Music Reviews

Artist: Navicon Torture Technologies (@)
Title: Your Suffering Will Be Legendary
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
'Your Suffering Will Be Legendary' is a reissue of the two bonus CDrs (now CDs) that accompanied 'The Gospels of the Gash' limited edition box set by Navicon Torture Technologies released by Malignant back in 2009. As the limited edition is gone now (you can still get 'The Gospels of the Gash' sans bonus CDs) this was a necessary release, all things considered. 'Your Suffering Will Be Legendary' comes in an 8-panel digipak, two CDs of mostly splendid dark noise-based music. I never heard 'The Gospels of the Gash' but it was apparently NTT's swan song, and I'm sure Lee poured out his blackened heart and soul into it. What we have here though is something very different- a collaboration with 18 other artists over the 18 tracks on this 2 CD set. They are (in order) Aun, Black Sun, Cenotype, The [Law-Rah] Collective, Inswarm, Covet, Autoclav1.1, Herbst9, Jarboe, Deutsch Nepal, Fragment King, Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester, Prometheus Burning, Steve Moore, Eidulon, Troum, and The Bird Cage Theatre. Obviously there is bound to be diversity, and that's what really makes this release interesting. You may not like everything on it, but there is more than enough to hold your interest and keep you coming back for more.

Although there is still plenty of noise, much of 'Your Suffering Will Be Legendary' falls into industrial/dark ambient, and that's fine by me. First track ' 'Everything I Have Is Yours' (NTT + Aun) is slightly noisy dark ambient factory environment with some unexpected slicing drone musicality in the upper frequencies. 'Soul Eater' (NTT + Black Sun) has a somewhat harsh industrial environment with a raging voice repeating 'I EAT YOUR SOUL'. 'The Last European' {Damnation Edit} (NTT + Cenotype) begins with throbbing drones, then mournful strings with other electronic elements in the background. 'Cult of Doom' (NTT + The [Law-Rah] Collective) is a fine piece of metallic dark ambience that turns into buzzy, crackling drone about halfway through, subsiding before the end. 'Headwound' (NTT + Inswarm) is 2/3 brutal noise and the last 1/3 seething industrial dark ambience. 'I Won't Survive in a World Without You' (NTT + Covet) begins with dark ambient drone loops, then some delicately played piano notes. Over this you can hear emotionally upset pleading voices, then sad cellos. It's quite a disturbing piece; more trauma than you may want to handle, especially when those voices begin screaming. In 'An Exercise in Pain' (Extended Version) NTT + Autoclav1.1 begin the track with a sustained male vocal choir, then a rhythmic brushing noise loop kicks in and some higher sustained voice overhead with some low frequency electronics on the bottom. The loop fades and sustained voices persist. It's dark, but not hopeless. NTT + Herbst9 combine forces for 'Eclipsed by a Blue Star,' a classic dark ambient track, rich with industrial-ritual undertones and a variety of atmospheres. This is one of the tracks that makes this album so worthwhile. NTT + Hecate close the first disc out with 'Knowing No Mercy, They Rage Against Mankind'. Drones, mild and pounding rhythmic noise loops, a Lovecraftian dialogue sample, and plenty of other eerie sounds spill into the void.

Disc 2 begins with NTT + Jarboe's 'You are Worth Fighting for' ' organ drone and noises akin to gastric distress over which a metallic chittering and other well crafted noise and electronics swell into a surprisingly uplifting cacophonic symphony. 'Victvm Vermis' features NTT + Deutsch Nepal and it is as enigmatic and esoteric as you might expect with a collaboration between these two. NTT + Fragment King give you 'Gumrot' (Decaying Face Edit), a weird kind of hyper-dubbiness in the bass and percussion melded with Brancaesque hazy, shimmering overtones of what could be a guitar/electronics combo. 'In the Folds of the Flesh' (NTT + Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester) brings in heavy dirge-shoegaze guitar loop after a buzzy insect drone intro, but there isn't enough going on here to keep it interesting and it should have been shorter by far. NTT + Prometheus Burning combine forces for 'She Throws Me to the Dogs' and if you're familiar with Prometheus Burning, you probably know what to expect. Very heavy on the 'industrial band 'aspect. In fact, it's much more PB than NTT here with Nikki Telladictorian wailing away. Still, not a bad track, but much more industrial than dark ambient. 'Love Theme' (NTT + Steve Moore) is intense noise drone and electronic LFO driven oscillators for the most part, nice, but nothing stellar. 'Pillars of Flesh' (NTT + Eidulon) is rather low-key in its creepy cavern ambience, reminiscent of Lustmord. 2/3 of the way through though, distorted vocals rage over slow drums and you WILL feel the pain. NTT + Troum execute 'Sonnenaufgang,' in waves of staticy noise that intensifies into a buzz, then becomes low and muffled. This drone continues with more (phased) noise added, churning, and eventually subsiding. NTT + The Bird Cage Theatre close things out with 'The Moral of the Story Is Dreams Inevitably Lead to Hideous Implosion'. A low buzzy noise melody of sorts forms the base over which there is indistinguishable vocalizing. The track gets noisier and noisier with the noise overtaking the human element in this sonic blender. Noise enthusiasts should love this one.

Overall, 'Your Suffering Will Be Legendary' is a mixed bag; there are a number of tracks I liked more than others, and some I just though okay, and although your faves may be different than mine, your conclusion is likely to be similar. No doubt that this proves that Lee Bartow plays well with others, and I wonder if there might be more interesting collaborations in the future. I'm recommending this for the variety, and the packaging design by Jorden Haley is really slick too.
Artist: Sleepless Droids (@)
Title: Decision
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: CRL Studios (@)
Rated: *****
When I first received this I wasn't sure if it was legitimate product or just a band rushing out a handmade CDr to get review (as my copy is a handmade CDr) so I back-burnered it for later'¦much later. Turns out though that 'Decision' is quite legit as you can find it on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon (download) and elsewhere. When I got this, the band was called Sleepless, but apparently changed to Sleepless Droids. (Hey, are those the droids you've been looking for?) The project began in late 2011 as an experimental sound outlet for Australian producer Aaron Potter. Self-described as 'a hybrid of Electro-Industrial with elements of IDM and Drum and Bass'¦ combining layered electronics fused with raw human emotion,' it's not too far off the mark, although I'm not so sure about the raw human emotion part. 'Decision' is the debut EP, initially released just a month shy of a year on Halloween, 2012.

What we have here is five quality electro-industrial tracks with synthpop elements in the vocal/melody department. There is enough variety to be engaging, but not quite enough pizzazz to stand out from the crowd of an already glutted field. The opener, 'An Introduction,' with its martial beat and cooing vocal by Tessa Zintek Zinyk was a real attention getter, but had me expecting the music to be more along the lines of Collide. That's Tessa's only contribution here though; sort of a pity. Aaron sings on three of the remaining four tracks, and his voice is melodically pleasing (and undistorted, a big plus in my book), but it doesn't have that charismatic je ne sais quoi so vital to propelling a project of this type to the forefront. So in spite of the catchiness of some tracks, it may not grab you instantly. The synth and drum programming are competent and effective, but nothing you haven't heard before. To Aaron's credit though, there are some nifty production techniques and creative use of vocoder that give this EP a nice boost. Favorite tracks are 'Augmented' with a nice hook, and 'An Introduction' mainly because of the martial beat and Tessa's voice. My least favorite track was the instrumental, vocal sample-laden 'I Waited'.

As an initial effort, 'Decision' shows promise for Sleepless Droids, and it's better than a lot of fledgling bands in this genre I've heard over the years, but I think Aaron needs to up his game on the next release or risk getting lost in the middle of the pack in an already cluttered field.
Artist: Hoofus (@)
Title: Several Wolves
Format: CD
Label: Exotic Pylon Records (@)
Rated: *****
Even if they're off-topic, when I read the title and analyzed the content of this bizarre and mottled record by Norfolk-based 8-bit juggler Andre Bosman aka Hoofus, some lines from the lyrics of a recent song by Massive Attack, supposedly inspired by the notorious myth of Psyche: "Gain the Wolf/Conjure me as a child/Slipping down a webside". On closer inspection and by means of stretching flights of fancy, the inner and somehow lopsided narrative plot that Andre manages to weave from a bunch of amazing manipulations of old-fashioned videogame regurgitations could be considered as an act of love to a shadow entity and its adventurous happenings within the plot of a programmer, which sound somehow mirrored by the short-lasting twenty tracks of this release. Besides some chaotic electronic clots such as the initial "Data Shunt '89", the flickering gangrenes of "Tangled", the vitriolic spurts of "Right Here, Over There" or seemingly awkard closed loops ("We'll Always Have that Time the Never Happened", "Black Butter"), there are many moments when the imaginary computerized verbosity of the above-mentioned platform hero got almost humanized or at least closer to human manners. You could almost feel an attempt of childish vocalization on the stammering rhythm of "We Used The Darkness For A Light", a sort of temper tantrum on the clashes of "Night Forage", a certain mechanical dejection on "Disorder" and a sort of temporary emancipation from its digital consistency on tracks like "The Instant", "Places" or "Nearly Was" - that's how a game boy cold sound after having been cracked by Boards Of Canada... - or even displays of compassionate pleading on tracks like "Power Lines Lament" or "Quicksand Then Tea". Very nice process-generated stuff.
Artist: Marina Rosenfeld (@)
Title: P.A./Hard Love
Format: 12"
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
Formerly inventor of some interesting art and conceptual installations, New York-based whimsical composer Marina Rosenfeld manages to annex new stylistical territories by surprising phagocytosis in cahoots with Korean witty avamt-garde cello performer Okkyung Lee and notorious vocalist (and former collaborator of The Bug) Annette Henry aka Warrior Queen, who accepted the invitation by Rosenfeld to provide her warm vocals on the occasion of the album version of P.A./Public Address project that she nurtured between 2009 and 2011. The first performance occurred at the Park Avenue Armory, New York, where she successfully tested P.A., a quasi-scultural sound system, based on a series of customized subs and horns, which grabbed the noises from these wide location and exploited the sonic properties of the vast buildings where she used to perform, while the second performance was held in Renshaw Hall, Liverpool, an operating car park for the exhibition "No Longer Empty at the Liverpool Biennial". The adaptation for the album emphasizes the outlandish syncretism between electroacoustic, conceptual art, astonishing vocal manipulations, dub and reggaeton elements (more distinguishable on the "spacialized riddim" of the track "Hard Love"), which sound like particles fluttering inside an aural magma and flickering electronic clouds together with amplified external captures. The final mesmerizing, shifty and somehow elusive result could be considered a possible unheard-of declension of dub, whose various elements could sound like clues of intersecting parallel universes.
Artist: Moskitoo (@)
Title: Mitosis
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
Biologists and many commendable inquiring minds know that mitosis or binary fission is the subdivision of a cell into two separate cells or I'd rather say the phases which precede the birth of two diploid cells, when the homologous "copies" still coexist within a single cell. Such a borrowing from biology perfectly describes the duality of sonic delights by talented Japanese sound-artist Sanae Yamasaki aka Moskitoo, which could sound banal if it got described as the typical and platitudinous dichotomy between human and artificial that many reviewers trout out when human voice and instruments got somehow embedded with electronics in symbiotic balances. Filaments of glitch electronics, feeble and warm sonorities, electroacoustic weaves, flickering tones and graceful vocals which seem to oscillate between delicate arias, exhaled breath condensate and childish hyphenations waves in flurries of daydreaming melodies, which could vaguely surmise some old stuff from Mum or Ruxpin. The above-mentioned process of cellular reproduction is just the conceptual starting-point as she focuses on "the ideas of division, expansion, the human body , and small particles of matter" by her own admission, but listeners will realize that she wisely managed to coagulate all those concepts in this elegant, inspiring and enchanting release, whose subdivision into twelve tracks and many astonishing stylistical pinnacles ("Vulpecula", "Trajectory", "Wonder Particle" and "Fragments OF Journey" are my favs) don't prevent listeners from savoring it as if it were one sole stream in one with nature, emotions and their arcane enchantement.
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