Music Reviews

Artist: Neon Cage Experiment (@)
Title: Materials and Methods
Format: CD
Label: Vendetta-Music (@)
Distributor: KGD Media
Rated: *****
The new and second full-length album of this French Electro/Industrial act is surely one of those events several fans out of the scene have been waiting for – at least for more than 3 years. Since their debut "Oscillations" has been reached euphoric reactions of both press and audience, the curiosity but also the high expectations on the quality of a second NCE release has been grown enormously.
Although "Oscillations" was only a debut release, the integrated musicians behind NCE could prove their unbreakable talents which they’d already reached with their different music projects in the past. NCE is mainly the surviving product out of the acts STIGMA (Daft Records/ant-zen) and AXONAL WARFARE (Celtic Circle Productions). Yes, the days of these bands have gone, though they’ve both produced a sort of special impressions with their early and now more than 10 years old releases on me personally. I still hold their debut demo tapes of both acts which have been produced, when no one was thinking on a CD-burner (not unavailable in 1995, but extremely expensive...), internet and mp3 files. STIGMA at least was the reason why I started to "like" the rougher forms of noise-driven Industrial, while the Dark-Electro-minded CD releases of AXONAL WARFARE have been the most underrated releases of CCP at all.
I could understand that AXONAL WARFARE had to call their quit out of the frustration about the unsatisfying situation, because they had that bad luck that their releases came out when CCP was about to close the doors – which means no serious promotional efforts at all from the label. The sudden and unexpected end of STIGMA is still mysterious and hard to accept – who would seriously give up a well recognized project with a deal of ant-zen in the hands??? Laurent Kistler, the leader behind STIGMA seemed to have some good reasons for this, so in 2003 STIGMA (Laurent Kistler) and AXONAL WARFARE (Nicolas Revil, Bruno Laborde) have united with the fourth member, Yoann Bourreau, to form NCE.
The further story has been told already, "Oscillations" came out, the band did some gigs and tours, some compilation appearances ("Endzeit Bunkertracks Vol. 1" for example...) came up – but at least they got a bit forgotten. Yes, some promising signs for new stuff have been switched to some rather underground-minded comp series, like La Chambre Froide’s "In This Cold Terrific Room 2" (track: "Breathing Cities") and Caustic Records’ "Electronic Manifesto" (track: "Memento"), but at least it may has taken a bit too long until this new album came out. This may belongs on the fact that the band seemed to think very long to change the label, because the small French label and mail order service Cortex Records has reached its boundaries to fulfill all requirements of an internationally renowned artist. In the meantime – and this is another unexpected loss for this project – Bruno Laborde, mainly responsible for programming and lyrics, has decided to leave the save NCE haven to concentrate on his solo effort NORMOTONE. So NCE will continue as a trio, though "Materials And Methods" has been produced as a quartet.
However, and if there are some negative-minded wankers complaining on the long pause, the wait is over now. "Materials And Methods" is that sort of an epic sounding Dark Electro-album which fulfills the highest expectations. The label info-sheet has stated some comparisons to some SKINNY PUPPY/HAUJOBB works, and I’ve seldom before agreed so much on this. I would add INTERLACE as a third reference, but finally this hits the same musically direction. Where "Oscillations" has offered diverse possible musically tendencies, this new album works out more coherent the structures to a complex and multiple-layered Dark Electro album as its best. Besides the sinister and thick synth layer sounds and the always tasteful and diverse produced rhythm constructions, the music of NCE earns a lot of depth thanks to the hypnotic vocal performance of Laurent Kistler. Human and mostly natural sounding, he offers his very best to sound authentic with needed doze of charisma.
13 tracks are available, plus a remix work on the track "Puppy" (originally available on "Oscillations") provided by HAUJOBB are resulting in nearly 80 minutes of an ominous sounding Dark-Electro masterpiece, on which it is a bit difficult to pick out the finest tunes. I would rate both "Hell’s Darker Chamber" for combining the best the typical NCE-athmosphere with gritty and experimental beats, and "Masquerade" because of ist catchy synth layer programming to be the outstanding works of a damned great album. Both "Breathing Cities" and "Forgiven Lies" are pushing the blood into the legs of some bodies for doing some Pogo-related dancefloor-action, but globally this albums relies on ist opulent layers and unforeseeable drum pattern programming.
An album rather more to get consumed as loud as possible on your home entertainment and although that the German promoter Hardbeat should work well to service the DJ’s in Europe, I finally fear that it won’t get played that much compared to the still straight-forward moving generic Hellectro stuff. Nevertheless, this album is musically that well balanced that it is a possible contender for the fictional "album-of-the-year" contest.

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