Music Reviews

Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Lost in Darkness III
Format: CD
Label: X-Cem (@)
Distributor: SXDistribution
Rated: *****
Already the third volume of this underground compilation series, which lately brought a lot of attention to the X-Cem acts like WYNARDTAGE, MAY-FLY or ACYLUM. Like on both predecessors the main number of acts is somehow related to X-Cem or it is done directly by mastermind Kai Arnold presenting one of his numerous side projects. Add to this some new and rarely heard talents of the German Electro/Industrial scene and you’ll got a decent compilation musically mainly based on Dark Electro/EBM, also filled with some Powernoise undertones. Besides WYNARDTAGE or ACYLUM, here are some better known names presented with the Black Rain recording artist DAVANTAGE, the well recognized act TO AVOID, which could release a strong debut-CD as the last official release of the now defunct Dark Wings label, or the Danish classic act NEOTEK, a duo which had seen its best days signed to the Hard Records label. The German one man project VIRTUAL VICTIM is also present here and this act could win surprisingly a talent contest done by the German print magazine Sonic Seducer. Best tracks can be named here in the straight and alternative remix version of "Dead Culture" provided by the X-Cem act ACYLUM, wich finds again the perfect mix to combine Dark Electro with Powernoise elements. Also the track "Love Is Suicide" done by DVATION defenitivly gets my vote for creating a harder Dark Electro piece with known elements comparable near to acts like AGONOIZE – luckily without sounding like a clone. Other pieces worth to mention here are the already named VIRTUAL VICTIM, TO AVOID and also WYNARDTAGE gives a new and unreleased piece here. With the talented duo FORMALIN the included stuff of this compilation turns into harder, noisier and more minimal arrangements – Powernoise is offered on two tracks by SONIC VIOLENCE EXPERIENCE and SENSOGEN. Not in the same league like XOTOX or NOISUF-X, but a welcomed change of style. You’ll get here a real piece of Underground music mainly focusing on Dark Electro/EBM. A well compiled compilation with many up-and-coming acts, from which will be may one a global big player of the scene. This release is at this time the last one ind cooperation with the German SXDistribution. So if you are a distributor, please make sure to contact Kai Arnold of WYNARTAGE to work out a deal...

Track list:

Artist: Sebkha Chott (@)
Title: Nagah Mahdi ~ Opuscrits en 48 Rouleaux
Format: CD
Label: Musea Parallèle (@)
Distributor: Musea Records
Rated: *****
Holy shitzky and whee doggies!!! I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting to hear when I slid this disc into my player, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the spellbinding miscellany of aural ingredients packed into this approximately 69-minute tour de force! This band of self-described "Mekanik Metal Disco" musicians appears to consist of 20+ members, living (vivants) and dead (morts), though I’m having some difficulty trying to pin down an exact number and the roles each one plays, as much of the information (particularly the sections pertaining to band members) on their website is in French, which is Greek to me. :-)

The 48 tracks are divided into eight "rouleaux" which are book-ended by a prologue and epilogue. The songs blend seamlessly into one another as countless genres are explored and several new ones invented along the way. Most of the vocals are in French, though there are a few snippets in English. Speed/death metal themes recur frequently, but are cut with cabaret, reggae and ska themes, straight ahead rock riffs, jazzy interludes, meringue movements, trippy psychedelic sounds, bass-driven funk, splashes of break-danceable techno, circus sounds, horn and piano solos, runaway organ passages, shots o salsa, saxophone jams, spoken word spasms, keyboard and synth wizardry, drunken operatic folk, vocal silliness, and all manner of avant-garde oddity. Just when you think the surprises have all been sprung, another one comes along and bites ya: mind-bending computer effects, Darth-Vader exhalations, freakish pornographic-sounding telephone conversations, and (best of all) MORE COWBELL!

Listening to this, I can only imagine the tongue-in cheek musings on their website about the band’s genesis occurring 10,000 years ago to be true. These folk may be young, but they most assuredly come across as an inveterate and highly talented ensemble. While researching this band, I came across numerous comparisons to Frank Zappa-meets-Magma and other early prog-and-psych rockers, but beyond the elemental similarities to those acts, their overall sound is considerably less "song"-like and more hodgepodge – in my mind, very much reminiscent of Mr. Bungle. From the sensationally swift, schizophrenic shifts in style and the razor-sharp technical precision with which they are rendered, right down to the male vocalist’s phrasing and sounds (which are very congruent with chief Bungler Mike Patton’s), the sounds on this disc are uncannily similar to those of Bungle’s seemingly inimitable sonic salmagundi.

This is the kind of album that makes writing reviews a ton of fun. Fans of frenetic everything-rock -- pass Go, collect $200, and grab as many copies of this album as that will buy you RIGHT FUCKING NOW... TODAY! Give em to perfect strangers and make friends for life! Socks be darned! The sound of Mekanik Metal Disco is gonna knock your friggin’ pants off!!!
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Boogybytes Vol.2 - Mixed By Sascha Funke
Format: CD
Label: Bpitch Control (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****

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After seeing Kiki on mixing/selection on the first chapter of the series, BOOGYBYTES sees Sascha Funke giving his treatment to fifteen tracks coming from the last four years of –mostly German - minimal house techno (if we don’t count the 1992’s "Pacific symphony -Italian smooth remix" by Transformer 2). Funke that already released for Bpitch Control different albums and 12inches succeeded into giving a smooth/dreaming effect to the whole tracklist by picking up tracks that span from minimal electronic (Efdemin, Carsten Jost, Schatrax, Louderbach and Phantom Ghost), minimal techno (Trentmøller, Zander Vt, Villalobos, Sascha Funke himself and Sleeparchive ) and techno house (International Pony, Transformer 2, Schwarz – Dixon & Âme Feat. Derrick Carter and Voigt & Voigt). The compilation contains some cool and hard to find tracks and also the whole atmosphere is functional to the effect he wanted to create.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 5th Anniversary Compilation - Vol 1 + Vol 2
Format: 12"
Label: Das Drehmoment (@)
Rated: *****
Based in Berlin Das Drehmoment started its activity as a record shop but the passion of the owners made them create also a label soon after. In the past five years they didn’t release a lot of stuff but the quality is always at the top if you like analogue sounds and electro music. If you had the opportunity to check one of their first compilations "... Dreht weiter!" (where you can find Super 521, Aurica, The Rorscach Garden, Lokate, KeenK & Dorian E., Quakes, Solenoid, Die Liebe, TecROc, Smäg and Beta Evers) you already know that they are deadly serious into bringing to the attention of electro lovers good stuff from underground acts (unknown for the MTV people). To celebrate the fifth year of activity (started with a compilation co-produced with Genetic Records) Das Drehmoment produced two vinyl album compilations. 5TH ANNIVERSARY COMPILATION VOL.1 gathers eleven tracks/bands for a total length of forty two minutes. The album opens with the instrumental 80s e.b.m. of OstZilator while Keen K’s "TRI - ID" follows (he’s a producer from Berlin which started to do music in the 80s with Kinky Roland, Boy George’s producer) with a track of ambient electro, catchy and hypnotic. Third we find a band we already know (see my reviews of their album here and wait for their next album for Das Drehmoment and for Kinetik Media in the U.S.A.), Kitbuilders which with "Disco Obsession (RZCZ Mix)" brings a minimal remix of their tune released on the same E.P. back in 2001. Mas 2008 is next with "Du!" (a track of their distinctive new sound really influenced by early e.b.m. and D.A.F.). With Lesbian Mouseclicks the atmosphere gets smoother with their electro pop. Datafreq from Toronto (which will release a new album for Das Drehmoment really soon) presents "Just like 1981" a nice electro wave song with retro bleeping sounds. Minimal electro comes from Slovakia with Imiafan while Beta Evers (founder of the female music network called Kommando 6) is here with "Dry Tears". The Quakes with "Caligula" spice up the compilation with a little bit of industrial guitars while Keen K with Pmuench refresh the air with the synthpop of "Spring". Last but not least comes Jaques Dubroix with "Electronic Age", an hypnotic electronic soundtrack for a futuristic thriller. After few months from the release of VOL.1 here it comes VOL.2. This time Sneak Thief have the honour of opening the dances with "Material Nights", a dance electro tune that sounds like a New Order meet Prince track. Makina Girgir from France are proud to present "White eyes" while Divider (a Kenn K side project) with "Cold eyes" sounds like Jean Michael Jarre playing electro pop (this is a really nice track). FBS (a new band from Berlin) are here with "Don’t touch" (pretty but too minimal) and Aurica follows with "Hypothenuse". Side B sees Electrosexual hailing from Tolouse with their electro dark wave with an edited version of "Trapped inside". Electro wave doesn’t stop here, so Silent Signals from Dortmund are ready for "Waiting for reaction" while Ich helped on production by Keen K did a night version of his "Aberglaube" (a Kraftwerk meet D.A.F. cool track). Legopop (he’s present with "Legopop", a minimal electronic retro tune) and Zhark (his retro industrial e.b.m. with raw analogue samples is here with "Eisenzeit") close the second volume of this celebrative collection. If you are looking for retro sounds and fresh ideas (only few bands need a little tuning up for a whole release) you should definitely give a listen to these compilations. They are limited and you’ll realize that keeping your turntable at home was the right move for your ears!
Title: When Machines Ruled The World
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Pale Music (@)
Rated: *****
Meeting on late nineties djs and producers John Taylor and Arif Salih decided to start the Punx Soundcheck adventure in 2002. Four years has passed and the duo didn’t release many things with only their name on them (they did only a couple of E.P.s and a 7" with Marc Almond) but they did remixes for a lot of people (Dead Or Alive, Frau Doktor, Atomizer, Duran Duran, Tigerbeat, etc.). Anyway, now the waiting is over because Punx Soundcheck’s (now joined by Kidrobot) debut album WHEN MACHINES RULED THE WORLD is here and it is double! Divided in two sections ("Home" and "Club") the album brings to the attention of the audience (and not only to club lovers!) twenty top notch tracks of electro influenced by new wave (they pay their tribute to 80s electro wave on "Monument" where they use John Foxx’s "Underpass" melody at the beginning of the track), house and techno. The first CD contains a lot of catchy songs sounding so 80s thanks also to guest like Steve Strange (he sing "In the dark"), Boy George (he’s on "Idiot crowd", an electro melancholic danceable tune where you won’t hear him sounding like on Culture Club), Marc Almond (here you can find the beautiful "Neo burlesque", the B side of the limited 7" "Vanity, poverty, revenge"). Beside these icons you can find also Mr Cormac & Kidrobot, Gene Serene, Princess Julia and Giorgia Alberti giving their help on vocals. This CD is an electro gem but its twin brother is also an amazing one where the electro sound influenced by 80s turns into an hypnotic trip into house and techno. Also on this CD you can find guests like Susanne Aichele (on "Giving me the bleeps", a seducing track based on analog house bleeps and techno melodies), Maria Gutierrez, Larry Tee (he’s on "Creep", a pumping Berlin electro song) or Avenue D ("You don’t know jack" is her tune). The "Club" section sounds raw and it’s impossible to stand still while distorted basses break the silence of your room. We had to wait all this time for WHEN MACHINES RULED THE WORLD but it was worth it!
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