Music Reviews



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Artist: Leaf (@)
Title: Made Into Itself
Format: CD
Label: Suspicious Records (division of Hive Records)
Distributor: Ad Noisem & Ant Zen
Rated: *****
This is definitely an unconventional record when compared to the rest of the Hive records roster, but that's probably why Hive decided to put it out under their new subdivision Suspicious Records. Leaf (whose other side projects include Nevrland, Biogliphic, & Blunt Force Crew) is a dark record that walks the paths of experimental hip-hop (mostly instrumental, but you'll get your fair share of rhymes as well) and stops at every intersection to mingle with the cross-roads of trip hop, orchestral arrangements, electronica etc. Leaf likes it lo-fi and raw around the edges, he experiments with samples (a lot of which come from movies) and he flips his shit around on top of sticky beats, hypnotic layers of sounds, minimal turntableism and british-sounding female singing voices opposed to black male voices dropping their lyrics into the mixture. If you like Everlast, Massive Attack, Dj Shadow, Dj Signify, Tricky etc you'll probably dig this. Leaf is currently touring with Def Jux recording artists Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock and Cage. That's whassup dog!
Artist: Hl (@)
Title: Broken ep
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: First person (@)
Rated: *****
NH is Dan Hopkins from No Ground, even if this 3" is on First Person label. Differently from Sticker Club, HL's music is less "andante": let's say "Broken e.p" could be the perfect soundtrack for a trip. Opium softness and winter landscapes are a couple of things you'll probably find on this mini cd. Daniel Hopkins is a filmmaker and you can bet the cinematic feeling is there and that's why there's an high visionary impact that haunts the four tracks. This 3" mini cd is also filled with an all british depression, but this time it's not a matter of pop litanies as one can imagine, this' more a question of british psychedelia evolved into something different. Shogaze sensations and drones diluted into a magma where just every once in a while a minimal (industrial?) drum machine "swims in a dark pool" of sounds. Differently from other releases on No ground this one may force you into a really sad mood. Dan Hopkins has collected some scattered fragments he put together giving shape to this ep, the resulting image could be one of these Babs Santini's paintings/patchworks on the covers of Nurse With Wound. Psychedelic freak should better stay tuned.
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Artist: CABARET (@)
Title: Electric Chair Song
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Artoffact (@)
Rated: *****
Don’t ask me how a Polish band gets a contract from the Canadian label Artoffact. It proves only that the world is small. The question why they could get this contract is clear after some listens to this debut single CD, which has seven remarkable tracks on board. Musically this single CD offers a nice diversity of styles, starting with Electro-Pop, some Trance- and/or Ambient elements as well. I would also say, that the music – especially by the Single Mix and Radio Version of the two main track "Electric Chair Song" and "Dawn Mist Glowing" – features a kind of dark Pop music, maybe distant comparable to some MODE elements taken out of their "Ultra/Exciter" phase. This seems to be the main musically target of this band and I find it quite impressive how this band tries to combine here and there some classic instruments like piano, decent guitar inserts and/or "real" drums with diverse up to date electronic music styles. This can also be a good explanation to get signed on an international renowned label like Artoffact, the situation of professional labels in Poland seems to be unsatisfying. My favorite track is "Every Home is Wired" – it is a cover version originally done by Porcupine Tree – with its great melodic piano rolls and the decent male vocals. A band to follow without hesitation and I am sure they will even more surprise with their soon to released album "Homophobia".
Oct 11 2005
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Artist: AYRIA (@)
Title: Flicker
Format: CD
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
While it is mostly hard for me to realize that there is a growing mass of female leaded Electro/Industrial acts out there which cannot grab my attention, there are still some exceptions of this rule like the Canadian Jennifer Parkin aka AYRIA for example. EBM/Electro is normally a men dominated style of music and to listen some female vocals combined with a rough electrified body music needs still some habit for me. But as I said – Miss Parkin helps me easily over this mountain of ignorance. Although the cover art may suggest some Futurepop bullshit clone music, AYRIA surprises with a rhythmic and well-produced EBM/Electro album, musically mainly inspired by classic old-school veterans like NITZER EBB. Okay – this try of a comparison is way back to courageous, but it will maybe give you slight hint what to expect here. This also means that you will not get an overloaded Electro album full of thick synth layers – no, Miss Parkin shares more and points out the minimal kind of Electro, mainly based on some melodic shreds, rotating bass lines and the might of her good inserted voice. Well, she isn’t surely and will never be an opera aria singer – but who the fuck will expect this from this style of music? Her little Underground hit "My Revenge On The World" is as well present here and this track is for me still one of her strongest works. Some other favorites can be "Pink Dress" which surprises with some ass-kicking guitar riffs to strengthen the refrain. "Infiltrating My Way Through The System" is maybe the best example of the trust in minimalism with a strong dancefloor oriented attitude. "Be Me" is a bit too much based on already discovered Futurepop ideas, although the bass line will leave scratch scars in your ears. Finally the musically harder piece "My Device" can totally satisfy with some sick and distorted vocals. "Flicker" is a nice follow-up album to Miss Parkin’s earlier works. If the 2 meters high EBM male shouter will enjoy an EBM album done by a woman will still remain a matter of taste of course – but this is worth to give it a try.
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Artist: EMPIRE STATE HUMAN (@)
Title: Cycles
Format: CD
Label: Kiss My Asterix Records (@)
Rated: *****
Empire State Human never ending evolution has always been evident. If they started with their mixture of 80's synthpop and electropop, with the new album CYCLES they reached a new starting point into their musical career. The tracks of the CD go beyond the simple synthpop genre: the main thing that make me say this, it's their new approach to sounds. Analog sounds or direct references to '80s bands partially left the place for new sounds and songs. Yes, Empire State Human grew and their music could be taken as an electronic answer to rock music (see their version of The Cult's "The witch"). Respect the old albums there's a cenrtain lounge approach to music. Some aspects have been dilated and the three minutes limit of the classic song have been dismantled (see the opening "Easy colour" which is six minutes long or "This is how you disappear" which is five minutes long). The songs sound pop but the structure is at the track's service and for this reason there's no need to do an album made of three minutes sinlges. Also musically Empire State Human made me remember what Heaven 17 did with electronic music and funk: it's like the band is doing the same with electronic, techno, trance and pop. It's like you're listening an updated version of synthpop where the reference points have slightly changed. Aidan's voice is particular as always and for the first time guitars have been used (on "This is how you disappear" and on the closing "They live by night"). Check out Empire State Human's new sound...
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