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Artist: TAKASHI WADA
Title: Araki
Format: CD
Label: Onitor (@)
Distributor: Wide
Rated: *****
At the time of "Meguro", his first album, Wada was a 21-year-old student of jazz guitar and classical piano who elegantly mingled electronics and acoustic instruments to create pastoral landscapes with an ambient feel.Nothing much seems to have changed in "Araki", unfortunately. This is an easy-listening so smooth that fails to stir any emotion other than placidness, and boredom. Sure, it is dreamlike, but in a way that is too cool, glossy and ultimately defeating. In "Lost land" we even are treated to the sound of lapping water and singing birds. Averaging longer than 6 minutes each, the 11 tracks are recommended only for the die-hard fans of assuaging muzak and clichéd, feel-good ambient.
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Artist: SHINTO (@)
Title: Sekai
Format: CD
Label: Echokammer (@)
Distributor: Wide
Rated: *****
"Sekai" is the fourth album by Hans Platzgumer and CaMi Tokujiro under the moniker Shinto. After meeting in Munich in 1998 the two set off for a joint Euro-Asian venture that has undoubtedly its own quirky originality. The electro-pop sound provided by Platzgumer is tempered by the melancholic disillusionment of Tokujiro’s lyrics – in Japanese – who casts himself as the storyteller/singer of dark tales of love and destruction. His voice is what contributes most to the feeling of "Sekai",which despite its poppy undertones leaves the listener with a sense of quiet despair. I find Tokujiro’s voice a double-edged blessing: on the one hand his bass, raspy rendition certainly gives a definite character to Shinto; on the other, it is far from the accomplished singing styles that Europeans are used to appreciate.
In "Sekai" Shinto have been aided by an additional drummer and percussionist, and the electropop texture is partly given an Oriental feel, for instance in the opening track featuring meditative flutes. But to tell you the truth I didn’t know what to make of this project at a first listening. Only after getting to know more of the lyrics and the stories they refer to, I started to develop a certain interest in Shinto. I learnt that "Hagoromo" alludes to a traditional Noh play of a fisherman and a dancing fairy. By browsing their site, complete with lyrics’ translation into English, I was able to delve into the political side of Tokujiro’s lyrics, tackling Chechen massacres, Guantanamo’s hidden tortures, as well as references to Japanese events, such as the 1923 earthquake, the plight of famous Japanese terrorists, the radical Aum sect and so on. Some of the lyrics and titles, moreover, are taken from the radical left-wing and anarchist tradition of Japan (Sakae Osugi... ). This is though what points to the CD’s weakness to my ears: I was more taken by the cultural and political stance of Shinto than by their music. Maybe it’s less a struggle for Japanese listeners who can relate immediately to the lyrical content... For me the listening experience has been alternately odd and bland.
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Artist: SIDRA
Title: A swampadelic blessing of downtown SF, the official bootleg
Format: CD
Label: Afe (@)
Rated: *****
While rumours are that Sigillum S are going to put out some new material, P. NG5361 Bandanera (Sshe Retina Stimulants, Komplet) is out with a new project and with a new mate, guitarist Tiberio Longoni. Sidra is really different from every previous project of Bandera, but nobody will be astonished by the fact the style is not that far from other melodic projects with a post-industrial background like those in which Eraldo Bernocchi was involved. Do I mean that's Bernocchi influenced music? No way! I just signify there's a "trait d'union" that joins some melodical/musical solutions you you’ll find here with some you could find in the releases of Teardo, Phyler Coleman and Bernocchi, but at last it’s true that "nobody comes from nowhere". Be it I love this kind of style or that "file rouge" I was talking about, I'm really into this release, I'm sure there's people who can whine about the fact it's not "trendy", but it's not even "old fashioned" in the strict sense of the word, I think Sidra's debut has its own identity. Late night music, weird but yet suggestive loops on which the skeleton of the majority of the songs takes shape. Sometimes it sounds like a less melodical and instrumental version of Phyler minus the drum and bass influence, sometimes a melancholic guitar loop moves on a 4/4 hip hop rhythm. Loop based electronic music with a big human feel, "old fashioned" but in a really interesting way, listen to "Heat reversal via volume exchange" and "Windows from shattered stairs (nude)". Honestly that's one of my favourite releases of the new Afe lot.
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Artist: LE∆THER STRIP
Title: Walking On Volcanos
Format: CD EP
Label: Alfa Matrix (@)
Distributor: Soulfood
Rated: *****
Claus Larsen returns with a new follow-EP to his last DCD album "After The Devastation", which got released at the beginning of this year. Some might think that Claus wants to make up what has maybe passed through the years in hiatus. His output tempo is currently unstoppable, think also on his side-project KLUTÆ and his releases in March/April. Here hides also a flaw behind this new EP, which features 6 new and unreleased tracks and two own produced remix works from his mentioned past album. I got the feeling that especially the new pieces drifting more and more into the gray area of averages. Both remixes, one for the heart-felting "Dying Is Easy, Life Is Harder (Abused)" and one for "Take Me Home Again", offer more interesting aspects through some fine sampling work and a dark melodic content. They hit almost all new tracks in quality, from which I would like to mention here "How Far Is It From Auschwitz To Guantanamo?" with its impressive politically message, plus also the sarcastic "I Love The Sound Of Acid Rain". Nothing also to say against the title track, nice melodic content walk in a line with calm and undistorted vocals. Two harder pieces forcing on speed and distorted vocals, "Hate And Fear" (Words Are weapons Mix)" and "Life Is A Kick In The Balls" (right said, Claus!), but... well, if Claus would do a second "Solitary Confinement", then these two pieces wouldn’t be under the first 50 tracks which would be chosen for this – this may gives you a hint how "strong" they are? Already the DCD "After The Devastation" had some time-outs for sure, but was nevertheless better conceived. Let’s keep the things a bit slower, Claus, we need you back in your best condition. The time will come...
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Artist: PANZER AG
Title: Your World Is Burning
Format: CD
Label: Accession Records (@)
Distributor: Indigo
Rated: *****
Andy LaPlegua tries hard to earn money by producing Electro/Industrial music. This is normally not very recommendable, moreover dangerous, but as far as the cow is able to give milk...who cares...? It is to mention that there are some nice "cows" placed in LaPlegua’s stable, other projects of him are ICON OF COIL and COMBICHRIST (both recording for Out Of Line). Under the PANZER AG moniker he herewith releases his second full-length CD. It is generally said his "American" version of Electro/Industrial music – this counts also for the artwork. So you’ll get also beside the expected portion of Electro inspired music, a full dose of real guitars sounds, some acoustic drums as well – and some real campfire romantic on tracks like "Among The Few" or "Not To Late" , this kind is definitively not my cup of tea. I have found only three pieces which made it for me, "Paper Angel", "Mother" and "Crash n’ Burn", all of them have a strong recognition and well filled in Electro ingredients. These mentioned tracks are also the ones we’ll surely can find on some dancefloors of the dark clubs. But most of the other stuff is really hard to pick up and drowns a lot in a too slow tempo. This is globally not the album which can grab too much attention by the mostly on electronic sounds minded European audience – it is still to hope that the good name Andy for sure has will help here. Check it in advance.
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