Music Reviews



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Artist: Ataraxia (@)
Title: Oil on Canvas
Format: CD
Label: Ultramail Prod (@)
Rated: *****
Ataraxia is an Italian neo-classical/darkwave band who's been active since the eighties and has been releasing record after record to the delight of the scene they cater to. I have fond memories of Ataraxia and remember them since the days I used to live in Italy, so I was happy to find out that they are still active and that they have a new record out. Lyricist, vocalist and flautist Francesca Nicoli, the leader of the band, partnered up with composer and guitarist Vittorio Vandelli, to bring us 14 songs of haunting music and poetry. Ataraxia is probably amongst the most active and long-running neo-classical/neo-folk groups and if you are not already amongst their fans you should check them out if you like music by Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Death in June, The Moon and the Nightspirit, Mephisto Walz, Butterfly Messiah, The Soil Bleeds Black and maybe even Sol Invictus and Current 93 (especially now that there is so much acoustic guitar to be had along with the long shimmering pads, the ethereal sustained layers, the martial percussions etc).
Although as a producer myself, I might have one or two qualms about some pitch issues with some vocals here and there or even with the opening guitar arpeggio of the album, these things can be overlooked in favor of the entirety of the work. Synthetic strings and pads counterpoint classical guitar arpeggios and support the dramatic vocalizations and the recited multi-language poetry sometimes borrowing from celtic or greek aesthetic and sometimes accenting with apocalyptic drum parts.
The Hong Kong based label that released "Oil On Canvas" made it available as a standard CD and as an absolutely stunning and gorgeous limited edition CD+book in which the CD comes in a digipack and is housed (along with the book and some postcards) inside a black hardcover box set. The book contains verses of poetry by Francesca Nicoli translated in italian, english, french, spanish and german and contains beautiful photos by Raffaella Graziosi (abandoned buildings and objects), Mick Mercer (mysterious and ominous statues in gardens and courtyards - the same type of statue that you see on the cover) and Livio Bedeschi (the elements of nature). This packaging is so unique and sensational that it almost risks to overshadow the music itself. If you can still get your hands on one of these 800 pieces you should absolutely do so and enjoy it page after page, verse after verse, note after note, track after track.
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Artist: Whispers In The Shadow (@)
Title: Borrowed Nightmares and Forgotten Dreams
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Some flares and flames from the Chaos-devoted Austrian gothic-rock band Whispers In The Shadow reached our headphones. If you still don't know them, you maybe have to update your rusty shrine of records as this band saw its dawn as a solo project of L'Ãme Immortelle guitarist Ashley Dayour in 1996, borrowing the name of the project from the story The Whisperer In Darkness by which H.P.Lovecraft mixed romantic, horror and sci-fi element to introduce the Mi-Go, an extraterrestrial fictitious race of creatures whose aspect was similar to mushrooms -!- and hairstyle and some recognizable influences from Robert Smith and his legendary band, The Cure, moving from traditional Gothic rock to a more heterogeneous style able to roll splinters of Fields of the Nephilim, dark, rock and progressive tracings and some psychedelic Pink Floyd-like strains to such a pitch that some one speaks about "Goth-Floyd" when referring to WITS' style, a magniloquent way to describe the transition from old-fashioned a sort of dark epic wave to a more original and synchretic musical language. Lyrics are mainly inspired by the so-called Chaos Magic as well from some writings of some notorious occultists such as Austin Omar Spare and Kenneth Grant of the so-called Typhonian Order and science-fiction writers such as the above-mentioned Lovecraft.

Well... after 5 album and 2 live recordings, the esteemed Echozone issues Borrowed Nightmares and Forgotten Dreams '“ a collection of "the remixed, the reworked and the abandoned, as the sub-title declares.. '“ by inviting a multitude of voices and remixers to join to the set Whispers In The Shadow are ideally playing in a undefinite place in the Nightside of Eden (just to mention a Miltonian-conscious tune from their last Into The Arms of Chaos, which should not to be confused with the hit by Him with the same name... ) to re-build and re-perform some of their rushing compositions by adding some great unpublished songs (..the forgotten dreams..) dated 2005. Either remixes and lost tapes are really vibrant and well-crafted. We mostly appreciated the second ones as well as they show the multi-faceted skills of this band; from the powerful sound walls and the psychedelic goth of tracks such as Everyday and Waste to the astonishing textures between a good drumming and guitar rhythms of Karma Revolution, showing all the qualities of Ashley Dayour as a vocal performer, the last track Optimistic Day is maybe the best song of this collection: it starts with strange electro vocals and keeps on tickling listener's ears and brains through a syncopated march and psychedelic soundscapes strengthening the mark some press impressed to their musical style (Goth Floyd).

The opening track of the first part of this release, the Shemhamforash mix of The Arrival (... and just as an example of how they're strongly influenced by occultist knowledge is given by the way they call this mix... Shemhamforash was an ancient Hebrew expression meaning "the explicit name" referred both to the impossibility to pronounce the name of God and to refer to one of the way (a 72-letter word) Hebrew used to name God and later adopted by Anton La Vey as a way of greeting Satan..), is maybe the most close to WITS style as it's a great assemblage of strong rockfish energy and intriguing sonorities, while the climax slightly changes with the Sieben remix of The Nightside of Eden: drums set is more syncopated and slow and some violins add a more touchy shadow if compared to the original version... for a strange reason it reminds to us a bizarre agglomeration of Royksopp's more melancholic songs, Faun and the most folk side of dark! Please don't ask me why! Among the following reworks we'd like to mention the strange ghostly version of Babylon Rising '“ considerably thinner than the original one '“ by Ice Ages, the Cure-like new wave (veeeery nostalgic!) 2009- The Eminence Version of Train (... describing the gradual death of mind inducted by a pendular life... ), the clubby version of Damned Nation (the one beginning with an exorcism trying to send back to hell devilish spirits hardly looking for justice in this troublesome society... !) by Thomas Rainer which enrich a "danceable" rhythmical pattern with an elegant background sound set and the lovely melancholy-thickened version with an unexpected rhythm variation of the great "remix" of Pandora's Calling by Persephone. This release could be a good starting point in order to digging inside the discography of this band, if never heard something about it. We're almost sure that even if some tracks could be heavily influenced by the personal musical visions (and hallucinations as well... ) of the remixers, it's good enough to rouse your curiosity about Whispers In The Shadows' short but really interesting musical path...
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Artist: K-Bereit (@)
Title: Dist�rt Neural Unit
Format: CD
Label: Sigsaly Transmissions (@)
The long-awaited debut of the new announced moniker of the duo made up of the Lille based "historical" EBM agit-props Frédéric Sebastien and Dominique Lallement which can be considered as the legitimate son of the former Kriegbereit, one of the project active since the second half of the 80s which gained a certain notoriety out of French boundaries strictly related to the embryonic sound of the Belgian industrial waves (especially to the praiseworthily stunning one whose ensigns are with no doubts Front 242) propelled by Monsieur Lallement, also active with the moniker Cobalt 60 (obscure project inside which a rebel youngster Jean-Luc DeMeyer '“ you should know the name of the above-mentioned band was famous for his rushing growls on the microphone... -, whose name was borrowed not only from the radioactive and dangerous isotope of cobalt, but also from an almost unknown comics series by the American cartoonist Vaughn Bodé with the same name, whose plot '“ the revenge of Cobalt60 for the death of his parents, murdered by the evil Stronzium 90! '“ takes place in a post apocalyptic world crowded with aliens, mutants and strange human hybrids, which could be perfectly set to music by K-Bereit as well!) is a well-crafted exulceration of the glorious old-school EBM '“ an indefinite nostalgic touch is added by the sound of unrecorded vinyl wisely inserted between a track and the next one as well as from track 16 to 59 just before the bonus "hidden" track... ! -, whose venomous lyrics, leathery beats and distorted sounds are going to be dropped mainly on trained dance-floors as we think it's not so fitted for personal listening as it could result a bit monotonous unless you find their rifle-fires on electronic drums and neurotic sounds which seems coming directly from a stoke-hole fitted enough to your eardrums., especially when you'll be conscious about the collaborative presence of other EBM-industrial famous stokers, among which Punish Yourself, the great Swedish act Autodafeh- as well as label mates coming from the hard-hitting roster of the Texan label Sigsaly Transmissions -, Dolls of Pain '“ we highly reccomend to download (for free) a collection of remixes of their album, Cybersex, entitled Cybertransmissions on the website of this exquisite band from Strasbourg... - and Signal Aout 42 '“ another interesting EBM act coming from Belgium and quite close to the glorious DAF -. Tracks such as In/Visible, Liar (be honest or prepare to be fired, folks!!!), Mutilation and Use Your Strap-on! are the best songs according our ear response! Even if quite nostalgic and intimately related to the old way of assembling bodily electronic music for bodies' and brains' perspiration, we could bet that most renowned Ebm parties will play this record very frequently. K-Bereit looks ready for a war...you have just to take your gas masks and latex boots out of your wardrobes to ger ready for their violent sound attacks whis are going to shake your ass and march on your favorite dark floors.
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Artist: AB INTRA
Title: Aura Imaginalis
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
I already had the chance to check Radoslaw Kaminski's music on "Scontrum Act VI" where you can find the three parts of "Demiurgia". This newest album AURA IMAGINALIS has a wider sounds spectrum and with its six tracks will reach an high rate on the charts of each dark ambient lover. Ab Intra is a Latin phrase meaning "on the inside" and Radoslaw with "Wanderers", "Astral wings", "Current", "...", "Arcana" and "Essence" is building a inner sound world made of great ambient industrial sounds (metal percussions, subtle melodic lines, drones) mixed with neo classical orchestral parts. Each track has different moods that goes from tense industrial clangs mixed with drones ("...") to orchestral hymns with rhythmical parts ("Arcana") passing through a mix of both (the closing "Essence"). This album sounds inspired and has great sounds. If you are fans of Inade, Herbst9, First Law or Endvra check it.
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Artist: JILL AKA PROJECTOJIL
Title: One Small Step
Format: CD
Rated: *****
Every year I receive from Jill one of his demos and every year I notice that he improves his skills into creating smooth sounds and chill out atmospheres. This year's demo is titled ONE SMALL STEP and contains six new tunes. We start with "Landscape" a slow atmospheric tune with reverbered flutes, minimal vocals samples and a trumpet that put in evidence the bass line. "My own time" has an upfront bass line as well and has an upbeat rhythm that will make you move along with the soothing piano sounds. "One small step" remember me one of the hit singles of Phoenix if it had catchy vocals. Jill should try to collaborate with someone and try to have an hit single out. "Polyester", "Summer light" and "Blessed" are mid tempos with deal with that sound that mix Miami house and chill out sounds with jazz vocal and sound samples.
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