Music Reviews



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Artist: Fail
Title: Dated Seven
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
This is the second Fail disc that I will be reviewing, so let’s get right to the music. “130112A” begins with piercing, high pitched noise that immediately wakes you up. There are heavily distorted voices that only sometimes come into focus, so it is hard to make out what is being said. This gives way to staticy noise while the high-pitched noise continues on. About 4 minutes in, the track shifts gears and becomes more of a pounding 6/8 beat over bass noise. Overall, this is harsh, but not as interesting as some of the other Fail work that he has done. But if you want to annoy your co-workers with high pitched noise, this is one to play over the speaker system. “090212B” closes out the disc with a beautiful slab of nose wall. A good mix of high and low frequencies, with a great rumbling foundation and voices destroyed beyond recognition and buried beneath a mountain of noise. By far the more interesting of the two tracks. For me this is a mixed bag, as high-pitched feedback is not really my thing, but “090212B” delivers the kind of low end noise that I really enjoy. This disc weighs in at around 21 minutes and is limited to 42 copies.
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Artist: Conure (@)
Title: From Below
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I have known Mark Wilson, the man behind Conure, for over 17 years now, and if my chronology is correct, I managed to release his first track on a split for Zaftig Research with Stolen Light, Goose, and Imperial Floral Assault Unit (which then spawned 15 Degrees Below Zero). Over the years he has consistently put out interesting music that bridges the gap between noise and ambient, and this release is no exception. Conure takes the listener on an aural roller coaster ride, as the synth drones with bits of static that lull the listener into a sense of complacency suddenly give way to a wall of feedback that sounds like you are standing on the shore just as the tsunami rises from the ocean floor to carry you away. Bits of analog bleeps and other field recordings (a car engine turning over repeatedly?) pierce through the feedback and static to keep it interesting. About 13 minutes in, there is some breathy vocals peeking through the noise, but for the most part it is unintelligible. About 17 minutes in, there is a nice counterpoint of squealing noise and a pleasant synth line echoing along. It’s all about balance here, but the noise definitely wins the battle until everything dissolves in a puddle of line noise. Overall, this is an interesting piece and Conure’s skill with using feedback is akin to Arcane Device’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” Although the two are quite different stylistically, both are able to use feedback as something to be celebrated, rather than eliminated. If you want it noisy, this is definitely one to pick up, but get it soon because it is limited to 42 copies. This disc weighs in at around 21 minutes.
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Artist: Anemone Tube & Post Scriptvm (@)
Title: Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: he Epicurean/La Esencia Records (@)
Rated: *****
As long as I've been writing for Chain D.L.K. there always has been, and it seems there always will be projects that have been around longer that I heave neither heard nor heard of, and such is the case with Anemone Tube and Post Scriptvm. Anemone Tube is the dark ambient/industrial noise project of Stefan Hanser from Berlin, active since 1996, and Post Scriptvm is a Russian-American industrial music act based in New York City, active since 1998. 'Litaniæ Mortuorum Discordantes' is a limited edition split album with Anemone Tube taking the first three tracks and Post Scriptvm the last three.

According to the accompanying information, "Originally applied to a particular style of ancient ritual music, in the Classical era the term Litaniae Mortuorum Discordantes attained a negative connotation and was used to criticize those compositions – which, instead of instilling listeners with the desired pious euphoria, incriminated them with a sense of dread, existential anxiety, feelings of death and decay. Finding this aesthetic choice to be most appropriate for the present era, the two post-industrial projects attempted to create their own 'Discordant Death Litanies' for the XXI century. " They have a bit more to say about it than that, but that should be enough to chew on for now.

As always, in spite of the philosophical explanations and raison d'être of the title and concept, one reads these reviews to know what in fact the work sounds like. Beginning with "Myth and the Relation to the World" Anemone Tube projects processed sustained voices over gloomy ambient sustained orchestral pads. Towards the end one can make out cryptic rumblings in the background. "Recueillement (Sa Propre Mort)" is a slow, mournful, organ-based funerary dirge with a good dollop of dissonance. "Irruption of the Whore" utilizes sustained gongs and bellish tones to set its tone, like an unquiet graveyard where a violent storm (perhaps even a hurricane) is brewing. As the track progresses the wind becomes even more violent as you imagine the dead unearthed, coffins ripped open from the ground, mausoleums destroyed, and general havoc being played by some unnatural power. Post Scriptvm then takes over with something completely different on "Buried in Fabula." It begins with an across the board scraping of some stringed instrument and a deep, slow heartbeat, indistinct German voice samples in the background, then melting, descending, heavy synth chords. All the while there is a disquieting, quavering drone and eventually some hallucinatory echoed electronics. Perhaps a theremin and feedback as well. "Dark and Nameless Gods" is a truly harrowing track incorporating a variety of elements (synth, vibes or xylophone, percussion, spoken word, scary drones, etc.) that give such a sense of unease, that in the wrong (or perhaps right) frame of mind you might be driven mad. Final track "Laterne D'Horreur" is based (maybe you could even say basted) with wobbly tremolo synth as other clinking percussion and noise plays in the background over hidden sustained strings. A little more than halfway though the wobbly synth disappears replaced by cosmic drones and eventually sustained voices in the aether, ending with a little radio noise.

This is certainly one of the stranger and thought-provoking dark ambient recordings I've heard in a while, and A MUST for lovers of soul-shredding funeral music built on dissonance triggering spiritual delight. This release is available in three versions - the regular LP on golden vinyl, limited to 200 copies; the special edition on black vinyl with fancier packaging and also a CD limited to 99 copies; and the CD limited to 144 copies. Guess which one they sent me. You're right.
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Artist: Slim Cessna's Auto Club (@)
Title: Cypher
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: SCACUNINCORPORATED (@)
Rated: *****
Slim Cessna's Auto Club has been around for a long time, since the early 90s. They're an American band originally from Denver, Colorado with musical elements of country blues, gospel, folk and other forms loosely grouped as Americana or alternative country. The only reason why they're getting a review here is that they're supposed to have an aspect of "Southern Gothic" to their music. Throughout this album that aspect only surfaces occasionally in my opinion. For the most part 'Cypher' plays like alt-country rock, and there's way too much religion (or pseudo-religion) woven throughout the fabric of this album for my taste. More often than not, these guys sound like the warm-up act for a fire & brimstone preacher at a tent revival. They are competent musicians and vocalists but their material left something to be desired. If you're going to call yourself Gothic in any way shape or form, there's got to be a dark element incorporated into the music. It surfaces only a couple of times on 'Cypher' - on the tracks "Americado," and "Jesus Is In My Body - My Body Has Let Me Down". Yeah, there's a lot of references to Jesus on this album, also to "braces"; in fact there are four different versions of "An Introduction To The Power Of Braces" a song about wearing braces on arms, legs, teeth and faith. According to the accompanying one-sheet, "braces" is coded language. Whatever. The song reprised three times is thrice too much. As you you might surmise by now, I didn't care too much for Slim Cessna's Auto Club or 'Cypher' which was originally released in 2008 on CD but has been just re-released on their own label on a double-vinyl gatefold LP. Of course, they didn't send me that, they sent the CD because vinyl is expensive ya know, and why waste good vinyl on reviewers, especially if they may not like it. Well, this time they guessed right.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 15 Years Of Secret Operations
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Secret Operations (@)
Rated: *****
Fifteen years for a drum'n'bass label could be considered something close to a geological era, but when the quality is above the standard levels of the scene, such a longevity is a worthy and almost logical goal. As most of the d'n'b followers know, Secret Operations is the personal imprint by the appreciated Swedish producer Seba, whose amazing style combining rumbling low frequencies, liquid phunk and perfectly cut rhythmical patterns, obviously strongly influenced the sound. The fact this collection embraces a so large time span can let you appreciate the way by which the label managed to catch a set of many different stylistic components, slight diversions of a sonic frame featuring the above-sketched features. For instance, some stylish marks of 90ies jungle can be heard on the opening "Pieces" (2002), amazing track featuring the long-lasting voice by Robert Manos on the mic that Seba co-signed with Jasper Dahlback aka Lenk (another talent of Swedish scene) or the gunfires of the harsher side of jungle of the mentioned decade shaking the grounds of tracks like the bicephalous tune "Fire Like This" (2006) by Seba and Dev 'Paradox' Pandya. Nuances of 'Indian-summer' sonorities grasped into nervous breaks can be heard on the enchanting "Second Thoughts" (2008) by Finnish producer Resound or darker slides like the visionary accelerations of "Heavy Traffic" by Seba and American brilliant producer Method One (2011), exacerbating some contemporary madness, or the menacingly rumbling tones of "External Reality" (2005). Some songs, that maybe boosted your dreams yet, cannot be but included: the lovely "Blaze and Fade Out" (2008) - featuring one of the mellowest male voice in Swedish scene, the one by Kirster Linder -, the psychedelic refreshing flights of "Cant Describe" - one of the best moments taken from Seba's last album "Identity" (2013), including samples from some unspecified airport...I didn't use the word 'flight' by chance! - or the sweetly hypnotic "Life Is". Eighteen delicious extracts to celebrate a well-deserved respectable age! Long life to Secret Operations.
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