Music Reviews



Strange Attractor: Everything Is Closer

 Posted by John Gore   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 11 2006
Artist: Strange Attractor
Title: Everything Is Closer
Format: CD
Label: Music For Speakers
This project is comprised of the duo Niels van Hoorn (soprano sax, etc.) and Richard van Kruysdijk (Electronics, softsynths, samples, etc.). When there’s a sax player anywhere in the mix you immediately think jazz, and there’s plenty of that kind of thing ging on here, but this is modern jazz, and a bit RIO. All kinds of music is presented here, from traditional arrangements to abstract noise and atmospherics. This was originally released as vinyl as Rorschach & Rorschach II. But here’s the tracks individually:

1. Rorschach

angular soprano sax melody, dissonant harmony, busy jazz drumming, buzzy electro bass in a repeating pattern with various embellishments added each time the theme comes around leads immediately into

2. Black Earth

synths set up an harmonic tension underpinning with harmonized soprano sax in delay mode on top, various electronic effects for added sonic seasoning, busy drumming to hold it all together

3. Alpha

heavy halting drums over delayed electro tones, white noise, leading into

4. Omega

jazzy electric piano and female vox and drum programming, reeds and flutes in accompaniment mode

5. Simulcra

scratchy samples in loop mode, noisy percussion added to repeating synth melody figure, slowly building and changing form, new melodies and patterns added but holding the same center of melodic gravity held in place by bass clarinet

6. The Mind Travels Further Than The Body

ominous, dissonant voices, a pulse, a distant calling horn

7. Never Say Never

the voice of LPD tells us another of his strange stories in his usual style

8. In the End It’s All Pretend

jazzy fretless bass sets the tone of rain on windows, slowly moving crowds with heads down staring at the sidewalk, living inside their own heads

9. Dreamtime

treated vocals (by Richard Sinclair of Hatfield and the North) on a bed of wispy synths, driven by a repeated bass figure saxes and drums

10. Scrap Metal

back beat with dissonant melody and counterpoint, cute/creepy I would describe this

11. Fishface

vocals by the LPD guy again using the melody line from the previous track , dark atmospherics added for extra depth, "feed me" he says, a fishy tale, water samples used as rhythm section is a nice touch

12. 26 September

a musical question mark for electronics and soprano sax

13. Five Below Nothing

Sax section of Tenor, Bari, and Bass all played by Hoorn. Good drum programming since the track credits list no one else helping. Goes straight into

14. Melancholy Station

vocals by Marie-Claudine Vanvlemen of Sonar Lodge, with vibe based jazz combo, nice

15. Undone

I think I recognize a Mahavishnu Orchestra sample being used or am I going to get someone in trouble here. The looped sample is accompanied by a bass clarinet, and more vocals by Marie-Claudine

16. Fifteen Years Of Sorrow

same MO sample used but with soprano sax accompaniment this time, vocals by Ka-Spel this time, dreamy synth pads and deep bass add to the mood, aha, I think I hear a Soft Machine sample too! track builds nicely around the vocals

FGFC820: Urban Audio Format

 Posted by James Postell   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 11 2006
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Artist: FGFC820
Title: Urban Audio Format
Format: CD
Label: NoiTekk/COP Int'l (@)
Rated: *****
When Rexx Arkana sneers "these are the lies that we tell ourselves, the deep disappointment that we know so well" on Urban Audio Warfare 's leading "Children of Decay," he might as well be talking about the entire EBM movement over the last decade and a half. Once upon a time, rivetheads huffed and puffed (and stomped) their way through the scene like so many tyranosaurical Rexx-es, pun intended, laying claim to dance floors around the world, involving all in their rageful suffering. Then Wax Trax! released Psychosonik and like the dinosaurs before them, the gearboys vanished. Waves of wimpier techno, trance, synth- and futurepop ruled the world --- or at least the clubs --- until acts like :Wumpscut:, Suicide Commando and Hocico arrived to pierce the darkness with their beacons of angry electronics. Many heralded next-big-things followed, but too often thudded, their polished images and derivative musical incantations echoing like hollow whispers, to borrow from Rexx's other, better known Bruderschaft project.

On Urban Audio Warfare, FGFC820 may not break the mold, but they've surely dented the hell out of it. Their name is the only thing cryptic about this project, as their message rings loud and clear. Rexx and his DJ partner Dräcos, who contributed the best of the two dozen odd remixes on Bruderschaft's Forever EP, deliver face-pounding, riot-inducing beats, menacingly and unapologetically, in the form of 73 minutes of pure, hard EBM thunder.

On certain club smashes like "Martyrdom", "Society", "Perfect War", "Comatose" and "GBA", Rexx seethes distorted on the ideas of isolationism, nationalism, sacrilegiousness and the decay of modern civilization. If the subject matter sounds trite for the genre, it's no more cliché than human experience itself. After all, who hasn't ever felt angry, rejected or out-of-place in this world?

While they never quite abandon their traditional roots, it's clear that FGFC820 not only welcome change, but also advocate it, so long as a greater purpose may be served. "Existence" splinters off into a violent break beat style. "Anthem" drops the bass line in triplet form, while the instrumental "Resolution Number 5" can only be described as West Coast (the hip-hop connotation of the term) industrial.

Yet, nowhere on this record do FGFC820 forget where they came from or their reason for being here. Simply put, FGFC820 intend to cause damage of both the musical and intellectual sort and they are largely successful in achieving those goals on their debut release. If Urban Audio Warfare doesn't awaken the rivethead armies from their slumber, then perhaps they all really have deserted their posts.
Dec 08 2006
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Artist: SEVERE ILLUSION (@)
Title: Shortcut To Civilazation
Format: CD
Label: DSBP (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
The chaotic Swedish duo SEVERE ILLUSION returns with a new full-length release and continue to terrorize someone’s nerves with another 65 minutes long doze of dissonant noisy assaults integrated in hammering old-school EBM bass lines, extremely distorted vocals and a solid kick and snare rhythm work. I’ve said it several imes and I will continue to do so, but they still offer a kind of aggressive Electro/EBM/Industrial sound, which you won’t find anywhere else. They’re playing with known elements for sure, but in that experimental kind how they set the things together is unique and authentic. There aren’t too much acts out of this genre which deserve such qualification. Although I must say, that they offer with "Shortcut To Civilization" an album, which doesn’t follow the overwhelming chaotic Punk-inspired elements richly presented on their predecessor "Accomblishments of Leopold II". "Shortcut..." more seems to turn someone’s attention on a stronger Minimal Electronic and old-school EBM-like attitude – the bass lines are pumping like never heard before. The unexpected noise is of course still present, but globally this 15 tracks tend to leave the rage out of content – let’s say that "Shortcut..." is somehow the expected album after "Discipline Is Reward Enough", on some pieces maybe a bit slower ("One Foot On The Cross"). Surprised I’m also regarding the fact that they’ve included two tracks, which already got released on some compilations. "Right In Your Hostile Little Face" made it on Plutonium’s "Showcase Vol. 2.0", while "Bad People" is a much older piece already presented on DSBP’s "Futronik Structures 4", out in December 2004. But this doesn’t disturb the flow of this album. Favorites can be named with "Killing Useless Nations" and "Named After You" to satisfy the need of kicking some asses, while "Nuclear Advantage" and "Competitive" turn hard and pounding into the Powernoise genre. "Barbarian" shows the musically abilities this band has to offer, it combines well worked-out catchy synth pads (did I say "catchy" in connection to SEVERE ILLUSION??? Hmmmmpf) with fast-forward drifting Electro beats. Lets finally hope that the generic fans of Electro/Industrial music can recognize the given talent and potential behind this act, and that they are courageous enough to buy this item. This fine DSBP release points out another well done genre album asides the still rolling Hellektro avalanche.

KOBOLD: A Taste of Copper

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 08 2006
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Artist: KOBOLD (@)
Title: A Taste of Copper
Format: CD
Label: Artoffact (@)
Distributor: Storming The Base
Rated: *****
Hailing from New Mexico, USA, this duo was already announced as being a newcomer signed to the fine Canadian label Artoffact. And as the good label name obliged to – also this release features that something special musically, which drifts away from your usual Electro/Industrial listening. First, this release needs some time and a bunch of more rotations until some one can find the real entrance to this music. KOBOLD surprise with some unheard experimental electronic tunes, which offer fantastic programming abilities. Think on some works of INDEX on the more up-beating tracks (I wouldn’t tend to say danceable...) like "Puzzlebox", "Rubicon" or the nice "Intrinsic", combined with a rough influence of some classic SKINNY PUPPY/early NEW MIND ("Fractured"-era) works on the slow and creepy pieces like "Murmur" or the ominous title track. The comparison to INDEX isn’t that far away, because one of the additional musicians is Cody Cast, who has built INDEX together with Eric Chamberlain in their early years. Although this release can be called modern and up-to-date, the older PUPPYan influence adds an interesting and long missed component to KOBOLD’s music. Two remix works by BIAXIAL CREEP on the tracks "The Other Side" and "Human Cages" are also featured here, offering some IDM influences to the originals. This is an addictive and marvelous release, but surely no stuff to listen in addition while doing some household work. What a pity, but I fear that this fine act will be totally underrated.

DERMA-TEK: Corpus Technological

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Dec 08 2006
cover
Artist: DERMA-TEK
Title: Corpus Technological
Format: CD
Label: DSBP (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
The debut of this male/female-leaded US-duo was already awaited thanks to some well placed compilation appearances on the various all-time favorites "Endzeit Bunkertracks" and "Interbreeding" series. DSBP finally received the rights on this highly sought-after act and it seems to me a bit, that this label has picked up an act which can promise a not expected success, which this label deserves like no one else. See it, Tommy T. is working his ass off to promote his acts on his label, some more national and international recognition is required to reach some better sales. So this could happen with DERMA-TEK, consisting of Joe Cains (vocals, machines) and the hot Miranda St. Croix (machines). They are of course not the immediately follow-up act to some DEPECHE MODE-sounding Synthpoppers, they rather more spread their hatred seed out on some Hellektro/Aggrotech fields. They would musically fit excellent into the NoiTekk roster, but note that finally almost all labels at the scene have signed at least one act providing the known success formula with highly distorted whisper-like vocals, hard, head-nailing danceable beats at 140 bpm, rough, monotonous bass lines and some hints into some Trance-like programmings. So you’ll got here an intro piece and nine pounding assaults which make it impossible to sit still to. DERMA-TEK have learned their lessons well and a track like "T.W.E.P." can combine excellent a fairytale-like kling-klang melody with the hard-driving aggression, one of the best works here. Another remarkable piece can be heard with "Less Important", which is a collaboration composition with the up and coming US act XENTRIFUGE. It can be called conspicuous, that DERMA-TEK take care to offer socially and politically critical lyrics, the globally fine worked out mix and end mastering (by Alex Matheu of NEGATIVE FORMAT) and the artwork done by no one else than Willi "Deaddreamer" speaks for and shows well the professionality which stands behind this release. The best seems to be just good enough for this release, although – and this needs to be said, too – DERMA-TEK cannot offer anything new or innovative to the listener. This should be the target for some future releases, to develop and to work out an own authentic style. DERMA-TEC offer a well-done scene-related debut above some usual and comparable productions, while still leaving some free space to reach a wider musically diversity.



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