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Review: Sonna Smile and the World Smiles With You

Label: Temporary Residence

Sonna are unquestionably one of America's most interesting instrumental rock ensembles. While much of the world's attention has remained fixed on Tortoise and Canada's Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Sonna have quietly realized their own gentle melodic dialect. On their second album, the quartet's harmonic guitar lattices support Jim Reid's always spacious and multi-accented drumming in the same way that Art Blakey's round-the-kit flourishes guided the The Jazz Messengers' horn soloists. Read more » 

Review: Konstantin Raudive The Voices of the Dead

Label: Sub Rosa

I can take spiders, gore, psychological thrillers, no problem. But when it comes to ghosts, set to the ponderously spooky Sub Rosa vibe? Read more » 

Review: Sole Selling Live Water

Label: Anticon

I'm so torn. Torn between great production and monotonous lyrics whether above or below ground. Torn by scathing, crunkin' funk held down by lyrical gangsta-pop. And torn here by looming, compelling rhythms held down by obtuse emo-spittle showers. Sole, the unofficial Anticon leader, tears me up with lyrical exercises in self-reflexive futility-though sometimes delightfully eccentric, his strained whine becomes wearing. Read more » 

Review: Hans Platzgumer Software

Label: Doxa

Whatever the genre, it's in Hans. With a staggeringly diverse discography since 1987 spread across top labels like Hausmusk, Disko B and HeimelektroUlm, Platzgumer enlists help from Anne La Plantine, Mego's Nachstrom and Tuxedomoon to brew up a mix of technowave, uber-electro, rave breaks, south Indian and dancehall drill 'n' bass. Yes, it's good as that sounds, provided you're a) truly appreciative and open to an ambitious piss-take of staid electronic music genres, b) dreaming of a cosmic jukebox hooked up to the mind of one crazy man or c) German. Read more » 

Review: Roel Meelkop & Tore Honore Boe Sovezacht

Label: Brombron

Following Heroin, the brilliant collaboration between Ekkehard Ehlers and Stephan Mathieu, Brombron (a label project between Dutch imprints Staalplaat and Extrapol) returns with their third release. And if Heroin rested on the periphery of one's consciousness, in one's memory, Sovezacht chronicles the very narrative of unconsciousness-or, more specifically, sleep. Moving from barely audible stillness through to a turbulent (hardrive) nightmare and back again, this album mirrors its cover image: a hovering pillow upon which the indentation of a sleeper's head once was. Read more » 

Review: Mira Calix Skimskitta

Label: Warp

Skimskitta is an elusive, ambitious work that's ultimately disappointing. The follow-up to 2000's more focused and accessible OneOnOne, Skimskitta possesses too many brief tracks that come off merely as quasi-interesting filler or failed experiments. Throughout Skimskitta, Mira Calix (Chantal Passamonte) uses her voice as a gossamer tarp under which she layers drones and dirges of varying hues and timbres, and she occasionally brings in some percussive bedlam to shake up the sonic stupor. Read more » 

Review: Mad Doctor X Chillonometry

Label: Bomb Hiphop

Hey, don't hate on the name!

Review: Ted Leo Hearts of Oak

Label: Look

America's mod prince in waiting, Ted Leo, pops the trunk and gives us his second merciless full-length. While his previous album was a bit more satisfying-all blister'd hooks and visceral surging-Hearts of Oak splays open and shows that Teddy is more an honors grad from Beat Surrender U. He can both fill the dance floor at yr next house party and give up a poetic new lexicon to that special league of post 9-11 rage/disgust/Bush-induced apathy we've all got a-brewin'. Gleefully mashing polemics (think D. Read more » 

Review: Joshua Lardue Landscape Tracks

Label: Afterhours

Seeing as LaRue's a member of both Chicago's dubby post-rock outfit HIM (one of the best live bands I've ever seen) and D.C.'s The Sorts, it's not surprising that this album bears comparison to groups such as Tortoise and 5ive Style. Best known for his guitar work, LaRue here utilizes the digital studio to become a one-man band, with occasional help from guests such as HIM founder/drummer Doug Scharin and Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty. A playful and mellow instrumental rock album that makes excellent use of electronic possibilities without losing one bit of that great live feeling. Read more » 

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