Music Reviews



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Artist: Sikhara
Title: Bardos State
Format: CD
Label: Urck Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sikhara (not Shakira) is a nomad tribal percussion band that performed in 26 countries and three continents. "Bardos State" (their second release, collectively put out by Radon, Soopa and Urck records) is a collection of live recordings that took place between 2003 and 2005 in Osaka (Japan), Brooklyn, NY and Linz (Austria).
Expect thundering rhythms on different type of drums and bells, mixed in with, and interleaved by, noise, electronic vocal processing and occasional chants. If you need references think of a sonicly maximized blend of Les Tambours Du Bronx, Merzbow, SRL, Neurosis, Einsturzende Neubauten, Dive and stuff like that.
The men behind all of this are founder Scott Nydegger and french drummer Yann Geoffriaud (from George Bitch Jr.). Sikhara is part of the Radon Collective (an international community of touring experimental artists) and often play with ex-Can frontman Dam Suzuki. Very interesting record I urck you to check out!
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Artist: Annie Barker (@)
Title: Moutians and Tumult
Format: CD
Label: Beautiful Revolution records
Rated: *****
Emerging LA artist Annie Barker's lovely music will easily (and justifiably) remind many of you Cocteau Twins. No coincidence, because Twins' Robin Guthrie produced and played guitars, bass and drums. With Robin's aid and solid experience in this genre, Annie decisively reaches for cloud nine and delivers a fluffy and celestial ethereal sound without compromising her message or the indie alt-pop approach of the instrumental arrangements. When you listen to the lush and beautiful guitars, Lycia and Bethany Curve come to mind. Annie's voice on the other hand might summon up memories of Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Adrienne Arno and of course Elizabeth Fraser. It would almost be too easy and convenient to lean back and get enthralled, however the attention-demanding lyrics will make sure to keep you on the edge of that inviting reclining chair. Poignant words and definitely out of the ordinary for this kind of record (quoting: Gwyneth Paltrow, hands in critics' pockets, you talk about my daddy with a smurk so I just wanna break your jaw and get the hell out of this place, sausage fingers and so on and so forth); they almost act as a constant reminder that you ought to stay awake and enjoy in between a state of semi-awareness and semi-blissfully ignorant enjoyment.
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Artist: Creature (@)
Title: Distant Horizons
Format: CD
Label: Haunted House Records (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
A new release for the Haunted House-recording artist CREATURE hailing out of Derby, UK. CREATURE is Stephen Haunts and he continues with this new full-length his path performing a special sort of Dark Ambient/Down-Tempo Electronica. His musically outfit still relies on some dark lead synth sounds complimented with rhythm patterns between ear-catching and commercial-oriented up to experimental and abstract-minded. "Distant Horizons" is like most of its predecessor "Mechanical" a completely instrumental arranged album, but it surprises a bit, that Stephen for this album seemed to have spent some efforts in the creation of the tracks list. After a dark, cold melodic intro tune ("Indigo"), the track "Carbon" rules the scenario and offers easy-minded but powerful and I tend to say catchy synth textures. But the more this album continues, the more it turns into some darker and more ominous sounding spheres. Since all tracks work well and do the best to offer a matured listening experience, I like to point out the slow and dark-melodic track "Helter Skelter" and the DIVE-like "Flutter" as being favorites. Stephen himself extracts a lot of his sounds out of very experimental-minded kind of work. Circuit bending is to be named and this requires some knowledge of a electrician. Would be surely interesting to know more details on this, since this music is a descent trip under a pair of headphones, but also "easy" enough to work in the background while concentrating on different things. Good stuff.
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Artist: Animassacre (@)
Title: Evolve
Format: CD
Label: Rupal Records (@)
Distributor: Rupal Records
Rated: *****
Rupal Records have signed on a duo hailing out of Bulgaria and this is to me the first act hailing out of this small Eastern European country. Consisting of Simeon Dotkov and his better-half and sexy looking female band member Diana, ANIMASSACRE offer musically a quite colorful outfit by taking influences out of all harder genres of electronic-based music. Be it Harsh EBM, Industrial, rhythmical Powernoise, Techno and Hardfloor/Gabber (!!!), the music of ANIMASSACRE likes to keep it diverse and offers therefore a more authentic kind than the usual army of Cybertech-Hellectro zombies. Also Simeon’s vocal performance ranges between nightmarish and harder-as-thinkable, but at least some refining and polishing on this part of production should be considered. Although ANIMASSACRE have released some stuff mostly online and free downloadable with some other net-labels like Deadskin for instance, "Evolve" is the first and official debut release. And I have to congratulate the responsible people at Rupal Records for picking up one of the most underrated talents unsigned out there. Sure, not everything seems to be perfect regarding sound quality and mixing, but maybe just this fact results in that raw feeling this release has to offer. Besides all of this ANIMASSACRE take a strong influence out the Asiatic culture like Cyberpunk-anime-movies. So you’ll shouldn’t wonder to listen to some insane voice samples asides the too often used "Full-Metal-Jacket/Blade-Runner" sample quells. Also the track list therefore takes influence with such sort of fantasy-like names "Gasmask Demons", "Noise Of Doom" or "Doomed A Birth". Tracks like the mid-tempo piece "Evolve", "Backfire" or "Apathy" seem to be the most appreciated works to satisfy the short-haired Hellectro freak, all of them receive here some more or less drastically remix works by WYNARDTAGE, ACYLUM, SHEMALE ZERO, STIN SCATZOR and LA MAGRA. As an addition. However and even, if the sound quality here and there doesn’t satisfy, I’m quite sure that a bunch of ideas count more than a high-end production. A remarkable newcomer to follow!

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Artist: THOLEN
Title: Sternklang
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
Sidereal space never gave me the idea of a calm place where you can hang out sticking your country flags into planets' ground. According to Gerry Anderson's tv show "Space 1999" (you should know it if you were kids in the'70s), space is a place where you lose your hopes and the sense of yourself. Is like you returned into your mother's womb but you aren't feeling that it is your place. You know that space is over there but you never wanted to get there to know how it is. Well, the fist Tholen release titled STERNKLANG can give you that sort of sensation: losing hope and senses into an unknown place. Divided into four movements, "Sternklang", slowly explore the sidereal space creating a minimal suite based on long synth pads, little melodies and noises. I must admit that sometimes I lost my attention because of the nature of sounds and also because the whole atmosphere is based on a constant growing of the structure but Tholen is able to create well this sort of ambience. You can check some sound excerpts at the Cyclic Law website.
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