Music Reviews



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Artist: TERMINAL 11 (@)
Title: Illegal Nervous Habits
Format: CD
Label: Cock Rock Disco (@)
Rated: *****
If you think that ILLEGAL NERVOUS HABITS is mainly a mix of sound cut ups it's amazing to notice how smooth it sounds. I mean, even if the nine tracks of the album for sure are part of the i.d.m./breakcore genre, Mike Castaneda's ability of play with melodies which are surrounded by thousands of rhythms, frenetic sounds and other experimentations make of them nine tracks which have got a sense of their own. You know, a lot of i.d.m. tracks could sound cold and unpersonal because of the digital sources used or because it's difficult to choose the right sounds. On this CD you can find funk, noises, classical instruments (like on "I'm in no mood for this"), Art Of Noise samples (on "Staple on smile" if I'm not wrong I heard a little treated part of their "Moments in love") and a lot of crazy rhymths. For sure you won't find yourself singing along to these tracks, but they have also their musicality. For me, the thumb is up!
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Artist: THE COUNT (@)
Title: Zero
Format: CD
Label: Dark Wings (@)
Rated: *****
ZERO is the second CD for the German band called The Count and it is their first release for Dark Wings. The CD contains twelve eclectic tracks with German and English lyrics. The first thing that pop out of the album is the mixture of e.b.m., goth (see the use of distorted guitars and of female vocals on some tracks) and synthpop that characterize The Count music. The voice sometimes is whispered, sometimes is highly melodic and sometimes it shout out loud the introspective lyrics ("I am a lifeform just like you and I was free before they forced me into stiff directions and broke my mind" excerpt from "Sinus"). Recorded in their personal studio, ZERO is a fresh album that could ease your day with its dark melodies (see "Lichtertanz" or the following "Pulse"). The album place itself into a certain alternative genre but it do it well and for sure the band will find their base of fans that will be excited into following them.
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Artist: Von Magnet (@)
Title: De L'Aimant
Format: CD
Label: Fairplay
Distributor: Orkhestra International
Rated: *****
You may probably think of Von Magnet as a sort of super-group, where great music originates from the joint efforts of the leader Phil Von (electronics, vocals, lyrics) together with Flore Magnet (vocals, lyrics), Mimetic (electronics, percussions), the collaboration of flamenco guitarrist Sabine Van Den Oever and the additional production of sound designer Norscq (Colder, Atlas Project). Even though this album is less exciting to me than some other things I love more, it deserves five stars for its originality and beauty. Phil Von has always been a precursor, a piioneer, a researcher, and all his love for experimenting with multi-cultural sonics show through his work in "De L'Aimant", an album that he describes, sings and promotes as "electro-flamenco". For once, the description is more than appropriate and not nearly exxagerated or showing off. You get the characteristically Spanish sounding flamenco guitars, the beautiful cajon percussions and other percussive patterns, the andalusian singing and all the warmth, melancholy, sweetness and intense passion that come with them All of this is matched to electronic textures and programming, lots of samples (italian voices, english voices, arab instruments and more), beats and layers of inspiring digital sound. While still re-inventing himself after 20 years of great music (remember 1987's "El Sexo Surrealista"), the Von Magnet music collective will provide you with awesome, passionate, inspiring, poetic and truly borderless music. Highly recommended!
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Artist: NORDVARGR/DRAKH
Title: INFINITAS IN AETERNUM
Format: CD
Label: CYCLIC LAW (@)
Rated: *****
As with many Dark Ambient projects, simple verbal technical descriptions fail to convey the impact of the artistic work as a whole, or even in part most of the time. I find Dark Ambient music to be more of a feeling place’ than most other genres of music. Perhaps that is why it took me nine or ten listenings of this CD to experience the full impact of what the artists were trying to achieve. Even then, the vision of the artists vs. the perception of the listener may only be casually coincidental.NORDVARGR/DRAKH (Henrik "Nordvargr" Björkk & Drakhon) is a duo from Sweden (where else would you expect?) who established a reputation in MZ.412, if that is any frame of reference for you. This is cold, bleak isolationist territory on "Infinitas In Aeternum" to be sure, but it wasn’t until I experienced the CD under certain conditions that I realized the full impact of its aesthetic intent. Lately, there has been an abundance of snowfall in this Upstate New York terrain, and I decided to get the jump on the weather by setting out to shovel the white stuff at 1 AM one stormy night rather than join the neighbors in the morning pre-commute "shoveling party". I selected this CD to listen to via wireless headphones and experienced it without distraction or interruption for its entirety. From the start, I heard a distorted alien voice repeating an unintelligible phrase a few times over a public address system, then disappeared, only to return a little later even more garbled. Meanwhile, the bleak background ambience ebbed and swelled borne on an ill wind. Stray, distant whistling oscillations streaked the atmosphere. I felt like a prisoner on some cold planet galaxies away, without hope of release or reprieve. Very chilling indeed. The ambience becomes more "industrial" without being mechanical as I continue laboring at my task- shovel-full after shovel-full of cold wet snow. The atmosphere is static- only punctuated by intermittent stabs of electronic energy, still at some distance. It has gotten even colder, yet I’m sweating through exertion. I want this to end- I want to finish clearing the damn snow and get back into my nice warm house, yet there is no reprieve for me as the snow continues to fall. The longest track on the CD, "Black Oven Emitting" has a hint of a dirge while a feedback tone wails like a siren in the distance. No, there is no hope. This winter may never end. I am becoming tired. Now I hear a vocal sonority like a Buddhist chant from somewhere- I must be hallucinating. The wailing continues. I grow even more despondent. Everything sounds fuzzy, and soon slow, sludgy distorted guitar chords arise (think: Morthound’s "The Goddess Who Could Make the Ugly World Beautiful" ) I am beginning to feel ill, yet somehow sanctified. What if I die out here and they find my corpse buried under a mound of snow in the chilly light of morning? What if they don’t find me until the snow thaws in spring? The sludge guitar is eventually absorbed in a rising miasmic tide of sonorous voices and tones, which is shortly punctured by sporadic electronic drilling. Some type of alien probing. I am grateful when it ceases.Now this inhospitable landscape seems vast and uncompromising. The gloom is impossible to describe. The foliage stares at me with icicle eyes- silent, unmoving, yet somehow sentient. I think I hear a whispered human voice, am I alone and hallucinating again? The atmosphere grows even heavier and darker, yet there is a burning light on the horizon as this "Scotopic Vision" envelops me. Snow-blind and impassive, I carry on my mindless task no longer anticipating its conclusion or outcome. A high piercing tone invades my audial senses followed by puttering and muttering. I no longer dread the alien influence. I am numb. I am assimilating to the otherworldliness of this environment. There is no turning backI find myself standing on the precipice of an abyss. The void of space is no longer silent. The tinkerings of inhuman beings continue. Adjustments are made. I have been retrofitted with the equipment necessary for survival. I am imbued with knowledge that goes deeper than the intellect will allow verbal expression. The outlanders depart, leaving me on this brutal planet to continue my work. Again I am alone, but now with a gnosis of inexpressible profundity. There could be no other way.This release, in a black & white cardboard slipcase with a few pages negative image photography taken out of doors (yes, it does look like alien landscapes) is limited to only 1000. If Dark Ambient music interests you at all, you DEFINITELY want to pick this one up.
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Artist: Cell Auto Mata
Title: The Devil Is In The Detail
Format: CD
Label: ant-zen (@)
Distributor: ant-zen
Rated: *****
As the title implies, there is much more here than meets the ears upon first listen. These sounds are born of an exciting alliance between Matthieu Maire (formerly Celluloid Mata) and Philipp Münch (Synapscape/Ars Moriendi/TRG). A few familiar elements of both musicians’ other efforts can be found in this endeavor. However, this is definitely a new and exciting direction for the both of them, focusing more on composition and structure than either has done in any of their previous incarnations. A surfeit of sounds and experiences are laced throughout these fourteen adventurous tracks. The disc begins with a somewhat ominous feel on the opening track, "Fallen Dice," but soon breaks into a much more accessible, infectious tone. "Gws Hearse" employs some familiar sequencing with an added kick. "Huevos de Oro" blends interesting vocal manipulation with oddly transmuted instrumentation over hyperkinetic beats to create a highly attention-grabbing mix. The creative sampling and catchy sounds of "Hipsters" demands repeat listens. The guitar work on "Ish Galil" is an interesting departure for this pair, known more for their work with rhythms and synths. "Rip Rozz" once again calls upon Münch’s vocals to deliver a good, solid punch.This disc is a pleasant diversion, and certainly unique among the crop of rhythm-oriented releases that have come to define ant-zen over the past couple of years. Slightly disorienting at first, but ultimately a ride worth lining up for again and again – highly recommended!
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