Music Reviews



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Artist: Blaqk Audio
Title: Cexcells
Format: CD
Label: Interscope
Rated: *****
The project BLAQK AUDIO consists of the both US-based musicians Jade Puget and Davey Havok, both are surely better known with their rather Rock-music-oriented main band AFI. BLAQK AUDIO therefore has to be seen as a side-project, a Synth- and Futurepop-driven I should admit, but also with a tendency to some Pop/Alternative genres. The lyrical content of this full-length release deals mainly with the one and only theme, which the title likes to announce. The male vocals are provided in that style how you would expect it from any related production in this music genre, very clear and natural sounding. The winning points of this release can be heard by the music. It surprises that they can provide this well-thought and diverse arrangements, several breaks and quite a lot different moods are resulting in a quite entertaining album, from which – I must admit it – several acts musically always and ever based in that Synth-/Futurepop genre can learn from. Tracks like "Snuff On Digital" or "Semiotic Love" are pushing the speed and can bring some motion on the dancefloors, two really well-done Futurepop anthems. They also provide the right nose to place two rather slow ballads with "The Fear Of Being Found" and "Wake Up, Open The Door And Escape To The Sea" – the right mood to sit in front of a fire-place in a cold winter night. But the most outstanding work has to be named with "Bitter For Sweet" with a catchy-as-hell refrain and – good point – not too obviously trimmed to fall into Pop-cheesyness. That this album comes out that fine can also be caused by the production work of star-producer Dave Bascombe (DEPECHE MODE, for instance...). But I guess also without his helping hand, this release would be still a great example how sweet and on-top this genre can sound. A constant good album!
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Idioscapes
Format: CD
Label: Idiosyncratics
Rated: *****
The Idiosyncratics project was founded in 2003 by Belgian soundmakers Yannick Franck and Phil Maggi, recently joined by Maxime Lê-Hûng, and so far has booked concerts and launched a few quality net-releases (be sure to check out the one by Tomas Korber and Adam Sonderberg). The label debut on cd is this tasty sampler gathering some of the most interesting artists in the vast minimalist/drone field. Let's say that styles vary from noisy layering (KK Null) to crystaline Fahey-esque fingerpicking (Steffen Basho-Junghans), but most of the rest is in between, i.e. droning, and all tracks are nice pieces (no leftover rush here). My personal picks would be Janek Schaefer's drones+turntables mix, Sébastien Roux's glitchy guitarscapes, and Daniel Menche's surprisingly mild percussion-based "Cadence". Charlemagne Palestine surely wins the "weirdest of the lot" prize with "La beauté et la bête", mixing ethereal organ tones with orgasmic female moans and sheep field recordings - as bizarre and upsetting as some of Walter Marchetti's pieces. Worth mentioning are also the owners' projects, Eve and the Sickness (Maggi with Gabriel Marguerie) and Idiosyncrasia (Maggi and Franck themselves), both offering two excellent pieces of dark electroacoustics. Other names involved were Keith Fullerton Whitman, Critikal, Rapoon, Troum and Jazkamer, all up to their standards though offering no real surprises. An excellent compilation, assembled with taste and care - may it be the first release of a long series.
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Artist: Beequeen (@)
Title: Seltenturn Beesides - 1989-2000
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: plinkity plonk (@)
Rated: *****
Trip peacefully along with this 130-minute collection from the cult duo Beequeen - Freek Kinkelaar (also playing solo under the name Brunnen) and Frans DeWaard (Goem, Kapotte Muziek, Shifts, Quest, Freiband ...). Seltenturn is a double cd collection of remastered oldies unavailable for a long a time : 'Mappa Mundi' (cassette, with bonus tracks), 'Fond' (one sided LP), 'Split' (split LP), 'The Surrough Gate' (10"), 'Vault' (7"), 'White Tusk' (7") and 'Dovidzdane Vanja' (7"). "The Surrough Gate" was released on Ant-Zen (!!!) in 1997 and shows them dealing both with concrete sounds and then in a terrific ambient tracks with conversation pieces on the background. The Mappa Mundi cassette was recorded on 1989 and has the lovely psychotic calmness of Cranioclast's first works, alternating typical droney compositions to more abstract ones - "Land above us" is possibily the best track here, slowly exposing the core of the drone with throbbing
analogue bubbles. "Dovidzdane Vanja", which means "The Death Of Beequeen", was a 7" out in 2000 that is the farewell to their melanchonic soundscapes. (The duo recorded many other dronework s under the name Wander - http://www.beequeen.nl/wander.htm ). This awesome collection is both the best starting point for the new listeners that want to know about the more experimental side of Beequeen and absolutely necessary for completists. Ltd Edition of 300.
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Artist: POETS TO THEIR BELOVED (@)
Title: Embrace The Fool
Format: CD
Label: Equilibrium Music (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Formed by a female/male duo who met in 2003 at a Brendan Perry's workshop in Ireland, Poets To Their Beloved, after working at distance (Marcel Schiborr is from Germany and Saskia Dommisse is from Holland) are releasing through Equilibrium Music their first album titled EMBRACE THE FOOL. The CD gathers thirteen tracks which see the duo helped out by Sjanneke van Herpen, Ramona Wandollski and Michael Braun at cello/violin, bass and guitar. The duo, fortunately, even if met at a workshop held by one half of the Dead Can Dance don't try to clone the same kind of music and, in my opinion, they succeeded into creating a personal mixture of classical and folk music where percussions and strings enrich the ballads they created. If you want to know my opinion about a Dead Can Dance influence they could have, I can hear some percussions and some steel guitar sounds similar to the really early Dead Can Dance of the MLP "The garden of arcane delights". The other similarity is represented by the alternation of male/female vocals but in any case they have different styles respect the Australian duo (only Michael remembers a little Brendan Perry). The tracks are able to craft beautiful atmospheres: the first half of the album, for example, will convince you immediately of their capabilities as the opening "Embrace the fool", "Love" and "Ecstatic dance" have three different kind of atmosphere where they switch from dark folk to energetic romantic (but with a bit of mystery) moments with ease and creativity.
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Artist: BLUE BIRDS REFUSE TO FLY (@)
Title: Xenomorph Angel
Format: CD
Label: Decadance Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Two years after their previous album "Anapteroma" and after a line-up change (Eva H. and the band's producer George P. joined Kyriakos P. on vocals and guitars/keyboards respectively) Blue Birds Refuse To Fly are back and are ready to conquer a wider audience with their mix of melodic electro wave/synthpop. Since the first track "Crashed" I realized that this album was going to be a good one. This track has got everything you need to be entertained (if you join the genre and if you aren't afraid of a pop approach to it): dark and mysterious melodies, beautiful female vocals, great production and a mixture of energetic dreamy atmosphere. After a brief (less than a minute) second track, "Xenomorph Angel" brings you to a different level of the album, thanks to its electro/e.b.m. approach, where anger isn't considered and where catchy melodies capture your attention for four minutes of electronic melodic pleasure. The next songs, "Burning" and "Want you there for me" (a semi acoustic ballad) are a little more commercial but always having a really strong structure and production. Also "Oxygen" is a little more synthpop but the mixture of acoustic guitars and dancey/dreamy atmospheres are convincing. Melodic synthpop is in since "H.E.A.T." where the rhythms are less bouncing and atmosphere is a bit more seducing (an electronic version of Garbage?). The closing track "Elegy" sees a female/male duet for a particular ballad with acoustic guitars and distorted rhythms. Maybe this album could sound commercial for those of you who are used to e.b.m. music but this is a good one and if you aren't afraid of melody you should check XENOMORPH ANGEL.
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