Music Reviews



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Artist: P.E.A.R.L.
Title: Four Cardinal
Format: 12"
Label: Falling Ethics (@)
Distributor: Triplevision
Rated: *****
The hinges of the sound by young Berlin-based Spanish dj and producer P.E.A.R.L. and former leg of the techno project Agony Forces together with Marcos "Coushin" Leiras, are not so different from the ones of his two previous releases that he already launched on his own imprint Falling Ethics on an annual basis: the four cardinals of IVC could be approximately a strong influence of British industrial declension of techno, a powerfully mental sound that often borders on hypnosis, precise cuts of raw percussive elements on the contrails of French 90ies techno and strong dynamics. The first of the two tracks is my favorite one as the subtle metallic hum and the rhytmic bleep could surmise some good "atmospheric" stuff that came from the glorious Nova Zembla (Brain Pilot, Paranonia) in the first half of 90ies, while the dark interrupted frequencies and the obsessive clicks of the second part sounds just like a stomping nubbin. As he did on his previous release "The Fall Of Because" when he let remix "All Gods Of Man" to OScar Mulero and The Transhumans, P.E.A.R.L. has been a fine picker-outer on this occasion as well to the point that I'd rather say that the remix by Semantica label owner Enrique Mena aka Svreca is the best moment of this technoid drop.
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Artist: The Pitch (@)
Title: Xenon & Argon
Format: 12"
Label: Gaffer Records (@)
Rated: *****
The Pitch is the guessed name that the fourtet by Morten Olsen (vibraphone), Koen Nutters (bass), Boris Baltschun (reed organ) and Michael Thielke (clarinet) have chosen for their band, whose sound is free from the rules of composition as well as from a certain promiscuity of improvisations by focusing on abstract tonal twines and the voice of their own instruments over a number of different superimposition and durations sets. The reference to xenon and argon, two chemical elements which belongs to the group of noble gases, is likewise guessed as each instrument sound like volatilizing without establishing any chemical bonding with other ones on the two long-lasting tracks of this release, so that listeners can only but appreciating the intrinsic characteristics of their sound - "the exaltation of a clarinet, the bruteness of a pump organ, the lushness of a vibraphone and the profoundness of a double bass" are considered as proper "navigational tools" in The Pitch's sonic streams in the introduction of the label - as well as their infusions within tonal clouds that sound risingly obsessive and vaguely entrancing on "Xenon" and deeply hypnotical on "Argon" - the tonal atomizer I prefer -, where the above-mentioned features got highlighted by a constant trembling of Baltschun's reed organ which will delight more demanding sonic brains.
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Artist: Mako, Villem & Mcleod
Title: Inner Revolution/Borrowed Love
Format: 12"
Label: Utopia Music (@)
Rated: *****
Utopia Music big old milkwood tree keeps on germinate in wintertime as well as these small new juicy buds have blossomed from the machines of an excellent tryptich of brilliant Bristol-based dnb brains: Stephen "Mako" Redmore, Andrew "Villem" Wilson and McLeod let sunlight shine in listener's eardrum by wrapping frenzied rolling kicks and claps into fluffy chimes, pillowy pads, sonic dandelions and gentle piano touches that are going tickle your imagination and lead you into a sweet dream state. After they uplifted listers as if they got invited for a ride on a winged Pegasus, Villem and McLeod allows listener to keep on floating by a lovely half tempo track, "Borrowed Love", where soothing chilled sounds, metronomic keys and a resounding female voice are going to foray your dream states. It seems that dnb followers' expectation can not be disappointed by evergreen Utopia big tree's buds!
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Artist: Antivote (@)
Title: Visions of crime and pain
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Antivote is a Dark Electro band from Zwickau, Germany, and 'Visions of crime and pain' is their debut album. Member are: Mirko Padubrin (Synths and Vocals), Ronny Lippold (Synths, Programming) and Sebastian Voigtmann (Percussion). In a nutshell, 'Visions of crime and pain' is a 49 minute exercise in low key dark electro gloom and doom. Think of :wumpscut: in mid-tempo EBM mode with a very depressed Rudy, and that ought to give you some idea. Mirko's vocals never rise above a hoarse whisper. Most lyrics are sung in English and are fairly intelligible, and of course, dystopian in theme. If for some reason you can't make them out, there is a nice twenty-page booklet with them in it you can refer to. The track with the most promise is "So far away" with good atmosphere and pacing on the verse. Too bad the hook did not deliver. This consistently plagues the album. "The childs of Carolagreen" has great atmosphere but fails in the hook department once again. For this kind of moody dark electro, you really have to the listeners more than nicely arranged minor chord progressions, if you want to be more than just "another one of those bands". Between Mirko's bland vocals and the lack of being able to pull off a really memorable chorus, everything begins to sound the same. Unfortunate, because there is potential here. I just don't believe they've realized it yet. While Antivote are a little reminiscent of early Project Pitchfork, they haven't got the pizzazz of that outfit. One thing is for sure, unless Antivote manages to come up with a killer track soon, they're going to end up being "another one of those bands".
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Artist: Andreas Gross (@)
Title: Goodbye Mainstream
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Andreas Gross is not only the name of this darkwave band from Cologne (Köln) Germany, but also its leader. On 'Goodbye Mainstream' Gross (who does most of the music and lyrics) is joined by Swenja Schneider (vocals) and Christian Bohr (guitars). Once again this is a new experience for me - 13 previous albums from them I have never heard. I'm beginning to fell a little "left out of the loop". So I spent a little time stumbling through their back catalogue (courtesy of YouTube) and found a similar thread - well orchestrated darkwave with ethereal female vocals. In my wanderings I found their cover of The Birthday Massacre's "To Die For", a sweeter, slightly less bombastic version which was actually very nice. Okay, I'm sold on the band's ability, and it is certainly worth checking out their other stuff, but on to 'Goodbye Mainstream'.

The album begins with a brief, atmospheric instrumental ("s.e.b.o.") before launching into the 50's chestnut "Sleepwalk" by Santo & Johnny Farina. This vocal version sung by Swenja in a nice clear pop tone is an unexpected delight. Somebody has to use this on a movie or TV soundtrack! It's faithful to the original, yet contemporary. Goodbye Mainstream indeed; it hardly gets more mainstream than this! Not for long though, as most of the rest of the album is balanced between darkwave and neoclassical. Bohr's guitar is always tasteful and never overbearing playing his part effectively on every track and Schneider's voice, while delicate is very pleasant and clear as a bell. Previously Andreas Gross had a tendency to wrap his lady vocalists in a hazy gauze, but not so here; her voice is mixed up-front.I don't think it takes anything away from these atmospheric songs. One song, an instrumental track titled "Time Seller" uses bagpipes for the lead melody. The original songs are all very nice, but nothing stands out like "Sleepwalk". As a bonus, a cover version of NIN's "Hurt" is added, with a rare vocal appearance by Andreas Gross himself. His voice is more wistful and fragile than Reznor's, making for a beautifully bittersweet version of this classic tune, and a fitting conclusion.

It would be hard to dislike 'Goodbye Mainstream' unless Swenja Schneider's voice doesn't resonate with you, and this may be Andreas Gross's most accessible album yet. Still, I wish there were a couple of tracks I'd find myself humming after the music ended. Perhaps if they keep this lineup that just may happen in the near future. Available in CD or vinyl format from Echozone.
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