Music Reviews

Bohren & Der Club of Gore: Dolores

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 27 2008
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Artist: Bohren & Der Club of Gore
Title: Dolores
Format: CD
Label: Ipecac recordings (@)
Distributor: Play It Again Sam
Rated: *****
Patton's label Ipecac is known for scouting interesting pearls of music from across the globe, as in the case of Bohren & Der Club of Gore, a German quartet that definitely plays their own unique version of lounge jazz and slow doom without guitars, if you can believe that. Bohren has been around since 1988 and their debut release dates back to 1994. Ever since then, they've been stripping down their sound to less and less, removing the guitars and adding a saxophone (which doesn't come in right away and surprises you with all its Lynch/Badalamenti atmosphere and melancholy).
Their eerie and gloomy musical creations feature nothing but drums, organ, vibes, Rhodes, piano, sax and lots of reverb and venture down in the 20-25bpm range, about as slow as it gets (you can basically go get a coffee between the kick drum hit and the following snare hit). They reverse-engineer and deconstruct doom metal into this light (in sounds) but still heavy (in moods) blend that almost sounds like a cleaned up and completely undistorted and un-fuzzed version of Sleep, Thergothon, Boris or Sunn O))). Sinister but soothing, hypnotic and mysterious, depressing and enlightening Bohren plays without a doubt some of the most original music out there. Some have called it "horror jazz" (whatever that means), but make no mistake, there are no brushes (although some multi-rods), there is no swing and there are no seventh or major ninth chords here: "Dolores" is almost entirely in minor chords, and although there are identifiable melodies, they take a step back to let the overall moods shine in the dark light of "Dolores".

Collide: Two Headed Monster

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 21 2008
Artist: Collide (@)
Title: Two Headed Monster
Format: CD
Label: Noiseplus Music (@)
Distributor: Noiseplus Music
Rated: *****
I hate when it happens; I receive a CD to review from a fairly well-known band months after it’s been released. Reviews are already published, verdicts are out, and I’m left with the unenviable task of confirming or denying sentiments previously espoused while still trying to remain original and unbiased in my opinion. First- the prejudice: I’ve always has a soft spot in my heart for Collide. I’ve enjoyed them since their initial release (BENEATH THE SKIN) back in 1997. Although I haven’t kept up with everything they’ve done, I’m familiar enough with their material to assess what they’re delivering here. If you want to cut to the chase and just determine whether to buy this latest Collide product or not, then I’d say BUY IT without a doubt. If you’re interest in my reasons why you should, then read on.

Collide kind of started out as a female-fronted electro-industrial mélange with dark goth pop inclinations. There were a few bands out there at the time doing this kind of thing but somehow Collide managed to do it better. When every other female vocalist in the genre was getting compared to Siouxsie Sioux, the vocal talents of Collide’s kaRIN invited a broader range of juxtapositions. The aural complexities Statik produced, especially on their earlier releases helped set the band apart from the glut of female-fronted gothy-electronica bands that populate the genre.

Collide has morphed somewhat from their beginnings; grown and changed but always retained the unique core of their sound- complex and beguiling. I think Collide’s turning point was their involvement with Curve’s Dean Garcia. For those unfamiliar with Curve (probably a minority), the band’s was essentially a fem-fronted duo consisting of Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia. Curve sits somewhere between shoegazer and noise pop on the genre meter. Last year kaRIN and Statik collaborated with Garcia on a one-off (so far) project called Ultrashiver resulting in an album titled THE SECRET MEETING. The end result was a lot more Curvish than Collidish in my estimation- not a bad thing at all. That album got great reviews but true to its name is a commercially "secret meeting". However, what Collide retained as a result of that project has ultimately influenced their new material on TWO HEADED MONSTER.

With the exception of kaRIN’s sultry-slinky vocal style (a hallmark of any Collide project), I wasn’t much impressed with Collide’s last studio album, SOME KIND OF STRANGE from 2003. In spite of guests cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy and Danny Carey of Tool it was altogether too slow, and the songs just didn’t seem that compelling to me. Flash forward to 2008’s TWO HEADED MONSTER and you have a whole different animal. First off, Collide sounds more like a band here than a recording project. I can actually imagine this album being played live more than any of their prior material. Although "Tongue Tied & Twisted" (line from a Pink Floyd song, eh?) opens the album with a dark, lurching semi-slow groove, the pace changes briskly with the followup, "Chaotic". Here you begin to notice the drum work (undoubtedly courtesy of Danny Carey’s reprise here) and the fact that kaRIN’s vocals seem more integrated with the music in the mix. Stylistically, kaRIN isn’t that far removed from Toni Halliday and it shows in numerous places on TWO HEADED MONSTER. I think the songs are a bit more accessible (probably unintentionally so) in structure on this album without falling into commercial cliché. This is a feat many bands strive for but few seem to accomplish without concession or conceit. And it is for this reason that TWO HEADED MONSTER transcends being merely a good album and becomes a great one. There are enough mood and tempo changes, enough twisted sonics, potently placed power chords, dynamic shifts and compelling rhythms to satisfy the most demanding alt rock listeners. Every corner turned by another track on TWO HEADED MONSTER holds a dark and delicious delight. If there is anything even remotely close to filler on this CD, it might be only one track- "Head Spin". Even on that song there’s enough sonic substance to hold your interest. TWO HEADED MONSTER could well be the breakout album for Collide, bringing them a much broader fan base than just the dressed in black set. Then again, who knows? They run their own record label (Noiseplus Music) ensuring artistic integrity and a meager promotional budget. One well-placed track on a TV series or a movie soundtrack could propel them into the spotlight. Unlike a lot of bands who achieve "overnight success", if TWO HEADED MONSTER is any indication, Collide are ready for it.


 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 17 2008
Title: Ghosts
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Long time collaborators Tony Wakeford and Andrew King with GHOSTS are proposing something slightly different from the Sol Invictus guitar driven ballads scheme. Helped out by Kris Force (Violin, Voice), Renee Rosen (Violin), Guy Harries (Voice, Flute, Melodica), Autumn Grieve (Voice), M (Sounds, Electronics, Vibraphone, Marimba) and John Murphy (Drums) the duo did an album inspired by M.R. James writings (he is best remembered for his ghost stories in the classic 19th century Yuletide vein, which are widely regarded as among the finest in English literature). Mixing literature elements, folk music and dark atmospheric semi-experimental solutions (see the creepy effect on "Casting the rune" where effected guitars duet with percussions and voices or the beautiful "The ash tree" where a cyclic melodic noise is the background to crossing spoken word vocals, female chants and military drumming) the combo succeed into refreshing the new-folk genre exploring new fields but keeping always as a reference point their English roots. Ballads and charming dark songs based on treated sounds/samples (as "Mr Mothersole" ) make of GHOSTS a great album that sounds balanced and always interesting (great choice to dare a little and using the ballad structure only one few tracks). Check some songs on the band's myspace page...

Faerie Wunderpuss: Christmas

 Posted by Michelle Russo   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 15 2008
Artist: Faerie Wunderpuss
Title: Christmas
Format: CD EP
Rated: *****
Faerie Wunderpuss is the name of the band and it consists of a trio of great music enthusiasts. Mr. Guisef Volium, Jonathan P. Stitch and Genivre Vine all hailing from the Chicagoland area. This is by far the most original X.mas compilation I have received to review. Very unique spooky artwork on the cover of the ep with little bits of surreal real wood glued on the cover of the CD to frame the demented Gothic Santa Claus that tell the tale. We open with Track one, " Christmas is Coming" which is a beautiful ethereal symphony of the spooky side of the holiday that comes out and haunts you and holds on for dear life. This is the naughty of the nice. High soprano voice that sings to the high heavens and reaches us like no other. We move on to Track two, "Christmastime Puppetshow" which is a cool track that became a personal favourite instantly to me. " Genivre sings, " I'm on love with your pretty ways, your angel hair that's flying in your face." A tale of holiday spirit with a twist, folky and topped with bells and joy. We progress to Track three, " Christmas Ghosts." which is a fun track that reminds me of that grand fellow Voltaire with a little twist of Current 93 and a little of The Damned. A spaghetti X-mas western if you will. One of the most unique tracks I have yet to lie eyes on and ears upon. We hear, " Christmas ghosts in the sky, kiss me goodnight." A very creepy dialogue that gets under your skin and leaves it's mark. Next is Track four, " Christmas Afternoon", which is a cool flowing track that seems to glide across the rooftops like Santa does. Low bass, creepy voices from this Gothic trio singing their own demented Christmas Gothic Carol to us. Brilliant, dark and leaving a trail in the snow for all to see. Last is Track five " Christmas Love ' which is a whimsical appropriate track that ties this album up with a bow for all to open and rejoice it's the brilliance it's radiates for all to see. ~ 4 stars Michelle Russo

SECOND SKIN: Illa exuro in silentium

 Posted by Mariano Equizzi (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 12 2008
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Artist: SECOND SKIN (@)
Title: Illa exuro in silentium
Format: CD
Label: Palace of Worms records
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****
I was reading a scrbd pdf about the dark side of Walt Disney, something so bad that is better not to write down, this work from SECOND SKIN given to me the same incredible sense of wonder and dark, the same pleasure to discover the Hell inside BAMBI. They play with Hollywood darkside, with ballads-punk-wave-dark so great and well played that is not possible to say "I dont like it". This work is F.... GREAT, I love it. The guitar, Lynchesque with some New Order influence is pure "black velvet", the voice and the choir around is spine chilling. I have to say that Second Skin makes my day opening a whole world of great media icons like: Greta Garbo, Dalì, Brothers Marx and the ghosts of Old Hollywood...; believe me when I say that this band is showing and researching for us an area really interesting of death beautiful myths of our dying world. Best track...I cannot say bullshit, all the tracks are hypnotic, pure controlled madness inside the perfect dome of wave-death-rock. Thank you Second Skin.

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