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Newletter # 4

reviews of Marz, Blue Nile, Marianne Faithful, Lanterna, Great lake Swimmers, Lou Barlow, and live review of therapy


English Atrakt-ed #4

21 February 2005

Album Reviews

Marz Wir Sind Hier (Karaoke Kalk/Penguin, 2004) by Georgos Galanis

The second album of the German duet Albrecht Kunze and Ekkehard Ehlers, which follows their debut Love Streams, will not satisfy its listeners, especially anyone wishing to find here the band that may fill the gap that was left after The Beta Band split up. Accordingly, the opening track Forever Never, a typical pop song with indifferent vocals in a disturbing German accent, will not particularly impress someone who is not familiar with the band, setting pretty much the tone for what follows.

Things get a lot better in Marz Im Park, with childrens voices and birds singing in the background of the sounds of a banjo, but the band returns to the pop motif in River, which is, however, fairly rich in ideas. Coming up next, Tropige Trauben wades in the fields of capricious electronica, while Blaue Faden could have easily been a b-side Notwist track.

Wir Sind Hier has the potential to become a popular album, although lacking any striking qualities. Ironically, the best moment of the album is titled Pop Song.

The Blue Nile High (Sanctuary Records, 2004) by Vasilis Sintos

There are good reasons to believe that The Blue Nile are a special case of a band: The same 3 musicians have been playing together for 20 years now, having recorded only 4 albums. However perfectionists or just lazy they may be, their releases enter the British charts every time, staying aloof, at the same time, from any commercial hype.

High is a really good soul-pop album superior to trends and flashy album covers. Its velvet sounds set a melancholic atmosphere of rainy nights and journeys. Economical rhythm patterns from the synths, an acoustic guitar, and Paul Buchanans voice are utterly sufficient and offer relish in their simplicity.

Marianne Faithful Before the Poison (Columbia, 2004) by Fotini Drakou

Her past (drug addiction, Mick Jagger, etc.) may have cast its shadow on her, however, behind the veil of the legend, Mariannes singing qualities have always been apparent, stretching from jazz to blues, and from pure rock to dark ballads of great sentimental potential.

Same as in 2002 Kissing Time, the new album consists of several collaborations. Specifically, the song-writing contributions by PJ Harvey and Nick Cave set a gloomy tone, while their dark melodies and rhythms are delivered chiefly by a piano, acoustic guitars, and, of course, Faithfuls uniquely atmospheric, hoarse voice.

This is one of the best and one of the most personal albums of Faithful, who proves to be outwardly composed, fresh, creative, and with a clear point-of-view.

Lanterna Highways (Badman Recording Co, 2005) by Kyriakos Skordas

Lanterna have been making albums like this, long before the term post was used in rock music, alongside the likes of Savage Republic, 17 Pygmies, Scenic, and The Rachels.

In this album, their tripping music, composed & conceived by Henry Fayne, whose guitars sound is a trademark of the project, is dominated by its serene melodies and its tenable lack of words. Highways is a superb instrumental album, of which the cover is illustrated with the stunning landscape pictures by Scenics Bruce Licher. Releases like this are keys to escapism and relaxation, nevertheless, the tracks are not mere cinematic compositions: Guitars, drums, and tape effects meet in a psychedelic burst.

Have a good journey!

Great Lake Swimmers Great Lake Swimmers (Fargo Records/Hitch-Hyke, 2005) by Kostas Liontiris

GLS are the Canadian singer/song-writer Tony Dekker, who decided to record his self-titled debut in a granary in Ontario, and, therefore, his sound is utterly rural folk, and the production fairly subtle. Accompaniments to his warm voice, there is an acoustic guitar, a piano, an accordion, and a crickets choir in the background.

The GLS swim in a lake of melancholy, denoted by nostalgia for the past (Moving Pictures Silent Films - "Is this the dream Ive been saving where the heart beats slower and slower, to almost nothing?"), disappointment for the present (Moving, Shaking - "I cant write, I cant sing, I cant play, my insides have been broken, my inspiration has fallen away. Oh let me become deaf and mute to this"), and an equally pessimistic view of the future (I Will Never See The Sun). The human condition, loneliness, and the existential question are among their subjects, all elegantly dealt without pretentiousness. Nevertheless, the album concludes on a slightly optimistic tone ("Where is the shore, oh I cant see it anymore feeling so tired, have to keep floating, I am so far away, the shore is so far away, the finish line is out of sight, I wont give up without a fight").

GLSs album is recommended as a suitable companion for the cold winter nights.

Lou Barlow Emoh (Domino Records, 2005) by Kostas Papaspyropoulos

Its been 15 prolific years of song-writing and numerous releases under his own name as well as with his bands (Sebadoh, Sentridoh, Folk Implosion) -, since he left Dinosaur Jr, a band in which he wasnt allowed to reveal his creative qualities.

In the new album, Emoh (i.e. recorded at Home), playing his guitar and singing his sad stories, Lou Barlow blends songs that belong to the American folk music tradition and the indie lo-fi. The songs of the latter sort (Legendary, Royalty, et al) are particularly melancholic, bringing in mind Will Oldham. Moreover, their acoustic arrangement and live recording make them more atmospheric and directly communicative.

The surprise of the album is the cover of Ratts Round-n-Round, but the best moment of Emoh is Mornings After Me, which has been previously released within the 2001 concept album Colonel Jeffrey Pumpernickel, Chris Slusarenkos rock opera, recorded by Barlows Sentridoh.

Emoh is not without its weaknesses: Barlow plays it safe, doing what hes always been good at, without any interest in moving forwards, by experimenting with blues and folk like D. Banhart, or by deconstructing these musical genres like Cocorosie. However the album will not disappoint his, or Sebadohs, fans.


Therapy? @ Gagarin 205, Athens, Greece. 29/1/2005 by Georgos Gorgogetas

Therepy?s amazing gig in Athens was a compensation for the 10 years since their last visit that was during their prime time, in the early 90s. The playing list, rather than focusing on the new album, was an unofficial best of including numerous songs from their early, and by far better, albums.

The opening band, Vodka Juniors, were over-enthusiastic and, as a result, they didnt manage to put their good ideas across. Therapy? exploded on stage slightly delayed, but the mayhem they caused meant they were worth waiting for. Among the highlights were the dedication of Die like a MF to George W. Bush, and, at the encore, the Joy Division-tribute version of Diane. All in all, they made clear that it only takes 3 good musicians on stage to do a great gig.

ENGLISH Atrakt-ed
Interview with GIARDINI DI MIRO
Interview with Efterklang
Interview with Chris Cornell
Ojos de Brujo, live in Thessaloniki
Interview with Frame 3-13
by Rhys Edwards
Mark Arm (of Mudhoney) interview
An interview with Little Finger Little Finger