ALBUM REVIEW
Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio




Frog ‘Count Bateman’
(Audio Antihero/Tape Wormies) 16th August 2019


Frog are a kiosk by the sea, on a suburban beach.

The essence of their work is gathered in a search for intimacy that is expressed in DIY and lo-fi passages; a very successful sound universe touched by Bon Iver, Daniel Johnston and other such sacred monsters.

Their flame is lit on Count Bateman. The new album in fact captures the peak of a clear path and placed lo-fi sound. The interweaving of stories on this record are a safe place that puts us at peace and in dialogue with the idea of Frog’s music.

The ability of the work is to go down, and at the same time transcend, in a strongly psychological dimension, but there is no Freud or Jung, but simply a dose of sharpness and freshness that make us feel good, almost inexplicably.

The guitar landscape of songs like ‘It’s Something I Do’ or ‘Black Friday’ is uncontaminated, a walk with Christopher McCandless. The sound is light; it’s a wave of fresh water, an immersion in a style very close to that of Daniel Johnston.

In Frog there is the rediscovery of a low profile attitude, which must be understood and studied in the light of a historical moment in which the ability to remain in the dark, with the light off, has been lost, even in more indie environments.

Frog are like Matisse, painters of windows and fixtures that open in an expanse of neighborhoods, cities and stories. Count Bateman is an open window from which air enters and often there is also a hurricane breeze; in fact the second part of the record is full of unusual sounds and more driven, electronically, for the duo.





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Live Revue
Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio



Thom Yorke Live
Rome 21st July 2019


The stage is an icon, Thom Yorke a mirror.

Here’s the consideration that a metaphysical set like this leads you to do, but there’s more and then I tried to make a small setlist of short and ramshackle thoughts about Thom Yorke live in Rome.

 

Thom Yorke is a genre in itself

Yorke moves with a cinematic attitude, and the movement on stage is an ode to the dance of Suspiria. This is a meeting of the many elements, developments and musical paths undertaken over the years. Thom Yorke’s live performance in Rome is the closing of a cycle and, at the same time, the opening of another. Thom is, finally, a multidimensional being, who can musically make genre by himself, expressing at best a crisis of many ideas and visions: some, even very different from each other.

 

The concert is an iconographic tale

You could follow the concert from an artistic point of view, and tell how the digital painting that moves on video walls is a condensation of an artistic research that also includes graphics and visual art.

We could play to tell the live in three paintings, I choose, in doubt, “Number 11” Pollock. The idea of graphic contamination has served.

 

Anima is a pure germ

The new solo album Anima is a real art-attack. A light and structured breath on a homogeneous and not confusing storytelling, Anima is a solo peak in Yorke’s career, because it has a whole series of elements that are perfectly connected with the idea of drawing songs in an extremely scenic, told and cinematographic way.

 

Suspiria was a blessing for Thom

So let’s close the film, consistent with the live set. The clear element is that: Suspiria has done well to Thom’s work and creativity. Being under creative and artistic pressure is a test that every artist has to undergo, the cinema is a machine that eats and incorporates but Thom has been stronger than on any other destructive push, and has pulled out a genuine music score. Calmness is the virtue of the dead, creativity needs chaos and the work with Luca Guadagnino, also built on the strong common vision, has helped Thom to build and solidify even better.






PLAYLIST
Compiled: Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver
Art: Gianluigi Marsibilio









From an abundance of sources, via a myriad of social media platforms and messaging services, even accosted when buying a coffee from a barristo-musician, the Quarterly Revue is expanding constantly to accommodate a reasonable spread that best represents the Monolith Cocktail’s raison d’etre.

As you will hear for yourselves, new releases and the best of reissues plucked from the team – me, Dominic ValvonaMatt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Gianluigi Marsibilio (who also put together the playlist artwork) – rub shoulders in the most eclectic of playlists, with tracks as geographically different to each other as Belem and Palermo.

Digest and discover as you will, but we compile each playlist to run in order so it feels like the best uninterrupted radio show or most surprising of DJ sets.



ALBUM REVIEW
Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio 




Holly Herndon ‘PROTO’
(4AD) 10th May 2019

A digital kingdom in which it is possible to establish a pact between man and machine, a maternal connection that gives a precise identity to a record that becomes human, android, cyborg, consciousness.

A continuous and hypnotizing dialogue between Holly Herndon and Spawn (the name given to the digital creature) that lights up in PROTO through a vocal that uses the voice as “an instrument rather than a lyrical vessel”.

The characteristics of spoken words are deeply influenced by the human touch, deep or graceful, of a voice that communicates to us, through its confession, a state of mind. The reflection contained in the minutes of the duration of the record does not really deserve a review but an entire vocabulary, and not only from a musical point of view. There is a universe, a new ethical impulse that seeks new paths, in places where there are not yet beaten grounds.

In “Proto” there is a study, a flow built on a voice that doubles and accentuates its presence in a series of virtual choruses.

The idea of a vocal riff built by an AI is a perverse geometry that connects as much to the ideas of Mozart as to those of Radiohead or the Aphex Twin. “Proto” is a transversal work that focuses on a founding theme of the next, probably 100 years (except after our extinction).

The rationality, or rather the scientificity of the work, is submerged by the poetish spectrallity of songs like ‘Crawler’ or ‘Birth’.

The global regularity is an explosion of inventiveness that connects Holly Herndon to visionaries such as Steve Wozniak, Kevin Kelly, and links her to an artistic tradition that starts from a Space Odyssey and also a dialogue with Laurel Halo or Oneohtrix Point Never.

On the album there is a universe of reference: “Proto” is a cultural and germinal space that connects to the “Digital Stone Age” recalled by Krista Stevens in the New York Times.

The only flaw in this record is in the deep, perhaps extreme, hermetic syncretism of Spawn, which proves it can talk to each other, but still in Morse code. After all, Spawn is just an “AI Baby” who still needs to take some important steps before developing a clear and more complex language; meanwhile we have to rethink humanity and our idea of A.I.

In the beautiful book of Jeff Hawkins, concerning the theme of A.I., he reminds us how: “If a new song violates these principles – in reference to the common canons of western music -, you know immediately that something is wrong. Think about this for a second. You hear a song that you have never heard before, your brain experiences a pattern it has never experienced before, and yet you make predictions and can tell if something is wrong. The basis of these mostly unconscious predictions is the set of memories that are stored in your cortex. Your brain can’t say exactly what will happen next, but it nevertheless predicts which note patterns are likely to happen and which aren’t.”

Holly and Spawn don’t completely break the rules but they skillfully play with them in an artificial waltz.





Album Review::Gianluigi Marsibilio 



Aldous Harding ‘Designer’
(4AD) 27th April 2019


Escaping any form of classification with a measured and completely tailored style on the vibrations of your soul, “Designer” is the perfect creature of Aldous Harding.

In ancient Greece the poets who dealt with epics, took the stories of the incredible heroes and mixed their tangible existence with legend and fantasy. Aldous Harding has shaped a record that describes, tells and immerses us in an epic of pain, a bittersweet story of a unique artistic life. The singer-songwriter’s faith and hopes cannot be strengthened even in paradise. In three verses: “Breathe in and out/ Kissing The Doubt/ And Whisper softly” she hides the essence of a veil of Maya, still unbroken and that will remain there to make us contort by doubts. A narrated, sung and lived track in which the coordinates of being are lost.

Designer feeds on doubts and acts of faith, moments of contemplation and intellectual depth.

Everything goes hand in hand with a series of atmospheres that are cured and varied, with the incredible touch of John Parish, songs like ‘Treasure’ or ‘Weight of the Planets’ use a register that draws a way of writing songs that I would call “oneiric pop”.

Interestingly the record features the minimalist pinches of guitar and the simplest of Stornelli, both of which intersect in a definition of aesthetic research precision.





Women in music don’t need any #MeToo, the most beautiful and profound message of truth is given by powerful records like this or by the work of Weyes Blood, Stella Donnelly and Phoebe Bridgers.

Designer is a record that speaks and tells the creation on the one hand less mythological, less biblical. Aldous Harding is a wandering goddess who makes mistakes, collapses and precisely for this reason takes on dreamlike connotations, enriched by a deep humanity.

 

This record interacts in the closest way to a contemporary definition of creativity, in fact the explosion of sounds, ideas and atmospheres does not start from a pure idealization of a thought but rather from a profitable interaction with Parish, who with loads of loop stations, etheric sounds and dreamy voice, has drawn an imaginary, much more precise than in the past, on an artist who felt the need.

Despite the fact that the female author’s panorama is full of projects rich in contemporary and interesting sounds, a Gothic and slightly blacker chaos was missing. Designer is a record that corresponds to the description, philosophical, of formativity (“formativity”) that indicates “a doing that, while doing, invents the way of doing” (Un fare che mentre fa, inventa il modo di fare).

Everything is full of a creativity that rhymes with intimacy; Designer is a feminine universe that narrates a new genesis, a beginning.





Album Review: Gianluigi Marsibilio 



Ty Segall ‘Deforming Lobes’
(Drag City) 29th March 2019


The gun that killed Van Gogh will be sold in early summer. But if you don’t have the money to hurt yourself, figuratively speaking, listen to Deforming Lobes by Ty Segall; a concentrate of wickedness that will leave you lying in bed and breathless.

The record is taken from a series of live shows, so well built that it looks like a jam session in the studio, its production is incredible and can connect, even through digital support, each listener, to the room in Los Angeles where the concerts were held.

The record is, in the endless production of Segall, already essential because it allows everyone to get a precise idea of who it is, what it does and how it lives.

In a beautiful piece in the New Yorker on David Baker are these words, taken from the poet: “The only conclusion to be drawn is that “there are so many, too // many of us”; and yet “the world keeps making – this makes no sense – / more”, Ty Segall, plays with polysemy, with the sense to give meaning to the impossible.

The noise of the crowd, even if it’s a live show, is eaten by the infernal sound of the instruments that travel on stage and splash on pieces like ‘They Told Me Too’ or ‘Breakfast Eggs’. The record really gives a new meaning to Segall’s complete production and for the first time, after listening to a live record, I didn’t get bored and indolent.

The enigmatic and shining The Groundhogs are a point of reference and then the cover of ‘Cherry Red’ is fundamental, to immerse us, once again, in the record and in the world of Ty.

The record is subaqueous, in the sense that it makes us descend, layer after layer, to an area near the Marianne Falls.

Smoothing and gliding over new ideas for one’s musical future seems to be the intention of this record: A sort of scale to understand where to shift the weight of unpredictability for the near future.

To get the work he’s done with the Freedom Band is essential to the launch of Deforming Lobes, which is already a fundamental step towards understanding the elastic and eclectic madness of Ty Segall.

You want one last reason to launch yourself into this record: it was edited by Steve Albini, who between a poker tournament and the other, gives us these wonders of accuracy.





Playlist: Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver




I’ll be brief – less chat, more music please – as you want the goods, but the Quarterly Revue is our chance to pick out choice tracks to represent a three month period in the Monolith Cocktail’s output. New releases and the best of reissues plucked from the team – me, Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Gianluigi Marsibilio – rub shoulders in the most eclectic of playlists. The full track list is awesome, global and diverse and can be found below.



Tracklist in full: 

Abdesselem Damoussi & Nour Eddine ‘Sabaato Rijal’
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba (Ft. Abdoulaye Diabate) ‘Fanga’
Foals ‘Cafe D’Athens’
Kel Assouf ‘Tenere’
Deep Cut ‘Sharp Tongues’
Royal Trux ‘Suburban Junky Lady’
Ifriqiyya Electrique ‘Mashee Kooka’
39 Clocks ‘Psycho Beat’
The Proper Ornaments ‘Crepuscular Child’
Swazi Gold ‘Free Nelly’
Eerie Wanda ‘Magnetic Woman’
Julia Meijer ‘Fall Into Place’
Mozes And The Firstborn (Ft. PANGEA) ‘Dadcore’
Lite Storm ‘People (Let It Go Now)’
Downstroke & Gee Bag ‘Ooh My My My’
Errol Dunkley ‘Satisfaction’
Old Paradice/Confucius MC/Morriarchi ‘Sunkissed’
Black Flower ‘Future Flora’
Santiago Cordoba ‘Red’
Dexter Story (Ft. Kibrom Birhane) ‘Bila’
Houssam Gania ‘Moulay Lhacham’
Garrett N. ‘Avant’
Sir Robert Orange Peel ‘I’ve Started So I’ll Finish’
Gunter Schickert ‘Wohin’
Defari & Evidence ‘Ackknowledgement’
Eddie Russ ‘The Lope Song’
Oh No & Madlib ‘Big Whips’
CZARFACE & Ghostface ‘Mongolian Beef’
Greencryptoknight ‘Superman’
Choosey & Exile (Ft. Aloe Blacc) ‘Low Low’
Little Albert ‘Gucci Geng’
The KingDem ‘The Conversation (We Ain’t Done Yet)’
Wiki ‘Cheat Code’
Dear Euphoria ‘Push-Pull’
Tim Linghaus ‘Crossing Bornholmer (Reprise, Pt. II)’
Station 17 (Ft. Harald Grosskopf & Eberhard Kranemann) ‘…And Beyond’
Heyme ‘Noisz’
Clovvder ‘Solipsismo’
Ustad Saami ‘God Is’
Louis Jucker ‘Seagazer’
The Telescopes ‘Don’t Place Your Happiness In The Hands Of Another’
Blue House ‘Margate Jukebox’
Tempertwig ‘Apricot’
3 South & Banana ‘Magdalen Eye’
With Hidden Noise ‘The Other Korea’
Beauty Stab ‘O Eden’
Coldharbourstores ‘Something You Do Not Know’
Katie doherty & The Navigators ‘I’ll Go Out’
Mekons ‘How Many Stars?’
Graham Domain ‘Farewell Song’



Album Review: Gianluigi Marsibilio




Royal Trux ‘White Stuff’
(Fat Possum Records) 1st March 2019

An underground civilization always develops thanks to the tunnels, the galleries and the sedimenting of a tradition capable of not seeing the light, even for two decades.

The Royal Trux have returned, without great proclamations and arrogance to put themselves to the test with a music scene completely revolutionized since the early 90s, in fact today we cannot talk about ghosts and institutions like Kurt Cobain or Frank Zappa.

The duo from New York, even today, is able to immerse Dinosaur Jr. in a strange psychic substance; they bring out a work that manages to be a right counterbalance to the word underground. The underground is a wonderful place where you can appreciate the purest soul of things and also of the duo, which while not having the same success as other bands, such as White Stripes or related stuff, has maintained a coherence, which after 20 years we feel deep flowing like lymph in “White Stuff”.

The Royal Trux have maintained the avant-garde drive and the desire to be something else, completely different from whatever the word Rock means today, because even if important projects such as The War On Drugs, The National or others are easily indicated in one vein, the Royal Trux remain other, but not only in terms of sound, their choice is an aptitude that deeply distances the duo from any other band.

“Twin Infinities” (1990) could be a good problem, such a monumental work of historical impact, can lead to comparisons, further comparisons, but in the end an album like “White Stuff” also touches important peaks in songs, like “Sic Em Slow” or “Under Ice”. The psychedelic progression is preponderant in tracks like “Purple Audacity #2”, and the dreamlike wandering that lasted about 20 years offers a solid and iconic cue. The Royal Trux live on their mythical image that is not cumbersome, on the contrary it manages to be decadently fascinating.

Hagerty and Herrema show that they can complete themselves extensively, but above all they can make up for each other at the limits of the other, hiding personal and non personal smears and imperfections: it’s clear that the tumultuous journey that ended in 2001 is an example of what it means to complete, wander and start again.




Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio


Album Review: Gianluigi Marsibilio



Beirut ‘Gallipoli’
(4AD) 1st February 2019


A scratch in a forest of familiar sounds.

The new Beirut album is a freaky object, but in some details it revives the old fuses placed by the band on the battleground.

The shining of good past ideas is a necessary work to reaffirm the identity of the Beirut that are exalted in the Farfisa organ and in the galloping sections of winds, as in ‘Family Curse’.

This album follows in the footsteps of an album like March of the Zapotec, throwing us into an ocean of summer images, continental Europe still seen with an eye to the utopia of union. Zach Condon like Thomas More and his island of Utopia draws a world, even today, where contaminations flow and merge win on the walls, closures and fears.

Gallipoli is a bay where the Balkan folk, like Bregovic, can germinate and mix with the ideas of Condon, who uses a very similar instrumentation compared as to that of his previous masterpieces Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup.

Another peculiarity comes from the choice to capture the record in a fortress in Puglia (Italian region); to reflect by vibrations on the record are the walls of a castle that attaches Beirut not only towards geographical but also historical borders.

Overall, the work is able to light up in pieces like ‘Gallipoli’ or ‘When We Die’, but the feeling is of being in front of a rib, a sequence of the season and not a new and well focused chapter.

The danger of sound homogenization is strong, but with his head held high Condon’s ability to write songs on the thread of wool comes out, with a defined and precise register, a plot now well experienced by Beirut. To attenuate, however, the similarities of the work with the previous discography of the group there is the strong sound contamination that Gallipoli has suffered, while travelling in studios in Italy, Germany and New York.

The ukulele of the first works has disappeared, but the optimistic attitude of Beirut is reflected in background voices, in the raw keyboards and in the wind sections.

Gallipoli is a celebration of the talent of a musician with incredible ideas, so even if not everything is perfectly successful on the album, there is no room for disappointment, tracks like ‘When I Die’ or ‘I Giardini’ are worth it alone.



Words: Gianluigi Marsibilio


Album Review – Gianluigi Marsibilio 



La Rappresentante di Lista ‘Go Go Diva’
(Woodworm) December 14th 2019


In these years when music and art are more and more volatile, liquid, passing through Spotify and other media, La Rappresentante di Lista has made a bold album that touches you, crumples and turns on the incredible search for sounds, combined with the use of much necessary themes.

Go Go Diva is an album that draws from the perspective of a woman beyond the #MeToo movement; Go Go Diva is a disc-woman who speaks to the multitudes, with a disarming graciousness.

Some pieces of the album are really more courageous and necessary than the thousand articles published in the New York Times. The sound atmospheres are always sought after and, even on disc, theatrical, scenically beautiful and satisfying. The listener is transported to a land of irrational alienation, where every brilliant preconception is mixed up and merged.

La Rappresentante di Lista therefore does something very rare for a contemporary artist, it makes us think: the album leads us on a journey, free from any ideology but which narrates the being, the essence.

The path of the album follows, in some passages, the work in poetry of Ursula Andkjær Olsen. In one of the passages from her collection, released in 2018, entitled Third-Millennium Heart, the author says: “The heart could be a castle, for instance. You can jump from level to level very fast. The architectural words are very important in naming the body”.  The heart of the album is like a multi-layered castle made of architectures of words and bodies. It is a good way to represent the intentions and sounds of Go Go Diva, which is an architectural album, to be admired in detail and as a whole.

The record lives and dies in every piece. Go Go Diva has a variety of shapes, an incredible number of cartridges to shoot.

From ‘Questo Corpo’ to ‘Glória’ the sound vocabulary is absolutely heterogeneous and feeds a bit of all tastes, but above all shows how over the years this project is growing under the search for a complete and deep eclecticism. Each song is able to shoot the cards, for example ‘Poveri Noi’ comes as a storm in the track list and just this jolt in the atmosphere of every theme touched upon, from pregnancy to being a young woman, a new depth.

The potential of this album will be expressed in a live certainly suitable for strong entities: where thoughts, feelings and noises can be mixed into a single body.

Go Go Diva is a scream, an immersion, a promise, a hope to be grasped.






Words – Gianluigi Marsibilio 

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