Music Reviews



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Artist: Phragments (@)
Title: Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this artist, but I always give stuff on Malignant Records the benefit of the doubt because they have an excellent track record and this album reconfirms that sentiment. The liner notes state that this album is "dedicated to all victims of genocide through the history of mankind," so you get the feeling that the music is going to be a bit intense. The music itself is a nice mix of martial percussion and heavy drones. When the vocals came in almost 10 minutes into the disc, I was not really expecting them, but it fits well. The singing, in the few tracks that there is some, is almost chanted rather than sung, often with added distortion thrown in here and there. Overall, this is dark, intense, cinematic music. The disc is packaged in a fold out digipak with beautifully ethereal artwork. Highly recommended. The album weighs in at about 46 minutes.
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Artist: Mandelbrot
Title: Thorns
Format: CD
Label: audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
According to the press release, "Thorns’ shows the rugged and surreal sides of nature: from cold, stormy nights of snow to the armed resistance of flora. Once again you will hear sophisticated Dark Ambient tracks between cold synth-pads and gloomy noise." I have to admit that I don’t really get that sense of nature in this. In fact, some of the tracks, like "Staring Holes into Walls" have more in common with the analogue bleeps and blips of Rothkamm than with anything alluding to nature, although "First Night in Snow" at least comes closer to having that vibe in a Harold Budd sort of way. This is one of those discs that plays tricks on you though. Just as you think you are settling in for some nice noisy dark ambient, it kicks in with some somewhat rhythmic noise in the second track (Thorny Hands). I don’t mean to say like Ant-Zen kind of stuff and I don’t mean noise like Merzbow, but more of a pulsing rhythm of machines kind of sound. I have to admit that I think it went on a bit too long in the same vein. But there is not a lot of consistency in style on this album - "When Solitude Remains" even has a kind of ethnic percussion feel to it – but it somehow manages to hang together. Perhaps for me the standout track is "Solitude Remains," a remix of a track by Grimbergen, and "Uncertain Roads," which both have a nice dark feel to them. Over all, this is a varied release and works well as background music for reading or writing. This disc weighs in at 63 minutes.
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Artist: Zero Degree
Title: The Inner Realm
Format: CD
Label: audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
As usual, I had not heard of this band, but the label’s bio states that this is a side project of nihil, who also records under the name Painslut. According to the press release that came with the disc, "The Inner Realm’ offers tight electronic sounds between dark ambient worlds and noisy technoid rhythms." OK, guilty as charged. The usual comparisons (Squaremeter, etc.) apply. This is a good mixture of atmosphere and driving beats, but unlike some similar bands (Sonar, Imminent Starvation) the beats do not become overpowering. Luminary is one of the standout tracks for me, with an interesting beat and a lot of atmosphere that gives the track depth. Overall, this is a pleasant listen but isn’t terribly demanding of the listener – think of it as easy listening for the Ant-Zen set. If you want a starting point for someone who has never considered this kind of music, this is a good place to start. This disc weighs in at 70 minutes.
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Artist: Worms of the Earth
Title: The Angels of Prostitution
Format: CD
Label: Bugs Crawling Out Of People (@)
I had not heard of Worms of the Earth, the project of Dan Barrett. From the intro track, you can tell that this is not going to be a nice soothing disc. The screaming women of "The Angels of Prostitution" give way to a driving noisy repetitive beat in "The Whore." One entity that is thanked is "people I hate for inspiring me to write this album," so you kind of know where this is going. Much of this would be right at home with members of the DTrash roster. I have to admit that I was a bit relieved that it wasn’t just another Whitehouse ripoff, with tracks like "Big Fucking Titties or a Fuckable Mouth (of the Succubus) [with it-clings]" (how’s that for a radio friendly track title?), which is actually a groovy little track with some rather odd spoken word ranting by It-Clings. He finally seems to hit his stride with "I Watched Them Hang," which has a nice synth melody woven through the beats. "Untitled" strips it down and slows it down a bit while still retaining the intensity that permeates the disc up to this point. "Dew Falling Over the Garden" continues on that trajectory with a hissing distorted voice that you can’t really understand. I was surprised at the sheer number of remixes on this album. We have tracks remixed by Dead Man’s Hill, Embodi, Dym, To Mega Therion, and Vicious Alliance. Three of them are reinterpretations of "The Whore." For me, the best song on the album is "Under the Bodhi Tree," with a mix of spoken word about spirituality and an almost ethnic feel in the music. Overall, the music is well done and has a lot of intensity, but I have to admit that this one really didn’t do it for me and I can’t really nail down why. As they say, there’s no accounting for taste. I think that part of it is the overall feel of the music, sort of in the way that I don’t really enjoy some of Navicon Torture Technologies’ stuff. That said, if you like NTT, you’ll probably like this. This disc weighs in at about 66 minutes.
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Artist: Ur (@)
Title: Triadic Memories
Format: CD
Label: Afe Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this band, but according to the label’s website, Ur is a collaboration between Italian artists Federico Esposito and Mauro Sciaccaluga. This is interesting experimental soundscapes. The tracks are simply titled Movement #1, Movement #2, and Movement #3. Let’s look at each individually. Movement #1 is an interesting track, densely layered with looped spoken word samples, what sounds like an abused guitar, and a hell of a lot of feedback. Various elements come to the forefront, only to become submerged in the maelstrom once more. It slowly disintegrates at the end. Movement #2 is the shortest track at 7.28 minutes. This one trades harsh noise for dark ambient droning soundscapes. The usual comparisons to Lustmord apply. In some ways, it seems to function as a kind of intermission between the two longer, more involved movements. Movement #3 is the most varied of the three and at 20.52 is the longest of the tracks. The main problem with this track is that the intro gets a bit repetitive, with the same loop playing out over the first 10 minutes, despite the gradual inclusion of other elements in the track. It isn’t until about 5 minutes in that it begins to get interesting and noisy. About halfway through it begins to revert to the drones of Movement #2 until it ends at 13 minutes in. It picks up again at 15.30, slowly fading in. I expected it to really unload like the first movement at this point, but it never does. Overall, this is an enjoyable disc. I would recommend it to people that like noisier dark ambient like Inade or Terra Sancta. This disc weighs in at 39 minutes and is limited to 133 copies in odd sized packaging.
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