Music Reviews

Symbiont: ology

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Nov 06 2002
Artist: Symbiont
Title: ology
Format: CD
Label: DSBP

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This Salt Lake City project, Symbiont, offers one powerful debut release with "ology". This is hard elektro, heavy aggression, dark venting without real violence. As many have said who have heard this CD so far they are a welcome refreshment of a dying breed in todays underground Goth/Industrial scene dominated by Future/Synth-pop and EBM. This is a harsh return to the dark agression of early goth/industrial and brooding violent moods. However, Symbiont is not one of those copycat sound-alike bands. EVERYTHING on this disc is highly original, well thought out, and masterfully produced. Every layer of every track and every sample is masterfully contrived. From the very first track, "ology" the title cut, this release lets you know what you're in for with some hard EBM styled beats, unique sampling, and very harsh/dark vocals. Symbiont is in my mind the culmination of what the DSBP Records sound has always been about in the first place. Symbiont just does it better than all the rest with a much more modern texture to it. Heavy club beats, harsh distorted vocals, and dark brooding moods. This is a must hear! I haven't been this excited about a hard/dark industrial project in quite awhile. The second track "Evilation" adds a tiny bit of techno influence that is subtly utilized amidst hard metallic beats and clean cyber sound structures. Symbiont mixes quite a few styles and lots of their own experimentation in this one release. The third track "Consummate Saturnine" for instance begins on a more somber and melodramatic tone of dark ambient. This moves gradually into a more classical sounding piece composed in an industrial style with vocal samples and screams for overall effect. "Step Child" goes back into a nearly Hocico styled harsh industrial-EBM with some hard driving quicker paced Noise rhythms that drop into a very harsh industrial body rock. What follows is one of my favorite tracks that will be of high interest to vampire fans and Anne Rice afficianados as well. "Aggro Culture" begins with a female vocal sample, a whimpering individual fearing death. This is followed by a male speaking about Death being no respector of age, etc.... Vampire fans will recognize this as the Theatre of the Vampyre scene from "Interview With A Vampire" in which the woman is killed on stage by hungry vampires. The samples used mix perfectly with the heavy EBM-Industrial styles and heavily distorted lead vocals. The overall track gives these samples the forefront of the attention. My favorite part of this is the attention to detail that the band uses in the second sample segment where the woman's voice is looped saying "I don't want to die" with various sighs, screams, and gasps in between. This is done is such a way that it avoids repetition of a single sample looped but instead creates a structure of it's own which matches the rhythm of the music in perfect sync as well. I was wondering when somebody was going to finally sample that part of that movie. After this is a hard Noisey ballad called "Rancor" with some more interesting samples in which we discuss the contemplation of death. Following this is "I Blame You" which begins with lots of noise and builds into another hard club hit. "Skinned" comes next and drops the pace considerably. This is where the album takes a unique dark turn. With an almost trance-like feel to it while maintaining the heavy rhythms the vocals are highly synthesized here. This later builds into another danceable track. "Fear IN Justice" follows this overall mood with a few quieter interludes while "Tri-polar" begins with a few ambient industrial textures and a sound which constantly pans left and right in a trancelike manner. Also, soft ambient synth is also used, like something you'd expect of Robert Rich or Steve Roach except that there is a certain brokeness to it that gives you an 'altered-state' perspective. This is followed by piano and vocal samples (I won't give away all the details here) but then the track builds into a driving EBM rhythm. Now this gets real interesting! The percussion beats used are all stomps like a drill team doing a routine to some kick-ass EBM-Industrial. This is a technique that many thought of doing in the 90's when Ministy, FLA, and Skinny Puppy were still the rage and militant dark industrial was the key to many new local industrial bands. Symbiont have actually achieved it! They have reached the state of harsh darkness akin to Electric Hellfire Club, Velvet Acid Christ, and Skinny Puppy with the harshness of bands like Hocico, Marilyn Manson, but all the wonderful EBM club beats we love that fits the modern age. The samples used are very selectly picked and oftentimes drive the track's theme and are an integral part of the track like the way TKK use to do it. At the same time other samples like screams, grunts, moans, etc.. are used like the 'impact' samples used by Front Line Assembly. Still yet others are used for sheer ambience, texture, or sound techniques like the marching rhythms and others. Symbiont not only have mastered creating an extremely dark album but also one that is both moody and very club oriented at the same time while utilizing practically all industrial sampling techniques in unique and masterful form. If this is a debut I can't wait to hear more! The entire album is lovable and each track for it's own reasons.

Anorkia: Children of Pride

 Posted by Chris W.   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 18 2002
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Artist: Anorkia
Title: Children of Pride
Format: CD
"What makes a great release?" is the kind of question I had on my mind today when listening to my new Demo Ep from "Anorkia", titled "Children of Pride". I soon knew the answer after I pressed play.

A band, started in early 2002, has collaborated many members. But the core members, as of now, are:

Fang - First concepts, synths
Dr3w - Vocal programming and supervision, mixing
Je$$ - Vocals - Mixing, remixing, mastering

These four people have created a sound far beyond words. Anorkia isn't just some new underground band. It's a whole new look at electronic synth pop. From the grungy keys, to the sexy vocals, this band can appeal to any fan of any genre. Now to tell you a little about "Children of Pride".

The first track, "War, Sex, Crime", starts off with a burst of hard beats whcih soon picks up to loud synths and the sound of Dr3w rhyming into his mic. The lyrics on this track are amazing. Some of the best I've ever heard in a while. The song has a nice overall beat to it, and is very dance-able. Although you can't hear the beginning vocals to well because of the distortion, it's still a very good song.

The second track, "An", has wonderful melodies and great synths. The vocals are more clear than "War, Sex, Crime". Towards the end, this track gets a little repetitive, but overall, a job well done.

The third track, "Falling Down", has the same feel as "An" gives off. A great tune overall. But it too, gets a little reptitive at the end.

The fourth track, "Power to Believe", gives off a great, mellow vibe, but still maintains that crystal clear Anorkia sound from the previous three tracks. There aren't any vocals, but the track still has a great feeling to it, which makes it astonishing.

The fifth track, "War Sex Crime (Dark Trance Remix)", is the same as the original track, but is very darker, and has a stronger feel to it. The synths added to make this remix are wonderful, but there needed to be a change.

The sixth and final track, "An (Concrete Slab Remix)", is, too, very similar as the original track. It has a new funky vibe to it though, which I didn't like as much as the original, but still, very catchy and fun.

War, Sex, Crime - 9/10
An - 7/10
Falling Down - 8/10
Power to Believe - 9/10
War Sex Crime (Dark Trance Remix) - 7/10
An (Concrete Slab Remix) - 7/10

EYE: European Propaganda vol. 1

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 15 2002
Artist: EYE (@)
Title: European Propaganda vol. 1
Format: CD
Label: Third Brass Collective (@)
Distributor: Blatant Propaganda
FINALLY!!! Finally somebody did notice this great Australian band whom I've been supporting and believing in for so long (some of you might remember they have been interviewed in Chain D.L.K. and featured on one of our CD compilations). Somebody, namely the Belgian label 3rd Brass Collective, has finally helped them get out of the limbo of self-released CDs (not that there is anything wrong with self-releasing CDs and doing-it-yourself, on the contrary, but having a label will probably help them get their music around the world and most importantly spread the very important message that Eye has been propagandizing with so many efforts for such a long time). J. Citizen, aka Eye, is the man that has been dedicating his life and his music to the spreading of anti-animal-abuse and anti-vivisection knowledge. Besides Eye, and his other musical projects Elf, he's also been running the Blatant Propaganda 'zine (, which I suggest you check out as soon as possible... Anyway, before I get carried away with complimenting Eye for his politics, I guess I have to let you know about the music too, right? ;-) Well, Eye plays solid electro-industrial music with an edge. Heavily inspired by old-school Euro EBM (think Nitzer Ebb for example) but also close to some acid cyber-punk. Frenzy beats, distorted guitars, political lyrics, crunchy synth lines and a shit load of vocal samples from the pharmaceutical, political and scientific every day scenario that annihilates us. Titles like "Goods and Services Tax", "Blind Progress", "The Vivisector", "Mandate", "Action = Life", "Does this look like Science to You?" should give you a grasp of what the themes are. John Cult, of 3rd Brass Collective, has assembled this vol.1 CD with tracks from various other Eye releases spanning between '94 and '01, so basically this is nothing new for fans of the band (except for a nice colour cover), but it's a great starting point for those who do not know Eye yet. Me? Well while you are getting to know the integrity and the sounds of this great one-man musical project, I will be looking forward for volume 2... 'Cause there will be a volume 2, right John? Right?

AntiQuark: Mask

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 13 2002
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Artist: AntiQuark (@)
Title: Mask
Format: CD
Label: Pet Set (@)
When a new record doesn't click for me I listen to it over and over, even more times that I would play one that I love, trying to understand why it is that I don't like it and most importantly trying to make sure I can offer the readers an accurate representation of what the band plays, especially when the project or its people deserve it for some reason... This is one of those cases, and I hope I am not gonna be accused of sexism just 'cause I am not very fond of AntiQuark's material, since these two beautiful women are way into feminism and on a mission to turn things around in the male-dominated music industry. I respect that a lot and I am sure they'll understand that a review is nothing more than a mere personal opinion and that they really do have my support for what they are doing and for their ideals... Ideas that, like I said, are about the value of female musicians and about the true ethics of punk and of do it yourself (applied to whatever music one plays), values that I myself happen to share and strongly support. I am not gonna say they are rrriot grrrls, cause I know that Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill's singer, who allegedly started the whole riot-girl thing, but who also didn't want it to become the commercialized trend that it -was- turned into later on) doesn't feel very proud and well-represented by that name anymore; even though AntiQuark actually opened for Le Tigre (Hanna's new band). What I am gonna say instead, is that these girls are really into what they do and into how well they do it. They are serious about the message and about the music. Their background is also very interesting. Ant is an Italian scientist with a master in Marine Biology and a spin on shark's and marine ecosystem's protection. Maren is a sociologist from Germany. Strangely they didn't meet in Europe, instead they met in San Diego, California, where Ant moved to in 1997, after having founded and played with the Italian punk/hc band Hex and where Maren had already been living and playing with the punk band The Peppermints.Bet let's get to their music, the music they have been playing for a year now, since immediately after they met. The nine tracks of "Mask" present you with a visionary synthesized experimental electronic music with various assorted noises and with vocals that mostly seem to caress the dark/post-punk era with references to cyberpunk (the treated vocals of the last bunch of songs) and that sing lyrics in a style they describe as a mixture of Burroughs, Manson and Lewis Carrol. The reason why I don't really like this record (musically speaking) is because the sounds are very outdated in my opinion and the song's structure is over-simplified by the minimal sonics. It sounds like they'd like to have a stronger impact but that they don't quite achieve that, which is probably just a matter of time, considering they are a new band and possibly even new to the genre. They come from a punk background, where naturally guitars and drums allow for a much more violent attack; in other words, it's easier to get that level of strength with the instrumentation of a punk band than it is with synthesizers and computers. Anyway, while Maren sings the parts in a settled, laid-back, quasi un-caring mono-tone, almost spoken-word deep voice (hell, she almost sounds like a guy sometimes, instead of screaming her lungs off like she probably does with The Peppermints), Ant produces easy soft-techno and extremely minimalistic 80es-sounding ebm beats working around dark textures, synth lines and some occasional rough fuzz-storted guitar parts. Another thing I feel is missing are strong, dominant, full bass lines. It sounds like there is no bottom end and that they focused on the synthetic patterns, the pads, and the hints of melodies that the sequencers play back, but that they forgot to build a solid and consistent rhythmical section to support it. I don't know, maybe I am expecting something totally different from what they actually have in mind, but I would have thought they knew better... Anyway, aside of my personal tastes, I invite you to check out "Mask" yourself. They just finished promoting it with a European tour. You can get the record from their above-linked website (which among other things has a nice flash intro by an Italian comics designer called Fulvio Bisca), or from their own strictly DIY label Pet Set Records, which, I wanna add, they run with an admirable attitude that is true and real, an attitude that would make the music industry a better one if only more widely adopted.

Edition Terranova: Hitchhiking Non-Stop with No Particular Destination

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 10 2002
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Artist: Edition Terranova
Title: Hitchhiking Non-Stop with No Particular Destination
Format: CD
Label: !K7 (@)
"Hitchhiking Non-Stop with No Particular Destination" hit the street yesterday, October 8th, and sounds soooo damn american even though Edition Terranova (ex Turntable Terranova) are three skilled Berliners from the club Pogo circle of Djs. Their new work of love (after their 1999 debut "Close the Door") contains twelve tracks, among which a Bob Marley cover of the song "Running Away" and two bonus tracks. Mastermind Fetish, Meister and Shapemod (aka Jon Shapeton) pulled together a blasting sound system made up of keyboards, guitars and loooots of programming and vinyling... They are influenced by Detroit techno and by hip-hop in equal amounts, I'd say, but the final mixture definitely leans a bit towards electronica. The key is that they don't overdo it and know how to spice it up with nice beatz and groovy sounds and with a good dose of eclecticism and fancy artistry that brings rock and even Jamaica into contexts you wouldn't necessarily expect them to pop up. Among their instrumental tracks and their Londonish reverberated unknown looped sound-bits hovering over deep bass lines, you'll find lots of original material and good intuitions. Keeping it simple, keeping it real and adding estranged elements to the mixture they will get people dancing, no matter what. The most peculiar side to this album is probably the vocals, in all their diversity, political integrity and internationalism. In other words think Jamaican style singing, NY style rapping, Berlin style vocoding and London style whispering. They all make for a truly no-barrier-sound with catchy tunes, hilarious parts, intelligent lyrics.Guest appearances include Stereo MC singer Cath Coffey, NY poet Mike Ladd and Ariane from The Slits (a name that probably only die hard punk-rockers will recognize).If you are into it there is also an EP with the above mentioned Marley remake, one previously unreleased track, a cappella versions and remixes by Stereo MCs and DJ Naughty. You might also wanna notice that !K7 rec sells all CDs for just $10, so get down to business already!

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