Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Strange As Angels
Format: CD
Label: Failure To Communicate Records (@)
Rated: *****

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'Strange As Angels' is a compilation tribute to The Cure produced by Sheriff Scabs featuring a host of eclectic rock bands I'm mostly personally unfamiliar with. There is one exception however and that is the opening track "Lovesong" by Darkwave humoris Voltaire. Each song on this compilation however is a unique interpretation by each artist. That in itself makes it interesting in my book. My favorite by far, though it's also my Cure favorite as well, is "A Forest" restructured here by Jupiter Blue. It's much more upbeat and rock oriented with sort of a Smashing Pumpkins feel. The song structures on the overall compilation are more rock oriented than the originals, some even sort of 80's punk, like "Plastic Passion" by Sheriff Scabs himself. The only one that really gets on my nerves and seems to not belong here is Nerve Exhibit's cover of "A Strange Day". Their drum machine is off-beat and the vocals off-key. It's almost as if they were making fun of the original trying to be bleak and dreary and show no musical talent. However, that rant ended, Egostatic shows a bit of dreampop with synth textures that are very suitable for their cover of "To The Sky". Who'd have thought "Fascination Street" could begin with a choral? That is exactly what Purple Car does but then pushes it up to a bizarre fuzzbox vocal and guitar thump. Hearts Fail doing "A Night Like This" sounds like what I'd imagine it to sound like if David E. Williams did it. Unfortunately, Venus in Furs does not compare with Robert's original "Burn" from The Crow soundtrack, sorry guys! "Pornography" by Emulsion is a completely restructured version using similar techniques as the original, minus most of the actual music, with new samples to create an unusual spoken word track with sampled and abmient textures. Overall, this project is a very interesting compilation with a few gems and a bunch left up to individual taste. I definitely give it points for uniqueness as most of the bands did not just rehash or duplicate what's already been done with about 3 exceptions not mentioned. I feel it has about 13 solid tracks out of 17, not bad at all!
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Artist: Compressed Infinity (@)
Title: Phase Formation
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Compressed Infinity is a Sydney Australian one man project which began in 1998. 'Phase Formation' is the sophomore release featuring 14 tracks of electronica, electro-industrial, darkwave and EBM. Utilizing mostly harsh electro and trance elements, this project is dark with an introverted sense of melancholic inquisition. Musically the compositions are smooth and easy to listen to. Softer than some electro but harsher than any Sythnpop. An interesting and unique project that could use at least a bit more variance and some vocal modifications, as some tracks the vocal textures stand out a bit too much. However, this shows all the hallmarks of a likely future contender in the electro music industry. Musically it's much cleaner and produced than many of the self-starters one usually finds and has a wide array of variance in styles and techniques. The album varies from instrospective to a confusing array of off-kilter rhythmic techniques that are sometimes danceable and oftentime dreary and bleak. However, some of the tracks, or just parts of them, might come off rather amatuerish. This release does not have the professional polish it needs to get true recognition and stands out in my mind as yet another example of the overpopulation of would-be musicians in the current associated music scene.
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Artist: JULIAN FANE
Title: Special Forces
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
Julian Fane is a young guy but he isn't an inexperienced musician. He could be young but he balanced the apparent lack of experiences, which common people would think a young guy could have, with creativity. SPECIAL FORCES is his first album and it contains so many moods and musical ambiences that you'll be surprised. Julian blends atmospheres a la Robert Wyatt (on "Safety man" and "Freezing in haunted water") with classical moments (see his piano arrangements) and i.d.m. extravaganza (see the deconstructed structure of many background sounds as well as some rhythmic solutions on tracks like "Book repository" and "In space"). Tracks like "Book repository" will capture you with their hypnotic ambientations and will convice you that there should be something magic going on in Canada. SPECIAL FORCES is an album to discover little by little and you'll find something special also in its sad atmospheres. In this case sad hasn't got a self destructive meaning but it's mostly introspective and this album is really packed of feelings. Not that bad for a 21 year guy, don't you think?
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anymore
Artist: CAPRICE (@)
Title: Sister Simplicity
Format: CD
Label: Prikosnovenie (@)
Rated: *****
SISTER SIMPLICITY is the fifth Caprice's album. For this new release the Russian ensemble did something different by giving a musical comment to Britain's best poets (Shelley, Byron, Wilde, Shakespeare, Wordsworth). Anton Brejestovski did a wonderful job by creating fourteen classical pieces based on piano, viola, flute, oboe and completed by Inna Brejestovskaya's voice (also Anton gives his voice by reading some poems such as Shelley's "Winter" and "Summer" plus the bonus track "The dole king's daughter" remix. Remix which is a sort of divertissment as makes of the original track an classical song mixed with hip hop arrangements). The result is astonishing as the band succeeded into producing an album which sounds fresh and inspired at the same time. Dramatic and joyful moments are well underlined by Caprice's music and the listener is guided through a different world made of kindness and sorrow. The data section of the CD contains an interview which will make you discover the passionate members of the band and then you'll be able to share their vision of music.
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Artist: CRYSTAL ENTITY (@)
Title: Close To Dawn
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Looking at the band’s photos I expected a Doom or Orchestral Doom Metal band, as THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL or the first THE GATHERING, and at the first listening I wasn’t positively impressed. But I never write reviews at first listen. Time passed, and already at the second listening I discovered a band with very good potentialities. CRYSTAL ENTITY (from Netherlands) offers a sort of Gothic Rock with rhythmical and fresh atmospheres, dark and heavy but not oppressive. Atmospheres can be described as New-Wave/Dark but sometimes guitars show a light Metal influence. Voice is melodic, listenable and it’s not the usual slow orchestral female voice: enjoyable melodies, good choruses, sometimes Maja’s voice makes me remember the great SIOUXIE, showing personality and resolution. I think voice is good, but in the future it could be used in a better way: English pronunciation is a bit harsh, a more fluent one would support better the music, but above all less hesitation in releasing her energy, I’m sure she has much to give.
"Their River" is a great song, showing their THE MISSION (UK) or, I would add, ROSETTA STONE influences, but they’re not copying something already done and the band could be recognized for various personal elements. "Leaves", "A New Dawn", "Close To Me", and I could continue mentioning all the tracks for everyone is a good song: many of them (as "A Quick Bite" and "Take Me With You") could become a hit single, with a better production and with a more pressing and energetic voice.
This is the first official work, and already reflects a mature band. I’m sure in a next future we’ll heard much about CRYSTAL ENTITY.
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