Music Reviews



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Artist: Ataraxia (@)
Title: Llyr
Format: CD
Label: Prikosnovenie (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
A lot of Ataraxia's fans have been worried about their prolonged silence, being their last studio-album, Kremasta Nera issued in 2007, even if they proposed some new tracks, partially included in their brand new release have already been performed on the occasion of some live concerts, but after the issue of a precious collection, Oil In Canvas, including an elegant photographic book, this long wait could be said finished as well as totally paid by a very good release, the 23th added to their rich discography. Their sound has turned into something totally different from stylistic gardens full of dark roses' bunches, planted in relatively recent releases such as Paris Spleen, so that I'm glad to ascertain they've not make the usual mistake, i.e. a certain stylistic repetitiveness, bands with a distinctively recognizable sound like Ataraxia's one normally make as well as I'm glad to notice they've not be submitted to minimalist flatteries! In Llyr, the Gaelic name of the notorious instrument used by bards and Greek lyrical poets whose shape seems to have been inspired by the arch drawn by swans' neck, the darkest side of the band has been mitigated by their renowned interest in shamanism and therapy music, being both elements blown into the record through the narrative trick of telling the story partially inspired by Celtic traditions, pagan myths and feminine celebrations of Nature, whose main character is Siqillat, a fictitious Persian healer travelling across different ages and places while changing his semblances and even their sound appears more luminous and 'narrative' than previous acts as well as enriched by Celtic elements. As usual, their way of composing and performing is just apparently plain as if the listener dwells upon the rich complexity of instrumental (you could recognise 12 guitars, sitar, gamelan, flutes, keyboards, bells, santoor, tablas, boghdan and many other percussions, whose important role in the line-up together with the astonishingly wide-ranged voice by Francesca Nicoli is probably one of the most prominent property of Ataraxia's textures ), he/she could easily understand and appreciate its stature.

There're some tracks such as the title-track and the initial Siqillat where the band seems to brush their 'trademark' sound up, but I personally prefer tracks such the dark-tinged (maybe the darkest parenthesis) Quintaluna or Payatry Mantra where the energy and the impressive vocal extensions ' even in the most 'static' performances she's able to confer an ethereal sense of movement to the composition throughout a wise use of staccato bowing'¦) by Francesca are so evident than someone (including myself) could think other female vocalists took part to the recording sessions! Other evocative sublime peaks have been reached by the very long suite entitled Evnyssien, whose vibrant alchemy is based on appreciable arpeggios by Vandelli and enriched by dreamy and delicate flute inserts as well as by the entrancing closing track, Borrea, another interesting example of the perfect balance between the ethereal smokes coming from the musical pot of Vandelli, Pagliari and the percussionist Spaggiari (recently joined to the band) and the sublime voice by Francesca. Llyr is definitively both close to the enlightened and close to perfection!
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Artist: Phenotract
Title: Shifting
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Three years from the previous "Transient messages" album, Phenotract is back with a new one titled SHIFTING. The new CD brings us ten new songs that dismiss the dance influences to embrace a blend of electronic, new wave and pop music with ethereal atmospheres. The thing that is popping up immediately on SHIFTING are the upfront vocals and the reverb layer that seems to permeate the whole sound. The whole album sounds more intimate but there are also upbeat songs like "Separate places" or "Full circle again" to spice up the atmosphere. Helped by Katharine Heller, Niabi Caldwell, Anaben (from the band By Night With Spear) on vocals and by guitarist Gabriel Dorosz, Eric duets with his guests giving to the whole album a touch of dreamy synthpop where the ambience shift from dark to melancholic. At the moment I think to prefer their old style but if you like intimate electronic wave mid tempos with personal lyrics check SHIFTING. On the band's website you can listen to each track.
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Artist: Bozzwell
Title: Bits & Pieces
Format: CD
Label: Firm Records
Rated: *****
Vocalist of the The All Seeing I in the 90s and then member of Hiem with Nick "Nico" Eastwood, David Boswell is back with his first album as Bozzwell. The album contains ten tracks in balance from minimal techno and dance. The opening tracks is "Voodoo", a haunting 4/4 techno which mixes bouncing bass lines and minimal synth lines. If you think that it is distinctive for the album, well... you're partially wrong, because already with "Marilena's eyes" Bozzwell shows to its audience its electro side thanks to syncopated rhythms, catchy bass lines and passionate vocals. This mix of minimal techno and electro is the trademark of BITS & PIECES and I like it a lot as vocals and melodies freshen up the obsessive atmospheres of the hypnotic synth sounds creating something new. A bit of piano here and there, hard beats, light distortions will make you enjoy this release make you wanting for more! Available from September the 13th.
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Artist: Negative Black
Title: a new dawn...
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Reactive Black is a duo from Hamburg with the intention to describe musically the self-destroying tendencies of mankind and the darkness of exsistence. The members are Sassy Skeleton (it's not a joke) and Rotten (Ok...) and they play a melodic rock gothiced by the jarboesque voice of Sassy. She sings... or maybe talk the lyrics under some riffs and synths. It's hard rock, well played and produced and, when the voice is filtered, it work well. By the way, they have few ideas to escape the high wall of a too used musical form and stereotyped attitude.
This album has, at least, a wonderful track "Fading away" where the spoken word under a downtempo beat and athmospheric synth create an atmosphere of real decadence but the rest of the album is boring.
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anymore
Artist: High Tone
Title: Out Back
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Jarring Effects
Rated: *****
After four albums and twelve years of existence High Tone are releasing one of the most various and inspired albums of the dub genre. The French combo with the double CD OUT BACK release sixteen new tracks that will please lovers of throbbing sounds as well open minded reggae enthusiasts. "Dub Axiom" and "No Border" are the titles of the two CDs which compose OUT BACK: the first one contains upbeat tracks that know how to spread bass waves into the air of your room while the second incarnate the experimental and cinematic side of the band thanks to a lesser use of electronics and to the use of acoustic instruments. If "Dub Axiom" starts with a blast thanks to the bass distortions of "Spank" and "Dirty urban beat", "No Border" starts with "Bastard", a track that mix bass distortions to clean reverbered / acoustic guitars and ambient electronic arrangements. High Tone are able to blend the classic reggae dub sound of Lee Scratch Perry to modern influences (Scorn, Portished, etc) creating a fresh powerful formula that wins with the hands down. Rich melodic / rhythmic textures will make you feel dizzy while your feet won't stop dancing.
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