Music Reviews

Artist: Act Noir (@)
Title: Shape A New Start
Format: CD
Label: Eibon Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
After the replacement of the hollow voice by Mark Benoit – it seems depending on personal reasons and different viewpoints – with the tartly crooning one but fitted to the band’s soundscapes by Gaetano Notarnicola, here it is the result of the second full length by Act Noir, through which the band keeps on franticly searching the junction points between quite different musical experiences, mainly dealing with renowned repertoires by Depeche Mode, Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead, according to their own words, even if when you’ll listening to Shape A New Start, you’ll easily notice that these proactive lads moved the barycentre of their style towards the first two of the mentioned bands apart of some conceptual anchorage points close to the existentialist explorations and snapshots superbly emerged from Yorke’s artistic pathways.

Even if some of their influences are arguable and could be considered just a tool for better attract attention by music lovers, they managed to build a sound oscillating between electronic rock and synth pop, which perfectly fits the lyrics disclosing a vague sense of loneliness and daze combined with positive incitements to react, setting fires to lies and unreeling contemporary moods which some sensitive listeners could see as mirror of selves in a way that could remind the activity of a scrupulous diarist observing reality and impressing on the sheets of a personal diary as well as on stave (..have a look to Act Noir’s lyrics on their official site to have an idea of the literary tenor of their songs... there’s just a little mistake as lyrics of the lovely Set Fire are different from those reported on their website as the webmaster doubled the ones of See The Truth), analyzing sometimes modern obsessions and manias (especially on songs such as Shatterproof Beauty, Wrong Places and Redemption) as well as some problems of great topical interest (in Closed City, it seems they address words against people responsible for nuclear proliferation) in an easy-to-go and elegant way. Maybe they could not be associated to the above-mentioned references, but we cannot but highlight the evidence their genuine attitude expressed by these keen guys on this good workout could let them reach any eagerly awaited goals without walking on tortuous paths in order to shape a new beginning!
Artist: Colloquio (@)
Title: Si Muove E Ride
Format: CD
Label: Eibon Records (@)
Rated: *****
"Si muove e ride" is the new album on Eibon records by Colloquio - the musical alter ego of singer Gianni Pedretti - with 2 guest musicians from Act Noir, Sergio Calzoni at guitars and Stefano Nieri with a great sound design. Gianni Pedretti gained a cult status in Italy with his first
works and his collaboration with Canaan with whom he plays in the project called Neronoia. The album's 10 tracks are soaked in a pitch-black atmosphere with some introspective lyrics in Italian language dealing mostly with the author's ghosts and unsolved problems. Musically I found some similarities with Andy Wilder's Recoil - they share the same new wave background, they deal with introspective music with a slightly experimental edge (the term post-wave sucks but it isn't wrong in this case). Another good record from Eibon.
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Artist: ACT NOIR (@)
Title: Automatisme Psychique
Format: CD
Label: My Kingdom Music (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****

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Born at the end of the 90s from the ashes of an electronic goth band called Alma Mater, Act Noir started to work at their sound soon after. The tuning of the new sound took different time and during the three years that Sergio lived in Denmark, he found Nicholas (the actual singer) which already was the singer of The Universals (a space rock band). From that moment with a defined line up the band started to work at their first songs. The work ended up into their first five tracks demo CD titled "Cosmo minimized". AUTOMATISME PSYCHIQUE has been released three years after their first MCD and it contains nine songs and two remixes (an electro e.b.m. version of "Unheimlich" and the Act Noir version of Monumentum’s "Distance". Track that already was included into "Metastasi"). Even if the songs have a structure with an opening and a sort or refrain, the band’s sound is based most on ambience that really on melody. The first six tracks create the effect of a sort of long ambient rock opera with songs that fade into the following ones. It’s like the band composed dark rock tunes just to dilate them adding, sometimes, upbeat moments (like on "This something") where the mellowness is suddenly interrupted. Try to imagine a dark rock version of Rain Tree Crow (do you remember the album that Japan did with that moniker?) with electronic inserts and you’ll pretty have a picture of Act Noir’s sound. Even if sometimes I lost the concentration during the listening because of the dreamy effect created, I have to admit that the band has a personal sound and charisma but in my opinion they work best on tracks like "Automatisme psychique" or "Swerved rooms" where they enrich their sound with good melody lines and some upbeat tempos.
Artist: Act Noir (ex-Alma Mater) (@)
Title: Cosmo Minimized
Format: CD EP
I was very surprised but glad to receive something in the mail by the Alma Mater guys. I remember this name because I reviewed and distributed their entire discography, from their first demo in 1994 to their debut CD in 1997 on Toast records. I thought the band had split up, instead, after six years, even though both me and the founder of the band moved to different countries, our paths cross again. In the meantime they have changed their name into Act Noir and have grown into a full five-piece band with a foreign singer whose deep vocal timber will remind you of so many popular voices that you'll only be glad if you give Act Noir a chance. They learned how to flow with times and dynamically adjusted to the new scenario in which they exist today. They now work out of Bologna and Copenhagen with a double-0 1 system and present an EP that carries emotional dark-wave music mixed with electronics and ambient. They have most definitely grown a lot since the times I remember them and became a mature band with well-produced and well-written compositions. It's just good to see that some bands try really hard for so many years without ever stopping or giving up.


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