Music Reviews



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Artist: Blanketship
Title: Teen Sounds
Format: CD
Label: Gigante Sound
Distributor: Gigante Sound
Rated: *****
Teen Sounds is a pretty remarkable album. It's contradictory in many ways. The sounds and songs are often somewhat dissonant but yet very pleasing to the ear. They are quite dark yet also uplifting and enjoyable. Finally, the album is somber but comedic at the same time.
I was thoroughly impressed with the subtlety and complexity of this album from the first listen. The songs are composed by use of sampling, manipulation of tape reels and vinyl records, and also live instrumentation. The sounds are manipulated, distorted, arranged, and mixed in such a way as to make it almost impossible to tell where a sample ends and live instrumentation begins. The term "sound collage" falls short of conveying the sophistication of Teen Sounds, but is probably the most appropriate description.
Teen Sounds is full of memorable and haunting melodies, absolutely bizarre sounds, and distorted samples that you can't quite place. Blanketship, aka Jared Blum knew exactly what he was doing and where he was going with these songs. At no point does the album lose its way. The songs move in a clear direction. Blum's composition and arrangement skills are apparent throughout. Teen Sounds is extremely well crafted, original, and surprisingly accessible.
The mixing, by Blum, serves each song individually and the album as a whole. It's quite dense, with a powerful bottom end, but with clear highs that give the album a spacious sound. There's so much going on in these songs it would have been easy to end up with a muddled mix. But Blum makes excellent use of reverb to give the songs the width and depth required.
I had the pleasure of mastering Teen Sounds, a very unique, experimental, and rewarding album.
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Artist: SKITLIV
Title: Amfetamin
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Skitliv is a project created by ex Mayhem's member Maniac. Helped by different people on drums and bass plus Attila (member of Sunn O))) and Mayhem) and Kvarforth (from Shining), he recorded ANFETAMIN, the first official Skitliv album. ANFETAMIN isn't properly their debut studio album because it contains two tracks recorded in studio (the main title plus a different version of "Slow pain coming", a track you could previously find on their demos) plus six others recorded live at Camden Underworld the 13th December 2007. At a first listening you could questioning yourself: "why Justin isn't releasing this one on his black metal sub label Satanax Rex?". Well, after a couple of spins the answer I gave to myself is: "this CD has been pressed on Cold Spring because of the its attitude". You know, Skitliv's music for sure is derivative from metal and doom and Mayhem years for sure left a trace on Maniac's musical attitude. The difference on tracks like "Amfetamin" and on "Slow pain coming" is made by how the guitars are treated. Vocals, rhythms and the general atmosphere find its root on doom metal but noise doesn't. "Amfetamin" has no drums and into its eight minutes length we have guitar arpeggios duetting with desperate vocals while treated noisy guitars build a tense background. Also for "Slow pain coming" it's the same: it has doom rhythms and crying vocal parts but on the background we always have a web of noise that change the overall atmosphere. It's also interesting to notice David Tibet's participation (with Andrew Liles) on the live intro "Who will deliver us from gold & planets?" where he perform one of his vocal multi layered laments just like on the early Current 93 days.
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Artist: Abandoned Toys
Title: The Witch's Garden
Format: CD
Label: Mythical Records
Rated: *****

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With the best of intentions, self-proclaimed "new age music composer" Brett Branning of Abandoned Toys lays out what is meant to be a 9-course feast of melodious shadows in this instrumental, piano-driven Dark Classical disc. Immediately, however, it's clear that the piano in the opening track, "Within A Lilac Clutch," is either un-practiced or un-quantized, and it does not bode well for the rest of the CD. Luckily, the piano-predominant songs alternate with some nicely treacherous, wicked, haunted landscapes of more-than-Tolkienesque splendor, so all is not lost. In a vein belonging to Current 93, creepy female chorale-voices crescendo very well at the end of track two, the "Prelude" to the title cut. The brief track seven, "Spiraling Into the Sun," too, works best at redeeming the shakiness of this oeuvre.

As a composer, Branning is capable of many good turns of phrase, yet since he also claims film soundtrack experience on his website, it's all the more surprising that he'd put down so many pieces in need of tighter rhythm. Although he is ably assisted by a guest violinist on track five, "Flickering Embrace," the accompanist still can't find where to sync up with the choppy piano. Even with all the other scary, cool sounds to his credit on this release, it looks like Branning could stand to make better use of his toys for the next go-round.
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anymore
Artist: PUNX SOUNDCHECK
Title: The Legends EP
Format: 12"
Label: Pale Music International
Distributor: Neuton
Rated: *****
It's some time that I was waiting for a new Punx Soundcheck release. Their double album released a couple of years ago amazed me (see my review and my interview with them), so I was willing for more. This new E.P. contains two reworked tracks coming from their debut album (the night versions of "Idiot crowd" feat. Boy George and "In the dark" feat. Steve Strange) plus two new ones featuring Marc Almond (now is explained at full the reason of calling this E.P. THE LEGENDS), with one of his passionate performances on "Saint now" (a 4/4 sensual dance mid tempo) and Linda Lamb (she's active as a solo performer and did also a 12" on Gigolo Records as well as being active with the Silures) on "Flowerpower" (an electro mid tempo that sounds like an electronic march with the sexy vocal performance of Linda, aided by Marc Almond on some duets). As usual Punx Soundcheck did a good work and if you loved their previous release for sure you'll dig this one also.
Artist: TwoDeadSluts (@)
Title: OneGoodFuck
Format: CD EP
Rated: *****
Nasty, nasty, nasty. From the graphics to the sound. Just nasty. Feedback squealing, thick droning tones, distro vox and bad attitudes. File under psychopathic noise. If that’s your cup of arsenic, go for it. 3" disk imbedded in a 5" disk. A six track soundtrack of mental and moral breakdown. And I bet they take that description as a compliment.
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