Music Reviews



VIRTUAL EMBRACE: Hellektro

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (2232)
Oct 17 2005
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Artist: VIRTUAL EMBRACE (@)
Title: Hellektro
Format: CD
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
Mike Johnson is not only the head behind VIRTUAL EMBRACE, he is also responsible for the music projects AGONOIZE, SERO.OVERDOSE and INFEKKTION, plus he has his own mastering studio Mao-Music and his own Tattoo studio as a daily job. His whole life seems to be dedicated of and about music and if you take a look to huge release output of his projects, you’ll get an idea how productive Mike is. Only one year after the release of his debut CD, this new full length CD of his sole effort VIRTUAL EMBRACE picks up the sound and ideas of the current ruling kind of harsh EBM/Terror-EBM – or just Hellektro – the name of this CD which has became a category in that genre. Currently he added also the helping hand of DJ Cyberchrist from London, who has an open eye to the lyrical content of VIRTUAL EMBRACE. You'll get the full dose of hard and rhythmic club-oriented EBM with rough distorted vocals, ripping bass lines, some Techno bleeps and hard destroying rhythm patterns packed in eternal monotony. Here is also the biggest flaw which this production has without any doubt to offer. In case of his huge output Mike’s music lacks of new and refreshing ideas. This "Hellektro"-CD has indeed a few good moments with "She-Speed" or the track "Virtual Embrace", but overall I would like to advise Mike to take a break and to think how about to come out of this musically death valley. Why still the hunt with repetitive sounds after the big pattern SUICIDE COMMANDO? How does VIRTUAL EMBRACE really differ from names like TACTICAL SEKT, RETRACTOR or just his own band AGONOIZE? It is quite disappointing for me to see and hear that Mike does not really think about to offer only one or two tracks in a different direction, something what could help VIRTUAL EMBRACE to be outstanding. This "Hellektro" is unfortunately nothing more than another repetitive mass production. On the other side I cannot blame Mike for playing with the formula of success, and this formula works on this whole album very well once again.
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Artist: CABARET (@)
Title: Electric Chair Song
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
Don’t ask me how a Polish band gets a contract from the Canadian label Artoffact. It proves only that the world is small. The question why they could get this contract is clear after some listens to this debut single CD, which has seven remarkable tracks on board. Musically this single CD offers a nice diversity of styles, starting with Electro-Pop, some Trance- and/or Ambient elements as well. I would also say, that the music – especially by the Single Mix and Radio Version of the two main track "Electric Chair Song" and "Dawn Mist Glowing" – features a kind of dark Pop music, maybe distant comparable to some MODE elements taken out of their "Ultra/Exciter" phase. This seems to be the main musically target of this band and I find it quite impressive how this band tries to combine here and there some classic instruments like piano, decent guitar inserts and/or "real" drums with diverse up to date electronic music styles. This can also be a good explanation to get signed on an international renowned label like Artoffact, the situation of professional labels in Poland seems to be unsatisfying. My favorite track is "Every Home is Wired" – it is a cover version originally done by Porcupine Tree – with its great melodic piano rolls and the decent male vocals. A band to follow without hesitation and I am sure they will even more surprise with their soon to released album "Homophobia".

AYRIA: Flicker

 Posted by Marc Tater (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (2219)
Oct 11 2005
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Artist: AYRIA (@)
Title: Flicker
Format: CD
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
While it is mostly hard for me to realize that there is a growing mass of female leaded Electro/Industrial acts out there which cannot grab my attention, there are still some exceptions of this rule like the Canadian Jennifer Parkin aka AYRIA for example. EBM/Electro is normally a men dominated style of music and to listen some female vocals combined with a rough electrified body music needs still some habit for me. But as I said – Miss Parkin helps me easily over this mountain of ignorance. Although the cover art may suggest some Futurepop bullshit clone music, AYRIA surprises with a rhythmic and well-produced EBM/Electro album, musically mainly inspired by classic old-school veterans like NITZER EBB. Okay – this try of a comparison is way back to courageous, but it will maybe give you slight hint what to expect here. This also means that you will not get an overloaded Electro album full of thick synth layers – no, Miss Parkin shares more and points out the minimal kind of Electro, mainly based on some melodic shreds, rotating bass lines and the might of her good inserted voice. Well, she isn’t surely and will never be an opera aria singer – but who the fuck will expect this from this style of music? Her little Underground hit "My Revenge On The World" is as well present here and this track is for me still one of her strongest works. Some other favorites can be "Pink Dress" which surprises with some ass-kicking guitar riffs to strengthen the refrain. "Infiltrating My Way Through The System" is maybe the best example of the trust in minimalism with a strong dancefloor oriented attitude. "Be Me" is a bit too much based on already discovered Futurepop ideas, although the bass line will leave scratch scars in your ears. Finally the musically harder piece "My Device" can totally satisfy with some sick and distorted vocals. "Flicker" is a nice follow-up album to Miss Parkin’s earlier works. If the 2 meters high EBM male shouter will enjoy an EBM album done by a woman will still remain a matter of taste of course – but this is worth to give it a try.

Fenton: pup

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
 Edit (2217)
Oct 10 2005
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Artist: Fenton (@)
Title: pup
Format: CD
Label: Plop (@)
Rated: *****
If you've already heard Dan Abrams' name is probably due to the fact he's other releases out on 12K label or on glorius Mille Plateaux. If you're just confidential with the second of these two labels, you know how many of its releases are based on music that's electronic but usually also "uneasy" (Murcof or Neina for example). Fenton's the opposite of "hard", popsters out there, you're warned!. "Pup" is a warm and confidential but nor intimist neither "hardly digestible", according to the words of mr. Abrams: "I always enjoyed the beginning and the ending of pop songs. I wanted to know what would happened if I made an album out of just those moments". "Incredibile dictu" this cd sticks perfectly to the intentions of his maker, it will make you exactly think to pop songs' intros/outros with the same tension and the same feeling as everything could go on forever. Dan aka Fenton aka Shuttle 358 comes form the minimal (and never forget "minimal" doesn't imply cheap) electronic scene and works mainly with microsounds, loops, acoustic guitars, processed electric guitars and his beloved laptop, of course. One of the most appreciable qualities of Fenton's music is to make the listeners feel comfortably drown into the slow tempos of the tracks, at the same time the "everything is neverending" atmosphere will relent the peace of your heart. "Pup" is soft like wadding, nay it's snow that paints the mountain white, you sit down making a deaf noise waiting patiently for the hours to fade. "Pup" is the first Christmas' gift even if December has yet to come.
Oct 06 2005
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Artist: O.V.N.I. (@)
Title: Object Volant Non Indentifiť
Format: CD
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
This is the side-project of the already discovered Electropop act SEIZE, which is also signed to the Belgium label Alfa Matrix. I haven’t discovered too much Science Fiction or Alien influenced themes on this CD (OVNI means UFO in French...), but it is obvious already after the first listening, that this project deals with some of the newest and modern musically influences. Contrary to the main project, O.V.N.I. features mainly with an emotional male singer and the music is globally in a darker mood, while the included breakbeats tend at times to spread in nervousness and confusion. The mixture between the classic and typical Synthpop-influenced vocals with uncountable breakbeats are the remarkable points on this production. Tracks like the very Futurepop-like "What Have I Done" show a surprising amount of great melodic lines which is seldom to get heard in this genre. "Slave" offers a darker realm and it is the only track on which are female vocals present. On the other hand here are also some tracks which provide uncountable sinewy beats ("G.S. Pet" or "The Vision"), until it starts to hurt. Some of these pieces try hard not to be called adapted, but at times this band tends to exaggerate this a bit. The references which I could read in the info sheet to this release, like COVENANT or HAUJOBB and a few more, are well chosen – I personally would like to add NEUROACTIVE at their "Fiber-Optic Rhythm" phase to this. This release dwells well into the Futurepop-, Synthpop-, or Electronica genre, however you would like to name it. My favs are the mentioned calm and conventional pieces, but hey – that’s just me! Give it a listen and judge for yourself.


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