Music Reviews



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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Time Frost
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements (@)
Rated: *****
Robin Storey aka Rapoon is a former member of Zoviet France and currently part of The Reformed Faction (of ZF). The concept beyond this one is awesome - Storey infected and manipulated Johann Strauss' "Blue Danube" to describe Europe under a new ice age, with all the culture buried deep beneath the ice sheet. He used a 1968 vinyl edition of Kubrick's "2001 A Space Odissey" soundtrack to obtain the loops for the five compositions of "Time Frost" and you can hear even some vinyl crackles here & there and not one of them exists out of context. Basically all the compositions are short and have lots of textures and subtle movements except for "Ice Whispers" that clocks in at 35 minutes. Storey has been developing his solo material for approx. 15 years covering many styles with some highlights like his 1996 classic "Darker By Light" or the awesome and criminally underrated collaboration with Nocturnal Emission's Nigel Ayers under the name Hank & Slim - and some disappointing episodes like the experiments with clubby stuff on Klanggalerie. I'd say that "Time Frost" is probably his best effort in the ambient field so far. Out on the Italian label Glacial Movements, "Time Frost" comes packaged in a great digipack with a remarkable artwork created by Alessandra Clini on a picture by Bjarne Riesto.
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Artist: Solar Powered People (@)
Title: Hibernation
Format: CD
Label: Three Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
Solar Powered People's peculiar name comes from the concern about global warming and the fact that, as explained from the band itself, there is the pro-global warming population VS the anti-global warming population. Cool. "Hibernation" is their debut album and can be described as a mixture of a slightly shoegaze and wave influenced dreampop. After the intro with a disquieting child voice and spooky sounds there's the first track called "They'll Never Know" with a guitarplay so cold and melanchonic that you'll hardly believe that the band comes from the sunny Central Valley - about an hour from San Fran - but the band states among the influencesThe Cure, Failure, Sunny Day Real Estate, Joy Division and Boards of Canada (argh...) among others. The third song is called "Commercial Flight" and it is a spacey track with a vocal line resembling the most inspired For Against - this is the standout track on "Hibernation": excellent pure rapture. The rest of the album is good but doesn't reach those heigths - contemporary dreampoppers of the new generation.
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Artist: Spirited Machine (@)
Title: As We Count The Days
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Spirited Machine is the solo project of the Iowa-based Electro/Industrial-musician Andrew Johnson. Starting a music career full of hopes, this 9-tracker As We Count The Days" is the self-produced debut release for him. Andrew simply considers his music as being "Electro" – that surely fits, but a dedication to some Futurepop/Synthpop-artists in sound and arrangements can be added. This album is a relatively sedating procedure, danceable and skillfully arranged, without any pseudo-aggressive attitudes to fall into harder EBM-minded textures. Regarding the fact that Andrew has avoided for this release to pick up a microphone and to add a vocal performance, his multiple and detailed worked out sequencing lines are appreciated. Surely nice and consumable stuff for the hook-line-addicts, but I nevertheless do recommend to add vocals. If Andrew doesn’t feel comfortable to do this on his own, the hiring of a capable vocalist seems to be required, especially if it comes to hunt for some more international exposure. The title track gets the vote for being the best worked out track, while "Resonance (Instrumental Mix)" (Huh??? So the original features vocals???) can be named as being the straightest piece. Quite interesting and entertaining first work, lets hope for a continuation.
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Artist: Von Liebenfels (@)
Title: Všter Unser Im Walhall
Format: CD
Label: SkullLine (@)
Distributor: SkullLine
Rated: *****
Another new addition to the musically very diverse roster of the German SkullLine mail order, your underground specialist when it comes to get serviced with all styles between Industrial, Powernoise, Martial, Neo-Classic, Military or Experimental music. With VON LIEBENFELLS the SkullLine label turns for the first time into the Neo-Classic style, here and there accomplished with some Ambient elements. Torsten von Liebenfells – yes, that’s also his civil name – hails from New Zealand, but can for sure look on German ancestors. He calls classical compositions of Wagner, but also related artists like VON THRONSTAHL and ZHARK to be quells of inspiration. His dedication to ZHARK went that far, that he has decided to create a special tribute-track entitled "Neu-Schwabenland". Musically his form of Neo-Classic consists of orchestral-like layer sounds richly present over this whole album. Some classic tom-tom-like percussion elements and here and there some real piano tunes ("Vril I", which features also some spoken-word samples, "Night Of The Long Knifes") are complimented his musically outfit, which differs by far compared to the rather noisy and experimental-minded stuff released by SkullLine. This is musically a fine and sedating procedure and the artistically concept behind this release is enormous. Thumbs up for this release, which brings back to once recognized impression, that music can mean something more than the too often overrated "terror-noise-distort"-formula. Well done!
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Artist: ISIS SIGNUM (@)
Title: Electrosensual
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Advanced Synergy (@)
Distributor: A Different Drum
Rated: *****
So finally here comes the new ISIS SIGNUM full-length album packed in a special paper box and strictly limited. Besides the album it features an additional CD-EP dedicated to the track "Destroy The Wall" well hidden in here. Talking at first on the full-length album, Helder continues to produce danceable Electro-Clash tunes in a rather static and cold mood and he once again likes to pick up female guest vocalists. SARA NOXX, KINDEL of LIQUEFACTION (both already available on the both predecessor EP "Heartbreaker" and "Communication") and TYING TIFFANY are sharing the microphone to offer their abilities to fulfill Helder’s tracks with the right human factor. Besides the fact that Helder seems to have a favor to use only analogue hardware equipment, it is conspicuous that the music generally doesn’t concentrate to storm through the ears in your brain. A calm and remarkable melodic content which would point out the tracks is a bit missed. But maybe this is intentional and shall explain his musically difference to all Futurepop-/Electro-Clash acts out there? Helder works as a DJ and is internationally renowned, he therefore should know which elements in his music work at best to entertain the masses or to fill the floors. The nearly old-school EBM-like "Not Defined", available in two versions, is a favorite, "Destroy The Wall", the into German translated "Herzensbrecher" have to be named too. 12 tracks at all on this album, plus you’ll get a video clip on "Destroy The Wall".
The additional inserted CD-EP of "Destroy The Wall" is comparable with the content of both predecessor EP’s "Heartbreaker" and "Communication". 9 tracks at all on this item which features some new interpretations by internationally renowned names like Daniel Myer (haujobb., DESTROID), the German Black-Rain-recording artist SUPREME COURT or STRAFBOMBER. This EP is a fine additions for the die-hard fans for sure, while I tend to rate the last EP "Communication" to be the better alternative. Anyhow, with this nice package, which features additional info sheets, flyers and goodies all around, DJ Helder has created to himself a kind of monument. The signals out of the clubs world-wide made it possible and Helder grows from release to release. Check out a rather calm-minded electronic music output hailing out of Mexico asides the known HOCICO/AMDUSCIA-formula...
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