Music Reviews



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Artist: MARSPITER
Title: ULTIONIS
Format: CD
Label: SOMNAMBULANT (@)
Distributor: Dark Music Domain
Rated: *****
Debut CD album from Marspiter – ULTIONIS ( Latin for "revenge") on the small Somnambulant label out of Redmond , WA show lots of promise for fans of neoclassical dark ambient. Subtle shades of muffled militant atmosphere that rises and falls in intensity but always seems to stick to the theme. Without going into the historical/ mythological background (suffice it to say that with track titles like "Gradauidus" and Legionis", you get the drift) of the concept, it is an effective war-oriented set-piece that takes a bleak mood and makes it even bleaker. The sonic blender that Michael Todd (the guy who IS Marspiter) seems to run his music and repeated sampled loops through seems to be set permanently on "churn". This has the effect of giving a thick aural ambience to the soundscape, which is very effective in one sense, but kind of disturbing in another. There is a definite lack of anything in the higher frequency range (anything over 1k or so) and so nuances tend to be submerged in the lower frequencies. There are times when I would have liked to have heard what was going on a little more clearly. One commendable note- no violent noise blasts, as can sometimes be the bane of an otherwise decent dark ambient album. Still, there is enough atmosphere here to make ULTIONIS an intriguing first effort, and worthy purchase. Good ritual music for unspeakable ceremonies, or even FRP gaming where you need an ambience of oppressive and foreboding doom. Since the CD is limited to only 300 copies (and a of this writing, hasn’t sold out yet) this could be quite a collector’s item. Should appeal to fans of In Slaughter Natives, Puissance, and a good chunk of the Cold Meat Industry roster.
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Artist: SPHERE LAZZA (@)
Title: ULTIMATE ABYSS
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: AcidVictim Records (@)
Rated: *****
Sphere Lazza, I remember that name from the early 90’s techno-industrial music scene. I can’t remember what they sounded like then, but listening to "Ultimate Abyss" kind of brings it all back home. Fast (150 bpm fast!), energetic techno-industrial with great dancefloor potential, spoken word samples, effective programming and on-target vocals. Pared down now to the duo of David Trousdale (vocals) and Tony Spaz (programming) these guys may just have the goods to revive the flagging techno-dance genre. "Ultimate Abyss" is a one-hook pop song that makes its point with laser-like precision. You get three mixes on this maxi-single and they’re all good enough to not want to hit the skip button. (I’ve kind of become jaded and skeptical about ANY CD singles that offer weird, screwed-up remixes of songs that were better left as the original versions. Seldom are they innovative or listenable enough to warrant spending your hard-earned $$ on rehashes of three, six or nine versions of the same track. Maybe Djs find them useful, but for the most part, they’re a waste.) The good thing about this maxi-single (which is really more of an EP in my estimation) is that you get FOUR more songs that don’t sound like carbon copies of the title track. For one, they’re a good deal less frenetic, ranging from 118 to 140 bpm, but no less well executed. You get an even better sense of just how good Trousdale’s vocals are for the material, and how good the material is when compared with a lot of drek you find out there these days. For some reason, these guys remind me of a more electronic Chemlab, not a bad thing at all. They have plenty of pop sensibility but manage to keep away from the shallow depths of mainstream murk. Track #6, "Distance" has a retro-80’s vibe that recalls bands like the Psychedelic Furs and OMD while still maintaining a future-pop orientation. All in all, this CD gets a big "thumbs up", definitely worthy of purchase, and should be on club Djs "must play" (at least now and then) roster. Welcome back, Sphere Lazza!
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Artist: Bizarre Musik Machine (@)
Title: Bizarre Musik Machine
Format: CD
Distributor: Bizarre Musik Machine
Rated: *****
First off, I owe these guys a big apology. I promised them a review well over a year ago, and due to circumstances ended up taking an overly-long hiatus from the reviewing biz. Now that I’m back in the grooves, let me give them the critical eye they certainly deserve. Bizarre Musik Machine is a duo out of San Antonio, Texas, a tough town to make it for most any band. And I’m sure that making dark music there really puts you at a disadvantage. Be that as it may, Yayumi (Vocals/Keyboards) & Gino (Guitar/Sequencing) deserve a lot of credit for trying. Probably the easiest comparison is early period Cocteau Twins with more easily decipherable vocals. Plenty of that shoegazing echo & verb to the guitar with drum machine keeping the rhythm moving along. Unlike some bands who consciously try to mine the retro-80’s vibe of bands like te Cocteaus, Joy Division, The Cure, et al, Bizarre Musik Machine are different enough to make you take notice. While Yayumi doesn’t possess a stellar set of pipes, she still has enough quality to keep you enthralled for at least 35-40 minutes. And from what I’ve seen of her visually, she’s almost got an interesting appearance, in a Bjork kind of way. Gino’s no slouch as creating the proper aural atmosphere either, even though sometimes his guitar work seems a bit meandering. Still, to my knowledge, there’s NOBODY doing just this kind of thing now, to my knowledge. (Then again I could be wrong, but of there is another band taking this path, I certainly haven’t been exposed to them. Most of the tracks on the CD are pretty good, but the most memorable one is titled "Silent Regrets" will really take you back to the early 90’s, the heyday of the Madchester’ and Shoegazer scene. If 4AD is still signing bands, Bizarre Musik Machine is one they definitely ought to look into. With some better production, this duo has the potential to carve their own niche (and maybe even write their own ticket) in the Goth n’ Dreampop music genre. Their website is definitely worth a visit, and while you’re there, BUY a copy of their CD. Don’t wait for them to become famous, because then it’s only the label that makes the money on product, and they really could use your support.
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Artist: TANKT (@)
Title: Club Life
Format: CD
Label: Static Sky Records (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
Originally self-released, later on licensed and marketed to the US-based Static Sky Records, this the already fourth release by this Melbourne-based Australian duo. Also they are permanent and active members of the Australian Crash Frequency community (www.crashfrequency.com). TANKT, consisting of the duo Dave Foreman (music) and Roberto Massaglia (vocals), provide a well produced Electro/Industrial album mixing the elements between EBM, Synth Pop and Futurepop with well thought lyrics full of social and politically criticism. To fit with the title "Club Life" (the cover art doesn’t fit with the title, note – these are not dancing people...) they made no break between the tracks from 1 to 4 as well on the tracks 7 to 10. Mixed in between are some more experimental arranged tracks, especially "The Storms Of Beslan" reminds me on some old KLINIK stuff. This of course can be named diversity and it shows that this band has the abilities to offer satisfying results taken out of several styles of Electronic-based music. Their critically acclaimed piece "Bush On Fire" is also available here and please note also the special and very personal content in "Night Ride" dedicated to Roberto’s died father. As I said, this album is extremely professional produced and it is no real wonder, that it got picked up by Static Sky, although that this promising US label is now in hiatus. Check out the Crash Frequency website, or check back the DSBP website in the USA (www.dsbp.cx) to get it right now.
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Artist: INTRASONIC (@)
Title: At The End
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
This is self-produced but yet very professional release of another new talent out of the Australian Crash Frequency community (www.chrashfrequency.com). The band is leaded by Toby Craig and hails from Fremantle, somewhere based in West-Australia. Musically they play a kind of well produced Electro/Industrial, here and there mixed with some guitars. A possible comparison could be named in the well known US acts SPAHN RANCH to the "The Coiled One" phase, while it should be said, that Toby doesn’t reach the same brilliant results for the sound of his voice like Athan Maroulis. Nevertheless he is a talented vocalist as well and he doesn’t need to come along here tons of FX to re-strange his voice. INTRASONIC added some more diversity in the arrangements, also a real experimental dark Electro piece combined with some rough rhythm programmings can be heard in the title track of this CD. Favorites well designed to hit the dancefloors of the dark and alternative clubs can be named here with starter "Sanctuary" and moreover "As Pitch As Black". At the later part of this CD INTRASONIC also slow down the speed of some tracks and they add some more classic instruments like a piano to their tracks (the very emotional "Adore", or the gloomy "Miss You" for example...). This is a more than convincing release of a new talent from Australia and I can only recommend to discover them somehow. Use the given contacts to the Crash Frequency community here or check back the website of the band. Satisfaction guaranteed!
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