Music Reviews



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Artist: MAN
Title: Helping Hand
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa
Rated: *****
French duo Man, formed by François Rasim Biyikli (piano, Rhodes, guitars, melodica, noises) and Charles-Eric Charrier (acoustic bass, guitar, toys), are surely not afraid to experiment with different genres and inputs, naming influences as diverse as Satie and Labradford, Morricone and Arto Lindsay... Their third full-length release opens with a bizarre (and not entirely successful) rhythmic, and sung, track, but don't be deceived: most of "Helping Hand" is slow, delicate and painfully melancholic. The slo-mo heartbreak of "Drifting" merges the delicate atmospheres of Chaveau, Tiersen or Comelade with the vigorous post-fusion instrumentals of "TNT"-era Tortoise. Hectic euphoria sparkles here and here, but Man surely work best with autumnal soundscapes like "Separation" or "8mm", which closes the disc with a powerful crescendo. Their pieces are often daring, and not always balanced - sometimes the different elements just don't match that well, and end up being more distracting than fascinating - but "Helping Hand" is surely worth repeated spins to catch its different nuances.
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Artist: THE FLUX COMPLEX
Title: Lost Illusions
Format: CD
Label: Trinity Records
Rated: *****
The Flux Complex is a duo featuring Karsten Hamre, better known for his various projects in the dark ambient/industrial field, like Arcane Art, Dense Vision Shrine and Penitent; but here, along with Ioan B'rladeanu, he explores quite different paths, namely trip hop, electronic dub and techno. "Terra Mater" opens the disc with repetitive slow-motion pulses, while "Lux Aeterna" and "Mind Over Matter" add some catchy melodic patterns, and "Camera Obscura" pushes harder on the rhythmic side. "From Time to Time" is a liquid jazzy piece, complete with real drums and double bass, and possibly makes for the most interesting track of the album. Three tracks are then remixed by Defraktor, which is one more alias of Hamre's, but his versions don't seem to add much to the originals... they were ok, they remain ok. As a whole, this is a honest album of smokey late-night music, not very original nor groundbreaking,but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.
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Artist: DANIEL LENTZ (@)
Title: on the leopard altar
Format: CD
Label: Cold Blue Music (@)
Rated: *****
Who's Daniel Lentz? judging "the book by the cover", ergo, by the high standard of the cd (plus a visit on his personal website), I guess this composer is in the midst of his composing-maturity. "On the leopard altar" begins with a contemporary composition that probably pays tribute to the minimalism-serialism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, above all that's the impression given by the "loop effect" of the keyboards and vocals connection. If that association is for real when analyzing the first and the fourth track, the mood brings close to Glass' Koyaanisqatsi. "Lascaux" maintains an enchanted tone but the astonished listener is immediately forced into a minimal-ambient-"new age alike" (!?) environment...and don't worry, here "new age" doesn't stand for "relaxing and boring". Indeed the music is quiet but I'd say it goes much deeper sounding: "karma-relaxing" and therefore not just your average "after-work-music-to-calm-the-nerves-of -poor-white-upper-class-big-town-citizens". The title track has the shape of a real song, at last isn't it true that many minimalist composers speak about a common pop/folk root?. The requiem is really inspired, but it happens quite often when classic musicians deal with the "final departure" I don't know Debussy enough to say if it's true this music is so influenced by his works as they write, the only thing I know for sure is that the sound is contemporary for real. Giving a look at his personal website I've noticed Lentz's canvases paint rightly his music: warm, simple and relaxing.
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Artist: MONOID (@)
Title: Crowd Control
Format: CD
Label: Invasion Wreck Chords (@)
Rated: *****
Active since mid 90s, Monoid is one of Martin Steinebach musical projects. In his first decade Monoid released two tapes, a couple of CD-Rs and several CDs ("Totalausfall" and "Schnittstellen" to name a few). CROWD CONTROL is his latest CD and it has been released by Ambassador 21’s Invasion Wreck Chords. I don’t know if you are updated about the political situation in Belarus (it seems that the political elections haven’t been really democratic and it seems that someone cheated) but you’ll realize just by looking at the cover of this CD that CROWD CONTROL seems to be the perfect soundtrack to the latest social news. Anyway... Talking about music, Monoid gathered in this release fourteen tracks where Martin tried to diversify the sound giving to some of them a rhythmic harsh industrial treatment and to the others a sound more based on distorted melody. In this way sonic assaults (see "Fall" or "Crowd control") duet with the primitive e.b.m. sound of "Crushcraze", "Firewall", "Software" and "Rote lippen".
Mar 21 2006
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Artist: PROCEED (@)
Title: Neusprache
Format: CD
Label: Out Of Line (@)
Distributor: SPV
Rated: *****
Second CD release for this Eastern German duo this time under the wings of the rising Out Of Line label. Their debut was released under the Machineries Of Joy label leaded by the colleges from Belgium, IONIC VISION, and it could get some first recognition for this act. The musical formula remains of course still the same. PROCEED are one of the currently rich recognized acts playing the old-school minimal EBM sound much influenced by the classic works of NITZER EBB or POUPPEE FABRIKK. Also another act from the Out Of Line label has taken influence here, the Swedish acts SPETSNAZ, because PROCEED have taken thankfully the helping hands of them regarding production and mastering of this release. And of course SPETSNAZ are active here with a remix ("Idendität") and with a vocal duet on "Kontrolle", surely one of the best tracks here. Please note also the untitled hidden track after track 13, also for this Pontus Stalberg offered his voice. While it is hard to find real musically differences between PROCEED and the rising acts like SPETSNAZ or IONIC VISION, these Germans have to offer some lyrically surprises both in German and English language. PROCEED are taking their lyrics seriously, they try to criticize the social system, governments generally and the decadent human being. Stuff which stands above the average EBM/Electro themes like wars, violence, muscles or sex. So this release does not at all surprise musically - the latest IONIC VISION had indeed some better efforts, but it is worth to check out and to make your own thoughts on its lyrical content.
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