Music Reviews



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Artist: CHAMBER
Title: L'Orchestre de Chambre Noir
Format: CD
Label: Sad Eyes/Trisol (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Seven regular players (plus two guests) for this German "Black Chamber Orchestra", out with a surprisingly good 11-track cd. Acoustic guitars and strings provide a rich background for Marcus Testory's theatrical, tortured voice, at times really reminiscent of Nick Cave or even Mark Lanegan. There's a great care for arrangements and, at the same time, a sober, folkish quality in these ballads. There are wild and dramatic moments ("Ceremony after a Fire Raid", a Wedding Anniversary cover with words by Dylan Thomas, and the narrated "The Ballad of the Half Brained Man"), but also incredibly catchy tunes ("Pleasure and Pain", "Mistakes", "Toscana", and the traditional "Another Conversation", again with lyrics by Thomas) which could receive intensive airplay and sell thousand of copies since they really stick into your brain after the first listen. Sounds and production are very good, too, and the booklet is well done. It's not my favourite kind of folk music, but this work has a very high quality, and those into dark, melancholic ballads should purchase this without further delay.
Aug 23 2002
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Artist: LOST SIGNAL (@)
Title: Catharsis
Format: CD
Label: Matrix Cube/Trisol (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Lost Signal is Charles Rehill at vocals, lyrics, programming and composition; this cd also features Tom Shear (Assemblage 23) at production, mixing and additional programming, and Mads Fogt (Arzt+Pfusch) at digital mastering. The production is actually very well done, with clear and powerful sounds. Lost Signal plays a blend of pounding and aggressive (but not monotonous) electro beats, some ethereal synth/keyboards layer and clear, unfiltered vocals delivering some personal, existentialist lyrics. There's a constant presence of multi-layered beats and catchy melancholic tunes, like in "Apathy", which sort of draws a line between Lost Signal and the tons of heavier, but rougher electro acts.
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Artist: THIS VALE OF TEARS
Title: Exceed
Format: CD
Label: Black Rain (@)
Distributor: Triton
Third record (11 tracks, 48 minutes) for this Belgian trio, formed by Johan Peeters (guitards and vocals), Erik Duffeler (lead vocals) and Tom Simons (synths, programming and vocals). TVOT's tracks are a blend of typical gothic rock songs and an electro backbone with upbeat programmed drumming. Some tracks lean more on the dark side of their spectrum, some others on the rhythmic/dance one - "Alone in the Shower" is even closer to flat out techno than to electro/EBM. The opening track, "Exceed", has also some Indian melodies thrown in which are then developed in the instrumental ethno trip-hop remix which closes the work. Pretty standard layout without much fantasy, Reinlender 1977 has done much better in other works.

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Artist: BOSHETUNMAY (@)
Title: Signal
Format: CD
Label: Dercho Music
Boshetunmay is the project of two Siberian brothers, Harry (vocals, lyrics) and Witali Dercho (guitar and piano-player, music writer, producer) who have been living in West Germany since 1993 and formed the band two years later. They released an eponymous demo-tape in 1998, a debut cd-ep ("Useless Life", 2000), a promo cd single ("Vote for the Black", 2001), and then this second full length (11 songs, 48'). Their press sheet defines their music "electro-rock with gothic, wave, dance and metal influences", which sums it up pretty well. Let's say there's a heavy dose of gothic and darkwave ("The Shame", "Lullaby", "Is anyone?", "Corporation of dreams"), often mixed with lighter "rock" parts, and a prominent electronic background in the programmed beats - these give an upbeat rhythm to the tracks, sometime verging on electro ("Vote for the Black") or dance ("A clod in your throat").
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Artist: CECCONELLO/SIGURTA' (@)
Title: Terre
Format: CD EP
Label: Prospettiva Nevskij/Eelsforfun
When I reviewed Sigurtà's latest solo work, I felt it was like a soundtrack for imaginary movies. There was a peculiar "visual" quality in the soundmaker's concrete mixes. Now it's a pleasure to review Luca's collaboration with director Manuele Cecconello (m.cecconello@libero.it) in a very well done cd-rom (limited to 100 hand-numbered copies) featuring a video (visible through Windows Media Player or a DVD viewer) and two .wav tracks. "Terre" ("Earths" - 4'30" long, more or less) is made of two main parts; images were filmed on super8, then digitally manipulated and mixed. The first section features natural shots (fallen leaves, the muddy bottom of a river, running water, possibly fire) often filtered and made unrecognizable, pure games of light and colour or ghostly images. The soundtrack is so peculiar of Sigurtà's abilities: it's mostly cracking noises with distant whistles, and it could be anything from concrete field recordings (fire, again?) to a manipulated ethnic song - the effect, associated with the beauty of the images, could only be labelled as "ritual" for the sacred feelings it conveys. The second part presents fast-revolving shots of a naked human body - again, it's almost always a game of lights, shadows and colours (mostly violet and black) since it's often hard to recognize what we're seeing at a first glance. Sounds here are even more abstract and alien, like minimal electronic pulses. The only negative thing is that the video is so short, because it's a very rewarding experience. Cecconello writes: "TERRE is the latest stage of an esthetic route through which I try to transfer the glimmering of the unconscious and the colour of desires on film, tending to remove as many "narrative" and conventional mediations as possible from the final form". Sigurta's .wav tracks are a remix of the soundtrack (sounds have been filtered and the result is a bit louder and more full-sounding) and a piece called "Fireworks" - more minimal indecipherable sounds, first like a looped feedback (or is it a keyboard? Or radio frequencies?), then rumbling echoed noises. Well, this is one of my longest reviews and I'm talking of, like, 10 minutes of material, so let's say this is a brilliant, inspired synthesis of different - but complementary - languages and tecniques... Highly recommended!
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