Music Reviews



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Artist: WERTHAM (@)
Title: Memories From The Pigsty
Format: CD
Label: Tesco (@)
Distributor: Tesco Germany
Rated: *****
MEMORIES FROM THE PIGSTY is the first pressed CD for the project headed by Marco Deplano. After thirteen years of existence, Wertham give you a tasting of what have been with eight tracks which are in balance from industrial and power electronics. Containing recordings gathered during the 1997÷2007 period, MEMORIES FROM THE PIGSTY is an album where Marco express really well his hate for decaying humanity. On the 20 pages booklet you''l find eleven writings where Marco expose his vision of English youth's attitude and behavior (boobs job obsession, alcohol and drugs addiction , sexual diseases, violence, etc). These writings are a sort of counterpart to the sound contained into the CD. Wertham, helped by John Murphy, Trevor Ward of the Grey Wolves plus Lou Chano and Andrea Bisi (they provided him sounds he used) on tracks like "Red bricks" and "Brand new toy" used an "in your face" approach (with distorted vocals and tons of noise) while on "Chavlad", "The kingston come" or "Essex girl" the sound has always an industrial industrial approach but made with tons of layers. For this reason the latters sound more interesting to me because they build a wall having a "sophisticated" sound structure. Not for power electronic lovers only...
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Artist: Collide (@)
Title: Two Headed Monster
Format: CD
Label: Noiseplus Music (@)
Distributor: Noiseplus Music
Rated: *****
I hate when it happens; I receive a CD to review from a fairly well-known band months after it’s been released. Reviews are already published, verdicts are out, and I’m left with the unenviable task of confirming or denying sentiments previously espoused while still trying to remain original and unbiased in my opinion. First- the prejudice: I’ve always has a soft spot in my heart for Collide. I’ve enjoyed them since their initial release (BENEATH THE SKIN) back in 1997. Although I haven’t kept up with everything they’ve done, I’m familiar enough with their material to assess what they’re delivering here. If you want to cut to the chase and just determine whether to buy this latest Collide product or not, then I’d say BUY IT without a doubt. If you’re interest in my reasons why you should, then read on.

Collide kind of started out as a female-fronted electro-industrial mélange with dark goth pop inclinations. There were a few bands out there at the time doing this kind of thing but somehow Collide managed to do it better. When every other female vocalist in the genre was getting compared to Siouxsie Sioux, the vocal talents of Collide’s kaRIN invited a broader range of juxtapositions. The aural complexities Statik produced, especially on their earlier releases helped set the band apart from the glut of female-fronted gothy-electronica bands that populate the genre.

Collide has morphed somewhat from their beginnings; grown and changed but always retained the unique core of their sound- complex and beguiling. I think Collide’s turning point was their involvement with Curve’s Dean Garcia. For those unfamiliar with Curve (probably a minority), the band’s was essentially a fem-fronted duo consisting of Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia. Curve sits somewhere between shoegazer and noise pop on the genre meter. Last year kaRIN and Statik collaborated with Garcia on a one-off (so far) project called Ultrashiver resulting in an album titled THE SECRET MEETING. The end result was a lot more Curvish than Collidish in my estimation- not a bad thing at all. That album got great reviews but true to its name is a commercially "secret meeting". However, what Collide retained as a result of that project has ultimately influenced their new material on TWO HEADED MONSTER.

With the exception of kaRIN’s sultry-slinky vocal style (a hallmark of any Collide project), I wasn’t much impressed with Collide’s last studio album, SOME KIND OF STRANGE from 2003. In spite of guests cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy and Danny Carey of Tool it was altogether too slow, and the songs just didn’t seem that compelling to me. Flash forward to 2008’s TWO HEADED MONSTER and you have a whole different animal. First off, Collide sounds more like a band here than a recording project. I can actually imagine this album being played live more than any of their prior material. Although "Tongue Tied & Twisted" (line from a Pink Floyd song, eh?) opens the album with a dark, lurching semi-slow groove, the pace changes briskly with the followup, "Chaotic". Here you begin to notice the drum work (undoubtedly courtesy of Danny Carey’s reprise here) and the fact that kaRIN’s vocals seem more integrated with the music in the mix. Stylistically, kaRIN isn’t that far removed from Toni Halliday and it shows in numerous places on TWO HEADED MONSTER. I think the songs are a bit more accessible (probably unintentionally so) in structure on this album without falling into commercial cliché. This is a feat many bands strive for but few seem to accomplish without concession or conceit. And it is for this reason that TWO HEADED MONSTER transcends being merely a good album and becomes a great one. There are enough mood and tempo changes, enough twisted sonics, potently placed power chords, dynamic shifts and compelling rhythms to satisfy the most demanding alt rock listeners. Every corner turned by another track on TWO HEADED MONSTER holds a dark and delicious delight. If there is anything even remotely close to filler on this CD, it might be only one track- "Head Spin". Even on that song there’s enough sonic substance to hold your interest. TWO HEADED MONSTER could well be the breakout album for Collide, bringing them a much broader fan base than just the dressed in black set. Then again, who knows? They run their own record label (Noiseplus Music) ensuring artistic integrity and a meager promotional budget. One well-placed track on a TV series or a movie soundtrack could propel them into the spotlight. Unlike a lot of bands who achieve "overnight success", if TWO HEADED MONSTER is any indication, Collide are ready for it.

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Artist: VV. AA.
Title: Berlin Electronics
Format: 4 x CD (quadruple CD boxset)
Label: Absinth
Rated: *****
Besides documenting some of the most interesting performers out of Berlin's seething improv circuit, Absinth is always a standout label in terms of visual presentation and packaging. "Berlin Electronics" (following the "reeds" and "strings" chapters) features four 3" cds by Gilles Aubry, Annette Krebs, Andrea Ermke and Ignaz Schick housed in a cardboard sleeve handpainted in acrylic blue. As usual, the design and its handmade realization make for an eye-catching, peculiar object. That said, the sounds alone are above average, and easily avoid the quality issues of many radical improv documents. Aubry creates shifting tracks out of softwares and feedback, throbbing frequencies which at times are stretched out and squeal like reeds. Krebs offers a particularly intense set with some of her trademark starting points (guitar, mixing board, radios and tapes) alternating quasi-silent passages with crisp noise fragments. While her records are rather hit or miss for me, this is a sturdy performance. On the other hand, I've found Ermke's mix of erratic field recordings and mixing desk-generated noises too loose and unfocused to truly engage me. The best 3" is probably Schick's, who creates four amazing tracks of (edited and recomposed) improvisation out of organ pipes, cymbals, bowed turntable (!), effects and electronics. The squeals and hisses of mouth-activated pipes are looped and pitch-shifted merging with the frantic manipulation of other objects, creating a fascinating composition closer to NWW's surreal landscapes than to your standard improv performance.
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Artist: Ulna (@)
Title: Frcture
Format: CD
Label: Karlrecords
Distributor: Sound Ohm
Rated: *****
Ulna is one of the many projects of our very own contributing writer Andrea Ferraris and of another gentleman named Valerio Zucca Paul.
The former has has been playing/recording/touring/improvising with Deep End, Airchamber 3, Ur, Ultraviolet Makes Me Sick, St.ride, Andrea Marutti, Cria Cuervos, One Fine Day, Burning Defeat, Marylin Tognolli (Kill the Thrill), Alessandro Cartolari (Anatrofobia), Alessandro Buzzi, Permanent Scar, Polis and so on and so forth.
The later (formerly known as Abstract Q) is also part of the band 3EEM.
Both of them are laptop artists and the sum of their experiences is an exquisite blend of ambient electronica, minimalist glitch and IDM. The overall mood of the album varies a lot, from calm and melancholic to intense and glorious, like masses of semi-liquid artic ice slowly melting, drifting and expanding and then solidifying and contracting as they freeze and become harder. With a wide sonic palette to draw from, Ulna explores the fringes of genres with loungy grooves and secular textures made of organic patterns, fractured sound bites, stretched ghostly pads and other tonal and atonal noises. Aside from all the sounds I am sure you expect to hear, your brain will be drilled with subtle super high pitched sinewaves and pleasantly awakened from the self-induced state of trance by a treated cello in one the tracks. If you need references think of it as a little bit of the most subdued and soft Pan Sonic, a little bit of Autechre's beautiful ambient textures, a little some of Young Gods's most minimal electronic album (Second Nature) and a little Ikue Mori (with her great broken up Max MSP fragments of sounds).
In a proliferating sea of similar acts, Ulna is definitely one of more interesting duos out there and I recommend you check them out.
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Artist: MIDNIGHT RESISTANCE (@)
Title: Remote
Format: CD
Label: A Different Drum (@)
Rated: *****
Keyboard player with ReActivate and writer/producer for a studio-company, Nicolay Frank founded Midnight Resistance at the beginning of 2007. Focusing his musical skills for this new project he released for A Different Dum his first solo album titled REMOTE. The album contains ten original tracks plus two remixes (Sidechain reworked "Second Skin", one of the best songs of the lot and People Theatre did a great version of "A tear in every moment", turning a classic modern synthpop upbeat song into an electro song that starts as a inspired piano ballad and ends as a sensual synthpop mid tempo) which show Nicolay's style made of dance attitude, melancholic electro ballads ("House of cards" is a great song with electronic ambient influences, dark wave guitars and good vocal melodies) and a bit of new wave approach to guitars. Alternating dance pop electronic upbeat songs and darker ones, Midnight Resistance succeeds into giving to the CD a balanced sound. Personally, I appreciated the darker ones most (see "Scar from falling down" for example), because I think that Nicolay gives his best with that kind of atmospheres as it seems to me that he arranged them in a better way using fading out sounds, increasing the power of the sounds where the song needed it, while on the upbeat ones he tend to lose the sense of melody focusing his attention on their dance potential.
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