Music Reviews



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Artist: UNTER NULL (@)
Title: Sacrament EP
Format: CD EP
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
It was indeed a doubtful and not very tasteful promotional effort to announce the news that Mrs. NULL aka Erica Dunham would be pregnant and would give life to "twins" – real babies. But however – it has worked very well and here we have the "result". A double EP set with a special kind of artwork which shows only the real kind if you add chapter two, the "Absolution" EP to this first edition, which comes in a special DCD jewel case. Although that the given stuff here of both EP’s offers in all 16 tracks and the playing time of a filled full length release, the Alfa Matrix HQ decided to offer this special package, so I see it also as two different releases and therefor it receives two reviews. So here’s the start with this "Sacrament EP", which offers 4 new tracks originally composed by Erica and some remix works. "Prophecy" is the main track here, a Dark Electro track featuring ominous synth layers, diverse rhythm patterns and also some experiments on Erica’s angry vocals. A little compositional masterpiece, although not very dancefloor-friendly – this of course changes with the both tracks "This Is Your End" and "Playing The Fool". Although that Erica still got thrown into the harsh EBM scene with the related domination of SUICIDE COMMANDO and comparable colleges, I see UNTER NULL musically in a different kind. Her combination between real Dark Electro-inspired synth layers and rhythm patterns taken out of different styles like Electro, Trance, up to IDM is unique and authentic. This is surely also the result of the work of Len Lemeire of IMPLANT, who has done some production on this twin EP set. Another fine example of her style is the track "Watch You Die". Although starting simple with an often heard bass line, Erica shows some musically depth by including some subtle and melodic piano play. As for the remix works, 4 tracks got here some manipulation. "Endtime", originally available on the mentioned "Absolution EP", got reworked by the great label colleges of INURE and it gets my vote for being the best piece here. This remix unites well the mood of UNTER NULL with the refreshing Electro arrangements of INURE. The further remix works done by ADAM X ("Disgrace", also originally available on the "Absolution EP"), T3CHNOPHOB1A ("This Is Your End") and BLANK ("Prophecy") aren’t bad at all, but they stand a lot in the shadow of the originals. From her kind and from her presence on stage, Erica surely fits with the mentioned leading acts of the Harsh EBM genre, for the music I beg to differ. Here are so much more ideas and musically depth available, that it would almost an insult to press this fine female-leaded act into a redundant genre. Well done release, let’s have a look to the twin EP now...
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Artist: VITOR JOAQUIM
Title: Flow
Format: CD
Label: Cr˛nica (@)
Rated: *****
Portuguese multimedia artist Vitor Joaquim has traced a singular path over the last 25 years starting with improvised music in 1982 and then composing for dance, theater, cinema, video, installations and multimedia. "Flow" is his latest work on the Crónica label. The main concept here is the confrontation between voice and computer and in almost all the tracks we can find heavily processed breathings and whispers among the swarming layers of processed instruments or even a sensual female voice(Filipa Hora's) as in the second track. Ranging from dissonant glitch to languid and dreamlike sounds with bursts of high-speed grainy loops - "Flow" is a complex work, only sometimes indulging in melodic moments. A fresh update to Markus Popp's lesson and surely a perfect listening for the autumn and winter to come.
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Artist: Electro Synthetic Rebellion (@)
Title: Scars And Wounds
Format: CD
Label: DSBP (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
With his already fourth full length album, the third under the wings of the US-label DSBP, this well known Electro/EBM act hailing from France returns and has grown to a constant number in the DSBP stable. Vince Pujol can easily be called an established act of this label, also thanks to his numerous activities with his side project BIO-MECHANICAL DEGENERATION, his uncountable collaboration efforts for DIVERJE, plus several remix works for some label colleges like FREQUENCY CONSTRUCT or TYPE001. "Wounds And Scars" now is the new opus of THE Sci-Fi/Electro specialist alive and provides 12 new tracks and two different and alternative versions of the both tracks "It Hurts" and "Humanity Collapsing". Needless to say that you’ll get again the full dose of futuristic Electro/EBM/Industrial music, modern sounds and skillful arrangements, highly pitched and distorted vocals and complexity in all compositions. Vince’s work is again a little masterpiece and can be used as a demonstration lesson for all the retarded "get-hard-be-strong" artists out there. Also this workbench shows some development and maturity since his past album, Vince now also adds here and there some guitar riffs to strengthen the globally rough mood of some tracks ("Blood On The Walls", also featured on the last Interbreeding 8 compilation, "Final Dream" and "Humanity Collapsing"). Maybe a "slap-in-face" for the purists here, that also ESR tends to use that hatred acoustic instrument, but be sure that Vince hasn’t become a Metal-head or something alike. The guitars are mostly subtle placed, more a kind of background noise, maybe somehow comparable with the current works of DEPESSIVE DISORDER. There can be also noticed a stronger dedication to fill in well worked out synth sweeps and layers, which is also a development of the harder attitude of his predessor album "Persistence". Lyrically Vince takes besides some sci-fi influenced parts a very critically look on the behaviour of mankind regarding nature, pollution, violence and infernos generally – but I’ve (may) also found some depressive content placed in "Nothing Stays" (no CYBERAKTIF here!!!) which could be seen as an autobiographical comment – the artist needs to be asked for this. So if you have already the one or another output of this talented act in your CD collection, then – no doubt – you’ll need this new one as well! As usually after receiving a new ESR album, there's only one open question: how to top this album?
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Artist: WAVEFALL (@)
Title: Huge Frustration
Format: CD
Label: Advoxya-Records (@)
Distributor: Poponaut
Rated: *****
To discover new Electro/Industrial music hailing out of the unknown territories of Russia has still a kind of an exotic touch, no matter how much signs of movement lately came alive. Also this Moscow-based duo of WAVEFALL doesn’t need to fall into "huge frustration", because they got wisely picked up by the Russian/Hungarian label Advoxya-Records. Luckily this label has still an open ear to the musically evolution of their home countries and/or Eastern Europe generally, the mostly Western-oriented scene surely could spend some more attention. Otherwise we would miss this fine – maybe finest – musically effort so far coming out of this area. WAVEFALL present us a 13 track debut release, which will leave you knocked out on the dancefloor pummeling for more! They surely fall into the harsh EBM/Electro category and take some influences out the well known works of HOCICO, PUNTO OMEGA or some acts of the NoiTekk roster. It can be fine recognized the globally try of this duo, always to integrate complex melodic hooks into their arrangements, maybe more than any other else act playing related stuff. Unbelievable that this is a debut, because the music already stands all possible comparisons. These Russian duo stands eye to eye on the same quality level like the mentioned patterns, so let’s hope that they get heard. Favorites are rich included, the opener "On My Knees" and the following pieces "Eclipse (Brute Version)", "Dedication" and "Love Consumer" are tough and rhythmically-oriented tracks. The next pieces to mention are "Loneless" and "Damnation", which both slow down the tempo, while offering a more catchier Dark Electro melodic content. Double plus-good also for the most authentic work here "New Form", which offers a more alternative and more experimental kind of rhythm programming. This release is for sure one of the most outstanding works so far of the quality label roster. Hopefully the audience pays the well deserved attention...
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Artist: AND ONE (@)
Title: Bodypop
Format: CD
Label: Out Of Line
Distributor: SPV
Rated: *****
I still remember the day where I was looking for some EBM stuff pressed on good old vinyl at a big German department store, which normally doesn’t hold any music stuff like this. I then have found the first AND ONE 12" release "Metalhammer" and although that I hadn’t a possibility to listen to that stuff in advance, I took the risk and bought it. Well, those were the days back also of Machinery Records, which has left business already since a long time. AND ONE with Steve Naghavi remains – but has there too much changed musically through the years? Sure, the technical possibilities did grow and develop, but already after the first two listens to this new full length of one of Germany’s best known Synth-/Electro-Pop acts I’ve found so many compositional similarities with older stuff of this that it would be right to start this resume. Nobody has expected a dramatically change of style, kind or direction – AND ONE maybe tend to copy themselves – so does this make them authentic? A trademark for sure, this can be said with no doubt. And no – I don’t like to follow the advice to "invent" a new genre name, which could be easily come to mind to some bored promoters in face and with respect to this album title. I tend to say that the high Media Control chart positions of this album are a funny, but financially surely required side effect, because this album doesn’t give the impression that this would be planned somehow. It is the same charisma and mood known out of the late 80ties like more or less available on every AND ONE album, which leads the musically scenario, although that the teasing release of "So Klingt Liebe", available in three different MCD versions, would only need a VIVA/MTV-compatible video clip to storm some high and not expected single chart positions. Of course, here you got one of the best and clearest studio productions around and besides the already released both singles "So Kling Liebe" and "Military Fashion Show" it features some more Synthpop pearls like "Enjoy The Unknown" and "Love You To The End" – both surely possible tracks for a third Si-CD release. So this is the known AND ONE formula, mostly Synthpop with pending tempi, at times ballad-like arranged ("The Sound Of Believer") featuring Steve’s charismatic and clear voice. Nothing what would surprise – so it has to be!
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