Music Reviews



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Artist: MARINA SIERTIS (@)
Title: Disease
Format: CD EP
Label: Shadowplay Music (@)
Rated: *****
It’s quite some time that Marina Sirtis (now Marina Siertis) weren’t releasing something new. Their latest one was released back in 2003 and it was their full length "Delay And Depression". This new release DISEASE it’s the first single coming from the next album (the second) titled "The much needed second cold war". Respect the old recordings "Disease" seems to be focused on the electro goth influences that the band already had along with a bit of synthpop. The main title is a upbeat ballad focused on the vocal line (the guitars and other sounds come and go while there’s a synthetic bass line always present) that sounds a little like the Cure of the "Disintegration" period meet the Depeche Mode. The song is good but I feel it lacks of energy: it’s like when you are waiting for the explosion and it never happens. The following track "I never went to the English beach house" is a nice ballad with violins, picked electric guitars and everything and it is doing its work really well and it sounds more balanced respect the main title. There are also two bonus tracks, two versions of "Disease". The first one is sounding more like Sisters Of Mercy on acid and maybe I prefer this one to the "single version". The second one is the "Mad club mix" and it’s a nice version but don’t wait for a dance floor killer, because on this version after the opening phase the band followed the principle that less is best and they substituted some instruments with synth sounds. Nice single that it’s making me think that the next album we’ll see something new about Marina Siertis sound respect their old releases.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Expedition_2
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
Rated: *****
Having been born in Switzerland myself, I am always a potential fan of anything Swiss. But fear not, I will not loose my objectivity (if there is such a thing within the subjectivity of a music review) over nationalistic pride and will tell you when Swiss products have more holes than their cheese. Although I have gotten some less than fantastic stuff from Switzerland, I am pleased to announce that Everest records seems to be putting out good stuff. The "Expedition_2" label sampler is a compilation of 15 artists (mostly Swiss, one Canadian, two French, two British) who present a pretty wide array of music styles, ranging from experimental/glitch-noise and ambient music to industrial/electronics and idm.
A lot of valid artists, great talent and good music populate this tracklist and being so varying in style it is hard to categorize it. There is definitely a majority of noise-connected acts (not extreme harsh noise, but rather glitchy experimental, ambient, drones etc) so it actually is easier to remember to ones that stick out from the crowd for differing. That would be the case of French artist Hopen (probably the most British and Warp-sounding of the IDM batch; very cool), Swiss artist Jotta (a fantastic and aggressive slow pounding mix of distorted post-industrial with echoes of NIN, Nada, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Flugschadel etc; right up my alley! - surprisingly with Spanish lyrics), French artist Paral-lel (new-school ebm with some videogame-type sounds), UK artist Eakui (and their cool blend of broken rhythms and fast-panning electronic sounds) or the Swiss artist Misel Quitno (and their backward ambient layering).
The record was launched during Switzerland's popular festival Fri-son in Fribourg last November.
On a different note, although no mention of it is made, it would seem that Everest is taking a vegetarian/vegan stand by using a picture of a slaughtered pig at a Butcher's for their art work. I hope that they are not just going for the shock effect but actually mean something with this, which would make it much more worthy of merit in my book.
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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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