Music Reviews



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Artist: Psyclon Nine
Title: Crwn Thy Frnicatr
Format: CD
Label: NoiTekk
Rated: *****
The opening composition on Psyclon Nine’s third album, Crwn Thy Frnicatr, is the instrumental "Bellum In Abyssus" --- translated from Latin as "war in the bottomless pit" --- which itself begins with several seconds of silence. I’m sad to report that these precious seconds are the highlight of this misguided, mediocre release.

I realize that many might consider that a low blow, but I promise it’s no more so than the obvious kick to the balls P9’s front man and founder Nero (aka Marshall Carnage) must have taken to induce such an alto timbre, falsetto vocal effect. Listening to Nero’s rice paper-raspy, high pitched harangues of organized religion produces the same aural effect as a trapped cricket: the sound is at first disconcerting, then simply annoying until, finally, you wish it would just go away.

This is particularly bad for the band considering their more recent Black Metal posturing, which began on last year’s "INRI." Considering that so-called "real" Black Metal bands in Scandinavia have been rumored to eat each others brains (see: Mayhem) and convicted of killing their record label owners (see: Burzum)... well, let’s face it, a scrawny, spikey-haired kid from San Francisco isn’t scaring anybody.

P9’s chord progressions are predictable and lack the scary symphonics the Black Metal milieu demands. It’s not for lack of effort, as the band piles up dead body after dead body in the form of layers and layers of choruses, dynamic changes and rests, synth washes and samples on tracks like "Parasitic", "Flesh Harvest" and "Better Than Suicide." Still, the tinny tones of the vocal, delivered in rambling, run-on sequences, fail to convince the listener of any true imminent danger.

Nero’s real talent lies in his ability to create multi-tiered, eidolic ambiances, as on the short segue piece "The Room." It’s ten times more terrifying than the disappointment that was "Hostel," primarily because your mind curbs itself against the myriad horrors that could potentially be undertaken in such a ghastly place.

Yet, the problem with Crwn Thy Frnicatr is that we DO see what’s behind the door and, ultimately, it’s just a man in bad makeup, colored corn syrup dripping from his plastic fangs.
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Artist: FREIBAND
Title: Leise
Format: CD
Label: Crónica
Rated: *****
Besides being a cult hero of mine for his activity in a theory of projects (Kapotte Muziek, Goem, Shifts, Beequeen, Wander...) and his heroic "Vital Weekly" newsletter, Frans de Waard is also a father, and various raw sounds produced by his daughter Elise (hence the title anagram) were used to assemble this cd, after a series of digital manipulations. Besides some voices and more recognizable toy playing at the beginning, you won't grasp much of the starting point: the Dutch soundmaker, as predictable, has stretched, pulverized and re-assembled the files into an algid electroacoustic pulp. The final shapes range from droning sinewaves ("Knippers") to dusty microsound particles ("Krassen") to para-ambient ("Daisee") and rhythmic structures ("Vuur", "Storm" and "Paarden", which sounds like an even more liofilized Goem). De Waard has maintained the raw essence of child play, so that, despite their sharp electronic edges, these tracks have a spontaneous, semi-improvised feel. The final result is quite nice, though honestly not as exciting as with other releases of his.
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Artist: RANT
Title: A Direct Sensuous Pleasure
Format: CD
Label: Schraum
Rated: *****
Second cd from this duo formed by Merle Bennett (drums) and Torsten Papenheim (guitar), surely the most "regular" outfit in the Schraum family, after "Seumsund/Sundseum" (2004; browse the archive for Andrea Ferraris' review). The new work doesn't change anything in terms of formula: clean, elegant jazzy guitar lines mixed with a varied, but never aggressive drumming. All is pleasant indeed from start to end, which is also part of the problem: Rant's instrumental music tends to sound all the same, and a bit anemic, after a while. Having said that, this could be a nice listen for cold December afternoons - as Ferraris put it, "winter melancholia for winter snapshots".
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Artist: LOW DYNAMIC ORCHESTRA
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Alice
Rated: *****
The Low Dynamic Orchestra is a Swedish ensemble featuring Kjell Nordeson (percussion), Sten Sandell (piano and harmonium), Amit Senn (cello) and Peter Soederberg (lute, teorbo and guitar); in this recording, from a concert at the Stockholm New Music Festival in 2003, they are joined by an Italian guest, Stefano Scodanibbio, on double bass. A couple of years ago I had the lucky chance to see Scodanibbio live in a mesmerizing concert of droning, mostly e-bowed contrabass; this time, though, he mostly plays it in a more typical jazz/improv way. The Orchestra offers a series of improvisations and versions of Cage ("Five"), Cardew ("Treatise") and Mats Persson ("Games", "Songs", "Refrains" and "Choral"). All sounds well-oiled and carefully played, but eventually without much grasp on yours truly. The final, and loger, piece, Persson's "Choral", stands out from the rest in terms of intensity and nuances.
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Artist: ENDIF (@)
Title: Meta
Format: CD
Label: Crunch Pod Media (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
This is the first "real" full-length by this one-man act leaded by Jason Hollis, if we don’t count the split-release with CAUSTIC to the discography, and I can still remember hearing about this act 3 – 4 years ago coming up through the Thirdwave Collective, which is still active (www.thirdwave-collective.com). A track like "Ashes" caught really my attention and got released on a collective compilation. That it took some more years until this act could leave its hidden status wondered me a bit. So here we have this full-length release out on Crunch Pod Media – and I’ve seldom heard this year anything comparable intense like this one! This isn’t the straight and monotonous beating Powernoise someone may expects, it goes deeper and shows a lot of depth, details and facets. There’s a real intelligent kind behind this 13 tracks, which take influences out of Electro/Industrial, Powernoise (of course...), IDM and Electro-Clash. This is somehow that kind of music where INDIVIDUAL TOTEM at their heydays ("SETI"-era...) have stopped and wouldn’t mind to integrate the "noise" component in their music. Hard electronics filled with real authentic ideas, can you remember to which other release you’ve been said this for a while? "Ashes" is included, but also "Sleeper Cell" which took place on the quadruple Alfa Matrix compilation Endzeit Bunkertracks 2. All relevant older tracks of this act got revamped into this new style, and nothing’s gonna disturb the float of this album. Some well-done co-operations with some different musicians are featured as well, J. Conley aka SAEMSKIN, an act I also lately discovered has laid his hands on "Blotter", one of the outstanding pieces here by combining noise aggression with a constant good but dark melodic content. "Gritscape" is one of the few harsh and fast-forward beating tracks and got manipulated by Mort Rigdon of POLLUTED AXIS. "Totenplatz", a more Dark Electro-oriented track which also has found a free slot on BLC’s Interbreeding VII compilation features lyrics and guest vocals in German by Siren313 of APRAXIA. If you have only a small sense of dedication to hard but still diverse pounding Electro/Industrial/Powernoise music provided with intelligent arrangements and structures, you’ll need to purchase this one. I tend to call this a milestone. Doubleplusgood!!!
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