Music Reviews



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Artist: Hunter Complex
Title: Heat
Format: 12"
Label: Narrominded (@)
Rated: *****
Narrominded publishes the new LP from Holland's Hunter Complex presented as "a strange mix of Moroder's film scores and '81-'82 era" so the songs collected in this release are based on the classic synth pop structure. So, musically speaking, they are pop songs with synth instead of guitars and reveals as sound exploration has given to pop an entirely new musical palette.'¨"Heat" opens this release with a '80's sound clearly recognizable but with the '90 experimental attitude while "serious glas" deals with classic synth pop musical structure without seem a bad copy of it. "Atlantic" seems something taken from some strange oat featuring a sort of exotic mood vaguely resembling of some japan tunes. "Space" is clearly influenced by the '70 disco sound made by Giorgio Moroder. "Daylight" features dreamy synth. "Highway hypnosis" opens the B-side of this album, released on vinyl, and is a track with one of the best hook heard this year. "China rain" is a slow ballad and "room" almost a dance track. "Stations" and "hours" close this as classic pop tunes that use synth to obtain a layer of modernity to the classic pop musical development.
This album is really well written and glamorous, it features declaredly nothing ground-breaking, and is a sort of modern postcard from a distant era (the '80s) that seems better than ever. Nice without nostalgia.
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Artist: Ese
Title: The Deep Side Of Synthetiko
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Amarcord Record
Rated: *****
Born as an evolution of what produced by Ad, Eso is formed by Daniele Mastracci and features Allegra Lusini on vocals. Mixing English and Italian language the album contains six long songs plus a remix of "Follow Me". Influenced by 80s Italo Disco and electronic music, "The Deep Side Of Synthetiko", also takes inspiration by modern electro dance music as well as a little bit from electro pop (take as reference bands like Little Boots or La Roux) and witch house. It's like a big short-circuit where influences from the past make the nowadays sound which is mixed again with retro influences. The sound of Eso is characterized by the use of analog gear. Melodic catchy tiny melodies are alternated to synth arpeggios and 4/4 beats with upfront bass lines are the core of the songs. Vocals sometimes are sampled and used as an instrument as the original tune was a remix but this isn't a bad thing as it enhance the creative process.
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Artist: Ken Hayakawa feat. Julian & der Fux
Title: Uber Den Dachern
Format: 12"
Label: Jhruza Records
Rated: *****
Coming from Austria and active since late 00's, Ken Hayakawa has released different 12"s and a MLP but never released a proper album. In these years he refined his style (these new songs sound a bit let house and chilly and more electro) and now he released on vinyl and digital format his new EP "Uber den Dachern" for Jhruza. Helped by label boss', which is also Julian & Der Fux's member, Ken wrote a wonderful track that is able to gather dance attitude, smooth atmospheres, catchy melodies and sensual nightly atmospheres. Practically a perfect single! The tune is also here with a club edit that has the acoustic elements removed and is focused on 4/4 beats, loud bass lines and the great vocal lines Julian provided. The release has also three other instrumental track which are more influenced by house and techno but that succeeds into mixing the best of both the worlds by using good melodies, hypnotic atmospheres. "Sonnenbad", "Wolkchen" and "Verschmuckte Welt" are able to catch the attention thanks to their mix of acoustic inserts, rich rhythmic palette and melodic loops. They are less immediate compared to the opening track but are surely worth your attention. Great single indeed!
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Artist: Agent Side Grinder (@)
Title: Hardware (sfwr Included!)
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
I could begin the introduction of this amazing release by a nostalgic "once upon a time" as if it were the introduction of a fable, but I won't, even if this amazing Swedish band seems to have crafted a sort of tribute to the miliar stones of new wave and synth-pop by injecting doses of primordial EBM mutations. I could make a list of all stars of late 8ies and first 90ies which came to my mind while listening to this old-fashioned, but still working in an excellent way, computerized device such as Depeche Mode, DAF, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, Clock DVA, Nitzer Ebb, Cabaret Voltaire, the first Front Line Assembly and so on, but if you missed this release, I'll let you discover all the wisely dissolved sonic minerals which spring from Agent Side Grinder's analogue devices and even from the way lead vocalist Kristoffer Grip modulates his voice, which nimbly moves within a wide range between Dave Gahan ("Look Within"), Jim Morrison ("Mag 7") and Gabi Delgado, on the condition that you don't goof by thinking about wrong or inappropriate stylistical kinships like the ones I've heard by people who listened this album, the "poppiest" one of their discography, who for instance linked the nice electronic march of "Sleeping Fury" to Capricorn, the chirpiest melody of "Rip Me" to LCD Soundsystem or Blur and so on. The difficult assignment of bringing Agent Side Grinder back to less archetypal styles has been committed to 15 remixers, which have been grouped on the second cd (that's the included software suite!) of this enhanced reissue, which set many suprising outcomes aside such as the sci-fi-scented broken waves by Swedish electro/krautrock band /MF/MB, the kraftwerkian synths of Emanuel Lundgren aka Red Idiot on "Wolf Hour", the track which features vocals by Henric de la Cour, the pruning electro/disco hooks by Jacques C and the amazing techno-dub by CCIS on "Life In Advance", the crisp punkish EBM by Container 90 and the syncopated pop-punk by Blackstrap on "Die To Live", the drilling techno incubation of "Voice Of Your Noise" by FOLD, the seducing beauty of the cover of "String Strikes" by Styx Tiger, the lulling and somewhat sepulchral cosmic radiance of "010-195" remix by Thomas Ekelund aka Th.Tot, the alienating ambient-drone tech version of "Mag 7" by Jasper TX and so on. All the remixers manage to elicit many different prompts from Agent Side Grinder's music, which already sounds like a retro-futuristic shrine.
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Artist: Toshimaru Nakamura + Ken Ikeda + Tomoyoshi Date
Title: Green Heights
Format: CD
Label: Baskaru (@)
Rated: *****
The title of this collection of five tunes from this trio of Japanese sonic experimenters derives from the location where they recorded them, the balcony on the 6th floor of a Japanese building in Tokyo where Brazilian-born Tomoyoshi Date, an ER doctor with a mania for field recordings and toy piano, which got poured into different interesting collaborative projects - he plays in Illuha with Corey Fuller (we've recently spoken about their amazing last album on Taylor Deupree's 12K), in Opitope with Chihei Hatakeyama and in Melodia with Federico Durand - lives. Date opened the door to a couple of friends - NY-based sound designer hooked on fusty synths and video artist Ken Ikeda, who besides some past releases on Touch and Spekk labels can boast of striking collaborations with David Lynch, Tadanoori Yooo and Mariko Mori, and Toshimaru Nakamura, inventive composer as well as one of the most appreciated improviser of that influential Japanese free-improv scene, known as Onkyokei, who plays a mixing console as if it were a musical instrument by means of a system he named "no-input mixing board" on the occasion -, provided some wine, sake and other social drinks in order to foster talkativeness and flair. The title itself could refer to the features of each track as green color is commonly considered hypnotical whereas the references to various Greek letters in the titles of each track could refer to brainwaves (alpha, theta, beta, gamma), which many lovers of recreational technology knew after the spreading of so-called brain machines. Each track seems to be built on bases of piercing pure tones, which bear and enevelop the textures of gently entancing melodies, the amazing electroacoustic jabs and the electronic novocaine they wisely inject so much as the most cacophonous ingredients of each soup sound somewhat soothing.
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