Music Reviews



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Artist: NEON CAGE EXPERIMENT (@)
Title: Oscillations
Format: CD
Label: Cortex Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Records
Rated: *****
A new band on a new label but if you take a look on the names of the band members you get it that this is not an amateurish output of just one new dark Electro/Industrial band. Ladies and Gentlemen, here we have the legitimate follow-up project of the two French legends of this music genre, STIGMA (was signed to Daft and Ant-Zen) and AXONAL WARFARE (Celtic Circle Prod.). After hearing this whole album I cannot believe that this should really be a debut – but so it is and it left me breathless! I am pretty much impressed how much ideas and different influences this talented band is able to handle After the excellent Powernoise starter "First" I expected an album very close to that old STIGMA sound but then the directory changes into a globally dark Electro sound with some similarities to SKINNY PUPPY (a strong influence of these Canadian masters can be heard especially on "Final Vision" with some "Worlock"-like vocals under a heavy use of a vocoder...). The track "Sharpest Tool" reminds me a bit on the latest angry INTERLACE output while tracks like "Our Judgement" and "We Two Are One" seem to be designed to feed that need to enter the dancefloors with some more genre-like sounds. To make the diversity of the tracks nearly perfect, both tracks "Surrender" and "Breaking Machines" feature some sampled guitar sounds. Also remarkable is the excellent vocal input of Laurent K. who doesn’t need a huge machinery to bring an excellent vocal performance. We have here a remarkable output full of diverse styles and very well worked-out sounds and ideas. Don’t hesitate to make your contact with the label and order this nice Electro/Industrial album! Great stuff here!
Mar 08 2005
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Artist: Dither
Title: Amek
Format: CD
Label: M-Tronic (@)
Rated: *****
Dither's new album "Amek" picks up where their 2003 "Summit" left off in a contiguous and fluid way, just as the tracks in "Amek" are in relation to each other and the unity of the record. "Amek" is a blend of glitch electronics, idm, minimal electronics and other estraneous sporadic musical elements. If I must resort to comparisons, the same old names will be called into the game (Autechre, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Gridlock, Richard Devine), but it's fair to say that Dither has been developing his own personal style (while on the side remixing Beefcake, Displacer, Norscq, Mlada Fronta, Mimetic, Flint Glass etc), and even though you might not be able to pick it out of a line-up, it is still worth its dedicated, lonely, relaxed and fully immersed hour of listening. The french scene has definitely a lot of interesting stuff to offer, and thanfully we have M-Tronic in Paris looking out for those artists and the people like us who wanna know about them!
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: DElecTROnIcT v03
Format: CD
Label: Detroit Electronica Coalition (@)
Rated: *****
DElecTROnIcT V03 is a compilation of homegrown bands from Detroit’s electro scene. The sound and style is broad, covering genres from darkwave to noise, and everything in-between. While I enjoy a few of these band’s offerings, as a whole this compilation was a chore to listen to. A few of these songs have caught in my mind, but they are catchy more through repeated listening than by pleasure or enjoyment.

I really hate to sound harsh, because a lot of these bands do have potential to go somewhere, but even the best bands on this compilation are diamonds in the rough. With that said, I like the concept of the band Toybreaker. Their contribution, "Path of logical," is composed of layers of broken toys (as their name implies) distorted and warped into a solid and enjoyable powernoise sound. CEOXiME’s "Dirty and useless," remixed by Silvercord, proved itself infectious with its dark, jazzy, downbeat sound. Also, Mutual hate society caught my attention with their track, "Blueberry tart." This track has a fun, catchy sound and attitude, with fragile Switchblade Symphonesque vocals. I found myself skipping to these three tracks more often than not. These bands are good indications that Detroit does have something to offer. I look forward to hearing more from them, and will be going out of my way to do so.

DElecTROnIcT V03 is not, overall, an enjoyable listen. There are some bands on this compilation with quite a bit of potential. However, I found myself bopping along to the sheer redundancy of most of the songs or, more often, just skipping to the next track. In my opinion, this compilation would do well in Detroit’s scene, sold at shows and given to locals/fans. To print and distribute this CD for sale on an international level might be a little too hopeful.
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Artist: Agonoize (@)
Title: Assimilation: Chapter One
Format: CD
Label: BLC Productions (@)
Distributor: metropolis
Rated: *****
Agonoize is a relatively new project by Mike and Olli (Infekktion), and vocalist Chris L. (Unknown, Dance or die). I was excited to see Chris L.’s name again, as I have been a fan of his work in Unknown for quite a few years now. I had no idea he was working with other bands, so receiving this album made my afternoon. With that said, this is definitely a different side to Chris L. than I have ever heard. Agonoize is characterized by dark, aggressive, distorted vocals that threaten to rip your very soul from your ears. The music is flawless, accenting and complimenting the vocals with relentless crunching percussion, while also managing to incorporate catchy synth lines. When you bundle the package together you get a living nightmare that makes you want to stomp through a dance floor.

I cannot complain about the overall sound or quality of this release, these guys know what they are doing, and they make it very obvious. On the same token, there is nothing original about this album at all. Agonoize sounds like a combination of pretty much every aggressive EBM act I’ve ever heard. This release is the result of attentive listening. They figured out the formula, they took the best pieces from the best bands and they pieced them back together to make this release. I’m listening to yelworC’s "Brainstorming" in the other room, and "Assimilation: Chapter One" sounds like a beautifully updated version. The same old evil with a crisp new sound.

So, if you want a purely original sound, you won’t find it here. What you will find, though, is an obvious mastery of the dark electro/aggro-industrial sound. This is a solid release that will grab your attention, and will hopefully launch Olli, Mike, and Chris L. to the level of notability that they deserve.
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Artist: Quikion
Title: Ramadan
Format: CD
Label: Gazul Records/MUSEA
Distributor: Poseidon
Rated: *****
Ramadan, the fourth CD by Japanese-based folk trio Quikion, is a far-out flight of fancy that whisks the listener headlong through crumbling columns of the cultural divide. This disc features twelve traditional tunes harvested from such far-flung corners as England, Germany, France, Romania, Yugoslavia, and even Pakistan! There are plenty of other delightful twists and surprises to be found on this CD, beyond the diversity of sources from which the material was garnered. For starters, lead vocalist Totoki Yukiko intones these songs in a new and exciting way, singing them in her native Japanese tongue. Sasaki Emi lends her vocal talents, as well, on some of the tracks. These soothing sounds are augmented by superb instrumentation, provided by all three band members. Yukiko plays the concertina and harmonium with skill and savvy. Emi gives her all on the accordion, glockenspiel, psaltery, and, pianica. Both women provide percussion, as well. Oguma Eiji’s fingers fly across the strings of his guitar, bouzouki, and tempura. Toy instruments are also utilized with some frequency on this disc, adding a playful air to the presentation. Too many individual highlights to mention here in total, though I will give a special nod to "Moon and a Bride," the title track, "Cha-Ri-Ne," and "Spellbound," which are all exceptional. "Concertina Blues" and "Sirba D’Accordion" are also special songs, centered on charming refrains that flow freely from their namesake instruments. Enchanting and lovely, this CD makes me want to get up and dance around – what a treat!
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