Music Reviews



Artist: THE AXIS OF PERDITION
Title: Deleted scenes from the transition hospital
Format: CD
Label: Code666
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
Second full-length for this UK post-black metal project, after the acclaimed 2003 debut "The Ichneumon Method" on the now defunct label Rage of Achilles, and the "Physical Illucinations..." ep on Code666. While this is still most definitely "metal", industrial and dark ambient influences play a big role, not as mere samples or filler tracks, but deeply pervading the song structures and arrangements. The result is a totally oppressive and obscure work, surely closer to a hypothesis of extreme industrial doom (also for the guttural low-pitched vocals) than to black metal in a strict sense, even when it's filled with electronic influences (I'm thinking of mighty Aborym, for example). The tracks tend to indulge in mid- or slow-tempos, with fragmented or morbidly psychedelic guitar lines, rather than in breakneck assaults. Though here and there there is still too much metal riffage for my tastes, and some repetitive solutions (see the drum programming), this is a convincing, and truly suffocating, work.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Transient Travels
Format: CD
Label: Domizil
Rated: *****
"Transient Travels" was initially conceived in 2004 as "a temporary travel agency" presenting different takes on digital music in the Sound Train during the Swiss World New Music Days; this cd now luckily documents the event, presenting six fairly long tracks by the involved artists. Most pieces seem to be obviously focused on the concepts of travel and time, and though it's frankly hard to find a red thread between, say, COH's sinewaves electronica and Ilios' brooding sub-drones, or AGF's contemporary composition and Hecker's diginoise, all of them offer very strong and convincing works. The generous length of the tracks allows the pieces to develop and build their own peculiar soundscapes, as in the case of the two Transient Travels curators' (Jasch and Marcus Maeder) pieces, both creating harsh and fascinating performances out of digitally fragmented instruments. An extensive booklet features writings from the rspective artists, which are always interesting to read when the music is that good. Surely one of the best compilations I've heard in a while.
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Artist: PORT ROYAL (@)
Title: flares
Format: CD
Label: Resonant (@)
Rated: *****
Genoa's pride Port Royal are one of the new italian sensations since they landed on a wellknown english label like Resonant and also for the fact one of their songs is included in the cd coming together with the issue #256 of The Wire. This five-piece play that mix of electronic music and indie rock (even if I wouldn't label it as "indietronic") that has become pretty popular lately, it's surprising how these guys have been able to do it really well despite their young age, anyhow that's not such a surprise for those who had the luck to own their demo. Somebody described their sound as something not so far from bands like Sigur Ros (for the fact theyr music is somehow "arctic"), Mogway (more ambient and with less explosions), Slowdive (for the "liquid-psychedelic" guitars and since some tunes are depressive but yet in a "shoegaze" manner). Even if the record is not meant as a concept the most of the tracks have been produced as two compositions in three movements apiece, that (but not just that) gives the whole cd a real sense of unity, one of the consequence of it is that many listeners will remain partially stoned by a sort of "trance-like" sensation that haunts the ten tracks. The record is a bit too long maybe but probably some of the early bands on Kranky would approve the over sixty minute of music, other listeners probably will be complaining about the fact it can be boring, but it's just up to your ears!. Some episodes of "flares" are surprisingly inspired and incredibly well projected, plus it's rare to hear such a production from a band at its debut. Somebody told me they're working on a remix record, I think it should be really interesting considered how remixable is the music they play. I don't know if a new star has born, but if you think "polar/north-european" indie-music "has it": you'd better give a listen to Port Royal.
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Artist: Richter (@)
Title: Cost of Living
Format: CD
Rated: *****
The soon to be released "Cost of Living" by the Canadian trio Jack & Lizz, known as Richter, bring an interesting combination of sounds the table. Compared to bands like Apoptygma Berzerk, Covenant, and Wolfsheim, I found some rather undefinable combinations involved as well. There seems to be a bit of New Order and Caberet Voltaire influences on the very synthpop "Come Clean". The follow-up "Dirty Prophet" takes us right into industrial territory showing a bit of KMFDM, 242, as well as the afforementioned associations. Richter definitely seems to create a fluid expression which combines the best of 80's wave and industrial bands with those of the modern EBM and synthpop arenas. They also create a smooth combination of analog and digital instrumentation without overdoing the guitars. Instead they are pleasantly blended into the overall texture of the project. The driving male vocals tend to have a bit of that 'android' feel to them that gives a sort of 'clinical' impression, much like early Gary Numan. The backing female vocals add to the atmosphere and enforce what the rest of the project is already doing. In other words, there is no vocal clash you might get in some projects where it seems like both are trying to lead. Instead they both work very well in combination and support everything else going on. Many styles combine to create a fluid translation of a uniquely new style, a bit monocrhomatic but with some interesting layering and mixing. While there is lots of activity, it maintains a very smooth texture that is somehow 'soothing' even while dark and kinetic.
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Artist: SUBINTERIOR
Title: Obstacles
Format: CD
Label: Deserted Factory
Rated: *****
Third cdr release from Andrea Freschi's solo project, and after the self-released "Outfall" (2003) and "Insomnie" (2004) it's also the first one to be released and distributed by a label, though on a limited run cdr. And, well, "Deserted Factory" could also be a good description for this work: deep cavernous drones juxtaposed or blended with reverberating machinery noises, truly bringing to mind a huge abandoned factory. Freschi uses pretty much the same palette as in his previous releases, but I really think he's dramatically improved the sound quality and mix, which obviously makes a huge difference in works like these. Electronics and software processing obviously play a major role, but there is no synth/keyboards abuse as in many ambient discs. A short, focused and monochrome (in a positive sense) work, "Obstacles" offers top-quality pieces of post-industrial ambient, like "The corridor of empty rooms" and "Asynchronism", which will hopefully give this now mature project the attention it deserves.
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