Music Reviews



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Artist: SMP
Title: Crimes of The Future
Format: CD
Label: MRE (Music Ration Entertainment)
Rated: *****

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SMP (Sounds of Mass Production - a.k.a. Jason Bazinet) is a one-man band that's been around for a long while, and you can hear that. SMP's long discography and extended experience in the art of making powerful and exciting electronic music has been redefined with each and every one of their releases, all the way up this last one: "Crimes of the Future". This is probably their most mature, well-produced and (at the same time) commercial-friendly release to date. Mixed by Wade Alin (Volatile Coldwave Act, Christ Analogue), "Crimes of The Future" comes at you like a freight train packed with modern urban anthems, trippy skippy beats, powerful treated distorted guitars, blazin' rapping vocal parts and an attitude that says a lot. If you haven't lived under a rock these couple of years listening to some of these tracks will merely feel like listening to MTV bands such as Linkin Park (and I don't mean that in a bad way, you may like that type of band or not, but they still have an amazing production behind). On the other hand you can still clearly hear the EBM roots of SMP and their influence on their work. The record plays out nicely but has some klinkers (or I should say, some tracks that are not up to spec with other better tracks in the album). I see the growth of the band and I personally wish he'd embrace his new direction and close the previous chapter, instead of flipping the pages back and forth. There's a lot more potential in the new stuff, and I am not talking (just) money. Maybe the answer would have been a killing EP instead of a half and half LP.
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Artist: Aquefrigide
Title: Un Caso Isolato
Format: CD
Label: Subsound records (@)
Distributor: SX Distribution
Rated: *****
Aquefrigide is an italian duo (from Rome) that performs a very interesting mix of industrial, rock, electronics and hardcore. If you know the type of bands that the italian music scene has spawned during the last decade or so, you'll be able to reference back to a lot of the traces of what seems to be this un-evenly spread but ubiquitous three-color trademark that affects (in different way) "bel paese" productions. Aquefrigide (which means frigid waters) hit the nail in the mark with their well-produced magmatic aphorism of italian lyrics with underlaying powerful roughed out but somehow polished music. Their cathartic and cataclismic impactful style, which heavily leans on a great rhythm section (it is after all a drummer and a bass player) borrows more than lightly from stars and stripes outlets and names (think Death from Above 1979) but they make sure to maintain one foot in their land of origin, and not just by mere choice of lyrics' language. "Un Caso Isolato" (an isolated case) features fifteen tracks (three of which are actually acoustic pieces) and can definitely teach a lesson or two in style, originality and power to a lot of other bands in their country.
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Artist: Deflore
Title: Human Indu(b)strial
Format: CD
Label: Subsound records (@)
Distributor: SX Distribution
Rated: *****
Well, thruthfully speaking, this album has very little to do with dub (contrary to what the deceiving title might hint at) and with electronic music, and by association might have very little to do with Chain D.L.K. also, but allow me to indulge myself because I can't fucking stop listening to Deflore's debut. Wow, talk about explosive! A powerful, humongeous wall of heavy, deep, down-tuned guitars over-rules and over-shadows any attempt at a fair exposure in trial that the presence of (unquestionably important but subtle and belittled) electronic elements might have. Imagine what would happen if Neurosis and Ministry jammed together, maybe sharing the stage with Page Hamilton's Helmet of the days of House of Pain, Flugschaedel, Canaan, My Dying Bride, Sleep, Scorn, Tool and Korn, and you might get an approximate idea of how disturbingly in your face and inhumanly violent this record sounds. Make no mistake: a hollow dark sense of claustrophobic dispair surrounds the entire record and well interacts with the feedbacks-injected atmospheres, the occasional glimpses of the submissive electronic pre-production and the choice of industrial-inspired percussive sounds that go with the doomed and slow drums. It all makes for an album where the touch of a Scandinavian hand (the one of a Finnish mastering engineer) comes as no surprise. These two italian dudes most obviously have a deeply rooted metal heritage of inspirations. Although you might hear some samples of voices and even some distant growls and other vocal artifacts, "Human Indu(b)strial" pretty much goes by as an instrumental record where distortion rules in the sovereign kingdom of darkness and melancholy. It goes without saying that if you like to indulge yourself in hours of hollow and murky violently distorted dreams of sonic masturbation you can't possibly do anything else until you get ahold of a copy of this.
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Artist: Joseph Murray
Title: The Starlight Suite
Format: CD + DVD
Rated: *****
"The Starlight Suite" is a suite of 10 tracks of cinematic lounge-inspired new age-ish electronic music that exists both in the format of a CD and a DVD, within the same slim-design dual-disc DVD-sized-case packaged release. Basically the CD and the DVD contain the same tracks, but the DVD features a video clip for every track (plus some very minor additional bonus material, such as a rather sparse photo gallery). The clips range from mediocre to interesting but do not stand out for excellence or originality. Except for the first clip (shooting a girl who preps herself a cup of tea), the other nine visual chapters are basically computer graphics inspired by the eighties' wave of fractal design video art (which by the way, as minor as this inconvenience is, aren't even divided by chapters, so that you can eventually only skip to the 9th by going back to the main menu and clicking on that 9th song - but you can't skip the first eight by hitting your "next" button eight times). Although some of them are rather nice, I can't fail to notice that it really is not that much different than listening to your CD on a Windows Media player with the visualization feature turned on (or whatever that is called - I am on Mac so I can't remember). I don't mean to be sarcastic or to diminuish the efforts that I am sure went into this project, but in todays market for DVD's and considering the average quality of some of these releases, I think one would except better than just a couple of entrancing and spiraling fractal visual candies to go with some Martini music (or at least, those like me who do expect more can't be blamed in my opinion). I am sorry, maybe I am missing something, but it seems to me that this is an excercise in style and although the the sonic and visual elements are of high quality (the audio for one thing is Dolby Digital 2.0/5.1) the sum of all parts does not excel.
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Artist: HYPE
Title: Desperately Yours
Format: CD
Label: Progress Productions (@)
Distributor: Border Music
Rated: *****
The Swedish label grows constantly and surprises the listeners with a well sought-out quality and surprising releases done by almost unknown newcomer acts. Also HYPE is a new act hailing from Swedish scene, but we surely cannot talk at all about greenhorns. Behind this project stands among others Robert Enforsen for the lead vocals and this guy made himself a good name in the Nineties with his band ELEGANT MACHINERY. And this explanation should already help you to find out his new musically field – no surprise – you’ll get Synthpop, mainly inspired from its kind and mood out the Pop/Wave era of the 80ies. The used technology of course is a new one but what counts is the mood. So this is definitively the stuff which makes the dreams of a glorious return of the past Energy/October days become somehow reality. On the danceable side we have own compositions which hit the target like "Modern Impact" or "Your Kind", while my personal favorite "Live And Learn" comes with astonishing played Synth lines and a finer melodic part. And for one track I see dancefloor actions by all genre friends, no matter if it will include Synthpop-, Batcave-, Minimal- or Electro-freaks, I’m talking on the cover version of the TRANS-X classic "Living On Video". Finally a cover not composed originally by DEPECHE MODE, that’s nice. Although regarding the fact that HYPE do not really surprise with something to be called "new", I am convinced with their efforts here. A must for Synthpop genre fans!
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