Music Reviews



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Artist: BALLAD BOMBS
Title: ...and then we danced...
Format: CD
Label: 3 Lanka
Distributor: Discomania
Rated: *****
As this promotional copy arrived me, I opened the envelope and had a look to the band name, which I couldn’t sort in. Before reading the info sheet, I opened then the jewel case and could read: "All tracks written by Armin Johnert". Armin "Jeff" Johnert – well, that was a DJ legend at Frankfurt airport, the legendary "Dorian Gray" club. Those were the times at 1988-1990, where EBM/Electro/Industrial music had its heydays. Thanks to his constant good work as a DJ next to Talla 2XLC and as an editor of the legendary "Frontpage" magazine he has had a non-forgettable influence on the recognition and acceptance of this kind of music. Not to forget his guest vocal appearances on BIGOD 20’s full-length debut "Steel Works", which is still a classic out of the glorious Zoth Ommog days. That he also was musically active before starting to present EBM/Electro music to the frenetic masses at Dorian Gray, well – this episode I’ve passed. With the additional musicians Stephan Schoenrock (bass & synths) and Mark Walter (drums & background vocals) and based in Göttingen, Germany, they had recorded a hot-selling demo tape and they could record this album "And Then We Danced", produced by the way by the well-known German hit singer Matthias Reim ("Verdammt ich lieb Dich" – years later an undying No. 1-hit). However, this album got never released officially. Why now, someone could ask. Maybe it only belongs to the fact that these recordings are now 20 years old, for sure an anniversary. Musically this trio gives us Pop/Wave inspired music, some would call this Guitar-driven Independent music. I’m surprised by the vocal acrobatic Armin is capable to offer, he can really sing and jumps easily between octaves. Somehow this music still sounds refreshing, also 20 years later. This maybe belongs, that this kind of music can be called timeless. In times of fast, consumer-friendly and computer-generated music, this album marks an effective alternative. It will not reach higher Media Control chart positions – this may would happen if this album would have been released 20 years before, but nowadays...? However, Armin is working hard to re-animate this project and a new studio album should ready for a release in spring 2K7. Good luck and welcome back!
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Artist: SAEMSKIN (@)
Title: A Smile For Murder
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: CDBaby
Rated: *****
Hailing from Toledo, Ohio, here comes a 7-track release done by Josh M. Conley, who stands behind SAEMSKIN. I have to say in advance that this release needed some more attention than a usually Electro/Industrial release, because the content isn’t that easy to pick up. It is a very dark and depressive album which takes its influences out of Ambient, dark Electronica up to Ritual Industrial tunes. So everything here is mostly anxious and creepy stuff, also the inserted percussion sets aren’t taken from up-to-date productions, they moreover provide that ritualistic impression, an almost mediaeval feeling. Deep and ominous synth layers are the leading instruments, several at times strange sounding voice samples provide an audio onslaught on which some "easy-listening" trained ears could have habitual problems. The sparse provided vocals behave like a reporter and comment some things - what counts is the music. It’s a quite interesting mixture, but it requires your fully attention. It’s hard to start some comparisons, the latest release of SAMHAIN without that creepy Electro/EBM feeling far away fits somehow. Check this out and be a bit open-minded, it’s an impressive experience under a good pair of headphones. Available to purchase at CDBaby.
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Artist: SHIFT 69 (@)
Title: Language Error
Format: CD
Label: SkullLine (@)
Distributor: SkullLine
Rated: *****
Another new release of the German based special mail order service SkullLine, and of course also this piece is limited to only 69 (+ 31 pieces hidden in a special box...) exemplars. It features the musically efforts of Arne J. Schmid, who runs also the Industrial/Powernoise act DEFINE and the Electro/Industrial project NEURONALES NETZWERK. SHIFT 69 differs and provides us electronic music which takes its influences out of styles Techno/Trance, Minimal and Electronica, but with a more experimental touch. Some works of TANGERINE DREAM, KRAFTWERK or the recently on the Swedish label Progress Productions released act SYSTEM come to mind, some remembrances on the 80ies as well, and it fits, that on several tracks the included vocals have received some vocoder effects. The try to fill in something special instead of following already known paths can be heard on almost all tracks, but pieces like "Super Sonic Dance Song" can be called strange with the use of a detuned Country Music guitar riff being the lead instrument here. The title track is available in two different versions and features some KRAFTWERKian rhythm patterns – this element can also be discovered at a track like "The Document". Some other favorites have to named with "The Finder" (a nice almost poppy arranged piece with changing male vocals between natural and vocoderized...) and "Light Commander" (forward-leading danceable track, well done vocals and instrumentals). SkullLine presents a fine output which tries at no time to be the harshest and roughest distorted kind of music at all – it is more an entertaining Electronica album with various facets. Hurry up (note: it’s limited!!!) and purchase it.
Artist: Angina P (@)
Title: 8 Rooms
Format: CD
Label: Notochord (@)
Distributor: Psychostatic
Rated: *****
Angina P is a very talented Austria electronic music artist who has seen her work featured in films/tv, compilations, video games and the in the top-selling download pages of sites like mp3.com. The young Dutch label Notochord recordings releases Angina P's first full length CD, featuring five original tracks of fast-paced breakbeat/drum'n'bass/ambient/IDM as well as three remixes by Semiomime, Edgey and Larvae. Beautifully packaged and produced, "8 Rooms" is really a vivid testament of Angina P's abilities and strengths. Obviously her music is so versatile that you could dance to it in a club, chill to it in a lounge or let it aid your vision of a movie. But don't wait for any of those to happen to you, go out and order this record. You can get it from Europe through the artist or the label or in the US through the distributor. If you are into Squarepusher, Plastikman, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Underworld, Apollo 440, Goldie etc or labels like Warp, Hive etc definitely give this a try.
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Artist: Robert Henke (@)
Title: Layering Buddga
Format: CD
Label: Imbalance Computer Music
Rated: *****

BUY from  HERE
Berlin-based Robert Henke is active under the Monolake moniker and makes a living as an audiovisual artist, sound designer, music software developer (Abelton) and mastering engineer. "Layering Buddha" comes out on his own label and under his own (real) name and is an exploration of the possibilities allowed by the encounter of modern technologies and vintage electronic music gear such as the FM3 Buddha Machine loop player, of which the Chinese duo has recently made a re-issue available (http://www.fm3.com.cn/buddhamachine.htm). The Buddha Machine consists of a lo-fi loop playback device with 9 low-resolution uncustomizable presets that will keep playing forever and that play slightly differently on different machines. Henke recorded these loops at 96k and has layered them to create comb filtering, phasing, flanging and what not. Using exclusively the original Buddha Machine sounds and tweaking them in pitch and frequency generated timeless and slowly moving pieces with a life of their own. The result is very entrancing, beautiful and very very cinematic at times. This CD is also available as a limited edition hand-numbered vinyl box set containing five grey 7" discs with full color label print.
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