Music Reviews



cover
Artist: Page
Title: Start
Format: CD EP
Label: Energy Rekords (@)
Rated: *****
Page- a pioneering Swedish synthpop band, often credited with being the first band to bring synthpop music to Sweden. They go all the way back to 1980, with core members Eddie Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko. In their time they released a half-dozen albums and numerous singles up until 2000 when they decided to call it quits. (Temporarily, as it turned out.) I never heard any of them though. Big in Sweden, and parts of Europe I imagine, but here...nada. Maybe it was because the vocals are exclusively in Swedish, maybe distribution issues, I really don't know. What I do know is that they reformed in 2010, put out a few more albums, and this EP is my introduction to the band, titled (appropriately for me) 'Start' It consists of 4 tracks - the title track "Start," "Stor ej," "Nere För RÄkning," and "Krasch" (Apoptygma Berzerk Redux). While much of the synthpop I've heard coming out of Sweden sounds more cosmopolitan, this stuff sounds particularly Swedish, and not just because of the vocals, although that's a factor. The music is pretty simple, the vocals are light and happy, and the whole thing has an '80s retro vibe as if they never really left that decade. At times I'm reminded musically of OMD, but not Depeche Mode. Something else from the '80s too, but I can't recall what in particular. The best thing on this EP is the Apop Redux of "Krasch," which seems the least Page-like song on it. Bouncy synth bass, a good beat and better than the rest vocals with a good hook make it standout, but not a chart topper as far as I can tell. It might be a little presumptuous of me to say that if these folks sang in English they'd find a wider receptive audience, but something tells me they're just happy where they are.
cover
Artist: Tolchock (@)
Title: World of Tolchock 1997-2017
Format: CD
Label: Energy Rekords (@)
Rated: *****
When I think of great EBM bands, there are a few that always come to mind- Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Leæther Strip, X Marks the Pedwalk, Suicide Commando, and Tolchock. If you're not familiar with the Swedish EBM band Tolchock, chalk it up to them getting little promotion (outside Europe) than the others, although they certainly deserved the recognition. I don't know if their 2015 re-emergence with the 'Elements of Rage' album made a big splash or not, but it was a very good album. Now we have a 20 year retrospective anthology of 14 tracks culled mostly from 'In The Name of Tolchock' (1998), 'Wipe Out - Burn Down - Annhilate' (2006), and the aforementioned 'Elements of Rage' (2015). This is great kick-ass stuff guaranteed to burn up dancefloors in dark music clubs throughout the world. Plenty of hooks, 4-onthe-floor infectious beats, effective synthwork, and edgy vocals. No slo-mo stuff here; this is an express train with no locals stops. 'World of Tolchock 1997-2017' make you realize just how well this material has held up over the years, while some of the earlier music by some of those bigger name bands sounds pretty dated now. Even though this is old school, it sounds vibrant and fresh. Songs such as "Kicks," "I Feel Sick," "A Practice for Hell," "Kiss of Death," "Power Money Salvation," "Man is Evil" and much more just have a certain simplicity and sense of purpose that blow away many newer acts that are trying to make their mark with this kind of music. Tolchock actually began around 1988 releasing their earlier (pre-In The Name of...) material on cassette with limited distribution. I would have liked it if they included some of that stuff on an additional CD with this compilation, since I've never heard any of it, and probably not a lot of people have. Still, this is the best introduction to the band you can get, and damn fine EBM to boot.
cover
Artist: Swans (@)
Title: Soundtracks For The Blind (4LP)
Format: LP
Label: Young God Records (@)
Rated: *****
Swans - an iconic, legendary band that defies simple categorization or classification. They've been called experimental, noise, post rock, post punk, goth, industrial, avant-garde, no wave, and more. They are all of these and none of them in particular. The Swans are "sui generis," in a class of their own. Their history goes back to 1982, and the Michael Gira led band continues on today. 'Soundtracks For The Blind' was the last (pre-2010 revival) Swans studio album from 1996, when Gira and Jarboe fronted this outfit. To quote Mr. Gira - “This album has everything in there – all the ideas from Swans’ initial 15 years of work. There’s some contemporary recordings of the band as it existed in ‘96/7, with Larry Mullins on drums/percussion, Jarboe singing and playing keyboards, Vudi playing electric guitar, and Joe Goldring playing bass and electric guitar, and me singing and playing electric and acoustic guitar, but there’s also a huge amount of sounds and recordings that Jarboe and I collected over the years. These are reassembled, looped, mangled, and in many cases overdubbed upon to create new pieces of music…" Originally released as a double CD set only, this work has just now been made available in a remastered limited edition of 4,000 copies on a 4 vinyl LP box set, with a poster, insert and download card, and signed by M. Gira. What's on the records is really no different than the original CD release, and I wasn't sent the album package to review (because it's damn expensive for a small indie label like Young God to send out unsolicited product of this magnitude, although I wish they had), just a private link to streaming the album online. So am I going to review an album that's been around for over 20 years? Well, no...yes...sort of. There is history here. In 1984 (or maybe 1985) I inadvertently and informally met M Gira and Jarboe at a radio station interview. (I wasn't the one doing the interviewing.) I remember them being intense people with a high intimidation factor. I don't know if we even spoke to each other than to maybe mumble a "hello" at the time. We were in musically opposing genres - me in synthpop/new wave, and them...well, you know. I had heard a little of their music at the time and didn't much care for it. (I had been involved in New York No Wave in the mid/late 70s, and by 1980 had enough of that.) Over the years things change- breakups and breakdowns, misdirection and new directions, so by 1990 or so I was beginning to become more interested in goth-industrial and dark ambient. A friend of mine had purchased some Swans albums, and I liked what I heard. Not all of it, but a good deal of it. Soon I began buying some of their stuff myself. When I first heard 'Soundtracks For The Blind' I wasn't wild about it. It seemed excessive, overly long, and draggy and dreary. If I had bought it, I must have sold it or given it away because I don't have it now. Listening to it again these many years later I realize just how vital it is. It really summarizes everything the Swans were, not succinctly but distinctly. There are songs, there are non-songs, drones, noise, loops, lengthy dialogue samples (personal, not from movies), mystical psychedelic instrumentals and more. For a Swans fan, this is the shit. Way back when, I thought this could have been boiled down to a single album of essential material. Now I realize it was all essential and not a thing should have been changed. This 26-track album still holds up well after all these years. The four LP set comes at a price though- 70 bucks is a hefty music investment for most. Dither about buying it and it will be gone, and the after-market (collectible) price is sure to be much higher. Fear not though, Young God is planning a later 2018 vinyl release of it in a gatefold LP album, and a CD reissue as well. So what was this- a review, an advertisement, or just anecdotal bullshit? I don't know, maybe all three, maybe none. I just know there are a lot of Swans fans who might not have known about it, but surely do now. Worthy for those who can afford it.
cover
Artist: Vincent Glanzmann (@)
Title: Z/Rzw-Shiiiiiii
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Through States of Matter (@)
Rated: *****
Between the last winter and springtime, a new discographic label blossomed in cold Switzerland, the experimental label Through States of Matter, whose founder Tobias Meier decided to start its catalog up by the signature of Vincent Glanzmann. I met the name and the sound of this Tokyo-born Zurich-based drummer, whose bizarre and playful ways of forging unconventional sonorities brought him to collaborate in various different stylistic areas of Swiss scene (particularly improv, pop, and jazz), on the collaborative project This Difficult Tree (pushed by Wide Ear Records). Vincent's skills in forging new sonic languages and intriguing sound-set often focused on likewise unconventional conceptual frameworks, got confirmed on the first brick by this label. The first of the three suites (each of them has been recorded on a single CD of this box-set), titled "Z", is the longest one (lasting more than 17 minutes), and got inspired by a large subject of cognitive sciences, the so-called "cyclic thought processes" and their relation to mental growth; Vincent's handling of the topic, developed through fixed compositional tools and a wisely built musical matrix, is an amazing evolution (or involution), alternating cycles of many different rinsing of abstract rubbing on drum surfaces and granulated mingling on one side and lovely phases of intimate attenuations in the twinkling matrix of music box-like matrix. The nine minutes of "Rzw-Shiiiiiii" is an entrancing tonal puzzle, whose building blocks are single tone vocals (and vowels...mostly 'o' and 'a') and modulated in different ways, addressing "the differentiation between 'soul' and 'spirit'", and exploring "the question of how these two aspects of the human being might be purposefully conveyed through the voice", according to the attached introductory words (...and I'd add that it could resemble some 'classic' experiments on voice by some master of GRM). The last piece "---thehidden" (conceived as a tribute to Iannis Xenakis' "Concrete PH") is an experiment on sound compression, as Vincent packed sounds made through percussions, oral noises, a mini-amp feedback and a couple of violin bows into a very narrow interval of high-frequency ranges.
cover
Artist: Darkrad
Title: Heart Murmur
Format: CD
Label: Audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
Darkrad is a project of Jana Komaritsa, this project seems to have several previous releases which, I am sad to admit, were unfamiliar to me. I am familiar with some of the long form collaboration releases on Cryo Chamber (Azathoth, Nyarlathotep & Yog-Sothoth) which Jana has contributed material to and can say those should not be missed. I was also very excited to see this projects debut was on Cold Meat Industry which also brings a lot of promise.

This album which is titled Heart Murmur is an excellent unsettling but beautiful journey into synthesized ambient music. The occasional vocals are also a welcome addition that add an ominous layer to the music, we do not often get very many female fronted projects in this style but I would say Jana sticks out among all of her peers no matter who is approaching this genre.

This is a project I will be seeking out more from in the future. The main album is great. The bonus tracks which are pieces from other albums, as well as the remixes from Flint Glass & Mortaja do not disappoint either.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11...20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51...60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111...120] [121] [122] [123] [124] [125] [126] [127] [128] [129] [130] [131...140] [141...150] [151...160] [161...170] [171...180] [181...190] [191...200] [201...210] [211...220] [221...230] [231...240] [241...250] [251...260] [261...270] [271...280] [281...290] [291...300] [301...310] [311...320] [321...330] [331...340] [341...350] [351...360] [361...370] [371...380] [381...390] [391...400] [401...410] [411...420] [421...430] [431...440] [441...450] [451...460] [461...470] [471...480] [481...490] [491...500] [501...510] [511...520] [521...530] [531...540] [541...550] [551...560] [561...570] [571...580] [581...590] [591...600] [601...610] [611...620] [621...630] [631...640] [641...650] [651...660] [661...670] [671...680] [681...690] [691...700] [701...710] [711...720] [721...730] [731...740] [741...750] [751...760] [761...770] [771...780] [781...790] [791...800] [801...810] [811...820] [821...830] [831...840] [841...850] [851...860] [861...870] [871...880] [881...890] [891...900] [901...910] [911...920] [921...930] [931...940] [941...950] [951...960] [961...970] [971...980] [981...990] [991...1000] [1001...1010] [1011...1020] [1021...1030] [1031...1040] [1041...1050] [1051...1060] [1061...1070] [1071...1080] [1081...1090] [1091...1100] [1101...1110] [1111...1120] [1121...1130] [1131...1140] [1141...1150] [1151...1160] [1161...1170] [1171...1180] [1181...1190] [1191...1200] [1201...1210] [1211...1220] [1221...1230] [1231...1240] [1241...1250] [1251...1260] [1261...1270] [1271...1280] [1281...1290] [1291...1300] [1301...1310] [1311...1320] [1321...1330] [1331...1340] [1341...1350] [1351...1360] [1361...1370] [1371...1380] [1381...1390] [1391...1400] [1401...1410] [1411...1420] [1421...1430] [1431...1440] [1441...1450] [1451...1460] [1461...1470] [1471...1480] [1481...1490] [1491...1500] [1501...1510] [1511...1520] [1521...1530] [1531...1540] [1541...1550] [1551...1560] [1561...1570] [1571...1580] [1581...1590] [1591...1600] [1601...1610] [1611...1620] [1621...1630] [1631...1640] [1641...1650] [1651...1660] [1661...1670] [1671...1680] [1681...1690] [1691...1700] [1701...1710] [1711...1720] [1721...1730] [1731...1740] [1741...1750] [1751...1760] [1761...1770] [1771...1780] [1781...1790] [1791...1800] [1801...1810] [1811...1820] [1821...1830] [1831...1840] [1841...1850] [1851...1860] [1861...1870] [1871...1880] [1881...1890] [1891...1900] [1901...1910] [1911...1920] [1921...1930] [1931...1940] [1941...1950] [1951...1960] [1961...1970] [1971...1980] [1981...1990] [1991...2000] [2001...2010] [2011...2020] [2021...2030] [2031...2040] [2041...2050] [2051...2060] [2061...2070] [2071...2080] [2081...2090] [2091...2100] [2101...2110] [2111...2120]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha