Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: What Pleasing the Lord Looks Like Marriage: Extreme Noise…and Terror from Japan and Israel
Format: CD
Label: Heart & Crossbones (@)
Rated: *****
I like noise music, although I am always a bit amused when seeing “terror” thrown into the description. However, this seemed promising, especially considering the vibrant noise scene in both Israel and Japan. I was a bit surprised when I put the disc on to find Ryokuchi kicking it off with some slow sludge. This wasn’t the noise I was looking for. Not bad, but I was expecting something else. Cadaver Eyes follows this with some nice intense bass drone. Heavy on the low end with just a bit of buzz in it. However, this is marred by some drum and cymbal bits and yelling that seem a bit out of place. This would have been better as an instrumental. Zenocide brings in the obligatory Cookie Monster vocals and slow metal guitar. At this point I was starting to wonder where the noise was on this disc. LietterSchpichDiet gets us closer to the promised noise with a wall of sound and someone beating the crap out of cymbals. Grinding noise and tortured vocals with a lot of processing. Now we’re getting somewhere. MONEYI$GOD brings us ritualistic rhythmic drumming and wall of warbling electronic noise punctuated with short bursts of vocals - sort of hypnotic. About halfway through they completely let loose with the noise. This is what I came to hear! Poochlatz supplies some power electronics with heavily distorted shouting, a good background of droning electronics, and a lot of variety. For me this is one of the standout tracks on the disc. Remesh offers up an incredibly noisy track that builds slowly before unloading with both barrels - pulsing and punishing. This was amazingly good, and not simply from a comparative standpoint. Nerveless lays down the longest track on the compilation at 19:13, with a grinding electric guitar track. However, adding a lot of distortion does not really make it noise. It becomes noisier as it goes on, with what sounds like wind on microphones, but Nerveless had the misfortune of following Remesh, which was a tough act to follow. Moreover, this track went on for about 10 minutes longer than it needed to. Overall, this is a mixed bag. If you are looking for noise, there are a few tracks worth checking out here, but I would say that it would probably be better to just find a full length release from Remesh, Poochlatz and MONEYI$GOD. The disc weighs in at 67 minutes.
May 05 2010
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Artist: Empty (@)
Title: Surfacing
Format: CD
Label: Aphotic Audio (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
The ongoing lack of sales of physical CD’s may doesn’t allow a music project to wait nearly 6 years for the release of a first full-length album. But as usual, those things differ with Australia’s EMPTY, as they still rely on their very own talents regarding production, releasing and distribution under their Aphotic Audio label. After three well recognised EP releases (”Open Aeon”, ”Aeon Xpand”, and last years’ ”Never Get To You”) and a digital-only instrumental soundtrack-like collection freely available from their website, they finally could get it ready - a real full-length album. Whoever knows, if this one would been ever released, if there wouldn’t have been so much unexpected positive reactions on their last EP ”Never Get To You”. Somehow this release has been a kind of trigger for Daniel Brunet and Aaron Potter, as they had initially installed newer and more refreshing elements into their arrangements. The usage of Clicks ‘n’ Dubs, Breakbeats, lighter synth lines and lesser fx-processed vocals especially on ”Never Get To You” has seemingly left influence on all of their newer compositions - finally it has only taken a year after the EP, until this album was ready to get dropped on their audience.
EMPTY are always, and have always been, quite aware to sound unique, and at least to experiment with this rather untypical and IDM-related sounds and patterns has offered them the needed doze of self-confidence into their own abilities. Their music remains to be Dark Electro, but there’s no PUPPYan bone-licker copycat-syndrome recognisable. ”Surfacing” therefore picks up exactly that path, which ”Never Get To You” has started - better said, it refines those ideas without altering their musically origins. Stereotyped thinking has been always with them to describe their sound, and I remember, that I named quite often DISMANTLED as being a reference - but that can only catch a small part of their meanwhile grown musically spectrum, they nowadays like to produce.
Already the starting instrumental track ”Deprivation” presents a lot, but not all of their musically influences, by combining detailed and dark-minded synth sweeps with diverse rhythm patterns. Both, ”Never Get To You” and the already discovered b-side of that EP, ”Forgotten Dreams”, got included too. ”The Centre” then can be named as being the centre of attention, as this track comes out with a heavy bass line programming and again a rather IDM/modern Electronica-sounding rhythm work - highlighted by the slightly vocoderized, but catchy vocal performance, which offers this track a high recognition value. Then the tempo turns down and the synth pads got even more icy, but also melodic produced with true and epic Dark Electro components, ”Drift” turns in and leaves you breathless. Definitely their best tune so far, although it draws the nearest relations to earlier works like ”Ghost Besides You” for example, available on ”Open Aeon”. Again spectacular - the usage of their typical vocoder effects on the vocals. At least, that lyrically quite hopeless track ”Frames”, featuring Tessa Zynik as being the female vocal counterpart, impresses with a sad mood and light piano drops.
”Surfacing” offers one remarkable tune after another and if you would decide, to spin it the 25th time, you would still find some new and extra-ordinary content worth to discover. This album seemingly gets never boring - which other release out in this year can offer the same impression like this one? A must-have release!
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Artist: Led Er Est / Ancien Régime
Title: Split
Format: 12"
Label: Mannequin (@)
Distributor: Mannequin Mailorder
Rated: *****
Wrapped in glossy paper, with a minimal artwork in red and white, comes this stellar split LP between Led Er Est and Ancien Régime. Led Er Est is an all-analog trio hailing from Brooklyn and one of the pivotal bands of Wierd Records. Their style bridges the gap between the first Cabaret Voltaire's lo-fi approach on pop and a more straightforward europop attitude. “Ps 18” is an instrumental track with nasty synthlines and a perfect groove that will push your brain from side to side, if listened at the proper volume (a personal favourite). The second one is “Lonesome XOXO” and shows them dealing with a brighter kind of synthpop compared to the one played on their debut “Dust On Common”, which came out just 6 months ago. “A Darkness In My Soul” is a great cover, originally from Solid Space, one of the most obscure and underrated minimal synthpop bands (fingers crossed for a reissue...). “Ants” harks back into their experimental roots (well documented on their untitled tape that came out on Throaning Tapes) and the last one is another cold-pop gem called “Orange”. The b-side was a total blast to me, Ancien Régime is one of Italy's best kept secret! They are a young band from Rome and they play a dark post-punk soaked with lots of synths and vintage drum machines. The incisive singing flows perfectly in the mix with new wavey guitar and pounding bass structures. “Brief Encounter” and “When They Fall” are heartfelt anthems and i bet they both work fine when played live.“The Phantom Chariot” is a more brainy affair and takes a little more to get under your skin. Ancien Régime are a huge revelation and i have the feeling that this band is moving towards something big, let's just wait! Edition of 500, be quick.
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Artist: SAVIER
Title: Serenade My Enemy
Format: CD EP
Label: MOMT (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from Edinburgh, after a couple of releases on Noise-Joy, Savier is landing on MOMT with a new four track E.P. titled SERENADE MY ENEMY. Available as CD-r or digital download, the E.P. collects four tunes in balance from industrial and dub. Paragoned to Scorn or Techno Animal, Savier, without using guitars, is able to create convincing post industrial atmosphere where hard beats, bass sounds, industrial samples and tiny synth melodies form a dark soundtrack that will convince you in no time. Passing from the dilated atmospheres of the opening "Lapse" we arrive to the horror atmospheres of "The Beginning V2" carried by a sense of an incoming catastrophe. SERENADE MY ENEMY is the sound of a giant robot Gozilla shaped who's walking on your heads keeping the rhythm...
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Artist: Philipp Quehenberger
Title: Hazard
Format: CD
Label: Laton (@)
Distributor: Trost
Rated: *****
The unpredictable keyboardist, former metal-head and electronic musician Philipp Quehenberger gained a certain visibility three years ago for his album Phantom In Paradise, as it was a record issued by Editions Mego which sounded quite different from other releases by the far-sighted label managed by Peter Rehberg, but Philipp’s experimental attitude fully justifies his presence in such a blazoned roster: the main points of intersections with his previous release is the use of swirling noises and deep distorted sub-tones, being the main difference the lack of male vocals as well as interesting stylistic research. Philipp Quehenberger’s attempt could be synthetically described as a conjure between the rhythmical structures of electronic body music - in many tracks of Hazard, the influence of the sound of DAF as well as his experience as a studio-musician for Dj Hell is quite clear indeed -, psychedelic noise-rock and IDM. Such a freak deriving from the hybridization of different but often complementary genres has been molded throughout eight scrupulous tracks showing their creator’s skills hazarding progressive sound saturations of the sound.

The morbid Stupid Idea, starting the sequence, begins with the sound of a typewriter working almost as a metronome for the obsessive rhythmical step, while the following track, Undante, mixes it up certain sci-fi scents - those thrilled howling sounds normally announcing the invasion of some weirdy alien race on Earth in American and Janese sci-fi movies…- with a well-done dubbed drumming canned by Fuckhead drummer ddKern. Most of the next waves of the album have the same structure with just some relevant variations on the hypnotic Hey Gert - whose heavy-dub stepping and some distant guitars effected by wise reverberations and delays reminds some past releases by Eraldo Bernocchi or Bill Laswell -, the crank pitch in Hard Joke, the bizarre splashed drum crashes on the mumbling Keep Talking which seem to be injected in a sequence of quad waves according to the customs of some electro bandits - maybe the closest to DAF sound of the album -, the gluey techno pattern of the loony hammering of After Death Business. Some stylistic devices as well his leaning towards risk could let you suppose Philipp Quehenberger could be the bastard Austrian cousin of Meat Beat Manifesto’s Jack Dangers or maybe he just shares the same pots and pans in order to cook the groove.
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