Music Reviews



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Artist: Life Toward Twilight (@)
Title: We Waited For a Subtle Dawn
Format: CD
Rated: *****
The artwork on the album gives you a good idea of what the music will be like. The artwork would be at home on a Cold Meat Industry release. The photography for the release was done by Laura Frances Purdy, the recently deceased fiancée of the main person behind the project, Daniel Tuttle. Tracks flow into one another, providing a sense of coherence throughout. This is like a soundtrack for your mind. Elements of dark ambient, neoclassical, and noise flow together. Sometimes the shifts are a bit jarring though, for example, when flowing ambience abruptly shifts to staccato strings in "Time,’ she points again." Some high points on this album include: "Time,’ she says," which has nice elements of ambience and noise with a ticking clock in the middle of it all. "This Peculiar Phenomenon," which combines crushing metallic beats with strings, synth pads, and spoken word samples. "Eclipse II" combines operatic female voice with noise to create a nice sense of discordance. "A Tide, Confusion" layers drones over audible, but barely decipherable voices. "Reluctant Memories of Conquest" is good dark ambient that reminded me of Lustmord’s album "The Monstrous Soul." The best part about this album is that you can have it for free by downloading it from their website, complete with cover art. And it is well worth downloading. This is a good mixture of sound, not quite noise, but not quite ambient. Highly recommended.
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Artist: Bunker Soldier (@)
Title: The Debris Field
Format: CD
Label: Neo Cultural Front Records (@)
Are you feeling nostalgic for 80’s synthpop? But not quite like the 80’s bands did it? This is your album. First, a bit of self disclosure. Like the man behind Bunker Soldier, Tim Tyran, I remember the 80’s from the first time around and I like 80’s music. But this album didn’t quite work for me. I think part of the reason is that this is a bit too poppy for my tastes. What I like about 80’s synthpop is the fact that hidden behind the cheery pop sounds are some pretty disturbing lyrics. After all, have you ever heard a happy Gary Numan song? The one song on this album that comes close to having that kind of feeling is "Disappoint." According to the press package that came with the disc, CMJ will be pushing "Close the Door" on college radio, which makes sense. It’s catchy and memorable. For me, two songs stand out on this album. "Infection" has a bit more complexity than the other tracks on the album, with both male and female vocals. Good driving beat and a bit heavier than the other tracks on the album. "Full Circle" is catchy and has nice harmony in the chorus. "Drive Me Home" is probably the low point of the album. Think female voiced adult contemporary pop - I can see this on a Buick commercial. Stylistically, this album is all over the map. "Flying (I Want to Go)" is like poppy techno and "I am Complete" would be at home in a movie soundtrack. The consistent thread here is the pop element. This album is a bit short at 37.36. With no song over 4 minutes, this is an album well geared toward college radio airplay. And I must admit that it will probably do well. The songs are catchy, which is the coin of the realm where pop music is concerned. I had "Darkness Falls" stuck in my head for two days after listening to this disc. Overall, this is a pleasant listen, but despite the multitude of styles that are represented, this album doesn’t really seem to push the envelope.
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Artist: Loss (@)
Title: I Kill Everything
Format: CD
Label: Spectre (@)
Rated: *****
Damn – this is some heavy stuff. Let’s start there. I loved the 3" disc "A Letter that will Never be Sent." This continues where that disc left off. From the very first track, "The Turning," you know that you are in for a heavy listening experience. Distorted vocals, some screams, and heavy synth lines bring in some of the best elements of the previous offering. This is a lot more varied than the previous disc though. The album has some moments of respiteparts of "Happy Ending?" and "A View From Afar" bring in elements of noisy ambience and are a bit less aggressive. "The Waste That Was To Be" has a nice beat that may even work on the dance floor (imagine if Skinny Puppy was a bit darker and more distorted). Weighing in at 17.24, "A Moment of Reflection" is the longest song on the album and probably the most blatantly personal track with spoken word interwoven throughout. This is by far the most powerful song on the album. With the words that he speaks on this track, you have to wonder just what it is that he felt needed to be obscured on the other ones. This is absolutely entrancing and hypnotic. It is difficult to imagine power electronics that engenders a sense of empathy for the performer, but here it is. If you are looking for feel good music, this is not it. This is some dark stuff, but not in the "power electronics songs about murdering hookers" kind of way. Loss explains that "Loss is a project created out of need for an outlet. A very personal experience for the man behind it, all material is forged from life experiences built around the concepts of love, hate, sorrow, or death." Perhaps it is the authenticity of emotion in this music (for the most part, the lyrics are unintelligible) that makes the darkness more palatable. After all, Loss is drawing on experiences that are fundamental to the human experience. Loss is quickly establishing himself as a rising star in the experimental scene, and rightfully so.
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Artist: Evestus (@)
Title: Wastelands
Format: CD
Label: D-Trash Records (@)
Rated: *****
From Evestus’s biography: "My biggest influences are Cartoons and videogames... screw that: FALLOUT! FALLOUT 2 changed my freckin life! The world I experienced playing that game is what I’m trying to bring to people through my music! I bring you the newwave of Electronic punk, Post apocalypse pop." That sounds about right. I must admit that I have a special place in my heart for the post-nuclear holocaust genre. I actually remember the drills and having to know where fallout shelters were (yeah, I know that this dates me a bit). The packaging is greatstraight out of 1950’s civil defense propaganda ("duck and cover" and the Civil Defense logo on the CD are nice touches). On to the music. Mad Max movies and other post-apocalyptic sources are heavily sampled in this album. This is beat driven, but if you are looking for hard and fast, you will be disappointed. In fact, "Health Guide – Featuring Stitch" is a nice swing track. "Visions of Before" is nice militaristic neo-classical with snare drum and synthesized strings. "Jet Flight part 2 – Bad Trip" begins with good harsh noisy beats, but then becomes more laid back. Overall, this is difficult to pigeonhole into a particular style, which is often a good thing. There seems to be a bit of everything here. That is not to say that the disc is random and inconsistent. The tracks all work together to make a cohesive whole. The samples also seem to work well with the music, creating a story rather than simply using them as a kind of shortcut as usually happens. This is a good album, but not terribly club friendly if that’s the kind of thing that you’re looking for. This is the first that I had heard from D-Trash or Evestus. So far, so good.
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Artist: Ah Cama-Sotz (@)
Title: Ghost in the Shadow
Format: CD
Label: Spectre (@)
Rated: *****
This is what all live experimental performances should be like. The previous Ah Cama-Sotz material I have heard has been on compilations such as Crunch Pod’s Battery Sentinel 2, so this was my first exposure to an album length work. This is engaging material. Littered with samples from horror movies, these samples help set the atmosphere. Most importantly, they are not readily identifiable, which keeps them disembodied from their original context and allows them to coalesce with the music. Most of this album consists of dark soundscapes, but some tracks combine ritual ambience with noisy elements ("Virgins" and "The Howl of the Werewolf," for example). The tracks flow into one another, giving the album a sense of coherence. For me, the standout track on this disc is Lix Tetrax. Combining dark ambience with synthesized strings and beautiful female voice, this is a track of haunting beauty. This track would be right at home on the Hyperium "Heavenly Voices" compilations. Someone needs to use this as the soundtrack to an H.P. Lovecraft movie. After all, it has a track named "Yog-Sothoth"! According to his website, "Ah cama-sotz will transport your subconscious in a mythical universe where his alter ego ah cama-sotz’ haunts the night and proliferates anxiety amidst every living creature." (Ah Cama-Sotz is named after a Mexican mythological creature, a giant bat which used his extremely elongated sharp claws to decapitate his victims.) As you may have gathered, this is not easy listening dark ambience. This disc is limited to 515 copies, so if you want it, you should probably get it quickly.
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