Music Reviews



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Artist: Dusty Tears
Title: Internet Hits
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Media
The overdue return of Silber Media’s 5-in-5 series, where a band cram 5 pieces into a total running time of 5 minutes or less, is a strong bit of post-rock-n-roll from Shane De Leon and Jamie Smith, experimenting with some succinct little ideas that, rather than being half-baked demos, are well-rounded self-contained pieces with hints of Henry Rollins or surf-rock blended with some electronic elements and an energetic sense of experimentation.

The two biggest pieces are “The Cobra Den” and “Gold Chains And Acne” that are expert demonstrations of how a pop song can be fully rounded without needing to hit the obligatory three minute mark. “Cockblocked By Spotify” is a fun little trip-hop ditty. Opener “Turning Seventeen” is an odd juxtaposition of guitar solo and languid, strangely They Might Be Giants-like vocal. “Gluten Free” is nothing more than a groove loop.

By the account of the press release this was quickly chopped together in some tourbus downtime, but you can’t tell. It’s one of the strongest 5-in-5s so far, and a great advert for both the band and the series.
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Artist: Hanetration
Title: Gavia EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
The “Gavia EP” is a mixed bag collection of four solemn, short, downtempo bits of experimental electronica that stick together slow, organic rhythm patterns with sparse synthetic organ notes, drones, grumbles, and found sounds. Each track has its own character which is either diverse or inconsistent depending on what you’re looking for.

First track “Ponta” is quite lightweight and has a lot of wobble and warp on it that makes it feel strangely drunk. It’s followed by “Cygni”, a much darker piece with a deep and heavily distorted drone and a steady, slightly limp kick drum that feels like a particularly unpleasant hangover.

“Zorile” lightens the tone again, removing the drone and adding ethnically flavoured woodwind of some kind (I’m afraid I don’t recognise the instrument, I probably should) into something that feels almost like journeyman folk. Final track “Kofuor” switches to a tense, rapidly wobbling drone over an unsettling ambience with some alienating spoken word elements.

Currently available as a free download, without even the option of paying for it and therefore guilt-free as you don’t even have to enter “$0”, there’s no reason not to check this EP out. It feels a little like a sampler rather than a coherent EP, but as a sampler it’s very strong.
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Artist: Xordox
Title: Neospection
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Editions Mego
A man of many aliases, JG Thirlwell’s solo release under the Xordox monicker is a purist bit of instrumental synthwave that frequently sounds like a Jean-Michel Jarre album with the lead melodies removed. At times it’s also close to the stereotype of what background sci-fi game music sounds like. It’s purely synthetic, with warm repetitive analogue basslines stepping along while beepy arpeggios, analogue synth power chords and effects flounce melodramatically on top.

The album is spoilt for choice for opening numbers, with “Diamonds”, “Antidote” and “Alto Velocidad” all sounding like epic opening preludes, hinting at a heavy Pendulum-esque hands-in-the-air section that never arrives.

“Corridor” is notable for having the strong lead hook line that most of the other tracks lack, ending up only a remix away from being a hands-in-the-air trance hit. The quirky warbling synth line of “Deep Shelter” is also one of the stronger moments. The other memorable element is the spoken-word manta on “Destination: Infinity” (“destination… destiny… destination… infinity…”) which is so corny that I have to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s tongue-in-cheek.

While the other tracks all come in roughly around the six minute mark, closing track “Asteroid Belt” is the exception- a nearly fifteen-minute deeper adventure into space and ambience, which starts off boldly start, although by the three minute mark steady bassline patterns begin to emerge and it returns to slightly more business-as-usual, but with an extra degree of measured patience compared to the rest, and an extra willingness to explore unusual tonal changes.

This album walks a well-trodden path, but it does it with a smooth earnestness that makes it an enjoyable listen anyway. Some extra ingredients would need to be added to make it stand out- vocals or samples maybe, or perhaps a slightly grittier edge. As it is, it’s a polished but just slightly forgettable bit of straight-laced synthwave.
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Artist: Collide (@)
Title: Color of Nothing
Format: CD + Download
Label: Noiseplus Music (@)
Rated: *****
'Color of Nothing' is Collide's 8th studio album and their first one in six years following 'Counting to Zero' in 2011. That album was a rather downtempo, melancholy affair that although well-executed, largely lacked the fire that they exhibited on 'Two Headed Monster' from 2008. There's fire aplenty though in 'Color of Nothing' and it begins with the aptly titled "Wake Up". If Collide's fans thought they had lost some of their industrial edge previously, I can tell you that it's back in full force now. The harder edge here is provided by the guitars of Kevin Kipnis (Purr Machine) and Scott Landes. Statik is still handling programming (electronics, percussion) and kaRIN has never sounded more seductively witchy. Something about the ways her voice was recorded on this album is really different. She is still immediately recognizable but there are places where her vocals are elusive as smoke. Statik incorporates a lot of melodic/rhythmic industrial loops on this album, perhaps more than he's ever used before. Where Collide had once flirted with taking over the mantle of the 90's band Curve (ie; The Secret Meeting - 'Ultrashiver') here on 'Color of Nothing' they do so forcefully and unapologetically. They even invited Dean Garcia back again to play bass on a track ("Fix"). This is a bigger, bolder and heavier album than they've ever done before. Although there's no definitive unified concept here, this is one of those albums that plays best as a whole rather than trying to pick some hit song, of which there isn't really one here. They're all good. Even though it took me a while to really get into 'Color of Nothing' it was worth it, and I think Collide's fans will think so too. It's an album that could only have been put out by a goth-industrial outfit of the calibre of Collide, and was worth the wait. I can only hope they'll feel like touring it.
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Artist: Vipcancro (@)
Title: Uno
Format: CD
Label: Lisca Records (@)
The Italian group Vipcancro is comprised of Andrea Borghi - bass; Filippo Ciavoli Cortelli - percussion, tapes; Alberto Picchi - electronics; and Nicola Quiriconi - voice, metal. From what I can tell they've been active since 2008 and have about six or seven releases prior to this one. I've never heard, no heard of them before so this is new to me. 'UNO' was recording between 2015 and 2016 in Venice during the 56th Biennale of International Art and in Pietrasanta at Molize Studio. The best way to describe this in non-music, or maybe even anti-music. I really don't know what the concept is behind this work, but maybe it's an attempt to glorify the mundane. 'UNO' is comprised of two lengthy, and one not so lengthy pieces - "U," "N," and "O," for there is no other reference on the grommeted CD slipcase. Much of the sound generated by this group seems to be field recordings. The first track opens with the chatter of a crowd that goes on for a few minutes and is gradually replaced by a low buzzing hum-drone. Other sounds that emerge seem to indicate some sort of pseudo-mechanical activity, perhaps a cleaning crew or something. There are a few different types of sustained and then oscillated feedback, and perhaps intermittent vacuuming sounds. The undercurrent is all deep drone, nearly subliminal. Other sounds emerge such as scrapes, squeaks and squeals. Minor, subtle electronics are also employed here, and there is a background of ambient conversational voices, content indistinguishable. There's 11:14 of that. The next piece (we'll call it "N") has a discreet low hum running throughout, as if it was recorded on a cheap tape recorder in a closed environment. There are sounds of activity- perhaps small tools and devices wielded manually, perhaps crafting something? The audible low drone-hum occasionally becomes more prominent, but yet distanced as if it emanates from another area. Harmonics emerge in the drone with an unconscious musicality. Voices of little children can be heard in the distance. It almost sounds as if someone is constructing something in their basement! This drone-hum modulates over the course of time as the electronic filters open up. I suppose the theme of this piece could be 'discreet musique concrete workshop' as the foley sounds ought to spark the listener's imagination. (At one point it sounds like someone sorting through a junk bin.) This piece lasts for 12:01. Final track "O" is only 6:20 long. It begins with a muffled, off-kilter, submerged thudding rhythmic loop, and once again, children's voices in the background. The sounds of manual industry are once again present- tapping, clinking, clanking, thrumming...a whole panoply of onomatopoeiac expressions. Now we here something resembling a small engine, and perhaps some droning machine noises associated with it. I'm getting the impression someone is trying to fix something. It all ends with a brief muffled howl. This whole thing took less than 30 minutes. The first time I heard 'UNO' my immediate impression was "what the fuck???" Are these people just messing around with stuff they found in a cellar? Who would ever listen to this? Garbage! Utter rubbish! Then, after a couple more listens I began to find it intriguing in a strange way. This is the music of our lives in a certain respect, and although atonal and arrhythmic has a quality to it which defines us as humans. It is true industrial, and does not purport to be anything else but. There is no glamour, no cleverness, no message, no emotion conveyed here, just pure industry. To that end, it succeeds. I don't think you're going to find any hidden meaning in it or great intellectual concept about it. It's just the sounds of activity combined with electronic drones. If that seems interesting to you, well, here you go.

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