Joewl Levis - Even Rag Dolls Know

Artist: Joewl Levis

WTF Album: Even Rag Dolls Know

Tags: Lo-Fi, Bedroom, Outsider, Noisy, Bizarre, Humor, Eart

WTF Quality: "Drums + electric guitar + SS Dagger + child like vocals + a whole lot of mental shit = Rag time, free kraut jazz etc."

Country: Eart

Anybody who is familiar with the Great Emperor’s previous work is not going to be disappointed with this offering. It delivers what one comes to expect from him: mental. Joewl takes it beyond human decency once again: but this is what we paid admission for is it not?
Even Rag Dolls Know. What do they know Joewl? That you are mental? That your life’s ambition is to save Eart from their evil machinations? That you are close to defeating them? Now I know what the Rag Dolls know, you have created a new type of music. What is this music? Drums + electric guitar + SS Dagger + child like vocals + a whole lot of mental shit = Rag time, free kraut jazz etc. Call it what you will. If you are not interested in commercial music Joewl is here to lick your toes and serenade your lady. He will give you his opinion on historical political leaders. Ever wondered why Hitler sounds like a footy coach well wait no longer Joewl explains why. He will even go further and give you an eye witness account from Hitler’s beloved pet dog. I know what you are thinking: what a great man and I agree.
Joewl has created an art form here that is driven by the ghosts of the original Dadaists. This is not music in the sense of Beethoven, Joewl rapes and mutilates his 5th symphony then gets drunk and sings about it. There is collage, movie references he does the leather face dance on top of a sign that reads: POST MODERNISM. But all this is subconscious all these things are Joewl. Joewl was born in the dark room where Man Ray made love to Lee Miller. And let us finish with Man Ray ‘s epitaph: unconcerned, but not indifferent. I think if you were to some up this album in a sentence I think that would be quite fitting.

download link:

-The Importance of Birds

Martin Rach - Labyrinth Garden / Concerto for Imaginary Ensemble and Electronics

Artist: Martin Rach

WTF Album: Labyrinth Garden / Concerto for Imaginary Ensemble and Electronics

Tags: Contemporary-Composition, Chamber, Electro-Acoustic, Avant-Garde, Electronic, Soundscape. Experimental, Drone

WTF Quality: A bizarre mix of slow loop beats, contemporary composition and dronal mist, other-worldly soundscapes, a schizophrenic indecisive quality between sleep and dance - "sleep dance" perhaps (?)

Country: Lithuania


It may be a childish activity on my part but I enjoy playing various listening games with myself while listening to music.
One such game I call Creative Active Listening.
It involves imagining that the music is different than what it actually is.
For example, a basic first step in starting this game out would be to imagine that it's from a different time in history.
I sometimes do this when I hear some neo-psychedelic music that I can't get into. Tricking myself into believing that it's from the mid to late sixties will always spark an appreciation for it.
Sometimes placing the music in a different area will help:
Pretending that an uninspired acoustic version of Terry Riley's "In C" is from an undiscovered tribe hidden under the Amazon River.
You can turn it around as well by imaging that something that is not being played as music is music.
I survived a plane flight with a baby who would go off crying every hour or so by imagining that the sounds of the cries were lost recordings of one of my favorite free-jazz sax players, Charles Gayle.
Of course this game can be taken further beyond using it simply for false appreciation. 

Let's see.

Anyone who gives me permission to review their music should know that I'm gonna have fun with it, and more than likely it will involve some kind of imagery imagination connected with the music in question. And this was no exception.
I went around and played excerpts of Martin Rach's album "Labyrinth Garden" to various people.
I did this to mostly Japanese people of various ages, a few Americans, one African and two Swedish girl strangers who seemed so friendly to me at first but grew scared the more I talked to them and played them music. 
I would ask the people to close their eyes and to tell me what images conquered in their head with the sounds I played. 
During the song "Dark Piece" the most used words were "horror movie " - or variation of the word movie such as film (13 times), "scary" (12), "dark" (12 - no, I didn't tell them the title of the piece), "ghosts" (9) "crawling" (7), and so on. 
And understandably, with the dense low clusters of chords and swelling arrangements.
After the song ended we would talk a bit about why they imagined the things they did and about the music itself. 
The next step was to reverse their initial ideas. 
I instructed them to close their eyes and place the same music in an opposite scenario of what they previously imaged - say a colorful happy children's movie. Let the music roll and their imagination flow and see what happens.
It was also important to note not to use the contradicting superimposition effect that films use to heighten a particular emotion. For example, a happy folk song playing on top of bloody visuals of war combat. No, the music should lead the visuals and create them but the person must control it in a predetermined way - the reversal of their initial ideas of the music.

So, what was the outcome?
Same song and same people. 
Some favorites (all paraphrased for translation and to give the idea in short sentences) :

*A sand-dune whirl-pool sucking in trees doing push-ups. (WTF?! - from a square looking salaryman)

*Various house appliances raining down in slow-motion from the sky. (from an African musician)

*A swarm of ants rushing to feed their queen as if something big was going to happen. (from a female university student)

*Doraemon (famous Japanese kids character) rolling down a mountain and then rolling back up. (from a 7 year old girl)

*Extreme close-up shot of a woman's face talking with no sound coming out of her mouth, slowly pan out to reveal she is surrounded by hundreds of other people squashed together, facing random directions and also talking with no sound coming out. (from an older man who I frequently see walking his dog in the park)

*The earth turning itself inside-out to reveal a bunch of balloons tied together as they fly away into space (from a male university student) 

*"I don't know, an old lady eating soup?" (as her friend replies) "Yeah . . . out of a straw . . . ?" (not paraphrased. From those two young Swedish women. Possibly the worst one so I had to post it here.)

Martin Rach's music is well designed and artistically balanced with tight arrangements between "traditional" instruments and electronics. It's long drone like qualities with a knack for evolving loops might be difficult for some to digest and fully appreciate. 
I was trying to find a way to get people who may not easily gravitate towards this kind of music to understand that they have the power to play with it - to squeeze it into digestible chunks with the help of their imaginations and the natural desire to simply play with foreign yet safe external stimuli. 

In the composer's own words about two particular releases:

"This is a particular body of work constituted around wave shaped power electronics together with electroacoustic/acousmatic soundworld. These are two albums, in sequence, where my exploration into that composing/sound world are made clear. From walking the angles and cul de sacs in 'Labyrint Garden' to more conceptually clear and contrastingly resolute work in 'Concerto for Imaginary Ensemble and Electronics'."

These releases are also filled with surprises. Once I felt as if I understood the pattern of the music it would take a hard turn into something completely unexpected. 
For example this continued to happen in the song "Su Holy Ambientas" - It begins on a light breathing drone and soaks me in on it's pillow of sound. A light motif shimmers down from the clouds and eventually a quiet rhythm unnoticeably emerges from the lower smoke. Suddenly I'm hit heavy by strong dub-step drum beats and circular hissing. It feels as if a train is chasing me. Before I know it the engineer is yelling distorted screams at me from the train window. All this eventually quiets down again to finish the whole thing off. Just beautiful! 

But trying to describe this artist is extremely difficult because everything I've heard from him is completely different form what I heard before. You're gonna have to go explore Martin Rach's music yourself. 

I'm sure most people of this community don't need any help in appreciating this kind of music but that doesn't mean you should miss out on all the fun.
So, I challenge anyone willing to try and force their visuals of this music the first time you listen to it. 
What do you see?
Old ladies drinking soup from a straw perhaps?

Further discussion of this artist and album can be found HERE.

Links for free downloads:

*Labyrinth Garden (This album contains the song that I used on the visualizing experiment "Dark Piece") -

*Concerto for Imaginary Ensemble and Electronics -


Critical Best – Enneract

Critical Best – Enneract

Time is something everyone is obsessed with either consciously or subconsciously. Art is full of great examples of this infatuation. Let’s look at the opening couplet from Lonnie Johnson’s nineteen forty-seven hit ‘Tomorrow Night’: ‘Tomorrow night, will you remember what you said tonight? Tomorrow night, will all the thrills be gone?’ Now think about the complexity around the sense of time Johnson uses in this couplet. He is asking in the present if in the future if his sweetheart will remember how she feels in the present. Yeah – if only modern pop songs could provoke such mind swirling thoughts. Not only does Critical Best hint and acknowledge the strength of time on the human psyche he marries and courts it proudly within his LP ‘Enneract’.
     That sense of shifting time is a pinning point in this album and it often boils over on certain tracks. Let’s look at ‘Arundel Tomb’. The lyrics in this piece are taken from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘An Arundel Tomb’. The poem tells us of time passing over tombs. Now the vocal in the track is obscured by effects throughout but the last line is brought to the forefront at the end of the piece: ‘What will survive of us is love.’ Heavy stuff for an album that is ninety nine percent instrumental. That is the only clear thing Critical Best wanted to communicate to us in the English language the whole thirty six minutes and thirty seven seconds of his musical discourse. So he is telling us that when time has eliminated our memories all that remains is love.
    The album actually starts with time manipulation. Oh no what is this shit is the first thing that comes to mind when it starts? ‘Phossy Jaw’ commences and I find myself in a Berlin techno bar surrounded by German weightlifters wearing homoerotic leather lederhosen. Get me out of here. Then I notice why I came here. One minute thirty into the first track Critical Best manipulates the sound and slows the tempo of the track and all comfort of sense of place and time evaporates and we are given an audio vision of a shemale breast feeding an albino giraffe. Yeah – what the fuck? I swear to God that sums up exactly what happens in this track. Then a waitress wearing a Barrack Obama mask comes round and offers me some strange looking pills. It can’t get any worse – I down the whole lot.
    The pills kick in – I see De Niro in the opium den scene from ‘Once upon a time in America’. He asks me what I’m doing here. I ask him the same thing. We smile and zone out listening to ‘Manxome’. Time comes for me to leave – I ask for my coat. Throughout the album you feel an uneasy sense of being here before. The audio transports you back in time to personal memories and scenes in movies. In the title track on the album a memory of standing in a doorway in New York avoiding the rain is provoked. The thing is I have never been to New York. The visual strength of these pieces is so strong that when it is juxtaposed with the consciousness of time it is a wicked heady combination.

Tomorrow night, will you remember what you said tonight?
Tomorrow night, will all the thrills be gone?

Tomorrow night, will it be just another memory?
Or just another lovely song that's in my heart to linger on?

- The Importance Of Birds

Further discussion of this artist and album can be found HERE.

Free download