Music Reviews



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Artist: Phenotract
Title: Shifting
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Three years from the previous "Transient messages" album, Phenotract is back with a new one titled SHIFTING. The new CD brings us ten new songs that dismiss the dance influences to embrace a blend of electronic, new wave and pop music with ethereal atmospheres. The thing that is popping up immediately on SHIFTING are the upfront vocals and the reverb layer that seems to permeate the whole sound. The whole album sounds more intimate but there are also upbeat songs like "Separate places" or "Full circle again" to spice up the atmosphere. Helped by Katharine Heller, Niabi Caldwell, Anaben (from the band By Night With Spear) on vocals and by guitarist Gabriel Dorosz, Eric duets with his guests giving to the whole album a touch of dreamy synthpop where the ambience shift from dark to melancholic. At the moment I think to prefer their old style but if you like intimate electronic wave mid tempos with personal lyrics check SHIFTING. On the band's website you can listen to each track.
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Artist: Bozzwell
Title: Bits & Pieces
Format: CD
Label: Firm Records
Rated: *****
Vocalist of the The All Seeing I in the 90s and then member of Hiem with Nick "Nico" Eastwood, David Boswell is back with his first album as Bozzwell. The album contains ten tracks in balance from minimal techno and dance. The opening tracks is "Voodoo", a haunting 4/4 techno which mixes bouncing bass lines and minimal synth lines. If you think that it is distinctive for the album, well... you're partially wrong, because already with "Marilena's eyes" Bozzwell shows to its audience its electro side thanks to syncopated rhythms, catchy bass lines and passionate vocals. This mix of minimal techno and electro is the trademark of BITS & PIECES and I like it a lot as vocals and melodies freshen up the obsessive atmospheres of the hypnotic synth sounds creating something new. A bit of piano here and there, hard beats, light distortions will make you enjoy this release make you wanting for more! Available from September the 13th.
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Artist: Negative Black
Title: a new dawn...
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Reactive Black is a duo from Hamburg with the intention to describe musically the self-destroying tendencies of mankind and the darkness of exsistence. The members are Sassy Skeleton (it's not a joke) and Rotten (Ok...) and they play a melodic rock gothiced by the jarboesque voice of Sassy. She sings... or maybe talk the lyrics under some riffs and synths. It's hard rock, well played and produced and, when the voice is filtered, it work well. By the way, they have few ideas to escape the high wall of a too used musical form and stereotyped attitude.
This album has, at least, a wonderful track "Fading away" where the spoken word under a downtempo beat and athmospheric synth create an atmosphere of real decadence but the rest of the album is boring.
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Artist: High Tone
Title: Out Back
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Jarring Effects
Rated: *****
After four albums and twelve years of existence High Tone are releasing one of the most various and inspired albums of the dub genre. The French combo with the double CD OUT BACK release sixteen new tracks that will please lovers of throbbing sounds as well open minded reggae enthusiasts. "Dub Axiom" and "No Border" are the titles of the two CDs which compose OUT BACK: the first one contains upbeat tracks that know how to spread bass waves into the air of your room while the second incarnate the experimental and cinematic side of the band thanks to a lesser use of electronics and to the use of acoustic instruments. If "Dub Axiom" starts with a blast thanks to the bass distortions of "Spank" and "Dirty urban beat", "No Border" starts with "Bastard", a track that mix bass distortions to clean reverbered / acoustic guitars and ambient electronic arrangements. High Tone are able to blend the classic reggae dub sound of Lee Scratch Perry to modern influences (Scorn, Portished, etc) creating a fresh powerful formula that wins with the hands down. Rich melodic / rhythmic textures will make you feel dizzy while your feet won't stop dancing.
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Artist: Whispers In The Shadow (@)
Title: The Eternal Arcane
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Chaos Magick-soaked as well as partially inspired by visionary writings of authors such as H.P.Lovecraft and some alchemistic and Gnostic issues and musically by the genuinely epic side of goth-rock, The Eternal Arcane, the second part of a tetralogy started with their previous release Into The Arms Of Chaos and already faced by bands like McCoy's Fields Of The Nephilim in Elizium or The Sisters Of Mercy in Floodland , is the new conceptual-tinged album by the appreciated Austrian band Whispers In The Shadow. I admit I had to examine the matter closely by collecting background information about CMT paradigm, octarine magic, the psychohistoric mechanism of the Aeons (according to some chaoists, we're experiencing a transitional phase completing the so-called Pandaemon age, characterized by a decline of what they call the materialist paradigm, a peak of the magical one and a resurgence of the transcendental paradigm, inspiring monotheistic religions and even their apparent antithesis such as freemasonry or satanic cults'¦maybe the track From Aeon To Aeon is partially inspired by these beliefs), Pratchett's hypothesis , angelic hierarchies (in If Uriel falls, Ashley Daynour mentions this Archangel in its lyrics ' 'What if Uriel falls? / And time stops forever/ What if Rome burns again? / And all the angels sing together / This song' -, governing Aquarius constellation, which is going to influence mankind's future according to a plenty of new age theories) and other similar stuff. I don't want to pass myself off as an occultist or a sorcerer, but I argue a smattering of these subjects could be useful to better appreciate WITS' musical language and its intrinsic positivity'¦it could sound quite strange for a gothic release, but it's just a silly commonplace the consideration that such a work could spread bad meanings and it definitively doesn't have nothing to share with nihilist meme akin to most metal bands even from the stylistic viewpoint, as some standards of the so-called new metal caress a few tracks of this work-out mainly the most industrial-rock tinged tracks such as Blood, sweat and tears, maybe the only authentic metal 'barracking' contained in The Eternal Arcane, slightly sharpened by nice guitar divertssment and a funny glowing synth sound.

I prefer by far the ruthenic new wave-stained style expressed in tracks such as Amenta Descending or God Of Confusion (those IO IO IO IAO you're going to listen is not a cat's caterwauling, but it could refer to some rituals of the chaos magic according to which the sound of vowels could help in channeling some energies in the body of practitioner'¦for instance an high-pitched I sound inherit with the visualization of energy in the head area'¦) as well as the solid rock riffs of The Wheel Of Pain and the enchanting epic gears of the title-track, containing a quotation from Algernon Blackwood's 'The man whom trees loved' (whose plot speaks about a woman unable to avoid his beloved husband the transformation of his personality she always loved'¦it could be actual by the way as well as explaining the abundance of trees in The Eternal Arcane's artwork as well as the choice of a crucified woman for the graphical representation of The Wheel Of Pain!) which could stand as an anticipation of the following third part of this trilogy. Curt Benes's drumming solo in the involving track entitled The Lost Soul, probably the catchiest track of the Eternal Arcane, is worthy of being mentioned and praised.
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