Music Reviews



Artist: David Khan
Title: Music for Piano and Voice
Format: CD
Label: kRkRkRk Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this New Zealand-based artist before. First, the description in broad strokes - this is really nice droney experimental music. Lets look at each of the tracks individually.

1. Sunlight: Pleasant drone with ambient elements interspersed throughout. Think O Yuki Conjugate meets Vidna Obmana.
2. Humdinger is a noisy track that builds until a sudden ending. This is not noise though – this is drone that has been overloaded to slight distortion. This is one of the standout tracks on the album. It’s engaging and interesting.
3. Moth Dusted Halogen has a pulsing beat that goes through half the track and then completely shifts gears into peaceful synth drones.
4. The Vanishing: The shortest track on the disc at 3.59. Slowly evolving drones with a nice piano line woven into it that builds well before quickly fading out. A very good track that I wish would have been about three times as long.
5. Big Country: This track doesn’t fit as well with the other ones. It’s a bit glitchy with a fair amount of high frequency beeps and clicks. The drones of previous tracks do not enter until about 3 minutes in but up to that point it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. However, it eventually becomes much more engaging, once again weaving in a piano interlude into the slowly pounding drones. Despite its poor opening, this is the best track on the disc.

The tracks only somewhat hang together in a coherent manner. But the disc still works. If you are looking for neo-classical, you will be severely disappointed. Also, the voice on the disc has been processed beyond recognition, so don’t pick it up based on the title. However, it is still a good disc to check out. The music is good overall, with just a few weak points. At times it doesn’t evolve fast enough, but in the end it was worth the tedious moments for the segments of pure beauty. Definitely one to take a chance on.
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Artist: Feu Follet & Miina Virtanen
Title: The Icicle Lectures Vol. 1
Format: CD
Label: Ex Ovo (@)
Rated: *****
This is some nice minimalist piano / drone work. The website describes the disc this way: "The Icicle Lectures Vol. 1 sees Fischer combining the glacial drones of the predecessor with the warm radiating piano drops of Finnish discovery Miina Virtanen. The end result is an airy, hardly tangible composition of removal and recurrence. Like feathers falling down on an icy surface in slow motion." There are only two tracks here. Track 1, "Silence Thoughts II," is a short, pretty minimal piano piece. Rather enjoyable. The second track, "The Icicle Lectures Vol. 1," is much longer, weighing in at 34 minutes. This track is a bit more involved, building in complexity and depth. It consists mostly of slowly changing drones, with much less of the piano that figured so prominently in the first track. I have to admit that I missed the piano, but it returns at about 16 minutes in. The piano and drones seem to take turns in the limelight. It almost sounds like this is more than one track – at almost 12 minutes in, the track stops, then starts again. Overall, this is nice background / reading music. It doesn’t demand a lot of the listener and easily slides into the background. The disc as a whole weighs in at 41:39.
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Artist: Life in Sodom (@)
Title: And Then We Fall
Format: CD EP
Label: Nutrix (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this band before receiving this in the mail. My first thoughts were, "Life in Sodom? Chain DLK didn’t send me black metal to review, did they?" I was relieved when I put it in the CD player and heard some standard gothic rock / darkwave. According to their website, this disc is "a driving 6 song CD EP geared for the dance floor." I’m not sure if I agree with that statement. This has a beat, but overall the songs seem too atmospheric to be very club friendly. For example, "Starving Hunger" seems to clock in at just over 80bpm. It has a nice slow groove, and soulful lyrics, but not quite what I think of when I think dance music. One disappointment is that "And Then We Fall" (track 5) is just "The Stains" (track 1) with most of the vocals removed. "Your Silence is Indifference" doesn’t quite seem to fit on this album, but it’s an interesting acoustic piece – sort of has a Christian Death feel to it. Overall, the feel is somewhere between Rosetta Stone and Black Tape for a Blue Girl without sounding too much like either of them. If this sounds good, give it a try. The disc runs just over 25 minutes.
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Artist: Radium88 (@)
Title: Only Science Can Tell Us the Truth
Format: CD
Label: Lotek Recordings
Rated: *****
This is pleasant trancey psychedelic music - pianos, beats, synth pads, and drones all meld together for a pleasant listen with some vocals thrown in for good measure. The press release that came with the disc has a pretty accurate description: "Mellower, more musical than before, more purely electronic, it sounds a bit like Philip Glass jamming with the Orb, back before they got too clever. It’s the ideal soundtrack to falling asleep underwater." Although I am not familiar with their previous works, they seem to have mellowed out a bit. Their website describes this album thus: "Our latest album keeps us firmly on track to a less aggressive future. Still bitter, but not shouting anymore." Overall, this isn’t very aggressive stuff – some of the tracks could work on the dance floor, but that doesn’t seem to be the primary function of this album. There is a nice sense of continuity in that the songs seem to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. However, at times the vocals don’t seem to work well, for example, on "The Man Who Invented Himself." At other times, the vocals provide a nice dreamlike quality, such as on "Sleepwalk." Some of my favorite tracks include "... and the Deep Blue Sea," which is a nice piano piece, "The Sound of Light," which has nice breaks and engaging rhythm, and "Lullaby," which has a repetitive, dreamlike quality. This is a long album, weighing in at 71.21, so if you take a chance on it, you’d at least be getting your money’s worth. Also, with the various changes in the style throughout the album, it would be likely that most people would like at least something on it.
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Artist: The Future Process (@)
Title: Change
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Atmosphere is one of those things that often get forgotten in industrial music, but one only needs to listen to some old Skinny Puppy to see how much better the music is because of it. The Future Process is not really like Skinny Puppy, but they do a good job of trying to have some nice synth-based atmosphere. They list as influences NIN, Manson, Depeche Mode, MSI, KMFDM. I can see the influences, but they don’t really sound like any of them - they aren’t really as harsh as KMFDM, NIN, etc. I’m trying to come up with comparisons, but I’m having a hard time doing it and that is a good thing in my book. Maybe a bit like Deathline International meets Gravity Kills? Some of the tracks toward the end didn’t quite work. For example, "Ridin" was a bit too slow – almost lethargic - and not as interesting as some of the other tracks. It was almost as if the band was tired by the end of the album. However, Fractures was a good noisy finish to the album. For the hardcore rivetheads out there, this may not be heavy enough, but this is a good crossover album. The Future Process never seems to really let loose, but it’s a pleasant listen and I’d be willing to bet that they put on a good show. Certainly worth checking out their myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/thefutureprocess) to hear some tracks.
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