Music Reviews

Artist: Yoshio Machida (@)
Title: Music from the SYNTHI
Format: CD
Label: Baskaru (@)
Rated: *****
Classical composers as well as many modern and contemporary musicians which are still devoted to single instruments often titled their composition with the name of the instruments that they play for a specific score and this is what happens with this release by inventive Japanese electronic musician Yoshio Machida, whose "Music From The Synthi", a collection of 13 extracts from a supposedly larger collection of tracks derived from a number of effected samples and loops from the legendary portable synth that Electronic Music Studios launched in the 70ies, which could be regarded as a proper classic composition by following generations of music lovers in a century or two. Such an act of devotion by Yoshio to Synthi, which was born in Putney in 1972 from the combination of the Synthi A, the portable version of notorious VCS3 synthesizer, and the KS keyboard leads listener over a sort of biopsy of this resounding machine and I'm not using the term "biopsy" by chance as you'll have the impression that this sonic dialogue between a man and his beloved synth stand on that somewhat controversial antinomy between organic and mechanical that often features such a kind of synth-driven music, where listeners sometimes could surmise that machine manages to translate complex emotions in a more concise way than any other human medium by means of "glitchey" sets of estranging whistles, bleeps, alien chirping, electric hiss, arrhythmic syncompations and bumps. All those listeners who are more familiar with synths will maybe appreciate the way how Yoshio manages to derive well-done oscillation from a sound machine, whose main imperfection is the difficulty in making oscillations indeed.
Artist: Zero-EQ (@)
Title: Fall EP
Format: CD EP
Label: Space Race Records (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
This is an Italian Electropop-trio providing a first EP-release signed to the well-established Space Race Records, a sub-label to Italy's premiere Electro/Industrial resource EK Product. Zero-EQ has been founded in 2003 by Phenix (Andrea) and IO (Gianluca) and they started with an imaginary, unreleased album with the funny title 'Greatest Hits 2003/2004'. Some first tracks could successfully find free slots on some renowned compilations (for example 'Toy Box' / remixed by DJ Crow on 'Dance Family Vol.1', Antibes Music). They also can look back on a full-length album 'Bugged Karma' brought out by the US-based Synthpop No. 1-resource, A Different Drum, under their 'VIP series'. With live performances they started in early 2013 after the official addition of Tyler (Emiliano) as being the third full-time member. Zero-EQ has performed in the most important clubs in Rome and also during live radio shows. Now on return with this new EP, they provide us their colorful and diverse Synth-/ Electropop-outfit on 5 new tracks plus a few remix contributions by some of their label comrades. 'Erase' opens this EP with some nice integrated bass-line sequencer-loops and the clear sounding male vocal performance. Even though they have used some kind of auto-tuning effects on the vocals, which are quite popular in cheesy, Charts-storming Pop-music efforts, this kind here doesn't alter the good impression. Also 'Never Let You In' doesn't fall into musically nervousness and comes along with smooth, but also with edges in their Synthpop music-style. The title track adds more speed and some rawer sounding bass-lines to the mix. This track balances between the smoother and harder styles of Electropop / EBM and so does also 'Negative Changes', which draws some reminiscences to the deep influence of Pop/New Wave-music out of the 80s. 'Inside My Head' may suits perfectly for some live action as this one blends in some guitar works, but actually this one doesn't leave any further impression. Remix works are coming up next by Retrogramme, Public Domain Resource, Lost Area, and Klonavenus. But as usual I for the most part prefer original compositions. None of these contributions can actually rival with the quality of the original compositions, although each of them has some elements worth to check out. As for a whole release it is a quite fair produced EP on which I here and there miss a bit of a higher recognition value. But maybe this impression will change if they decide to bring out an all new full-length album'¦
Jun 18 2014
Artist: XMH (@)
Title: In Your Face
Format: CD
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
This Netherlands-based trio has been well in my memories with their last album "State Of Mind", released by Danse Macabre and later licensed to Nilaihah Records for North-American availability. Now newly signed to the Belgian Alfa Matrix label they present us a new 12-track long album full of their expected Harsh EBM/Hellectro sound outfit. "The Business" released earlier as a teaser track for this album already could enter quite good reactions from the audience and moreover from the club-junkies. This track also opens this album with its straight and sweat-driving Techno-like beat-work, the screaming synthesizer-leads and the usual cookie-monster-like growling of the vocalist. It's Hellectro, Baby, what else do you expect? Also some of the further tracks like "Product", 'Forever' (with lead vocalist performance by the female member Isa Garcia), or the title track don't allow any dancefloor-victims to get out alive, because this action-driven album doesn't take prisoners. And with "Stiere und Schwule" this album holds up an ideal club-hit right up to follow the success and prominence of "Komasaufen" available on the predecessor. "Stiere und Schwule" is a prominent voice-sample taken out of the German synchronization of the overused "Full Metal Jacket" movie, in the scene where the drill instructor asks Private Cowboy about his roots (Texas). Not very original to use those prominent samples you might say - yes, but with its straight beat- and rhythm-work this one is quite effective and will let the masses stomp!
Funny I found the sentence in their information sheet, that they "slightly leaving the agro tech path and moving to new directions." They actually do so? Well, they rather leave their harsh style in micrometer-like dimensions and are still and undoubting members of the Hellectro-camp. Good and quality-producing members, yes, but actually with a very small, nearly unrecognizable will to change their throughout successfully formula. Here comes the point where I find the hair in the soup: "In Your Face" is to me a bit too repetitive and a bit too obviously drilled to follow the success of "State Of Mind" in its kind, production and out-coming. The musically development of this "Oranje-team" and their course to reach new directions is still active and hopefully not ending herewith.
Artist: VV.AA.
Title: A Visual And Auditory Reminder Of The Beauty Of Life
Format: 12"
Label: Seja Records (@)
Distributor: Seja Mailorder
Rated: *****
Netherlands-based and still very stubborn operating label Seja Records brings out the next hit for friends and listeners of Minimal, Synthpop, New Wave, and EBM. This new compilation again pressed in limited editions on vinyl (first 100 copies in red, 233 copies in black vinyl) offers 11 tunes pretty much woven into above mentioned styles. Side A starts with one of their greatest pearls in their holster, the Swedish Dark Electro-duo Fatal Casualties. The story of their establishing 28 years before in their bio amused me a while, because I couldn't figure out, why a band-project should need such a long time to come out with a first release ('Pariah' EP in early 2013). Although their end of last year released follow-up EP 'Somewhere in The Middle', which had prominent remix contributions by Daniel B. (of Front 242) or Beate Bartel (of Liasons Dangereuses) on board, couldn't impress me that much, they here return to their dark and sinister mood. Thumbs up also for Niton Cage presenting an exclusive remix of 'Generate Electricity' with haunting vocals integrated like samples and the wobbling bass-line sequence. Well, and that elegant early-80s-like Synthpop tune 'Let There Be Neon' proofs again, that quite often these years have had more innovation and originality than the current days. What a great track. Click Click is another legend I don't need to introduce since they lately have come back in action. Their vocalist Adrian Smith here contributes his magical timbre to ImiAFan's Minimal Electronica tune 'Try One'. Finally Kompleta like to invite us in 'Das Haus', but'¦, well, I prefer not to follow. Netherlands-based Mrs. Sophya with her beautiful voice opens the second side of this vinyl-only release with her mutation between New Wave / Minimal Electronica called 'Mechanical Butterflies'. I also dig the nice vocoder-vocals and Chiptune-like Electropop of another Netherlands-based legend of the golden era, Das Ding. Germany's Mängelexemplar give a Minimal/Synthpop tune dealing pretty much with an up-to-date phenomenon entitled 'Internetdemenz'. As expected, also Traffic A.M. with the still brilliant-sounding male vocals and their unreleased track 'Babylon' impresses s lot. The track list speaks for itself and if you find any preference for the mentioned music styles, this well-compiled vinyl-compilation needs to find a slot in your collection! Let's look forward and keep the fingers crossed for a bright future of this hard-working label. They know pretty well which switches they need to switch to bring some decent listening experiences especially designed for the elder and veteran listeners in these music styles.

Track listing:
A1 Fatal Casualties - Porta Breath (Remake)
A2 Niton Decay - Generate Electricity
A3 Poeme Electronique - Let There Be Neon
A4 ImiAFan & Adrian Smith - Try One
A5 Kompleta - Das Haus

B1 Sophya - Mechanical Butterflies
B2 Das Ding - Kafka Blues
B3 Mängelexemplar - Internetdemenz
B4 Selofan - Nafthalini
B5 Traffic A.M. - Babylon
B6 Chambre Froide - Les Machine

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Artist: Andrea Senatore
Title: Vulkan
Format: CD
Label: Minus Habens
Rated: *****
Active as composer, musician with a background as piano player, Andrea Senatore started to deal with electronic music in the nineties as well he ended his studies in harmony. In 2006 he started Scientist & Cynic and the year after released their debut album "Primatoid". Out of that album the track "Soundsation" found a success on its own and ended getting air played for a whole year by the main Italian national radio station. On the same year Andrea started a collaboration with the cello player Giovanni Sollima. After releasing an EP for Recycle Records and one for Miraloop Hearts, he took care of the "Pompeii city ''to discover" documentary soundtrack. In 2012 Recycle Limited released the single "Polar" and on the same year he joined Minus Habens Records which released his "De/Nucleo" album, born from the collaboration with Sollima. The last year he collaborated to edit the electronic parts for the worldwide famous Notte della Taranta festival, event which was broadcasted live on Sky TV and on Radio Rai 3. This year, Minus Habens just released his first album as Andrea Senatore, an album titled "Vulkan". The album contains eight new tracks where we can find as collaborators: Nabil Bey of Radiodervish (Arab and English vocals "Clouds"), Carmen Buss (German vocals on "Vulkan"), Mitsuko Morita (Japanese vocals on "Shiro-ko" and "Dromo"), Giorgio Distante (trumpet on "Noom" and "T-bana"), Simone Quarta (synthesizer and drum machine in "Monochrome") and Elisa Nitti (backing vocals on "Monochrome") and Ernesto Galicia for the visual part (the cover is one of his art pieces, called "The Power of White"). The tracks show a multi-faceted side of Andrea, as if on tracks like "T-Bana", "Sistor" or "Noom" a certain nightly atmosphere prevail (thanks to the trumpet and piano solo, the ambient electronic parts and the dilated sounds), on tracks like the main one we have a colder approach with squared rhythms. Things change radically on "Clouds" or the following "Monochrome" as the synthpop approach to melody and the upbeat rhythms open up the atmosphere of the tracks making them sound bright and catchy. On "Vulkan" we can catch i.d.m. influences, pop, ambient, techno and jazz in a fresh blend that I enjoyed a lot. You can check a video with sound excerpt on Andrea's website.
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