Music Reviews

Edrh: Sideremesis

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Oct 18 2015
Artist: Edrh (@)
Title: Sideremesis
Format: CD
Label: Apathia Records (@)
Rated: *****
Erdh is Nicolas Pingnelain (electronics, programming, guitar, bass, drums) and Emmanuel Levy (vocals, lyrics) from Paris, France. Pingnelain is the co-editor of Obsküre, a French dark music magazine, and Levy aka "El Worm", is the mastermind behind Wormfood, a French avant-garde doom gothic dark metal band. This is my first experience with any of this, and 'Sideremesis' seems to be the second release by this project, following 'Resilient' (2013). The EP consists of four tracks, the first being the title track and the lengthiest one on the disc. At first, it seems to be about disease- "I don't feel well this morning, A sour taste on my tongue, Gastric acid mixed with blood, And potassium hydroxide..." but as it goes on, you realize that it's actually some kind of metamorphosis - a human turning into some kind of cyborg, or machine. Well that certainly is imaginative! The electronics and beats are moodily evocative and El Worm's vocals are quite varied and dramatically gripping. The track is disturbing but beautifully orchestrated from start to finish. It melds seamlessly into "Backup 1011" and now the machine created out of the human seems to be having a romantic, sentimental dialogue with an (anonymous?) female user. Very melancholic. "E-Creed" is a funky electro number beckoning the listener to "embrace your city..." and "follow along its pulse". Last track, "Pink Circuit Firmware 2.0.15 (Mlada Fronta remix) is a hypnotic piece of electronica that begins with a medium slow beat and filter-sweeping bass. The vocal begins in Type O-Neg style but quickly moves into machine mode with vocoder assistance, which it slips in and out of. This is quite a change from the original ("Pink Circuit" from 'Resilient') which had a much more metallic and human bent to it. I really like this version much better.

While that may describe some of the mechanics of 'Sideremesis', it certainly doesn't do justice to the whole. There are elements of EBM, darkwave, gothic, industrial, synthpop, rock, ambient, opera, trip hop and avant-garde, but this music owes no allegiance to any one of them in particular. That may make it difficult for some to grok at first, but repeated listenings will enhance comprehension, and open you up to the genius that's at work here. Erdh may have described their project as "cinematic metal", but there is a curious lack of metal on this EP. What they have done is create a mini-masterpiece in a dark, downtempo soundscape that attempts to reconcile man vs. machine, the organic melding with the inorganic. To a degree, they have succeeded. It's like many things you've heard before, and yet nothing you've ever heard before. A most delicious enigma.

Synth Bard: Gold Box Renditions

 Posted by Pierre Parenteau   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
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Sep 04 2015
Artist: Synth Bard
Title: Gold Box Renditions
Format: Tape
Label: Ephem Aural (@)
Rated: *****
Synth Bard 'Gold Box Renditions' is a super cool collection of renditions of SSI's Dungeons and Dragons DOS games (released in the nineties) made on analog synthesizers. The weapons of choice used by Synth Bard are the mighty Korg MS-20, the always good Dave Smith's instruments Mopho and the Waldorf Rocket, which is a small portable analog synthesizer. An assortment of guitar pedals was used to make it sound 100% analog. It introduces a bit of background noise but the overall recording is fairly clean. The tunes here are epic, catchy and melodic. This is the good stuff, a true geek wet dream! The tape itself is a work of art for any self-respected nerds: the sleeve reproduce the artwork of the original SSI's games, the tape has a strange brownish color and it comes with a Dungeons & Dragons character record sheet! The quality of the tracks is consistent, there is no fillers or boring tunes. There isn't much more to ad, it's simple and good. Plus, all the proceeds are donated to SOS Children's Village. Highly recommended!
Artist: AAAA
Title: Shiva Watts
Format: 12"
Label: Antime (@)
Rated: *****
It doesn't really matters the circumstances that "Voyager II", "SH Crush", "VCO mode" or the awesome title-track "Shiva Watts" could resemble some stuff by Richard James's acid techno act AFX as well as other EDM tunes of the late 90ies and similarly "Blackfish" could vaguely remind of some EBM outputs (even if a friend of mine thought it was a remix of Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" by Gridlok!), "Vocall 300" could be closer to some vocal daydreaming electro-hop that used to shake many headphones in the second half of the last decade, "Domo Geodesico" could lay in between contemporary Berlin electronics and 70'ies progressive electronic music - very interesting matching, indeed! -, "Pet Grief" could be confused as the remix of some Depeche Mode's unreleased melody by Beefcake or Proem, "Class of 1999" could sound like a robotic romance by Royksopp, which seems to get counterbalanced by the more lukeworm and softier sounds of "Bad Hair Day" and tracks like "Mixtape Alpha Dials" and other interplays could recall some clips by Boards OF Canada to some attentive listeners. Similarites are sometimes unavoidable, but the debut album by AAAA - a moniker, which sounds like a new format of batteries for electronic devices! -, the alias of Gabo Barranco, a Paris-born producer who raised in the suburbs of Mexico City, melts all these possible influences in a so roughly funny way that similaties become something to brag about! Previously released by Mexican imprint Maligna, Antime's founder Martin Steer thankfully decided to import it for the pleasure of Old Continent's listeners. Wise choice!
Aug 26 2015
Artist: Glass Dancer
Title: Demon Dolls (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: House Of Analogue
Rated: *****
After Empire State Human disband, Aidan Casserly didn't lose his time and started immediately to work on a new project called Glass Dancer. The movie director Dustin Ferguson called him for composing the soundtrack for his remake of the 1993 Todd Jason Falcon Cook film 'Demon Dolls' and this has been the perfect opportunity to focus on new music. Composed in two weeks during the October 2014, "Demon Dolls" contains ten tracks included on the movie, plus three bonus tracks. I thought that this was an instrumental album, so I was curious to check what kind of atmosphere Aidan would create without using his vocals and I was surprised when I found out that he sung on "The Raven" and on "Open Up The Gates". Anyway, the album is a good mixture of ambient electronic with elements of synthpop and late 70s/early 80s electronic soundtrack atmospheres and I'm pretty sure you already know the name I'm going to do, which is... Yes: it's Carpenter. Aidan succeeded into creating a dark atmosphere without forgetting the use of catchy melodies and if on tracks like the opening "Dark Sunset" he focus on the ambience to create, on "Doll Intro" or "Dowtown Lament" there are echoes of his past, when he composed instrumental songs for Empire State Human along with Lar. I liked the album and you can find it at the major digital store, but if you want to check it first, you can listen to it on Spotify or Deezer.

Tolchock: Elements of Rage

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
 Edit (8850)
Aug 03 2015
Artist: Tolchock (@)
Title: Elements of Rage
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Tolchock is back with a brand new album after nine long years and that's a damn good thing. For those unfamiliar, Swedish band Tolchock is Christer Lundmark and Jens Persson with the addition of Jenny Runa (voice and choire) and Michael Forslund (guitars) on this album. They've been around since 1990 but I admit the only release of theirs I'm very familiar with is their 1998 album, 'In the Name of Tolchock' which I thought was fucking great and played to death for a good long time. I dusted it off and played it again for this this review, and I still think it's fucking great. I checked out their interim 2006 album, 'Wipe Out - Burn Down - Annihilate', and although it had a lot of power and anger, there was a lack of really good hooks, and it wasn't all that memorable. Not so on 'Elements of Rage', which find the band more focused, and on top on their game, with killer hooks galore and a more polished sound. This is EBM at its finest; snappy synth work, dynamic clubworthy beats, excellent edgy EBM style vocals, appropriate (and mercifully brief) samples and on-target songwriting. Although Jens is the voice of Tolchock, Jenny's vocals are the perfect foil and add a lot to this album. Forslund's guitar fits perfectly in place, never overstepping its bounds. For me, favorite tracks on the album are the (obvious) "One Second" (an undeniable hit if I ever heard one), the potent "Self Extractor", and the rather humorous "Walk of Shame". Go baby, go baby go baby go...down on your knees and crawl! "Day of Rage" and "Firecell" get honorable mentions. Three tracks get the remix treatment on the album - "Time To Breath" (Machinsta Remix); "Down The Hole" (Biomekkanik Remix); "Self Extractor" (Red Mecca Remix); and once again "Time To Breath" (Blipp Remix). While they all offer a bit different takes on the originals, none of them were anything I couldn't live without. I usually prefer the originals to remixes anyway. So the bottom line is, if you're looking for some great punchy new EBM, look no further. 'Elements of Rage' has got what you need.

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