Music Reviews

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Title: Remove Or Disable
Format: CD
Label: Happy Records
Distributor: Clogsontronics
Rated: *****
Born in Limoges / France, Happiness Project is an electro pop band formed by two brothers (Fred and Cyrille Tuyeras) plus Christelle Fournioux on vocals. During their first period the line-up had also Patrice Fournioux and Williams Cavelier but after the release of their first two albums, "Electric games" (2006) and "Happy live bomb" (2007) they leaved. The original trio didn't lose time and started soon after to work on new tracks aided by Jean-Louis Sollier (keyboards on six songs), Ania Pikula (backing vocals on "My London"), Pierre Lafaye (guitar on six songs), Srah Lafaye (vocals on "Departure") and Claire Tuyeras (backing vocals on "Freeness"). REMOVE OR DISABLE prove that the efforts of all the people involved have been headed into the right direction, because the twelve songs of the album sound simple (as a good pop song should sound) but without forgetting to have great melodic lines and interesting electronic sounds (as good electronic songs should be). The sound is well balanced: it isn't too minimal or, otherwise, overproduced. Songs like the opening "My London" or "Internet connection" have all the elements to turn into instant hit singles: good male/female duets and melodies that sticks into your head in no time. Even if the band is called Happiness Project the album doesn't sound like a "stupid" synthpop album where everything could be summed into a three note humming. If you love bands like Telex (but they don't sound too retro) you should check this one. You can find three tracks on Now they are distributed by Clogsontronics (that will release their next album), so if you have problems into finding their CD check with them.
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Title: Covering For Solace
Format: CD
Label: Wrotycz (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from Kalingrad / Russia (before 1945 the city was part of the Eastern Prussian Kingdom and was named Königsberg), Sunset Wings are bringing to the attention of folk music lovers their first full length release titled COVERING FOR SOLACE. Using as lyrics, poems of William Blake, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Lovell Beddoes the band succeed into creating a romantic/melancholic atmosphere where acoustic guitars, cello, violins, flutes, piano, harmonica and bright percussion sounds are enjoyed by male and female duets. The band is really good at composing songs where the different elements merge with ease. The music flows from the speakers cradling the listeners. Musically inspired by traditional ballads of the British isles and the art of Pre-Raphaelites, Sunset Wings are band you'll be glad to check if you are into the genre.
Artist: Heroin And Your Veins
Title: Nausea
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Verdura Records (@)
Rated: *****

When you listen to a lot of music and educate yourself on different genres, I find that it's somewhat easy to get jadded on occasion, and feel like you've heard all there is to hear in such a such type of music. And whenever I start feeling that way, I end up stumbling upon a band with a unique sound that slaps my assumptions straight out of my head. Finnish project Heroin and your Veins is one such band.

"Nausea" is the second album from Heroin and your Veins, their debut album being released back in 2007. Both records are awesome, but I hear alot of growth between the two records, with this newest release being the better of the two.

It's a bit hard to accurately describe the music that this band makes, but obviously I intend to try. Imagine a surf band from Hell, or an experimental lounge band with a really bad hangover. All of the music is instrumental, and sounds very much like the perfect soundtrack for a really weird film noir, or moreso a David Lynch movie... Actually it kind of has some of the elements of
Angelo Badalamenti's work with Lynch, they both share a great usage of space and mood, and a certain jazzy influence, though Heroin in your Veins bring way more of a surf element to the table than the former. It's part post-rock, part experimental, but all very slow, dark, brooding and original as hell...

Every single one of the 10 songs on this album rule, and I recommend you check out this project if you're in the mood for something new and interesting...
Artist: orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA
Title: To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Faith Strange Recordings (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
This double-CD seemed promising in both the name and the packaging. Having no prior knowledge of what I was about to hear (and not bothering to be pre-conditioned by the accompanying pesky one sheet’) I dove in heard first figuring something called orchestramaxfieldparrish would be colorful and fanciful, just like the artist, right? (The b&w CD cover should have been a clue) Well, no. Nothing Maxfield Parrish-like about this at all, except that it is kind of arty. Now if I HAD read the one-sheet before listening to this work, I might have had a better frame of reference, although I think it would have prejudiced the review somewhat.

Without getting into the esoteric of whys of the "presents ÆRA" portion of the orchestramaxfieldparrish project name (apparently that tag was just for this 2 CD project), orchestramaxfieldparrish is a guy named Mike Fazio who has had a few releases under that name, and also Gods of Electricity, a collaborative project with a few other people. I think the latter project is more multi-faceted than orchestramaxfieldparrish, but never having heard it I’ll make no further comment. Suffice to say, this isn’t Fazio’s first release, and he’s obviously an artist who has developed over several albums worth of material.

I can’t say I was awed or overwhelmed by the first couple of tracks on the first CD - To The Last Man. The opener- "Elegæa," presents a series of strong, low, sustained orchestral string tones mixed with some synthetic drones. Perhaps it was supposed to be dramatic, but it left me flat. I could imagine a collaboration between Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze where they got together and smoked too much hash. A lot of sonority but not much substance. The following track, "To Touch the Sky" loses the bass in favor of chittering and ringing tones, still with a basic drone feel. The most annoying thing about this track was the vinyl simulation of subtle clicks and ticks throughout. Pointless, in my estimation. The beauty of the digital format is the elimination of sonic distraction in ambient audio. To me, once a record picks up those annoying imperfections, it’s ruined as far as my listening experience goes for subtle music like this. That’s’ a good reason why a portion of my record collection never gets played anymore.

Now that I’ve gotten what I didn’t like out of the way, let’s move on to what I DID like, which was just about everything else. Track the third, "Ennoæ," immediately reminded me of Steve Roach. It is the only track on the entire 2-CD album that has any rhythmic impetus, and actually came as a refreshing change of pace. I was beginning to get a feel for Fazio’s brand of ambient drone, and could hear parallels with artists like La Monte Young, Robert Rich, Phil Niblock, Klaus Schulze, the spacier elements of vintage Tangerine Dream and to a lesser extent, Brian Eno. Four more tracks round out the first CD, running the gamut from natural environmental to the outer regions of space to cozmic awe. My only misgiving was the simulated vinyl ticks that kept reappearing every now and then.

The second CD, Index Of Dreaming is where things really come together for orchestramaxfieldparrish. Instead of names, the tracks are numbered – 1/1, 2/1, 1/ 2, 2/2, 1/3. They flow together so well that it seems like an entire work, rather than separate pieces. All of the spacey, dreamlike musical textures Fazio has in his arsenal are employed to make this one hell of a cosmic trip. Quality soundscapes of the first order. Where the first CD might have been somewhat of an experiment, the second is masterpiece in restrained sonic layering that never breaks the mood, or jars the listener. (And thankfully, no clicks and pops.) While seemingly minimal, there is a deceptive complexity about the ambience that should hold up well to repeated listenings. If you close your eyes, you easily imagine being in a floatation tank without the tank!

Now that I’ve absorbed what orchestramaxfieldparrish has to offer, I learned from the one-sheet that the first 50 copies of this CD included a 3rd CD titled, "Pæan No. 1 - The Paradise Syndrome". Damn! I never get those limited specials. I can still be content with To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming though, because most of it is very appealing to someone who enjoys ambient/space/drone music as much as I do.
Artist: SITH (@)
Title: Leiden
Format: CD
Label: I Scream Tour Prod. (@)
Distributor: Season of Mist
Rated: *****
Since acts like TAMTRUM, ALIEN VAMPIRES or DAWN OF ASHES earn a lot of success with their musically mixture to combine a Death Metal-related sound outfit with Hellectro tunes, several newcomer acts following these idols in a comparable style come up to try their luck. Somehow in this style and kind this new French project has to be sorted in.
SITH consists in the first instance of Stephane Verdura, who is responsible for all compositional efforts of this project. "Leiden" means suffering – and indeed, the featured lyrically content of this album is a sort of violent mixture between hopelessness, hate, anger and reflects several views of disappointed relationships, violence itself and suicidal thoughts. The grim faces of the three musicians featured on cover art and booklet don’t leave space for a sedating summer sunshine and beautiful trip. Musically "Leiden" comes out quite expected. The foundation consists of the Electronic side like rotating synth bass lines and a pounding kick and snare-work generated of a drum computer. That is quite solid produced, but it also doesn’t hold anything refreshing asides this expected line – to me a pity, since a more diverse usage of this Electronica elements would help them a lot to leave some already known paths.
Their sound outfit gets accomplished with some grinding Metal-guitar riffs and a monstrous vocal performance between fragile and harder as hell. In between the expected straight and angry tracks like "Sin", "Eat" or "Love You To Death", there’s room for a more darker mood – I’m quite sure that every Goth-Rock fan will accept "Lost" as being one of the rather sentimental pearls this album has to offer. Some remarkable collaborations with Benoit 16 of TAMTRUM or VX from PUNISH YOURSELF even help to push more attraction on this album. Also worth to mention is the bonus track "Breath" at the end of this album, since the combination of a piano-driven foundation and differently Electronica arrangements works extremely well on this tune.
SITH are far away from being the next "big thing" this music genre has to offer, but still solid produced enough, to pick up some attention from the fans this genre has to offer. Released through their own label IS Tour Prod, but with the support and help of the approved Seasons of Mist distributor, you’ll be able to pick up this album in alternative record stores.
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