Music Reviews



Jan 09 2005
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Artist: Retina.it
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Mousike Lab (@)
Distributor: Wide
Rated: *****
Retina.it is a duo based in Pompei, near Naples, Italy, who, ever since the early nineties, when they met, have been making music together under different monikers (primarily as Qmen, and most recently as Resina) and they've been keeping busy collaborating with DRM, Nous, 99 Posse, among others. Once they put aside their interest for techno music, today Retina.it is a careful and skillful research in the fields of refined electronic sounds and sophisticated atmospheres. Their fine blend of minimal beats and waves wouldn't look bad at all in the Warp catalogue, as they explore the thin boundaries of the semantics of today's digital music's denominations, from glitch electronics to idm, from ambient to trance, and from chill out to lounge, where you'll only hear sparse and distant echoes of what once was a techno outfit. Although their history demonstrates that it's no big deal for them to be noted by international labels, this time around they've decided to use their own label to put out their new record. This self-titled CD comes in a beautiful digipack with art work inspired by fractal design and represents nothing short of their fifth release, after their 2001 debut "Volcano.Waves 1-8" on Chicago's Hefty records, and their three 12" and one EP entitled "Nulla", "Manifesto", "Strutture" and "Immediate Action". In my book they're highly recommended.
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Artist: RE_AGENT (@)
Title: Abandon
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The name RE_AGENT I discovered the first time on the fourth chapter of the legendary "Futronik Structures" compilation series released by the US label DSBP at the fall of 2003. This one-man project consisting of Justin Tripp hailing from Toronto was one of the outstanding surprises with his dark Electro piece "Heaven Falling" on this comp. Finally Justin has collected all his current works and has released this first official CD. It is a self-released product – unbelievable if you take a deeper look and listen into art and music. Having heard often enough acts like WUMPSCUT or rising US acts like the older stuff of INFORMÄTIK or IMPERATIVE REACTION, Justin tries to work out his own personality in composing, sounds and song structures. Although that also Justin does not create something really new here (but who by the way does create something new???) I am pretty much surprised by his efforts with how much professionalism and good ideas he is able to compose his stuff. "Weak and Wounded" comes here with good distorted vocals and is a track along the known WUMPSCUT line I have already heard in an intrumental version. Majestic and outstanding is "Never Satisfied" and proves that Justin is also able to create more slower tracks which do not push the audience obviously to the dancefloors. Adding to this the Dark Electro pearls "Brain Death", "Die Alone" or the already mentioned "Heaven Falling" plus two good remix works done by PROSPERO and DISPLACER and you can get an imagination what you get here. You can’t go wrong with this release if you are into dark EBM/Electro/Industrial music and again – it is a self-produced release. I think that the big labels of this genre should give up their hibernation and check this band out too. RE_AGENT needs to be signed and is just another fine proof next to WEAVE or FRACTURED of a maybe new generation of Electro/Industrial artists hailing from Canada. Make your contacts and ask Justin to purchase this great release!

Tracklist:

1. Abandon
2. Weak and Wounded
3. Heaven Falling
4. Never Satisfied
5. UWMRFL
6. Brain Death
7. Under Blue
8. Creeping Up On You
9. Heaven Falling (Displacer remix)
10. Weak and Wounded (Prospero remix)
11. Die Alone (demo)
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Artist: FINESSE AND RUNAWAY
Title: Finesse And Runaway
Format: CD
Label: Schematic (@)
Rated: *****
Finesse and Runway is the joint project of Miami natives Dino Felipe (already active on Schematic with solo releases) and Melba Payes and their self titled CD is their first album. Immediately at a first listening the tracks sounds fresh, energetic, musically kinky just like the good stuff, back in the '80s (like the lushy Soft Cell songs). Even if Finesse and Runaway sound is son of punk, electronic just like a good mixture of USA punk (Crime, maybe could be the right name for their attitude) and The Normal (do you know their unique and basilar 1978 single "Warm Leatherette"?) but Dino and Melba know very well how to mix experimental solutions with melodic impetuosity and a little bit of disco fashion. The result is really convincing me and if you have just bought your copy of the last Le Tigre album (just like me) asking yourselves were all the energy and ideas went, try this album. There aren't guitars but tracks like "Steam n' suds" or "New materials" will convince you to try something more varied and full of good intuitions. Finesse and Runaway aren't the quintessence of pop but if you also dig bands like Adult, this could be the right move!
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Artist: AGONOIZE (@)
Title: Assimilation: Chapter One
Format: CD
Label: BLC Productions (@)
Distributor: Alive!
Rated: *****
After having released two highly recognized EP’s this band hailing from Berlin releases with Assimilation: Chapter One" their first full-length CD. AGONOIZE consist of Mike Johnson, Oliver Senger (both are also members of INFEKKTION and SERO OVERDOSE) and Chris L. (ex-DANCE OR DIE) – names which are well known and should stand out for quality Electro/Industrial music. After listening their CD a few times I still ask myself what I do miss here. There are two remarkable tracks here – the opener Death, Murder, Kill" and the final track Sheer Naked Aggression" which will lead the whole audience back to the dancefloor, where this band has already made their way up with their successful tracks Open the Gate" and Paranoid Destruction" taken from their previous EPs. Both last mentioned can also be found here plus the already known track To Paradise". But unfortunately the other 7 tracks do lack a lot of ideas and inspiration. There is surely nothing wrong to present an evil attitude – the names of the track list like "Sexual Violation", "Suffer" or "Die For Blood" show this pretty well – but there are two words which will surely not fit with this release: new and innovative. But the biggest flaw I have found here are the vocals – always aggressive and hard-in-your-face surely, but they lack of inspiration or personality. This cannot be called a real lyrically composition, the vocals just simply seem to be used as another effect here. AGONOIZE are one of these bands which you can easily find also in the roster of labels like Noitekk or Black Rain – just another repetitive SUICICO WUMPUPPY, but with a big reference to the famous Belgium sound slaughter. I really miss something refreshing in their distorted and cold sound structures that would give this band a more outstanding state. It is one of this releases which will work fine on the dancefloors and if you are familiar with acts like TACTICAL SEKT, GRENDEL and so on you can surely check this out. If you are looking for something with more depth and identity you should better avoid this.
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Artist: JIMMY BEHAN (@)
Title: Days Are What We Live In
Format: CD
Label: Elusive Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Even if he is a music producer in Ireland, with DAYS ARE WHAT WE LIVE IN, Jimmy Behan present to the audience his very first album. Electronic music is the main element of the ten tracks. You can also find acustic sound of drums and guitar but the main structure is built with electronic layers. Jimmy focused his writing on melodic parts (many tracks like "Granby row", "Deeper than heaven" or "Complete" are real songs with female vocals and electronic arrangements) and on rhythmic concatenation of sounds which at the end form a melodic pattern. While I was listening to the album I had the sensation of being suspended and this made me remember the album Graeme Revell did using only sounds coming from insects. You know, even if Jimmy used piano, drums and guitars, a big part of his sound is made by the web of minimal sounds you find on each track. "Hanover", especially, is a good example of "growing" track where layers of sound are added just to form a complicated and complete texture. I admit that sometimes I lost the attention because of the extreme relaxing atmosphere of the album but if you are into these sounds, this album is worth your attention.
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