their later albums focused more on the alienation and woe instead of noise and that made them less interesting. Sonny and Sam captures a moment when they didn’t know whether they wanted to be a brit-pop band or something more ragged and intriguing.