Music Reviews



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Artist: Frank Rothkamm (@)
Title: Ghost of New York
Format: CD
Label: Flux Records (@)
Distributor: Flux Records
Rated: *****
Frank Rothkamm’s Ghost of New York’ is the first installment of his 3 CD+1 DVD "Tetralogy". Elsewhere, Ghost of New York’ has been hailed as "a brilliant work of sonic alchemy," and "a masterpiece". I’m afraid I can’t jump on that bandwagon. Maybe it’s because I have been listening to experimental electronic music since the late 1960’s, or because my first synthesizer was an ARP 2600 back in the 1970’s. So the awe and wonder of the analog waveforms has worn a bit thin over the years, especially in light of so many technological advances in electronic equipment.

Treading the well-trodden terrain of early electronic music experimenters such as Varese, Stockhausen, Subotnick, Beaver & Krause, La Monte Young, The Barrons ("Forbidden Planet") and so many others, the sonic collages on Ghost of New York’ are a bit clichéd. These synth oscillator modulations and white noise burblings have been done so often before they don’t offer much new. I have listened to this CD a half-dozen times (it is only 33 ½ minutes) just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I don’t believe I was. It all sounded a bit too sterile. It might work with a visual display or art installation but it left me rather cold as an audial experience. The reason for this is explained in the CD liner notes, and while rational (yet somewhat esoteric), it did not improve my listening experience. On the positive side, the graphics on the CD are intriguing.

I didn’t get any impressions of ghosts, spirits, apparitions, or poltergeists either. Then again, I don’t believe in spooks, so you can take my skepticism for what it’s worth. On his website, there is a detailed explanation of Rothkamm’s "aesthetic of supermodernism," the psycho-cybernetic philosophy he employs as a basis for his musical vision having to do with the randomness of man and machine. Although some valid points were raised, I found it a bit pretentious. I cannot see the means justifying the end result here.

Too bad about this CD too; I had high hopes when I saw the promo picture postcard showing Frank in a chair from the back hard at work laboring with his equipment eerie lit by a pair of halogen lamps done in sepia tone similar to the CD cover. I thought, "hmm, interesting. Maybe this has possibilities." Guess I was wrong, at least for me.

This is a limited release of 333 copies. Not easy to find unless you go to his website. Maybe I might like next installment better. I know he has dozens of releases going all the way back to the early 90’s. I have never heard any of them so there is no basis of comparison. He’s worked with the Hardkiss Bros, Peter Scherer, Elliott Sharp, DJ Spooky and a slew of other people. Perhaps if you’re craving an experimental, purely electronic work just for the sake of hearing something new, you might want to check this out. But if you’re not familiar with the classics, you should really check them out first.
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Artist: CAPACOCHA
Title: Sacrifice For Party
Format: CD
Label: Basserk
Rated: *****
SACRIFICE FOR PARTY is the debut album of Capacocha. Coming from Holland, Capacocha is a one man band who describes its style as "electro rock n rolla outta controlla". To be honest this album offers something more of mere rock'n'roll or electro: the first thing that is popping out while listening to the album is that its nine tracks are high energetic distorted up-tempos where Capacocha blends in many influences. If "To make you fell better" sounds like Franz Ferdinand with a boost, the opening "Monster" is an electro punk anthem, "Follow me" recalls me LCD Soundsystem, "Neoconjerkative" starts with a bit of techno just to steer to electro punk with bouncing bass lines, "Shake it" is the sum of garage punk, punk blues (remember the Oblivians or other bands that were making records for Crypt during the 90s?) and a bit of funk. We have the best mix of genres in "Leave me" where 70s disco synth lines meet dissonant punk funk guitars: try to imagine a mix of Gang Of Four and LCD Soundsystem with dueting synth leads. The album won't let you down for a second and if aren't afraid of a bit of sane craziness mixed with punk, electro and more, Capacocha is the one to try.
Nov 28 2009
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Artist: U.M.M. (@)
Title: s/t
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Enough Records (@)
Rated: *****
I really don’t know, for what this short cut stands, but nevertheless the old school fans of EBM in the purest NEP, DAF of POUPPEE FABRIKK-vein will be rewarded with the debut of a Portugal-based project available for free via the Enough Records website above. Some tend to say, that this minimal form of aggressive Electro/Industrial-music won’t offer too much new and interesting content to discover. Also U.M.M. aren’t re-inventors of this special music genre, but the sweat, blood and purest dedication presented in these 8 tracks are worth to check out. A little exotic touch is included, since U.M.M. provide their shouts in Portuguese language – quite interesting though, because this offers them a unique format. The music itself is for the most part better worked-out and wider filled with several additional instruments compared to some more established projects. A newcomer to follow immediately.
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anymore
Artist: Informatik (@)
Title: Arena
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Industrial Music
Rated: *****
Only one month after their teaser "Come Together", INFORMATIK are starting a new autumn offensive by releasing this new studio album. In further news it needs to be said, that "Arena" got licensed to the re-animated German label Dependent, so European-wide distribution should be saved. And to complete the good news, INFORMATIK are supporting the British Synthpop-institution MESH on their tour currently in Europe while I’m writing this. "Arena" reminds a lot on INFORMATIK’s album "Re:Vision", released in 2004 – it follows a quite comparable concept. Both protagonists of this project, Da5id Din and Tyler Newman, are known for their skills, so they have decided to follow the example of "Re:Vision" and have produced several new remixes of some of their classics. Tracks like "A Matter Of Time" or their known small club hit out of the EBM-days, "Entropy", got completely revamped. You’ll too get the two announced winner remix contributions of their Spring remix contest, PULSE STATE and their remix of "My True Love", as well as THE SYNTHETIC DREAM FOUNDATION and their interpretation of "Temporary". As for new tracks, "Come Together" of course is included, but the new smasher "Falling" really impresses me – that’s one of their best tunes ever composed. And check also out the fat layered last instrumental track "The End", which reminds a bit on their classic "Retrogradation" if you check the rhythm performance of this slow tune. Although I still prefer "Beyond" in its kind, "Arena" is the ideal album to put a footstep into the doors of the European listeners.
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anymore
Artist: Informatik (@)
Title: Come Together
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Industrial Music
Rated: *****
With a 5-track Download-only release, the prominent US duo INFORMATIK adds another chapter to their ongoing successful story of the furious past year. All good things started with their last years’ album "Beyond". Never before Tyler Newman and Da5id Din could earn so much recognition for their new celebrated musically direction, to combine the always high-skilled synth-driven Electropop-sound of Da5id with the rather Rock-/ Alternative-oriented acoustic efforts of Tyler (BATTERY CAGE). A self-organized remix contest has received international attention, the two winning contributors will make it on their upcoming new album "Arena", while the further rest out of this contest can be still downloaded directly from the INFORMATIK-website. "Come Together" is the appetizer for the new album, a rather straight and quite college radio-compatible track, which follows the newly discovered style of "Beyond". Asides the "Radio Mix", this track is available in 2 further different remixed versions, the "Clubmix T" (Tyler) and the "Clubmix D" (Da5id) – both attractive enough produced to share some floor action. You should also lay your focus of interest on the both additional tracks, because you’ll get rewarded with an intense remix on the ballad "Don’t Be Afraid", one of the outstanding tracks of "Beyond" – the rather Goth/Dark Electro-oriented audience will fall in love with this moody reinterpretation. But also "Bottom Feeder" is much better than someone might expect from a b-side and impresses with ist cold synth pads, the attacking guitar-riffs and the deep blurring bass-lines. "Come Together" is an attractive teaser release, which promises a lot for the new album.
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