Music Reviews



Artist: Urn
Title: Desecrated Ashes
Format: CD
You can detect several things going on in Urn's layered industrial goth rock as presented on the CD "Desecrated Ashes". Mid-tempo guitar grooves provide a pulse while keyboards add to the layering. The percussion joins the rhythm nicely and the vocals bring in even more dynamics with the male/female switchup. A nice gothy mood permeates the music, and it is enhanced by a strong sense of theatricality. In addition to the subdued goth metal tone, you can sense a certain folkiness (like unto what you might encounter in some power metal acts, though it's the mood, not the music, that is common to urn and aforementioned power players). Atmosphere seems to be the name of the game as the guitars provide the heaviness and the keyboards supply the ambience, with the drums even going a little ethno from time to time. The two vocalists compliment each other fairly well. Ultimately you get the sense of listening to a rock fantasy opera (which is likely the point). The main complaint I would offer is a certain flatness to the sound. One wishes for more lushness in a style like this. However, all told, if you like the Lacuna Coil approach to metal, Urn is a band to check out.
Artist: Mollyllama
Title: Albatross 2
Format: CD
Label: Stiffink (@)
Now here's a band that doesn't sound like everyone else. Mollyllama's "Albatross 2" is a CD that manages to resemble various things without actually sounding like any of them. At times subdued, drifting dark rock with vocals calling from a distant, at other times running with some churnier energy (but still subdued and moody), Mollyllama touches on a variety of offbeat influences, such as The Cure, David Bowie, shoegazer stuff and ... and ... and ... Jesus, who knows? Psychedelic, trippy and just a little gothy, but in a good, not pretentious, way, Mollyllama has crafted a floating river of emotional collision whose impact is subtle and relies on the listener being floated into the music for a ride along the underground.
Artist: phoenix/NEBULIN
Title: Distanza
Format: CD
I like industrial but it is sadly often a boring and watered down genre. Meet phoenix/NEBULIN, a band that does something to alleviate the problem a little. Blending the driving guitars of industrial metal with the teflon textures of the electronic side of the genre, p/N's "Distanza" finds a happy level of the two and fuses them together into a fairly sleek industrial construct. Juxtaposing rocky, heavy moments with softer, more electro stretches, and topping it all off with some rock-n-roll female vocals, p/N puts together some industrial metal that really can get you jamming and forgetting all those other generic acts that make me dispirited at the state of music. One thing that really helps is the infusion of melody. You find a lot of melody on the EBM side, naturally, but that's often little more than watered down vocal trance. You find some great energy on the metal/guitar side, but it's often sorely repetitive. "Distanza" presents a meeting ground of the two with melodies that are exactly what's needed to keep this cocky but sometimes moody dose of industrial going. Nice move from an underground band.
Artist: m/n/m/l (@)
Title: vicissitunes
Format: CD
Like science fiction in a soundbite, m/n/m/l's "vicissitunes" is a collection of strange soundscapes that call to mind the confines of a dark spaceship under the influence of suspended animation - nothing is awake but the ship ... and it's talking to itself. Be it extended, flowing electronic tones, pulsing warbles of computerspeak, high-pitched noises like beeps stretched out, soft techy whirling noises or ... or whatever, m/n/m/l will take you to a place far out from earth, on a journey past "2001: A Space Odyssey", or at least somewhere nearby, only more minimalist. Like being in the darkest, sparsest confines of the universe, the soundscapes herein will surprise you and maybe even carry you away ... if you're open-minded.
Artist: m/n/m/l (@)
Title: Perpendicular Twist
Format: CD
Perpendicular Twist by m/n/m/l presents a pretty captivating and very eclectic collage of sounds. Creating an atmosphere that is sometimes dark and sometimes almost playful in a fantasy way, PT's minimalist experimental compositions exist in a different world and are more than happy to transport you there if you so desire. As they fade in and out of your consciousness, the sounds range from a sharp edged blade of dark electronica to seemingly random bursts of soft air mixed with the call to attention of a small ringing bell; from subterranean smooth rumblings to slow but spritely synths. The overall effect is homogenous but varied, a contradiction of sounds that lull you in and leave you floating. A nice piece of underground experimental musical musings.
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