Music Reviews



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Artist: Life Toward Twilight (@)
Title: I Swear By All The Flowers
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bottle Imp Productions
Rated: *****
I really like the cover of this CD- depending on how you look at it, it could be a look down a decrepit hallway in some now abandoned once-great building, or an old mine or elevator shaft. The music... well, frankly I expected something a bit spookier. It starts out with notes plinked on a toy piano, then you hear the sound of a scratchy phonograph record, probably stuck in the runout grooves. Slow but deliberate piano enters and somehow I feel like I’m listening to Wednesday Addams practicing, only Wednesday would probably be playing a harpsichord. The piano becomes more tentative and less deliberate as occasional background sounds like chains cranking over a pulley device come into play. Barely audible spoken words drift through the room, the melody changes (actually, it’s more like simplistic repetition of some phrase with slight variation on the keyboard) but the scratchy record continues.

Scratchy record becomes less dominant and a gaggle of voices talking at once in the background merge with some other unidentifiable ambient sounds. That eventually ends, but still the scratchy record (maybe a different scratchy record, still stuck) seems to be the prime ambience. Vague ghostly female vocalizing, warbling a melody where the words can’t be distinguished, swathes of other ephemeral sounds, low noises, into dissipation. We’re at the 6th track by this time and the toy piano has returned. More background voices, shwish-swithering sounds, maybe a train... and then back into that scratchy record again. Sounds like someone’s rummaging through a toolkit. Piano returns, and now I’m reminded of a lesser Harold Budd, without the treated rooms and fluid piano. Not much changes here...

Next track begins with... you’ve got it! SCRATCHY RECORD! And, the sound of water. More toy piano. Well, I’ll give it this much, so far it’s been pretty unobtrusive. By track 9, I’m so sick of the scratchy record that I’ll take nearly anything else sonically as a musical gift. So the subway ambience with ghostly vocalizing in the background really is a welcome change. Unfortunately, it’s too much, too little too late to save the CD as a whole.

Last track – scratchy record, and piano, and even the piano is beginning to sound scratchy now plays til conclusion. You know, I really wanted to like this CD- it had such a cool cover. And the artist (Daniel Tuttle) lists some of his influences as Coil, and Current 93, which is fine by me. But even Coil and Current 93 put out some garbage. "I Swear By Al The Flowers" just doesn’t have what it takes to make an interesting ambient listen. Even the piano playing is rather mediocre. Spend your money elsewhere, wait for a future release.
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Artist: Wolff (@)
Title: Don't Be Afraid
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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"Don't Be Afraid" is the very personal experiment of what I assume might be NYC-based frustrated classical tuba player who decided to breath new air into his instrument (literally and figuratively speaking!). As you can figure out if you read the review of Wolff's live show at Piano's (cmp concert reviews section), Brian Wolff basically creates all sounds through the tuba. Anything you hear, be it a kick drum thump, a sharp hi hat type swoosh, a distorted vocal, a metallic percussive sound or most anything else, comes from or is blown through the tuba. Most sounds Brian creates with his mouth but occasionally he will hammer on his tuba with metallic parts or with his hands. The tunes are minimalistic but have a defined structure and arrangement (it is not just purely improvised avantgarde stuff). Hell Brian even has lyrics for his songs (which he dutifully enclosed in this beautifully packaged recycled cardboard folding CD enclosure jacket). Due to the marching military-type aura that brass instruments convey to the music you might find yourself (I did) thinking of Laibach or Cop Shoot Cop as influences but there is more to that and it is up to you to discover it. It certainly shines for originality!
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Artist: EVEN VAST (@)
Title: Teach Me How To Bleed
Format: CD
Label: My Kingdom Music (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
EVEN VAST is a Italian band which formed in 1998 after the split of the CHAOS AND TECHNOCRACY, and this is their third album after "Hear Me Out" (1999) and "Outsleeping" (2001). Their music is sometimes described as Gothic Metal, even though I think they don’t deserve a so repressive definition: maybe they’re more rock-oriented and open minded than the other bands stitched to slow-and-sad riff with ethereal voice cliché. You can understand their ability to mix different approaches looking how they can combine an aggressive rock with some American influences (Breakaway) together with guitar riffs sometimes wisely influenced by the best New Wave-Dark (Limelight above all), and a voice that know how to be melodic, sweet and involving at the same time. JOY DIVISION’s cover Love Will Tear Us Apart completely enforces this opinion of a fusion between rock and new wave, and it’s a well made version with a more aggressive feeling, where the band emphasised the pop potential the original song already had.
Good is the rhythm section, without moments of real outstanding but doing very well their work, while the electronic samplers contribute to give the album that modern and fresh sound today seems to be a need, at times adding a bit to the groove and forcing you to shake the head while listening (see the intro of Misbecoming). This record I think will be more appreciated by melodic metal or THE GATHERING fans than by Dark-Gothic ones now obsessed with batcave imagery, but EVEN VAST made a good album, that’s for sure, and they deserve to be listened. Sweet melodies, a powerful and melodic music perfect for being the soundtrack of your most intense moments (I’m thinking of a movie scene with a long drive in the night obsessed by thoughts or going to face the future). The more you listen to it the more you will do it again.
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anymore
Artist: HERRSCHAFT
Title: Architects of the Humanicide
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Rated: *****
Will giving a check to their website I've found this combo from Paris made it on Code666 and that makes definitely sense. This "digital-futuristic-black-metal", or at least let's say this music, is deeply influenced by many black metal listening in the past, but there's a good quantity of techno/ebm/neo-goth electronics to supplement the heavy guitars and the scream "till you drop dead" vocals. This mcd won't probably add nothing incredibly avant-gardist under the sun of electronic-metal, but the kick ass production and arrangements makes it relly "thick".. Every time I listen to modern "post-metal meets electronics" bands I can't but think to Ministry, N.I.N., or to the incredibly "underrated" Pigface but that's probably another story anyhow it probably will help your older brother to get the picture. This blend of techno beats and heavy rifforama plus black metal made me think immediately to Aborym, there are considerable differences but also a lot of common characteristics the mutually share. In all probability this mini is more addressed to those who're deeply into the genre, and if that's your cup of tea I’m sure you’ll appreciate the good quality since as I've told it's really well done.

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anymore
Artist: MIRIAM (@)
Title: When Beauty Is Invisible
Format: CD
Label: Decadance Records (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Miriam is an Italian band formed back in 1998. They took their name from the Italian title of the 1983 movie "The hunger" (it was "Miriam si sveglia a mezzanotte"). After a demo CD and a member line up change (Massimo Bandiera joined them) the band released their first official album for Decadance Records in 2002. After five years of work they are releasing this month their second album titled WHEN BEAUTY IS INVISIBLE. Since the first songs of the album you can realize how much care they put into production. Their style, which I'll call "shoegaze electronics" due to their electronic instrumentation and to their lushious atmospheres which recalled me Breathless and Cranes, is able to create an good ambience made of fluctuating eletronic layers and reverbered guitars. For sure you have to be in the right mood to listen to this CD because most of the the tracks are mellow melancholic mid tempo songs with whispered female vocals. After five tracks I must admit that even if the band is able to create a good encharmed atmosphere I had to take a break. Sometimes some upbeat rhythms surfaces like on "Endless", a track which remembered me the old Clan Of Xymox atmosphere with updated sounds. A cover of "Nightporter" closes the album: the band did a difficult choice because Daniela vocals can't recreate the emotions I felt with David Sylvian but I must admit that the instrumental part is good. If electronic wave is your style check this out...
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