Music Reviews



First Aid 4 Souls: Dark Tunnel

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 20 2018
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Artist: First Aid 4 Souls (@)
Title: Dark Tunnel
Format: CD + Download
Label: Digital Absynthe/No Labels Interested (@)
Rated: *****
I'm trying to play catch-up with a slew of releases that have sat idle in Mr. Urselli's hopper for some time (Marc's a very busy guy) and this is one of them. Sometimes you need to play detective just to get the basics to prep for a review. In this case it's the label that's the problem- Digital Absynthe/No Labels Interested. There's no website by that name, but the album is being sold (here in the U.S. anyway) on Human Vault's Bandcamp site which seems to serve as the label's website. (I could have just called the album "self-released", but where's the challenge in that?) Turns out Human Vault (from Brooklyn, NY) is the vocalist and lyricist on this album going by the name of Mortum. First Aid 4 Souls is the music project of Istvan Gazdag, from Budapest, Hungary where 'Dark Tunnel' was recorded. If you check Discogs you will find that First Aid 4 Souls has a lengthy discography going back to 2008, but Gazdag's musical history goes back much further than that, to 1992 with the band Vacuum, one of the most significant bands in the Hungarian industrial music scene. So obviously Istvan has a lot of cred it electro-industrial music. 'Dark Tunnel' is a concept album based on Dmitry Glukhovsky's 2005 novel, "Metro 2033". The book is set in the Moscow Metro, where the last survivors hide after a global nuclear holocaust. There communities settled within the underground train stations and developed into independent states over time, and various political factions emerged vying for power and control. You can see that this isn't going to bode well for the inhabitants, as conflicts turning into war eventually rages between them, with the added post-apocalyptic distress of mutation due to nuclear fallout. There's much more to it than that, but if you're really intrigued you should read the book. 'Dark Tunnel' does a good job of capturing the flavor of this dystopian work, and while Mortum's lyrics don't get specific about characters and plot, they are still in keeping with the dystopian tone of the work. You'll need the (enclosed) lyric sheet though as the electronic vocal processing and Mortum's somewhat raspy voice and accent often obscure the words. Unfortunately the lyrics to the first two tracks- "Her Face As An Angel" and title track "Dark Tunnel" are not included, so you'll just have to tough those out. Istvan's dark electro/EBM synthwork and rhythm programming and production is excellent throughout, old school but still never sounding merely two-dimensional. The album does seem to end inconclusively though, without a strong denouement, so perhaps a sequel could be in the FA4S's future? What really makes this album worthy though is its astronomically low price, at least on the label's Bandcamp site. Two bucks for the CD, and download for only $1.00?? It's almost like giving it away!

Blastromen: Cyberia

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 15 2018
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Artist: Blastromen
Title: Cyberia
Format: CD
Label: Dominance Electricity
Rated: *****
Mika Rosenberg and Sami Koskivaara best known as the electro Finnish duo Blastromen, four years after their second album for Dominance Electricity are delivering for the same label their newest one, titled „Cyberia“. Available on CD and double 12“ (black or red plus poster) as well as digital (which contains the bonus track "Into The Void (Video Edit)"), „Cyberia“ contains ten new songs that somehow continue where „Reality Opens“ left. Conceptually the theme is like a story and this is the third chapter. Robots, humans, space travels and such are always the main thing although this time there’s a mysterious thing which involve „Cyberia“ and it’s what that is about. Blastromen write: „They call it awakening. It is now about to be born - the final invention of mankind. Perfect, limitless and able to raise beyond what its creator could ever forsee. It will remain after time has left humans. Cyberia“. So, what Cyberia is? A new city for cyborgs? A way to become a cyborg? That is unclear, but the cover graphic made by The Zonders let us think about something that went wrong. You can see a light coming off from what it seems a divinity. Who the people on the cover are? Some are looking like zombies, some others like experiments. The titles let the mystery opened for you to let your imagination run free. Here they are: Cyberia, Into The Void, Load Reload, Outsider (track that features Acid Hausmeister at the 303), Dream, Unite Arise, Signals, R.U.R, Light Traveler and Eternity. Musically, the album opens with three songs that are classic Blastromen tunes where vocoder, catchy synth melodies and haunting electro breakbeats are the key elements. Luckily, there are also tracks where the formula has been tweaked a bit and on tracks like „Outsider“ (more based on bass lines than on pads), „Dream“ (a short cinematic one with vocoder effected vocals where arpeggios and bass drum are upfront), „Unite Arise“ (another one focused on bass lines, drums and high pitched arpeggios), „Signals“ (these one have also little guitar like solos) and „R.U.R.“ are straight electro and less breakbeat and this is a nice counterpart to the other tracks. „Cyberia“ is an album to check for sure and the new influences are just great. A nice release brought to you again from Dominance Electricity!
https://soundcloud.com/dominance-electricity/de027
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Artist: A Place Both Wonderful And Strange
Title: The City Smells Like Cat Spit EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****

BUY from  HERE
Elegant and whimsical but dark and uncomfortable at times..."occult electronic" and "doom gaze" are perhaps the terms closest to being appropriate for the Brooklyn duo, A Place Both Wonderful And Strange.

After a successful East Coast/Midwest tour, the band releases their new digital-only EP, The City Smells Like Cat Spit on August 24. The EP features one original track, "Kristae" and 3 re-worked live & studio tracks, "W*tch (Mevius Tour Version)," "Stone (Version)," and "Hex And The City (Resonata Remix)."

"Kristae" is a deeply haunting cut that evokes the image of a ghost-guided dusty LP, perhaps something out of Moby's worst nightmare. The standout track for us is "W*tch (Mevius Tour Version)." Musically haunting in the backdrop but guided by the heavenly vocals of Laura. "Stone" starts off with a cinematic female spoken narration and then moves to a whimsically-nuanced, fluid and moving track that ends before you know it or want it to. "Hex And the City (Resonata Remix)" is a bit of a layered, complex version of the song showing the band's unique mix of electronica and trip-hop.

"Wonderful" and "Strange" they are indeed. But the band is much more than that. They are simply one of the most original, un-classifiable electronic bands out there right now. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. For now, The City Smells Like Cat Spit is a perfect blend of electronica, darkwave and post-punk and then some....

Tolchock: World of Tolchock 1997-2017

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 13 2018
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Artist: Tolchock (@)
Title: World of Tolchock 1997-2017
Format: CD
Label: Energy Rekords (@)
Rated: *****
When I think of great EBM bands, there are a few that always come to mind- Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Leæther Strip, X Marks the Pedwalk, Suicide Commando, and Tolchock. If you're not familiar with the Swedish EBM band Tolchock, chalk it up to them getting little promotion (outside Europe) than the others, although they certainly deserved the recognition. I don't know if their 2015 re-emergence with the 'Elements of Rage' album made a big splash or not, but it was a very good album. Now we have a 20 year retrospective anthology of 14 tracks culled mostly from 'In The Name of Tolchock' (1998), 'Wipe Out - Burn Down - Annhilate' (2006), and the aforementioned 'Elements of Rage' (2015). This is great kick-ass stuff guaranteed to burn up dancefloors in dark music clubs throughout the world. Plenty of hooks, 4-onthe-floor infectious beats, effective synthwork, and edgy vocals. No slo-mo stuff here; this is an express train with no locals stops. 'World of Tolchock 1997-2017' make you realize just how well this material has held up over the years, while some of the earlier music by some of those bigger name bands sounds pretty dated now. Even though this is old school, it sounds vibrant and fresh. Songs such as "Kicks," "I Feel Sick," "A Practice for Hell," "Kiss of Death," "Power Money Salvation," "Man is Evil" and much more just have a certain simplicity and sense of purpose that blow away many newer acts that are trying to make their mark with this kind of music. Tolchock actually began around 1988 releasing their earlier (pre-In The Name of...) material on cassette with limited distribution. I would have liked it if they included some of that stuff on an additional CD with this compilation, since I've never heard any of it, and probably not a lot of people have. Still, this is the best introduction to the band you can get, and damn fine EBM to boot.

Steve Hauschildt: Dissolvi

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Aug 03 2018
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Artist: Steve Hauschildt
Title: Dissolvi
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Ghostly International
Steve Hauschildt packs a variety of moods and tones into a short album of plaintive synth-electronica and home-listening soft techno. Although it’s described in terms of alienation, solipsism and anxiety, for the most part it’s rather comforting- but an undercurrent of disquiet rumbles at times.

Warm pads infuse tracks like “Phantox” with a mellow layer that feels smooth and relaxing, and Julanna Barwick’s soft refrains on “Saccade” have shades of later-era Delerium. Longest track “Alienself” ticks along with sounds that feel at times a throwback to early 90’s trance (not to be confused with late 90’s trance).

Slightly less cosy layouts come from tracks like the counter-rhythms of “Aroid”, a hybrid of gentle electronica and a maths challenge that proves difficult to track and which fades away as though it was only an experiment. The title track, which closes the album, is more broadly cinematic and a crisp tops-heavy breakbeat pattern gives it an extra sense of urgency that unknits some of the soporific effect of the tracks that precede it.

It’s a plush bit of electronica work with rich atmospheres. It doesn’t particularly stand out in the electronica crowd but if you can’t get enough intricate instrumental soft electronica, you’ll enjoy this.


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