Music Reviews



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Artist: V1RTUAL D3SCENT (@)
Title: Darkened Skies
Format: CD
Label: DSBP (@)
Distributor: Indietective
Rated: *****
Well, it’s effective and a promising hint, if the band name offers a letter/number-combination, which shall document the genre classification, isn’t it? Seriously, the debut of the Illinois-based duo V1RTUAL D3SCENT is a little surprise for the DSBP label, since the musically direction of Erich Fate and Scott Pilz turns rather into a smoother form of Futurepop/Electro. No hint of the Harsh EBM formula normally expected and often presented by DSBP can be found on "Darkened Skies", but therefore an unexpected catchy tendency. This duo has already shared the stages with acts like LOST SIGNAL (signed to 23DB – yep, the label of Tom Shear/A23) or STATE OF THE UNION (maybe much more prominent in Europe with a license deal to Infacted Recordings...) and it doesn’t seem to be happened by chance, that their sound outfit draws comparisons with these examples and to related bands. What disturbs is the abused term Futurepop’, which has been too often used in the past to describe a repetitive one-dimensional point of view of danceable Synth-/Electropop music. Transformed on V1D3 this wouldn’t be a fair description, because the music turns much further – simply the fact that both Erich and Scott are more talented than the usual PC-user-produces-some-samples-and-adds-loops-musician’. Both have experienced in their childhood a classic-oriented piano training – and for some reasons this can be heard. Very often they add classic strings and piano drops as being used as the main lead synth sound ("Darkened Skies", "...") – it sounds elegant and cohesive so it seems to be a trademark of this act. The opener "1000 Tears" is a fresh state-of-art Electro-track reminding with its strong programming art on works of bands like IMPACT PULSE or INDIVIDUAL TOTEM. Applause also for the excellent usage of vocoder fx on the lead vocals for "Suffocate" – seldom before a band could use vocoderized vocals that effective like V1D3. "I Vivisect" then is another favorite and it didn’t wonder, that V1D3 have given out remix kits especially for this track to share it with some friends and additional musicians. The result can be discovered here, 4 additional remix contributions of "I Vivisect" are documenting the attraction of this fine and catchy tune with finest programming art. The track "Concede" then offers a fair amount of a fast-paced rhythm construction which allows some dancefloor action. A lot of good stuff to discover from this duo and a perfect alternative output against the harsh and pseudo-aggressive Hellectro camp. Check it out!

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Artist: ARDITI (@)
Title: Omne Ensis Impera
Format: CD
Label: Equilibrium Music (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
OMNE ENSIS IMPERA is the latest Arditi album. The duo worked at this CD with Kamrat Nordvargr, of Mz.412 and Toroidh fame, who mastered it and created some background sounds on "Profound truths" and " the closing "Endkampf". Listening to the nine tracks of the album the first thing that got my attention is the whole atmosphere which is sounding less explosive and more balanced. The characteristic choruses and the martial percussions are always present but the overall mood is more based on the tension created than on the power of the sound. Sound, which on this release is less lo-fi oriented, thing that enhance a lot the listening experience. On the booklet there's a phrase which explain better the aim of the project: "we sing the praise of war. Not for the way it makes people die, but for the way it makes people come alive". This phrase reconnect their music to the futuristic concept of war seen as a form of art more than a will to revive nazi ideals. Anyway, Arditi on OMNE ENSIS IMPERA succeeded into creating a good album, their best so far. Next to be released are two editions of this album: limited 500 copies edition gatefold 12" vinyl and 100 copies collector edition boxset. Check the Equilibrium Music website for the updates...
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Artist: ACTION NANO (@)
Title: Select And Start
Format: CD
Label: M-Tronic (@)
Rated: *****
Action Nano is one of the monickers used by Stefano Piredda for his musical projects. He's also active with the following other projects: Elefant'O, Octowire, O.T.X. and King Esteban. SELECT AND START is the Action Nano debut album and it opens with two tracks that mix vocals a la Afrika Bambaataa with lushy electro tunes. The whole album deals with soft electronic atmospheres (it remembers me a little some Bochum Welt tracks) making often references to video games ("Vintage games" or "Catch the pills!" which remembered me of Pacman) balancing the sound from electro joyful atmospheres to futuristic tunes good for soundtracks (see "Another beauty") passing through semi techno songs like "We are back". Using a lot of old educational toys samples along with analog synth sounds, Stefano made a nice record which lacks of "hit singles" but, at the same time, has a lot of cool sounds and a nice cinematic atmosphere (thing that affect also O.T.X.). Along with the 15 tracks of the album you can find also the Oil 10 remix of "Another beauty" (a little more relaxed edit) and a totally new version of "Bad arguments" edited by Cosmic Pocket.
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Artist: Coburn (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Great Stuff Recordings (@)
Distributor: Rooftop Promotion
Rated: *****

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Breezy and fun Electro/Rock from the E.U. strikes into territory somewhere between Fatboy Slim and Arling & Cameron, with the ghost of T. Rex leading the charge. The freshness and naïveté of these mostly 3-minutes-give-or-take sample-rich cut-and-paste pieces, is kind of Coburn playing the innocent, drunken college freshman coed to A&C's detached, grad-school irony. Hilarious segues like "Matured Sinner" and the smarmy interlude "10,000 Leagues" do well to frame main tracks like the rocking "I Get My Kicks" (track 11). Track seven, the lovely 2-chord vamp "Beyond Dawn", is nearly ruined by too much clever hacking and slashing; but right after comes "Give Me Love," a somehow acceptable makeover of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," if not quite as sophisticated. The warmed-over-Prodigy hip-hop moves in "Sick" and "We Interrupt This Programme" by rappers Solid State and Princess Superstar are not nearly as convincing; but the most bizarre re-working of all is to be found at the center of the disc: "Tallulah," from the child-acted '70s movie Bugsy Malone (in which the original was sung by none other than Jodie Foster, pre-Taxi Driver, people!). The amazing 40-second interlude toward the end, "Metro," deserves to trade places with the last track, "Erase," and be developed into a full song. This CD is in desperate danger of being dragged down by slower tracks in its second half, like the Portishead-ripped "Edge of a Knife", and needs all the party nitro it can get its nervous hands on.

This duo, Pete Martin and Tim Healey by name, are -- bless their little hearts -- consciously doing their damndest to keep their techno out of generic hell, and deserve good marks. Their saving grace is their rock moves -- the initial Coburn line-up had originally been as a garage band, before collapsing again into a 2-man unit. Singing on "Tallulah" and five other tracks on here is Heidrun Björnsdottir, providing the obligatory, sleazy Eurotrash lilt you'd expect to accompany a couple of hard-partying lads such as these. Previously working under the name Slide & Healey, they took their present moniker from legendary movie actor James Coburn for extra attitude. Not a bad move, if you ask me. This début release of theirs will definitely do the trick as soundtrack for your next topless love parade.
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Artist: NEKYA (@)
Title: Alchemalady
Format: CD
Label: Beast Of Prey (@)
Rated: *****
Nekya fourth album ALCHEMALADY is a great release and listening to it you can realize that the Polish band really improved their sound and their way of composing their disturbing suites. Based on alchemy, the album is divided into fourteen different chapters where we have a wide range of sounds and atmospheres. On this album we haven't only dark ambient music thundering through its hour length as Nekya used a lot of acoustic guitars along with synths, male and female vocals and powerful percussions. Alternating the different sound sources they created a great atmosphere rich of pathos and always evolving. It's cool how they used acoustic guitars with drum blasts and subtle lines of distorted guitar riffs. See for example the looped sample of a distorted bass guitar on "Chapter four: do not tempt the gods to sign" which become a sort of rhythmical mantra. It's also good to see that Nekya are opening to new sounds, like on "Far into the ineffable", where they used synth lines and intriguing syncopated drum rhythm and a distorted guitar creating a particular blend of mystic modern music blend with dub. There are so many gems to discover that you have to check this album. Only 456 copies are available so hurry up!
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