Music Reviews



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Artist: Vision Talk (@)
Title: Dirty Italo Disco
Format: CD
Label: Space Sound Records (@)
Distributor: CDBaby
Rated: *****
This is a new side-project of both Swedish band-members of CHINESE THEATRE, Krister Petterson and Martina Ramstedt. They have added two additional members, the vocalist Richard Flow and the synth-player Stefan "Fellin" Olsson to share a mutual musically direction: VISION TALK represents the typical kind and sound outfit of the notorious Italo-Disco sound of the mid-80s, which brought act like Dan Harrow, Valerie Dore, Devine, Scotch and multiple others to unexpected success. Combined with the typical-Scandinavian-like talent to create the catchiest melodies Synthpop-music can offer, this album comes out like a time-machine to reanimate those golden days. Think additionally on bands like ALPHAVILLE, early-ERASURE, CAMOUFLAGE, BRONSKI BEAT and those alike for possible comparisons. Krister acts as the chief-programmer and some phrases he usually uses for CHINESE THEATRE can be discovered here too. The main difference are for sure the male vocals provided by Richard. Although Martina suits well for CHINESE THEATRE, she has to take a backseat at VISION TALK, Richard dominates the scenario. This music is rather dedicated to the elders of Electronica following that Italo-Disco/Spacesynth movement in the 80ies and has its highlights with the most catchy tunes like "Dina Tankar" or "Lacerta". 14 tracks to remind you that the Disco-Fox isn’t dead – true nostalgia pressed on a silver-circle to consume without hesitation!
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Artist: HPC
Title: Halfbreed
Format: CD
Label: Hymen Records (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
This is another fine proof of the talent scouts behind the Hymen Records label – they listen behind the current styles and trends and come up here and there with some unexpected new signings. HPC is a Norwegian one-man project, which integrates some fine extracts out of Dark Ambient, Powernoise and danceable Electronica music to a musically culmination banished on this first debut album. With the additional sense to integrate some soundtrack-like movie samples, this one comes out as a moody rival to the currently best acts available on a label like Tympanik Audio – band projects like ZENTRIERT INS ANTLITZ, STENDECK or BROKEN FABIOLA are allowed to name for comparisons. Besides the rhythmic-oriented tunes like "Dissociate", "Machine" or "Run", this album too offers rather weird tunes drifting far away of your usual listening experience. Just check out the interrupted "Fond Memories", which sounds like a defective vinyl record repeating a phrase over and over again. An act not to underestimate, let’s look forward for any further quality releases of this fine band project.
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Artist: The Crystalline Effect (@)
Title: Identity
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
Australia’s Electropop-duo THE CRYSTALLINE EFFECT hasn’t surely any identically problems, although some of the musically influences this duo likes to integrate in their tracks, remains to be filled with diversity. It’s the rich musically horizon represented by especially Pete Crane, which draws on this album with black ink in huge letters by balancing between music styles like Synth-/Futurepop, EBM, Industrial or Trip-Hop. And some Downtempo-tunes only based on some sedating synthesizer sounds, a charismatic vocal performance by the female band member Elenor Rayner as well as slowed-down Breakbeat rhythm-patterns ("One Time In Life"), can be discovered too. TCE aren’t that sort of an "often-heard-often-forgotten" act full of linearity and foreseeable sounds. But they aren’t also a typically floor-filling act relying on the ability to produce that "one-hit-wonder". A fine example can already discovered with the opener "Blue Sea", which starts with a single piano introduction and Elenor’s aesthetic vocals, until the beat joins the scenario to push the audience toward to some floor-movement. As for another highlight I tend to name with "Life Has Failed You", with its staccato-like kick and snare-programming and the included interruptions to strengthen one or another part of the music arrangement. Three additional remix works by Lee Bulig (ex-STARK), ENDIF and especially IMPACT PULSE are offering at least diverse sounding and for the most part straight and dancefloor-compatible reinterpretations, which may help some lazy DJ’s by the decision to play TCE tunes in the club – the original tracks of this album aren’t that suitable for this. A quite interesting Electropop-album, which earns its praising by the refreshing kind to experiment with diverse styles and rhythm programmings.
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Artist: Fixture for Toxins
Title: Night Hovers Over Us Again
Format: CD
Distributor: Future for Toxins
Rated: *****
Upon first glance at this album, it becomes clear this release is not intended to be a colorful listen. The album cover consists of a black silhouette on an opaque black background, while the disc face itself is a fine, black tone. If you look closely enough, you'll notice begin to make out some ominous images of trees and a broken horizon. This sets the tone for the listening experience.

FfT's release, Night Hovers Over Us Again, lies somewhere between an organic live performance, a noise experiment, and a band from Wilmington, Ohio. This description pertains to their memorable riffing style, which tends to lean towards verse/chorus type structuring upon the initial unfolding of this disc. In their more catchy moments, FfT displays a more conventional riffing style, but later manage to inject some dense and noisey textures to enhance this story. This seems to identify the group as more familiar leaning than avant garde, being perhaps more influenced by a band like Acid Bath than say, SunnO))).

Then you reach the 2nd half of this disc. A lot shifts.

Standout tracks for me include track three Willow Grove Under Waning Gibbous, which feels like an early era Ministry sans percussive material. Immediately following, Graveyard Fog and Sunlit Infinite seem to land squarely in the band's intended territory, bringing about the ominous ambience that feels groutnded in their intended soundworld. There is very little sense of a percussive thread, and this allows the band to breathe a bit more.

If you are interested in non-percussive, noisey, but still band- derived and inspired soundscapes, this should fit your interests well. With conventional percussion and rhythm at a minimum counterpoint (think less than this), Night Hovers lets you delve into a territory consisting of innate pulse, screamy vox, and explosively punchy bass - all while dragging you down into a darkened cavern of suffocating, human derived, detuned noise narrated by industrial vocals.

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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Keep The Fire Burning
Format: CD
Label: Equinoxe (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Once upon a time there was a little small house in the middle of the Black Forest with a little group of fairies casting gothic-tinged spells, some years later a necromancer noticed the music spread out by this little creatures’ ensemble was a good and safe thing and so he decided to pronounce a magical formula to turn into a wonderful and luminescent castle... It’s not just a silly fable to let your puppets deeply sleep, but it could be a transposition of the story behind the astonishing Equinoxe Records, a label which moved his very first steps in the summer of 1998 in order to provide an independent release platform to the legendary German Gothic Rock band The House Of Usher by avoiding the subjections and compromises of the usual market mechanisms. Nowadays Equinoxe is one of the most interesting reality of the music market but in spite of a 10 years-long activity and more than one hundred releases (and notwithstanding the leaving of two of the four founders, who decided to move on to other endevours) the enthusiasm which inspired their action is almost unchanged and it seems to be the same of the beginning. The tireless publishing effort of this German label let us discover a plenty of interesting bands coming from those music grounds... but the story (or the fable?) of Equinoxe keep on surprising with two remarkable highlights i.e. an agreement in 2003 with the professional distributor ALIVE and the almost concomitant decision to create an electro sub-label, e-noxe, digging into the rich electronic music soil – that’s why this 10-versary sampler is also a celebration of the 5-years birthday of e-noxe!-. As it happens in almost every respectable fable, it should be a frightening ghost, a pustule covered angry ogre, a ravenous wolf or any other monster-like character playing an antagonist role in the set: as everyone knows, the music industry has deeply changed with the advent of internet and file-sharing, one of the greatest threat to many labels – especially the smallest ones -, reducing the possibilities of surviving in an highly competitive market, featuring an excess of supply never experienced before. But this "new order" resulted in a sort of new challenge for Equinoxe masterminds and that’s why the brave efforts mainly focused on any possible attempts to improve the quality of the releases without neglecting the roots behind any bizarre form of stylistic "revisionism". So we could say that this 16-track sampler combining exquisite pieces of both catalogues (the Equinoxe and e-noxe ones!) – with a lot of special tracks by bands which filled the roster from the very first day such as House Of Usher and interesting newcomers such as Psyche and Silvery... - has a particular meaning for the men behind the label curtains! Not only a gift and a sort of thanksgiving to all supporters of the label all over the world, but also an invite to breathe on the 15 candlesticks to join to the bacchanalia! But please don’t forget to... keep the fire burning, folks!!!
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