Music Reviews



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Artist: Nerve Exhibit (@)
Title: The Horror of Amusement
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Rated: *****
Nerve Exhibit or N[EX] is a one man band whose debut MCD "The Horror of Amusement" comes with an appropriate title. Earlier works by him include appearances on compilation CDs such as "Strange as Angels: a Tribute to the Cure" (one of the influences you might recognize) and the TheSmokingSection.net series New National Anthem and Revolution vol.1.He claims early Skinny Puppy and New Order as his influences, but his approach is definitely different. Johnny NeRo mixes dark atmospheres of electronic sounds and drum machines with distorted vocals and pretty bad attempts at singing hooks. He seems to be stuck in the eighties with this, even though there are appreciable intentions and ideas leading toward a more modern sound, which isn't fully achieved yet. I never like it when I can't go higher than half the stars we've got available, but today's standards for recording quality and quality of music are so high (of course that is not entirely true and might start a whole different debate) that this just won't cut it and definitely doesn't nearly match any competition. Less is more, that's true, but as minimalistic as you want to go, in 2004 you just can't make a song with a kick+snare pattern, one arpeggiator and distant distorted vocals, sorry, that just doesn't do it for me anymore. But of course there is always a chance that somebody out there is looking for just that, a simple, minimal, '80es synth-ebm product. In my humble opinion, Johnny has to get down to business and keep the music pumping, 'cause that's the only way to improve his skills. Of course this is nothing but a MCD debut, so I'm not trying to be too hard or a jerk; besides whoever, like Johnny, self-releases their CDs always gets my respect anyway. I don't know if I should tell you to save the money for something better or to send him your loot to support his music and his good intentions, so I suggest you just check out his website (that by the way is REALLY a nice website, very very well done and stylish!) and listen to some of the tunes to make up your mind.
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Artist: Carfax Abbey (@)
Title: Second Skin
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****

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Here is a band whose members you can tell most definitely had a past that involved heavy overdoses of hard rock, heavy metal, trash, glam rock and power metal... But fear not, these are not a bunch of cheesy wannabe rockers who sent us their demo by mistake. Philadelphia based Carfax Abbey take their experience and influences and pour it all into a crafty mixture of gothic, industrial, dark and electronic sounds. The programmming and the production are definitely the key element that lift Carfax Abbey off the ground to make them stand out. Fierce, glamorous and very eclectic vocals (from brilliant to corny), along with impactful scratchy aggro-guitars and ballsy bass lines are complemented by saavy DAW editing and fast-paced drum patters and allow them to retain their heritage and yet be an appetible cocktail of sounds for all you thirsty wide-horizon-ed music fans out there. Sure, they might be a little more "intense" than what we usually get here, but you all know we do appreciate mixtures of heavy guitars and electronic music around here, and even if this is not your average cup of tea, you don't have to be an english man or a drunk bum to appreciate some good old breakfast tea with a punchy kick, if you know what I mean... The truth always lies in between. I hear these guys pull off some great live shows (they opened for a list of who's who of today's industrial and metal industry scene and have been awarded multiple times), so if you are in area I suggest you line up at the box office.
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Artist: Blind Faith and Envy (@)
Title: the Charming Factor
Format: CD
Label: Nilaihah records (@)
Distributor: Amazon, Metropolis, A Different Drum, Isolation Tank, Middle Pillar, Harvest Media, Best Buy, Projekt, COP Int., CD Baby, DarkLand Music, Unspun, Musicwerks, DSBP (US); DDM, Musik Non Stop, Resurrection UK, Prosonic (Europe); Storming the Mailorder, T.i.K. (Canada)
Rated: *****
Blind Faith and Envy's debut "the Charming Factor" reveals an artistic maturity and a professional approach that are rare to find in pop-electronica newcomers. The female-fronted duo's music is made of well programmed beats and sequences, carefully molded and layered sounds, catchy vocals and hook-friendly songs fueled by strong attitude. Daniel Guenther's impressive production, songwriting and engineering skills are gracefully complemented by Charlene April's smooth and candid vocals and well thought out lyrics. Their influences are probably as comprehensive and eclectic as today's open-minded listeners' and the both of them even have the looks, which means they'd probably be ready for something bigger at this very moment in time.The shadow of the electronic music scene is backing them up. In this album you'll find remixes by Blank, Null Device, Neuroactive and a cover of 1981's "Shout" by Depoche Mode.Potential hit singles would probably be the opening track "Golden Glass" and maybe a few tunes could do very well in and around the international dancefloor scene too. Basically it is a well-made and sufficiently multifaceted album, capable of satisfying the dancing, the chilling, the romantic, the relaxing and even, why not, the easy listening fan.Very well done indeed.
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Artist: PENITENT (@)
Title: Deserted Dreams
Format: CD
Label: Beyond Prod (@)
Distributor: Masterpiece Distribution
Rated: *****

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If you already read the interview I did with Karsten few weeks ago, you already know that the new album, DESERTED DREAMS, is a sort of bridge that link Penitent's past to his future. Forgot the latest sounds of "Songs of despair" and its black metal attitude and tune yourself with the old Penitent sounds; the ones with martial marches and apocalyptic atmospheres. As Karsten confirmed into the interview, the ten instrumental tracks paint a sort of hypothetical path where each track is a step of the voyage. The slow rhythms of the tracks, the strings and the percussion gives to the whole work a sort of solemn atmosphere and by listening "Beyond the sun" or "Meeting our fate" it seems that we are taking part to an heroic venture. It seems a little fantasy described this way, but if you try to put this CD while you put into your DVD the scenes of the Lord Of The Ring trilogy, the ones where the ogre hordes attack the barricades, you'll notice that this music fit it very well. The only thing I haven't appreciated is that the CD sounds too compressed and I don't know if this is what Karsten reached. Maybe it gives an additional dreamy touch to the result, but it seems also that he used low bitrate samples...
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Artist: RAFFAELE SERRA
Title: Le spectre de la rose
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: AFE Records (@)
Rated: *****
New release by Raffaele Serra on AFE Records (see archive for previous reviews), packaged in a gorgeous carboard cover. Partly inspired by Fleur Jaeggy's "Sweet days of discipline", "La spectre de la rose" is a quite sombre work, and a kind of lengthy summa of Serra's different souls, mixing ambient, electronica, and soundtrack-like compositions. The cd opens with the unquiet ambient drone of "Siege of the Unseen", then features rhythmic tracks like "Iron Dream" and "Love Vs. Gravity" (similar to the previous work, "Europe Endless"), and even some ("Stars like dust", "Ticket to anywhere") that could be a colder electronic version of sixties lounge. It's a lengthy release (70'), and at times I wished the ideas were more concentrated, or that some patterns were more varied - but anyway, an engaging listen nonetheless.
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