Music Reviews

Artist: Agonoize (@)
Title: Assimilation: Chapter One
Format: CD
Label: BLC Productions (@)
Distributor: metropolis
Rated: *****
Agonoize is a relatively new project by Mike and Olli (Infekktion), and vocalist Chris L. (Unknown, Dance or die). I was excited to see Chris L.’s name again, as I have been a fan of his work in Unknown for quite a few years now. I had no idea he was working with other bands, so receiving this album made my afternoon. With that said, this is definitely a different side to Chris L. than I have ever heard. Agonoize is characterized by dark, aggressive, distorted vocals that threaten to rip your very soul from your ears. The music is flawless, accenting and complimenting the vocals with relentless crunching percussion, while also managing to incorporate catchy synth lines. When you bundle the package together you get a living nightmare that makes you want to stomp through a dance floor.

I cannot complain about the overall sound or quality of this release, these guys know what they are doing, and they make it very obvious. On the same token, there is nothing original about this album at all. Agonoize sounds like a combination of pretty much every aggressive EBM act I’ve ever heard. This release is the result of attentive listening. They figured out the formula, they took the best pieces from the best bands and they pieced them back together to make this release. I’m listening to yelworC’s "Brainstorming" in the other room, and "Assimilation: Chapter One" sounds like a beautifully updated version. The same old evil with a crisp new sound.

So, if you want a purely original sound, you won’t find it here. What you will find, though, is an obvious mastery of the dark electro/aggro-industrial sound. This is a solid release that will grab your attention, and will hopefully launch Olli, Mike, and Chris L. to the level of notability that they deserve.
Artist: Quikion
Title: Ramadan
Format: CD
Label: Gazul Records/MUSEA
Distributor: Poseidon
Rated: *****
Ramadan, the fourth CD by Japanese-based folk trio Quikion, is a far-out flight of fancy that whisks the listener headlong through crumbling columns of the cultural divide. This disc features twelve traditional tunes harvested from such far-flung corners as England, Germany, France, Romania, Yugoslavia, and even Pakistan! There are plenty of other delightful twists and surprises to be found on this CD, beyond the diversity of sources from which the material was garnered. For starters, lead vocalist Totoki Yukiko intones these songs in a new and exciting way, singing them in her native Japanese tongue. Sasaki Emi lends her vocal talents, as well, on some of the tracks. These soothing sounds are augmented by superb instrumentation, provided by all three band members. Yukiko plays the concertina and harmonium with skill and savvy. Emi gives her all on the accordion, glockenspiel, psaltery, and, pianica. Both women provide percussion, as well. Oguma Eiji’s fingers fly across the strings of his guitar, bouzouki, and tempura. Toy instruments are also utilized with some frequency on this disc, adding a playful air to the presentation. Too many individual highlights to mention here in total, though I will give a special nod to "Moon and a Bride," the title track, "Cha-Ri-Ne," and "Spellbound," which are all exceptional. "Concertina Blues" and "Sirba D’Accordion" are also special songs, centered on charming refrains that flow freely from their namesake instruments. Enchanting and lovely, this CD makes me want to get up and dance around – what a treat!
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Artist: OBszon Geschopf
Title: Son of Evil
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: BLC Production
Distributor: Metropolis
Rated: *****
Obszon Geschopf and their second album Son of Evil is another great addition to the Terror EBM and Industrial scene. This French outfit of Remzi Kelleci comes out with some really interesting beats that would be perfect in just about any electro goth club around. The music has a great sound and each song is different from one another and doesn't slow down at all. The only thing that I can find fault in with this group is I wish that the voxs were less distorted that way I can get a feeling about what the artist is trying to get across to his audience. Another fault but very minor is the one track that kinda just didn't go anywhere - Track 11. It was like an electro death metal nightmare. But, all in all, I think this album has really great feeling and mood with some really funny and interesting samples. Like most people that I have talked to about this album, their thoughts on it were it's very much like a harder and more darker version of Suicide Commando or maybe Dioxyde.
Artist: Large Number
Title: Spray On Sound
Format: CD
Label: The White Label
Rated: *****
I didn’t know quite what to expect when I popped this disc in the player. The mélange of strange items (which could pass for a mess on my bedroom floor) gracing the cover superimposed over an old analog synthesizer, beneath a green eye, topped by a brow-like feather, and capped with a pink box really grabbed my attention. Initially, I thought I’d be bombarded with straight-up, noisy experimentation a la Voice Crack or some of Nurse With Wound’s more cacophonic offerings. Instead, I discovered a wide array of styles, sounds, and all around funky weirdness from former Add N to (X) founder/member, Ann Shenton and her new comrades. This rowdy bunch includes a blind banjo player, a guitarist, a female harmonica virtuoso, former Add N to (X) drummer Rob Allum, and a veritable plethora of synthesizers and other electronic toys that have been assembled by Shenton for the purpose of producing this strangely seductive racket. To put it bluntly, this is just plain cool! Each of the fourteen tracks is its own unique entity. "The Creaky O.K." kicks things off on an uncomplicated, funky note. "Pink Jazz" defines itself with its quirky vocals about (you guessed it) Pink Jazz and its trippy, oscillator-infused meanderings are a perfect backdrop for the strangely robotic discourse. "Hunchback in the Dark" is a purely instrumental stint, as low horns frolic gently in a field of gently chirping, retro-synth sounds. "Crazy" bops absurdly along in utter merriment, the male and female vocalists trading silly lyrical lines over softly vocoded backing vocals and a wonderfully relaxing guitar theme, before a beat interrupts the flow. "Chronosynclasticinfundibulation" sounds vaguely like a trip to the video arcade circa late 70’s/early 80’. Xevious, Break-out, and a couple of others I can’t readily identify are in the mix, along with some well-placed theremin shrieks, and a spate of insistent drumbeats, some of them bona-fide wooden-stick-on-stretched-skin, and some synthetic. "Spring on Electris" begins with a song from a tiny calliope and degenerates into erratic burps and bubbles of sound backed by a light soup of snares and cymbals. "The Transgenic Banjo Player" busts some seriously freaky moves, with its sneaky bass line and jazz-induced feel underlying a lament about "my body falling into the black hole of chaos." The song proceeds to do just that, as the banjo joins in for a brief spaced-out country jam, ultimately withering away into quietude. "Lexical Synesthesia" keeps the banjo in the mix, along with the guitar and acoustic drums. The requisite synth oddities take backstage to this broth of natural instrument sounds and a few sketchy lines of vocals that give this track the feeling of a more traditional song structure. "Autumn on Electris" marks a return to this fantastic locale – if this is what is sounds like on Electris, I’m booking a ticket today! "Today, This Flea" is a modest little 40 second bit, perhaps a suitably short and tidy ode to one of this small critters? "Love in the Asylum" is a gorgeous groove, powered by an infectious harpsichord hook, replete with swooping synths and an occasional wail from the theremin. "Twenty Two Seconds" reminds me of that shuddering-vibe sound effect used so often in murder mystery movies. The mystery here is embodied in the nearly indecipherable words, spoken lightly throughout this short track until it fades away. "Emotional Life of Animals" evokes images of an alien landing on some farm. One can hear dogs barking, cattle lowing, sheep bleating, and plenty of otherworldly noises in the background. A live recording of "The Earth Has Shrunk in the Wash" closes out this totally odd but addictive musical escapade. My only complaint is the short playing time, as the disc clocks in at a mere 38:16. Hopefully next time, they’ll spray on some more sound!
Artist: PIA fRAUS
Title: Dit Is Jouw Ritme
Format: 12"
Label: Infant Terrible Productions (@)
Rated: *****
PIA fRAUS is a band coming from Belgium. DIT IS JOUW RITME is their first release for Enfant Terrible Productions, new Dutch label which with this release show really well its peculiarity into producing particular music. If you wonder if with "particular music" I mean something positive, well, with this I mean something REALLY positive. This is the first time I listened to PIA fRAUS' music but I got excited in no time because of its mixture of industrial, melody and electronic. As references the press sheet reports Legendary Pink Dots, Fad Gadget, Skinny Puppy, etc. Well, listening to the five original tracks (the sixth one is an electro experimental RA-X remix of "Keep running, keep looking") you can hear lots of influences but it is difficult to name a particular one. Maybe SKinny Puppy and Fad Gadget are the more evident but only because one tracks like "Coleur locale" or the following "Parasietofmol" mix distorted vocals and guitars just to turn the track into a relaxed one just to start the wild sounds again. If you want me to try to describe them the first term that it comes to my mind is: industrial punk. In any case they for sure are worth the purchasing but you've got to hurry because the vinyl E.P. has been printed in only 500 copies. P.s. Don't confound them with the Estonian band called Pia Fraus which sounds like My Bloody Valentine.
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