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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Three    May 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca


    Mark Bignell

    MIKE CLARK  "Darker Machines"  Multi-dimensional Rootsy Pop/ Rock

    There's something for everyone on this disc. Songs that are atmospheric and
    rythmic, some with memorable and catchy phrases ("How am I going to get
    through?" on Down-without the overly sappy pleading you'd expect), some that
    are hypnotic and trippy, and some that just out and out rock.
    Multi-dimensional Rootsy/ Pop /Rock is what best decribes this debut from
    Red Deer, Alberta tranplant Mike Clark. The latest addition to the eclectic,
    Vancouver-based Copperspine Records collective (www.copperspine.com for
    further enlightenment).

    There is a darkness to this album, but not so much as to scare you away.
    It's impressively balanced by sympathetic backing, be it either with
    haunting e-bowed electric guitars or lovely, layed backing vocals. Having a
    producer (Futcher-one of his other masterful productions is Girl Nobody)
    with a good ear,who lets the true, natural and unassuming voice of the
    performer and his songs come through without sacificing it with
    overly-zealous production trickery is something to be applauded here. This
    album works from start to finish. You feel the artist was given the freedom
    to hone his musein a supportive and empathetic surrounding.

    Solid, acoustic-based songs (at least at the beginning of some tunes) with
    thoughtful, intelligent lyrics that do a fine turn on the usual boy-girl
    subject matter. Mike Clark is a wise musical investment.

    Recommended tracks: Down, Crumbs, Marla, Structures, Threes & Fours, Built
    The War

    LEE AARON "Beautiful Things"  Jazz / Pop

    Lee Aaron. She will always be known as "The Metal Queen" is some people

    But,for now and for the last decade, she's decovered a musical territory
    that's greatly satisfied her obviously more eclectic musical palate, and
    lets her use her voice in a way she hasn't used it before. Who could blame
    her when she feels and performs it with all the ease and pinache of any
    popular Jazz singer out these days. Not everything works on this Cd, but,
    there are some moments where her charm and playfulness are downright
    contagious. Her covers of Donovan's "Museum", as well as "Handcuffed..."and
    "Do I  Move You" are standouts, and co-written tracks like the honky-tonk
    inspired "Heart Shaped Whole" and "Silent Serenade" offer a nice break from
    some of the (have to be honest here) rather bland adult-contemporary-ish
    Jazz /Pop fare that also inhabits this album. But then, this is not to be
    taken so seriously as to berate her travels entirely. Also,  having ace
    guitarists like Stephen Nikleva and Jonathan Inc. backing you means you're
    not all bad.

    Plus the backing vocals that cradle some of the tracks are just delightful.
    It's a worthy purchase, dear listener.

    Mark Bignell
    Radio Bandcouver
    CFRO 102.7FM
    Fridays 10pm

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