Music Reviews



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Artist: Rayan J-W Smith (@)
Title: Becoming
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Inimitable Records (@)
Distributor: iTunes
Rated: *****
This is the second of two releases from Inimitable Records, closely related to the first I reviewed a couple of weeks ago- Building Seven- "The Time Has Come". Ryan J-W Smith happens to be one half of Building Seven (along with Michael Schofield, aka Micro). That CD fell into the category of dreampop/softside downtempo. This one is basically in the same genre, albeit with a somewhat different feel. But first, a little bit about Ryan J-W Smith. The guy is somewhat of a Renaissance man, a musician since age 5, singer-songwriter at 13, an acclaimed Elizabethan playwright in the Shakespearean vein, an actor, director, photographer... jeez, is there anything this guy can’t do?

So how does Smith’s solo CD rate musically? Well, generally, pretty good. It has a cohesive flow often lacking from solo efforts where an artist dabbles in diverse styles in order to exhibit versatility. Ryan sticks to what he does best here- ethereal downtempo mellow pop with thick, lush orchestrations with accessible melody lines and a tinge of sadness. The opener, "White Russian", is a bit of an emotionally aching enigma that sets the stage for what’s to come. Ultimately complex, with nearly every sonic element incorporated in it that comes into play in later pieces. None of the songs with lyrics fall into the traditional verse-chorus-verse category. Rather, there is a repeated memorable line sung with soulful restraint but with heartbreaking pathos that digs deep into the psyche. Very effective. Ryan J-W Smith knows how to tug the heartstrings with seemingly little effort.

Although some of the arrangements are lush and rife with an undercurrent of sonic effluvia, there is a basic simplicity to the album that ultimately works in its favor. At times, the music is Eno-esque in layered synthetic clouds of ambience and uncomplicated piano melodies. Although "Becoming" sometimes verges on "preciousness", there are enough engaging elements that emerge to keep the album from tumbling into the cloying abyss of schmaltz. The use of vocoder is one particularly nice touch, but since words can’t really be distinguished, it has the effect of an auxiliary musical instrument rather than vocal treatment. The album wraps up full circle with its last track, "Emily", a fitting song of departure with the lyrics "Ill see what comes to me... let go, and let it be, Ill see what comes to me... ergo Emily" backed by acoustic guitar, brushed percussion, strings, piano and dabs of echoed short synth pads. A pensive reminiscence of someone you knew some time ago washes over you and as the scene fades to black. Even after an hour, it leaves you wanting more.

"Becoming" is an album of emotional wistfulness that rolls dreamily along like the soundtrack to a modern romantic foreign film. You know the kind – where at the end, you’re still not sure just what the relationship of the guy and the woman was after she jumped off the bridge into the water. But you know there was something about her he could not live without, and something about her life that she could not live with.
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anymore
Artist: Genocide Lolita
Title: Direkt Aktion Kommandos
Format: CD
Label: SkullLine (@)
Distributor: SkullLine
Rated: *****
I should admit in advance that the above used link to contact this US one-man-act leads you directly to the brainchild of GENOCIDE LOLITA, Justin O. I couldn’t resist to watch and search a bit at MySpace after this act, since the given contact information I received from SkullLine, the responsible label for this release, led me to a deleted MySpace account. Currently there isn’t any real artist profile available of this act, as Justin slated it on his profile: "I have about 12 musical projects at the moment and none of them have a profile at present because they are a little too adult and truthful for this preschool oriented community." Well, but another truth can be the fact, that the rough politically-driven onslaught of this act pisses mighty against Tom’s wooden leg. Maybe this all has ended before too often in deleted accounts, until Justin got fed up with the procedure to create new accounts as often as possible. The music of GENOCIDE LOLITA can be described as a Lo-fi version of rough Power-Electronics infiltrated with uncountable samples taken out of news flash reports, sirens, trailers, and so on. All efforts are based and intended to add a quite questionable politically influence to GENOCIDE LOLITA. I think that Justin has become to a somewhat public enemy, also some of his racist-inspired ideas to "organize a new separate nation for white people called Vinland" won’t do any good. But back on track since I have to review his music instead asking for his politically correctness. The globally music outfit is quite disturbing, it’s harsh, but only at times rhythmically oriented. Sample by sample got overdriven, repeated and delayed to provide a very own form of Powernoise. A bit more clearance in the production and also on the raw screamed vocals would may do any better. I would suggest to check this stuff out in advance, as there will be hopefully some tunes online available in a "more parental" community. 9 tracks are featured using some self-describing titles like "Guantanamo Bay – Camp X-Ray", "Sharp Shooters" or "Are We Artists Posing As Terrorists Or Are We Terrorists Posing As Artists?" on this limited item, as usual you’ve to hurry up to contact the German SkullLine label, in case you’re interested.
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anymore
Artist: Argentum
Title: A New Rome Is Coming
Format: CD
Label: SkullLine (@)
Distributor: SkullLine
Rated: *****
A new addition to the growing roster of Germany’s SkullLine label, the mail order specialist for rarities out of all experimental fields of electronic music. As the chosen band name may announces it, ARGENTUM are hailing out of Argentina and offer a 14 track long debut, which can surprise with its musically direction. The first 7 tracks are based into a form of Neo-Classic music. Organic strings, pianos, a drum set with a rotating march snare drum are the ingredients, but this all ranges between melodic and bombastic. Very nice work, the interested listener based into this kind of music will appreciate this efforts. The surprise then starts with track 8, "The South Emerge", where ARGENTUM are switching their musically outfit completely into Power-Electronics and rhythmically Noise. The title track also features an ominous vocal performance which lyrically refers on the expected rough things to come. It’s interesting to see and hear, that this act is capable to deal with these both totally different musically directions. This counts also for the Power-Electronics part on this album, which is far away from the too often heard "distort-that-Techno-bass-kick-attitude". Limited to only 100 pieces and once again in a special packaging, I recommend to check the availability at SkullLine. A goody to be picked up.
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anymore
Artist: LULL
Title: Like a Slow River
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements
Rated: *****
After being back on the map with a great Scorn album, Mick Harris has finally unburied the Lull project with a new full length, and I feel it's only natural that it's been released by Alessandro Tedeschi (Netherworld)'s isolationist label Glacial Movements. Now, has anything changed since the heydays of the Lull sound? I'd say no, and it didn't need to AT ALL, as far as I'm concerned. Since the very first seconds of "Whiteout", you notice that the trademark Lull soundscapes are back in full shape: ultra-deep bass frequencies, floating drone tapestries, feels like being pushed underwater without oxygen AND ENJOYING IT. This is more or less in the vein of the "Cold Summer" masterpiece, and though unavoidably less groundbreaking it's still an inspired and evocative album. Welcome back, mr. Harris.
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Artist: inquiet
Title: INQ BEYONG
Format: CD
Label: Brother Sister Records (@)
Rated: *****
inquiet hails from Melbourne, Australia. I had no previous knowledge of inquiet prior to receiving the album from the band themselves. In fact, I'm not even sure if it's a band or just one person. inquiet creates layered, patchwork soundscapes. You can hear the influence of the land down under in the music from time to time, with bits and pieces of native drumming popping in and out. But overall it's virtually impossible to characterize the songs on Inq Beyong. The album is relatively mellow, but the ever shifting sonics keep the listener's attention at each moment. There are bits of electronic, choral, pop, orchestral, jazz, and a host of other styles happening on Inq Beyong. You won't find traditional song structures here, but there are some chances to sing along. That's right, you can actually sing along with some of these songs, which is unusual for experimental music of this kind. The vocals are highly processed but are very accessible. inquiet makes good use of dynamics, panning, and reverb to achieve a sense of space and depth. I don't know what the recording process was or what kind of gear was used, but Inq Beyong sounds great. It's detailed, warm, and present. There's nothing harsh or over-compressed about it. Inq Beyong is a well executed production. It's an album that lies outside of the confines of modern popular music, and that's a good thing.
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