Music Reviews



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Artist: SPIRITUAL REALITY (@)
Title: Fear Future
Format: CD
Label: Scanner (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
A new release on the Scanner label, out of the Dark Dimensions label group. SPIRITUAL REALITY is a German male/female duo presenting here their second full-length release. They already printed a nice style description on the sleeves of their CD, "Electronic – Independent – Pop". Well, that fits it for sure – I would maybe add a constant Futurepop feeling to almost all of their tracks here. The chosen sounds and arrangements do not offer any sense of experimentalism, almost all structures are known and can’t surprise – with the one and only exception named "The System (TRITOXIN Remix)" placed on the last position, track 13. I haven’t heard about this project named TRITOXIN, but this remix finally shows a harder and more experimental side falling into some Powernoise efforts. Nothing against their good sounding vocals which are their main used "instrument" and perfectly placed into the mix. But I would like to advise them to try at times something different. A lot of tracks walk on the same level – you hear them once, you hear them twice – but after this they are forgotten. Nice exceptions are luckily included here with "Lost In Lust", "The Way Is Not Clear" and of course with their best track "What Can I Do?" – it is one of the very few tracks which has the right balance between dancefloor attitude and slow melodic phases. There is also to mention the remix of the highly recognized band like MASSIV IN MENSCH on the good piece "The Way Is Not Clear" – but to destroy the given dark but melodious mood of the original with the replacement through some more dancefloor attitudes can’t end in a satisfying result. This isn’t at all a bad release – I recognize their good compositions, their tasty arrangements and the good production – but I do miss that surprising element which could help this duo to left the average behind.
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Artist: CANAAN (@)
Title: The Unsaid Words
Format: CD
Label: Eibon (@)
Rated: *****
THE UNSAID WORDS is the fifth Canaan studio album and it arrives four years after the previous one which was titled "A calling to weakness". The new album contains three kind of songs: the dark ambient ones, the ones influenced by doom metal sung in English and the ones influenced by doom metal but sung in Italian. Probably you would ask the reason of my distinction of the song sung in English and in Italian language. Well, they sound different and not only because of the sound of the language. I think that Mauro felt more intimate the songs sung in our mother language and for this reason they sound like a sort of modern Luigi Tenco. The dark ambient tracks aren't only based on drones and obscure hisses they also have mid-oriental influences (see the violin on "Sterile"), chants (like on "Fragment #1"), Asian influences ("Fragment #2" is a beautiful track that would fit movies like "Crouching Tiger, Hiddin Dragon" nicely) and ambient industrial ("Just another noise"). I must admit that these are my preferred ones but also the tracks influenced by doom metal show really well how much personal Canaan songs sound. I must say that it hasn't been easy to listen to all the tracks in a row, because the level of nihilism and isolationism is really high. It seems hard to think about it when you talk about tracks with a song structure, but I assure you that it has been difficult to avoid the sense of melancholy and depression when I listened to those ones. Mind you, depression because of the atmosphere created, not because the music is rubbish. Try them if you dare...
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anymore
Artist: M.B. + NIMH
Title: Together's Symphony
Format: 4 x CD (quadruple CD boxset)
Label: Silentes
Rated: *****
This massive 4-cd box, released in a limited edition of 300 copies, features two solo albums, Maurizio Bianchi's "Niddha Emmhna" and Nimh's "Subterrean Thoughts", a collaborative one, "Secluded Truths", and a split one, entitling the whole boxset and exclusive to it (while all the other titles are also sold separately). This flow of titles marks the return of Giuseppe Verticchio/Nimh in the Amplexus/Silentes catalogue (after "The Impossible Days" and his collaboration with Nefelheim, "Whispers from the Ashes"), and witnesses a period of particular prolificacy for Bianchi, with new solo releases on Silentes, Small Voices etc. and new collaborative works with Land Use, Telepherique, etc. Let's start with the solo discs. "Niddha Emmhna" features two lengthy tracks inspired by verses of the "Leviticus", respectively defined by Bianchi himself as a "plasmatic symphony for electronic particles, erythrocyte frequencies and menarchal viola" and a "hemolytic decomposition for neurologic piano, coagulant clangs and leucocyte sonances". The cosmic synth patterns in "Niddha" are disturbed by the viola and noisy electronics, but the true surprise comes with the overwhelming "Emmhna", an abysmal descent into cacophony which could really remind of seminal past works of Bianchi's like "Armaghedon". This monstrous, unbelievably bleak composition is probably the gem of the whole work. Nimh's "Subterrean Thoughts" sees Verticchio's synth-based ambient in its more sombre vein, already explored in works like "Line of Fire" and "The Impossible Days". I wouldn't exactly call it "dark ambient", but the Roman musician surely prefers tension to relaxing atmospheres. To his usual array of instruments (synths, keyboards, ethnic samples, field recordings, etc.) he now adds recognizable guitar lines in "Subterrean Thoughts", a melody which also closes the cd in a piano reprise. I venture Nimh is going through a process of change and experimentation, as there are many different inputs in these tracks that could be explored further. "Secluded Truth", the collaborative cd, is also the one I honestly like less, possibly because it's where the cosmic ambient influences of the two are more evident, and I'm not particularly moved by that kind of music. I dig the darker tracks, like "The Sacred Outside" and "Leaving the Time", but I'm not really convinced by the rest. In "The World Beyond", for example, the synth melody is a bit jarring when matched with ethnic percussions and digital programming. As a whole, the cd has plenty of good moments, but the collaboration never seems to truly sparkle. The exclusive cd, on the contrary, is enjoyable from start to end. Bianchi offers two obscure tracks, "Land Use I" and the brooding "Land Use II", whose obsessive mechanical loops again remind of his glorious and pioneering industrial past; and Nimh's three pieces are a perfect match, with the menacing tension of "Beyond the Gates...", "Black Earth" and "...the Garden of Loneliness", the last two featuring a distorted electric guitar which brings to mind Maeror Tri and Troum. A recommended listen for fans of industrial-tinged ambiences.
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anymore
Artist: Tuner (Pat Mastelotto & Markus Reute
Title: Totem
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Unsung records (@)
Distributor: The Orchard, Soleilmoon, Burning Shed, DGM, Penn Music, JPC
Rated: *****
Except for the Young Gods and more live-d'n'b-oriented projects (such as the ones by Jojo Majer or Guy Licata), it seems to me that very few bands have understood how much a live drummer rocking out on his skins (instead of just swinging on the cymbals like many goth bands have done) can add to an electronic music project, making it more exciting, more powerful and more delivering. This record might not be able to change the course of events for the better in the future, but at least adds another great example of how effective the drum+electronics union really is.
US drummer Pat Mastelotto is certainly not new to this concept (he used to also play for King Crimson for more than 10 years), so when you pair up a guy like him with Germany's virtuoso touch-guitarist Markus Reuter (of Centrozoon fame), you'll pretty quickly end up with some kick ass good electronic-rock music. Contrarywise to what you might expect, this is not your average technical-abilities-showcasing prog-rock old-timers reuinion were skilled cats celebrate themselves with never ending solos and intricate fusion of rock tunes and jazz constructions. "Totem" rather focuses on composition and on conveying the message, whatever that might be, in an articulate, powerful and engaging way. Their mixture of avant-rock is heavily infuenced by the sum of the duo's experiences but sounds new and original all together. The multi-faceted talents of Mastelotto's versatile performances come out in the form of wild cymbal-heavy experimental drumming, drum-pad beats, square on the money drumming with powerful tom toms breaks (that might actually remind you of some of the afore-mentioned Swiss trio's stuff) and all of what's within the wide spectrum of a drummer's sonic and rhythmical palette. The space around him is smartly and un-obtrusively filled by guitar, bass, hammond parts, layers of electronics and even heavily-manipulated vocal parts, all written by Reuter in a way that complements Mastelotto's ideas while still showing Reuter's training without having to splatter out one single note of what you'd conventionally refer to as a solo. In fact you'll hardly ever hear anything like a regular guitar sound at all, since Reuter's prime pride is his touch-guitar, an instrument with an eight octave pitch range that he complements and interfaces with all his other electronic equipment (that includes what seems to be becoming every live musician's favourite digital performance software-based tool: Abelton Live).
Without getting too technical or too windy, I strongly suggest that you check out this Unsung Records release. The CD also features a video clip (directed by Renee Stieger) that showcases the most drum'n'bass (speaking off...) track on the record. Too bad that nothing of the duo's performance is included in the video.
Also make sure to check out www.patmastelotto.com and www.markusreuter.com.
A great example of musicianship and electro-acoustic rock-electronica.
Feb 03 2006
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Artist: Amen Orchestra
Title: 17 waves
Format: CD
Label: ArT-TeK Records (@)
Rated: *****

BUY from  HERE
From the beautiful front cover picturing a close-up of a violin with some russian lettering and an elegant western italic logo and album title, I expected something completely different, more along the lines of what Russian artists and composers in the Electroshock records roster usually sound like, instead ArT-TeK Records' artist Amen Orchestra caught me off guard with a fast-paced and crazed breakbeat-driven collage of d'n'b beats and pitch-ridden pads with an ear to classical music, which is used as inspiration, rather than medium. Russian artist Nizhny Novgorod delivers his version of clasically-trained electronic music programming with a shit load of stuff happening at once. Once you get past the frenziness you'll detect subtle orchestra arrangements (which in my opinion could/should have played a greater part in the greater scheme of things) and murky layers of droning dark-ambient influences, and, no matter what, you'll always be left with one of those super-fast-paced rhythm-noise/IDM albums that labels such as Hive or Daft records might have gotten you used to.
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