Music Reviews



Feb 15 2006
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Artist: IONIC VISION (@)
Title: Actual
Format: CD
Label: Machineries Of Joy/COP Int.
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
Belgium hard hitters No. 1 strike straight and steady back! Again released under their very own sublabel Machineries Of Joy, a COP side-label, they present us here their officially 9th release. And I can say it in advance, there are not to many changes in the music of Sven Lauwers and Andy De Decker. They still spread out their vision of Neo Body Music, how they do call it. For the very few of you who haven’t heard anything from this duo in the past 14 years, they are one of these old school EBM bands mainly influenced by classic and veteran acts like NITZER EBB, old POUPPEE FABRIKK or PARANOID. Hard ripping bass lines, combined with a steady kick and snare work and a male shouter following the "muscle-hate-machine" theme – currently this old formula receives a lot of success and attention, especially with a look on both acts recording for the Out Of Line label, SPETSNAZ and PROCEED. IONIC VISION in between set the measuring lath of quality on a very high level. "Actual" is for sure their best piece so far and I don’t say this because it is the newest. A lot of people still have their official full length debut "Rage Against The Acoustic" released back in 1996 on Celtic Circle Productions in a good memory. "Actual" is against to this classic the perfect combination between the old roots with the modern technically possibilities of today - from the first to the last track here is no real filler. IONIC VISION have reached the top of what is possible with this kind of music – thanks also to the excellent studio work of the hidden third member of the band, brother Louis Z. So you’ll get here the full dose of 100 % EBM music inspired by the veterans of this genre. It is impossible to sit still with this music – get it!

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Artist: PRIDE AND FALL
Title: Elements Of Silence
Format: CD
Label: Dependent (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****

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I know that there are tons of German bands that produce good industrial danceable e.b.m. but the second album by Pride And Fall in my opinion is a little gem of the genre. Their sense of melody is really good and they are able to create powerful distorted dance tunes with sing a long melodies. Try to listen to tracks like "Rectrospect" or the single "Border" and try to prove me wrong. Normally the bands that have an high amount of melody in their music try to sell themselves out by focusing their efforts only on looking for simple melodies, but in the case of our three Norvegian guys I think it must be something normal to create such catchy songs. Only "Pathogen" didn't convinced me that much (it was a sort of metal song played only with synths) but the other tracks are really good. "The guilding light" with its five minutes and half it is an instrumental electro ballad that break the ambience created by the other distorted tracks and show the skills of the band which is able to create different ambience and it is open to experiment a little within the e.b.m. genre. After that one you find a gem: "Ego". It is a catchy track where saw waves sounds cut your ears in two while other keayboards create a web of ambient sound that exalt Sigve vocals. You won't regret the purchase of ELEMENTS OF SILENCE, you bet!
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Artist: PERSONAL VINDICTA (@)
Title: Transience
Format: CD
Label: Frequenzwelten Records (@)
Distributor: SX Distribution
Rated: *****
A new label from the Bavarian area of Germany, and this debut CD of the solo effort by Tobias Weinmann marks the first release for it. Tobias is also the label chief of Frequenzwelten. PERSONAL VINDICTA play definitively the harder kind of Electro/Industrial music, several pieces turn into the Powernoise genre. No wonder, because Tobias’ first efforts under his old moniker SHOCKWAVE were strongly influenced by rough noise attacks and Industrial soundscapes. But with PERSONAL VINDICTA he also includes some more influences taken out of EBM, Electro or TBM genres – positive, because stylistically variety offers an enjoying listening. All tracks are instrumentals, but they are filled with several voice samples, from which are some very tough and heart-felting, taken of eyewitness reports of some atrocities happened in concentration camps at WW II. The tracks are mostly linear, straight and danceable arranged – nevertheless I must admit, that some included vocals would fit well. Several tracks, especially the Powernoise-influenced pieces lack a bit on their endless monotony. Sound quality, the chosen sounds and the whole production are very convincing – a bit more richness in the used ideas would be well. Therefore, the best track here can be named in "Vision Of My Life", a newer piece which shows some well worked out melodic synth layers. There is musically still place for some improvements and development, but it’s decent enough for a first release. The label in between is going to release soon another new signing and shows a lot of activity – there’s soon to come more.
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Artist: ::thinkstandard:: (@)
Title: The Three Enemies
Format: CD
Label: Skean Dhu (@)
Rated: *****
::thinkstandard:: is one Steve Molter. His newest release entitled "The Three Enemies" is based upon a poem by the same name written by poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894, pseudonym Ellen Alleyne). The CD spans the poems three stanzas "The Flesh", "The World" and "The Devil". It's a largely ambient release relying heavily upon unique guitar work ranging from soothing melodies to a much more caustic droning. Unlike a lot of ambient/experimental recordings this never at any point seems redundant. New tones and melodies drift in and out effortlessly while painting audio interpretations of the religious conflicts the poem itself represents. Of the three stanzas "The Flesh" and "The Devil" are my favorites. They seem to work the best as a pair as "The Devil" references "The Flesh" well, recalling previous themes and altering the context. Overall a solid, well-produced piece of brooding soundscapes that manage to cross a diverse range of emotions without becoming overboard or too "cartoony". Molter handles his sound designs well and casts them onto the platter with a delicate touch.
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Artist: TRESPASSERS W (@)
Title: The drugs we all need
Format: CD
Label: Somnimage (@)
Rated: *****
Dutch band Trespassers W have been around for a long time, releasing CD’s on a large number of independent labels, in this case Chicago-based Somnimage. Part of a trilogy of albums on Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’roll, this CD is the second instalment, and the drugs we all need aren’t just what our governments call "drugs". As usual, Trespassers W relish in stories and histories, be they Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky’s relationship or the story of silent movies star Asta Nielsen; even in this accessible CD we find a wealth of figures, historical or imaginary, a kaleidoscope of styles and imagery. Trespassers W have often conceived their releases as well-defined projects, theme-driven or thick-laden with references to our European heritage of art and culture, high and low. Singer and lyricist Cor Gout – the one with the deep voice – sings or tells or intones what are obviously richly textured lyrics. Therefore it pays to read the lyrics at least once. This does not mean that Trespassers W are not capable to rock and push, just that they combine energy, subtlety and thoughtfulness and consequently require attention from their listeners. I made the mistake to listen to this CD on a car stereo the first time and missed out on most of its virtues, except in the most direct songs, such as "roadmaster eldorado", suitable for car-rides, or "viva la corrida!". Otherwise I had to give the CD a second chance, give it the time to seep through, and it worked much better.Having said that, not all 17 tracks made an impression on me, as if the band wanted to enjoy themselves (rocking out in "the merry go round", for instance) while most of the listener’s attention was drawn by Cor’s vocals, which always stays well on top and isn’t enough varied to sustain all the emotions evident in TW music. The effect is somehow of a band who tries too much, which is strange since according to the band’s statements there was a lot of playing around and improvisation in the recording sessions. Brilliantly arranged songs like "candy floss" show the strength of the group. Maybe they have always too many arrows to shoot at the same time: they can go progressive, art-rock, rock’n’roll, literate cabaret. It’s kind of hard to let them all live together and thrive in a single CD...
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