Music Reviews



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Artist: Visions
Title: Lapse
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
I received this for review in the same package as Kammerheit "The Starwheel." They share similar elements. Both are nice drone, dark ambient music, but overall this seems a lot darker and heavier than Kammerheit I don’t really know how to describe it, but this is some pretty heavy stuff. Not too noisy, but definitely dark, oppressive, and a lot more complex that Kammerheit.

This is not music that soothes the listener. Rather, it demands that the listener pay close attention and never deviate from listening. If your mind wanders, there will be some musical element in the piece that will jar you back. On some tracks, such as "Passage" the music becomes a bit noisier. This is not pleasant drone music. Rather, this seems meant to put the listener on edge. "Lapsing" sounds as if it were specifically written for a suspenseful part of a movie soundtrack. You know something bad is about to happen and there is nothing that you can do to stop it.

What makes this disc interesting is everything that seems to lie just below the surface of the music. Elements surge in and out of the music to make themselves recognized and then fade back into the mix. Overall, if you like your dark ambient music to be really, really dark, this is definitely a must to pick up.
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Artist: Floating Mind
Title: Deep Visions
Format: CD
Label: Urgence Disk Records
I had never heard of this project before. The note attached to the disc identifies it as the artist’s first "ambient – deep electronica album." When I put it in, I was expecting something more along the lines of Orb, based on the cover art. think of ambient, this is not really what I think of. This disc is pretty hard to classify. It has some decent ambient tracks, but also has some standard four on the floor drum machine driven tracks, and then there are those tracks that are more noisy and experimental.

Overall, this disc relies heavily on repetition - too much so. I would have preferred a lot more subtlety. In fact, most of what is interesting about this disc lies beneath the heavy use of analogue bass synth lines and samples. Under what amounts to musical clutter, lies some nice atmospheres. Even without the fat bass lines and samples, there are times where there are nice atmospheres but then the atmosphere is wrecked by bleeps and bloops that sound as if they were generated by an old analogue synth or sampled from 1980’s Erasure albums. While Erasure can pull off the analogue bleeps, in Floating Mind, they just seem forced in to make the tracks more interesting. Unfortunately, the tracks were already good and, like badly airbrushing the Smurfs on a restored 64 Impala, sometimes an improvement is not an improvement. Some examples of this are "Voices" and "Transformer." However, all is not lost on this album. "Stellar" is a nice bit of floating ambience which moves into the more spacey track "The Saturnday."

Overall, it seems that Floating Mind just kept adding things to the track to the point where it was overdone. For the next attempt, I would recommend a more stripped down approach if he wants to take it more into the ambient realm, or if he is trying more for the electronica / techno approach to lighten up on the repetition. He has a good start. Now it needs some refining.
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Artist: Kammarheit (@)
Title: The Starwheel
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
The first thing you notice on this album is the visuals. Before you even open it up, you know that what you are in for is dark and bleak. It comes in a grayscale digipack with dreamlike imagery. And the music does not disappoint. This is really good, solid dark ambient drone music. The most fitting comparisons are Inade, older Lustmord, and fellow Swede, Ovum. What more can I say? This is really good stuff. It’s the kind of music that fades into the background, emerging at times to make its presence known. This is a wonderful mix of drone with other elements such as noises and barely perceptible voices bubbling to the surface just long enough for you to notice before they submerge again. This is perfect music to relax or read to. The only one problem I see with this album is that at 46:10, it’s a bit short. This is the kind of album that you sink into like a hot bath. I would like it to last a it longer. Highly recommended.
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Artist: Satanicpornocultshop
Title: Zap Members
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Sonore
I had no idea what to expect. With a name like satanicpornocultshop, you would think that they were going for shock value, sort of like Smell and Quim. When I put it in, I was pleasantly surprised. But most people who put this into the CD player will probably respond with "what the hell is this?!" Here’s the short answer. It’s a lot like Nurse With Wound and Negativland. If that sounds good, read on. One problem that I see with this album is that it’s almost too disjointed. In a review of a previous album, Anorexia Gas Baloon" David Cotner described them as follows: "While the pubicity touts Satanicpornocultshop as "surrealist hip-hop", it would be more correct to advertise the group as 500 channels with a beat." This album follows a similar recipe, which makes sense considering that this is a compilation of remixes. What is not cut up is reversed or stretched. There are 19 tracks on the album that wade through a variety of styles all mashed together. "Punusunic > Remix" is a track I could see becoming a hit at "Club Acid Junkies." "To Be > Feat. Electronic Café" moves us into weird lounge. Other tracks sound like circuit bent video games. And then there are the covers. The covers are a lot of fun. "Kylie Minogue > Arabic Belly Dance Music" is like a disco from hell cover. A cople of tracks rip off lyrics from Duran Duran’s "Save a Prayer" in interesting ways. The last track, "59054087 (reprise)" weighs in at 13:55, making it the longest track on the disc. However, it behaves more like several tracks put into one. It’s more mellow than the others and has a synth line playing the music from "Imagine" by John Lennon slamming into War Pigs by Sabbath and voice speaking about killing the President of the United States. There are a lot of other songs mixed in as well. This sounds a lot like smething Negativland would do. Political commentary mixed with pop culture references.The cover art is an interesting artistic collage (what else would you expect from a band like this?) Overall, this is interesting, but definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. If you like spastic cut up music that never quite descends completely into noise, this is a good place to look.
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Artist: Ikon
Title: Destroying the World to Save It
Format: CD
Label: Static Sky Records
I first heard Ikon on the compilation "Ceremonial" in which they provided an amazing cover of Joy Division’s "Shadowplay." I liked it, so I picked up Flowers of the Gathering, which reminded me of old Clan of Xymox - still kind of a rock feel, but with a lot of synth and atmosphere. I had not really thought of them for a few years until this album arrived in my mailbox. This album downplays the atmosphere in favor of a more gothic rock feel; this is a lot more guitar oriented than the earlier releases that I have heard. For the most part, this album is your standard gothic rock, sort of reminding one of old Rosetta Stone. "Psychic Vampire," the single off this disc, is pretty good for the dance floor, but I’ll be honest - I miss the old atmospheric sound.

But that’s just part of the story here. It’s not all just gothic rock and there are some standout tracks here. For example, "God Has Fallen From the Sky" is a nice track that sounds a lot like Death in June circa "But What Ends When the Symbols Shatter?" Considering the fact that Ikon has covered a few DIJ tracks, it’s pretty obvious that they have been influenced by DIJ and this track shows it. "My Crucible" and "Path of the Unknown" are also quite good, having a nice mix of synth and guitar.

But there are some tracks here that seem a bit out of place with the rest of the album. For example, "Ashes of Blue" is a softer track with female vocals that just doesn’t seem to fit here. "Slaughter" is a bit weird with some tribal chanting and whispers. Doesn’t seem to fit with the goth rock thing. But kicks into synth and keeps chanting and whispering going. I like the track - sort of like Dead Can Dance meets old Ikon – but it seems out of place here.

Over all, if you thought older Ikon was too mellow and wanted them to rock, you’ll be happy with this disc. On the other hand, if you want the atmospheric, dreamy Ikon, you won’t find a lot of that here.
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