Review: Belgian reissue imprint Stroom are back with more retro obscurities, this time in the form of 48 Cameras: the brainchild and life project of self-proclaimed non-musician Jean-Marie Mathoul. After hearing an album of William S. Burroughs reciting poetry, Mathoul decided to put poems and spoken word to music. He was a poet in his own right, having already published a book of poems. At a literary event in Liege, he met UK-based writer Paul Buck (author of the novel The Honeymoon Killers) and the two of them decided to collaborate - and thus formed 48C. Mathoul was said to have built the album in his mind, long before starting the recording process, which involved something of a 'non-band'. The musicians and collaborators never actually recorded together, and to this day some haven't even met each other. Jean-Marie Mathoul sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 66.
Review: Cristian Subira aka Jasin Kolar/Venessa Milano/Nubian Deli is from Barcelona. As if he didn't work under enough aliases, he's also one and all members of Summer Recreation Camp. He has played in several bands (Coconot, Dead Man On Campus, Gargamel) and released through his label Discos Compulsivos - where throughout the mid noughties he presented experimental work as El Guincho or Teeth Mountain. His new LP entitled Modified Perspectives builds on his decades long experience creating new-age mediative textures and explores the shimmering/ghostly sonic aesthetics of FM synthesis throughout these dozen or so evocative tracks. Will appeal to fans of recent ambient by the likes of Suzanne Kraft and Jonny Nash.
Zoe Sinatra - "Mais Qu'est-ce Que Tu Fumes" (4:12)
Review: The Belgian crate diggers behind the STROOM label have dug up more overlooked gold here, bringing together two disparate but equally impressive tracks. On the A-side you'll find Kyoto's 1984 single "Venetian Blinds", a curious but hugely enjoyable chunk of bustling, off-kilter synth-pop rich in crunchy machine drums, undulating bass, Prince style guitars and stylish female vocals. Over on the flip it's all about Zoe Sinatra's 1990 B-side "Mais Qu'est-ce Que Tu Fumes". This semi slow-motion affair wraps half-whispered, half-sung bi-lingual vocals and alien synthesizer melodies around a rubbery but chugging electronic groove.
Review: Belgian label Stroom return with an LP by Annelies Monsere. She has been playing music solo since 2000, initially piano-based and mostly instrumental, but once she discovered her voice - vocals became a main focus. Musically, she has experimented with different instruments such as cello, guitar, xylophone and melodica. Happiness Is Within Sight is her seventh album and traverses many moods and variations: from classical to shoegaze to ambient and even organ-led church influenced music. It is an emotional and introspective album from start to finish which allows us a window into the talented artist's soul.
Review: Given that the Axel Libeert-helmed Pablo's Eye project has been running continuously since the late 1980s, it's perhaps unsurprising that Stroom has found it hard to put out just one retrospective of the Belgian collective's work. In fact, "Dark Matter" is the third (and final) part of a retrospective trilogy that has brilliantly shed new light on Libeert and company's work. Experimental, atmospheric and largely creepy, the showcased material variously touches on high-minded percussion music, slowly shifting ambient, Berlin school soundscapes, neo-classical-tinged global fusion, smoky downtempo grooves, the kind of intensely paranoid fare we'd expect from Dominick Fernow, and scattergun electronic dub.
Review: Recent years have seen sporadic releases from Ruins, a long-serving combo who can rightly claim to be Italian new wave's most celebrated act. Stroom has decided against asking the band for new material; instead, they've rifled through Ruins' archives and put together this fine compilation of rare and unheard material recorded between 1981 and '84. There's much to admire, from the breezy pop shuffle of "Alone" and Cure-influenced, bass-propelled oddness of "Skeleton In Love", to the sparkling synth-pop brilliance of high-tempo number "Boys & Girls" and the punk-funk/dub disco-influenced throb of killer closing cut "It's Not Too Grand".
Review: Lately, interest has been growing in the turn-of-the-'90s work of Stefan van Elsen, a Belgian producer arguably best known for his ambient-leaning work with brother Dimitri as Trans4m. Now Stroom has decided to reissue two more dancefloor-leaning cuts from the van Elsen production line. On side A you'll find "Dilemma", a solo cut Stefan produced as Sound Mercenary that layers glassy-eyed, life-affirming synth riffs and Inner City style stabs over a breakbeat-tinged, bass-heavy Belgian techno groove. Over on side B you'll find another 1991 gem: the van Elsen brothers' response to bleep-heavy British bleep and hardcore, "Switch (Techno Mix)". Built around booming sub-bass, Kraftwerk bleeps, dreamy pads and electro-fired breakbeats, the track remains a timeless dancefloor workout.
Review: Post-punk pop meets ethereal wave here. Vazz were Scotland's best kept secret and in the words of the label were 'unrivalled then and now.' Anna Howson and Hugh Small were from Glasgow and existed in early to late 80's. The group were even featured on the late great John Peel's show on BBC Radio One a few times, too. This compilation features a collection of previously unreleased tracks, from the aforementioned period in the neon-lit eighties through to more recent instrumentals dating from 2014 - 2016. This release is courtesy of Stroom.tv: a Heritage label and diffusion imprint of Musicmania, run by Ziggy Devriendt out of Ghent, Belgium. Design by Nana Esi.