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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Marcus Fjellstrum
Exercises in Estrangement
Lampse Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

June 7, 2005
Listeners who have digested those bold revisions and extensions of the classical language made by the likes of Gyorgi Ligeti, John Cage and Luciano De Cilio will discover more food for thought on Marcus Fjellstrum's effort, Exercises In Estrangement. These nine works set up camp around a scene of modern classical arrangements, populated by flute, trumpet, harp and cello, which periodically venture out to more wide-open, quieter pastures where their edges are blurred and otherwise frayed by digital manipulation.

The opening pair of pieces makes a virtue of shrillness, issuing in continuous piercing, needle-thin strands of harp and flute; they unravel on occasion but hold together by circular breathing techniques. On trumpet, Joel Samuellson contributes to the sense of anxiousness by forcing air through heavy spittle, sounding the instrument as a bubbling pipe. The cyclical repetition of the piece reminds of Steven Reich, yet Fjellstrum is able to create distance by way of sustained, urgent multiphonic drones that agitate the air and the psyche with penetrating, confrontational edginess. After a successive minute of such a pattern, one imagines the pieces will simply peter out, until a stammering fist of static scuttles to the fore and sends the unsuspecting listener to a corner.

There are sporadic instances of such wild baying and prickly squabbling, but overall the unaided orchestral instrumentation draws out Fjellstrum's thoughtful, ear-catching arrangements of ensemble frames and transitions. As compositions proceed, they take lodgings in more dense dwellings; it is there that one more clearly observes loose melodic contours that thrive on bold leaps of register and nuances of tone and timbre. Figures still dissolve into abstract arrangements, so there remains a broad spectrum of sounds in play as they explore ways of coinciding and continuing together across the remaining pieces.

Diversity is found in "Kandinsky Kammer", as rattling percussion swats and pings trot along with marching drums and waltzing clarinet melodies. The whole piece evokes the image of a parade being held by partakers in the theatre of the absurd. Elsewhere, in the ornate string motifs of "Campane Morti e Acqua Crescente" one notices the romantic, almost rosy hues of Ligeti. The only qualm one might poke at this work is that, though the compositions sprawl across a wide-range of sounds, they do so in a manner one would expect from a pupil of Cage and Reich: there are steely textures, moments of squealing dissonance and muffled voices, but these appear, for the most part, layered too far down in the mix to invoke much stimulation. Regardless, unlike most efforts which endeavor to grab your attention and flaunt how wonderful they are inside, Exercises In Estrangement goes about its day with the aura of someone humming to herself while absorbed in blurry thought; I, for one, find that fascinating.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer



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