Music Reviews



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Artist: R010R (@)
Title: Gradual Destabilization
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The first time I’ve discovered an audio result of this act was the fine compilation appearance of the R010R track "Brain Death", released on "Noise Terror Vol. 1" (NTP/Dependent) – to me already an outstanding piece of work, which kicked hefty into the asses of some so-called global scene-players like LEAETHER STRIP or SUICIDE COMMANDO. Packed in a DVD case, here comes the first solo onslaught of the NOISE PROCESS musician Michael Renfield, who lately has made a highly recommended comeback with his NP partner Tim Garelick and the release of the long anticipated "Groundzer0" album (www.dsbp.cx). An interview with Michael explaining the details behind the long hiatus of NOISE PROCESS and the finding of R010R should be up here on the site around the next days. Thanks to the unclear future of NOISE PROCESS, maybe also thanks to the separation of both band members being living in different US states (Michael has moved to New York, while Tim is still based in Arizona), this side-project has come to life. "Gradual Destabilization" therefore features all of Michael’s works through the years, it is self-released and offers 13 tracks with 74 minutes "of intense anti-genre Electro".

"Anti-genre"? Let’s say that Michael tries to point out that R010R isn’t trapped into a tight musically corset, which may counts more for NOISE PROCESS. He simply reflects with R010R his own audio preferences, which break here and there with some known boundaries. Therefore I tend to compare the musically output of R010R as a fine mixture of the works of NOISE PROCESS, DIE SEKTOR and new MENTALLO & THE FIXER. Not only regarding the opening track "Exist (Override)" I’m surprised by the offered speed on the first tracks and the provided complexity well-balanced in the arrangements and textures. The works of NOISE PROCESS can already be called high-energy and modern, but R010R definitively kicks more asses.

As a musician I would rate Michael’s at times unconventional efforts to integrate harsh and noisy textures as being inspirational – not to forget his fine sense to place the right and not-heard-before synth layer to offer a small catchy attitude ("Hypocrite"). Another striking exclamation mark he sets with the track "Soul Destruct" by providing distorted drum patterns, heavily manipulated textures and a strange disturbing vocal performance – a track which would be a pearl on every release out of the rhythmical Powernoise genre. "Brain Death" – for sure one of the most melodic tracks, while not at all offering a smooth mood - can’t be praised enough for its classic Dark Electro attitude. Be sure that this for sure best known track of R010R isn’t an exception – "Field Mechanik" or moreover "Peripheral" are standing in their starting-places to storm the international clubs immediately. With the track "Human Circumference", Michael likes to show his audience that he’s capable to offer a real Hellektro/Harsh EBM track featuring all the typical elements, which can cause envy to some artists out of the NoiTekk roster – a top-notch work musically and technically. Finally the above mentioned comparison to the latest MENTALLO & THE FIXER works finds its perfection with the track "Room With A View" – all I can see/hear is a massive wall of epic sound - hard, unconventional, disturbing, creeping, but also addictive – Gary Dassing would be proud to hold such item! Last, but not least, the final track "Crystal Cells" slows down the tempo and comes rather sedating thanks to a "Crucified Division"-like (:WUMPSCUT:) rhythm programming and melodic layers, while still offering a huge complexity.

So after this now more than 15 times consumed diverse and authentic sounding Electro/Industrial album, I come to the conclusion, that there are only two small riddles to solve:

1. What has Michael Renfield driven to use the pseudonym Michael McNulty?
2. And more important: why is this album self-released? Come on, it totally RAWKS and it is that awesome that it needs to be signed!!!

A top-notch album and a constant rival for the "album of the year" contest!

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Artist: RUKKANOR
Title: Despartica - Face One
Format: CD
Label: War Office Propaganda (@)
Rated: *****
Few days ago I reviewed Rukkanor's "Ende" MCD and today the listening of DESPARTICA - FACE ONE surprised me. If on Robert's previous release war and martial rhythms/sounds were the main element, DESPARTICA - FACE ONE is a multifaceted project based on poems written on the last two centuries. Robert picked the ones that were fitting best his feelings about nowadays situation. Following the track list we have: "The death bed" by Thomas Hood, "Beauty and beauty" by Rupert Brooke, "I Am" by John Clar, "A poison tree" by William Blake, "Before the world was made" by William Butler Yeats, "Anthem for doomed youth" by Wilfred Owen, "A divine image - song of experience" by William Blake, "Jerusalem" by William Blake, "The Old Woman" by Joseph Campbell and "Echo" by Christina Georgina Rossetti. Musically we have martial rhythms with few industrial sounds (there are a lot of orchestrations along with percussions) and a blend of dark ambient and post punk atmospheres and if you'll be surprised to listen to ten "sung" (it's more a declamation to be true) tracks you'll be surprised as well to hear guitars, bass guitars here and there painting a different sound. Rukkanor on this album was able to turn is sound into something different, something which adapt the sound to the different songs. So, if on "Before the world was made" we have a piano / strings duet with some basic percussion, "Jerusalem" has a guitar performing a mid-oriental melody and a typical oriental set of percussions. Surprisingly "The old woman" recalled me the sound of the Rain Three Crow project (the only record produced by Japan on their reunion). I loved "Ende" and I liked also this new album and I'm suggesting you to check this project!
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Artist: ATARAXIA (@)
Title: Kremasta Nera
Format: CD
Label: Ark Records (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****
This is the new album from the Italian band ATARAXIA, whose discography would take ten minutes to be told, considering all the albums, DVDs, solo projects and collaborations they did in nearly twenty years. But surely they are a band than doesn’t need a presentation anymore. What emerges listening to their albums is that, since the beginning, they had a distinguished and recognizable style and every new record, even though always adding something new, gives you what you expect from them and never disappoints. KREMASTA NERA is not an exception and surely every previous fan will appreciate it, but at the same time adds more influences that make their sound even more intense and expands their stylistic horizons. The concept of the album is about Axieros, the White Goddess of the Greek isle of Samothrace, and explores the religious beliefs and rituals that her followers had to practice. "Kremasta Nera" enriches the usual medieval sound of ATARAXIA with a strong influence from ancient music, with Hellenistic and Oriental influences, and transports you in a historical era submerged by the dust of centuries, where you will dance around the fire and listen to hypnotic mantras leading you to trance. The use of ethnic percussions (both acoustic and electric), played by the guest musician Riccardo Spaggiari, adds that right element that makes this album really wonderful, like in "The Nine Rituals", "Ochram" or "Kaviria" just to mention few. Francesca Nicoli’ enhances her vocal skills, alternating chant, recitation, ritual lamentations or other influences I could say from African singing (in "Ochram" I thought there was a Senegalese guest singer). I think the ritualistic and theatrical musical approach find its top in "Therma", so obsessive it evokes visions as in a delirium or in ecstatic trance, while in "Ebur" an unexpected electric guitar adds a lacerating melody to a powerful and cadenced track that’s perfect for a colossal movie. But this isn’t the only dimension you’ll find in "Kremasta Nera", that also gives pearls of sweetness (more similar to the "traditional" music of the band) like "Fengari" or "La Fame e la Danza" where classic guitar and keyboard pads support an Italian singing full of sadness and melancholy. Definitely, an album pervaded by the perfume of exotic incenses and burning torches, deep and intense, to be listened at medium-high volume (or headphones with closed eyes) to be completely submerged by visions. It’s a door to a forgotten age, if you dare to discover it.
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Artist: Ova Looven
Title: Gravity Has Expired
Format: 12"
Label: Artikal (@)
Rated: *****
Two words to describe this album: hell yeah! First off, the packaging for this record is very nice. Heavy black packaging and deep maroon vinyl cut for 45 speed on one side and 33 on the other. This is surprisingly good glitchy synthpop - nice droning atmospheres and heavily processed guitar mixed with subdued vocals. The glitchiness is not full on like Venetian Snares - if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll be disappointed. Ova Looven uses glitch as punctuation. The first time I heard it, I thought that the record had skipped. It is sometimes difficult to make out what the singer is saying, but I don’t think it matters much. It almost seems like the vocals are just another way to create the atmosphere. And atmosphere is what this album is all about. The tracks blend into each other to create a sense of unity. For those of us who like comparisons, here goes: take the tone of "Black Celebration"-era Depeche Mode, the heavily reverbed guitars of old Durutti Column and Cocteau Twins, add a dash of Frazier Chorus Brit-pop and a bit of glitch and you have Ova Looven. I would highly recommend this. Only one track wasn’t outstanding – "Fields of Lucid Trees" was a bit repetitive and not as interesting as the previous tracks, but that’s probably only because the other ones were so great. It’s limited to 500 copies, so drop them an email.
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Artist: Landing (@)
Title: Gravitational IV
Format: 12"
Label: Equation Records (@)
Rated: *****
Some bands defy description and Landing is one of those bands. Whether you are looking for noisy dissonance or ethereal music that would be at home on Hyperium’s "Heavenly Voices" compilations, this album has something for you. The album opens up with some beats, a bass line, some synth washes and some vocals that I couldn’t really make out. Not bad, but nothing too amazing. Then the magic starts. "Gravitational V" brings in heavily reverbed guitar and a beautiful ethereal female voice. The sound is somewhere between Cranes and old Love Spirals Downwards until it slowly becomes noisier and more chaotic until it stops cold. This is, for me, the standout track on the album. "Sunlight" brings in a repetitive synth line with a nice drone and just a hint of female vocals that give a feeling of a child’s lullaby. "Scenes Upon the Trees" brings in male vocals and a peaceful guitar melody and concludes Side A. Side B takes things in a completely different direction. "Gravitational III pt. II" is a wonderful pulsating psychedelic wall of noise that sounds like all of the members of the band just decided to jam. The becomes much more distorted until fading out. The next segment sounds like another track, but it’s just a continuation, becoming much harsher. Even so, this is not noise music, but just heavily overdriven guitar playing distorted quarter notes. This segment is not quite as complex, but still retains a kind of continuity. "Gravitational VI," the final track on the album, opens with what sounds like synthesized bagpipes that loop on each other until fading out to leave a simple drum beat and warbling synth. This has a good groove, and if the synth were taken out it would sound like Dif Juz. Overall, this is a really interesting album and well worth checking out. It’s difficult to find artists that cover a lot of different ground and do it well. I enjoyed the entire album, and that alone is difficult to pull off. This album is limited to 450 copies pressed on heavy 180g vinyl with a nice gatefold cover. If you are looking for something a bit different, check it out before it goes out of print.
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