Music Reviews



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Artist: Escupemetralla
Title: Poison of Dead Sun in Your Brain Slowly Fading
Format: CD + Download
Label: Novak Records (@)
Rated: *****
The myth behind the music: "Escupemetralla are the result of a series of retro-transmissions to be carried out in the mid-twenty-first century at the "Thorne's Cone Light Reversion Laboratory for Children", Los Alamos, Texas (Federal States of Mexico and Puerto Rico). In a certain way, Escupemetralla are just virtual entities that will actually exist in several years' time. Escupemetralla means "Spitshrapnel" in Spanish." The musicians behind the myth: "Escupemetralla is a duo that produces experimental electronic sound, formed in 1987 in Barcelona. There is some confusion about their members, who sometimes call themselves Muhammad and Muhammad. The name of the duo (Spitshrapnel in Spanish) comes from an anarchist song from the 1930s ("Throw the bomb which spits shrapnel..."). They define their sound as 'obscure electronics,' 'war ambient,' and 'twisted symphonic music,' encompassing noise, industrial music, futuristic experimentation, plagiarism and appropriationism. Their productions were published in the 1980s and 1990s mainly as cassette tapes by Clonaciones Petunio. Between 1998 and 2016 they remained inactive but resumed their activity in 2016."

Okay, so that's some intriguing background never having heard (or heard of) this outfit before, so do they sound as strange as all that might lead you to believe? Well, yes; sort of. In a sense these guys are not markedly different than Zoviet France, producing industrial electronic soundscapes and collages relying heavily on electronics, looping and samples. I recall doing a lot of this kind of thing myself in the 1990s, although I never released any of it at the time (thinking there wasn't much audience interest in it), although now I wish I had. The music on 'Poison of Dead Sun in Your Brain Slowly Fading' is divided into two sections: Transcendent Side and Political Side. The Transcendent Side begins with a cacophony of voices ("Hikuri Neirra") fading into a jittery electronic rhythm that evolves into a chaotic maelstrom replete with air raid sirens and screeching electro-screams. The monotonous sample & holdish looping electro-rhythm of "Mutaciones Des Does Magnetofones" morphs over time with other additional sonic effluvia. "Echafaud Temporel Spectral" features foreign dialogue amid industrial ambient and electronic background with a creepy surrealistic bent to it. Title track "Poison of Dead Sun" features LFO driven slowly ascending ring-modulated electronics and shades of souls possibly rising from the dead moaning in the aether. This is cinematic dark ambient at its finest, with ghostly bellish tones, dramatic heavy percvussion hits, swirling atmospheres and heavily reverbed ambience all the way round. I could imagine Universal Studios using this for one of its Halloween Horror Houses.

On to the Political Side, which begins with "Presidente Basura" (President Trash), a re-imagining of Trump's inauguration. Really didn't need that; we've got enough of the Cheeto-in-Chief to go around for a lifetime. "Andalusia, Alabama" features lots of falling abrasive oscillations before the voices come in. Dialogue samples of some kind of discussion on metaphysics over moaning electronics and a heart-pumping industrial rhythm with other industrial-electronics in play usher this one to conclusion. I really got a kick out of the title of "Go Fuck Yourself With Your Atom Bomb," but the jerkish vocal sample "I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations" kind of ruined it for me. Small matter though; the ambience is pretty good, and you do get a brief sample of the title at the end. Final track, and the one with the longest title - "Gran Plan Para La Transformacion De La Naturaleza" is also the lengthiest time-wise (11:48), and perhaps the most expansive on the album. The soundscape has a transcendent quality that approaches the spiritual, yet retains the flavor of Escupemetralla's shaggy experimentalism. As a whole, 'Poison of Dead Sun in Your Brain Slowly Fading' may not be the ultimate achievement in industrial ambient soundscapes, but it certainly has its moments.
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Artist: Peter Kirn
Title: Pink Cloud Syndrome
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Detroit Underground
I was a big appreciator of Kirn’s “Bellona USA” album from November last year, so was happy to hear that another album was available already. “Pink Cloud Syndrome” doesn’t disappoint, continuing in a relatively similar vein with tracks that manage to combine Jean-Michel Jarre or Tangerine Dream-esque long synth soundscapes and a retro synthwave-ish aesthetic with some newer and poppier, sometimes Ricardo Autobahn-esque melodic moments.

Dropping the fictional city concept of the previous album, this time we get four tracks that are longer and more immersive, with a hint of the epic prog rock instrumental storytelling about them, most notably in the first part.

Part 2, with its heavier kick, perky synth stabs, plaintive vocal ahhh noises and claps, has shades of Propaganda in parts and is decidedly more 80’s-esque, while part 3’s more paired-back approach has more in common with current thoughtful home-listening atmospheric techno. Part 4 begins punchily before settling a little, but maintaining a tense and quite sci-fi pulsing attitude which only disappoints with its slightly lacklustre ending.

It perhaps never reaches any truly euphoric heights and at times could arguably be described as wallpapery, but nevertheless it’s a rich, confident and boldly produced synth-music vision that’s absolutely worth exploring.
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Artist: Rachika S
Title: Themes For A Film
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Loveless Records
Described as an EP, this 9-track, 30-minute mini-album is a collection of work originally written for a Loveless Records re-scoring of the anime Tekkokinkreet, and it’s certainly ‘soundtracky’. It’s purely instrumental, as plaintive, slightly twangy electric guitar plucking blends with rough-hewn mangled electronic environments, pulling contrasts between purer and more conventionally emotive melodic work and harsher, tense environments.

Pieces like the end-credit-friendly “A House By The Ocean” border on instrumental pop and have a notable but not dominant vein of positivity and hope, while other tracks like “Killing Machines” push the melody back (but not out completely) and bring darker, glitched and processed, thoroughly effected experimental noise to the fore.

It’s one of those soundtrack works that feels like it perhaps needs to be sided with the intended visuals in order to be appreciated fully, with some of the tracks seemingly left short to suit the film cut rather than being allowed to breathe. But nevertheless it’s an interesting and fairly introspective work that marks out a composer worth looking out for.
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Artist: The Flesh, Full Of Black Sand
Title: The Door is Open
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
The Flesh, Full Of Black Sand hails from Tyler, TX and is the work of one Dakota Snaketail. They describe themselves thus: “Minimalistic droning dark ambient. Listen with headphones while you're falling asleep.” Sounds good, so let’s see how it plays out. This disc consists of one track, “The Door is Open,” and consists of deep, low end drone. This is music for subterranean rituals, and listening to it with headphones gives some sense of the layers in the music. It never really gets too intense, but it keeps shifting ever so slightly, which keeps it from sounding like someone just looped the same drone for 18 minutes. Slow-moving synth washes peek out here and there, almost imperceptibly at first, then coming more to the forefront. Overall, this is pleasant dark ambient that makes me interested to see what they could do with a full album. Well worth picking up. This album weighs in at around 18 minutes and is limited to 42 copies.
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Artist: FFI Digital
Title: 180125
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I quite enjoyed the last FFI Digital release that I reviewed, so I was interested to see how this would compare. For those of you who missed the last one, this is the work of Dan Fox, who has many other projects (including Loss, Fail, and This Is What I Hear When You Talk) and runs Inner Demons Records. The insert notes that “This album was created with only freeware / shareware instruments and effects, plus plugins packaged with Cubase.” With that established, let’s get into the music. This disc consists of two tracks at just over 10 minutes each. We start with 180125, which is a well put together composition of grinding noise over a thudding, metallic beat, which brings to mind the rhythms of older Test Department. This is not put together haphazardly, though, and everything fits well together. Later in the track, we have harshly distorted unintelligible vocals as the track slowly grinds to a close. 180125 (180305 RMX) gives us a sense of what the track sounds like with a month or two of distance from the original recording. The opening is far more stripped down, with the beat taking the center stage, before bringing the noise. This sounds a lot more mainstream industrial, kind of like Fox is trying to channel Front 242 through his own music. It’s much different from what I am used to hearing from him, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The vocals may be the same (you can’t tell in the remix either), but otherwise they are very different tracks. Overall, this is well done and quite enjoyable. This album weighs in at around 21 minutes and is limited to 42 copies.
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