Music Reviews



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Artist: MSBR (@)
Title: The Final Harsh Work # 22
Format: CD
Label: Spatter (@)
More quality harsh noise on Spatter, this time by one of the leading names of the genre. "The Final Harsh Work # 22" (a lovely title... ) features the eponymous studio (?) track and a live recording (Grand Rapids, USA, 1/3/1999). The former is a 43' excursus in the possible nuances of harsh noise: from fast, rabid drill-like attacks, made particularly effective by the high frequencies used, to looped and delayed passages which, while never losing their dose of sonic fierceness, even tend to acquire psychedelic tones. It's a sort of suite and it manages to keep your attention focused while being extremely long and exhausting. The second track is a nice representation of Koji Tano's skill at performing live, but suffers from insufficient sound quality; the ouput is a bit muddled and fails to present MSBR's sound with the adequate clarity - something which doesn't occur with the studio work. Limited edition of 120 (which will probably sell out fast) in the usual Spatter package (a DVD box).
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Artist: Massiv In Mensch (@)
Title: Die Rein
Format: CD
Label: ArtOfFact Records (@)


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While Massiv In Mensch virtually exploded on the scene with their ArtOfFact debut Belestandes Material whose trademark sound was hard industrial with high energy rhythms and harsh vocals, this release is much less harsh. With Die Rein they have taken a bit more of a turn which encompasses synthpop while maintaining their hard and heavy attitude toward club oriented dance tracks with a lessened focus on the harsh and industrial sound. There is still quite a bit of heavy rhythmic thumps, pounds and clanks but not as much as before. This album also seems to have a bit more of a focus on the instrumental track and an almost hardbeat trance influence from time to time. They have maintained high energy without a doubt and are showing some versatility which is always good but I do miss the nearly gutteral German vocals. This album is more likely to be more compatible for a wider range of late night dance club play. While this is more focused on dance music it still remains atypical of the usual genres of dance music, techno, and trance.
One of my favorite tracks on the disc is "Mein Erstes Bonbon" which translates as My First Drop. It is, like much of the album, an unusual marriage of techno, trance, synthpop and industrial rhythms. The only thing I don't like about it is that it begins using some traditions rave sounds. There is even a track titled after the band which sounds like Prodigy's original style in many ways - the orchestral slams and hyper-rhythms. The only track with a bit more vocal and the only with female vocals (I think) is "Endorph-Fusion vs. Reiner's Festung" and is the only track which sounds a bit more like the first album. "Schneiders Sphaere" is a very smooth track too and is one of the best on the disc along with "Entferner" - all very different tracks.
While this is a great album by itself I miss the vocal combination from the previous album and prefer less techno influence. I do however like the exploitation of variance from the original album to display that the band is not just one sound and one style but can play different forms of music.

© Copyright 8/2002 TG Mondalf. All Rights Reserved
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Artist: KOJI ASANO ENSEMBLE
Title: Spherical Moss Factory
Format: CD
Label: Solstice (@)
Solstice # 26, this time not a solo work of Asano's but a 2-part composition (72') played by the Koji Asano Ensemble, Tomomi Tokunaga (violin) and Kentaro Suzuki (contrabass). Recorded at Katsushika Symphony Hills (Tokio), "Spherical Moss Factory" is a very interesting work which, according to my (limited) knowledge of Asano's extensive production, is partly a confirmation and partly a surprise. The torturing a-melodic drones and hisses coming from the bowed strings remind of his massive 4xCDs "The Last Shade of Evening Falls", and in general the claustrophobic wall of sound, with subtle micro-variations within, is very typical of his work; thus said, there are also more canonic and "reassuring" passages close to chamber or contemporary music, which gives the cd a welcome second dimension with lighter, more delicate moments. As usual, very elegant photographic layout by Asano himself.
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Artist: FELSENREICH (@)
Title: Am Ende der Zeit...
Format: CD
Label: Expander Records
Distributor: Triton
First full length release for this German quintet, after the 1999 EP "The Death is Behind You" and the compilation appearance "The Wisdom" in the Astan music magazine sampler. Felsenreich play mildly complex goth-rock with some symphonic arrangements here and there (see the eponymous track, opening and closing the work); the voice has some Bauhaus resemblance, while the music is more in the vein of Garden of Delight. I can say they're good musicians and I guess it's a well done work for its own genre, but honestly, I haven't been thrilled at all by their performance. Plus the programmed drumming doesn't fit with the more aggressive and rocking tracks, giving them a bad "plastic-sound". I really think they should give a more definite identity to their sound, as ideas and technics are good, but still out of focus. Or possibly it's only a problem of mine with goth-rock...
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Artist: Psyche (@)
Title: Endangered Species
Format: CD
Label: ArtOfFact Records (@)


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This is a club heavy collection of Psyche tracks and remixes including a remix of "Goodbye Horses". The first track on this release to grab my attention is "Memento" which starts out with a Depeche Mode like bass grind. It's got a nice groove to it and a dark synthpop feel to it combined with the smooth vocal harmonies Psyche are known for. The mix of "The Hiding Place" on this disc is doen by Massiv In Mensch with the influence of the bouncey dance beats with heavy technology and slight trance feel like their latest album Die Rein. This is a very nice track indeed as it features two of ArtOfFact Records top bands coming together. The first mix of Renegades sounds like a live mix (or at least it has lots of crowd noise on the intro). It's begins with piano but quickly moves into a thumping deep dub rhythm.
The track I found most interesting is the Tokyo Club Mix of "Goodbye Horses" as the original had some interesting melodies but this club mix takes the song to a completely new level. There's just something about the beat of that single that screams gay disco but I love it anyway.
Dropping the pace quite a bit and modifying the overall tone and structure the song "Eleven" reminds me of Art of Noise when ambient. That's the only way I know how to explain it. It has that same pipe-like sound combined with ambient piano and environmental textures. A beautiful piece! This is probably my next favorite next to "Goodbye Horses" though they change the entire song about midway through as it evolves into a much more upbeat rhythm and percussion thing with a choral sound added in then replaced by a nearly standard techno drive. This is a very intersting mix of styles and textures and completely unexpected. I like surprises (5 points guys).
The original version of "Damaged Soul" I think is clear enough and outshines the mixes. Lastly, I don't know what that synth effect is on "Prisoner To Desire" but I love it. The vocals at the beginning sound so 1980's though. Of course it was done in 1987 but included here anyway so I guess it's forgiven as it is still interesting if not a bit confusing.
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