Music Reviews



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Artist: LOR
Title: Lunar Orbit Rendezvous
Format: LP
Label: LOREC
After a few EP’s, Lunar Orbit Rendezvous’ debut album feels like the natural step forward. It’s a combination of synthwave and quite retro analogue electronica noises. There’s an early 90’s trance flavour at times, with synth soundings evolving gradually in waves while steady drum machine beats clap out complex but consistent patterns with a light touch, and some of the tracks have almost Jean-Michel Jarre-esque synth lead melodies to roll along with.

It’s instrumental apart from occasional NASA-style soundbites, making it quite reminiscent of Public Service Broadcasting’s “Race For Space” at times, but with a more modest musical ambition.

There are poppier offerings like “Journey” and the frankly quite cheesy “Command Module”, and the interlude “Dreams Under A Stellar Roof” is a nice bit of low-bitrate sound design. Tracks like “In Approach” go a little deeper into the 70’s style squelchy noise generation and at points come out sounding not totally dissimilar to some of Kraftwerk’s more out-there moments. “Exploration” takes a twist towards being almost sleazy before final track “Return” brings up some surprise gritty techno kicks, by which point you’re so immersed in the retro flavours of this release that it starts to feel like foreshadowing instead of channeling something already well established.

The whole thing feels very much like it’s been done before, drawing heavily, almost exclusively, on existing musical ideas and forms. But it’s done with a measured confidence and a simplicity of purpose that means that it still works, and is really quite endearing and enjoyable as a 54-minute journey into synth-space.
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Artist: PRO424 (@)
Title: Before Immunity
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Lamour Records (@)
Rated: *****
PRO424 is Stockholm (Sweden) based artist and producer Maximilian Karlander who also happens to be a bioengineer. 'Before Immunity' is PRO424's followup to the 2015 'Immune' album which is actually a prequel, as evidenced by the title. This is techno to be sure, but of a richly melodic sort of techno. My first impression of it was "prog-rock goes ambient," but that really doesn't tell you much of anything, except perhaps that it's quite busy (many sequenced notes) and that it has an ambient-esque flavor. In a sense, this is one long piece consisting of five parts - The Human Condition, Improvements, Time Will Tell, The Happiest Days of Their Lives, Life Finds a Way. There is some nodding reference to Richie Hawtin and Tangerine Dream with seemingly endless synth arpeggio repetition, but I'm sure you could come up with a dozen other artists this may remind you of as well. The music is highly rhythmic but not necessarily beat-focused, although that does come into play. The whole album has a certain blending flow to it, and a somewhat psychedelic hypnotic effect (bordering on trance) that most should find fairly pleasing. We don't seem to get enough of this kind of music released on vinyl nowadays, so obviously that would be the preferred format. Good for sunny day spacing, or the walk of life.
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Artist: Duskmortym (@)
Title: One Night over the Baltic...
Format: CD + Download
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Any time we get a metal album in, we always need to make sure that it's either gothic, industrial or both. Some (but not all) black and doom metal qualifies (if it's bizarre enough), but that's usually up to the reviewer. There is an awful lot of good stuff that gets sent to us that just doesn't qualify for Chain D.L.K.'s genre parameters. Duskmortym makes the cut on its sheer outrageousness, its refusal to be confined to a genre and its generally gothy tone. The band is actually one man- E. S. Bowles, originally from Victoria, BC but now farther north of Vancouver Island in Nanaimo, BC. Bowles does it all - electric and acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals, plus artwork and design for the CD and recording and mixing. 'One Night over the Baltic...' is Duskmortym's debut album, originally released in 2014, but re-released in 2016. Don't know why it's taken so long to reach us. A lot of it is extreme metal, which Bowles calls symphonic black metal. (Think of bands such as Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor, etc.) Like the Borg of black metal, Duskmortym has assimilated an amazing amount of metal tropes and styles (Speed and Thrash included) and everything is played with accomplished expertise. Problem is, Bowles can't seem to to stay in one area long enough which makes for rather schizoid continuity. One minute you're getting gothic organ, the next- speed metal guitar riffs, then intricate classical acoustic guitar in a medieval folk style. The album seems to be more of a showcase for this talented musician than an album of well-composed and structured songs. There is a theme though - a journey across the Balkans with encounters with the occult creatures of the night, not to mention some Greek and Indian Goddesses. Song lyrics are quite poetic, whether they're spoken, pitch-shifted (down to demon range) or screech-growled in that stereotypical black metal mode. The only other musician on this album is Sara Robinson providing some voca. (Some sections reminded me of early Mortiis.) I think if the album was a little more focused I might have rated it higher but don't underestimate it. 'One Night over the Baltic...' is bound to impress black/gothic metal fans no matter what I think.
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Artist: Maschine Brennt
Title: Frisq EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ukonx Recordings
Rated: *****
Joacim Thenander is a veteran of the electro scene. In the late ‘80s he was a member of industrial synth band Systema The Affliction and then on early 90's he was a member of the duo Cultivated Bimbo, band that did several albums for Energy Records. At the same time, Maschine Brennt born but during the 90s only few tracks have been written, because Joacim was busy with other more commercial projects. Starting from 2014, Joacim rebooted Maschine Brennt by releasing since now, five digital releases and a CD album for Razgrom Music. The latest release is a digital EP released by Ukonx Recordingsand titled "Frisq". Containing three new tracks and one remix of the main one mad by Deemphasis, project of the label boss Stéphane Bastien. By listening to the tracks it doesn't take much time to understand that Joacim loves Kraftwerk and sometimes by using certain melodic progressions, is like he's paying his personal tribute to history. Saying this it doesn't mean that his music is uninspired, because since the opening main title, he's able to catch immediately the attention, thanks to booming drums, catchy melodies, great synth sounds, etc. This guys for sure knows how to make dance his fans and he's using all the things he learned in all these years of experience in the field. Also "Shoewq" and "V.A.B." are a winner, because the complex rhythm layers which mix electro, i.d.m. and a bit of techno is able to make you focus on this without the use of catchy melodies or refrains. Only few sounds along with the rhythms layers are enough to define a melody to follow. This ins't an easy task when you have to deal with decades of electronic music but I'm pleased that at the end of the EP I want to listen to it again! The EP is closed by the Deemphasis Remix of "Frisq". For this version, Stéphane simplified a bit the rhythm section and created an ambient background as counterpart of the robotic elements. It sounds cool by sounding different and this is also a good result for a remix! Check it here https://ukonx.bandcamp.com/album/frisq-ep
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Artist: Rothenberg / Hein / Tammen
Title: Bird Saw Buchla
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Clang
There’s a purist streak to the way these three musicians have brought their own instruments- primilarly clarinet, guitar and a 70’s vintage Buchla music easel- to bear as equal thirds of this almost-hour-long collection of improvised works that sit on the border of avantgarde jazz and experimental electronic soundscaping. Sometimes toying with their own instruments, for example playing a guitar using saw motors rubbing the strings, at times it sounds like three decidedly introspective noise-makers whose simultaneous audability is more coincidence than design; at other points, there’s a clearer sense of musical responsiveness between the performers.

“Then Cry All Birds And Fishes” is a prime example of the latter, an expertly moderated nine-minute work of slow tension and build. In pieces like “Now In Sad Autumn” there’s strength in contrasts, the clarinet expressing the titular seasonal rustic melancholy but offset against bleeps, whirrs and scratches that map out a different path. One of the most interesting bits of soundscaping comes in final track “A Solitary Bird”, which at first glance appears to be a found sound cliché that reveals itself to be imitation bird noises constructed from oscillations that gradually devolve and lose their disguise while the Buchla steps out a sort of proto-techno pattern.

I’m very fond of the tonal qualities of clarinets, but even I have to admit that it perhaps over-dominates here at times. In mixing terms I might have liked to hear some of the rumblier electronic noises brought to the forefront, but they’re often crushed- obviously doing interesting stuff that’s buried underneath the bassier tones of a clarinet that does sometimes does everything except stop. There is some respite though, “Cold Pale Eyes Pour Tears” a successful example of what occurs when the balance shifts.

There are some deeply intriguing ideas at play here and it’s very well executed, certainly a release worth scratching beyond the surface of.
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