Music Reviews



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Artist: THYX (@)
Title: Super Vision
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Mailorder
Rated: *****
Since the Austrian Electro-/Industrial magicians of Mind.In.A.Box are quite bonded thematically to the ongoing story-board of the main protagonist Black and his adventures in the Dreamweb (story written by A. Gruber, www.agruber.com), it may has become a bit boring for the mastermind behind, Stefan Poiss So this MIAB side-project has come to life and has been named after a song written by Poiss about 15 years ago. This song and its name have a deeper meaning for Poiss, because this name stands for a synonym of a specific kind of soundscape he has once discovered. So now he hunts after this soundscape under THYX and tries hard to re-create what he once discovered. 'Super Vision' is already the third album on this hunt in a very short time-line. Of course, Poiss cannot at all wear off all of the sound ingredients which have made MIAB that famous and highly recognized. Also under THYX he produces his well-known formula with a futuristic sound-design, with bombastic synthesizer layers and also the often with MIAB discovered vocoderized vocals. So THYX is more than a valuable copy to MIAB and you can be assured to get another high-quality release out of the Austrian sound-stable. Musically Poiss services a wide playing-field and entertains with genre-bending changes. 'Robots Don't Lie' is a decent sci-fi storyboard with wobbling synthesizer-leads and a straight beat-work. Another great tune to satisfy the dancefloor-junkies in the dark clubs can be discovered with 'Forgotten', while the charming pop harmonies of 'Our Only Home' have to be mentioned too in the highlight-listing of this overall marvellous album. 'Für Immer' combines different vocal performances into a darker than usual sound design. This list of highlights can be continued endlessly while it only proofs that Strfan Poiss still enjoys his being in creating unique soundscapes for the after-world. If you've been impressed with MIAB before you will also love THYX. 'Super Vision' is a top-notch Electronica album and another lecture for all the poor wannabes out there providing keyboard-music with factory preset-sounds.
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Artist: Xenturion Prime (@)
Title: Mecha Rising
Format: CD
Label: Progress Productions (@)
Distributor: Broken Silence
Rated: *****
Last years' news of the demise of Code 64 has been rather a kick into the stomach, since their last studio album 'Trialogue' was and still is one of the best releases of the Swedish Progress Productions in the last 2 ' 3 years. But here comes the cure like phoenix out of the ashes: Xenturion Prime isn't the working title of the new 'Transformers' movie, but the new project of 2/3 band members of the last Code 64 crew. Vocalist Bjorn Marius Borg and Hans-Olof Mattsson have agreed to keep the flame burning and continue under this new project name. Their first sign of life for this new project was the track 'Rise' released in December 2013, which could successfully enter Germany's GEWC-charts. So here comes their official debut album with 12 tracks and surprise, surprise, the stylistic components often heard and beloved in Code 64 are globally featured on this album too. 'Mecha Rising' impresses with its skilfully arranged Electronica sound-outfit and satisfies the highest demands. Mostly woven into a straight and danceable Electro-/Futurepop sound-environment, the excellent produced music also leaves enough space for the compelling vocals of Bjorn Marius who has impressed already on 'Trialogue'. Generally compared with the last Code 64 album I tend to say, that under Xenturion Prime they also allow a bit tougher styles to enter in the whole sound environment. They like to experiment with the vocals to produce different moods and already 'Rise' was a good example for this. This album features many examples to allow dancefloor action: 'Second Nature' and/or 'Vermilion' have to be named as they also leave scorches of catchiness in the ear-channels. Still attractive I find their obvious dedication to futuristic, sci-fi-related themes. So they often use Spacesynth-like, epic synthesizer-arrangements and their whole outfit sounds very opulent and bombastic, 'Radiant' has to be named as a perfect example here. 'Realms' then adds a bit rest and slows down the tempo in comparison to the rather action-driven other tracks and presents us Mind.in.a.Box-like vocoder effects on the vocals, nicely done! And at least, just if you think this album turns out a bit lesser intense than it started, the final tune 'Beyond Infinity' is another valuable diamond worth to mention. Albums like this won't be written that often and 'Mecha Rising' stands brightly out of the uncountable mass of mediocrity releases. Xenturion Prime is not only the valid follow-up project to the highly respected Code 64, this powerful project rather replaces it!

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Artist: Acretongue (@)
Title: Strange Cargo
Format: CD
Label: Dependent (@)
Distributor: Alive
Rated: *****
Ladies and Gentlemen, if it still needs to name a potential candidate for the album-of-the-year-2011 - contest, I'd give my vote to this South-African talent. Already discovered on some editions of the highly recognized 'Septic' compilation-series of the famous German Dependent-label, it was about time to reward Nico J. and his long-year patience and trust in the activities of Stefan Herwig and his Dependent-team with this professional recorded and produced album. But it is not only Nico and his Acretongue-project, who gets rewarded - it's rather you, the listener, because the often pronounced 'Dependent Seal of quality' has never before hit the mail that exactly than with this newcomer project. Nico J. proves his talent by releasing a detailed form of Dark Electro music, which touches the crown of those complex producers like haujobb and Mind.In.A.Box, although expressed in a different style. The label information-sheet also names projects like Trauma, Violet Arcana, Clock DVA, Chris & Cosey and This Digital Ocean as possible comparisons, while I tend rather to name classic Dark Electro artists like Blame, Australia's outstanding duo Empty, the too early vanished French project Neon Cage Experiment, and/or the awfully underestimated US-project Heavy Water Factory as being names, which all have expressed a comparable form of layered Electronica music. Regarding this stylistically description, it should quite clear, that Nico and his music hasn't got anything to do with that repetitive, but still club-leading Harsh-EBM/Hellectro rush. Acretongue's arrangements are filled with fat and matured electronic sounds, it is amazing, that this whole album shall represent the work of a newcomer act - if we don't call that self-produced and limited available debut in 2007 as being a 'real' debut. Also Nico's natural sounding vocal performance needs to be mentioned and praised, because he integrates with his warm, at times melancholic sounding voice a contrast to the typical Dark Electro-artist using multiple cookie-monster-effects to reach a Puppy-related sound outfit. Acretongue's addictive and complex produced Electronica-music got designed for you to get consumed; the best way is surely under a pair of good headphones, although you shouldn't think, that Acretongue is unable to produce club-compatible stuff. 'Oblivion' has the right speed for some dancefloor-action; also 'Orphan's Affinity' can follow almost. Best track has to be named with 'These Soft Machines', which starts with an obscure rhythm pattern, until the chorus offers a singing-along-the-line attitude, not to forget the marvelous song progression.
Nearly 60 minutes of a thrilling Electronica experience and you will never get the impression, to have discovered a single minute of filling stuff. I can hardly remember to have received a debut, leaving so much euphoria and a never-ending smile in my face the more I spin this album. Awesome stuff, this one is a must-have item!
Good news too for all US-based listeners: Metropolis Records has licensed this album and will release it at th 10th of January 2012.
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Artist: Silent Auction (@)
Title: H On Earth
Format: CD
Label: Nilaihah Records (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
This album counts to the few, which you hear 1 or 2 times, but then you turn it away for a while (... so at least it happened to me...). Before it starts to collect dust, you'll pick up this seemingly uncomfortable album again to give it some more spins. A tiny wonder happens, because everything, you've found uninspired, plain and platitudinous before, now seems to have developed, yes, some of the tracks are now sounding clever arranged and offer the needed portion of emotion in the vocals. Signed to the US-based label Nilaihah Records, Mr. And Mrs. Barbero are hailing out of Rochester, NY. The album title 'H On Earth' surely doesn't mean a place called 'Hell', as the music of this duo rather touches Synth-/Futurepop-, Trance- Alternative- and EBM-genres. What has eventually disturbed a better impression after the first spins may belongs on the fact, that SILENT AUCTION aren't that kind of a sugar-sweet Synthpop-act with gay-ish vocals and a catchy Electronica sound-design. You definitely need to give them some more spins to let them grow on you. You will be rewarded for your patience with a diverse sounding album in the above described smoother styles, whose brilliance hides in the sarcastic, at times humorous nailing lyrics ('Good Girl' ' that one reminds me on my 9-years-old daughter in her 'best' phases...). With often changing the lead vocalist between Terri and Jason Barbero, they additionally include variations into their whole concept. 'Heart Attack' is musically the most catchiest tune, a brilliant expressed broken-heart story featuring rich synthesizer pads. The opener 'Beautiful Mess' balances well between a classic Synthpop- and Trance-influences. Also worth to mention are the two remix contributions by MIND.IN.A.BOX, who do an awesome job with their breathtaking programming abilities on 'Reverie', and COSMICITY, who rather add dancefloor-compatibility on 'Heart Attack' - which (of course) destroys the heart-felting mood of the original. SILENT AUCTION have hammered out a quality album not to underestimate, it stands for a variable alternative in the Synth-/Futurepop-genre.
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Artist: Pixel Hero
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Sturm (@)
Rated: *****
Latvia's PIXEL HERO isn't a graphic-designer, but an Electro/Industrial-music producing one-man-project founded by Wormboy. Signed to the Sturm label group and community, I was quite curious, how this album would sound. Let's say, that PIXEL HERO is strictly dedicated to all forms of Electronica music based in the early 80ies, at times where Atari computer have been in use to create some raw noises and play some early video-games. Some titles out of the track list are proving this dedication, like 'Alien Caverns', 'Asteroid Deathmatch', or 'Nebular Car Dump' for example. Be it early EBM, Minimal, or at least rhythmically Powernoise music, I was also astonished, how raw some of these tracks are coming out: 'Orbital Bombing', as being the opener., spits out all of that pseudo-aggression, which can be found quite often in the roster of this fine Latvian label-collective. The more exceptional tunes can be named with those, which leave a bit the monotonous minimal path, 'Squad '99' is such an example, which offers some nice hooks and cool Hi-Q percussion inserts. If you have found some satisfaction with projects like SYSTEM (Progess Productions), NEON COIL (Klangdynamik), or the last MIND.IN.A.BOX-recordings, then you should be informed, that PIXEL HERO is the more drastically outfit in a relative comparable kind music/sound programming. So let's hope, that this story doesn't end abruptly after the twelfth track aptly entitled 'End Boss / Death of The Pixel Hero'...
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