Genetic druGs

CD Review: Genetic druGs (Germany) “Echoes of Berlin’s Cold War”

Genetic druGsArtist: Genetic druGs
Title: Echoes of Berlin’s Cold War (An anthology of tracks created between 1981-1989)
Label: Pharma Tunes
Genre: electronica
Buy: https://itunes.apple.com/de/album/echoes-berlins-cold-war-anthology-tracks-created-between/1370345398
CD Review by Dawoud Kringle

A frightening melange of noise and military sounds, arrayed in a brilliantly executed series of loops, assaults those who listen to the first track, “Cosmic Dust.” Soon, a beat emerges and forms an inviting backdrop over which paints a picture of Cold War era Eastern Europe.

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Concert Review: Vasen (Sweden)

Vasen

Photo by Denise Canavan

Date: April 26, 2018
Venue: The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Review by Fiona Mactaggart

Before the Swedish string trio Vasen have even strolled on stage in this their first visit to The Queen’s Hall in 15 years, the band’s name intrigues and perhaps gives advance notice of the complexity of the sound. Swedish word ‘Vasen’ translates as essence, a living or spirit being, or a potentially unpleasant noise. This last definition points to their wry, gently self-deprecating humour, which together with exceptional musicianship, the ancient sound of the nyckelharpa and extensive touring over the last 29 years, has brought the trio a world-wide fan base – they even have a street named after them in Bloomington, Indiana! They are worthy fillers of this prime slot on the first night of the 2018 Edinburgh ‘Tradfest’.

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Concert Review: The Music of James Blood Ulmer

…The blues had a baby and they named it harmolodic.

James Blood Ulmer

Photo by Joe Yanosik


Review by Joe Yanosik
Venue: the City Winery (NY) / Date: May 10, 2018

The legendary guitarist James Blood Ulmer performed an amazing solo concert at the City Winery last Thursday night in the West Village. It was a truly intimate show in a brand new cozy upstairs space called the Loft above the Winery. At 78 years old, Ulmer remains an impressively foreboding figure even before he plugs his guitar into his amplifier. Befitting someone of his renown, he’s a big man. Dressed in African garb, and sporting a grey beard, he walked slowly to the stage and immediately began conjuring his signature sounds from his uniquely-tuned Gibson Byrdland. A guitar-playing friend of mine who attended the concert with me noted how difficult it must have been for Ulmer to step on his wah-wah pedal considering the giant boots he was wearing.

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CD Review: Ken Hatfield “String Theory” – A Different Kind of Fusion

Ken Hatfield Artist: Ken Hatfield
Title: String Theory
Label: Arthur Circle Music
Genre: Classical / Contemporary
Buy CD: cdbaby
Review by David Belmont

I waited for Sunday morning to listen to this CD by Ken Hatfield again and write this review. While I think this music is enjoyable at other times as well, it seems to me particularly suited for the start of a relaxing day. A time I often reserve for Grant Green, Adrian Legg or Julian Bream.

From the opening notes, it’s clear you’re listening to a master string player. His tone is full, his articulation precise. And while Hatfield’s technique is impressive, what’s striking is the emotional nuance of these very personal performances.

The CD is made up of four multi-movement works, recorded in 2002-05. “The Gospel According to Sam” contains three duets between nylon string guitar and dobro which Hatfield dedicates to his father. This artful cross-genre blend runs seamlessly from old time country through various forms of pop and back again, and conjures up Hatfield’s Appalachian roots. He plays both the guitar and dobro parts. Their blend sounds so organic, it’s hard to believe they weren’t recorded at the same time.

“Snowhill Variations” starts with an expressive neo-classical, followed by twelve variations. A beautiful journey on the solo nylon string guitar.

Hatfield is back to duets in String Theory, these between his nylon string and mandolin. The title is a multiple entendre of many things, including (yes) modern physics. Hatfield combines the sharper, brighter mandolin tone with the warmer nylon sound to great effect.

The record closes with the seven solo guitar movements of Borges and I, each titled for a particular short story by the Argentinian writer (as is the title of the suite). While continuing in a mainly classical vein, Hatfield blends in some jazz and pop ballad tonalities.

Overall, this is a fantastic introduction to Hatfield’s music as well as a wonderful program in its own right. You can check more of his music at kenhatfield.com.

One last note. Even in this digital age of streams and downloads, I recommend buying this CD in order to get the liner notes written by the artist, which are informative and entertaining.