Music Reviews



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Artist: Michel Banabila (@)
Title: Sum Dark 12
Format: CD
Label: Tapu Records (@)
Rated: *****
This is interesting dark ambient with a beat. "Crowds" is a pulsating, rhythmic piece with crowd samples woven throughout. "Eyes of the Witness" keeps the beat moving, but this time a bit more traditionally. At some points, such as "Sumdark 12," it is pretty minimal, which actually works for this disc. "The Empire in Transition" is also a peaceful bit of droning soundscape. About half the disc is taken up by a live recording from "Summer Darkness 2012." We begin this set with a live version of "Crowds," but it is a bit more intense in the live version. The second part of the live set began as a simple beat-driven track that reminded me at times of old Plastikman and then got more gritty as it progressed. Overall this was a pretty good live set. This album weighs in at around 49 minutes.
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Artist: Distorted Memory (@)
Title: The Eternal Return
Format: CD
Label: Disciples Of The Watch (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
After several years being signed under the wings of the German label NoiTekk, Winnipeg's Electro/Industrial-project Distorted Memory returns now under an own established label. 'Disciples of the Watch' was not only a track available on Jeremy Pillipow's album 'Burning Heaven'; this title somehow must have been more meaningful for him that he has named his label after it. It's the result of the signs of the times that also Jeremy's nice developing project follows now the DIY path like more and more artists of the scene. A development can be also recognized with Jeremy's music outfit: Typically Harsh EBM-structures like the overused Techno-Vanguard fanfare or that Techno bass-kick are relics of the past also for Distorted Memory. Nowadays the compositions of Jeremy are sounding obviously better thought-out and well constructed. Dark Electro / Industrial and EBM are still the main genres leading the musically dimension of Distorted Memory, but nowadays Jeremy offers more maturity and the will to let his music turn into more complex directions. The sinister sounding intro tune 'In The Heart Of Your Fire' surprises after its typical Dark-Electro-like start with decent acoustic-guitar insertions provided by Nick Gorman (Fractured), another great Canadian talent. 'Lose Control' then comes up with the raw and angry vocals of Jeremy and a straight, forward-marching kick-and-snare work. Other favorites can be discovered with the nearly 'catchy' track 'Back Away' and the pounding 'Let Hate Be Yours' - both tracks which should be able to appeal the dancefloor-masses, even if these tunes, as well as the whole album, avoid bpm-rates beyond 140. Jeremy offers also a few moments to rest and gives with those ominous-sounding tunes like 'White Light (Dark Hope)', or 'Fall' some entertaining slow motion tunes to sink in under a good pair of headphones. If there is anything to complain on this album, it can be maybe found on the vocal performance. Always the same angry-sounding style also on those slower tunes like the both mentioned above is a bit one-dimensional. 'The Eternal Return' surprises with an unexpected amount of diversity, perfectly arrangements and it services very well all demands on an excellent produced hard and dark EBM-oriented album. Jeremy's talent proved on this well-sounding and -looking album in a digipack rivals with bands like Die Sektor, Siva Six, or X-Fusion. A serious contender of the imaginary 'album-of-the-year'-contest!
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Artist: XP8 (@)
Title: Adrenochrome
Format: CD
Label: 2393 Records (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
It has been nearly 8 years when I lastly had this Italian project on my table for a review, which doesn't mean that I hadn't the chance in between. Somehow I never had the drive in me to give them some more spins. I also laughed a while with their introducing sentence of their current info-sheet: 'What Benny Benassi and The Bloody Beetrots are for pink-shirt-wearing mainstream girls, XP8 is for the alternative electro scene: and Italy's most successful export in that field, these days.' And while I lost them a while out of sight, they now come up with this new, crowd-funding supported album. There has been several, most unlucky episodes happened in their now 12-years-long band history, especially when it comes to sign with labels. Black Flames of Poland went bankrupt, Infacted Recordings seemed not to much interested in them after two album, and their last episode under Death Watch Asia, which has brought us their 10-years anniversary release 'X: A Decade Of Decadence', was quite too short for a more optimistic resume. What they always had and on what they still can count is a loyal fan-base. 'Adrenochrome' as being a crowd-funding project has become reality in a record-suspiciously time frame (18 hours after initiation). This album represents a concept and tells us track-by-track a still futuristic story of two individuals being placed in London based on a Cyberpunk story-book written by Marco Visconti in the late 90ies, but nowadays revised. The tracks on 'Adrenochrome' are named after the chapters in this book and give the listener some insight into the story-board. Musically Marco Visconti and his partner Marko Resurreccion are sort of a fresh breath to all musty one-dimensional EBM-structures of the old-school formula: Mostly providing very straight produced and dancefloor-oriented tracks with higher bpm-rates, this talented Italian duo integrates Trance, Techno, or Hardfloor styles in their music. Their tracks are definitely able to drive sweat out of the pores of their audience - it's mostly an action-driven form of EBM/Electronica with a fair vocal performance. Since they've seen and experienced a lot of positive as well as negative things this scene has to offer, they are matured enough with their programming skills not to let this new album come out as a pure, blatant stomp-fest. I actually find myself being entertained by their chosen sounds and I am able to consume their tracks without kicking against the loudspeakers. 'Awakenings', 'Night Run' and the very catchy, Futurepop-inspired 'Inside Their Heads' are impressive produced dancefloor-tunes and can be counted to the favorites on here. As for a musically contrast, the angst-driven, dark and raw sounding synth-pads with the sinister drum pattern-programming of a track like 'Going Underground' impresses totally. Finally I too ask myself, why they aren't a bit more successful to become global scene-players, because musically, as well as sound-wisely here's nothing to complain. And even if I still enjoyed them too with their first singer Paul Toohill, I see no longer a reason to slap this dead-beaten horse over and over again, because Marco Visconti's vocals are fair enough produced to support the XP8 sound-outfit properly. Sure, their vision of EBM doesn't fit with the deeds of veteran projects and they rather represent an attractive form of post-modern arrangements and style-diversity. But what they do, they do crafty and decent.
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Artist: L 33 (@)
Title: Piedestal/All I Want
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Avantgarde
Rated: *****
This new master stroke, the third ring of an hopefully long chain, for the limited series of Italian label Avantagarde is a very good assay of minimal dark drum'n'bass coming from Bulgarian producer Daian Kutsarov aka L33, the pulsating noggin behind the small but really interesting label Mindtech Recordings. The vaguely menacing atmosphere of his tracks have been sharpened and somewhat delighted by funny sonic inserts, such as the squelching bassline of "All I Want", which could resemble an angry alien duck which seems to squawk on a kicking hammer and a vocal sample, which repeats the title before getting nuked by an electronic wind, or the amazing sounds of "Piedestal", whose waddling movements roll over ping-pong-ball-like hits, properly injected noises which are similar to burning oil drops, intake-like breathing and sudden sonic sprains. The rarefaction of its minimal style makes these sonic artifacts that L33 inoculates into his tracks more discernible and relevant.
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Artist: Thrash Pilot
Title: Galaxian/One Armed Man
Format: 12"
Label: Killscreen Recordings
Rated: *****
After his welcomed return on the scene by a couple of incendiary tracks - "Firewalker" and "Calisthenics" -, which he left for a long period due to the aversion against the state of drum and bass scene, Mancunian producer Jim Kennedy flings his second release on the scene, which highlights further the features of his sound, whose rhythmical brawn got enhanced by sci-fi-oriented hooks. The long introduction of "Galaxian", where he pushed the cartridges in by means of a truculently ominous electric-guitar, menacing snare drums and obscure sonorities which could remind some similar stuff by Aphrodite, Upbeats or Ed Rush/Optical, announces the following machine-gun fire of snaking stormy beats and 303 vitriolic bass, which got even more armoured on the second part of the track. The evoked hero or anti-hero of the following track "One Armed Man" on AA side seems to arise from radioactive electric sea mists while the mysterious halo Thrash Pilot derived from main theme of the notorious OST of Twin Peaks got shaked by a chasing d'n'b protonic flux before turning into a radioactive hip-hop medley and gliding on a drier faster movement again. Sound quality of this new drop on Jim's Killscreen imprint is really remarkable.
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