January 2008


Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Wolff/Addition by Subtraction

Just when you think that everything’s been done with electronic music comes Wolff with a radical yet, at least on Addition by Subtraction, completely successful idea. The gimmick, if you want to refer to it as such, is that most of the instruments are played through a tuba. What could’ve been a prog-rock disaster of epic proportions is a surprisingly accessible and actually well-crafted disc that sounds completely, breathtakingly original. Bravo! The title track and “What I See” are rooted in the raincoat post-punk of Joy Division; however, Wolff is feeding the cold, ominous textures and pulsating rhythms through a tuba, producing a big, eeriely claustrophobic sound. Add the distorted vocals to them, and you have Goth redefined for the 21st century.

Shockingly, Wolff is incredibly versatile, able to create varied styles with his super tuba powers. “It’s Okay to Be Happy” hops with playful electronica while “Broken Words” slams the scratchy beats of hip-hop with the chilly Euro dance of Kraftwerk. “Combustible” swirls with a jazz-like free flow while “Screaming Tuba” and “Haunted” bring on the industrial grind.



Reviewed by Julian Wilson


Unwoman is Erica Mulkey, a singer/songwriter that swims in the chilly darkness of Siouxsie Sioux if she had replaced post-punk guitars and danceable synthesizers for cello and piano. Because of the latter instrument, comparisons to Tori Amos are inevitable, but Mulkey is far less commercial and certainly more edgy, combining the timeless beauty of classical music with the ominous atmospherics of Gothic rock. “If only I could be/The baby doll that you imagine,” Mulkey sings on “Compliance,” and that pretty much symbolizes the persona Mulkey is toying with here, that of innocence on the surface but something black lurking underneath.

Mulkey has a lovely voice. The sweeping “Caught Her” offers us layers of her bittersweet crooning; it is rich with emotion and brimming with a sultry, enigmatic quality. On “Power,” her singing is stripped down to its core, the crisp production showcasing its clarity and incandescent beauty. However, this isn’t music that you listen to during the day unless you’re knee-deep in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic book. This is not sunshine radio, but a journey into the shadows. It’s one that I am certainly willing to make over and over again.