Music Reviews



Jan 19 2006
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Artist: ACYLUM (@)
Title: Your Pain
Format: CD
Label: X-Cem (@)
Distributor: SX Distribution
Rated: *****
Another fine but also very dark and scary release for the Eastern Germany X-Cem community, this time the project of Pedro Engel called ACYLUM. Kai Arnold of WYNARDTAGE is also integrated here, he offers his vocals and is responsible for the lyrical content. Musically ACYLUM differs from WYNARDTAGE, they are moving hard on the thin balance between harsh EBM and Powernoise. So you get here a lot of distorted beats, some really sick layers and a very depressive mood, somehow comparable to FEINDFLUG, INFACT, DIOXYDE or old PAIN STATION. The tempo of the tracks are pending from mid tempo up to some faster placed stuff like "Trip of Hate" or "Final Shot (Club mix)". There is a big "slap-in-ya-face" attitude behind this sound, and also the black/white cover art awakes some possible comparisons to FEINDFLUG. The used elements here are surely not designed to be called new or innovative, but the kind and talent of this act is well present here to grab some attention of friends from the above mentioned acts. Please note also the hidden extra track placed on position 77 on this release. The underground is alive and this release can be called a quality exclamation mark for the new X-Cem group. Get it!
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Artist: The Psychic Paramount
Title: Live 2002 - The Franco-Italian tour
Format: CD
Label: Public Guilt (@)
Rated: *****
Psychotic Paramount is ex-Laddio Bolocko Americans Drew St. Ivany (guitar) and Ben Armostrong (bass) and Japanese Tatsuya Nakatani (drums). They formed the band five days before embarking on a tour in France and Italy where they recorded the live performances to a cassette recorded with one stereo microphone (performances are from Lyon, Paris, Perpignan and Naples). The result is obviously not as hi-fi, and at times it must have been so loud that the tape recorded couldn't quite take it and the result is very saturated, but at least the separation between the instruments is good and you can actually hear most of what every one of them is doing. In spite of all of the poor sound quality, the sonic aggression is perfectly translated onto tape. The trio played their heart out furiously and fiercely and the outcome is intense and powerful, unpredictable and genuine. The sense of "turbulent emergency" they speak of comes at you in the form of a freight train of distorted bass lines, improvised guitar riffs and super intense restless drumming by the amazing Nakatani (you might have heard of him through Brotzmann, Kowald, Vandermark, Masashi Harada, N.R.A., From Between Trio, Blue Collar, Yukijurushi etc) who is now replaced by another great drummer, Jeff Conaway (from Sabers). This CD (originally released as a CD-R on the band's own label Bewilderment and Illumination) comes packaged in a nice black digi-pack and also contains a very well done and interesting quick-time video-diary of the trip that will give you a better idea of how powerful these performances really were. The band has been busy and several new releases are planned for 2006 so try to catch them live and keep an eye and ear out for them...
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Artist: Daniele Brusaschetto (@)
Title: Mezza Luna pIena
Format: CD
Label: Bar La Muerte (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Daniele Brusaschetto has been touring the world and making records for fifteen years but still doesn't seem to get the proper recognition he deserves in his own country, Italy. The roots of the problem possibly lie in the fact that Italians don't really know what's good for them (after all, they have voted a multiple-counts criminally convicted business man as their prime minister, twice), but can more likely be traced back to the fact that, after all is been said and done, DB's music might still be a little too out there and hostile for the general masses and the main stream market. On the other hand, and this can't really be fully understood by foreign markets and audiences, DB's style and lyrics (most of which are in italian, which should help the cause) are closer than one would think to one of Italy's best-selling and most out of the ordinary singer-songwriter pop artists (that would be Franco Battiato). Ultimately it is probably all about marketing (isn't that always the case anyway?). I don't know what Daniele wants for himself. He doesn't seem to be the kind of person that would care for having his video on MTV, but I can see how after all the hard work and the struggling, it'd be nice to have full tour support, records in store, some sales maybe and the whole nine yards.Anyway, "Mezza Luna Piena" (Half Full Moon) is DB's 5th full length CD and picks up where his previous "Poesia Totale dei Muscoli" left off on the path of Daniele's evolution toward a more "popular" sound. No, wait, take your fingers down, this is not a case of selling-out. DB does it with style and definitely keeps more than just a foot in his industrial- and metal-influenced past (if you like Flugschadel, you might just love the down-pitched heavy guitar riff samples in songs like "Criptico" or the classical-guitar death-metal riffs of "Ego Mangiato Crudo"). If you'll hear this record you'll know that when I say "popular" I am being very careful (and a touch sarcastic) and that there is really nothing "pop" in this at all... If it is sligthly more pop-sounding (in the eyes/ears of people who know a little bit about the italian music industry) it only so is because of the fact that people like Battiato have managed (although I'll always wonder how!) to pave the way for more uncommon sounds with the help of strong marketing and what I call "consumer's sheep-ification". I'll probably take DB over Battiato any time, though, as Daniele is a lot less pretentious and a lot more interesting and multi-faceted. Genuine and real, I'd say. An urban poet, a traveller, a yet un-discovered song-writing talent. What we have here is an artist's soul and style taking on a new shape and slowly but surely evolving into a whole new thing that, if you listened closely, you might have been able to forsee all the way back in his "Bluviola". Daniele's lush industrial-noise-pop blend of minimalistic beats, fuzzy distorted feedback playing and strummed/arpeggiato guitars, meshes instantly with his unique lullaby-ish minimal vocal style and his complex, intricated and cryptic lyrics. An artist who disregards trends and is slowly changing, and nonetheless, growing, and who you should definitely keep an ear out for and an eye on.
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Artist: Kirsty Hawkshaw
Title: Meta Message
Format: CD
Label: Nettwerk (@)
Rated: *****

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Nettwerk (which seem to be reaching out to women in the industry more than ever, especially with their management company) always has an eye and an ear out for new talent, or in this case established talent. Kirsty Hawkshaw has been lending her vocal contributions to Opus III, Orbital, Sqayzak, Way out West, Hybrid and Tiesto (who co-wrote and produced a couple of tracks on this record), Mr Sam, Pole Folder and of course Delerium (why am I not surprised about that? Fulber/Leeb seem to scout out every female singer that deserves attention) and many other electronic outlets throughout the years. "Meta Message" (which features remixes and tracks written or produced by Jimmy Gomez and Dave Randall from Slovo, among others) delivers a complete and all around female voice who (thanks, in part to ther background and collaborations in eighties dance culture) leans heavily on electronic music to deliver her message and who represents a great addition to the list of women who delight this beautiful musical genre with grace, tone and heavenly subtleties. Although her voice is strong and definitely flexible, multi-faceted and versatile, I wish I could get more excited about the tracks... not that they are bad, they are very good, but (some of them) just lack that certain shine that people like Delerium know how to add... The good thing is that it is a very various album that spans from dancefloor-friendly material to chill out lounge electronica, touching base with all things electronica in between.
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Artist: KOJI ASANO (@)
Title: Rabbit room reservation center
Format: CD
Label: Asano productions (@)
Rated: *****
While I'm reviewing this as "the last recording of Koji Asano of the year", a new one is gonna be out by the end of the week, just to say that the brain cells of this japanese probably have no rest!. I know "hyper active" and "hyper prolific" are not always followed by "high standard", but Asano is the midst of his golden age, lately it seems like he has the "Midas' touch" or to quote the dear ol' Bad Brains: "the Supertouch". I think the main instrument manipulated on this recording is a big japanese bell (or something similar), those bell-modulations overwhelming the air during the listening from the very beginning give a religious/meditative atmosphere to the three (long) tracks. An all eastern calm gets twisted and redefined thru electronics and you're warned the state of trance is just behind the door. To say it all I think this one of the most relaxing record I've heard lately, ok, sometimes Asano plays a bit too much on each song, but the serialist/minimalist intention would revive the horniest dreams of Reich and Riley. I still can't understand if this "furious japanese" is getting the attention he deserves, but if the word quality still means something: I'm sure he will.
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