Music Reviews



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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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Artist: Taxim (@)
Title: Full of Empty
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: XenoBiotic Records (@)
Rated: *****
Taxim is a dark electro and experimental project from Essen, Germany, founded by Alex Ney in 1996 as a one-man project. The current line-up consists of: Alex (music, lyrics, vocals, bass), Kat (keyboard, vocals) and Jigels (keyboard). Including singles and EPs, they've had over a dozen releases since they began, and this is my first experience with the band. 'Full of Empty' begins nicely with a neoclassical piano chordal melody and arpeggios with a female voice humming along, then- WHAM! The door closes and heavy metal chords take over with electro-industrial percussion, synth orchestration on the melody, building all along with the same simple melody. A bit of a bombastic beginning, like symphonic metal, but all instrumental. The second track follows this format (exempting the metal guitar) and uses a different but similar melody. I should let you know that Taxim employed only one synth for the electronic parts, and made copious use of the Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra sample library on this album. Most of the tracks on the album are along the symphonic metal (or industrial, if you prefer) lines, and when not full-on, neoclassical. Prominent female (spoken) vocal samples come to the fore on "Keine Angst" ("Ich habe keine angst", or "I have a little anxiety"), and this track shows more industrial muscle while not sacrificing any of the symphonic. Other tracks such as "Computer Depression" and "Vollkommen leer" incorporate brief vocal samples as well. Taxim also puts industrial ambient synth effects to good use in transitional passages. Most of 'Full of Empty' sound a bit Blade Runner-esque; somewhat cinematic, but perhaps even grander; melodically simple but orchestrally rich. Last track, "Schizoid and Happy" features Kat's wordless vocals, which is very nice, but I found myself craving songs with lyrics. Maybe it just isn't their style to do that, and maybe they haven't found a voice strong enough to pull it off yet, but if they decided to head down that road, Taxim would likely gather a much bigger following. Still, 'Full of Empty' is an album to be reckoned with if you like symphonic industrial with a metallic edge. The album is available from XenoBiotic Records as a digital download (only), and there was supposed to be a physical CD released on MMD Records, but I couldn't find it in MMD's catalogue, so I guess that either fell through, or hasn't happened yet.
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Artist: Man eats fish
Title: Recollective
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Audiobulb (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Audiobulb is presented as 'characterized by concrete sounds with a lot presence, combined with abstract electronic texture and newly written and recorded works for string quartet'. It's a true presentation of this work that features a strong coherence of musical development.
The metallic beat of 'The Breakdown' opens this release with a track focused on the juxtaposition of the synth drones and the metallic resonances that, in 'Between Sound', are basic composition's element while 'All That Is Solid Melts Into Air' explores the melodic possibilities of the metallic beat. The gentle theme of 'Duality', upon the water's dripping acts as an interlude, or a development, of a form that is the unifying element of this release. 'Reconstruction (The Silent Duck)' could sounds as a chamber music track if the sounds of a metallic balls falling on the ladder, almost present in all tracks, doesn't appears. The violins of 'The Doors' introduce the listener into the second part of this release and, with 'Material', appear even the human voice to further colorize the musical palette. 'Just Beens' sounds like a small intro to the final part of this release: 'Birds', that starts and ends as a noisy track but has an interlude based on gentle strings samples that are the foundation of 'The Arrival'. 'Corridor Slow' closes this release developing the resonances of the string instruments used in the previous tunes.
This release sounds more like a cohesive unit than a collection of track and, even if it's anything truly impressive, it's a release that acts as a quiet soundscape of everyday activities. A nice release.
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