Music Reviews

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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Septic VIII
Format: CD
Label: Dependent (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
Welcome back at the front-line, Stefan, and fire free for the new and 8th edition of Dependent’s legendary "Septic"-compilation series. Germany’s label giant Dependent is back for good after they’ve decided two years ago to stop all business activities due to the ongoing stagnation of sales and illegal file piracy. But it is still a dangerous situation – the awful situation of illegal file-sharing is still imminent and a promising tool against this hasn’t been invented so far, and to run a label in professional structures requires fully attention and a lot of right decisions regarding the label roster. On the other side – and I say this out of deepest conviction – it does so good to have back a rivaling pendant to the too-big-too-arrogant operating Out Of Line giant. Coming to this release, the name "Septic" and to participate with a track still has still a lot of meaning for an Electro/Industrial project. And so Stefan could easily collect again some cool and promising newcomer acts to offer them a free slot to publish their talent to a widely interested audience. Some veteran and well-sounding global players of course needed to be added too, as they get the possibility to promote upcoming stuff. The winner is for the most part the listener, who receives always a wide ranging diversity between the styles. As for a point of criticism, "Septic VIII" acts a bit too obviously as a pure label collection, more than half of the participants have been collaborated in some or another way with Dependent before. Although MySpace and consorts offer for the most part uninspired mediocrity - the point which Stefan often picks up and argues - there’s out there quality music, you only have to search for it a bit better. And the listener even nowadays doesn’t understand the drama of label politics, so the pleasant return of Dependent would have been also a chance to bury some old hatchets.
Now turning the attention to the music, the good things are starting with Sweden’s legitimate answer on SKINNY PUPPY, the duo of NECRO FACILITY, which offers an energetic new track. "Do You Feel The Same" draws a fine balance between aggression and melodic calmness with typical Ogre-like vocals, some guitar riffs and tasteful Dark-Electro synth arrangements. INFORMATIK’s "Temporary", in this case remixed by THE SYTHETIC DREAM FOUNDATION, is one of the winners of their self-arranged remix contest following their last studio album "Beyond". This cool interpretation gets not only rewarded with a free slot on here, it will be too available on INFORMATIK’s new album "Arena". Back for good also for South-Africa’s ACRETONGUE with a musically demanding Dark-Electro tune – just try to sing along to that tricky rhythm programming! No surprise, but still a breathtaking quality – as usual – from MESH ("Who Says" sounds rather edgy like their earlier recordings... ), EDGE OF DAWN and BIOMEKKANIK (solo project of Sweden’s Christer Hermodsson, who been part of S.P.O.C.K and producer of among others AND ONE or CAT RAPES DOG), as they all can be thrown into the lesser dark, but modern and refreshing sounding Futurepop-genre. Denmark’s ARZT + PFUSCH and their Lo-Fi - Electro/Industrial-sound is something, I’ve missed through the years – unfortunately they seem to have no interest to reach again their best days with notorious hits like "Boneloc" or "Skumfuck" – their new one "Constipated Disembowelment" is a quite uninspired tedious piece of Dark Electro music, which does nothing else but boring. And how can Stefan explain us the sense to prostitute himself and to offer free slots for those toxic brownfields like AERODRONE (a demo version??? I as a listener of this self-entitled highly anticipated compilation would feel of being fooled - yes, it’s the new project of Gary Zon/DISMANTLED) and VELVET ACID CHRIST (a whiny Goth-like acoustic tune with "real" vocals? Can that be called "back to the very early roots", Bryan?). But luckily this compilation turns back on track by offering convincing appearances of GHOST & WRITER (an interesting new collaborative effort by J.-M. Lederman/The WEATHERMEN and Frank M. Spinath/SEABOUND, EDGE OF DAWN), ENCEPHALON (yes, they’ve also been known guests on an earlier issue of "Septic"), and Germany’s personified Dark Electro god FIX8:SED8. Also not to be missed is a musically trip to the pure Coldwave-related genre with appearances of KMFDM vs. SKOLD and WE GOT THIS FAR.
"Septic VIII" is another tireless appetizer, which works well to introduce talented newcomer acts asides already discovered and renowned global players. What’s good on this has been said – what’s bad and doesn’t satisfy has been mentioned too. As much as I enjoy the wide-ranging diversity of the presented styles and the big effort Stefan has once again invested to collect this compilation, I personally miss a bit of his often proved pioneering sense. By collecting this album to celebrate the return of Dependent, he has missed a really big chance to break with some inner boundaries and to search for valuable contacts – collaboration and the exchange of ideas of how to promote this still sort of niche-music can safe the medium CD with better sales for a longer time. Some labels out of IDM/Electronica-scene seemingly have recognized this already. Therefore "Septic VIII" entertains in a similar kind as all other parts out of this compilation series too. But it looks a bit, that nothing has changed too much...

1. Necro Facility - Do you feel the same
2. Informatik - Temporary (Synthetic Dream Foundation Mix)
3. Acretongue - Dragonfly (nymph)
4. Mesh - Who Says? (Rough Mix)
5. Apparat - Arcadia (Telefon Tel Aviv Remix Edit)
6. Edge Of Dawn - Stage Fright
7. Biomekkanik - Pitch Black Ocean
8. Arzt+Pfusch - Constipated Disembowelment
9. acid.milch&honig - Was ich seh
10. Non Plus Ultra - Free Falling
11. Aerodrone - Ready To Love (Demo Version)
12. Velvet Acid Christ - Black Rainbow
13. Ghost & Writer - Nightshift
14. Encephalon - Scar On Scar
15. KMFDM vs. Skold - Bloodsport
16. FÏX8:SËD8 - Dormicum
17. We Got This Far - Sedona
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Artist: Lazyfish/Mewark
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Lagunamuch Records (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Good friends can produce together – Alexander Petrunin (MEWARK) has invited his colleague Alexander Potekhin (LAZYFISH) to produce a mutual album. And somehow – the result is quite remarkable! It seems a bit that the appearance of LAZYFISH has added a doze of Vitamin C to Petrunin’s efforts, this self-titled album turns more and more into a great Synth-Electronica-album, which adds multiple experimental sound sculptures into the mix. The very first tracks of this album can be strictly related to MEWARK’s solo album "Little One", while the latter ongoing tracks offer never-heard-before sound experiments and a bizarre sounding outfit
But also for Potekhin this collaboration seems to be a quite fruitful one, as he’s known especially in his Russian homeland to produce quality Techno-/House-tunes. Thanks to the highly featured experimental content available in here, those styles can be hardly recognized. As for some highlights to mention out of this album, "Tpahc-Topm03" or "Restorun" with their complex IDM-related percussion programmings have to be named. As for some darker and more subtle oriented tunes, "Include" with its brilliant piano inserts sets standards. I hope for both artists that they can decide to continue this collaboration one fine day –and that this album reaches higher attention of the international IDM/Industrial scene, because the talent well balanced on this album deserves to get discovered.

Artist: Ataraxia (@)
Title: Oil on Canvas
Format: CD
Label: Ultramail Prod (@)
Rated: *****
Ataraxia is an Italian neo-classical/darkwave band who's been active since the eighties and has been releasing record after record to the delight of the scene they cater to. I have fond memories of Ataraxia and remember them since the days I used to live in Italy, so I was happy to find out that they are still active and that they have a new record out. Lyricist, vocalist and flautist Francesca Nicoli, the leader of the band, partnered up with composer and guitarist Vittorio Vandelli, to bring us 14 songs of haunting music and poetry. Ataraxia is probably amongst the most active and long-running neo-classical/neo-folk groups and if you are not already amongst their fans you should check them out if you like music by Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, Death in June, The Moon and the Nightspirit, Mephisto Walz, Butterfly Messiah, The Soil Bleeds Black and maybe even Sol Invictus and Current 93 (especially now that there is so much acoustic guitar to be had along with the long shimmering pads, the ethereal sustained layers, the martial percussions etc).
Although as a producer myself, I might have one or two qualms about some pitch issues with some vocals here and there or even with the opening guitar arpeggio of the album, these things can be overlooked in favor of the entirety of the work. Synthetic strings and pads counterpoint classical guitar arpeggios and support the dramatic vocalizations and the recited multi-language poetry sometimes borrowing from celtic or greek aesthetic and sometimes accenting with apocalyptic drum parts.
The Hong Kong based label that released "Oil On Canvas" made it available as a standard CD and as an absolutely stunning and gorgeous limited edition CD+book in which the CD comes in a digipack and is housed (along with the book and some postcards) inside a black hardcover box set. The book contains verses of poetry by Francesca Nicoli translated in italian, english, french, spanish and german and contains beautiful photos by Raffaella Graziosi (abandoned buildings and objects), Mick Mercer (mysterious and ominous statues in gardens and courtyards - the same type of statue that you see on the cover) and Livio Bedeschi (the elements of nature). This packaging is so unique and sensational that it almost risks to overshadow the music itself. If you can still get your hands on one of these 800 pieces you should absolutely do so and enjoy it page after page, verse after verse, note after note, track after track.
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Artist: Whispers In The Shadow (@)
Title: Borrowed Nightmares and Forgotten Dreams
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece
Rated: *****
Some flares and flames from the Chaos-devoted Austrian gothic-rock band Whispers In The Shadow reached our headphones. If you still don't know them, you maybe have to update your rusty shrine of records as this band saw its dawn as a solo project of L'Ãme Immortelle guitarist Ashley Dayour in 1996, borrowing the name of the project from the story The Whisperer In Darkness by which H.P.Lovecraft mixed romantic, horror and sci-fi element to introduce the Mi-Go, an extraterrestrial fictitious race of creatures whose aspect was similar to mushrooms -!- and hairstyle and some recognizable influences from Robert Smith and his legendary band, The Cure, moving from traditional Gothic rock to a more heterogeneous style able to roll splinters of Fields of the Nephilim, dark, rock and progressive tracings and some psychedelic Pink Floyd-like strains to such a pitch that some one speaks about "Goth-Floyd" when referring to WITS' style, a magniloquent way to describe the transition from old-fashioned a sort of dark epic wave to a more original and synchretic musical language. Lyrics are mainly inspired by the so-called Chaos Magic as well from some writings of some notorious occultists such as Austin Omar Spare and Kenneth Grant of the so-called Typhonian Order and science-fiction writers such as the above-mentioned Lovecraft.

Well... after 5 album and 2 live recordings, the esteemed Echozone issues Borrowed Nightmares and Forgotten Dreams '“ a collection of "the remixed, the reworked and the abandoned, as the sub-title declares.. '“ by inviting a multitude of voices and remixers to join to the set Whispers In The Shadow are ideally playing in a undefinite place in the Nightside of Eden (just to mention a Miltonian-conscious tune from their last Into The Arms of Chaos, which should not to be confused with the hit by Him with the same name... ) to re-build and re-perform some of their rushing compositions by adding some great unpublished songs (..the forgotten dreams..) dated 2005. Either remixes and lost tapes are really vibrant and well-crafted. We mostly appreciated the second ones as well as they show the multi-faceted skills of this band; from the powerful sound walls and the psychedelic goth of tracks such as Everyday and Waste to the astonishing textures between a good drumming and guitar rhythms of Karma Revolution, showing all the qualities of Ashley Dayour as a vocal performer, the last track Optimistic Day is maybe the best song of this collection: it starts with strange electro vocals and keeps on tickling listener's ears and brains through a syncopated march and psychedelic soundscapes strengthening the mark some press impressed to their musical style (Goth Floyd).

The opening track of the first part of this release, the Shemhamforash mix of The Arrival (... and just as an example of how they're strongly influenced by occultist knowledge is given by the way they call this mix... Shemhamforash was an ancient Hebrew expression meaning "the explicit name" referred both to the impossibility to pronounce the name of God and to refer to one of the way (a 72-letter word) Hebrew used to name God and later adopted by Anton La Vey as a way of greeting Satan..), is maybe the most close to WITS style as it's a great assemblage of strong rockfish energy and intriguing sonorities, while the climax slightly changes with the Sieben remix of The Nightside of Eden: drums set is more syncopated and slow and some violins add a more touchy shadow if compared to the original version... for a strange reason it reminds to us a bizarre agglomeration of Royksopp's more melancholic songs, Faun and the most folk side of dark! Please don't ask me why! Among the following reworks we'd like to mention the strange ghostly version of Babylon Rising '“ considerably thinner than the original one '“ by Ice Ages, the Cure-like new wave (veeeery nostalgic!) 2009- The Eminence Version of Train (... describing the gradual death of mind inducted by a pendular life... ), the clubby version of Damned Nation (the one beginning with an exorcism trying to send back to hell devilish spirits hardly looking for justice in this troublesome society... !) by Thomas Rainer which enrich a "danceable" rhythmical pattern with an elegant background sound set and the lovely melancholy-thickened version with an unexpected rhythm variation of the great "remix" of Pandora's Calling by Persephone. This release could be a good starting point in order to digging inside the discography of this band, if never heard something about it. We're almost sure that even if some tracks could be heavily influenced by the personal musical visions (and hallucinations as well... ) of the remixers, it's good enough to rouse your curiosity about Whispers In The Shadows' short but really interesting musical path...
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Artist: K-Bereit (@)
Title: Dist�rt Neural Unit
Format: CD
Label: Sigsaly Transmissions (@)
The long-awaited debut of the new announced moniker of the duo made up of the Lille based "historical" EBM agit-props Frédéric Sebastien and Dominique Lallement which can be considered as the legitimate son of the former Kriegbereit, one of the project active since the second half of the 80s which gained a certain notoriety out of French boundaries strictly related to the embryonic sound of the Belgian industrial waves (especially to the praiseworthily stunning one whose ensigns are with no doubts Front 242) propelled by Monsieur Lallement, also active with the moniker Cobalt 60 (obscure project inside which a rebel youngster Jean-Luc DeMeyer '“ you should know the name of the above-mentioned band was famous for his rushing growls on the microphone... -, whose name was borrowed not only from the radioactive and dangerous isotope of cobalt, but also from an almost unknown comics series by the American cartoonist Vaughn Bodé with the same name, whose plot '“ the revenge of Cobalt60 for the death of his parents, murdered by the evil Stronzium 90! '“ takes place in a post apocalyptic world crowded with aliens, mutants and strange human hybrids, which could be perfectly set to music by K-Bereit as well!) is a well-crafted exulceration of the glorious old-school EBM '“ an indefinite nostalgic touch is added by the sound of unrecorded vinyl wisely inserted between a track and the next one as well as from track 16 to 59 just before the bonus "hidden" track... ! -, whose venomous lyrics, leathery beats and distorted sounds are going to be dropped mainly on trained dance-floors as we think it's not so fitted for personal listening as it could result a bit monotonous unless you find their rifle-fires on electronic drums and neurotic sounds which seems coming directly from a stoke-hole fitted enough to your eardrums., especially when you'll be conscious about the collaborative presence of other EBM-industrial famous stokers, among which Punish Yourself, the great Swedish act Autodafeh- as well as label mates coming from the hard-hitting roster of the Texan label Sigsaly Transmissions -, Dolls of Pain '“ we highly reccomend to download (for free) a collection of remixes of their album, Cybersex, entitled Cybertransmissions on the website of this exquisite band from Strasbourg... - and Signal Aout 42 '“ another interesting EBM act coming from Belgium and quite close to the glorious DAF -. Tracks such as In/Visible, Liar (be honest or prepare to be fired, folks!!!), Mutilation and Use Your Strap-on! are the best songs according our ear response! Even if quite nostalgic and intimately related to the old way of assembling bodily electronic music for bodies' and brains' perspiration, we could bet that most renowned Ebm parties will play this record very frequently. K-Bereit looks ready for a have just to take your gas masks and latex boots out of your wardrobes to ger ready for their violent sound attacks whis are going to shake your ass and march on your favorite dark floors.
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