Music Reviews



Style Sindrome: Style Sindrome

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 28 2012
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Artist: Style Sindrome
Title: Style Sindrome
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows Records
Rated: *****
Active on early 80s in Rome, Italy, Style Sindrome was formed by Anna and Stefano, both coming from TM Spa, a rock band that won the first Italian Rock Festival in 1980 and Giorgio, who played with Electroshock, a well known Italian rock band active in the late '70s. The line-up found its final set up when Massimo and Raimondo joined. Deeply influenced by post punk and early new wave (of the likes of Joy Division, The Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees), the band recorded only two demo tapes (the song "Waving In The Dark", coming from the second one, was also included into the compilation produced by the magazine Rockerilla titled "Gathered"). They also participated to a national television show called Mister Fantasy with a video produced by the show itself. For whom may be unaware of that show, it was a sort of experiment lasted from 1981 until 1984 born from an idea of Paolo Giaccio and hosted by Carlo Massarini. It was the first show based on video clips but they also documented different Italian local scenes (Pordenone's The Great Complotto it's the one I remember the most) and produced many italian bands and artists' videos. After thirty years Synthetic Shadows succeeded into getting a copy of the seven songs of the two demos which seemed to be lost forever. Side A contains "Thinking About", "We Two" and "Pressing Desire". The influences of bands like Siouxsie & The Banshees are mostly evident on Stefania's vocal style because musically they had refined arrangements where sax inserts and intricate guitar parts where the main elements and the atmosphere was sensual and dark at the same time. Side B contains "Waving In The Dark", "Shining", "To Stretch" and "A Mysterious design". The songs are mixing new wave upbeat rhythms to almost funky guitar riffs, new wave arpeggios and sax solos. They succeeded into personalizing a sound that revolutionize the alternative musical scene over the world on that period, if you think that on those years Siouxsie & The Bansheed released "Juju" and "A Kiss In The Dreamhouse", The Cure released "Faith" and "Pornography" and Factory just issued the posthumous Joy Division's record "Still".
Dec 28 2012
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: RE(C)QUIEM
Format: CD
Label: SantoS Productions (@)
Rated: *****
The small Italian label Santos Productions by Davide Fernia manages to erect a monumental sonic mausoleum dedicated to big names of history, politics or culture, whose lives are somewhat memorable whether right or wrong, by involving some of the most renowned (mainly) Italian representatives and explorers of grey interzone, who offer an impressive collection of various facets of this obscure and unconventional scene, whose stylistical ground lies on tape and noise art, post-industrial, electronic experiments, dark ambient, neo-folk, ritual ambient as well as on a fertile humus of occult subjects, paganism, underground cultures, futurism, political activism and so on. This 17-tracks compilation of "requiems" opens with "Le 516 volte di Giovanni" ("The 516 times by Giovanni") by Massimo Olla's project Noisedelik, whose sinister rasps on guitar strings, noises of chains, grinding blades, metallic objects and coughs which seem to come from filthy wet prison cells become more and more claustrophobic and obsessive like the imminent execution by the hands of the character whom this track refers, Giovanni Battista Bugatti, commonly known as Mastro Titta, the cruel official executioner for the Papal States in the first half of XIX century, who carried out 516 executions. That's a sticking way to start this commemoration, which carries on with memorable memorials. All tracks include proper sonic hints and quotes by the personalities they referred to so that it's almost impossible to state an "order of preference" as well as a dissertation about each memorial could be excessively rambling. Anyway there are some tracks which struck me more, but such a list cannot be considered thorough at all: ofr instance I found particularly catchy the treatment LCHM and KHEM reserved on "Neo Mondo" to a reading by Pier Paolo Pasolini of some excerpts from Ezra Pound's "The Pisan Cantos" with the quotation of the known verse "What thou lovest well remains, / the rest is dross", the psychotropic evocation Simon Balestrazzi offers on "The Airtight Garage of Jean Giraud (Requiem for Moebius)", the guessed industrial anxiety on "Crunch/Grind Mechanism" by Automageddon in order to remember the controversial General Ludd, the memory glimpses of some literary climax by Danilo Kis while listening to the tribute by Maurizio Bianchi, Stefano Gentile and Gianluca Favaron, the touching dark folk song dedicated to Ota Benga by TSIDMZ and Rose Rovine e Amanti, the synaesthetic sonic remembrance of the brave deeds by Ukrainian anarcho-communist revolutionary Nestor Makhno on "Tacianka Armata" by Brigata Stirner, the scary abrasions by Uncodified for his homage/memorial to Italian witty film director Lucio Fulci or the ripping dedication by meand of headbanging reading within a storm of noises to the innovative aesthaetics of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima by The Streetcleaner and Troy Southgate, but I cannot but reaffirm such a list doesn't justice to other sound artists, who gave their precious contribution to the general impressiveness of the project.

The Prostitutes: European Idol

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Dec 19 2012
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Artist: The Prostitutes
Title: European Idol
Format: 12"
Label: Synthetic Shadows Records
Rated: *****
I met The Prostitutes in the mid 80s, after their participation to the "Tracce" compilation with "Soldier". Their music was passionate and cold at the same time and it sounded just like the Velvet Underground could have sounded to a teenager in the late 60s. On mid 80s I followed them live as they held different concerts into my region (they were coming from the same city of mine... Torino, Italy) and they were dedicating them to the death of Jean Genet who just died. At that time I wasn't aware that the members of the band had the monkey on their back and only after reading the book "Fedeli alla roba" (Loyal to the stuff) wrote by Bruno Panebarco I got a glimpse of what music meant to them. Augusto and Bruno Panebarco were living a decadent life and The Prostitutes and the music in general someway was a way to keep them alive. Active since late 70s, The Prostitutes were incarnating the anarchy of the poets sounding like razor cuts on a wrist. They did't officially recorded much stuff, they only had few tracks on some compilations and released for Snowdownia (the fanzine and later label that my brother Marco run back then) a tape. Most of the tapes they recorded were unofficial releases that they hardly distributed and that were containing recordings they did in their basement. Unfortunately this compilation released by the new label Synthetic Shadows Records doesn't contain any song of the Snowdonia tape but in any case is a good introduction to the world of The Prostitutes of the early 80s period. Side A has the three songs they did for compilations ("Soldier", "Democracy" and "Glaube Nichts" were on "Tracce", "Tracce 85" and "Ti Dico Demo" respectively) plus a couple of tracks from the aforementioned gigs ("Tiny D" and "Keep On Wasting Away") where you can get the idea of their energy and their charisma. Side B has two more live tracks ("European Idol" and "Time") plus three tracks, of which two new ones recorded by Augusto. These new tracks sound less post punk compared to the old ones but for sure they have that "over the edge" crazy touch. Just listen to "Ditirambici Tiranti" with that nervous piano line and that voice which recall an "Alice In Wonderland" character. "Strollin' Troll" is a song recorded in the basement, I don't know when but it sounds like Velvet Underground meets Television and it's a good noisy one. The second new song is "Pezzo Rock" that is a rock cavalcade with a noise touch, sung in Italian (it's the first Italian lyric I knew they ever wrote). This is a nice introduction to a band that deserve to be known from a wider audience. I just hope that this compilation will sell enough to persuade the label to reissue other stuff by The Prostitutes!
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Artist: ∆AIMON (@)
Title: Flatliner - expanded
Format: CD
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
California-based duo 'AIMON has been considered as one of the most interesting emerging band from the fertile witch-house in reason since their first releases: foggy synth-pads, slow and solemn marches, mantra-like songs, occult mists and plasmatic and creepy atmospheres get blended together by means of a remarkable knowledge of recording studio techniques, whose result is so cinematic that you could imagine them while gathering around their hot cauldrons in the act of employing mysterious witchcrafts. Canadian label Artoffact sensed what many listeners suddenly perceived the stylistical ductility of their sound after listening the previous release on Bay-Area appreciated label Tundra Dubs, whose crossbreed could be considered a sort of vampiresque half-cast creature in the liminal region between dark industrial and witch-house, so that it summoned some artists from both those scenes in order to highlight their sonic findings by detaching their coalesced "souls". Their placement in the tracklist roughly seems to be based on a rising level of sophistication by different guest around their cauldron: it could sound paradoxical, but most interesting remixes come from industrial front, whose advantage could be explained by the fact they could exhibit an affine, but distinct stylistical territory, whereas witch-house bands had to preserve their own declension of the same language. I particularly enjoyed remixes of "Black Cross" by Dead When I Found Her (I'm pretty sure it's going to delight many dancehalls), cinematic and grave remixes of "Choke" by Chrysalide (a complementarity which was clear since 'AIMON remix of "I Do Not Divert Eyes") and "Flatliner" by Haujobb (one of the remix I liked most), while on the witch-house front, amazing Unison remix of "Current", "Flatliner" blending by Encephalon and the deconstruction of "Emptiness" by Textbeak have that extra oomph.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Juggernaut Services presents: Calming Cyclones Vol. 2
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Juggernaut Services (@)
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
This is the second chapter and companion releases to the 'Moving Mountains' compilation of the British Juggernaut Services. The title already announces it, this one is the more song-oriented, rather calm selection of the clients represented by Nick Quarm. With the Italian duo XP8 another prominent project has joined forces with Nick and they are opening and closing this compilation with two tracks. The opener 'Burning Down' is the title-track of their current EP release. It mixes the styles between Futurepop and Harsh EBM/Hellectro and gives the impression, that both genres are closer related than expected. 'Burning Down' starts as a boring 08/15-standard Hellectro-tune, while the refrain itself offers more melodic maturity. Maybe I repeat it once again, but this project still suffers a lot from the absence of a good vocalist. No complains to the second track 'Trip', a fast-forward driving tune with robotic-like vocoder-vocals and fast 'n' furious sequencer lines. This one got remixed by the Russian project Cutoff:Sky. The British Static Distortion-recording artist MIXE1 offers an interesting genre-mutation with tendencies to Trip-Hop/Alternative styles. Very tasteful arranged as well as the emotional vocals are fitting perfectly on both tracks. Things are getting darker with the US-based project Pittersplatter. Vampire-, monster- and horror-genres itself seem to have an impact on both lyrical and musically expression, 'Necrotech' as well as 'Mummies and Music Boxes' are proving this. Cortex Defect is proud enough to have Mr. Nick Quarm as full member involved. Also this project represents a rather calm and melodic oriented Electronica sound-outfit on their both tracks with tendencies into Goth-Rock/Wave and/or Alternative genres. Well done and consumable stuff. Kaltherzig lately could receive a lot of exposure through the German glossy print-magazines like Zillo. But seriously, I find their Goth-/New Wave-sound relative repetitive and uninspired. Already this compilation holds much more promising projects deserving the same the same exposure. Retrogramme for instance have a great talent in the Electropop/Futurepop genre. Their track '911 For Locals' combines attacking rhythm patterns with a clear male vocal performance plus a convincing melodic aspect. Congrats also to the very good second track by them entitled 'Heaven Is Closer Than You Think', which includes mighty guitar loops to support the clear vocal performance in the refrain. A project definitely to follow! Nevertheless the crown for providing the best and most outstanding tune goes this time to Australia and the male/female duo Revenant Cult. Maybe we have here a tiny, more electrified version of a prominent project like The Birthday Massacre, but their track 'Spectral Heresy' is a well balanced Futurepop-related Electronica-track filled with high-end programming skills as well as tasteful arranged synthesizer layers. But best content of their sound is the compelling female vocal performance. Seriously, this is the most emotional and best female vocalists I have heard in years! Keep an eye on this duo; they are going to be HUGE! Revenant Cult then add a remix contribution of them on a track of the Hellectro-act Psykke into the ring - well done, but not comparable with the possible top-notch class of an own composition. Two further guests have finally found a slot on this compilation: Plastic Noose and Tactical Module, both already featured on the companion release 'Moving Mountains'. Plastic Noose once again convinces me with their fat and noisy bass-lines and the energetic vocals - although the lyrics, well, do not let me sweat! Tactical Module offer again 'Dead Zone', but this time remixed by Cortex Defect. The problem remains the same: I can't stand the quality of the vocals, which are still drowning deep and plain into the mix.
It isn't a secret if I tell you, that I play this second chapter a bit more often than the first installment. Maybe I get old, but I enjoy Electronica music with attitude and own ideas. If it then provides a good composition and not only a harder-than-hard attitude I am mostly on board. 'Calming Cyclones' offers some valuable participants with stylistically interesting ideas, so let's see and hear how and in which direction some of them will develop.



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